TAMPA, FL—Pharmex Industries CEO Jack Gorelick, keynote speaker at the "Commercializing New-Market Biopharmaceuticals" sales seminar, successfully broke the ice Saturday, setting a friendly, cordial tone for the two-day event with a string of quips during his opening address.

Pharmex CEO Jack Gorelick breaks the ice.

Standing at the podium in Conference Room B of the Tampa Hyatt Regency West, Gorelick put seminar-goers at ease and facilitated conversation by joking about the confusing one-way circular drive at the front of the hotel.

"Sorry I'm a little late, folks, but I was going around that darn driveway for almost an hour, trying to figure out where to get off," said Gorelick, 49. "So here I am, a little dizzy, but happy to welcome all of you to the sunburn capital of America."

The humorous remarks, which were met with audible laughter from the 175 pharmaceutical-industry professionals in attendance, caused even those lined up at the free-drawing-registration table to smile in recognition of the difficult-to-navigate driveway.

"Everyone in the room could really relate, because we all came around that drive when we checked in," said Charles Dean, 53, director of product development for the Phoenix-based Biotek Ltd. "When you first get on the little byway, it seems like a two-way—there's no sign or anything. But then it narrows up by the front door, so lots of cars end up having to back out."

"Of course," Dean continued, "I'm sure [Gorelick] was just exaggerating when he said he was out there for an hour. But whatever the case, one thing's for sure: The ice was broken."

With introductory formalities out of the way, Gorelick confidently proceeded to the rest of his speech. Moving an index card in his hand to the back of the pile, he gestured toward a projection screen illustrating the "Three Ms" of biopharmaceutical sales: Mergers, Marketplace and Making funding happen.

"Enough kidding around. It's time to get down to business," said Gorelick, making eye contact with various people seated throughout the room. "Who here knows the number-one killer of profits that can occur while moving products from lab to consumer? I've got a free Pharmex pen-light for the first person brave enough to take a guess. Come on, don't be shy!"

Gorelick, who made his speech a dialogue—not a monologue—by soliciting responses from the audience, spoke for approximately 50 minutes before opening up the floor to questions.

Those present agreed that the deftly executed ice-breaking was crucial to the success of the seminar.

"Those remarks really got things off on the right foot," said Kathie Desoto of Medix Biosystems in Rochester, NY. "Before the ice was broken, everyone was pretty stiff and keeping to themselves. But from that point on, there was a great deal of interaction among seminar attendees and exchanging of ideas regarding how to maximize one's profitability in an extremely competitive biopharmaceutical marketplace. I have no idea what might have happened had Mr. Gorelick just launched into the seminar without first making a personal connection with his audience. I'm just glad we didn't have to find out."

Gorelick's ice breakage is considered the most successful at a Hyatt Regency West seminar since October 1998, when an executive from Kal Kan Pet Foods attributed looming storm clouds to a higher power urging attendees to stay inside for his "Expanding Your Premium-Dog-Food Consumer Base" workshop.