MM+M Pinnacle Awards honorees Ken Begasse, Jr., the founder and CEO of ConcentricLife, and Tim Pantello, CEO of Relevate Health share their distinct career paths with Marc Iskowitz. 

The pair, who are also incoming co-chairs of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame, share their goals for the vaunted industry organization. 

Lecia Bushak and Jack O’Brien also reflect on Marc’s third consecutive win at the Neal Awards last week.

Music by Sixième Son

Check us out at:

Follow us: 

YouTube: @MMM-online
TikTok: @MMMnews 
Instagram: @MMMnewsonline
Twitter/X: @MMMnews
LinkedIn: MM+M

To read more of the most timely, balanced and original reporting in medical marketing, subscribe here.

Note: The MM+M Podcast uses speech-recognition software to generate transcripts, which may contain errors. Please use the transcript as a tool but check the corresponding audio before quoting the podcast.

Hey, it’s Marc…

There are some industries out there in which it’s hard to know who are the true experts?

Healthcare marketing, thank goodness, isn’t one of them.

This industry is blessed with a plethora of pundits whose accomplishments speak for themselves. And when you tap them for an opinion, they offer a perspective informed by decades of wisdom and thoughtfulness.

In short, they’re at the top of their game. And they’re not planning on slowing down any time soon.

MM+M’s Pinnacle Awards, now in their 4th year, are designed to recognize these mid-career sages. And with the ceremony coming up this Thursday at the Edison ballroom in NYC, we’re highlighting two of this year’s inductees.

Tim Pantello and Ken Begasse, Jr., have “the right stuff.” Both have scaled the industry’s heights — but tread distinct paths to the summit. 

And like many of their fellow honorees, they’re as generous with their time as with their knowledge. 

This week on the podcast, these two Pinnacle inductees take a pause to discuss differences between leading as an entrepreneur versus being a serial CEO. As incoming co-chairs of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame, the pair also discuss their ambitious philanthropic goals, centered around aiding those just starting out on their own climb.

So we’re

gonna interrupt here and shake up the look of this podcast. I know Mark was intro and us into what would usually be Health policy update and the trend segment, but we’re not going to do that because we want to highlight our Pinnacle honorees. We also want to talk about Mark who summon our audience may know and he’ll be remiss if I didn’t bring this up one his third consecutive Neil Ward last week for best single range

of work for an author, and we wanted to talk about him because he’s not. Yeah,

let’s look at going from Mark.

He’s not in for this episode. He already recorded stuff ahead of time. But we want to talk about Mark because Mark is the best. This is a Michael Jordan New York Yankees, you pick your sports Dynasty level achievement and it’s really impressive. And so I wanted to commend Mark for his exceptional work his column the work on this podcast counts the same. I mean everything that he does for the brand goes above and beyond and to see it recognized again, all of these other industries

that were talking offline before we started recording, you know, there were different honorees there and B2B media that were

Healthcare focused that were construction Aviation. Even our friends at rubber news were there there was all sorts of stuff and Mark’s Work stands out among all of it. And that’s really impressive. Yeah,

it’s super well deserved award three years in a row, you know as a journalist. I really look up to Mark and admire Mark for his expertise in the industry. I mean, he’s truly an expert.

It in this industry, like he knows the most like detailed nuanced aspects of a story. He’s one of the most like thoughtful editors and reporters when he works on his stories and he’s just brilliant. So I’m really happy that he won this award and I look forward to reading more of his work and hopefully him winning it again next year. But Jackie you were actually at the awards ceremony. How was it it

was awesome and it was one of those things that like you got to see other people winning Awards and seeing all the great work that they’re doing. But then again to see Mark come out on top and recognize like, oh, yeah, like it’s not just you know, when we come in here and we’re talking about whatever in the trend segment or something he’s able to say like, oh what reminds me this drug launch from 2009 or you know, something that you know happened when I was in high school and it’s like, oh no, he’s like, he’s got the pulse the industry. It’s really cool to see him be recognized in that way and we had we had some other honorees from Haymarket as well our friends at PR week. Sean Ealing won for best art direction for

Cover for their period positivity story last year and our friends at McKnight’s Jim birkeland won for best commentary. So it’s nice to see Haymarket. We went three for six in the categories that were denominated for which if we were playing baseball, we would be Hall of Fame All-Stars. Yeah all across the board, but it was really cool. It was it was down at Chelsea Piers, which we’ve had a couple of our events there. And yeah, it was we got to go

out celebrate afterwards much much deserved and yeah it all comes back to Mark marks the best. Yeah.

Congratulations again Mark

four-time winner next year. I think so

we hope for

that’s that’s what your Islanders did in the early. Yeah,

right. So

that’s what he’s going after now. He’s gonna be New York Islanders Jimmy Johnson. It’s gonna be great. Congrats marks


Gentlemen, welcome to the mmm podcast.

Thanks for having us. Thank you. Yeah, wonderful wonderful to be here.


And what a great honor to be honest, you know, I I love the the fact that it’s celebrating at the peak of our career. Although I I never quite feel like I’m ever at the top. So I’m hoping to continue to decline. I’m sure to feel the same way.

I’m just drafting off Ken

stop it.

It’s great to hear that. They’re still got a lot of fight left in you and because I’m sure you both have many many contributions yet to come and so we look forward to that and we’re going to get into some of the way you’ve you’ve dodged and we’ve used through your earlier career and what you have Philly you have left to to accomplish. So with that let’s let’s get started here. You know, you’re both as we said at the peak of your career’s but kind of made your mark and slightly different ways. Can if I may say so entrepreneurialism is something that you know, well having co-found.

Concentric Healthcare every time and then led the agency which then merged and was recently. So to Accenture song Tim you’re known for your ability to step deftly into new CEO roles, whether it’s an agency or big consultancy build them up and spur growth. So maybe that difference is a good place to start here. What’s different about being a leader when you’re a Founder versus coming in from the outside can have that we start with you on that one.

Well, you know, I think being a Founder is a great responsibility because you’re both in charge of the you know, the vision and the ambition of the agency.

But at the same time you’re you’re often operator so you it is is a situation where when you’re when you’re growing the business it’s often grown around in within the likeness of the founding Partners right for me and Michael.

Partnership and respect and collaboration and really kind of pushing the boundaries of what?

what was concede that the time between a creative and an account relationship blurring those lines considered really and bringing that Spirit of entrepreneurs and to everything we do I think that was really what kind of separated us and I think

when you look back at Century and you look at where we at 22 years now, and I’m so proud of that.

I think what we’ve I think being a founder and being an entrepreneur has attracted other people with the light with Lake mindedness, you know, who who themselves have that scene.

Drive ambition a lot of courage and really are seeking something that they can own whether it’s doing it their own thing or doing their own thing within this organization. So we really celebrate entrepreneurs and at concentric because we feel that we want everyone to have that ownership the sense of ownership over their careers over our clients business and ultimately over the impact of the agency. So I I think this industry, I mean if you look at Tim’s father, this industry is been shaped in the relevance of our industry has been shaped by by entrepreneurs right by people who see an opportunity.

How the ability to clearly see put it together a vision that’s going to capitalize on that opportunity but also have the the willingness and the ability to to shape it and build it and I think if you know when we look towards the clinical Awards, we look towards the things we celebrate most in this industry. You see that the next Generations already here and I know that Tim and I are really excited about celebrating that entrepreneurs and in the medical advertising Hall of Fame during our co-chairing

and we’ll get to that a bit later Tim. What was it like, you know for you being a leader in terms of sort of being a Serial CEO, you know coming into these new roles. What’s leadership like from that perspective? Yeah

in the biggest difference. I’ve found that as you come in from the outside into an established organization and agency you bring a new and a very different perspective and a view of the business on encumbered of the past maybe issues.

Challenges and that’s really valuable. I think equally valuable is understanding the culture and the values that exist that made the business successful what it was founded on and really honoring and respecting that and then ultimately evolving that inherently though people resist change. And so when you come in new you have to articulate the one constant in business and in life is change and so clearly and consistently articulating a new or evolved vision and Mission is really essential from the Star and reminding folks that all significant growth comes from transformation and that represents typically a lot of change so over communicating, you know what this change means for the people and why is it’s a central for them individually our business and most importantly for our clients and the patients and how health professionals they serve because you’re typically coming in and really evolving the capabilities and that involves people process technology.

And again significant change and I think everyone wants to grow right people want to grow businesses want to grow Brands want to grow and people want to grow their capability and stay relevant and that represents change. But again, we all inherently resist change. So, you know, the real difference coming in as a new person is is really building on a foundation but recognizing that you can’t live in the past. We all have to chart a future in a future, you know isn’t stuck in the past or the containers of the past. So it’s your job to really shape that with with the leadership team. And as Ken said clearly articulate a vision and Mission, so I think there’s some differences but there’s also a lot of similarities to great leadership.

Yeah. I couldn’t agree more Tim. I mean we’re going through change right now and as a leader and as a founder and a CEO, we’re asking the same thing of our people, right, you know, we always ask the same thing or people Embrace change.

Because that is the only constant right and so a lot of our entrepreneurial values are all around.

The idea of embracing a constantly changing environment being comfortable being uncomfortable right? Because if you’re doing that then you’re actually growing right and so it’s the same mindset but I love the fact that Tim has a very distinct perspective of

You know how he gets the same thing out of his people coming into an organization that already has an established culture and I think respect for the culture and using that culture to embrace a new way to me. I think that’s true leadership and I think that’s why Tim has been so successful as a serial CEO. Those are really

fascinating responses, you know, whether whether you you come in from the outside and there’s already a pre-existing direction that you have to then adapt to or mold in your own Vision in Tim’s perspective or can you know, whether you’re setting that directs from the get-go and maintaining that entrepreneurial Spirit, you know throughout that’s seems to be the common denominator between you know, your two leadership approaches, but what happens if I’m wondering if you know you start off as an entrepreneur or your start off, you know as a serial CEO so to speak can cannot

Never the twain shall meet can one sort of change, you know their their approach. And so that kind of the segue to my next question. And that is that is there something that you wish you had done differently in your careers and why you know in terms of like what whether it was kind of when the dye was cast that Ken you would be an entrepreneur or Tim that you would do your style of leadership in terms of the way you approach things. Where is there something that you wish you could you know taking a different approach? I wanted to put that to Tim will stay with you on this one

great question, you know looking back, you know, you have 2020 Vision right? But in the moment you you don’t and as you’re making different career decisions and pivots as all the listeners are always pondering different opportunities that are in front of them. I think one thing I would have done differently I left.

The communication side of the industry for consulting which looking back was extremely valuable spending the five years in you know, one of the big four consulting firms solving other business problems, but what I didn’t realize was how amazing and how special our our specific sub-sector of the industry is in terms of health care Communications and what I’m really passionate about and I think I thought solving bigger business problems for our clients or I wouldn’t say bigger but different business problems.

Was was going to be as fulfilling and looking back. I probably should have stayed the course in healthcare Communications. There’s so much transformation. We create things we build things. We make things. We don’t just make slides and strategic Frameworks and I think being a maker a Creator whether its content whether it’s technology,

Whether it’s analytical models that we don’t deliver for our clients. The ability to create is the essence of our business and being makers of things. And that’s that’s special, you know talking is interesting but doing a whole lot more impactful and our industry is really really special and I I left it for five years, which

You know gave me New Perspective and was very very valuable.

But I do think if I would have stayed the course, I you know, I could have started my own agency or done some of those things. So you look back and say, you know could a what could I have done differently, you know staying the path in our special industry is something I look back on and say Hey, you know, I probably should have stayed the path.

You know because it’s it’s such an incredible industry of growth and opportunity and again industry of creators and makers

great. Yeah, who knows what would have happened if you had, you know started your own agency what that would have looked like it’s it’s an interesting question to ponder, but

maybe maybe would have been very successful. I

think so you

Can how about you?

You know I embrace.

You know every challenge that we are confronted with, you know, making smart decision and moving forward confidently. So I never I always see as part of our path, right, you know, I read a book of you know a while back to talked about the best CEOs or often CEOs who Embrace lateral moves, you know, who who pivot you know, it looks when you look back at their career looks like a straight trajectory up, right, but the reality is that they have taken

Chances and every single opportunity that was presented to them. They have they have taken off and they have taken the riskier chance, right and

I I feel like every

challenge I’ve been confronted with we we’ve always taken the bolt move and that for me who who’s been with consent for 22 years and didn’t you know didn’t have the opportunity to build my career through going and learning from different organizations be you know, in the last 20 years for me. I embrace that those that trajectory that we know are that zigzagging career growth that I’ve that I’ve had over the last 22 years at concentric so I don’t look back and say hey, I wish I did something differently or you know, and it because I look and embrace that everything I did do I learned from it and I think that’s another

you know major.

Characteristic of an entrepreneur is is constantly, you know keep learning right always looking at everything as a learning opportunity build a culture of continuing to advance the organization through being a learning organization. And and so it’s hard for me to pinpoint a thing. I always say the first thing I would have done the one thing I would have done differently.

Um in in starting concentric, you know, we it was a creative guy an account guy in a strategic guy. I think I would have got a finance person in their early because there’s there’s a massive strategy. So to be able to fulfill what is your value you need to be able to fund that value, right? And and and and you need to be able to have make really great strategic Financial moves to be able to feed the organization for growth. And we you know, I had to be basically do that crash course that myself and become a financial CEO, but I think it would have been amazing if in those early days if if you know Michael and I had a financial partner who truly understood how to make how to capitalize this business early that was one of the things that we learned and I’m happy to do it because I think I’m a better.

Leader for it now, but but capitalizing growth when you are growing quickly is really a really, you know, important thing for any entrepreneur and anyone who’s building a business whether it’s in our business or or any business mom and pop or a large organization. How do you feed that the growth of that organization? And so I always say we I think I would have chosen a financial partner, you know early someone who who saw who could who could make could translate our vision into a financial plan that that got us there a little bit quicker and helped us potentially be a little bit more scaled early.

sure, and definitely zigging when the others are zagging is another, you know thing that’s defined your career over the years and

That that probably didn’t leave a tremendous amount of time, you know for perhaps introspection and but you know, you had to take on where a lot of hats, you know in your role. So I want to segue over to as you mentioned earlier your your roles now is you’re both serving as co-chairs of the medical advertising Hall of Fame where you’re tasked with honoring historical contributions within medical advertising and inspiring the Next Generation. You mentioned your dad’s who were a big part of the moth Tim your father Ron pantello who I think co-founded The Moth he was inducted in 2009 and Ken your dad. He was inducted in 2016 with the Lifetime Achievement Award. So they played a big, you know role obviously and you know mentoring both of you and perhaps inspiring you to get into this industry. You’re taking over of course from the previous outgoing.

Co-chairs Jenny fischette and Robin Shapiro Jenny and Robin kind of revitalized the organization at a crucial time you two are coming in with a different Focus. I love to hear you share your plans and you share it at the dinner in febuary, but for those who perhaps weren’t able to attend that dinner or maybe need a refresher Ken would like to start with you on this

one first and foremost, I think.

I’m just so excited to sharing this opportunity with Tim.

I do think we have a special perspective and appreciation for this industry and the medical advertising Hall of Fame.

You know one of the things when I joined the board and 2011 was really to Champion to continue to education and the community and grow the community with a young girl, you know audience and to try to you know, bring the phenomenal Minds that in people and personalities that we have within our industry to the to help cultivate a culture and a community of learning with an organization. There was a massive there’s absolute is a massive Gap in our industry for continued education and development of what we do every day and I think Tim and I both share that passion and I think it’s probably because you know all of our

You know the of our our perspective our experience through our fathers and knowing what made this agency or this industry great, you know for in the early years and and during the the years of massive growth where Tim’s and my dad kind of really were playing at their at their Pinnacle of their careers. You know, that that is super exciting to do I can’t give Jenny and Robin enough credit because I think you nailed it. I mean, I think there was there’s been you know year after year. There’s been or, you know, great growth in the medical advertising Hall of Fame, but they really brought an energy in a focus to the organization to raise its kind of awareness and relevance to again a larger organization a larger audience and

I think that’s what we’re seeking to do. Right? I think if you look at what we’re trying to do with our ambition.

Is we’re going to bring a little bit of ourselves right this this unique partnership that we have of someone who has been an entrepreneur in celebrating that entrepreneurism that is made our industry. Great. That’s what that’s what we do hopefully building and inspiring entrepreneurs and the youth in the in the young Executives that we have in our organization, but then bring this amazing perspective of someone who has played on both sides of

The other factors that are really shaping our world technology private investment into building the next Platt Healthcare platforms and continuing to make this organ or this industry relevant and in agencies relevant within this industry. Those are the things that I’m excited about doing so continuing obviously with our career accelerator series and our cultivating education and doing that but also bringing a leadership voice. We need to start advocating for our industry. Our industry does amazing things. We bring health and wellness closer to the people who need it most. We need to start having a leadership voice in larger conversations in and around what we do and also I need to help those who are building their businesses to be successful in the future and I think that’s one of the things that we’re excited about doing with the

Of advertising Hall of Fame really bringing it to the next to the next level. Nice. I know you’ve been passionate about the

educational Series so and then creating that advocacy arm is if it sounds like something that’s really much needed Tim. How about from your perspective? What are your plans?

Yeah. I mean I couldn’t be, you know more thrilled to share the role with Ken and I think Robin and Jenny really set the set the bar of coaching and it is a big responsibility to represent your your industry and your colleagues in that and to do that really thoughtfully respectfully and how to serve and honor not only the past but the present in his Kenwood to the Future and the future Talent of our industry, and I think Jenny and

Robin didn’t exceptional job and set a really high bar for us to take the Baton and you know, the areas that we’re going to focus on is obviously Cult of a change in honor which are our three pillars, but it’s it’s what Ken saying developing that skill set of the future is a central for our industry to thrive right? And so using that career accelerator so platform and we’ve got some great program. We’re rolling out. We are this year. The other thing is to expand our membership in the identity within and our advocacy within the industry requires us to make sure we’re being inclusive of all the independent and networked agencies.

In the network agencies have very specific needs training needs, you know, they’re they’re in big public companies, you know, they they need to invest in their talent and we can be an Avenue to really support that and economical way and we need to serve our Network Partners in that way because they have different pressures on them and having lived in that world for the majority of my career. I was invested in quite a bit and I know there are a lot of pressure as we all are.

To deliver results Financial results, but that that all comes from people and making sure the people have the right skills and competencies to be successful to deliver exceptional work for our clients that have impact and purpose in the world. And so one of the other things we’re doing is is we’re expanding that that membership. We’ve added a four agencies already and just canonized first six or seven weeks in our term here and and more to come. So we’re you know, we have strengthened numbers and we need to to Really invest. The other thing we’re doing is expanding not only the volume of agency but the volume and diversity of talents. So we have a large initiative that we kicked off at around more than your resume. How do we get people from more diverse backgrounds or otherwise wouldn’t be aware of our industry. And how do we get those those resumes of those folks to get them an opportunity and your street to have impact that otherwise

Wouldn’t be aware of our industry and make might not be.

The people we typically historically profile so really changing the shape and the composition of the talent and Ministries is critically important to Ken and I and something Robin and Jenny started and we’re going to take that to the next level. The last thing is to documenting the history. So can I have been working diligently?

With past chairs and current members and past chairs to really evolve and capture the last 15 years of history. As you know, we wrote Medicine Avenue 1 and Medicine Avenue 2 document the history of pharmaceutical advertising in North America.

You know really the last 15 years. There’s been such a seismic transformation in our industry not only in its importance but also the the agency in the service Professional Services landscape. So making sure we’re capturing all of that is something we have underway and the formats going to be very different. It won’t be in a book format. So really excited to get that in into the market and then certainly invest in our future Famers and and recognizing the future of our industry and making sure they’re supported and also acknowledging, you know, the

entrepreneurs and as Kennedy to intrical that is so essential for our industry to evolve so really teaching and coaching how to be intrapreneurial how to build capabilities within your agency how to build a business case. These are things that are typically taught or acknowledged in.

In any of our agencies because we all have to be, you know, a certain billability client ability these types of things. It doesn’t leave always a lot for investment. So that’s something when we we work together. We can share how how others have evolved and built capabilities within their nutrients or potentially inspire people to go start their own.

And we’re very very clear about that that the future of our industry isn’t isn’t locked in the containers of How It’s organized today and we’re seeing a lot of investment in our industry a tremendous amount of investment of capital and Industry and that’s going to create a lot of opportunity for people to to be entrepreneurs and we want to Spur that on and also be entrepreneurs in their own organization to help accelerate growth.

Yeah. I couldn’t I think that to me is the biggest thing. How do you how do you make the medical advertising Hall of Fame relevant? You just keep investing in in education and helping people.

You know realize their Ambitions and dreams whether that is to be the best at what they do within an organization, or if they have Ambitions to to take those skill sets and and Charter, you know their own course, but that’s what we’re talking about. There’s a massive seismic hole in helping people understand and educating them on how they can do it through our experience. And so we’re we’re really looking forward to to cultivating, you know, that that new level of Education within the medical advertising Hall of Fame.

Excellent. Well, you know you both raise some excellent Trends there, you know, in terms of the influx of private Capital that’s funding the next era of growth in this industry, you know in the need to diversify the talent base that’s coming into the industry. And you know again, I’ll mention your father’s you know, your this is really a full circle moment for you. So it’s must be very special that you’re able to, you know, take take on this mantle.

I’m at the medical advertising Hall of Fame and if I may say, so, you know, you know can in terms of, you know, all your phrase, you know fostering the Ambitions and the dreams, you know of this next Generation. I think the industry is well served as in very good hands with you both helping make that happen, you know, so I want to thank you both for joining me today on this and we look forward to celebrating your careers what you’ve accomplished and much more to come this Thursday at the Edison Ballroom in NYC from 6 to 10 p.m. At the mmm Pinnacle Awards awards. Thank you both and congratulations in advance.

Thank you Mark. Thank you. Thank you Tim. I’m looking forward to partnering with you the next two, hopefully to maybe maybe two terms we will get two terms.

No, I can you know, you’ve had such a tremendous career. I’m looking forward to partnering with you and and and learning from you quite frankly and honoring you this this week as the personal affairs. So excited to hear the speech and and excited to get to serve alongside you I’ve always

respected you and someone I looked to as as an industry leader and I feel very fortunate and grateful I get to get to work. So close you with you and and serve our industry, which is just a wonderful place. I think if the last Mark if the last four or five years of taught us anything, it’s our industry matters what we do matters and the people in their industry matter and serving and supporting them is is what can I have dedicated or are careers our lives too and and certainly our fathers before us and

It in Serbian supporting this industry for which we love and we want to see continued to flourish and support and protect and so it’s really an honor to be able to do that and to do it with Canada’s is amazing and Mark. I can’t thank you and mmm enough for all of your support over the years as well as rather colleagues in the industry. So

absolutely, thank you. Thank you. We can see the, you know how much it means to you both. So we’re looking forward to celebrating. Thank you again for doing this. We’re going to call it there. We’ll see everybody Thursday. Thank you. Again. That was Tim pantello and Ken Magee Jr. Take care

guys. Take care.

That’s it for this week. The mmm podcast is produced by Bill Fitzpatrick Gordon. Our theme music is by Susie him sohn rate review and follow every episode wherever you listen to podcasts new episodes out every week and be sure to check out our website. Mmm for the top news stories and farmer marketing.