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Archive for January, 2012

Perfect Passion Sweet Spot

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

I really liked this blog post from Harvard Business Review this morning on making your work meaningful.  It made me think of a presentation I’m giving soon on how to find your passion and integrate it, Indy style (yes, for a local audience).  I tried to visually represent what getting in this passion zone looks like, and again, the best I could do was something like this:

Our calling, reason for being here, perfect passion, “zone-zen” place, whatever you choose to call it, lies at the intersection of these 4 rings, methinks.  You have to know what you value, what you’re personally great at, what you love to do (because let’s face it, sometime we are good at something that we can’t stand), and what someone will pay you for. That 4th ring of the pay thing may seem only about money – but I’m also talking that someone might pay you in social capital, or media capital, or some other form of capital that is awesome to you and not necessarily cash.

While preping for this lecture, I asked others how they found their passions.  I didn’t really like the answers.  Why?  Because they were messy.  “I stumbled upon it,” or “it found me,” or “I don’t know – I just accidentally discovered it” were the answers I received.  As a scientist, I get that we all need to experiment to stumble upon our happiness; however, as the pragmatic businessperson, I can’t believe we haven’t yet invented a better way to find our passions…

I don’t have many answers here, just more questions.  Like, who are you?  What do you value? What do you love?  What are you good at?  What are you doing when an entire day flies by and you didn’t even notice?  Answering those tougher questions I think might lead you to more of the center of the circle.  Of course, life has experimentation associated with it as well.

I could be splitting hairs here – six and one half dozen of the other…etc., but at the end of the day?  The universe really doesn’t care how you got to your perfect passion sweet spot.  I think we all should care that you got there, and your life is meaningful in a way that is meaningful to you.  Not that easy, and not that simple, but very, very important.

Monday Multiple Choice

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Today, I had the opportunity to:

A. Finalize 50 or so patent term calculations;
B. Finish writing a quiz;
C. Lecture for 2.5 hours;
D. Attend class for an additional 2 hours;
E. Fight PowerPoint – and lose (OF COURSE on a PC, not a mac);
F. Both teach and learn about Orphan Drugs;
G. Nearly die on the way to work this morning via inane drivers;

Correct answer? H. All of the above.

This was a mother Monday.  But I’m still alive.  I survived.  And in order to celebrate our survival on this oh-so-crazy Monday, I will leave you with a quote I posted tonight on Twitter, that should definitely apply to ALL Mondays, which is an African-American Proverb:

“Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have, now.”

Next Monday?  I’m going to repeat the line above.  In my head.  Over and over…

Hurry Up Spring!!!

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

One of my mentors from college told me to never wish my life away.  But that’s really hard to remember on days like today, where it’s 30 degrees outside, blustery, with snow on the ground–and after spending a Friday night at a memorial service for a colleague.  But, I created a win-win here by wishing for spring, discussing spring break plans, and yes, even curating a hurry up spring board on pinterest as part of my pin-therapy. Pindiction. Pinspiration. Whatever you so choose to call it.  Enjoy.

Winter is probably my least favorite season, long about the end of January, and it is getting more difficult for me each winter as I get…eh hem…more mature. So while my old school mentor was correct–it is a bad thing to wish one’s life away–I totally understand that sometimes, it’s OK to want to fast forward a little. Also, in an effort to bring the experiences I want back to me, here’s a few things that I’m getting straight with the universe for next quarter or two. Please bear with me, but as those who believe in putting out what you want to come back to you–allow me to indulge in a Tony Robbins moment or two below:

1.  Paris:  Let’s be clear, dear universe.  I’m VERY interested in heading to Paris during spring break.  Let’s make that one happen!

2.  Plan C: Everyone keeps on asking if Plan C will ever be a book-book.  My answer to that is: maybe.  I just need about half a dozen more compelling stories to add to a second edition, THEN and only then will I make plans to do a book-book.  So, dear universe, if you can bring ‘em on, I’m here, with my computer, ready to take answers and notes.  If not?  Good enough is good enough.

3.  Passing the bar: Pass the bar the first time.  Do it once, do it right.  (That’s more just for me–but still, need to put that out there…)

4.  Children’s RX book: let’s have an awesome party for that one, mmk?

5.  My law school reading for the week and my lesson plans: get magically into my brain before I finish this post.

OK – not going to push my luck here.  #5 probably overstepped my wishing boundaries.

But you get my point.  Sometimes, it’s a good thing to rectify with the universe what you want.  That way everyone is on the same page–no matter what season, time, temperature, or otherwise.  Try it – write down 5 things you’d like the universe to bring to you during the next quarter or two.  Then, put the note in a safe place and drag it back out later on in the year – did any of it come true?  You might just be surprised…!

(And still..bring on spring!  Sorry to my mentor.)

Fantasy University Women’s Leadership League

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

OK, boys, you all have your fantasy football and basketball teams, right?  Well, I don’t have any fantasy sports teams.  But, here come the sports analogies regardless, and I’m officially starting my own fantasy league with this post!

I have a homework assignment for one of my classes (Higher Education Law) where I need to interview someone (not so ironically) in higher education.  I can interview anyone I pretty much want to – the sky’s the only limit.  So, if I could have my fantasy interview team around this assignment and could interview anyone, who would it be?

After doing some research online and discovering that only 23% of women are at the helm of colleges and universities (which, when you think about it, 75% of the teachers are women) – this number is abysmal.  However, there are some AWESOME women out there now, and here’s my very own fantasy university women’s leadership league, if I could interview any of them, would be a dream come true!  Here are just a few in totally random order:

Drew Gilpin FaustHarvard – She’s only the 28th President of the university, AND the first woman, 5th in the Ivy League.  Now I know not everyone thinks that Harvard is the end all be all when it comes to colleges and universities….but despite the haters, one must pay respect to her and her position, regardless of what people think of the school.  Being awesome always draws criticism.  And my first question to her – after congratulating her on breaking that very thick glass ceiling?  Easy.  How has it been being the first woman of one of the preeminent international universities?  Also, she never went to Harvard – so that would be my next set of questions–is the fact that she didn’t attend Harvard an asset or liability, and if so, in what ways?

H. Kim BottomlyWellesley College – Immunologist.  Life Scientist.  Publishing machine.  Rock star of one of the women’s-only leading colleges on the planet.  What’s not to like here?  My first question to her would be: how was transitioning from the west to the east coast?  Second, about the school–what are the unique challenges in educating women in a women-only academic environment?  What are the differences between it and co-gender educational environments?

Mary Sue ColemanUniversity of Michigan – The most impressive accomplishment regarding President Coleman is her ability to raise funds at first glance, and manage a MEGA institution.  (I called on U of M at one of my former jobs, and the campus is mind-blowingly huge!) U of M’s capital fundraising campaign to raise $2.5 billion (yes, with a b) was surpassed by Coleman and her campus raising $3.2 billion – the most ever raised by any university, ever.  That. Is. Impressive.  First question I’d ask her?  How do you get rockstarian at fundraising?  It truly is an art form, and her legacy in that arena is amazing!

Shirley M. TilghmanPrinceton – President of Princeton since 2001, three things strike me at first glance with President Tilghman’s ascension: 1. Princeton is ranked at #2 of the top 50 best colleges in the country, 2. She’s from Canada and 3. She actually worked as a teacher at Princeton for 15 years before she was promoted to President.  For those outside academia, it is rare to see Presidents gain promotion from within the university.  Typically, presidents are hired outside the four walls of the college or university.  The other cool item of note for President Tilghman?  She’s a woman, at a school that fought for a long time to be co-ed.  Questions I’d ask her: how did you get to be a president at a university where you taught for years before (which again is highly unusual)?  Were you aware of the co-ed turmoil, is it still an issue on campus, and how do you manage that as a university president?

Catharine Bond Hill - Vassar – Economists are smart cookies.  I have no doubt at all that ALL of these women are brilliant, but the thing I love about reading President Hill’s bio is that she reinstated need-blind admissions at Vassar.  (As a scholarship recipient myself regardless of need at my own undergrad university, I can appreciate this.)  I also know how insane colleges and universities are getting in terms of tuition–and so my first question to President H would be: can the costs of higher education keep escalating at the current rates and remain a viable option for the majority of high school students in the U.S.?

Debora L. SparBarnard – She attended Barnard, then worked and went to school in various capacities, then became President.  She’s also a political scientist, and does a ton of work on women’s issues and B school work at Harvard.  The first question I would definitely ask her is the full-circle question: how does it feel to be president of an institution you attended as an undergrad?  (Right now, being a teacher at my former undergrad school is surreal enough – I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to actually run my alma mater!)

There are other amazing women on my fantasy team and in my fantasy league that I’d love to interview.  I could go on.  But I won’t.  However, I will leave you with this: why aren’t these women out in the media more, sharing their leadership success stories with all of us?  I know the real answer, but I’d like to respectfully challenge the universe with this question again.

And Presidents, if any of you are reading this and would do me the honor of giving me 45 minutes of your time for an interview, I’d welcome the pleasure of it–your administrative partners can email me here to schedule a time to chat!  And if not, THANK YOU regardless–for your tenacity, intelligence, and hammering through the very tough glass/concrete ceilings out there.  We appreciate you paving the way!



The Joy of Quiet & Ideas

Friday, January 27th, 2012

One of my law professors sent me an excerpt from this article in the Times about The Joy of Quiet.  I liked it. And I think it is right, in a lot of ways. We’re so overloaded with technology and white noise these days, it literally is a golden thing to be able to shut it all off and merely listen…God forbid…to only the voices in our head.

I’ve written before that I value silence.  But after reading the article, I even went over to Pinterest and thought about my own idea of what truly is golden these days, and I think it is both quiet and contemplating ideas that I value, which for me, frequently comes from reading.  So, I curated a board on Pinterest about this too–the Joy of Quiet and Ideas.  For me, that means a quiet library crammed full of new and old books, a cozy chair, and a glass of wine.  That’s really all I’d need to keep myself content for a long, long time.  No iPhone, no laptop, no gadgets, no video.  Just me, my wine and my books. (OK, and pen and paper.  I would need to collect my best thoughts on something.)

But I’m certainly not going to move to the middle of nowhere as the author suggests in the Times article.  Been there, done that, and really don’t want to do that again.  However, it would be a lovely respite to have some quiet places to go, relax, unwind, and quietly read a book.  That rules out about 98% of the world. That’s also why I’m mourning over the loss of the great American bookstore.  They’re just..disappearing.  I just want places where I can go to be inspired, and bookstores used to be part of filling my inspiration bucket. Now?  I’m not sure where to go, other than online.  And frankly, that’s just not the same.

I’ll keep looking for the 2% of the remaining world that is quiet.  If that’s important to you, and you find that 2% quiet space?  Hold on to it…for dear life.

The George-Costanza-Worlds-Colliding Career

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

OK, if you don’t remember Seinfeld, your life is the poorer for it.  However, one of the episodes I frequently refer to is the George Costanza Worlds Colliding Episode. It was basically that George felt if his girlfriend and his “life” with her invaded the rest of his life (with friends), his worlds would touch, and then blow up.

(Slightly) awkward.

Oftentimes, I run into a lot of people having this challenge with not their significant others, but instead, their careers.  A MD is getting his JD.  A PharmD is getting her PhD in something totally outside of pharmacy.  A JD is also a nurse. Do you get my point here?  There are a a LOT of us out there who have multiple career complexity going on in our lives, and it too at times can feel slightly awkward.

Unfortunately, not too many outsiders know what to do with us, because our society loves us to pick ONE thing and ONE THING only professionally.  Or, worse yet, there’s another crowd that actually thinks having multiple degrees is…a BAD thing….because you’re a jack of all trades, and master of none.

First off all, I’m here to tell you that they are full of crap. (Feel free to quote me directly on that one.)  Secondly, don’t listen to the haters, ever.  Third–you’re just going to have to do some really hard work, and maybe even force yourself to create your ideal job or career from scratch when you’re a hybrid, because, it may not already exist.  BUT–the good news?  If you can hold more than one profession in your head at a time, I’m CERTAIN you can go deep enough with your thinking to create an amazing, one-of-a-kind career made just for you and you alone.

If you need to get out of the box and kick it to the curb for a moment, here are some suggestions on where to start:

1.  Nonprofits – I know, I know.  Everyone says if you go to a NFP, you won’t get paid.  Well, those haters either must suck at negotiation, and/or grant writing, because if you can justify your salary at a NFP, you’ll be worth your weight in gold to that NFP.  Besides, a LOT of NFPs have to work across professions much more broadly – and someone who has 2 degrees in 2 different arenas can walk the talk with double the amount of professional groups.  You are literally two heads in one.  Dig! Besides, one of the all-time coolest peeps I interviewed for my hybrid book on lawyers/life scientists, The Life Science Lawyer, was an ex-NFL player who went to med school in the off season, then law, and now?  Works at a research foundation on the fountain of youth. Awesome!

2.  Think Tanks – Think tanks solve problems.  I just ranted at the other blog yesterday that we are ALL problem solvers if we are good at our jobs; it really doesn’t matter what professional label we wear.  Think tank peeps solve big, monster super complex problems.  That’s right up our alley, peeps – because we can put two heads on one problem to begin with rather than just one! Sometimes, when people ask me for advice–I might throw back at them: “Do you want the pharmacist’s answer, the MBA’s answer, or the law student’s answer?”  If they reply “all of the above,” I’ve still got their backs! LOVE.

3.  Academia – In the interest of full disclosure here, I’m currently working in academia.  But I LOVE it. With the right college, department chair, open minds, and a lot of creativity, you can actually make your ideal job for the dual-minded. What do you want to do?  Research?  Writing?  Speaking?  Academia blends all of those! I recently read a profile in the NY Times about a prof at 3 different universities!  So, you can build your career like haute couture in academia – you just need the right timing and boss to make it happen in a way best fit for you.

4.  Entrepreneurship – Now if you know me well, you certainly know I wasn’t going to leave out the ‘trepping before leaving this conversation! Entrepreneurship I argue is one of the most rewarding and challenging things one can do with a career, period.  If you want a steady paycheck, great – go get a day job. BUT–you can also start your own gig on the side too, IF you’re smart about it and don’t break any rules at work.  You know where I’m headed, right? Yup! Plan C.  Read it.  A LOT of professionals are doing multiple careers already, even if they don’t have multiple degrees.

Look, you’ve already had the guts and tenacity to go and get your third, fourth, or fifth degree in school and/or switch professional gears in one lifetime.  We get that you like to learn.  Noted.  However, if you’re going to sit back and rest on your laurels while people send a conveyer belt of cool jobs your way, you’re going to be waiting awhile.  In fact, you may be waiting your entire life.  Instead of EVER thinking your dual-degree or dual-profession education is a liability–I’m here to tell you that it in fact, despite all the haters–your hybridness really is an asset.

You just have to be prudent with that asset, just as you would with your social capital, or your money in the bank.  Start with the best asset of all and go from there: YOURSELF.  Work from the inside out, rather than waiting for the outside to understand you.  Because, they just may not.  That’s your job–you have to tell the universe what it is that you want, and build it from scratch.

I Have A (Recurring) Dream

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Had the same dream last night that I’ve been having for awhile now.  But it was slightly different.

I keep dreaming of one of my old houses where I used to live (nickname: The Ladybug Chalet, or LBC for short).

(Cue the Smithereens.)  It was a great house.  It fit my style.  But every time I dream about it now, it’s been totally revamped.  Remodeled.  Changed, but yet, the same.

So, this morning when I got up, I went to my book of dreams about this (noted source of authority in the matter, at least in my head) and the only thing I can find on this is: “If you dream of an old home, good news is coming your way.”

Is it?  Or is it just something as literal as the old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same?

I don’t know.  I’m caught between dreamland and the real world here.  But I do know this: that there’s a reason this dream keeps on coming back to me, in various forms, with the house in various layouts.  I just have to figure out why. And I don’t think my book of dreams is going to have very many answers on this one….so I thought I’d throw it instead back to the universe, and let it be aware that I’ve noted this recurring dream.  (Circular, I know, but just trying to keep it real here.)

(Dr. Albert, contrary to popular belief, does NOT have all the answers…)

More On…The Book Launch Party

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

I’m always on the hunt for super cool ideas when it comes to throwing a top-shelf, super-fantastical book launch party.  So, not only did I throw the questions out on Faceplace and the T, but I also curated the ‘net to bring back some other ideas at this very post, not only for moi, but for the students working on the Children’s Pharmacy Book Project, and of course, to you, my faithful readers!

Here we go!

Stop the presses!  You always, always always want to invite the press to your launch party.  Duly noted from this article.  Super important.

Make A Difference AND Have Fun!  Why not combine forces with an awesome book launch AND raise funds for a cause?  Love this idea!

Go Low Cost  This may be a no-brainer – but seriously, after you’ve thrown down big bucks and effort into the actual book production, the last thing you can do is toss cash around to have a lavish soiree.  SMART business owners I’ve found will work with you and give you a good deal on space – go local if you can on the venue.

Live Stream the Launch Party?  I LOVE this idea, esp. if you have people from all over the country or world in your book.  Or just a general online launch party too.  Although, I’d honestly need to investigate the technology around this a little more, since I’m kind of a technotard…  This also fits nicely with throwing a virtual book tour too–with multiple authors, and when all parties don’t have 6-figure advances to promote their books.

Photos and multimedia – I really couldn’t find much on the web about this, but I personally cannot emphasize this part enough.  If you’re the author, you’re going to be pulled in about 20 different directions during your party, and it goes by so fast that it will feel like a drive-by.  I’m telling you – you want to get as MANY photographers at your launch party as possible!  Work out a deal with professionals, and get your friends with the hobby bug to bring their cameras as well.

I’ve been impressed with BOTH the pros and the amateurs at my parties – and they’re cool to work with, because you can cross-promote services.  You’re not going to see everyone and everything happening at your party – so let the photographers capture as much of the action as possible.  (And I personally HATE getting my photo taken, but you’re probably only going to have one launch party, so make some memories stick and get the photos going!)  Last but certainly not least, you’d also want to think about hash tags, check ins and all that good social media buzz stuff to have participants get involved with – the best parties involve EVERYONE in the action!

There you have it!  But if you have ideas from any book launch party you’ve been to, seriously–I’d love to hear them.  Email me.  I’m going to help plan one this spring, and I think it is going to ROCK!  And if you’re lucky enough to launch a book of your own, I’m here to tell you, my friend, that while book launch parties are a TON of work, they are worth the hassle.

The One Hallmark Trait of the ‘Trep

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with several people online and off lately in general entrepreneurial flavors, and I believe I now know the hallmark of a true entrepreneurial spirit vs. everyone who says they might be, but then really turns out later to NOT be entrepreneurial at all.

Ready for it?

Are you sure?  OK:

It’s follow up.

Follow up is the one thing that truly separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls when it comes to ‘trepping, or for that matter, being a rock star in your work life in general.  A LOT of people TALK about doing things, and then a very small fraction of people ACTUALLY DO the things they’re talking about.

Example: I have, usually once a month or so, a student who emails me randomly and wants to talk about how to ‘trep early in their career.  Cool.  But, they have to do a few things to do before I’ll meet with them – they must send me their top strengths, values, what they’re good at, what they are passionate about, what they think they ultimately want to do, and their resume.

After that, 1 of 2 things happens…

1.  The sound….of silence….and I never hear from them again. OR
2.  They actually get back to me with all the information.

And, I’ll push this even further.  The students who get back to me with this information in less than 24 hours…?  They’re the real ‘treps (and I’m talking intra or entre here).  They’re going to rock their careers, because they listen AND they DO.  They are committed to following up.  Dan Pink calls this intrinsic motivation.  Larry the Cable Guy calls it ‘getting ‘r dun.’  I call it follow up.  But whatever YOU call it – are you doing it?  Are you walking the talk…or just talking?

Hope. It. Is. The. Former.

Growing Out of…My Job

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Remember in 5th grade when you underwent a couple of growing spurts and those pants mom made you wear to school were just a little too short?  #awkward  Well, what happens if you’re an adult and that happens…with your job?

One of my faceplace friends shared with me today that he recommended Plan C to a person who didn’t feel challenged anymore in his/her job.  I dig that.  And lately, it seems that the universe has been sending me the message that a lot of people out there are ‘keeping jobs on’ despite the poor fit due to the economy, that they’ve literally outgrown.

So…what to do, should you find yourself in that situation?  Here are some suggestions:

1.  Get the Day Job Right – is it right the way you want it?  Obviously not, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this post.  But–COULD it be with some tweaking?  Can you get it the way you want it, or get it the most ideal way for you?  If the answer is maybe, read this article from Good on how to get the day job right.

2.  Read the book, This is Not The Career I Ordered – I’m reading this book right now myself – not because my own day job isn’t right, but because I had a chance to chat with the author, Caroline Dowd-Higgins, a career coach herself, among other jobs (and yes, she was kind enough to send me a copy).  She made some RADICAL shifts in her own career, and if you’re thinking you need to make some big change, I like what I’ve read thus far in her book–that one must begin with identifying his or her values, passions, and strengths before chasing down another job title.

3.  Hit the Reset Button – sometimes, radical change is in order.  Read these 6 steps to challenge if you’re on the wrong path.  One of our own Single Women Entrepreneurs, Kristin Kuhlke Cobb of Cupcake, went on her own 1-year learning sabbatical to NYC when she was trying to figure out what type of business to start.  Considering she sold over $1.3 million in cupcakes in 2010–a year in a terrible economy, the trip and learning experience obviously did her good.  Read an excerpt from her story in the book here.

Growing up is hard.  And honestly, some researchers say we really have two adolescent stages – the physical one, then a later in life psychological one.  Whatever you choose to call it–we all just want to get to that place, that zone where we feel like we’re on the right path, doing the right thing, and making a contribution with our lives in a positive way.  I can think of no better idea to ponder, and I hope these suggestions you may find helpful on your own journey–albeit at times, slightly awkward.