“Hey, TSA!” (Tourette Syndrome Association)

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On Otsuka receiving honors, consultants remembering what’s important, and a 13 year old Tourette patient’s plea to never give up.

The Annual Tourette Syndrome Association Gala was held at the iconic Pierre Hotel in New York City’s Upper East Side on November 17th. Over 350 people attended, raising over $1 million to further research and aid those affected with Tourette Syndrome.

After receiving an invite, I quickly became excited as the website said the event would be hosted by Julianne Moore, Polly Draper and Lewis Black. Rubbing elbows with movie stars beats my typical Monday night of eating Whole Foods alone in a central-New Jersey hotel room. As the meal moved from appetizers to entrees it became clear that our “hosts” were virtual, each providing brief pre-recorded videos. The only exception to this was Randy Jones, a member of Village People, who was there to take the attendees through a rendition of the “YMCA” song, “Hey TSA.” A bit disappointed at first, my mindset quickly changed as it became apparent how TSA impacts the lives of so many.

Otsuka’s President and Chief Executive Officer, William H. Carson, MD, was presented with the TSA Tribute to Excellence award for the company’s work on medications for childhood brain disorders. Although Tourette’s can be a chronic condition with symptoms lasting a lifetime, most people with the condition experience their worst tic symptoms in their early teens, with improvement occurring in the late teens and continuing into adulthood.

Otsuka was recognized for their relentless pursuit toward the development of new drugs that may help treat individuals diagnosed with Tourette’s (today there is no cure for Tourette’s and no medication that universally works to treat all Tourette’s patients).

Then it crossed my mind that the drug development candidates Otsuka is pursuing, and their associated clinical trials, are being managed with the tools and processes that UMT helped implement. The hope is that by managing clinical trials in a standardized way, efficiencies can be gained which will reduce the amount of time it takes to execute them. Shaving just a fraction off of the 12 year average it takes to move a drug from the laboratory to the market place can have a significant impact on revenue, but more importantly on the thousands of people that wake up each day with this condition.

Without question, the speech of the night was from Kaylee Chin, a 13-year old TSA Youth Ambassador. She told her heartfelt story of what it likes to be a teenager with Tourette’s, and how just months before she had a flare up that resulted in her not being able to speak for days, paralyzing her in her house. Now, just months later, in front of over 300 people in New York City she relayed the importance of never giving up on the end goal, whatever it may be. Surely, setbacks will occur along the journey but keeping the focus and determination to get to the destination is what keeps people like Kaylee moving forward every day.

Lying in bed that night I had the chance to reflect on the day’s events and remind myself why we do what we do. Consulting for Otsuka is not just about creating sustainable and repeatable processes and tools, but about trying to help Otsuka ultimately deliver a drug that can positively change the lives of people like Kaylee and the millions just like her. As consultants, we need to not only understand the destination that our clients seek, but the positive outcome that arriving at that destination produces.

So tonight after you check in to your hotel room, board your plane or eat a meal huddled over your laptop, take a second to think about the underlying positive change you are helping your clients accomplish. This end goal often gets pushed to the back of our minds as we work tirelessly on the deliverables that loom on the near horizon. By doing so, you may be surprised with the newfound motivation and commitment you wake up with tomorrow.