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A First for Me, on IIB

March 18th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 10.48.18 AMShout out in March for Women’s History Month. And, specifically, to Inside Indiana Business, for recognizing this important event with an all-woman powered episode. I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the camera, interviewing CEO and co-founder of Codelicious! Check it out here.

And thanks to Gerry and his crew for the opportunity!

Single Women Entrepreneurs: 5 Years Later

March 18th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 2.57.01 PMMy new book is in the house! Right now, it’s available at Amazon Kindle and the hardcopies are available only at my store.

Here are some FAQs I’ve already received on this book:

1. Why did you write this book?

This one has been a long time coming, and candidly a year overdue, but, Single Women Entrepreneurs: 5 Years Later is my follow up with women from the first book, Single. Women. Entrepreneurs., where I go back to the original women in the first two editions of the book, and ask them follow up questions, like – “Is your business still operating?”, “Did it change?”, “How did you change?”, “Has your advice on being a woman entrepreneur changed?” I also had a new woman in the book, Mona Das, as I wanted to show that women are also still out here starting businesses and running their own show. Although, it’s very, very hard to do really well and ‘successfully’, although everyone has a different definition of success.

2. What did you learn while writing this book?

That again, running a business is hard. Even women who were seemingly successful in the first books–women who were winning awards, held at high regard in their communities, doing really cool things–still had to close their doors in some cases, because they ran out of capital. Or they became burned out. On the other hand, some women just figured out how to make it work, despite major life changes. There’s no one way to do things, and by showing different approaches throughout this book by talking to women all over the US, I thought it was important to show both ends of the spectrum – the good and not so good, because that is REAL. Being an entrepreneur is not all glamorous–despite what Instagram and Facebook portray.

3. Why should someone else read this book? 

I think everyone should read this in order to understand the REALITY of starting a business. It’s not easy. I think it’s also really important for everyone to read this book because there are unique challenges to women who start businesses – like gross underfunding. Bootstrapping is an uphill battle that many if not all women face in this book. The more we talk about the challenges, the easier we can try to find solutions.

4. Who is in the book?

You can find a list of the women and their businesses at the press release, here.  And here, I need to thank all of the women who dared to appear in this book. Talking about starting a business is one thing. Talking about maintaining a business and the challenges with it is something else completely different, and it takes courage. So, shout out to all the women in the book who dared to share. I was really surprised by the amount of change that happened in many of the gals’ lives over just 5 years, which is a tiny span of time. That may speak to the fact that our economy is changing rapidly–and that’s another item I worry that colleges aren’t sharing enough with their students. The way that we work in the US is changing; 9-5 40 hour work week jobs are going the way of the dodo. So, how can we share with the next generations how to change, adapt and thrive in this new economy?

5. When will the book officially launch?

As soon as I have the ship date on my physical book. Which should be soon! (I always try to give you, the fab 14 a heads up in advance.)

6. What do you hope to get out of this experience with this new book?

If one woman gets inspired to start a business by reading this book, it will have achieved an amazing endpoint. If another woman who started a business on the fence to close decides to forge ahead with her business, or even close it based upon the wisdom in this book, great.  You can be what you can see, and I don’t see enough women in the literature sharing their business ideas and businesses with the world.

Thanks, as always, for your support. Every book is a journey, and every book an opportunity to make the universe just a little better place.

My Recap of SXSW Health/Interactive – 2018

March 14th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 4.57.22 PMSpring is one of my favorites. And now, one of the hallmarks that I know spring is coming: SXSW! I just returned from SX for 2018, serving as a mentor again this year in health and wellness.

(What did I get asked about? Find out over at the SXSW 2018 recap episode, here!)

Here’s what I learned, and I only witnessed a tiny fraction of one day of this epic, several-week-long festival in music, film, interactive and education.

My Recap of SXSW 2018 Interactive: Health

1.    New this year for virtual attendees: SXSW live streamed several, if not all their keynotes this year on Facebook. I watched Esther Perel, who’s talk was entitled, The Future of Love, Lust and Listening. Her new best-selling book is new called The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity. She also runs a podcast with couples therapy, and the 2nd season started during her time at SX. If you run over to the SXSW Facebook page now, you can still see her talk, and other huge keynotes, like Melinda Gates and Elon Musk – for FREE!

2.    Also, new for me this year – the Trade Show. It was broken into several different categories. It had 2 stages (discovery and next stage), and then several exhibitor pavilions – health, international, social impact, and startup village. Strolling through a tiny part of the trade show at the convention center, we stumbled upon some really cool companies – like wethos – a company that’s like Fiverr or 99 Designs that works for nonprofits: Super smart cities were there for economic development too. For example, Raleigh, NC had a booth there, which featured small business owners who are awesome in Raleigh. Shout out to Videri Chocolate Factory, who was in the Raleigh booth, and who’s chocolate was yummy, and dark chocolate is healthy, right?

3. Also new this year: the SXSW Wellness Expo at the Palmer Events Center Exhibit hall as part of the trade show. You can check out some videos of it over at Instagram.

4. Thank you to Dell for hosting a women funding women session. Although I couldn’t get to it with my compressed schedule, I appreciate that they had a session to help women entrepreneurs get funded with their businesses – as women entrepreneurs are grossly underfunded.

5.  Also, shout out to my friend Shwen Gwee and his friends – who ran a Health Spark 2018 Session March 11-12th for SXSW. He had topics from blockchain in health, to using chatbots in health, AI, machine learning, and digital wellness. I saw while I was there an interesting statistic during his “Barracuda Bowl” – where startups in health tech competed to win a cash prize – that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed through conversation WITHOUT a human!

6.    Also on the HIT front, talked to the Founder of CareSet – which works with Medicare claims data to help companies guide drug launches. We’ll need to get Ashish on the podcast!

7.    Also, I hit the bookstore again this year. I would LOVE to see more of this in the future! You can go and meet the authors too for autographs and pictures.

8.    Overall hot topics this year in interactive/health: AI, AR, blockchain, and SEO relative to video and most of all – digital voice technologies – for everything, including health. (Hey Alexa – can you go run for me tonight?) I attended a packed meetup on SEO – and all the talk was about video (and how to get video to show up high on SEO rankings) and digital voice technology SEO. SX also live streamed a session in one of their pavilions with interactive AI pet dogs that learn the voice and behavior of those interacting with it.

SXSW I approached a little differently this year – I went in with a tight itinerary and stuck to the plan–and had a friend come along - NaShara Mitchell - a fellow educator/entrepreneur. (Otherwise, the conference can get a little overwhelming.) Thankfully, the day ran like clockwork! So, overall, a GREAT day for me in Austin – and I hope that you, too, have the opportunity to attend the festival soon if you’re in health and/or wellness. It’s like a breath of fresh air for healthcare – something we desperately need in this country!

The New Order for Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs): From the Unicorn Helpdesk

March 13th, 2018

unicornI was recently asked a ton of questions about the MSL role, in several different venues–including SXSW. Unicorn helpdesk to the rescue!

First, resources are already out there so you don’t go reinventing the wheel on the MSL:

MSL Book

MSL Career Primer – Online Course - this contains all my work on the MSL role in the past 10+ years.

Ok – next, if you’ve dove into these resources, here are my thoughts on questions I was asked recently about the MSL’s future, other roles tangential to it, and conferences on or for MSLs. (Opinions are mine and mine alone here…).

I believe that the MSL is here to stay. Pharma and biotech companies would be completely stupid to get rid of them. (Yes, I said stupid.) In this era of high dollar drugs, personalized medicine and specialty pharmacy exploding, MSLs are needed now more than ever, because every new drug is not necessarily right for every patient. Sometimes there’s a pharmacogenomic test or a clinical process/assessment a patient has to go through to even be considered for a therapy. Further complicating matters, it may be a subjective test by the clinician. It’s only become more sophisticated and complicated – that’s why the MSL has a great future, because they’re the clinicians and experts who can educate the practitioners on the drugs and the processes around those drugs before they get to the (right) patients. And while a few MSLs are PhDs, I generally feel that MSLs are better with a clinical background than a bench pre-clinical background (my opinion only). I’m also a fan of a mix of backgrounds on a team – but at the end of the day, the MSL should be talking to academic thought leaders who treat patients – not rats in a lab. That’s why having an appreciation for clinical practice is important to the MSL.

Second – there are other roles tangential to the MSL role that are also growing and probably here to stay. There are health economics and outcomes (HECON) MSLs, which also have a role with payers, and healthcare plans. They focus on outcomes data for the most part – and where I think they’ll be even more valuable over time is in the area of value based outcomes reimbursement. I just read the other day that apps will start being approved with molecules by FDA to track value based outcome payments and reimbursement for specialty drugs.

Yes, there will be an app for that.

There are managed care liaisons as well – which may be a hybrid of the two roles above, but their clients would be more of the payer decision makers. Back in the ‘olden’ days of MSLs – the MSLs did all the roles above, but now companies realize that different audiences require different types of professionals to call upon them, so bigger companies may have MSLs, HECON MSLs, and managed care MSLs. Smaller ones may not. But all roles are essential for a strong community understanding of a new drug or biologic.

Finally, there are in house medical affairs folks that work with the field based roles and sometimes work directly with medical information. Often, I’ve seen in house medical affairs people wind up out in the field as a promotion; rarely the other way around. Generally, calls centers for in-house medical affairs are a starting point for pharmacists new to the industry, and most (not all) don’t want to remain in a call center for the rest of their lives. So, one way to move up is to start in the call center, then move over to medical affairs as a MSL. (If your company has the forward-thinking culture to promote from within.) It will be interesting to see which drug companies pick up on the chat bot technology and employ it in their medical affairs teams in house. Chat bots won’t work for the MSL role, however, because true MSLs are or should be working with the science in ways that aren’t necessarily even tried in clinical trials just yet, like investigator-initiated trials.

Biggest challenges for MSLs today include time (it’s always a challenge) as well as pressure to be in more places at once. The sheer volume and size of most MSLs’ territories demands that they be in several places at once. Solid time management skills, self direction and self motivation are and always have been keys for successful MSLs. Also, MSLs have the constraints of doing more with less, just like all of us in healthcare these days. This also includes conference coverage and maximizing time at conferences. (My friend Kristin Eilenberg has this one covered, btw.)

I would also say that the other challenge for most competitive MSLs is career ennui. What I mean by that is–the MSL, if s/he wants to move up inside the company they work for, either must move, (to the home office), be a manager of MSLs (in the field), or just work as a MSL for another company or therapeutic area. MSLs generally are type A people who love a challenge, and get bored easily. So, career development is always a challenge for the best and brightest here. I’ve never seen a career progression conference here out of the MSL role – that might be something cool to explore. (I don’t personally have the capacity to develop this type of conference right now. If you’re a conference organizer – you’re welcome.)

As for useful conferences for MSLs – I track those here. And while this list is primarily pharmacy based, most MSLs are still pharmacists – so there is overlap. I’ve previously addressed some of my favorites in the MSL Guide I wrote above, and not much has changed in the conference world since then. For the most part, the same vendors are at it, with a few other newbies thrown in of late on top that I can’t comment on, since I’ve not been to their events.

Last, but certainly not least – I’d personally love to see the MSLs get more involved in a product’s launch these days, particularly if the drug is high dollar, has a pharmacogenomic test associated with it, and/or is a nightmare to bill, or has limited distribution. (One of the checkpoint inhibitors with your online billing guide = you’re doing it right. I won’t say which one…you’ll need to investigate that one on your own–as I’m not here to promote drugs.) Just finding an actual launch date for a drug can be a massive time vacuum – and these are all areas where the MSL can help.

That’s the latest thoughts on the MSL role. Again, smart companies fully realize their value, and I don’t see them going away any time soon.


Opening of SXSW Interactive: Esther Perel

March 9th, 2018

Awesome. (Caution: explicit language.)


March 9th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 8.08.36 AMAfter reading this article in the WSJ this morning about the ‘trouble’ behind a high schooler wanting to go to trade school after high school, coupled with a memory from law school of learning about the biennale in Venice (I know, this is a weird mash up), I think one of the things we forget about college is that we not only get an ‘education’ in books inside the classroom, but we also get an education in growing up and becoming independent adults outside the classroom.

(So, follow along with me here on my argument, which is a bit odd, but hopefully I’ll make my point at the end.)

One thing I think many universities are also missing out on are these classes or communities that are created AFTER college. For example, my first alma mater – Butler University – is where I share several connections with other alumni in the community that I still am connected to this very day. I think it’s kind of like going to Hogwarts–in that once you’re in, there’s a community that you automatically become a part of…for life.

However, people are rebelling that the cost of college is exorbitant. I agree to some extent. But, where I think the value and opportunity lies and that many universities aren’t taking advantage of – is the community itself–the alumni–built over time. Re-gathering the people and alumni is important, and a valuable win for all parties. The relationship between the individual and the 4 year undergraduate institution should never stop upon commencement. It’s always going to be there, potentially.

Some might argue that’s what we call “homecoming”, Erin. Duh. Yeah. I understand. However, I’m not talking about everyone meeting out in the parking lot before the game to drink beer. Candidly, that is not enough.

I think every university should have it’s own biennale. So, in Butler’s case, maybe a Butlernnele. (Or a McKinnennele, or a Concordiannele, or a Shenandoahnnele.)

What do I mean by this?

Every other year, or even every year – the university coordinates and celebrates a day or a weekend focused on alumni and their contributions to the world. They can teach the students at the university what they learned, connect and re-connect, and make the community of alumni even stronger. It gives the alumni the opportunity to share their work and wisdom, and in turn creates layered learning for the next generation. It gives the alumni an opportunity to re-connect with the university, and it gives everyone an opportunity to focus on one of the most valuable and unexploited advantages of attending a college in the first place–the community itself.

It drives me nuts and breaks my heart a little every time I get one of those slick (super expensive to print) magazines in the mail from my 4 alma maters on alumni and the university. Please – make that come to life instead and dump the magazines. Live stream the Butlernnele. Share it with the community at large and celebrate the one-of-a-kind community that has been created in the alumni pool.

I’ll step off my soapbox now.

And if the gal up in the WSJ article above chooses to be a mechanic – she can do this idea with her alma mater too. I think it would make an awesome car show!

See You at SX?

March 8th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 4.56.19 PMSuper pumped for the weekend – as I’m heading to Austin to mentor again at SXSW! Hope to see you there?

The thing I love most about it is the people – it definitely brings out my tribe. When you talk to people there, they’re doing a bunch of different cool, interesting things.

That, and the Austin weather. It’s the BEST this time of year – 70 degrees? What does that really feel like, anyway?


#SMDames Turns 5

February 25th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-24 at 6.57.11 PMEXCITING NEWS!

This year, in 2018, the #SMDames franchise turns 5. If this event series was a kid, it would be a wiry headed spitfire of a child. But, instead, it’s a conference series that gets amazing women in social media together to share their stories and teach other women how to spread their own through channels online.

Social media is getting bashed a lot these days, but considering large brands have over 250 digital experiences to manage now, social is only going to get bigger and more varied – it’s not going away.

So, ladies, mark your calendars and get ready to join the 5th birthday party with us this year on 8/3/18 in Indy!

I have to change to stay the same.

February 25th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 10.01.17 AMWillem de Kooning said this.

And I love this piece on CBS Sunday Morning about the #1 restaurant in the world, Eleven Madison Park, which, when named #1 restaurant in the world, decided to shut its doors, melt everything down, and start over again–at its height of success.

Last night, I shredded my LinkedIn profile, and decided to start over again. This time, focused on my #1 strength – being futuristic. It doesn’t really have my day jobs on it anymore. Instead, I wanted to focus on the future of several topics that I follow, study and research.

After all, we have to change.

A No Today…

February 21st, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 6.01.34 PM…means a no today. Tomorrow? All bets are off.

And trust me on this – for those who really want to do big things, try new things, and go for it – they’re going to face a lot of failure. Tons. Like, exponentially more than the average person.

I’ve been rejected more times than I have fingers in the past week on various fronts. But I just get up, shake it off, and realize that I’m that closer to a win…a yes…a proceed.

If you want to avoid Nos and failures – don’t try. Don’t stick your neck out.

And enjoy your boring, safe life.