Interview with Upsher-Smith

Interview with Upsher-Smith

Upsher-Smith


 
Dave Stefanoni, head of early-stage commercialization and advocacy, and Mark Evenstad, president and CEO of Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc., comment on Billy McLaughlin’s performance at a recent company event.
 
Billy was asked to give a presentation to the Upsher-Smith Community, an assembly of employees and invited guests, with the intent of raising their awareness and understanding of the types of challenges Billy encounters with dystonia as well as the challenges he faces with his son’s epilepsy. “Originally, I had wanted to ask Billy to do a more intimate version of his music and leadership story that he presented during the gala for the Epilepsy Foundation. When Mark heard of the plan, he decided to invite the entire company together on the lawn outside our building,” said Dave.
 
“People at Upsher-Smith are kind, caring and open-minded. When they observe and hear someone like Billy, they work harder, better and faster to develop solutions that people need to live healthier lives,” said Mark. “That’s why I hold these events. They give us a picture of who we are working for while attaching a face and a story to our efforts. As far as I’m concerned, the faster we can solve problems involving the central nervous system, the better it will be for all,” he explained.
 
The company has hosted similar outdoor events to employee groups, including a panel of parents whose children have epilepsy and an adult woman with epilepsy who shared her life experiences. One of the reasons for this exploration is that Upsher-Smith is developing drugs that treat seizure disorders. They are currently working on three products that include standard therapy, rescue therapy and treatment for refractory symptoms.
 
Billy’s presentation was scheduled so that it bridged normal and after-work hours. It took place on the lawn outside the building. Mark noted, “When I sent a company-wide email announcing Billy’s presentation, the excitement was high, but expectations were unknown.  People did not expect to be as captivated as they were by Billy. I looked around the audience and all eyes were fixed on him as he told his story. This is unusual during an after-hours event where people like to visit and chat. Whatever expectations they may have had were blown away, mine included.”
 
Among the takeaways for Mark was the fact that after Billy resolved to learn his music left handed (having lost the use of his right hand to dystonia), he would not settle for anything short of playing his hardest song before returning to stage publicly. Also, the inspiration he shared from having been at the top of his craft before crashing and burning and then pulling himself up again while helping his son as best as he could modeled behaviors that, according to Mark, “any of us would be excited to witness.”
 
Billy’s presentation also served people at Upsher Smith beyond those who were working on the drugs specific to epilepsy. Dave had wanted to acquaint other groups with people afflicted by epilepsy as well as their caregivers so that they might feel less removed from all that had been going on with the new products and advocacy program.
 
“Billy has a unique ability to weave levity and music into the serious subject of epilepsy. He created the perfect platform to make an impact. Billy helped to rally our people behind our goal; he let them know that everything they do helps to fuel our success. The results were better than I had anticipated. Billy aligned our organization. The feedback we received was exceptional. Mark mentioned to me that it was one of the best events we had ever put together. I don’t tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, but the thing that touched me about Billy is what he’s been through. Through it all he remains positive, upbeat and willing to give of himself and his talent. I also happen to love his music. Billy provides the unique experience of a concert motivated by a story – there’s not too much of one or the other,” said Dave.
 
According to Dave, “I would absolutely ask Billy back to do another performance. However, I’d like to do it somewhat differently next time. As we continue our efforts in this area, I would love to see us become a bigger partner by helping to sponsor Billy’s tour in such a way that more people can hear his message, especially those who are directly impacted by epilepsy. As our efforts evolve, we can touch others with this message. Billy will help us increase awareness of what epilepsy is and how to handle it. Eventually we can make progress toward how epilepsy is being dealt with in the legislature, schools, jobs, transportation and housing. Creating this voice is a big part of our ultimate goal.”
 
*Thanks to Dave Stefanoni and TJ Jensen for capturing some great pictures from the event!

 
 

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 When Conditions Change

When Conditions Change


For the most part, leaders are poised to respond to challenges that confront them, but the problem lately has become how to deal with a moving target. While some prefer to wait for the dust to settle before adjusting their plans, others see today’s climate as being in a state of rapid, perpetual change. Considering the rate at which information, products and services are now disseminated, there’s a convincing argument to expect more change, not less.  What is the process for navigating change? One solution, offered by virtuoso guitarist Billy McLaughlin is to learn the art of reinvention.
McLaughlin is an Emmy Award-winning musician, speaker and author of soon-to-be-released, “Road to Reinvention.” In his book, McLaughlin chronicles what could easily be described as a hero’s journey that took him from success in the highly competitive music industry to sudden failure and humiliation in front of thousands when he was stricken with focal dystonia, a little-known neuromuscular disorder that destroyed the use of his fret-playing hand. His astounding return to stage as a world-class speaker and musical icon resulted from his ability to reinvent himself by changing hands to reclaim his music. “None of us get to do any day over, so every choice we make steers the path toward our ultimate success or failure,” says McLaughlin. The lessons McLaughlin learned through his unprecedented musical comeback demanded that he make progress everyday, no matter how big or small. His overriding message: “Stop worrying about what is broken and start paying attention to what works.”
When Conditions Change

When Conditions Change


McLaughlin continues to live with focal dystonia, which is currently incurable and could destroy the use of his other hand just as quickly at any time. He has chosen to make the most of his musical capability each day, knowing that the process of reinvention that he has discovered through his experience will enable him to adapt and make the most of whatever situation may arise. Since his comeback, organizations from around the world have asked McLaughlin to share his story about overcoming seemingly impossible challenges. Through an innovative mix of music, storytelling and disarming humor, McLaughlin offers a new perspective on business and life. He inspires audiences to action as he demonstrates the ability to move forward even when dealing with extraordinary change.

Road to Reinvention

Road to Reinvention


“My road to reinvention was fueled by my longingness to be whole, to have purpose and meaning.”
 
Growing up I felt lonely a lot of the time. That’s odd to hear when you learn I have five brothers and three sisters. I experienced an intense loneliness even though our house was never quiet or lacking a crowd. Even as a grade-schooler, I felt like something was missing in my life. I had plenty of healthy social interaction both at school and at home, but still had what, back then, I would have called extreme loneliness.
 
Now I understand that what I really had was extreme “longing-ness”.
 
I was longing badly at a very early age for something I knew was missing in my life. I mistook it for loneliness when I was young and swept up by it. But now I know that, all along, it was something unrelated to what anyone else could have given to me with time and attention, with love and affection. It was something utterly common but also commonly misunderstood…..it wasn’t “loneliness”….it was “longingness”!
 
In the same way people stumble to describe in detail the life they want or the success they dream of, as a younger person, I could not have described to you what it was that I was missing. I didn’t know what it was…I could only feel what it was. In that lack of clarity many of us mistake longingness for loneliness.  We try very hard through our personal relationships to fill the void that can only be filled by facing and embracing our emptiness, our quest for meaning and purpose.
 
This is the context in which I choose to tell my story. What I used to think of as one thing really turned out to be something else. Even recently, what I thought was the worst thing that ever happened to me has somehow turned out to be the best. To re-frame our understanding of loneliness and illuminate a better description of longingness would be a tremendous ancillary outcome of your investment of time in reading further.
 
I think we experience longingness most when we feel lost – especially when lost for purpose and meaning. We know something is missing in our lives and experience longingness, which demands self exploration and evolution…not an outside fix. I now understand that my “loneliness” was an experience of the need and longing for change – for reinvention and a redefinition of who I was and what I could bring to this world. Longingness is the dynamo of power behind personal change and transformation. If you feel it, you should dive into it. Dive into your longingness knowing that it’s not about anyone else in your life. It’s all about you.
 
Everything about my feelings of longingness changed when I found music. Music was the way out of my longingness and feeling lost. Music taught me what to do when I experienced those feelings. Playing guitar brought me to a new place that felt rewarding and joyful, a place full of meaning and purpose. I went through all these feelings a second time when I lost my music and had to start over due to my dystonia. It was no easier the second time. My road to reinvention was fueled by my longingness to be whole, to have purpose and meaning. Now, music gives me a vehicle to not only work in harmony with my feelings of longingness, but also to share them with anyone who knows what they are like.
 
If that’s you, if you are someone who knows the feelings of longingness, my music might be worth listening to and my story might be worth reading. It won’t take long to know, so let’s find out – together!
 

Introducing SimpleGifts 2013

 

Announcing SimpleGifts 2013 – New CD WinterGrace

It’s been a busy off-season for members of SimpleGifts and our awesome staff and crew. Not only has a great tour been confirmed for the 2013 holiday season but there’s a new CD we’re just finishing up called “WinterGrace.” Like all the CDs that came before it, “WinterGrace” features traditional music that tells the real story of Christmas arranged and performed with a modern twist. Familiar classics include “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, and “Little Drummer Boy” while the lesser known title track provides a fresh but timeless melody from the hills of Appalachia. Celtic whistle, violin, bagpipes, piano and percussion combine with pristine three-part vocals and the signature sound of Billy McLaughlin’s acoustic guitar. “WinterGrace” continues to separate SimpleGifts from the pack of annual holiday artists by its creative arrangements, thoughtful song choices and lush recording engineering from co-producer Jeff Arundel. Listen to samples from WinterGrace here.

 

New band members join SimpleGifts for 2013 Tour

Introducing SimpleGifts 2013

SimpleGifts 2013


If you are a parent with young kids you can only imagine what it would be like to be gone for all of the holiday season not just one year but for eleven years in a row! SimpleGifts wishes all of our previous members and their families a blessed and peaceful 2013 holiday season! At the same time, we welcome new members Ashleigh Still, Torie Redpath and Amy Courts. These super-talented artists join returning members Heather Garborg, Billy O., Laura MacKenzie and Billy McLaughlin in a rotating sextet line-up for the busy 2013 “WinterGrace” Tour.

 
 
 
 
 

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About SimpleGifts

As long-time fans will tell you, SimpleGifts makes musical magic by bringing a modern flair to traditional Christmas carols and hymns. Staying close to the heart of Christmas by avoiding commercial and pop holiday repertoire has become the trademark of this award winning six-piece ensemble.
SimpleGifts combines violin, Celtic whistle and bagpipes, piano, acoustic guitar and percussion with angelic three part female vocals to create a “modern Old-World” sound. There is nothing ordinary about the arrangements this team delivers both in the studio and in concert. Seen by over 20,000 live audience members last season, this group continues to grow in popularity throughout the Upper Midwest and has successfully transitioned from their early days in coffeehouses and small listening rooms to prestigious performing art centers and larger churches.


 

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