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Interview on Healthcare, Law and Bioethics in the US

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 12.11.11 PMA shoutout to Anthony T. who dared to ask me questions for a mid-term interview he has in his coursework. His questions, along with my answers are below – which if you read in depth are just more questions…there are no easy answers in heatlhcare. (Caution: the opinions below are mine and mine alone – and I have a LOT of friends over at Facebook who completely disagree with me. We all have strong opinions about healthcare right now, which is a good thing for a democracy.)

Good luck with your assignment, Anthony!

Q1: Why did you choose to work in healthcare?

EA: I liked science and STEM in general, and also wanted to help people. For me, it was a choice between medicine and pharmacy, but I chose pharmacy because I didn’t want to be married to one career. After choosing pharmacy, I also have the opportunity to do a lot of additional things with my career and pivot – like law, business, entrepreneurship and writing.

Q2: What do you feel the biggest public health challenges in U.S. are now?

EA: 1. The opioid epidemic is killing our country….literally. Whether or not the genesis of the problem is in prescription drugs or illicit, I personally believe that addiction is an illness, and yet, we don’t have enough affordable options to treat it. A lot of this problem was caused by the economic issues we’re having in this country too. Health permeates everything – if society is sick, it affects commerce, work, employment, and so many other facets of life.

2. We are running out of effective antibiotics, as just one example. On the other hand, drugs that are newly approved for the most part are for orphan diseases and/or are high cost. How can we afford these as a society?

3. The graying of America – 10,000 baby boomers every day now are retiring. How can we help them live better, healthier lives while still covering everyone in this country for care? If they want to work and live independently, how can we help them live this way affordably and contribute to society?

4. How might we incentivize innovation in healthcare and life sciences while still making healthcare affordable?

5. And last but certainly not least, affordable healthcare is probably the biggest challenge now and in years to come. Our healthcare now consumes 17% of our total GDP in this country – and that is not sustainable. Other countries provide better and more affordable care – so we need the next generation of healthcare professionals to study other countries’ systems and bring the best hits back to our country, stat.

Q3: Regarding the Affordable Care Act, what are some of the gaps you feel should be filled to improve the U.S. healthcare?

EA: If you study other countries’ healthcare systems, you’ll discover that some of the best are driven more regionally and locally. I don’t think (and this is my personal opinion, and mine alone) that the federal government can do the best job of optimizing both the affordability and accessibility of healthcare in the US.  Our federal government was designed by our Constitution to be limited. The states (again, in my opinion) should drive healthcare and create more innovative solutions. If we wait for the federal government to solve this problem, we’re doomed.  No offense to the hard working federal government employees, but innovation comes from the states and regions, not the federal government. Bottom up (local) usually provides far more innovation than top-down government.

Some of the best healthcare systems on the planet almost set up funding via a competition – the regions with better outcomes with their people receive more funding. Innovative ideas are more likely to be spread this way. I hate using the Hunger Games analogy, but it’s a good one in the sense that there are regions that are known for certain commerce, or in this case – it would be regions known for better, more innovative healthcare ideas. Why not fund healthcare innovations this way so great ideas can spread? I think this may be one of the concepts around block grants for states with the feds, but this is just one example on a race to the top, rather than to the bottom of healthcare.

Q4: Do you think that the Affordable Care Act is an individual mandate, if so is this good or bad for the individual?

EA: I think while it’s a good thing for the individual to be covered, it also must be affordable. Mandating something that is unaffordable is unreasonable–it sets our citizens up for failure, (much like Thomas More wrote about in Utopia). I think ultimately, we need to have a fundamental debate in this country on whether or not healthcare is a right or a privilege. Countries like China have written into their constitution that their citizens have a right to basic healthcare.  Right now, we do not. So then, the next question after the fundamental right question we should be asking ourselves is – should healthcare be a for- or non-profit service? If it continues to be for-profit (for the most part, at least for working Americans who are mandated to have insurance coverage) how much profit is too much? For the pharmaceutical companies? For healthcare insurance plans? For healthcare providers? For everyone else in the industry?

On the other hand, how are we going to get big pharma, medical device and biotech companies to innovate if profits are smaller? Innovation in healthcare and life sciences is risky and expensive. You also left off an interesting party here too – what about companies who are paying for the vast majority of employees’ healthcare in this country? They are paying billions of dollars to insure their employees. Should employers have to pay for their employees’ healthcare? They don’t pay for our car insurance or home owner’s insurance for the most part – so why should they have to pay for healthcare?  Maybe we could get to the point where we have something like Medicare for all – the basics can be covered, then all of us can buy a supplement if we’d like. But that’s going to cost us a lot of money we don’t have. Healthcare is not free. Where are we going to get the money?

Q5: How can law and bioethics work together to improve the U.S. healthcare system?

EA: This may sound really odd coming from a pharmacist-attorney, but I think we need LESS law and red tape, particularly by federal government, in order to innovate healthcare in this country…not more. Ethics, similarly–ideas like autonomy, beneficence and justice (as just one example from the Common Rule 45 CFR 46 on the Protection of Human Subjects)–would suggest that individuals should have more freedom and choice when it comes to healthcare, which would in turn suggest less, not more mandates. On the other hand, laws like HIPAA and HITECH are there seemingly to protect us – should we have even more privacy laws to protect our data in other realms beyond healthcare?  Big data beyond healthcare and banking is still the wild wild west and largely self regulated. Healthcare is one of the most highly regulated industries in the US. Should it be? The more regulation, the more red tape, the higher the cost.

As I mentioned – not a lot of answers here. Just more questions…

Pen Power

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

PenPower“The pen is mightier than the sword,” was penned back in 1839 in the historical play, Cardinal Richelieu. But it still rings true today. In the play, the Cardinal also states, “Take the sword; States can be saved without it!”

I am a firm believer in putting down our swords and picking up our pens in order to affect positive change in the universe. Through books, sharing ideas, stories and journeys through the written word, we can make our world a better place. But, we don’t even need to go to the book stage in order to make positive pen power. In fact, I recently had two real-life, different situations where a written letter or email put some positive power back into the universe.

Story 1: I had a slight altercation with unprofessional conduct on a recent flight. (I won’t say which airline, but those who follow me at social already know.) When I arrived home, I wrote a letter to the CEO of said airline and voiced my concerns about their rampant unprofessional conduct with their customers during one leg of my flight. I also sent a copy of said letter to CEO of another company that both I and they do business with them (as advertised on one of their joint services) and asked that CEO if he should be conducting business with the airline. If I can’t trust the airline, should I be trusting this other company?

This letter triggered 2 phone calls from the ‘another company’ above, and a $350 travel voucher from airline this week. That one letter resulted in a lot of follow up, $350 for me, but most important, attention from both companies on how they disrespectfully treat their customers. Maybe not a perfect fix, but at least some attention on the matter.

Story 2: Being an avid reader, I subscribe to several print magazines (I know, I’m old school). Anyway, one of them is Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Recently, I have been researching whether or not to switch banks. They had an article recently that focused on the best banks for different types of people. So, I went back to that article shopping for a new bank, only to find I really wasn’t characterized there. They focused on retirees, millennials, families–but nothing really for entrepreneurs or single women–and we have radically different needs in a bank than these other categories of people.

I voiced my concern via email to the Editor in Chief of the magazine, and stated the facts (that single women are outnumbering married women in this country, and starting more businesses, etc.) Not only did I hear back from the magazine, but I also heard back from the writer of that particular article, along with their correction for future articles on this topic. And, this month’s Kiplinger’s had a one pager in it for single women. While I can’t take credit for sparking the article on single women–I was impressed that Kiplinger’s was actually paying attention and cared what their readers have to say.

Here’s my point: yes, you can rant over at social media and complain. David vs. Goliath stories on social media are always ephemerally charming–and I usually root for the Davids. But sometimes, it’s even better to just go over to MS Word or grab a piece of paper, thoughtfully pen your issues, and then print, sign and mail your comments via old fashioned snail mail. Even send an email.

As I was reminded yesterday when discussing negotiation at #HealthCarDev – a wise recruiter said, “I can’t help you if you don’t communicate to me what you need.” She was absolutely right. We have to clearly articulate what we need. NO ONE is part of the psychic friends’ network–so if you tell the universe and others what you need, you just might get it.

Be careful what you wish for….lol!

Too Much Success: A Recipe for Failure?

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 7.32.47 AMI’m on a seefood diet. As in, I see it, and I eat it!

And while I don’t really consider myself a foodie, I do get super excited when I have the chance to head to a one Michelin Star restaurant – usually only while only on vacation, and usually only on the splurge night (my most recent encounter was at the Rijks in Amsterdam right after they earned their first Michelin Star). When a restaurant hits 3 Michelin Stars–that’s the big time. I’ve never actually eaten at one, because they’re typically next to impossible to get into.

So I read with one eye brow raised this story of French chef Sébastien Bras who announced recently he wanted to renounce his 3-Michelin-Star rating and be removed from the book. He claims there’s just too much pressure in trying to maintain the rating he’s had since the late 90s. Apparently, other chefs who earned the distinction in the past but didn’t want the long term pressure would either close their restaurants or just change concepts. He simply wants to be de-listed.

What I keep thinking about is comparing Bras’ success with those of younger girls, who we tell often they are ‘smart’ and ‘perfect.’ These are the same girls who ultimately stop trying to learn or work on anything hard or challenging, because they will no longer be considered ‘smart’ or ‘perfect‘ in the eyes of those around them. These are also the same girls who opt out of STEM careers–they encounter their first challenge and back off, rather than diving into the challenge, rolling up their sleeves and knocking the work out of the park (for a string of cliches).

Bras feels ‘liberated’ for his decision, according to this article, and the more I think about this, the more I agree with his decision. There’s no room to experiment or be innovative when you’re ‘perfect.’ There’s no room to grow. And for artists (and I think we’re all artists because we all can create), it’s a death-knell to not have permission to experiment and have the autonomy to try new things…which can be the biggest failure of all for artists.

So, the next time you try to crawl your way into a 3-Star restaurant, or tell a 5-year-old she’s perfect, pause. Reflect. Maybe seek out a different standard–like innovativeness, creativity and even touch of weirdness, instead of perfection. After all, there is no perfection; thus, it’s impossible to sustain something that doesn’t exist.

What Color is Your Side Hustle? 2018 Edition

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-09-10 at 4.00.28 AMSorry, fab 13 – I’ve been away on holiday in…Scotland. Outlander fan, I am. It was awesome – and I’ve scattered a few pictures of the voyage over at the Instagram page if you’re interested. I owe you a #6onSaturday newsletter, which I’ll try and crank on for you soon of what I learned during my time away.

While I was away, my library sent me notice that I could check out a new career book now out. Staggering updates in one of my favorite books on career development that I often recommend to students and mentees — the 2018 edition of “What Color is Your Parachute?” is out. And, there are some dramatic and staggering stats in it. I’ll let you read it, because it’s that important (and I don’t want to steal thunder from the author), but suffice it to say — our work worlds are changing, right before our eyes.

Careers now are complicated. Here in news out of Indianapolis just this past week, Lilly announced a near 8–9% layoff of their workforce over the coming year. Angie’s List locally will be letting go duplicates of their workforce with an approved merger. The change is disruptive and whiplash-inducing these days.

However, the silver lining here is that we always have options. Gig work, part time, full time, near full time, and one of my personal favorites — the part time side hustle. Just this past week, one of the books I wrote on the options of the side hustle, Plan C: The Full-Time Employee and Part-Time Entrepreneur was featured in Huffington Post (thanks, Caroline Dowd-Higgins, for sharing)! I also found this infographic from Entrepreneur on what type of side hustle you should try. My favorite book of 2016, Adam Grant’s Originals also talks about the side hustle.

Whether you’re considering an Etsy store for your knitting or crafts, all the way through to being a full-time independent 1099 consultant, there’s a lot of different ways you can attack your career these days. I also say, sometimes looking at the spectrum of options, it can be a little overwhelming and unsettling. But, there are a lot of coaches out there who can help you weed through the menagerie.

Also, we’ve worked really hard this year with HBA Indiana to provide content that matters to our members, and on 9/29/17, we’re taking on this very large topic of career development particularly in the healthcare, life sciences and healthcare IT spaces in an unconference format. This unconference will feature many entrepreneurs and many different approaches to your career. If you’re in the Midwest, consider attending to create an offensive strategy for your career moving forward, particularly if you’re in the healthcare and life sciences space: tickets are here.

I’m glad to be a part of the energy around how the way we work is ever changing in this country — and although with natural disasters, chaos and closures going on all around us, I’m thrilled to be a part of how to help get through the chaos, spot the trends, and create the BEST career mosaic for others.

BTW – here are the books I’ve written on the subject, just in case you haven’t read them:  Plan CSingle Women Entrepreneurs, and Multipationals

2016-Current Pharmacy Podcast Episodes

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

This is about to be a long post, but I wanted to put, in one place, all the 2016 & 2017 Pharmacy Podcast Shows for the fab 13, AND for your listening pleasure! And I moved it up, since it was starting to get buried in the blog.

If you’re a pharmacist or leader in healthcare, IT, pharmacy practice and/or elsewhere, the following episodes will be of benefit to you.  And to all the guests during the year on the podcast, a SINCERE THANKS for helping us reach over 65,000 listeners and for sharing the pharmacy healthcare love!

#BackToSchoolRx: Part 1 with Pete the Planner – How Can You Fund Grad School?

#BackToSchoolRx: Part 2 with Dr. Katasha Butler – The PharmD + MBA

#BackToSchoolRx: Part 3 on the PharmD + BioHealth Informatics

The First and Annual Women’s Leadership in Pharmacy Panel at #RBC2017 from Cardinal Health

NABP and the .pharmacy Initiative: Deterring Rogue Online #FakePharmacies

Part 3 of our Conversation with Former DEA – Joseph T. Rannazzisi

Breaking Into the Pharmaceutical Industry: PharmDs – A Chat on the BCMAS Certification

DEA Part 2: Our Chat with Joseph T. Rannazzisi, cont.

A Chat with Co-Founder of GoodRx, Doug Hirsch

Career Development: Working for DEA

For the Class of 2017: Congratulations!

Manbassadors: Sponsors for Women in Healthcare

57 Cool Jobs for Pharmacists

SXSW 2017 – A Recap

InfoSAGE: Healthcare Informatics Leader Dr. Charles Safran

5 Steps to Manage Through a Career Crisis

HIMSS 17 Post Show

HIMSS 17 Pre Show

A Valentine for Women, Gender Parity and Leadership in Healthcare:

The Future of Work in Pharmacy & Healthcare Part I – With Special Guest, Jacob Morgan:

The Future of Pharmacy Work – Part II

Certifications for Pharmacists – Another Way to Enhance Your Pharmacy Career:

What is a Medical Science Liaison?:

7 Steps to a Super 2017:

“Men”toring Women – Why it is critical for Men to Mentor Women

Merry Midyear – 4 part miniseries coming to the podcast with Dr. Lauren Steinbach hi-jacking the mic:

5 Roads into Loving your retail pharmacy career – 5 part series:

The American Society for Pharmacy Law – an Intro with Aaron Moore:

5 Part series on the 5 Roads out of Retail Pharmacy:

Pharmacy as a Third Space – Tisane Pharmacy (NYC):

Disruptive Women in HIT – Mandi Bishop:

How to get more Leadership in Pharmacy – Alan Spies:

BU Well: A Student-Driven Multimedia Publication – Anne Leighty:

Unusual Career Paths in Pharmacy – Shaun Young of Ardina:

Feeling the Burn…Out – How to manage burnout in pharmacy:

Writing to Enhance Your Pharmacy Career – Dr. Elaine Voci

Maximizing Medical and Pharmacy Meetings – Kristin Eilenberg of Lodestone Insights:

6 Things I Love, Right Now

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

I’ve been busy with other stuff, like the SXSW panelpicker – so forgive me, my fab 13, for no new #6onSaturday this morning. Instead – I’ll share with you 6 things I adore right. Now!

1. Scotland – love this feature coming from Victoria Magazine on the Jacobite Steam Train.  And, of course, Outlander season 3 starting again Sept 10th and looking ahead to season 4- but who’s counting?

2. Hummingbird migration – Talk about short man syndrome, these little birds are the biggest bullies at the hummingbird feeders this time of year – but they’re getting ready to flee.

3. ReadingExtreme You right now. The author hooked me by interviewing Angela Ahrendts.

4. Podcasting – doing homework and recon on a series I’ll be rolling out over at Pharmacy Podcast this fall on – grad school. More to come!

5. Big data and ethics – in prep for Indy Big Data.  (BTW – there’s little to NO regulation of the collection and use of your data online…it’s pretty scary.)

6. Women’s Equality Day – is officially today. But should we be celebrating it?  I’m torn. But, I’m glad we have a day for consideration of the right to vote! This was 1920, not that long ago!

Thanks, SXSW Style

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 10.17.00 AMToday is the last day for SXSW 2018 Panelpicker voting. Our panel on #WonderWomen of the forthcoming book, Single Women Entrepreneurs 5 Years Later – is featured in our panel. We had nearly 400 shares shares on social of our panel – and while I can’t see the number of votes, I’m guessing we did pretty well.

This is my post of thanks to all who voted and shared. We really appreciate it. Our Single Women Entrepreneurs of the US appreciate it, and I hope to have the opportunity to share their stories in a wider audience in the spring of 2018, in Austin TX, thanks in part – to you!

Cheers, thanks again, and have a great weekend!

Don’t Limit with Goals & Anti-Goals: Treat Your Work/Career/Life Like a Garden Instead

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

BESIf you follow me over at Instagram, you know I’m kind of a flower nut. I grew up in gardens – my mom is a gardener, and both of my grandmothers were gardeners too, one of which had a farm. I was reminded of gardening again when I read the post which the gurus are touting around the internet, about the importance of setting anti-goals. But, I have a bit of a problem with that idea, in that it doesn’t quite hit the mark for me as a career coach in an ideal state.

I’ve always been a cheerleader of writing down your goals. I do it once a year, as a habit, and then carry them around with me. I LOVE checking them off when they are accomplished, which in turn gives me some free mental space to think ahead to future goals too. It’s a great habit!

What I believe the writers of the linked article above are focused on is ensuring your day is NOT filled with stuff you hate. Important, yes, but again where I have a problem with it is that it focuses a little too heavily on what you don’t want, and sometimes focusing on what you don’t want can reverse, in that it takes your eyes off of your goals and sometimes puts the icky stuff front and center in your life, rather than the stuff you actually love and care about instead. You attract what you focus on.

This is where I return to the garden, which I still think is the best analogy for living your best life, career path, or day. Like a garden to a gardener, I think you should focus both on what you love–water, care for, and nurture your goals and/or best stuff. But, I also think you should spend a little time on what you don’t love – and weeding that stuff out of your day/life/career. Weed out the icky stuff. Also, are there items in your career garden overgrown? Meaning–is it time to cut back, or move on to another area of your life? Do a little trimming if you’re over extended and burned out, maybe?

Much like our lives, gardens can get over grown with stuff that consumes us and causes burnout. (In my current garden, there is a battle between daisies and Black Eyed Susan in the picture above – another analogy – which do you want more of and less of, or do you prefer a balance?) I also think of my career in seasons too – much like a garden. What season are you in with your day job, or side gigs, or non-profit work, and/or is it time for a change?

Your garden is your life/career/work palette. Don’t just think of it as a list of “love” and “hate” – I think that’s way too simple an analogy for a best life. Sometimes, there are surprises in your career or life you never expected that pop up too, and what if they don’t make it to your love and hate lists? You could miss out on something amazing just thinking bi-modally.

I’ve said my peace. Whatever analogy you use for your work/career/life, I hope most important that it works for you – whether that’s a love/hate list, a garden, or something else in between.


Erin Albert is a career coach, pharmacist, entrepreneur, community builder, writer and hack gardener.

P.S. It’s World Photo Day today! – Get out and take a pic or two – maybe of your garden?

Podcasting, in 5 Minutes or Less

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 8.42.45 PMWhen @AmyStark wanted me to talk about podcasting in a 5 minute talk at #SMDames17 (that happened today, as a matter of fact), I must admit that even I was a little intimidated to drink from this firehose in 300 seconds. There’s a steep learning curve to podcasting, and I’m still learning myself.

So, I wanted to share a little more about the “Podcasting Hierarchy” I flashed at the audience for 5 minutes today, and share a little more with you, the fab 13, on where you can go to dig a little deeper (or climb a little higher?) into the world of podcasting, if you’re so inclined.

I laid this out via Maslow. Let’s begin with the basics at the bottom. If you’ve never listened to a podcast before, take out your smartphone, head to iTunes or wherever you buy apps and look for Stitcher. Download it. Then start picking out podcasts you like. If you don’t have a smartphone, use a desktop player, like ShortOrange.  Right now, I’m personally listening to a lot of EOFire, BizChix Podcast, The Ask GaryVee Show, Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, and of course, the Pharmacy Podcast. Find stuff you’re interested in and step into the world of podcasting by listening.

Maybe you listen – and you have your favorites. Great! The next step is…if you’re building a business or brand, to ask yourself: does your ideal customer or Avatar listen to podcasts? Do your competitors have podcasts? An episode I like of EOFire has a link on defining your ideal customer or Avatar. Personally, I’ve noticed that while my target market for many of my books tend to be women, more men than women listen to podcasts. I don’t really know why that is, either, but realize your ideal customer, then ask if they listen to podcasts, OR could YOU be the FIRST podcast in your space?

Next up – try pitching to be a guest on your favorite podcast that fits your brand. I’ve personally not been good about this – I’m a little more focused on getting great guests on my segment of the Pharmacy Podcast. But, if you’re a rabid fan of a podcast in particular and it fits you and your jam, then why not pitch to them? You can try on the podcasting concept on someone else’s show, before you get heavily invested.  Another way to test the waters low stakes is try the free app Anchor.  You can record little audio snippets and updates with this app, then post it online at your other social media portals. It is, methinks, ephemeral now – I think the anchor clips (or waves as they call them) go away after 24 hours.

Let’s say you’re hooked. Great! Next up, you’re going to need to learn the mechanicals of a podcast, and frankly – this is the steepest part of the learning curve. It’s also where you need to spend the most time getting educated and understanding your why – why do you really want to start a podcast? What’s the goal or outcome? It’s where I’m still learning – and that’s also the technical aspects of recording, editing and hosting a podcast. One of my favorite places to learn is She Podcasts, a closed Facebook group of women podcasters. I’m lucky, in that on the Pharmacy Podcast, I don’t do my editing – we have a founder/wizard in Todd Eury who does that. All I use is a magical microphone, my MacBook Pro, Skype and a call recording software for my computer. You could use Garage Band, or maybe even quicktime.

See, I’m still learning here.

If you have multiple parties speaking live in the same place and not using Skype, you should also have a mixer. Then you need to use Audition or Garage Band to edit the podcast, add the jingle/intro, and any audio jingle outtros. Also, it’s nice to get the “uhms” cleaned up throughout the recording. This is where I’m still lost – and I’m still trying to learn more about the editing process.

Last but not least, at the top of the podcasting hierarchy (at least technically speaking) is getting a host for your podcast. I don’t mean emcee here either. I mean, you can’t just throw your podcast onto your WordPress site – it needs to be hosted by a site built for the bigger bandwidth necessary to stream and listen to podcasts. We use Libsyn at the Pharmacy Podcast, but you’ll see in my slide above that there are several choices for podcasting hosts. I’m not even going to go there when it comes to getting registered and the podcast on iTunes…that alone could take hours. Even simple stuff, like the right podcast art thumbnail for iTunes is a science in and of itself.

The peak or summit of this hierarchy is honestly creating a sustainable podcast. There are costs associated with equipment, jingles, hosting and the most precious resource of all – your time. It takes a long, long time to make a podcast profitable with advertising revenue and/or helping you drive your business.  Massive time vacuum.

So, this post was a little longer than 5 minutes for me to write. But I wanted to leave a digital leave behind for more on this podcasting magic, because it really has been magic for me. I’m grateful to the Pharmacy Podcast for the opportunity to co-host, and glad to help the women in our audience today at #SMDames17 think about another channel for themselves and their businesses to consider….


Where’s Your Operating Manual?

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

OperatingI have a drawer full of operating manuals. In fact, the folder for them got so big I had to segregate the small appliances from the large ones. I have them for my toaster, microwave and other kitchen appliances, and even my lawnmowers.

Yet, some of the most complex entities on the planet come without operating manuals. Those complex entities? People. And, while I hate to compare humans to appliances (I realize this is a banal comparison–we are far more complex as humans than toasters or can openers), I will for the point of this article, which is this: do we clearly communicate with each other on how we best operate? If not, should we?

Kyle Westaway made me re-think about this concept of an operating manual for us as individuals this weekend in his newsletter, which I recommend.

I’m also a big fan of getting to know yourself via the Know Thyself Kit I’ve shared in the past – but by sharing your results on you, you do in a sense create a better path for people to communicate and work with you, which in turn gets you to a better, higher quality version of your very own life. So below, after doing some research around the internet, I’ve gathered a few questions that you may want to ask yourself, then share with your co-workers, family and friends on how to best work with you – because, frankly, most of us are not part of the psychic friends’ network.

Questions for a User Manual On…You:

  1. What is your favorite method of communication? (I’m an e-mailer, and I don’t like the phone. The best thing the invention of the phone ever did for me was grant me access to the internet.)
  2. What does it take for you to say yes to working on someone else’s project? (For me, care about what you’re trying to convince me to do. If you don’t care, why should I?)
  3. How does someone win a gold star with you? (For me, don’t waste my time. Gold star level happens when you ask for my time AND plan an agenda around the time, rather than just ‘picking my brain.’ Follow up also wins gold stars. I also like Jenny Blake’s idea of a 30:30 or 15:15 – where you each share something you’re working on or baffled by, and the other suggests ways to solve/improve or make better the issue, then trade and split the time.)
  4. What drives you crazy? (Again, for me – wasting my time. Or, going back and forth on an idea if you want me to execute on that idea, especially if you give me no wiggle room to invent. Or, noise. I’m not into noise when I’m trying to pound out my work.)
  5. When do you best operate – do you work best in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings? (I’m a night owl. Writing is starting to creep in to my mornings too.)
  6. How do you give and like to receive feedback? (In writing, please.)
  7. What’s the best way to show gratitude with me? (A hand written thank you note. It endures longer than the text, email or phone call. See the theme here? In. Writing.)
  8. What type of projects I love to work on include: (For me, studying the future of healthcare or many industries, entrepreneurship and women, gender parity, STEM and girls, and research around any of these areas. I also love outlets for sharing these ideas too – like podcasts, books, talks, etc. If I have some room for creativity here, even better!)
  9. How do you best like to make decisions or draw conclusions? I’m going to do a lot of research on something before I drive a stake into the ground. So bring me some real numbers and don’t bring a bunch of puffery. Opposite, don’t be wishy washy with your own opinions – either state you don’t know yet, or state your opinion. Be clear. Don’t go back and forth, because that lands me right back in question 4 above.
  10. Include me in and opt me out of…: (Include me anything new, exciting, and different where you need someone who is creative and/or can get me around other thought leaders in creativity. Opt me out of…purely social invitations. I don’t like parties, showers or weddings. Not my jam.)
  11. What do I value? (My time, working on the frontiers of knowledge, creativity, and honesty/integrity.)
  12. What’s your One Thing? (This is the question on what you’d give up last in all that you do or what matters most, from the book with the same title. For me, that’s easy…writing.)
  13. What gives you satisfaction – what’s ‘winning’ for you? (Getting things done, checking off my list, and creating new things that never existed before that in turn hopefully make the world a better, or at least more educated/edutaining, place.)
  14. How do I best like to be rewarded? (Hands down: give me my time back. If you can end a meeting early, or give me the day off to go speak, or give me vacation, I’m going to love it. I love income, true, but time is the one thing we never get back.)
  15. Strengths/weaknesses? (Futuristic, maximizer, intellection, ideation and input – pretty much anything to do with ideas, I’m totally in–writing, speaking, planning, executing. My weaknesses include: idle chit chat, social stuff, and sales.)
  16. What’s your best working climate? (Quiet, flexible, autonomous, can work from anywhere, and a ROWE environment for me, please.)
  17. What’s your tennis ball? Go read the book Known by Mark Schaefer to learn about this test and others for perseverance and sustainable interests.

Consider answering these questions on yourself, then take a brave step and share. I’ll even go so far as to state that LinkedIn should have a section in our profiles that allows us to share our User Manual-ness if we opted to.

Again, it would be really great if we could all share our best states of operation in the workplace, and in life – for all the reasons above, and one more: maybe, just maybe, it will get us to a happier place. No more guessing on how we best work together – we’ll know! And, if you do share, THANK YOU in advance for sharing for those of us who aren’t psychic. No more guessing – yay!

Sources I used for this article: 

  • Feld Thoughts,
  • Aaron Hurst,
  • Kyle Westaway’s newsletter – from 7/29/17
  • The One Thing book
  • Known