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Read the Obituaries and Other Life Lessons

Michael Fleming, President of Delaware BioScience Association

Prior to joining Delaware Bio in June 2020, Michael spent two decades in senior strategy, marketing, communications, and corporate responsibility roles in the global biopharmaceutical industry, most recently with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). He began his career on the staff of the late U.S. Sen. William V. Roth Jr.

Fleming has been active in local and national politics and nonprofit and government service, including appointment to the Delaware Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the Preliminary Investigatory Committee of the Court on the Judiciary. He is an award-winning writer on history, culture and politics and together with his wife Christy founded TownSquareDelaware, a community-focused digital media company they sold in 2020. A graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the University of Delaware, Michael and his family live in Wilmington.

Tell People You Appreciate Them

I will start with thanking my outstanding board and our small but mighty Delaware Bio team for all their support of me in the last six months since I took this role. I next want to thank the people of the Delaware Business Times. Thank you for the absolutely vital role the press plays in a free society.

Support Local Media

The business success of everyone in this audience depends on your ability to understand the market, the key issues and trends and competitors that will impact your operations and sales – and the political shenanigans that could make or break your bottom line. That knowledge comes from local media.

A’s Hire A’s, B’s Hire C’s

Organizations and institutions that decline often do so because leaders become cautious and protective and that is characterized and accelerated by the hiring of mediocre talent. When hiring, always go for the very best – the people that will push and stretch and drive you to new places – and yes, maybe even replace you.

Never Forget What It Felt Like When You Were Looking For A Job

All of us have looked for a job at some point. Never forget, people asking you for help today may well be the ones hiring – or buying from you in the future. So help them.

Network Down

Seek out relationships with younger people. There’s no better way to learn about the future and the kind of skills and ideas that will be necessary for success as businesses and markets continue to change in warp speed. The corollary here is also apt: Real wisdom usually only comes through experience. Find mentors who can help you keep your life and business challenges in perspective.

Get A Second Job

We all know successful, busy people who still manage to do even more beyond their day job. No matter how slammed you are at work or even running your own company, having something else – a small business venture, a serious hobby or board service – will help you grow and stretch and learn and meet people. All will inform your perspective and creativity to ultimately be so much more successful in your “main” gig – and perhaps even leading to a whole new career.


Go to far-away places and foreign countries whenever you have the opportunity … flying overseas can be expensive and difficult (and not possible right now), but you can drive across the border to Mexico or Canada and be immersed in fabulous foreign cultures. I recommend driving across our own great country at least once. Travel nurtures an understanding of our shared American or human history. It also refreshes our perspective and renews appreciation for the specialness of our own hometowns and communities. How do people think and why do they do certain things? Travel can reveal these answers.

Visit Interesting Local Places

There are so many treasures that can be explored and enjoyed within a short drive of where we live. I recently happened to pull into Iron Hill park off Route 896 for the first time – it is a great little park with a fascinating history. There are so many other spots like it – go discover them.

Read The Obituaries

Obituaries teach us about history and humility and sacrifice and simplicity. And they can be filled with lessons. They underline what really mattered in the person’s life – or probably more accurately, what mattered about them to their loved ones. After reading these great life narratives, I’m always left thinking – wow, that’s incredible. And I wish I had known that person!

Wonderful People Are All Around Us

In our families, on our block or in the office – let’s get out and meet them!

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