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Collaboration versus Concentration: The Office

Posted by Brook White on Wed, Nov 07, 2018 @ 09:47 AM

Quick quiz for fans of The Office: Can you remember where each employee sat in the Scranton Dunder Mifflin office?  Even if you can’t get it perfect, chances are you can close your eyes and envision the layout.  The office was open with very few physical boundaries between desks.  Employees could see each other face-to-face and hear one another at all times.  It was a set deliberately configured to create the awkward interactions and comedic conflict that made the series so popular.  The design was perfect for sitcom parody, but it was disastrous for productivity.  

The open office concept has gained popularity in recent years, even becoming a sort of corporate status symbol suggesting that a company values openness, collaboration, and innovation.  However, recent research suggests the open office has the exact opposite effect on employees – reducing in-person interactions, driving up email and IM use, and diminishing productivity.  Several reasons have been given for these results, including: offices are too noisy and distracting, employees feel a loss of privacy and more stress, and individuals prioritize “looking busy” over doing impactful work.  

To quote Michael Scott, “We don’t hate it.  We just don’t like it at all, and it’s terrible.”

deep work, concentrationThe problem is not that having places of open collaboration are bad, it’s that an office cannot be constructed around this virtue alone.  Employees also need time for distraction-free, heads-down, concentration work.  In Deep Work, Cal Newport praises an alternative layout that maximizes the benefits of both “serendipitous encounters and isolated deep thinking,” which he dubs a hub-and-spoke design.  The concept is simple: have quiet personal areas of working that minimize distraction and interruption that are connected to large common areas that facilitate teamwork, mutual inspiration, brainstorming, and idea sharing.  

We took these lessons to heart when designing our new office space.  

collaboration and team workThe upper floors, which will house most employees’ work spaces, are built around the hub-and-spoke design.  Collaboration spaces (conference rooms, war rooms, huddle rooms, the pantry) are centrally located with cubes and offices spreading out from there.  Within the individual workspace areas, we alternate rows of cubes and offices which will dampen sound and prevent large areas of noisy cubes.  We are also providing more spaces for quiet concentration away from your desk with Focus Rooms, offices equipped with treadmill desks for shared use, and Libraries.  On the first floor, in addition to the main conference room suite, there will be more opportunities for collaboration with a much larger Hub and adjoining Game Room, and larger Patio.

We are really excited about the new space, but at the end of the day, it is still just an office.  A building doesn’t make us special.  Our employees do.  The best our physical workspace can do is provide a structure conducive to good work, but the onus is on each of us to adopt and implement productive behaviors.  

A primary goal of our new headquarters is to build a workspace that makes people excited about where they work.  We look forward to seeing how the move to the new building supports Deep Work and improves our collective productivity.

Ryan2Ryan Bailey, MA is a Senior Clinical Researcher at Rho.  He has over 10 years of experience conducting multicenter asthma research studies, including the Inner City Asthma Consortium (ICAC) and the Community Healthcare for Asthma Management and Prevention of Symptoms (CHAMPS) project.  Ryan is also part of the team at Rho that encourages and facilitates Deep Work.

Culture Fit Interviews: What Are They and Why Do We Do Them?

Posted by Brook White on Tue, Jul 17, 2018 @ 09:53 AM

If you’ve ever interviewed for a job at Rho, you know that one part of our process is a little different from what many other companies do.  Each prospective employee goes through a culture fit interview.  So, what is a culture fit interview? (And equally important, what isn’t a culture fit interview?)  Why do we think they are important?

What it is

Rho team  members Liz, Daniel, and SeanThe purpose of the culture fit interview is to make sure that each employee we bring on board shares and embodies the same values that we do.  You can read more about our core values here.  These interviews are conducted by a select set of senior leaders who have been with the company for quite a while.  The interviews do not assess skills or technical qualifications, and, generally speaking, won’t be performed by someone who shares the same expertise as you do.

We use the same bank of questions for all culture fit interviews whether you are applying for an entry level position straight out of college or a senior leadership position.  These questions ask for examples or stories from your past experience that assess qualities that we think are important—ability to work as part of a team, to think critically and creatively when solving problems, to communicate effectively, and  to demonstrate integrity.

What it isn’t

We recognize that one of the dangers of this type of screening is that it provides an opportunity to weed out candidates that aren’t “just like us.”  That is not what we are doing.  We value diversity of all kinds—demographic diversity, diversity of experience, and diversity of perspective.  We are not looking to create a homogeneous workplace where everyone thinks and acts the same.  

We are, however, looking to select candidates that can succeed and thrive in our workplace.  From experience, we’ve identified some of the attributes that can make otherwise similar candidates succeed or fail at Rho.  There are people who are highly skilled and who can be highly successful in other corporate climates who won’t do well here.  We owe it to them and the people who would work with them to try and identify them ahead of time.

In addition to the qualities listed above, there are aspects of our environment that can cause otherwise successful professionals struggle here at Rho.  Rho has a very flat organization structure that relies heavily on project teams’ ability to execute in a fairly independent way.  That allows a high degree of autonomy but also creates higher expectations for collaboration and communication.

Some people love this—they get a great deal of say in both what work they are doing and how they do it.  They don’t feel micromanaged and they enjoy close collaboration with their teams.  Some people don’t love it—some people prefer more firm direction and less fluid hierarchies.  If you need a lot of structure and close oversight from a supervisor to be successful, this may not be the best environment for you.  If you don’t like being part of a self-directing team and want a manager to negotiate your work priorities and interactions with other groups, this may not be the best environment for you.  There’s nothing wrong with that!  There are plenty of places that operate that way, but Rho is not one of them.

Why we do it

Rho super heroesWe believe our employees are our greatest asset.   Attracting and retaining the most talented employees is critical to our success, so we put a huge emphasis on selecting the right people to join us and maintaining a culture where talented people want to stay long-term.  

A number of years ago, we went through a period of accelerated growth where we hired a large number of people very quickly.  Despite carefully vetting the technical capabilities of these individuals, a high percentage failed to succeed here.  We began to experience a lot of turnover—a new and unpleasant problem.  The culture and work environment began to drift from what had made us successful and what had made many of our long-term employees so excited about working here.  It took a lot of effort to correct that drift and stop the turnover, but we did it—and we don’t want to have to repeat that effort.  

We now view maintaining our culture as another key component to continued success.  Culture fit interviews are one way we do this.  It is a significant investment we are making—it takes a substantial amount of time to conduct these interviews and it means we sometimes can’t grow as quickly as we might otherwise.  It is also a step in the selection process that we take very seriously.  We never skip this step, and we don’t make an offer to a candidate unless the culture fit interviewer is satisfied.

How can you prepare?

rho_portraits_Spencer-080Are you interested in working at Rho, but this part of the interview process makes you nervous?  Here’s some advice to help you prepare.  This isn’t supposed to be a “gotcha” process.  It is supposed to help us—and you—evaluate whether this is a working environment where you can be successful.

Start by reviewing our core values.  All of the questions we ask directly relate to these values.  Think about examples and stories from your past experiences that demonstrate your strengths in relationship to each of these values.  Think about some examples that show:

  • Times when you’ve gone above and beyond to help your team or a coworker succeed
  • Clever ways you’ve solved complicated problems
  • Situations where your integrity has been tested
  • Ways you’ve ensured the quality of your work

Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of work experience to draw from.  We’ve had plenty of early career candidates who have answered our questions with examples from school projects, internships, volunteer experiences, and extracurricular activities.  

Interested in learning more about working at Rho?  Find out more about why Rho is a great place to work or meet some of the interesting people you could be working with.

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What Makes a SuperheRho: More Than a Coworker in a Cape

Posted by Karley St. Pierre on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 @ 09:33 AM

“Who’s your favorite superhero?” No matter your age or gender, this question is commonly asked. It’s an ice-breaker of sorts—a response can tell a lot about someone’s personality and values. There are the typical, almost obvious answers—Batman, Superman, etc. Maybe you’d have a Marvel enthusiast throw in Iron Man for good measure. Or you could have someone aptly choose Wonder Woman as their favorite, what with this year’s blockbuster film making great strides in its genre. Regardless of who you choose the idea behind it is the same: who is someone you look up to, someone who can do anything incredibly. Superheroes are often thought of as being larger-than-life, having these unbelievable powers and instincts. They make great characters because their attributes are so incredible and uncommon. Yet, what we often forget is that we actually have superheroes around us every day, in real life—and at Rho. Between conducting clinical trials, giving keynote speeches at conferences, and participating in local philanthropy events, employees at Rho consistently go above and beyond. So, it comes as no surprise that we showcase our superhero staff when the time is right.

This past September, Rho celebrated being named to the Triangle Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” list for 2017. The local publication holds nominations each year and honors the winners at a celebratory luncheon. Rho has been fortunate to receive this honor for 6 consecutive years, and each year Rho’s attendees choose their favorite hero-inspired shirt to wear. “When I was asked what character I wanted to be, at first I thought it was silly,” said Lane Bissett, a Business Development Associate with Rho. “Of course, I picked Wonder Woman like all the other ladies, but when I put on the shirt, it hit me.” Lane said that seeing herself alongside her Rho teammates, all wearing their chosen superhero tees, put an idea in her head. “We all are so different, but we all have these qualities that make us work great as a team. Representing Rho as this unified group of people felt really surreal.” Much like superhero squads in the movies, our team at Rho consists of many different personalities, strengths and talents. Whether it be a Clinical Research Associate or a Clinical Project Manager, every Rho employee has the opportunity to showcase their skill and knowledge while also learning from others. It’s a kind of collaboration that not only works but can be hard to find. 


It’s this idea that makes Rho special—this unification of people and personalities towards one purpose and goal.  At Rho, that core purpose is to improve health, extend life, and enhance quality of life through corporate and research excellence. Each employee who represented Rho at the Triangle Business Journal Luncheon came from different sectors, holding different positions within the organization. “I was really proud when the announcers mentioned how Rho has won for the past 6 years,” said Joyce Lau, Research Associate. “It made us all feel kind of invincible,” she continued, “and it made me realize that there is a reason we can call ourselves superheroes here. We definitely had the most spirit, and it showed!” Throughout those 6 years, Rho has continued to see tremendous growth and opportunity, especially when it comes to adding more superheroes to the team. “When I came to Rho, the first thing I noticed was how great the people are,” Lane added. “Every day I feel lucky to work with the people I do, and it makes me excited to think of new hires joining and getting to see how amazing we are.” 

Shortly after Rho was honored at TBJ’s luncheon, we also celebrated our fiscal year end. At the celebration, employees were able to enjoy delicious food, interact with our CEOs and founders, and take home some pretty awesome Rho backpacks. “It felt like an early Christmas,”  said Joyce. “It just goes to show how much the people at Rho really care about you, really going above and beyond what you’d expect.” The year end celebration was a superhero convention it its own way—all our phenomenal heroes in one place.


It’s not just the luncheons and gatherings that make us excited and proud to wear the title of “SuperheRho.” Just like the characters in comic books, every day brings a new challenge to face and every day we get to use our strengths to rise to the occasion. Recognition can be nice, but that’s not why superheroes do what they do. There’s an internal push for excellence and success, which Rho mirrors in our core values. So when we get asked who our favorite superhero is, chances are it’s someone here at Rho.


Breaking Bad (Meetings)

Posted by Brook White on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 @ 10:57 AM

Ryan2.jpgRyan Bailey, MA is a Senior Clinical Researcher at Rho.  He has over 10 years of experience conducting multicenter asthma research studies, including theInner City Asthma Consortium (ICAC) and the Community Healthcare for Asthma Management and Prevention of Symptoms (CHAMPS) project. 

In Hamlet, Shakespeare posed the most famous existential question in English theater -- “To be, or not to be?”

If the Bard were to write a play for the 21st century office, he might ask a different, but no less poignant, question – “To meet, or not to meet?”

Few topics seem to elicit more workplace dread than the meeting. We tend to view meetings as disruptions, time sinks, resource devourers, and productivity killers. When someone says they “spent all day in meetings,” we don’t assume they got a lot accomplished; we assume their day was a bust.

Given the angst that seems to accompany meetings, we’ve been trying to rethink how we approach them at Rho. To help, we’ve been drawing inspiration from Deep Work, by Dr. Cal Newport. The premise of Deep Work is that our technology-driven culture is inadvertently inhibiting our ability to do focused, cognitively-demanding, high-impact work. Instead, our work is increasingly defined by fragmentation, interruption, and distraction, as we let our inbox and meeting schedule dictate the work we do.

Dr. Newport’s work struck a chord with us. Yet, we cannot escape the fact that our work requires the type of synchronous collaboration and context-rich communication that only meetings can provide. Here again we have an existential question: If meetings are so fundamentally important to our work, why are they so painful and disruptive?
Our honest take: We’re bad at them and we overuse them.

Most of us stink at meetings. We stink because we’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that meetings are easy. We show up and talk about the same stuff every week for an hour. What’s hard about that? In reality, effective meetings require thoughtful planning and careful execution from leaders, as well as mindful preparation and active participation from attendees.boring_meeting.jpg

Calendar software has exacerbated our problem by making it too convenient to schedule meetings. Rather than stopping to think if a meeting is needed, or if our objectives could be accomplished in a more effective way, we schedule the meeting because it’s easy. The classic example of this is the status update meeting. If the whole point of your meeting is to go around the room and give status updates to your teammates – something that could be done via email or chat with far less disruption – you have created a zombie meeting, an undead horror sucking the productivity out of your colleagues!

Many of us also have the bad habit of scheduling meetings as a form of procrastination. Instead of trying to solve a problem now, we punt it to our next meeting. While there’s nothing wrong with deferring a difficult issue until you can discuss it as a team, swamping the agenda with our postponed to-do lists is certain to “zombify” a meeting. The especially painful result of this tactic is that instead of taking a few minutes to solve the problem on our own, we multiply the resource burden. A 15-minute task dragged into an 8-person meeting effectively becomes a 2-hour task.

So, what’s to be done to salvage meetings and make them productive and engaging? One approach that we advocate among both meeting leaders and attendees is to follow the FSB mantra to meetings: Fewer. Shorter. Better. Here’s some advice we recently provided to our employees about FSB meetings:

Fewer – The challenge here is to not merely cut meetings, but to cut intelligently.  

  • Leaders: Think critically before you schedule a meeting.  Do you really need it?  Can you accomplish your objectives in a better way? For recurring meetings, take a look a day ahead of time and decide if you can cancel it. 
  • Attendees: Think critically before you attend a meeting. Do you need to be there? Read the agenda. Do you know which topics pertain to you? What will you contribute or learn? If you are unsure, contact the meeting coordinator and ask.
One alternative to cancelling a meeting is to rethink your meeting format. Could updates be sent from email and the meeting cancelled outright? Would a brief stand-up meeting suffice instead of an hour-long time drain? What about a brief teleconference from your desk? wood-table-meeting.jpg

Shorter – Meetings are notorious for taking up as much time as you allot for them. When you have back-to-back meetings, this leads to meeting room overlap, frustration, and the domino effect of late-starting meetings. Instead, try the 25/50 rule: reduce 30-minute meetings to 25 minutes and hour-long sessions to 50 minutes. This provides buffer to conclude your meeting and head to your next engagement on time.

Better – The single most important factor for better meetings is being prepared. Not knowing why you are at a meeting, what will be discussed, and what you hope to accomplish is certain to create a poor meeting.

  • Leaders: Serve your attendees well by following the basics of good meetings: 
    • Have a goal
    • Think critically about who should attend
    • Provide context ahead of time
    • Stay on time and on task
    • Endeavor to engage everyone in the room

If you are struggling with these steps, try setting aside time to prepare for your meetings.  You may also find that you are leading too many meetings.  In which case, you should share the load (this is a great way to help train up more junior team members!)

  • Attendees: Don’t settle for bad meetings.  Speak up and provide helpful, candid, and constructive feedback.  But also, when you’re in a meeting, be a helpful attendee:
    • Request that items be added to the agenda ahead of time
    • Come prepared to address the sections of the agenda you’re responsible for
    • Avoid the temptation to commandeer or disrupt the meeting

Meetings don’t have to be a source of frustration or disruption.  To the contrary, meetings can be some of the most productive times of our day – where we solve problems, brainstorm, and find creative inspiration – provided we execute them properly.  

When is the last time you did a self-evaluation of your meetings?  If it’s been a while (or never), consider taking 15 minutes this week to think critically and creatively about your current meetings.  How can they be pared back, truncated, and refined to make them more effective and productive?  When done right, following the FSB mantra can do a lot to return some much-needed productive time to your schedule.

Watch: Meet Our Experts

12 Resume Tips That Can Help You Get a Clinical Research Job

Posted by Brook White on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 @ 11:36 AM

resume tips for clinical research jobsI’ve been working at Rho for 10 years and at CROs for more than 15 years, and in that time, I’ve reviewed a lot of resumes for job seekers in many different positions. Here are some resume and CV tips to help you stand out with the recruiters, hiring managers, and interview teams that make the difference between getting an interview or a rejection letter for the clinical research job you really want.

Note: The tips I’m sharing here are for job seekers in the US. International standards can differ.

Keywords Matter

In most cases, the first look at your resume won’t be a thorough one. During that first pass, a recruiter is probably looking for a handful of keywords that they associate with the position. What terms are you using to search for jobs? Those same terms should show up prominently on your resume.

Does that mean you can’t get a job if you haven’t held that job before? No. You just need to make sure that it is clear how your experience is applicable. For example, if you are seeking a job as a CRA but haven’t had CRA as your title, you can still make sure that words like monitoring and site visit show up in the accomplishments and descriptions of your roles. For competitive positions, most candidates are screened out during this step. Make sure you’re not one of them.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

I’m always surprised by the number of resumes I see that have basic spelling, grammar and formatting errors. Generally, I wouldn’t consider hiring someone with these sorts of errors. This may sound picky, but clinical research requires close attention to detail for nearly every position at every level.

You should carefully proofread your resume. Then, ask someone with strong writing and editing skills to do the same. Don’t have access to someone that’s up to the job? Check out Grammarly. It is a free online tool that will eliminate most of these errors. Make sure you list the correct company and job title for which you are applyi

best candidate for a clinical research job

ng. Listing either one incorrectly shows a lack of attention to detail and tells the recruiter you aren’t committed to their company.

Tailor Your Resume to the Position

Start by carefully reading the posted job description.  What specific skills and experience does the job require?  Make sure you highlight these skills on your resume and that it is obvious how your experience aligns with the required experience for the job.  What are the primary job duties and responsibilities?  Call-out how you have accomplished similar tasks in your previous work.  Finally, review the company’s website to see what values they highlight.  Quality? Teamwork? Fast-paced environment?  Think about how you can demonstrate the attributes they are looking for in the materials you are submitting.  This may seem daunting, but submitting 10 tailored resumes will produce better results than submitting 100 generic ones.  List your applicable skills at the beginning of your resume, not the end.  You want to capture the attention of the resume reviewer quickly.  

Demonstrate Knowledge of the Industry

Whether you are a clinical research veteran with 20 years of experience or are seeking an entry level position, your resume should reflect awareness of what is happening in the industry. If you are new to the industry or returning to the industry, there are a number of great free news sources that can help you with this. A few of my favorites are FierceCRO and FierceBiotech, Clinical Leader, and Applied Clinical Trials.

Consider how to work in key trends. Searching for a clinical operations role? Highlight your experience with risk-based monitoring. Looking for a job in clinical project management? Mention your experience working with patient advocacy groups to improve patient recruitment. Obviously, the depth of knowledge and awareness expected will differ based on your role and experience level, but these are the kinds of things that can be differentiators in a competitive field. One thing to note – make sure you can speak to every item on your resume if asked about your experience – no fabrications. If you can’t articulate that particular skill or ability during an interview, don’t list it on your resume or CV.


This is not a creative or design-focused industry.  Your resume does not need to be a work of art, but basic proper formatting is expected.  Use an easy to read font and font size with a light background color and a dark font color.  Have reasonable margins.  Use bullets.  Limit your resume to 2-3 pages maximum.  Focus on making it easy to read and easy to find desired information.  There are plenty of good free templates out there, so consider using one of those if you aren’t sure what good formatting looks like.

Cover Letter—Yes or No?

happy_business_colleauges.jpgWhether or not to include a cover letter depends both on your resume and the position for which you are applying. In some cases, it will be obvious how your skills and experience are transferable to the posted position. For example, you currently are a clinical data manager with experience in EDC system x and skills y and z applying for a job as a clinical data manager with experience in EDC system x and skills y and z. In this case, a cover letter isn’t necessary, although it would provide an opportunity for you to explain why you are interested in that company or that position.

In some cases, there isn’t a straight line between your work experience and the position you’re applying for. Or, maybe there is something on your resume that you would like to explain like a gap in your work history. Or, maybe the position is in another location and you want to voice your willingness to relocate. A cover letter can help you with any of these situations. If you do include a cover letter, make sure it is concise, well-written, and offers something more than what would be obvious from reading your resume. And don’t forget to ask a friend to proofread your cover letter! A great resume will be overlooked by a poorly written and grammatically incorrect cover letter.

Accomplishments Not Duties

For each position, you should include a brief summary of the responsibilities followed by a couple of core accomplishments.  It should not be a bulleted list of the twenty duties in the job description.  Finally, accomplishments should be specific and should include metrics where possible.  For example, a clinical project manager might list an accomplishment like “For a global phase 3 study, completed enrollment 6 weeks early and delivered topline results 3 days after database lock.”  This resume will get a lot further than one with a list that says managed global phase 3 studies, oversaw data management and statistical deliverables, and managed timelines.

Technical Skills

Recruiters and hiring managers are often looking for specific technology skills and even experience with specific software systems.  Ideally, these would be listed in the job posting, but that isn’t always the case.  Include both industry system types like CTMS, EDC, IRT, and statistical programming languages as well as specific system names like Medidata Rave and SAS.  Also include industry agnostic technologies that may be applicable to your role like MS Project, HTML, or Java.  If you have experience in clinical research, you should also list the therapeutic areas where you have experience. Also make sure to list any certifications like the Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC), Project Management Professional (PMP), or Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA).

How Long Should My Resume Be?

The answer to how long your resume should be depends on how much work experience you have and the type of job you are seeking.  For recent graduates and early career candidates, about a page is a good rule of thumb.  For experienced candidates in most roles, 2-3 pages is an appropriate length.  For scientific roles where publications are expected to be included, CV length is highly variable and should be driven by career length, number of professional positions, and number of publications; however, you still want your biggest selling points on the first couple of pages.

Things You Don’t Need to Include on Your Resume

There are also a number of things you shouldn’t include on your resume:

  • Personal or demographic information like age, race, gender, religious preference, social security number, or marital status.
  • Photos.
  • Salary history or salary requirements.
  • “References available on request”—this is assumed, takes up space, and can make your resume seem dated.
  • Objective—I’ve never seen an objective that has made a difference in my decision for the positive.  However, an objective that isn’t well written or doesn’t align with what I’m looking for has caused me to rule candidates out.

Advice for Recent Graduates

Many recent college graduates struggle with what to include on their resumes besides their education if they don’t have professional work experience.  That is totally fine—when we are hiring entry level candidates we don’t expect them to have professional work experience.  Some beneficial things you can include are:

  • Volunteer experience
  • Non-professional work experience from restaurant jobs to dog walking to mowing lawns in the summer
  • Study abroad programs
  • Internships
  • Extracurricular activities, especially leadership positions
  • Class projects that are relevant to the position

Each of these provides valuable information about you.

Interested in working at Rho? Learn more about working at Rho!

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10 Interviewing Tips for Jobs in Clinical Research

Posted by Brook White on Tue, Jul 11, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

are you ready for an interview for a clinical research job?I’ve been working at Rho for nearly 10 years and in the industry for more than 15 years.  During that time, I’ve interviewed a lot of people for a lot of different jobs in clinical research.  Here are a few tips that can help you stand out in the interview process.

1. Get the basic stuff right.

Regardless of the industry or the job you are interviewing for, there are some basic things you need to get right.  Show up on time.  Dress appropriately.  In most cases, that means wear a suit.  Be polite and respectful to everyone you meet, regardless of whether you think they are involved in the hiring process.  Shake hands.  Make eye contact when you are talking with people.  Silence your phone during the interview.  Be prepared to take some notes.  Even if you don’t use it, having a notepad and pen sends the message that you are prepared.  Send thank you notes—emails are fine.  This all may seem very basic, but I continue to be surprised by the number of job candidates who fail at one or more of these things.

2. Do your research.

The amount of information available today is astonishing.  Take advantage of it.  Before you ever walk in the door for the interview, you should learn as much about both the company and the people you will be interviewing with as you can.  Start by reviewing the company’s website and social media channels.  Search for news about the company including interviews with leaders of the company.  This can be a great source of insight.  If you have the names of the individuals you will meet during your interview, look them up on LinkedIn.  Most people today working in clinical research will have at least a basic profile out there, and some will have a lot more.  If you don’t have specific names, look at people with similar titles to the one you are seeking to see what kinds of experience they have.  

3. Know or Learn the Industry.

Whether you are a clinical research veteran with 20 years of experience or are seeking an entry level position, make sure you are up to date with what is happening in the industry.  Read up on current events in clinical research, make sure you are aware of industry trends, and brush up on applicable regulatory knowledge.  There are a number of great free news sources that can help you with this.  A few of my favorites are FierceCRO and FierceBiotech, Clinical Leader, and Applied Clinical Trials.  Obviously, the depth of knowledge and awareness expected will differ based on your role and experience level.

4. Use Your Network.

It’s a small world.  Do you know anyone who works at the company?  Let them know you are applying and ask questions about what it’s like to work there.  Even if you don’t know someone at that company, you likely know someone who knows someone or you know someone who works at another CRO that could be good sources of information and advice.  LinkedIn is a great tool for identifying these connections.  It will also let you see shared professional groups that might provide you with a connection.

5. Use Storytelling to Demonstrate Your Ability to Do the Job.

use storytelling in the interviewWhen you are answering questions in the interview, be prepared to provide specific examples from your previous experience.  If you are a recent graduate, examples from school projects and classes are acceptable.  Some interviewers will expect it, but, even when they don’t, telling a story that demonstrates your ability to do the job is much more powerful than providing a hypothetical answer.  Think through your accomplishments and your best learning experiences.  While it might not seem obvious, think about projects and studies where things have gone wrong.  Showing that you understand why things went wrong and how you learned from it actually can have more impact than someone who only talks about positive experiences.  If you want to learn more about using storytelling to better deliver your message, check out this presentation from Jeff Polish(and if you are ever in Durham, check out his live story-telling group The Monti).

Whenever possible, use experiences that demonstrate specific knowledge of the job.  For CRAs, this might mean talking about experiences during site visits, working with investigators and site staff, and writing trip reports.  For quality assurance professionals, it might mean talking about experiences with sponsor audits or regulatory inspections.

6. View Each Question as an Opportunity.

By the time you get to the interview, hopefully you have a good understanding of what your potential employer is looking for in the position.  For job openings at Rho, information specific to the role can be found in the posted job description and general information about what we are looking for in employees can be found on our website, particularly in the Our Values section.  While you should provide straightforward answers to the questions asked during the interview, each question is also an opportunity to demonstrate how you meet one or more of the desired qualities or skills for the job.  For example, I may not ask a direct question about team work, but being a team player is an important quality for Rho employees.  An astute job seeker could answer another question, like a question about their greatest accomplishment, with a story that shows how they worked with a team to achieve that accomplishment.  It’s okay to take a minute and think about your answer before responding. 

7. Don’t Bad Mouth Former Colleagues, Bosses, or Employers.

It never helps you to talk badly about former colleagues, bosses, or employers.  It’s fine to share challenges, as long as you talk about how you overcame them. When you cross the line into complaining, it can create the impression that you were the problem or that you will be difficult to manage.  We already know you probably aren’t that happy or you wouldn’t be looking for other opportunities, so you don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty of why you are leaving.  And it’s a small world (see item 4), so there is always a chance that the person you are talking to knows some of these people or already has an opinion about your prior employers.

8. Know Why You Want the Job.

The reason may be obvious to you, but be prepared to articulate why you want the job.  Be able to talk both about why working for the company appeals to you as well as why the specific role you applied for appeals to you.

9. Ask (Good) Questions.

questionsMost interviewers will leave time at the end for you to ask questions.  It is fine if you come up with some during the interview, but come prepared with a couple of questions.  If you will be interviewed by multiple people, make sure you have questions for each.  Some of the questions should be role specific and some should be about the company.  Here are some good options:

  • What do you like best about working at <company>?
  • What qualities do you think it takes to be successful in <job role>?
  • How would my success be measured if I were to be offered this job?
  • What are the greatest challenges in this role?

Unless you are talking to a recruiter or HR representative, avoid questions about compensation, benefits, and company policies.  Also, be cautious about asking questions related to requirements you may have—wanting to work alternate hours, what type of office space  you would have,  or upcoming time off for a planned vacation.  Most of these can be discussed and negotiated when an offer is made.

10. Close the Deal.

close the dealAt the end of the interview, if you really want the job, say so.  Close out the conversation by saying in a relatively direct way that you want the job and briefly restating why they should hire you.  It can be something as simple as “I’ve really enjoyed hearing more about <role> at <company>.  I think my skills and experience would be a great fit and I would like the job.”  Remember, send a thank you note referencing something you discussed in your interview.  This shows the interviewer you were actively listening and engaged.

Want to work at Rho?  Check out our job openings.

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5 Ways Rho Keeps Employee Turnover Low

Posted by Brook White on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 @ 11:40 AM

Employee turnover rates across the CRO industry are incredibly high.  In 2014, the overall CRO turnover rate was 19.5% and was even higher (25.4%) among CRAs.  At Rho, we recognize that team stability is a key factor in meeting our Sponsors’ expectations and in doing high quality clinical research.  In order to maintain team stability, we have to keep employee turnover low—significantly lower than industry average.  How do we do that?

Company Culture

As is frequently said by Rho co-Founder Ron Helms, the goal should be that we are all happy at work 19 days out of 20.  While everyone has an occasional bad day, we strive to make Rho a place where people are excited to come to work each day.  For starters, we have an intensive hiring and on-boarding process that ensures that people who come work here will be a good fit here.  Every prospective employee is interviewed by a senior leader whose job it is to protect the culture we’ve built.  It is amazing how much more enjoyable work is when your co-workers are smart, fun people who are good at what they do.

Rho game roomThe physical work environment is important too.  We constantly look for ways to improve the work environment.  Recently, we’ve added a game room with TVs, video games, and ping pong; the RhoHUB which is a central gathering place for co-workers to grab a cup of coffee or sit and eat lunch from one of the food trucks; and a meditation room.  All employees have the option of a standing desk, and we’ve experimented with some other alternative arrangements like treadmill desks and stationary bike desks.

We also encourage employees to connect with the community at large.  Last year, in addition to a significant corporate gift to DonorsChoose.org, each employee received a gift card to donate to a classroom or school project of their choosing.  Each year, we have a BBQ and raffle fundraiser to support the March of Dimes and numerous employees participate in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies.

Finally, no discussion of Rho’s corporate culture would be complete without mentioning our core purpose and core values.  Our core purpose is to improve health, extend life, and enhance quality of life via corporate and research excellence.  Our core values are integrity, stability, innovation, quality, to think critically & creatively, profitability, agility & adaptability, a team culture, and great people.  These aren’t just words on paper—they regularly come up in meetings and are used in decision making.

Competitive Compensation and Benefits

This probably goes without saying, but offering competitive compensation and benefits is a crucial component of any employee retention plan.  We regularly review market data on salaries to ensure not only are we bringing people in at appropriate levels, but that throughout their tenure here employees’ compensation keeps pace with the market.  We also offer a generous benefits package that includes standard stuff like healthcare and retirement plans, but also some nice perks like a concierge service that runs personal errands for employees.

Opportunities for Growth and Advancement

project meetingRho has a comprehensive career path system that is designed to reward both the breadth and depth of skills that employees acquire during their time here.  We encourage all employees to explore areas outside their existing area of expertise because it makes them more valuable to Rho and more valuable to our clients.  We prefer to promote from within when possible, and the majority of our senior leaders came into their current positions this way.  Entry level employees are exposed to a broad set of functional areas and skill sets, and most spend at least a year or two in generalist roles before becoming more specialized in an area of interest.

Work-Life Balance

Rho fitness centerWe believe our employees are most effective at work when they have a fulfilling life outside of work.  In a world where many people never disconnect, we discourage checking email at night and on weekends unless truly necessary.  We want people to take real vacations where they don’t take work with them, call into meetings, or constantly respond to email.  We also realize that life requires flexibility, and we trust employees to make good decisions when setting their hours or deciding to work from home rather than come into the office.

Work That Matters

Last, but definitely not least, is the opportunity to do work that matters. The research we do solves real problems. From breakthroughs in preventing peanut allergy, to getting a new product to market that extends the lives of cancer patients, to life changing improvements for organ transplant recipients, Rho employees know that the work we do here matters.

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Rho’s Book Club: The Happiness Advantage

Posted by Brook White on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 @ 09:34 AM
Rho CEO Laura Helms ReeceRho CEO Russ HelmsRho co-CEOs Laura Helms Reece, Dr.P.H. and Russ Helms, Ph.D. have started a book club for Rho featuring books that help employees grow personally and professionally and that support Rho’s company culture.  The book club was recently featured in the Triangle Business Journal.

Late last year, we decided to form a company book club as one of the latest additions to the programs we offer to maintain high employee engagement. Our goals are to select books that help our employees to grow both personally and professionally and books that help reinforce our values and company culture. We hope our employees will gain a fresh perspective on their job at Rho, their relationships with co-workers, and their relationships with clients. The discussion part of the book club gives employees an opportunity to share their ideas with co-workers and to hear from us about why we think the book is important.

For our most recent book, we chose The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (you can get a sneak peek of the book by watching his TedTalk). Why did we choose it? We want happy employees! Not only do we think generally happy employees are part of the corporate excellence we strive for, but we think happy employees make for happier customers, and that’s good for business. In this book, Shawn Achor presents evidence that happiness leads to success—not the other way around. It’s a virtuous cycle. If we work at it, we can make ourselves happier and more successful. It takes practice, but it’s worth the effort. In addition to providing support for this view, the book provides actionable steps for making ourselves happier. What’s not to love?
Here we will summarize some key points from the book and some key take-away messages from the book club discussion. The book covers a lot of ground, so this article will focus on a few of the most important messages and those that have the most direct application to our workplace and workforce.

Happiness Leads to Success, Not the Other Way Around

happiness leads to successThe book begins by helping us to understand what happiness is, providing support for the book’s main assertion—happiness leads to success, not the other way around—and demonstrating that this stuff actually works. Happiness can be hard to define, but we’re taking it to mean a positive mood now and a positive outlook. Ten common adjectives associated with happiness are joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. Three measurable components of happiness are pleasure, engagement, and meaning. The measurement part is important because the basis of the book is not speculation, but rather grounded in scientific study.
Happiness is not just a mood, it is a work ethic. Little doses of positivity can gradually move our “set point” (how we usually feel) higher over time. Some activities that have been proven to work for some individuals are meditation, anticipating something happy, conscious acts of kindness, a more positive environment, exercise, spending money on experiences and other people, and utilizing a personal strength. But perhaps the most valuable intervention is practicing gratitude. Throughout the book, Achor presents a number of specific ways people can practice gratitude. For instance, one method that has been repeatedly linked to a higher level of happiness is keeping a daily gratitude journal.
Leaders, in particular, can improve the happiness of others—and practice gratitude—by providing frequent recognition and encouragement. This works best when the encouragement or recognition are specific and deliberately delivered. Some options for doing this include sending a complimentary email, stopping by to say thanks, making time in meetings to talk about one person who deserves recognition, and asking other leaders or executives to contact an employee who deserves recognition. As a result of this book club, our Leadership Team is experimenting with an idea from the book: dedicating a portion of certain routine meetings to describe employee performances we’ve observed that make us grateful, and picking someone to go say an extra “thank you.”

The Fulcrum and the Lever

The fulcrum and the lever is a metaphor used to describe changing your mindset to increase your happiness. The lever is how much potential we think we have and the fulcrum is the mindset we use to generate change power. Moving the fulcrum towards a negative mindset creates more negativity by enhancing your ability to experience unhappiness. Moving the fulcrum towards a positive mindset does the opposite—it enhances your ability to experience happiness, and makes it easier to be aware of all the reasons to be happy.
balance-fulcrum and leverOne example used to illustrate this principle was a week-long experiment on a group of 75 year old men. The men went on a retreat where they were told to pretend that it was 1959. They were supposed to dress and act as they did at the time, had ID pictures of themselves at that time, and talked about events that occurred in 1959. An amazing thing occurred—their mental construction of their age changed their physiological age. Prior to the retreat, the men were measured on aspects we assume deteriorate with age—physical strength, posture, perception, cognition, and short-term memory. By the end of the retreat, the men had improved in every aspect.
An important conversation we had during the book club session was about our mindset about our work. We discussed job crafting—changing your mindset to make your job a calling. We talked about what potential meaning and pleasure exist in our jobs. Our core purpose—to improve health, extend life, and improve the quality of life via corporate and research excellence—makes it easy for many of our employees to find meaning in our work. Many also find meaning in more specific ways—providing excellent service to our clients, helping make a co-workers day better, or achieving a project milestone with their team. Recognizing the meaning and sources of pleasure in our jobs can make us happier at work.

The Tetris Effect

tetris effectThe Tetris Effect is based on a study where students were paid to play Tetris for hours each day. Following study, some students couldn’t stop dreaming about shapes falling from the sky while some students saw Tetris shapes everywhere they went. This is now used to more broadly describe someone who is stuck in a pattern of thinking or behaving. This can have positive or negative implications depending on what patterns of thinking or behaving you train your brain to follow. The key point is that whatever you practice, you experience everywhere, even in very different contexts.
In the example of playing Tetris each day, it can be negative. There are few practical implications to seeing shapes falling from the sky everywhere you go. This is also true for grumpy people. People who practice spotting things to complain about will find things to complain about everywhere and all the time.
On the other hand, people who practice spotting positive things—say, things that provoke gratitude—will find reasons to experience gratitude everywhere and all the time. Train your brain to look for the positive and you will see more opportunities for growth and more chances to help others grow. Our minds respond strongly to training and practice. One way to make this a practice is to start each day by making a list of three blessings (one form of a gratitude journal). Alternatively, you can make a short journal entry each day about a great experience you’ve had. Make these a habit and you increase your chances to seize on positive opportunities.
Achor reminds us that we can’t ignore reality—we shouldn’t ignore real risks; but, at the same time, we can give more priority, weight, and attention to the positive, and thus experience more of the positive.

Falling Up

falling upThe key to Falling Up is learning to use adversity and failure to get ahead. Those who see failure as horrible are traumatized by it. Those who see it as a chance to learn, grow. Whether an experience has a positive outcome isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you respond. That’s why we discourage blame here at Rho and encourage lessons. 
One way to make this happen is to adopt a positive explanatory style. What does that mean? Look at adversity as something that is temporary and local. Compare your outcome to possible outcomes that are worse. Changing both your inward and outward dialogue about failure and adversity can change how you actually feel about it.

Social Investment

communications-networkWhen we encounter an unexpected challenge, the best way to save ourselves is to hold tight to the folks around us. Things get tough for all of us from time to time, yet people tend to respond in one of two distinct ways. One way is to close people out. Final exams are coming, so you lock yourself in a study carrel for weeks without outside contact. Or, you reach out and connect. You intentionally set aside time to go out and have fun with your friends. The group that takes the second direction consistently performs better and is happier. This applies to work settings too.
This principle should change how we as leaders spend our time. Time spent building and reinforcing relationships is almost always time well spent. Make eye contact. Ask interested questions. Schedule face-to-face meetings. Initiate conversations that aren’t always task oriented. When good things happen, actively respond.
This is an important part of why we at Rho emphasize relationships and a team culture. A team culture has always been a Core Value of ours: what we do is mentally demanding and difficult, and we’ve always found we do it better when we enjoy the support of our teammates. As part of that, we have long emphasized that a key expectation of all employees at Rho is to foster good relationships. Results are great, but we expect our employees to create their results in a way that builds relationships. We’ve found that’s good for business—it’s nice to learn that it’s a contributor to happiness, too!

Up Next

For our next book club session we will be reading and discussing Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
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Pay Yourself First: An Employee Well-Being Initiative

Posted by Brook White on Tue, May 05, 2015 @ 10:52 AM
jverrier_LThumbJohn Verrier, Service Leader-Client Support Services, led the Pay Yourself First initiative designed to improve employee well-being.
For the first quarter of 2015, Rho’s Corporate Goal - Pay Yourself First, focused on employee wellness through a variety of educational and behavioral based weekly challenges. Our goal was simple: introduce employees to a wide array of options that could lead to an increase in mental or physical well-being through positive habit development. We wanted employees to view the weekly challenges as if they were part of a buffet table – fill your plate with your favorite options and go back for more at your own pace. Admittedly, some employees felt overwhelmed by this deluge of content initially; however, I believe most appreciated the scattershot approach once they understood the buffet paradigm. Nobody is supposed to eat the entire buffet…at least not all at once!

Now, for a description of the menu: We tailored the options around the concepts of time, energy, and bandwidth management. We had challenges focused on Mental Health, Exercise, Meditation, Mindfulness, Sleep, Nutrition, Volunteering, and effectively managing one’s time. We offered free classes in Meditation & Mindfulness, CrossFit classes twice a week, as well as access to an online cognitive behavioral therapy tool for employees and their family members. We also created a dedicated Meditation Room, for those who need to decompress midday. Beginning in January, each week we introduced employees to a new challenge:meditate
  1. Thrive® – The first challenge was to enroll and participate in Thrive, an evidence-based, online coaching program that uses techniques from cognitive behavior therapy to help people identify and control stressors, improve mood, and feel and function at their best.  Thrive uses video, interactive tools, and a personalization engine to help you meet your goals.  You can choose the skills you want to learn, customize your plan, and track your performance.
  2. Meditation & Mindfulness – The challenge was to meditate in five minute increments at least once per day.  To help employees get started, we offered three workshops designed to introduce employees to meditation.
  3. Sleep – Employees were asked to track their sleeping habits in an effort to improve sleep quality.
  4. appleNutrition – We provided employees with a selection of scientifically-based nutritional information.  The challenge was to spend at least one hour reviewing these educational materials to see whether the content was helpful to interesting and to make three or more positive changes in eating habits or choices based on the information.
  5. Steps – In this challenge, employees were asked to spend a week logging their steps each day to determine their average. Then, spend the next week attempting to boost that daily average by 20%.  Employees were encouraged to follow this 20% increase each week until they averaged around 10,000 steps.
  6. Time Management – Employees were asked to watch an introductory video about Covey Quadrants, and then spend the next three days tracking activities at home and work, mapping each activity to its applicable quadrant.  Finally, employees were asked to spend the rest of the week attempting to shift time spent in Quadrant 4 to Quadrant 2.
  7. Health Assessments – For this challenge, we provided employees with links to various health assessments.  They were then asked to spend one hour reviewing the assessments and associated educational materials to determine what was helpful or interesting.
  8. Exercise – In the exercise challenge, we provided educational materials on exercise., We then asked employees to spend at least 90 minutes during the week engaging in exercise they would not have previously done and to make two or more positive changes in their exercise habits based on the information. 
  9. One Plus Two – The One Plus Two challenge was a about time and bandwidth management.  At the start of each day, employees were asked to define one – just one – high impact action that they would definitely complete.  We suggested putting it as an “all day task” on their Outlook calendar to keep it at the front of mind.  Additionally, employees defined two bonus high impact tasks.  These tasks were great if they could get to them, but no big deal if they couldn’t.  These could also be added to the calendar.  At the start of each day, employees checked back on the previous day’s tasks and determined what was completed.
  10. Volunteer – Employees were encouraged to spend a week focusing on others, by giving back inpennies whatever way they felt was appropriate.  
  11. (literally) Pay Yourself First – We provided educational materials related to long-term financial well-being and asked employees to spend time reviewing their long-term financial plans.  

The Pay Yourself First initiative is directly in line with Rho’s Core Value of “Great People” – Rho employs smart, talented, positive people with sound judgment, a can-do attitude, and a zeal for teamwork.  Rho truly believes their most valuable asset is their employees, and this initiative corroborates that.  Given the incredible response from employees to the Pay Yourself First challenges (~70% engagement), it seems as though that dedication has helped to promote an engaged, happy, and healthy workforce.

Rho’s Book Club: Brain Rules

Posted by Brook White on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 @ 03:06 PM
Rho CEO Laura Helms ReeceRho CEO Russ HelmsRho co-CEOs Laura Helms Reece, Dr.P.H. and Russ Helms, Ph.D. have started a book club for Rho featuring books that help employees grow personally and professionally and that support Rho’s company culture.  The book club was recently featured in the Triangle Business Journal.
Late last year, we decided to form a company book club as one of the latest additions to the programs we offer to maintain high employee engagement. Our goals are to select books that help our employees to grow both personally and professionally and books that help reinforce our values and company culture. We hope our employees will gain a fresh perspective on their job at Rho, their relationships with co-workers, and their relationships with clients. The discussion part of the book club gives employees an opportunity to share their ideas with co-workers and to hear from us about why we think the book is important.

knowledge-shareFor our first book, we chose Brain Rules by John Medina. Why did we choose it? We make our living with our brains, so it’s valuable to understand how they work and how to optimize their performance. This book makes learning about such a complex topic relatively easy and accessible, even for people with a limited background in biology or neuroscience.

Here we will summarize some key points from the book and wrap-up with some key take-away messages from the book club discussion. The book covers a lot of ground, so this article will focus on a few of the most important messages and those that have the most direct application to our workplace and workforce.


Over the course of the vast majority of human evolution, we moved—a lot. Pre-civilization, people walked up to twelve miles a day. Now, we don’t. Many of us spend hours a day sitting or relatively sedentary, despite scientific demonstration of the many benefits of exercise and physical activity. In particular, the brain benefits from high levels of physical activity. Exercise has been shown to help with cognitive exercisefunction, executive function, long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, and fluid-intelligence tasks. Students who spend more time on exercise and less time on academics do better academically.

The lesson here is that if we want to do better work, we need to move more. We’ve already started making some changes at Rho. We make treadmill desks available, employees have the option of standing desks, and we’ve had walking paths set up near our building to encourage walking breaks and walking meetings.

Not everyone is going to be, or should try to be, a triathlete, but unless you are already exercising more than ten hours a week, we encourage all our employees to be a little more active.


There are several important lessons when it comes to attention, all of which have direct bearing on how we work. The first is that we don’t pay attention to things that are boring. In the work place, that means if we want people to pay attention to our message, whether in a presentation, an email, or a meeting, it can’t be boring. Emotions do get our attention, so making an emotional connection can help us gain and keep attention.

Another important concept is that meaning needs to come before details. Making connections between ideas is necessary if we need to pay attention to the associated details. One suggestion that comes out of these concepts is a suggestion for structuring presentations. Structuring talks in 10 minute chunks that start with an engaging story and then dive into the details will help your audience pay attention.

Finally, our brains don’t multi-task. The end result when we multi-task is that tasks take longer and result in more errors. We can increase productivity by limiting our interruptions and setting aside dedicated time for important tasks.

Sleep Well, Think Well

sleep-brainSleep—getting enough of it, getting the right kind of it, and getting it at the right times—is critical to the performance of our brains. Lack of sleep hurts attention, executive function, immediate memory, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning ability, and general math knowledge. Some of us are larks (get up early and go to sleep early), some of us are owls (get up late, stay up late), and some of us are hummingbirds (somewhere in between larks and owls). Moving away from these natural rhythms is very difficult for most people and can lead to decreased performance. This is one of the reasons we try to give people a fair amount of flexibility in when they work, as long as the work is getting done and they are meeting the needs of their customers and teammates. We’ve noticed that introducing this language (owls, larks, hummingbirds) has already changed the way we negotiate meeting times—we’re able to schedule things so everybody is alert.

We also encourage employees to think about how sleep impacts their work productivity. Staying up late and working may actually decrease your productivity rather than getting a healthy amount of sleep and coming to work focused and energized. This is something we are dealing with primarily by educating and encouraging our employees. We also believe in respecting our employees’ autonomy and privacy, so actively managing employee sleep patterns is not something we are interested in doing.

The evidence is clear: short naps in the afternoon can have a very positive impact on performance. We are still mulling this one over. Despite the scientific evidence of the value of naps, there are difficult issues associated with encouraging naps in the workplace—issues of hygiene, culture, propriety, and management. Though the discussion about nap rooms sparked a lively conversation, we haven’t dedicated any square footage to them yet.

Use More of Your Senses, Especially Sight

transparentWhen we deliver information using multiple senses, it makes more of an impact and is easier to remember. Presentations with pictures and words are far better for teaching than words alone. Additionally, text and pictures presented at the same time and in close proximity are better. Animation with narration is superior to animation with text. In general, the more senses that can be integrated the better. Even associating smells with certain ideas or information can help remember that information later. That said, all senses are not equal. The brain spends up to half of its energy processing images, and there is evidence that the brain will ignore other senses when what you see doesn’t line up with what you smell, taste, hear, etc. For example, expert wine tasters can be fooled into believing white wine is red wine by changing the appearance.

How are we using this? It has changed the way we present. When we do use PowerPoint, we are moving to rely more on images rather than slide after slide of text. In our sales presentations, we are moving away from PowerPoint entirely in exchange for white board presentations.

Top 3 Lessons

Our discussions covered many topics and it seems that each participant took away something different.  There are three lessons, however, that we feel are key for improving performance as individuals and as a company:

  • Get more exercise
  • Don't multi-task
  • Images trump text

Up Next

For our next book club session we will be reading and discussing Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage.  You can get a sneak peek of the topic by watching this TedTalk.  

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