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5 More Resources on Writing and Publishing

Friday, March 30th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 10.29.37 AMAh, yes, writing and publishing–not a week goes by without someone asking me about this topic. And, next week my brand new book will be here (and just out on Kindle) – so I thought it was time to revisit this topic again, but with someone who does more coaching around it than me of late. So, below I’m going to share with you some new and older resources around writing and publishing and why it is so important to do this as a professional. Ready?

  • NEW: I chat this week with author and publishing coach of Self-Publishing School, Marcy Pusey about the differences between writing and publishing children’s books vs. adult titles, and why writing and publishing is key to being a successful healthcare and wellness professional. It’s on Pharming Your Career, part of the Pharmacy Podcast Network. (And no, this does not just apply to pharmacists or healthcare professionals – it applies to ALL pros!)
  • PAST: Blog posts on writing and publishing.
  • OTHER PODCASTS: In the past, I did a two part series with one of my own writing and publishing mentors, Dr. Elaine Voci. Here’s part one. If you want to hear part two, it’s over in my course, 57 Cool Jobs for Pharmacists (which, by the way, has become my most popular course of all 4 thus far – thank you for your support!)
  • SELF-PUBLISHING SCHOOL: Want to know more about the course Marcy is a coach in and that I took personally this spring? Then check out more on SPS, here.
  • BONUS 5th: Part 2 of Dr. Voci’s podcast – just because I dig those who travel over to my blog.

Whether you’re writing your first book, or 13th in my case – there’s always room to learn more about writing and publishing. My sincere thanks to SPS and Marcy for this opportunity to share more about something that I love to do!

Never. Stop. Shining.

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

trepbookcoversI’ve had an awesome week.

But, I’ve also had a butt-kicking week.

One of the questions I kept getting asked at SXSW was – “How do I stop getting people to see me in only one way, as a _____?”

(The blank = typically what your first profession was, or your first major in college.)

First off, this is kind of the generalist vs. the specialist argument that I’ve often described here before. Second, people love to put other people in nice compartments – that’s probably why the Container Store is so wildly popular. We like to make things simple and neat.

Sorry, but life is not simple and neat. And the most interesting people often aren’t simple.

Third, many with the indoctrination of ONE JOB FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE (the very old concept of the industrial revolution) may not ever understand that people have to have MULTIPLE careers ongoing now – not just one. ONE JOB IS DANGEROUS, because what if that ONE JOB goes away overnight?

The other challenge the SXers often asked about was “How can I do multiple things in my career?”

That’s actually easier. You simply make time for the things you care about.

Yes, you have to get a day job to feed your bank account and bills. Sometimes, you get lucky and you can also feed your soul at your day job. But, if you can’t, you still have 8 hours every day to do something that feeds the latter. Maybe you won’t get paid in $. But, your spiritual capital will benefit. Or, better yet, you can learn key skills while doing passion projects that can lead you into being paid for them in a gig later on.

The bottom line with both of these questions: never stop being you. Shine on. If the rest of the world tries to put you in one nice little box because they comprehend that you can only do ONE thing, that’s their problem, not yours. Second, know that you’re not alone, if you’re out there reinventing yourself, or your career, or juggling a lot of different things. It’s OKAY to want to do more and grow in your life…to try new things. In fact, you’re now in the majority. And those box putters with ONE job are going to have a very, VERY rude awakening soon…

2018 Indiana General Assembly Bills on Healthcare Pharmacy and Practitioners

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 8.38.50 AMBelieve it or not, it’s spring. That means that the Indiana General Assembly should be winding down another session (although, this year, they didn’t get everything done, so they’ll be back.) Until then, I’ve compiled a list of the more relevant healthcare bills that passed the session thus far, and a few that have not yet been signed. Check it out, download it for free for a limited time, here.

Dear Mayor Fadness of Fishers,

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

If you don’t live in Indiana, look away. For I’m about to send an electronic rant the way of my city (Fishers, IN)’s mayor…I have been whining about this problem on social media for years, and one of my friends basically (in a very nice way) suggested to me today to stop whining and send the mayor a letter instead.  So, Bailee – this one is for you…and all the other entrepreneurs in our fair city who want to try and change the world, but not go broke doing so.

Dear Mayor Fadness of Fishers, IN:

Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 5.31.46 PMI’m continuing to see a disturbing trend in our city. In this post, I will attach a photo of a large section of our city and housing stock currently for sale. And, it was just taken today.

It’s difficult to see the range of property prices on this map, but there’s a range of $1,500 (for one property, which I’m guessing is a rental) all the way through to nearly a million dollars. Most are in the range of $300K+ on this map.

What I find disturbing about this map is that there are few, if any, affordable housing options listed on it currently. In fact, I live inside the boundaries of the picture attached. And candidly, if I had to shop again in this section of Fishers today, I don’t think I could afford buy a house here.

I am also a part time entrepreneur. I’m solo. I went to college, and graduate school. While I don’t have a lot of debt (zero educational debt), I do have a mortgage. Quite frankly, I hate it. I detest having a mortgage. Debt is a lot like indentured servitude; it limits one’s options. And yes, I made the choice to live here and carry debt, so I live with and deal with my choices–and I’m lucky enough to be able to pay my mortgage each month. However, I worry for the rest of our fair city–and our future.

What’s disturbing in addition to the escalating home inventory cost in the city is that the vision of the city itself, at least from my understanding, wants to be entrepreneurial. We just had a big grand opening of an IoT center in the city. We have big hopes and dreams of being a strong tech hub for startups. A lot of entrepreneurial momentum is going, which is great. But, respectfully, how can we encourage and foster entrepreneurship in our city if we don’t have affordable places for the dreamers, doers, creatives, young professionals with ambition, and risk takers to live?

This is not a new problem, it’s relatively well documented; but it is relatively new to us.

Yes, I understand we have rentals here. But does renting an apartment really tie our young professionals to the city? Not really. Nor does it give them any incentives to grow roots here. It just costs a bit less, and even worse, builds no equity for our young professionals to stay. They’ll just move on to greener and more affordable pastures, if our housing stock just keeps on escalating in price. After all, isn’t being an affordable tech hub our #1 selling point as a state? We seem to be disconnecting from this concept. This should bother you and your city council. It bothers me. Just look at San Francisco’s problem for a glimpse of our future on our current course when it comes to a housing crisis.

I’ve been following the tiny house movement for a decade or so now, as well as mixed use properties, where retail by entrepreneurs exists on the first floor, and owners live above their storefronts on the second floor. Other cities are on this – look at what Witchita is doing with MicroMansions, or Detroit–or the grandfather of them all, Tumbleweed. I just returned from SXSW where they had printed a house for $4K. What about our retirepreneurs? They need housing that’s affordable too–multigenerational living is skyrocketing with granny cottages in back yards – but can we offer this in our city? All of these options are cool and cute, too. Tiny does not need to be boring, ugly or an eyesore either. It can be awesome and a new way to live, which actually decreases financial burdens on home owners, allows them to create more flexibility and take more risk for their careers (like become entrepreneurs), and brings communities closer together.

Why don’t we try some different housing options in our city of entrepreneurs? What if we could create an affordable ecosystem where people could live without the confines of hundreds of thousands of dollars in housing debt, so they could create and thrive without worrying where the next mortgage payment is coming from? Tiny houses would be awesome, because people might actually be able to afford to take more risks with their careers and not carry mortgages, yet build equity in our city by reaching home ownership without the enslavement of a ton of debt. Considering 40% of the US workforce may be freelance by 2020, that presents some challenges from the traditional model of home ownership and/or mortgages, because freelancers do not get paid as regularly as employees.

If you truly want to be an entrepreneurial city, you’ll be worried about this as much as I am. Please stop with the granting of McMansion subdivision permits and zoning, and start considering alternative housing that is affordable and providing some zoning relief for creativity. We need to support our entrepreneurs and dreamers more than just by offering them a place to work–we need to also offer them a safe, affordable place to live. I know you know this as well when it comes to entrepreneurs finding affordable retail space in our city too – but I’ll save that problem for another post.

I’ll stop the letter for now…but I won’t stop worrying about this…nor should you.


Erin L. Albert


#IoT Checkup on…Smart Speakers

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 10.10.07 PMI’ve been keeping my eyes and ears on Smart Speakers. I love the idea of them–”Alexa, save me time and help me not waste it at the grocery store!” But, I don’t really love the idea of them always listening. I don’t own one…yet. But after this analysis, I’m not completely clear on which one has the solid advantages over the other.

And, of course there are more options out there than the two I’m about to compare. I’ll let you go research those.

Now that more apps are coming for them (they call them Actions in Alphabet Google Home or Skills on Amazon Echo), and after attending a SEO meet up at SXSW, where the bulk of the conversation was not about SEO on search engines anymore – it was a land grab for SEO on these smart speakers, I thought I’d take a look at a little more on what they’re offering:

In my opinion (and mine alone here), I think Amazon has the big advantages of higher market penetration with 20 million homes and growing (last I saw, there are 120 million homes in the US?) Also, I think Amazon has been a little more aggressive in partnering up with others for the technology and knowledge (AARP is a key example).

On the other hand, Google Home speaks more languages now and possibly in the future, has a wider variety of retailers you can buy from (not just Amazon), and has a lot more “Actions” than Amazon has “Skills.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 10.07.28 PM

I looked a little closer at health and fitness in both of the smart speakers. While they have fitness I think nailed down pretty well, they’re not doing much in health yet. “Answers on Cigna” is probably one of the more recent examples on Amazon’s Skills. However, there are some skills in the Amazon store that have little to no description, and are poorly rated.

So, methinks both platforms would want to screen out bad apps (skills & actions) much like Apple does with podcasts on iTunes. (Quality, anyone? Especially when it comes to our healthcare.) If you’re reading this and you work at Alphabet and/or Amazon: pay attention to healthcare apps/skills/actions – they need to be super accurate. In fact, I’m kind of surprised that FDA isn’t creeping into this space and starting to watch what happens in this arena, because it’s a land grab right now and kind of the wild wild west….considering healthcare is highly regulated, I’m guessing someone at FDA is watching the drug bits.

The podcast geek in me is interested in the Chompers Skill that was put up by Gimlet media relatively recently. It has high ratings, and was created by a company that creates…podcasts.

So, after my little analysis here and above, am I ready to buy one? Nope. Not yet. But I see the day where I might trade my privacy in for my time wasted at the grocery store. Until then, I’ll keep my eyes and ears open to see who wins this new frontier (and battle) in commerce.

Sources for table and this article from:

A First for Me, on IIB

Sunday, 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

Sunday, 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. And the books are NOW AVAILABLE!

Here’s the official press release.

There’s a podcast below too!

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

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Friday, March 9th, 2018

Awesome. (Caution: explicit language.)