In recent weeks, we have witnessed a nation captivated by widespread solar eclipse fever. Frenzied family members Googling for special glasses, friends driving miles for a prime location, my children amazing me with their facts on geometrical astronomy. Confession: while all fascinating, the primary aspect of which I personally could not stop obsessing-who is the solar eclipse’s publicist and may I immediately become a mentee?
In all sincerity, observing my Instagram feed explode with solar euphoria, strangers sharing glasses on streets cross-country, my favorite Today anchors teary: what an incredible example of emotional connection, call-to-action and pure awe. Two months ago, could the average American name two states within this path of totality? Communicate the absolute viewing joy of crescent shaped shadows? Learning, exploring, and sharing this astronomical event became a national phenomenon. Not just for scientists, or those within that totality path but instead uniting all ages and walks of life in the moment; and then each seemingly called to share his/her individual experience.
Certainly not diminishing this event’s spectacular cosmic nature, I immediately was drawn to the parallels and tremendous “eclipse” orbiting now in our Indiana midst; and though not necessarily Instagram picturesque, I also subsequently feel that same strong inclination to share. To be a voice.
As a university senior, Eli Lilly offered me a sales position; my family was overjoyed with a pride that I didn’t yet grasp. A naive time when I wasn’t so sure that pharmaceuticals or Indianapolis was the right stepping stone for my marketing and “big city” career aspirations. Fortunately, still susceptible to parental influence, I accepted and was immediately immersed into the axis of disease states, pharmacokinetics, patient journeys and the molecules that powerfully treat, improve and save human lives. And as I continued to connect, study, and advocate to healthcare professionals, lawmakers, colleagues and friends-I readily now understood and activated a deep passion and pride not only for the life sciences but for the economic and academic impact to Indiana and the entire healthcare industry.
After 15+ years focused in life sciences and medical marketing, my passion for entrepreneurship and desire to broaden horizons now overpowered parental influence: taking the largest faith leap outside that professional comfort zone to co-found an advertising agency. An equal balance of fright and exhilaration exudes. Learning and becoming brand extenders and customer advocates to industries, products, and services that were previously foreign: it has allowed me to professionally grow, stretch, and excel in ways I never anticipated. But even more, it has provided an even deeper admiration, respect and commitment to our Indiana economy, business ecosystem, leadership and long-term value proposition(s).
As an incredibly hungry, young, advertising agency, we are always invigorated with opportunity. However, there are a few standouts that immediately ignite a fire for us marketers yearning to communicate and activate a story that needs to be told. As we were vigorously preparing a recent proposal in the agbiosciences sector, that fire came coupled with a remarkable epiphany. I am a born-Hoosier, career marketer, long-term life sciences veteran/advocate, and Indiana business owner, yet I had no genuine knowledge of this deeply innovative cross-sector, nor the tremendous economic impact and future need and potential. Indiana’s long-standing agriculture roots, leading life sciences industry, accelerating technological hub and ripe economic and academic climate: it is truly like our own Indiana eclipse is right upon us if we simply take a moment to connect the dots.
And parallel to those astronomers, we as an Indiana business community must engage and educate ourselves so we can better advocate for the talent, resources, investment and opportunity immediately in our own path of totality. This Indiana collision of innovation and industry corridors of tech, life sciences and agriculture is also a unique phenomenon, with no room for modesty. And the good news: this one does not even require a pair of sold-out glasses. It’s time to tell our story.
Samantha Schwartz is co-founder and chief executive officer of The Plaid Agency.