Like many of my MSL colleagues who are parents, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to balance work, child care, and self-care while staying calm and be resilient. One aspect of building resilience is to find things to be grateful for in life. Personally, I am grateful to spend more time with my two young children as they hit their developmental milestones. One of these activities has been singing along to Daniel Tiger, a PBS show created by Mister Rogers.
Interestingly, the lessons from Daniel Tiger are not just applicable to my infant and my toddler; at times I have found that they resonate with my professional life. In this article, I will share the 7 MSL life hacks that I learned from Daniel Tiger in the midst of a pandemic.
- “Everyone’s job is important; we all help in different ways.” This is a great reminder that when my colleagues, whether medical or commercial, have an approach that is different from how I would do it, they are still helping, just in a different way, which doesn’t make their approach wrong. This song also reminds me to stay humble and become customer-centric, treating the office receptionist, nurses, pharmacists, and the doctors with the same respect – they might play different roles but have the same objective to deliver life-saving treatments.
- “It’s okay to feel sad sometimes; little by little, you’ll feel better again.” This is one of my favorite resiliency quotes from the show, especially on the days when my plans go awry. This is a good reminder to myself that tough times don’t last; tough people do.
- “When you feel jealous, talk about it, and we’ll figure something out.” Are you an aspiring MSL that hasn’t transitioned to your first MSL role but your friend has? Did your colleague get a promotion? This is a great reminder to build and widen one’s support network and find advocates and mentors instead of “doomscrolling” LinkedIn.
- “When you’re sick, rest is best.” A gentle reminder to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. We cannot be of service to others when we are suffering and have our own needs to attend to. Self-care is even more vital in our current world.
- “If something seems hard to do, try it a little bit at a time.” This applies when I feel overwhelmed by a project and need to just take one step at a time. Breaking a large project or task into pieces makes it much easier to lean into and move ahead to see results. One cannot eat a whole apple in one bite!
- “Think about how someone else is feeling, maybe you can help them feel better.” The MSL role requires one to know the business of science and the science of business. A large aspect of the science of business is having empathy. Seek to understand, before being understood. Active listening is essential in our MSL role; we learn far more by listening than speaking and we have a prime opportunity to uplift others in their time of need.
- “Saying I’m sorry is the first step; then, how can I help?” As MSLs we have customer-facing roles, for both internal and external stakeholders. Misunderstanding can often arise during interactions. Even if we feel that we were offended, it’s best to set the ego aside, apologize, and figure out how to move past the issue, which can always begin with asking how we can help (within the guardrails of compliance, of course). The MSL role is servant leadership in action!
Does watching Daniel Tiger improve kids’ social skills? Well…not quite. A recent study from a media researcher, Eric Rasmussen1, enrolled 127 preschoolers and one of their parents and demonstrated improvements in the kids’ social skills only if the parents regularly talked with them about what they were watching and modeled the behavior. In conclusion, my MSL parents, watching Daniel Tiger might help with your toddler’s next temper tantrum – it may also come in handy for your next customer call.
Mitch D’Rozario, Ph.D.
Mitch is a Malignant Hematology MSL at Genentech/Roche. In his MSL career spanning hematology and ophthalmology, Mitch has supported ocular surgical devices, microdosing implants, biologics, antibody-drug conjugates, oral inhibitors, and bispecific antibodies from Phase I-IV. Mitch enjoys advocating for customers and patients, collaborating with internal colleagues, and building strategic tools to make informed business decisions and deliver urgent medical solutions. Mitch earned his Ph.D. from Drexel University and trained as a postdoc at Washington University School of Medicine. In a pre-COVID world, Mitch can be seen keeping pace with his two boys, Francis (2.5 years) and Miles (1 year). In a post-COVID world, he has been busy being a Montessori dad, learning how to bake, and going to OrangeTheory (while maintaining a safe distance) to burn off the said baked goods.