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Dear Indiana,

March 26th, 2015

At the end of a very long, crazy, tech-filled day, it’s nice to come back to the simple pleasure of…writing.

But, this letter to my home state is not going to be a nice or pretty one.

Today, for those of you not living in Indiana and/or who didn’t have the opportunity to watch the news, our Governor signed into law SB 101, which he describes as a “religious freedom” act.  The only trouble is, this bill has nothing to do with religion, nor freedom.

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My Tweet on this matter today.

Instead, it basically makes discrimination legal in our state.  And, thankfully and sadly all at the same time, there are businesses ready to pull their business OUT of the state now that this bill is signed.  In particular, businesses that are all-inclusive to all types of customers are ready to bail on doing business in and with Indiana because our state government chose to put this bill into action as law.

This bill sets Indiana back again (not that I even thought this could have been possible), and reeks of the same non-inclusive tones as last legislative session with an attempt to ban gay marriage.

I want my readers and the entire universe to know that I do not support this bill, nor do I support any bill that excludes people, or allows discrimination of any type.  I was taught (through my religion, and in being a decent person) that one should be inclusive–consider all points of view, and welcome diversity–NOT exclude.

Today, I’m embarrassed to call myself a native Hoosier.

Sincerely,

Erin L. Albert

 

7 Coolest Programs & Projects I’ve Co-Designed Thus Far

March 25th, 2015

I need to write a post on cool programming I’ve designed/programmed/done thus far.  There’s a lot to choose from, but here are the ones that really stick out in my mind.  (And to say I did them solo would be absolutely WRONG.  These were all team/group efforts.  In some, I came up with the idea, but others implemented.  In others, someone else came up with the idea and I just executed.  Some were a hybrid of both skill sets. Some are in the past, others are ongoing, and some are yet to come.)  They will appear in random order below.

Relative to my philosophy on learning and design of tools to make cool products and services: I just want to litter the universe with knowledge.  After that, I am a maximizer, so I want to take the cool stuff produced and spread it like a virus to the widest audience possible.  That’s the background I try to keep in mind every time I work on a book, project, or process.

Enough disclaimers…ready?

1. Social Media Dames Unconference SeriesSocialMediaDamesTo help women get their voices heard online, my friend Amy Stark and I set up this conference series in Indiana (Indy and Ft. Wayne) so that women could jump over the hurdles of technology and go straight into sharing their stories.  Although I’ve stepped out of this series, I am hopeful that it will live on through Amy.

2. 21 Flavors: Ideas on How Might We Increase Medication Adherence?This one was not my idea in concept, but in 21 Flavors Graphicexecution.  Community Health Network co-sponsored this CE for pharmacists at Butler University a while ago.  What was fun about it was two fold: 1. there were 21 speakers, each speaking for 5 min about one “flavor” or way to increase medication adherence, with the intimidating factor of a gong going off if they exceeded 5 min.  2. This was the first program that I turned into enduring materials online via the google site.  We also published the summary in Drug Topics.  And, we had ice cream.  Seriously – what more could you want from a meeting?

3. BU Well1BU WellThis one is still ongoing.  We had press on it recently – co-written by the students.  They’re coming up with great ideas to make the first, open-access, student-driven, multimedia healthcare journal that we can find out there in the ether.  The journal will launch in the summer/fall of 2015, and I can’t wait to see what the first edition/volume will look like next summer.  Inventing the idea, the logo, and helping out the students with things like media training, journal development, and website management has been a true honor and blast.

4. STEM Princess Series - This will be a series, if it kills me!  I’m cranking on book 2 right now.  I’m alsoScreen Shot 2014-09-23 at 9.21.10 AM
having a doll made of one of the characters.  This needs to be a multimedia empire, not because I want to be the next Walt Disney, but because GIRLS NEED STABLE FINANCIAL FUTURES by choosing to opt in to STEM careers.  STEM is cool – we just need to show girls at an early age that it really IS cool!  I also like tearing down the baggage around the term “princess.” I love the manifesto we created for the book.

5. Children’s Book Student Writing & Publishing Series @ButlerU – I wrote about this project series recently, and it still blows my mind that different teams of students here at Butler across colleges have published 5 different books that are now helping others learn about healthcare, pharmacy, and STEM.  Writers really are leaders, and even though helping students produce these books is a TON of work, it’s worth it in the end, because we all grow from the experiences.

…And two haven’t happened yet – but they will soon!

6. Pearls Sessions – This year’s Annual BUCOPHS CE – June 4-5, 2015 Was it VanGogh who said that the best artists steal ideas?  Anyway, I totally stole this idea from ASHP, as they tend to have a lot of different speed round talks on topics they call pearls sessions.  At the end of two very long full days of CE, we’re going to try a speed round this year to keep things fun and moving.  Will this work?  Don’t know, but it will be fun to try!

7. Crowdfunding 101 – A Women Entrepreneurial Panel Discussion – March Madness – Mar 31, 2015A lot of people love to talk about helping women entrepreneurs raise capital for their businesses, as it’s probably the biggest hindering factor for women to grow established businesses.  In my world, talk is kind of cheap – at least as an entrepreneur.  Instead, I felt like acting and putting together a panel discussion of REAL WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS who ran REAL CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGNS – to share how they did it, what they learned from the process, and most important, to teach other women how to do it.  No theoretical jabbering, no pontificating – just real talk on how to raise money for businesses through the crowdfunding channel.  This will be in Indy at Launch Fishers at the end of March.  Hope you can come learn how to make the money raising magic happen.

That’s it.  Those are the top 7 in recent years. As one of my friends reminded me today, I’m a life long learner.  And, the best part about learning is that I get to bring others along on the ride with me.  It’s been fun.  And, I hope in the future I get to help bring even more creative, fun and exciting learning projects to life.

How to Blog, BU Well, and Other Goodies

March 23rd, 2015

I’m embarrassingly behind on blogging – forgive me.  But, I was down with a bug this weekend, on top of the Bulldogs losing in a very hard-fought battle Sunday morning early during March Madness.

Anyway, here’s what’s cooking in my world.

First, congratulations to the students of BU Well – who put out a successful press release today along with BU Marketing – and also caught the attention of Inside Indiana Business – yay!  I’ll be collecting all their autographs this evening during media training with IIB’s Lauryn Gray – as they’re all stars now!

Second, I’m prepping a talk tomorrow on blogging basics.  Never given this talk before.  Hopefully I’m on the right track.  I’ll post slides after.  In the meantime, you can of course google how to set up a blog, or better yet, just call my friends over at Bitwise Fellows and they can set you up a blog without costing a fortune. Please tell them I sent you.

Third, the two children’s books are coming along nicely this year as senior book projects.  Max Greene and the Vaccine Team and The Gifts of Indiana are still coming soon to a bookstore near Butler!  Shout out to Mascot Books for being the publisher on both of these projects!

Fourth – we are planning for June already – for the 12th annual CE Symposium for Pharmacists.  Postcards went out last week, and we’re already nearing 15% full!  Really excited about this year’s event – there will be some fun topics.

Fifth – is it really snowing outside right now?  It is. Bleh.

Hurry up spring!

Out of Bounds: Sports

March 19th, 2015

I’ve been away, because I’ve been slammed.  But now, I’m back.  And I’m here with an axe to grind.

Those who know me well also know that I’ve rarely, if ever, been a fan of sports.  Particularly professional, and sometimes even college–I’m just not into it.  So, I’m going to get on my soapbox here for a moment…please allow me some indulgence.

First, the NFL.  Once again, my opinion of the aforementioned NONPROFIT sunk even lower (not that that was even possible) today when a player convicted (by a jury) of domestic violence was signed on for over $10M to a team in Texas.  (Yes, I know the charges were dropped, but only because the victim didn’t show up to the appeal.)

Really, NFL?  When out of one side of your mouth you talk about the atrocity of domestic violence, you decide to go ahead and turn a blind eye in this case…?  The only word I can think of here to describe is one, with four letters: F-A-I-L.

Second, I’m going to pick on the NCAA.  I know everyone’s in to March Madness and all, but they (yet another non profit) decided to schedule the first round with Butler vs. Texas DURING CLASS TIME.  Seriously – I teach a class from 2:25 PM – 5:15 PM, and that was game time today.

Fortunately, I have classy students who actually came to class – I had perfect attendance today.  (That’s the Butler Way, BTW.)

NCAA, you FAILED today as well.

I’m here to ask – are we at universities to host pre-professional sports and athletics as our primary function, or are we here to teach students FIRST, then have sports as a co-curricular opportunity that should NOT interfere with teaching and learning? Second, should we throw our money at professional sports to support players earning millions of dollars who are convicted criminals?

Every time you buy a ticket to any of these events, you’re voting with your wallets.

I’ll let you decide as I step down from my soapbox now…

Noteworthy Nuggets from My Little Corner of the World

March 9th, 2015

Greetings from Orlando.

I know, don’t hate me. But it’s sunny and 70-something-ish as I type this.

I’m at ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference, along with 800+ other new people.  I’m enjoying this meeting, because it’s full of people who I don’t normally get the opportunity to interact with on a daily basis.  On top of that, I’ve been working online a lot today in plotting ahead to 2015-16.

So, here’s the noteworthy nuggets I’ve been trying to glue in my brain for the past couple of days.

1. Butler University student published books – When I look at the table below in planning ahead for the next academic year on book 7, all I can think is–wow.  Has this project really grown into this many projects and books?  Here’s a cool video interview on one of the two books being published as I type this.

ButlerUniversityStudentBookProjects

Butler University Student-Written & Published Book Projects

2. 5 Things I’ve learned at ASAE Great Ideas – Well, I’m certain I’ve learned a lot more than 5 things at this conference, but here are the stickiest things thus far (and there’s still 1 more day to go for this conference):

  • a. Associations don’t want to be awesome.  This is the biggest Debbie downer realization, but the more I think about it, it’s true.  One speaker said that awesome ideas scare the sh*t out of boards, and even if they say they want innovative ideas, they really don’t want them at the end of the day.  I think she’s right.  This kind of bums me out, because I think trade associations should be moving and pressing forward in a profession, not holding it back.  If you are driving an association, I hope you don’t have this mindset, but I’m afraid many do.
  • b. Instagram/Yik Yak and Snapchat are the trifecta for college kids and young professionals via social media.  If you’re not using them in a non profit or an association, you’re doomed.
  • c. The top 10 big trends that are coming – how are you adapting to them? If you want to see what they are, look at my personal twitter feed for today – (@ErinLAlbert) – there’s a slide buried in it on these trends.  The ASAE Foundation paid for this trend study, so I won’t publish their data on my own blog.
  • d. Everything is like Netflix now – There’s even a subscription women’s clothing company now.  The first thing I’m going to do when I get home is try this out.  Netflix for clothes…? SIGN ME UP!
  • e. Books are everywhere here – I like that a lot of speakers at this event have actually published books on their areas of expertise. I even ran into some peeps in the audience who have written and published books but were just attending this event, like me.  Here are the books that speakers presented and attendees/speakers wrote.  (One was at the ASAE bookstore by an author I know, so I’m putting her latest book on the list too.)  Sorry, I’m just turning into a book snob – in that, if your ideas are that awesome, you should have a book on them, rather than just talking about them.  So, here’s a list of people walking the talk!

SPIKE Your Brand ROI – by Adele Cehrs
The Necessity of Strangers – Alan Gregerman
Overcoming an Imperfect Boss – Karin Hurt
Knowing Y – Sarah Sladek
42 Rules for Engaging Members Through Gamification – by Alcorn & Turner

3. I’m missing SX – One of these decades, I’m going to get to SXSW.  But, while I’m at this meeting, I’m enjoying the tweets from Austin too.  Maybe one day I’ll get there–and then and only then, will I be cool.

4. The future of pharmacy is here! I prattled on recently about where I think pharmacy is heading – the good, the bad and the ugly. Todd Eury allowed this to happen over at Pharmacy Podcast.  The audio is here, and the show notes are here.  If you’re a pharmacist, feel free to tweet me and let me know if I’m full of hot air, or if you agree with me.  Regardless of whether or not you agree, part of being a professional in my mind is discussing the future and owning it, rather than letting it own you. I also heard from Adele Cehrs today that associations need to “own” the whispered stuff about them, rather than ignoring it.  I agree with her.  And thus, I look forward to mixing it up with my colleagues.

5. Why? So, I attended a career development session at ASAE today too.  One of the speakers said we have to get Simon Sinek and ask ourselves the deep, philosophical “why” we are here, what gets us out of bed in the morning, etc.  When we paired and shared, my why is the same as it has been–to litter the universe with knowledge.  That’s my why I’m here thing.  What’s yours?  Think about it – because it will drive a lot of other decisions you have and make in your life.

 

The Big Idea: Crowdfunding 101

March 5th, 2015
winloss

Kickstarter win on left, loss on right

Forgive me for not posting much this week.  It’s literally been March Madness around here.  Spring break at the day job is next week, and I’m heading to ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference for a couple of days – so I’m trying to plan ahead instead of suffering from the post-meeting blues when I return to the office after Orlando next week.  I’ve never been to an ASAE meeting before, so I’m pumped.

So, a while ago, the people over at Launch Fishers asked me to think about ways to support more women entrepreneurs in the community, I thought of this panel discussion. Today, they posted the event registration site for the 3/31 March madness program we’re having called Crowdfunding 101.  I’ve seen some other crowdfunding training locally, but rarely if at all with entrepreneurs who have actually EXECUTED a crowdfunding campaign or two.  Luckily, I know a few women entrepreneurs locally who have done this, including myself, and:

Now, I’m eager to learn more about successful crowdfunding at this event myself.  I’m batting 50% right now in this arena – my peeps successfully funded one project on Kickstarter, and I failed epically at a second campaign for the second STEM Princess book, (which I’m working on now anyway).  Happily, I get to ask the questions of the panelist, and ask away I will…

It’s been documented that raising VC and Angel funding is next to impossible for women business owners (because, candidly, it’s still a boys’ club).  BUT, women actually have been more successful than men in crowdfunding money at Kickstarter and Indiegogo – yay!  Funding is the one thing that’s holding a lot of women business owners back from growing their businesses in big ways.

So, I hope if nothing else, you’d consider funding a woman owned business with a cool project over at Kickstarter or Indiegogo (and it had better be more significant than potato salad–I’m not even going to link to that campaign)…or better yet, come to this event and learn how to successfully crowdfund your own campaign–and stretch your knowledge a bit further in terms of financial independence.

That’s March Madness that I can get behind…!

Carpe Awesomeness

February 28th, 2015

1awesomenessLately, I’ve been fascinated by and studying good coaching. What does it take to be a good coach? How can coaches motivate others to change? What balance of positive and critical feedback should a coach give to motivate? This is really important for healthcare professionals to understand, now that we are moving into wellness and preventative care. With pharmacists being the most accessible healthcare professionals to patients, the coaching aspect of our profession always needs polish.

And, while I’m not a fan of professional sports, I do enjoy reading about the strategies that professional coaches utilize to maximize team output, as I believe much of what they do can translate to any team. This article, for example, recently out from Harvard Business Review studies what habits effective sports coaches use with their teams.

Horace was the first attributed to saying “Carpe diem,” which translated means seize the day. But I think we can take it a step further and state that we also, as good coaches and leaders, must seize the awesomeness.

What Does Carpe Awesomeness Look Like?

What do I mean by this? We have to give positive feedback immediately and urgently. When you spot someone doing something you personally think as awesome, make it your mission to tell them. Immediately. Tell them when it happens. Do not wait.

For example, at the day job, we’ve had a group of students working on forming a new open-access student driven multimedia journal called BU Well. While the team is working for the most part virtually, I’ve been trying to give them immediate positive feedback when I spot them doing great work.

As well, we’ve had to make up a lot of procedures on the fly while creating this new experience in higher education, so, I’ve had to figure out how to utilize tools to maximize team efficiency. One tool that saved me was SurveyMonkey. I used it to figure out which students wanted to work on different subteams on this open-access journal project. Setting up a survey was easy, and feedback was fast and efficient.

I sent a note of thanks over to SurveyMonkey this morning. This is on-demand carpe awesomeness in my mind – I couldn’t have done this without them and their tool, and it was important to let them know that due to their awesomeness, I was able to do my work faster and more efficiently.

So, if you’re working on being a good coach – try out the “carpe awesomeness” experiment as I am trying–when you spot awesomeness in action, freely hand out the “good job!” feedback as quickly as you can. You don’t need a fancy title to give it. You don’t even need to be an official manager to give it, either! EVERYONE can carpe awesomeness!

While it is easy to criticize on demand (and trust me, I’ve given and received more than my fair share of criticism at times), it’s equally easy to give positive feedback if and when you see awesomeness in action and get in the habit of it.

What are your best thoughts on giving positive feedback?  I welcome you to join the conversation over at LinkedIn.

 

A 7-Step Recipe for Teamwork that Works

February 26th, 2015
2recipe

My grandmother’s recipe box.

Lately, it seems that universe is trying to teach me something about teamwork.

In my mind, a great team recipe consists of the following:

1. Diverse thinking and people.  The weirder, the better.

2. Collaborative spirit.  Everyone is willing to help each other out.

3. Professionalism.  Each member of the team acts like a professional, and puts the cause before the individual.

4. Fun. Why does every team need to be drudgery?  It doesn’t.

5. Takes the work seriously.  But not necessarily themselves individually as serious.

6. Works hard, but doesn’t worry about credit.  Good teams focus on the work itself, not who contributed what.

7. Dives in.  Doesn’t dabble – a good team member is 100% in, 100% out. And, if s/he doesn’t play, s/he’s not part of the team in the first place.

The teams I’ve witnessed recently aren’t acting like this.  So, maybe the less than ideal behavior witnessed is begging me to post this.  I don’t know.  But I do know good teamwork when I see it, and the list above, while may not be capturing everything on a good team, is certainly a good start.

What I Know For Sure

February 25th, 2015

Oprah has this new book out with this title.  She also has a column in her magazine about it.

And while I certainly do not know everything (and there are days where I feel I’m reverting), nor as much as Oprah, here are a few things I do know for sure:

1. Your life is an experiment. Experiment. After all, you only have one shot.  For example, this week, I worked on book #9.  And while I’m heading into double digits of original book titles I’ve published now, I still have no idea where to publish it, or how to publish it, because the publishing industry is still jacked up.  Ebook? Book-book? Self published? Shop it around with a “traditional” publisher? Print on demand?  I don’t know which direction I’m heading in just yet, but I do know that I will continue to experiment in book publishing land, because you only live once.

2. If you’re going to ask for some social capital, have it firmly in place.  Nothing irks me more than new people in my network asking for something from me right off the bat, before I even ask if I can help them in any way.  Don’t let this be you.  Please don’t be that guy.  Personally, I hate asking for favors…it kills me.  It puts a chink in one’s social capital.  Make sure you have a firm relationship set with someone before you go asking them for a bunch of favors/stuff/deals and/or discounts.

3. Hustle.  The best and brightest never rest.  They work hard, and realize fully that they are entitled to NOTHING in this world.  The hustle doesn’t end when you get into your dream school, college, grad school or organization.  The hustle doesn’t end when you graduate–from high school, college, or medical school.  It doesn’t end when you got the dream internship, residency or full time job, either.  The hustle NEVER ends.  So, don’t rest on your laurels.

4. Know who you are, and what one thing you can uniquely offer the world.  I am a futurist, maximizer and I love ideas.  I value working on the forefront of knowledge, creativity and independence.  My unique thing is littering the universe with knowledge.  I can write, speak, teach and educate from online, offline, real-time or archived homestudy formats.  By “littering,” I mean I can deliver education through various portals and formats.  Who are you?  What’s the one thing you can uniquely offer the world?  After all, we’re each here for a reason.  What is your reason?  Not knowing is not good.  So, if you don’t know, figure it out.  That’s probably one of the most important life lessons you need to learn while you’re here. Ignoring this is easy.  The hard work is figuring this out.

5. There is no perfection, and no failure.  Neither state actually exists.  There is no perfection, because that is a subjective term that is different for each of us.  There is no failure if we learn from the mistake or error–it was merely a lesson.  Someone had an excellent article online a couple of days ago that argued perfection IS failure, because if you’re perfect at something, you failed, because you didn’t really learn anything from the experience.  I really like this – because so many of us hold on to this belief that perfection and failure are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  In fact, they may be just two of a kind!

What do you know for sure?  Oprah shared.  So did I. Write your own post on what you know for sure…and share with the rest of the class.

Is It Time for an Ethics Exam in Pharmacist Licensure?

February 24th, 2015

So, this was an interesting conversation I had a few days ago, and something I’ve been pondering ever since law school.

(And, shout out to all my peeps taking the bar exam in the next few days.  Good luck and may the force be with you.)

For those of you who are not lawyers or pharmacists, I need to discuss both of these professions for a moment.  First, law.  There are several components to the Bar Exam, (the exam to become a licensed attorney) and the components vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  However, one of the components that every future lawyer is required to pass in Indiana (and many other  jurisdictions in the US) is the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).

The MPRE is to assess professional conduct of attorneys.  To me, that means ethics.  In law school, we had to take a course called Professional Responsibility, where we studied the model rules of professional conduct, or how we should act around clients, other attorneys, etc.  Most jurisdictions even codify or make the model ethics rules law, including Indiana.  So, as an attorney, there are ethics laws.

I’ll conclude the law portion here by saying that lawyers are usually one of the least trusted professions out there, according to AP polls, despite the fact that we all as lawyers need to pass an ethics exam and practice under these rules.

Now–pharmacy.  Pharmacy is second only in trust by society to nursing, which for the last few years has been #1.  In pharmacy, we have an Oath that we take, usually at two times: 1. when we get our white coats and enter the professional phase of pharmacy programs, and 2. when we become licensed pharmacists.  Most, if not all schools of pharmacy also offer an ethics course – but it’s usually more about the ethics of healthcare, rather than mere ethics of behavior as a pharmacist.

If you’re like me, the next question you may have is–are pharmacists actually assessed or tested on ethics as part of their licensure?  Pharmacists typically have two (or more) exams to become licensed: 1. the NAPLEX (or clinical/therapeutic examination), and 2. the MPJE – which is a law examination.  (Not an ethical examination.  Remember–law and ethics are really two different things.)

Back to the answer of the previous question.  In the state of Indiana–no.  There is no licensure exam on testing a pre-pharmacist’s or future-pharmacist’s ethics.

Does pharmacy have model rules of professional conduct?  Nope.  What about ethics as law for pharmacists?  Not really in Indiana. Yes, we have a lot (A LOT) of laws that we need to follow as pharmacists, but at least in Indiana, there aren’t many, if any ethics laws that we need to uphold.  Breaking the law is one thing…but breaking ethics, when there are no ethics laws–is hard to technically do.  More troubling, ethical challenges aren’t as easy to discern–as black and white–as breaking the law, for example.

I’ll conclude by stating that some of the biggest challenges I see in pharmacy education these days aren’t generally in therapeutic or clinical knowledge (although, to be fair, I don’t teach therapeutics or clinical skills as a large part of my teaching).  I’d say more often than not, the challenges in developing students into professionals–the very notion of what it means to be and act like a professional–i.e. professionalism itself is now one of the biggest challenges.  If there are no standardized rules on how to act as a professional within a profession, how can we ever really know whether or not a future pharmacist, or pharmacist in general, is going to do the ethical thing, or make the better ethical choice, in the course of his or her duties as a licensed pharmacist?

I’ll conclude with this: is it time to start assessing ethics as part of becoming a licensed pharmacist?

I’ll let you decide.