Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

Biking Through Paradise: Derrick Strauss Recalls 2006 Ride the Rockies Tour

In General on September 26, 2013 at 8:12 am

Derrick StraussDerrick Strauss lives in the suburbs of Denver and is an avid biker, hiker and cycler. In 2006, Derrick Strauss was fortunate enough to participate in the Ride the Rockies Tour—an experience he says brought him face to face with unimaginable beauty and unparalleled camaraderie.

The route

According to Derrick Strauss, the 2006 event was 419 miles starting in Cortez, Colo., and ending in Cañon City. The first 48 miles to Durango precede a near 90 mile trek to Pagosa Springs. From Pagosa Springs, Derrick Strauss reports that the entourage traveled approximately 15 miles, crossing the border into Chama, N.M. Heading over to Alamosa—a distance of 83 miles—the bikers hit Cumbres Pass and La Manga Pass, which Derrick Strauss points out are both at a height of more than 10,000 feet.

The final 150 miles of the six-day ride were exhausting, says Derrick Strauss, with another 9,000 foot ascent over Poncha Pass and finally closing at Cañon City.

The sites

Derrick Strauss recalls the ride, which was directed by Paul Balaguer, offered cyclists the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of nature and history.

Starting in Cortez, at the Mesa Verde National Park, Derrick Strauss notes that many attendees chose to visit the Kiva Ceremonial Chambers and the Anasazi cliff dwellings. These homes were constructed between 1212 and 1276 A.D., explains Derrick Strauss, and were actually built into the existing landscape, offering both structure and security. In the park, the group was able to get up close to the Spruce Tree House—the third-largest cliff dwelling in the park.

Along the route to Pagosa Springs, Derrick Strauss reports that puffy white clouds and expansive blue skies made some of the more unusual mountaintops look almost surreal. Derrick Strauss recalls that many of the riders stayed at the Pagosa Springs Resort on the third night to visit the local Catholic church, which is famous for its small garden and shine. The resort, says Derrick Strauss, overlooks a bluff-lined river and is set amid some of the most beautiful scenery on the tour.

Derrick Strauss quips that the highlight of his journey was on day five when none other than Mr. Potato Head made an appearance to strengthen morale.

Amazing support

Derrick Strauss reports that along the way there were numerous aid stations and rest stops. Bikers were given plenty of water and opportunity to maintain their road-weary bikes. Throughout the entire trip, event organizers were never far away, keeping a watchful eye over participants to ensure everyone’s safety and success, says Derrick Strauss.

It is obvious, insists Derrick Strauss, that the entire state of Colorado supports this and similar events. Along the way, he reports meeting many strangers who commended the group for their efforts to raise awareness about the state’s natural beauty. Throughout the journey, Derrick Strauss says that everyone stayed positive and seemed to really enjoy the chance to get to know one another.

According to Derrick Strauss, the Denver Post created the Ride the Rockies Bicycle Tour in 1986. The event immediately grabbed the attention of more than 1,500 riders from across the country. Today, the ride receives more than 4,000 applications, though a lottery system limits actual registrants to just 2,000—a manageable number for both organizers and road traffic, says Derrick Strauss.

Lindsay Rosenwald on Abiraterone and the Acquisition of Cougar Biotechnology

In Business, General, Technology on September 26, 2013 at 6:34 am

Lindsay RosenwaldLindsay Rosenwald is a medical doctor and finance expert who specializes in investing in biotechnology and biopharmaceutical research. Lindsay Rosenwald founded Cougar Biotechnology to continue research and development on abiraterone acetate, a drug that combats hormone-resistant prostate cancer. Johnson & Johnson acquired the company in 2009.

Drug development

Development on abiraterone acetate first began in the 1990s, recalls Lindsay Rosenwald. The drug was reviewed by a number of medical investment firms who declined participation. Lab results eventually ended up on the desk of Lindsay Rosenwald, and Cougar Biotechnology then purchased production rights for approximately $500,000.

According to Lindsay Rosenwald, abiraterone acetate enjoyed unparalleled success in its first clinical trials in 2004. The drug proved to induce a decline in prostate-specific antigen levels in patients who had received chemotherapy but were refractory to it. Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald further explains that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug after an extremely successful phase 3 clinical study. During the study, the results in the control group were so profound that the trial was halted and placebo participants were given the drug, reports Lindsay Rosenwald.

Abiraterone is an androgen biosynthesis inhibitor (ABI) that directly affects the androgen biosynthesis pathway by inhibiting CYP17 (17α-hydroxylase/C17, 20-lyase). Consequently, androgen biosynthesis is inhibited at 3 sources of testosterone production: the testes, adrenal glands, and prostate tumor tissue. Androgen biosynthesis inhibition results in decreased levels of serum testosterone and other androgens. Androgen-deprivation therapies—such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs or orchiectomy—decrease androgen production in the testes, but do not affect androgen production by the adrenal glands or in the tumor.

As Lindsay Rosenwald reports, abiraterone was approved under the brand name Zytiga and released in April 2011. Zytiga’s approval came after clinical studies of nearly 1,200 late-stage prostate cancer patients showed the overall survival rate was significantly extended after taking the drug, says Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald.

Company acquisition

Lindsay Rosenwald reports that in July 2009, Johnson & Johnson completed its acquisition of Cougar Biotechnology. The acquisition took place after Johnson & Johnson purchased approximately 20,150,000 shares of Cougar Biotechnology stock through a short-form merger.

Johnson & Johnson spent approximately $1 billion to procure Cougar Biotechnology. At the time, Lindsay Rosenwald reports that Cougar Biotechnology was in the process of conducting Phase III clinical trials for abiraterone acetate.

Today, Cougar Biotechnology operates as a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson and works alongside Ortho Biotech Oncology Research & Development. Lindsay Rosenwald reports that Ortho Biotech is also a Johnson & Johnson company and operates under the umbrella of Centocor Research & Development.

The future of abiraterone

Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald reports that abiraterone acetate may also be indicated to treat advanced breast cancer. Studies performed at the University of London’s Institute of Cancer Research have shown promising results. According to the Institute of Cancer Research website, abiraterone acetate may be most useful for women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, says Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald.

Lindsay Rosenwald reports that Zytiga is slated to become a multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical in the coming years and is proud to have been a pioneer of its success. Thousands of lives have been prolonged thanks to the drug, and Lindsay Rosenwald believes that many more will be prolonged or saved in the future.

Cougar Biotechnology was founded to focus on finding medical assets with considerable intrinsic value, says Lindsay Rosenwald. The company achieved its goal by offering a notable new alternative in advanced oncological medication.

Rehak Creative Services Sees Value in Visual Storytelling

In Business on September 24, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Rehak Creative ServicesSince 1994, Rehak Creative Services has developed effective and engaging marketing communications for local and international clients. Rehak Creative Services focusing on identifying an advertising strategy that will increase clients’ awareness and sales. In this interview, Rehak Creative Services founder Bob Rehak describes how the development of advertising and marketing materials requires keen insight into the consumer’s perspective.

Q: What’s the primary goal of an advertisement?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Basically, advertisements—or any form of communication, for that matter—need to grab people’s attention. That’s job #1.

Q: How do advertising agencies make this happen?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Visuals provide the stopping power that will attract and engage the audience.

Q: What obstacles prevent clients from reaching their audience?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: In this era of data overload, there is often a huge disconnect between information and meaning.

Q: Can you elaborate?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Consumers often take in a wealth of content on a daily basis, but there’s precious little context.

Q: Who is responsible for reestablishing this connection?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: The ability to bond with the audience requires sensitive, innovative work by a whole group of writers, editors, illustrators, designers and photographers.

Q: How has Rehak Creative Services in particular solved the problem?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: The experienced team members of Rehak Creative Services have explored what it truly means to convey information with creativity and clarity.

Q: How has the advertising industry changed in recent years?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: In this time-pressured world, people further appreciate those who communicate quickly and succinctly.

Q: How can creative people accomplish this task?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Creative people need to say something worthwhile to hold the reader’s attention in order to read the copy.

Q: Will lengthy content help their cause?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Sometimes, especially if people are in the final stages of making a purchase decision. But in many cases, especially early in the purchase decision making cycle, using fewer words is actually a better strategy.

Q: Without words, what can creative people do to draw attention to advertising?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Visual elements provide the initial stopping power.

Q: Can you give us an example from the Rehak Creative Services portfolio?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: One of the most downloaded samples on our website is a brochure we did for the American Leadership Forum/Children’s Defense Fund Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline project.

Q: How does photography create stopping power?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Good photography can have an ironic, empathetic quality to it.  In this case, we used a baby in a crib reaching for a pair of handcuffs that were dangling overhead like a toy.

Q: In the grand scheme of themes, what are advertising experts trying to accomplish?

Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: In this case, we were trying to draw attention to community groups that had innovative strategies for helping to break at-risk children out of the Cradle-to-Prison pipeline. Our goal was to help generate support for their efforts.

Rehak Creative Services is a Houston-based advertising agency with a roster of international clients including Halliburton, TransCanada, and ChevronPhillips. Under the guidance of renowned creative director Bob Rehak, Rehak Creative Services has won more than 100 industry awards. For more information on Rehak Creative Services and their advertising campaigns, visit

All State Van Lines Relocation Hires Only Quality Employees

In Business on September 15, 2013 at 7:09 am

All-State-Van-Lines-Relocation-Employees1All State Van Lines Relocation is a moving brokerage firm based in Margate, Fla., that coordinates residential and corporate moves and relocations nationwide. In the following interview with Presentation Solutions, All State Van Lines Relocation describes its hiring philosophy.

Presentation Solutions: A service company like All State Van Lines Relocation is so much more than its president or CEO, isn’t it?

All State Van Lines Relocation: Absolutely. Our employees are the ones meeting and serving customers. That’s why we take so much care in hiring.

Presentation Solutions: Tell us more about that.

All State Van Lines Relocation: Hiring the right person isn’t easy. We can train, but we have to find people who have certain natural talents and characteristics first.

Presentation Solutions: What would those be?

All State Van Lines Relocation: First, we’re looking for people who are honest. After an initial interview, we do an extensive background check, since All State Van Lines Relocation employees work directly with the public.

Presentation Solutions: What else do you look for?

All State Van Lines Relocation: We look for good previous employment references and evidence dependability. Someone who will not just show up for work but will actually do the job of serving customers. All State Van Lines Relocation is a service company.

Presentation Solutions: Is there a certain personality type you look for?

All State Van Lines Relocation: Everyone is different, but basically we want positive people who are focused on finding solutions, not complaining about setbacks or challenges. All State Van Lines Relocation is a “get the job done right” kind of company.

Presentation Solutions: I would think handling people’s personal items would require special care, right?

All State Van Lines Relocation: Yes, so we focus on training in a big way. All State Van Lines Relocation employees undergo training that molds them into expert packers and movers. It’s a science of sorts.

Presentation Solutions: What do you mean?

All State Van Lines Relocation: There’s a right and a wrong way to pack furniture and belongings. All State Van Lines Relocation has more than 20 years’ experience in getting it right, and we train our employees accordingly, using top materials and highest industry standard practices.

Presentation Solutions: Your employees probably have to make a lot of minute-by-minute decisions when moving an array of items.

All State Van Lines Relocation: Yes, and that’s where the character issue comes in. We look for people with good judgment and a desire to please customers. That’s why we also depend a lot on referrals from within our All State Van Lines Relocation staff.

Presentation Solutions: You mean hiring friends of your current employees?

All State Van Lines Relocation: The experts do say that’s a good place to start. People who know what the job requires are often good at figuring out folks they know who might be a good fit. But they still have to go through background checks.

Presentation Solutions: And networking sites?

All State Van Lines Relocation: Yes, they can be good for upper-level staff. But sites like LinkedIn are really just sophisticated referral sites—people who know people and can vouch for them.

Presentation Solutions: Why is this so important?

All State Van Lines Relocation: It’s a lot tougher on everyone to terminate someone who’s not working out than to make a good hire at the start.

Paul Kadri: How Good to Great by Jim Collins Impacted His Managerial Philosophy

In General, Professionals on September 8, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Paul-Kadri-Good-to-GreatPaul Kadri, a 16-year public school administrator, has been on the forefront of education reform in order to help schools improve student achievement. In this interview, Paul Kadri shares how the research presented by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great was instrumental in his successes.

Presentation Solutions: When did you first become aware of the book Good to Great?

Paul Kadri: I actually don’t know. It feels like it’s been part of my thinking for so long, that I don’t remember a time when it was not there. Collins also wrote a supplement specifically for the social sector.

Presentation Solutions: Can you give an overview about the premise of the book before we dive into the details?

Paul Kadri: Sure. Collins and his team looked at businesses from various industries and identified those that stood out from their peers, having moved from a good position to one that he identifies as great. He then looked at these companies to see what common qualities they had that allowed them to make that shift.

Presentation Solutions: Were there many aspects that helped those companies achieve greatness?

Paul Kadri: Collins highlights many significant components that his research team found. One of them—leadership—was a component they originally assumed would not be included but later showed clear evidence of having impacted the organization. What was unusual was the type of leadership found in great organizations.

Presentation Solutions: Before we get to a discussion on leadership, is there one aspect of the book that you think is most important?

Paul Kadri: The first line in his book is by far the most important. He states, “Good is the enemy of great.” This is an amazingly powerful statement. Most people believe that you become great by improving good. That is a trap. Very often, the skills that allow an organization to be good have limits that keep it from being great. If an organization truly wishes to be great, it needs to consider starting from scratch and developing skills whose processes won’t have those same limits.

Presentation Solutions: Very interesting. So now, tell us how leadership plays a role in great companies?

Paul Kadri: Many assumed that the charismatic and boisterous leader would be the ideal candidate for bringing greatness to an organization. Collins found that not to be true. While many are outstanding leaders who have achieved great success, in terms of running a great organization that sustains greatness, the leadership quality is quite different. Said simply, it is a modest person who is interested in knowing “the brutal facts,” is singularly driven for organizational (not personal) success, and makes sure that all decisions are correct and in line with the mission of the organization.

Presentation Solutions: That seems pretty obvious, don’t you think?

Paul Kadri: It does, but you would be amazed how many times decisions are made not to promote the mission, but to please an individual, remove a bad situation, or otherwise.

Presentation Solutions: What is another part of the book that resonated with you?

Paul Kadri: Collins talks about putting the right people “on the bus” and in the “right seats.” This means hiring the right people and putting them in positions where their strengths are maximized. In a separate interview, Collins spoke about education. He suggested that one gets tenure after one proves they are exceptional, not as a result of not doing something wrong.

Presentation Solutions: Have you tried this concept?

Paul Kadri: Yes. We significantly increased the rigor of our hiring process and placed extra emphasis on supporting new teachers. Even the best teachers need support from experienced staff and administrators when they first start.

Presentation Solutions: If someone were to work for you, would reading this book give him or her insight as to how you operate?

Paul Kadri: It is funny you should mention that, because it is true. I purchased the book for all administrators in the district so that they could understand the concepts and frameworks. This gives them great insight as to how I lead the organization. The Board of Education also adopted this framework.

Presentation Solutions: Do you think you operate as the leader defined in Good to Great?

Paul Kadri: The top leader, called Level V, is a modest person who is hungry for knowing the real facts and is singularly committed to the success of the organization. In all three of these areas I am absolutely aligned. There is one component that I’m not sure about. I’m a very emotional person. One gets the feeling that the Level V leader is a more stoic character.

Presentation Solutions: Do you think you’ll ever be stoic?

Paul Kadri: I’m not sure about that. I show my emotions and I don’t even know I’m doing it. It doesn’t make me a great poker player.

Presentation Solutions: To conclude, is there anything notable that Collins points out about the public sector?

Paul Kadri: Yes, he states that the power structure is very different in the public sector. For example, teachers with tenure have more power than employees in a business. As such, the leader could face more resistance. This requires that the leader have skills to make the right decision even in the face of resistance. He is very clear that he is not talking about consensus, but about educating and building relationships to assist in making the right decisions. He goes on to say that this is a skill that would benefit business leaders.

Paul Kadri was last superintendent in the Groton public schools in Connecticut. He is widely known for his success in improving student achievement while maintaining fiscal restraints. Often called a change agent, Paul Kadri is first and foremost unwaveringly committed to the success of his students. For more information about Paul Kadri, visit his website at