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Archive for April, 2012

Personal v. Professional Online Branding

Monday, April 30th, 2012

I got asked a very interesting question this morning, so I thought it was worth a post.

One of my twitter homies asked me if I had a personal and a professional/business handle on Twitter and SM, and more interestingly, why?

In fact I do have multiple handles–I’m on twitter under @yuspie and @pharmllc professionally, and personally as @ErinLAlbert.  (I have one other twitter handle too about a personal passion that really has nothing to do with any of these other items, but it’s a secret.  It’s not too hard to figure out.)  I also tweet for the day job @ButlerCOPHSexed.  I channel the most energy into @yuspie.

I told him I thought first and foremost I was no expert – certainly I’m just hacking my way through cyberspace like everyone else in this great online experiment.  But I also second thought that it is kind of important to separate you from your brand.  Thinking about it longer this morning, here’s my best explanation why.

If your brand is YOU – keep them together.  Be authentic.  That gets tricky, however, if you’re professional and your brand…isn’t, esp. if you have a professional day job, and your side gig brand is just that–a side gig.  If you have a personal brand AND business brands, you may want to keep them separate, because one day someone might want to buy your company brand – but if you are so tied up in that brand, will you be able to segregate and separate?  If not, that’s a problem–especially if you want to be out and sipping Mai-Tais on a beach somewhere after you’ve built your vast empire.

Last but not least – listen to your gut on this one.  I don’t know if anyone really has any great answers here.  Also, the brand pioneers I admire online I might suggest you follow – people like Cory Booker, Dan Pink, Gary Vaynerchuk, etc.  There are some who are brilliant marketers that I won’t mention here, because I hate their brands….but some definitely have it figured out more than others.

Unfortunately, I’m not there, yet.

But I’m working on it!

Part VI: What I’d Do Differently If I had to do Law School Over Again – My Final Law School Outline

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Here’s the Part VI bit on my VI part law school finale.

First question regarding the aforementioned L school.  I know what you’re thinking, the big one: “Albert, would you do it again if you had to redo it all over again?”  First off, that’s probably not a proper question for me right now, since I’m not officially “done” just yet.  I have one more final to get through, then graduation, then the bar.  Ask me that later for a more accurate answer.  The later, the better.

However, if I had to do it all over again at this immediate moment, here’s what I would change.

1. Classes – I definitely would have NOT taken some classes just because they were on the bar.  I talked to a friend who already took the bar, and didn’t take one of the key classes allegedly for the bar that I personally detested, and she said like she rocked that section BECAUSE she was forced to learn it only for the bar.  Props to her.  I definitely would have dumped that GPA killer, without a doubt.  So my advice to you, should you choose this law school adventure?  Take the classes YOU WANT to take.  Don’t take stuff just because it is “on the bar.”  (And some of my law mentors told me this awesome advice, which I did not heed in a few obvious cases.  Shame on me.  Don’t be me.)

2. Professors – like #1, I definitely would have been much more cognizant of which professors I took in courses if I had to do it all over again too.  As I’ve said in previous posts, I was kind of surprised by how interested (or not) I was in a course based upon the professor’s knowledge and interest in the topic.  There were definitely some classes where the profs had a passion, and some where they clearly did not.  Avoid the did not-ers.  Avoid them like the plague.  Take classes you may not be interested in topically if you KNOW the prof rocks at that particular subject.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised that their passion for the class bleeds into your skin.

3.  More summer stuff – I ran out of time, but I’d definitely try my hand at more summer opportunities if given a deux over again.  There were a lot of really cool summer fellowships, health/public health law programs over the summer that I should have paid more attention to applying for during my law school tenure.  Again, don’t be like me.  If you see something cool that might expound upon your law school learning over the summer, go for it.  Do it.  Because it may be the only and last time of your life that you CAN do it.

4.  Less drama – I gave up on great grades sometime after my high school career and definitely at college.  But there’s some students who just love to hold on to that ___laude thing.  I say, great – if that’s what you want.  But personally?  I’d get less caught up in the drama if I had to do it over again.  Frankly, I didn’t and don’t have much time for that.  I’m too busy getting my stuff DONE to be complaining about a B+ v. an A-.  Besides, wasn’t there a study that showed that the 3.2-3.5 GPA students were always the rock stars at the 20th year reunion instead of the gunner 4.0 GPAers anyway???

5.  Law review – this is one thing I did differently from everyone else’s (or nearly everyone else’s) advice.  They told me NOT to do law review.  I won’t have time as an evening student, etc., blah blah blah.  I’m here to tell you that yes, you CAN and SHOULD do law review.  It IS worth the hassle.  I’m glad I ignored those who advised against it and did it anyway (not that I need any help going against the grain).  The only thing I might have done differently around this was push harder to get on the editorial board the second year, but in retrospect, everything happens for a reason, and I’m glad it turned out as it did.  My point here?  Do the extra curricular stuff you want to do – and ignore what  everyone else thinks and says.  You have to answer to one person in the end: yourself.

6.  Professional outlines and other amateur outlines – I probably would have joined BarBri and PDP earlier my 1L year if I had to do it over again, just so I’d have access to awesome outlines for the courses I took.  Seriously – sometimes it is just good to have another point of view on a course outline, and sometimes, you just aren’t checked in enough to get all the salient points.  That is why it is helpful to have outlines to back up your happy studying.  Join PAD or PDP your 1L year or any other fraternity or sorority that has awesome outlines at your school – I recommend.  That way you also have upper class peeps to chat with about who to take and avoid early on.

Lastly: the money issue, which is probably the toughest hill to climb for some, and of which my opinion is this:  My law school is one of the most affordable programs for in state people in the entire country.  But if you’re going to shell out $50K a year to go to a top 5 law school, and you don’t have the money ready to go, I want you to really think long and hard about accepting that admissions offer.  A tort is a tort is a tort.  A contract is still the same, no matter what law school you attend, and the ‘traditional law firm’ positions and jobs aren’t out there like they used to be.

While I was reading the book Academically Adrift last night for another class, I ran into a quote by Anton Scalia about who he picks as judicial clerks for the Supreme Court.  He also talks about the elite law schools in it.  I’ll let you look up the quote in the book, because repeating it here makes my blood pressure go up–and quite honestly, I couldn’t disagree with him more, so I won’t do the disservice of spreading what I think is completely wrong.

However, in law school, I also had one of my law professors tell the entire class that we are just as good as the Yale and Harvard and Stanford trained law students.  Again–a tort is a tort, a contract is a contract, the rules of Civ Pro are the same…you get the picture.  And while I may not have an ivy degree anywhere in my near future?  I guess I’ll cry all the way to graduation in the limo…then the bank.  Because I still have money left in my bank account, which is more than I can say for some of those ivy league peeps.

That’s really all I have for you.  Go forth, and if you still want to try your hand at the law shindig after reading my six part wrap up of the law school tilt-a-whirl, go for it!

40 Things Every Woman Should Know By 40

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

I was doing my usual avoidance of studying by taking a break and trolling the internet to find some of favorite trends online and off, when I stumbled upon this post about 50 things to know by the time you’re 50.  I read the first paragraph, which led me to the Glamour Magazine 30 Things Every Woman Should Know By the Time She’s 30.

(You know where I’m going with this, right?)

So, naturally before I read the lists, I wanted to check and see if there’s a list of the 40 things every woman should know by age 40.  There is an article about the 40 things every mom should have and should know by 40, but this really didn’t cut it for me, since I’m not a mom.  There’s 40 Things Every Woman Must Know About Men, Love, Sex and Relationships – but again, missed the mark.  Don’t really care, because that is one tiny fraction of my entire life.  Strike two.

So, I didn’t bother looking for a strike 3.  This is a hint from the universe that I need to lay down my 40 things by 40 right here, right now.

Let’s do this.

The 40 Things Every Woman Should Know/Be/Have/Do By Age 40:

1.   Have at least $100,000 saved in retirement.  It would be better if you had $250K.  Even better with even more.  And I’m not talking a joint account here.  I’m talking your very own personal IRA, 401K, 403B, etc.  Not. Joint. Just. Yours.

2.  Earned a college degree.  If you don’t have one and hit 40, it is never, I repeat, NEVER too late to go back.  I’m in law school now with friends well into their 50s. One of the admins at work just completed her Associate’s Degree.  I say, bravo.  Because education is really the one thing they can never take back from you.  And, the more educated the woman, the more likelihood she’s going to be independent in a lot of other ways.

3.  Have had at least one great love that took a long time to get over.  I’ve had my share.  It builds character.  Jane was right.

4.  Have at least one ex that you would still like to have a beer with.  Just one.  Any more than that – you might start living in the past, and I don’t want you to do that.  Besides, there was a reason it didn’t work out.  Don’t over analyze.

5.  Have a place of your own.  Does that mean buy a house?  Not necessarily.  That would be next to impossible in NYC or San Fran or Paris.  But that place can be yours–you can rent it.  It can be a co-op.  It can be a walk up.  The point?  It’s your personal space and you’ve dared to live alone.

6.  Decided one way or the other if you really want kids.  I’m 98% sure I’m never going to have a kid.  I think college and law school both make me appreciate not procreating.  But you really should have this figured out by the time you hit 40.

7.  Traveled to at least 5 other countries besides the one you live in currently.  The older I get, the more I value experiences over things.  If you don’t travel, why not?  Do it.  I’m so invigorated when I go on my travels, and when I come home and explain the places to my friends and family.

8.  Written something published somewhere.  I don’t care if you’re a professional writer or not.  I don’t care if you were an English lit major or not.  I just want you to document that you’ve thought and analyzed for yourself about something…anything.  We’re all here for a reason.  Share.

9.  Have or had a pet.  Unless you’re allergic, having a pet is one of the greatest relationships one can have with another being on the planet.  My cat, Bob, has been with me since he was a kitten, now about 17 years ago.  He’s had some major health problems, but he’s still with me.  He’s been with me through the breakups, the moves, the let downs and the good times.  Where else are you possibly going to get this kind of relationship?

10.  Learned from a tragedy.

11.  Sang in public.  Preferably sober.

12.  Ate something that initially freaked you out…and now can’t get enough of it.  For me, that’s sushi.  (Although, there was some freaky stuff I tried in China, and I still don’t dig it.  But I tried it.)

13.  Fought for a cause…or two.  Or more.  You should have fought for a cause bigger than yourself by now.

14.  Paid off all your loans.  OK, I’ll let you keep your mortgage if you still have one, but other than that?  You really should be done with student loans and doing stupid stuff with credit cards by 40.

15.  Have some enemies.  ‘Enemies’ is a strong word, but if you did something from bullet 13, chances are you made a few enemies along the way.  That’s good.  That means you pissed someone off enough for them to be mad at you.  You made them take notice. Booyah.

16.  Be awesome at one thing.  It would be great if you were awesome at more than one thing.  I can’t be awesome at one thing, I have to try a lot of things.  But if you’re doing and rocking the very best you can be and do with at least one thing in your life, you’ve arrived.  Congrats.

17.  Asked at least one boss for at least one raise in your life.  If you haven’t had this battle fought for yourself by yourself, who will?

18.  Haggled.  On something else.  The China Pearl Market was one of the best places to play this game and learn how to negotiate.  Ironically, I went there for a Chinese Law course, but I think the other students and I had more fun learning how to negotiate there than any mediation or negotiation stuff learned in school.  Besides, ZOPA is cooler when it involves a watch or a pearl necklace in the end.

19. Kept one man in your life for all the wrong reasons, and then finally let him go.  This again is a good educator.

20. Failed at something.  Horribly.  Terribly.  And totally learned from that experience.  I fail on almost a daily basis now, but I view it as just another step closer to something actually succeeding. You won’t know until you try.

21.  Fired someone.  This sucks, but it is an important teacher.

22.  Hired someone.  This rocks, and it also is an important teacher.

23.  Studied something just for fun.  No grade.  No college credit.  Just. Fun.

24.  Built something from IKEA on your own, or built something on your own with your own two hands.

25.  Restored something.  I’ve rehabbed many houses in my day, but my favorite all time project was taking the heat gun to the front door of my last house built the in 1920s.  They don’t build houses that way anymore, and that also went for the door.  It had about 7 layers of paint on it, but I burned it all off, sanded it down, stained it and sealed it.  Immediate gratification–and a restored beauty to an awesomely beautiful 2 inch thick solid wood door.  I also unearthed a fountain in the backyard of that house.  Totally. Amazing!

26.  Had a bad hangover.  It too builds character, and reminds all of us not to overdo it.

27.  Got fired or laid off.  This one may be controversial, but when I was laid off from the one and only job I was ever “let go” from, it changed me.  I now view work very differently because of it.  I highly recommend the experience (although, don’t turn into a slacker and/or do something illegal just to mark this off the list…)

28.  Have been or be a driving force in someone’s life.  Not just your own.  Be someone that someone else looks up to and admires.

29.  Flown on an airplane.

30.  Have a passport, ready to go at a moment’s notice.

31.  Been on a subway/metro/mass transit.  (I know, tough for some cities…eh hem…Indy…but to experience the metro, the tube, the NYC subway, or even the subway in Beijing makes you appreciate mass transit…AND at some times, your car!)

32.  Realized that you are mortal.  I have creaky knees now.  I also have a thing in my ankle that bugs me if I wear heels all day.  Realizing that even Supergirl is going to one day depart is a strong motivator to start getting some serious dookie done.

33.  Written a book.  I know I said published something earlier – and if your published work was a book, you can knock out 2 on this list.  Awesome.  But, everyone has at least one book in them.  What’s your story?  Write about what you know, and enjoy the ride of writing a book.

34.  Spoken in front of an audience of at least 250 people.  Under that number is a normal gig.  Over 250 is when things get serious.  My last 250 audience was at a work function.  It’s hard to reach the peeps at the back of the room.  Being a rockstar in this arena is hard for me.  But I do speak whenever I can, to as big an audience as I can, because it helps push me beyond my comfort zone.

35.  Considered running for office.  I know what you’re thinking–WTF?!?  I know.  This one sounds a little crazy.  ESPECIALLY with Washington DC being dysfunction junction right now.  But we really, really, really need some more awesome women in politics.  It’s totally a boys’ club right now, and I personally have considered running for office myself.  What is my answer on this?  Stay. Tuned.

36.  Started at least one venture.  I didn’t say company necessarily here.  You could have started a cause from scratch, a business (for profit, NFP, or somewhere in between), an idea, or even a movement.  Just please have started SOMETHING by age 40.

37.  Have at least 6 months of a Oh Sh*t Fund set aside.  (Call it a Rainy Day fund if you like for PG-13.)  Whatever.  Just have 6-12 months of $$ set aside in case you do get laid off, or something crazy happens.

38.  Have a will, durable power of attorney for medical, living will, and a plan for death.  Sounds a little morbid, but do you really want to put all those burdens on your family and friends when they are totally wigged out that you’re on life support?  Here’s my solution: TRIP OVER THE CORD if I’m on life support, please!  (And yeah, I do have all the legal documents above.)

39.  Play.  Make fun time happen.  We get so serious as adults (see 38.).  We must get over this.

40.  If you don’t like where you are when you hit 40, change it.  Thanks, Dr. Obvious.  While it may sound obvious to some, being 40 isn’t a death sentence.  It’s statistically the beginning of the second half of your life (if you live to be the average age of 80).  Think about it.  You still have a LOT more living to do, so if you’re feeling stuck or in a rut or you’re just not in the direction you want to be in, YOU have the power to change it, and probably ONLY YOU.  So, get to gettin’!

There.  I’m off to read the 30s list to make sure I didn’t miss anything, and the 50s list to see what I have to look forward to.  For the rest of you – enjoy my list for 40 Things Every Woman Should Know By 40!  And regardless of my list, make sure you’re following your own list – whatever that may be.

Death of a Resume

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

I don’t have any good answers here – just a lot of questions.  Read the post over at the other blog today and let me know what you think.  Is the resume dead?  B cards dying?

“Tell Me What You Like About It”

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Last night, I got about a pound of hair cut off.  I feel–liberated. However, the most impressive part was–my hairdresser who did the chopping!

She’s a “senior” – that means she’s about to graduate from the Aveda School.  Other than dirt cheap pricing, use of Aveda products on your head, and the blue room (my personal favorite), what I loved yesterday was that I used Pinterest to show the hairdresser which cut I wanted.  When I flashed up the hair board on Pinterest on my phone, she looked at the photo, then said:

“Tell me what you like about it.”

Wow.  Overall, I hadn’t thought through the details – I just liked the overall photo.  However, I articulated my favorite things about it, and then she re-iterated them to her instructor.

OK – why am I telling you all this?  (Other than I typically have the time to go about once a year to get my hair done, and it is a rare treat.)  I’m telling you about my theme all week–and that is, to figure out what you LIKE in your life, so you can bring it to the front of your BRAIN, and get MORE OF IT into your life.  I’ve been working on a project around this too this week, where I was playing the hairdresser, and asking people what they liked about their work.

So…here it comes, my 64K question to you, my 13 friends in the internet ether: tell me what you LIKE about your life!  And, the more you articulate that – riddle me this: how can you get more of that into your life?  Which, in turn, will free you from more of the junk you DO NOT want to do.  Seriously.  Take my challenge–today and every day moving forward–it will get you to really think about what is truly important to you.  And maybe?  Give you a shot at living an even better life.

(Oh, and in case you’re curious – my cover photo on Pinterest is the haircut I chose.  The cut is done, and the color is also coming soon.)

Yet Another Fail – On An Ever Growing Pile

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Sorry I’ve been away, to all my amazing 13 fans….I kinda sorta had to knock out a couple of finals for law school this weekend.  They were brutal, but they are done.  Hopefully I passed both of them (and the last one I’ve yet to take) so I can do that thing called “graduation” legit style on 5.12.

Anyway, wanted to share with you yet another one of my ever so frequent and growing list of failures.  (Maybe I should turn this into a fail blog?  I don’t know. I love the other fail blog. I digress.)  But I received an email tonight from a student, who was a little frustrated with me.

First of all, let me just say that this is not uncommon.

But the reason for his frustration?  It was legitimate, and reminded me yet again that I’ve failed.

He basically shared that he was frustrated that he didn’t get to take my entrepreneurship elective this year, because I didn’t teach the class this past year.  In the end?  He’s right.  I should have–and I should have MADE the time to teach it.  Here’s why.

Figuring it the ____ out is one of the most important skills a person can learn while in college.  No rubric.  No hand holding.  No point grid. No grade. Just figure. It. Out on your own.  That could be a project, a business plan, a case (for the clinical geeks in us) – whatever.  Just figure it out!

We all know in the real world? Your boss isn’t going to hold your hand.  She won’t give you a rubric or an instruction sheet.  He just wants you to GET IT DONE.  SOLVE THE PROBLEM.  FIND A WAY.  MAKE IT HAPPEN. She doesn’t really care how you get to the end, just get there.  And this?  I find as a very, very valuable skill for students (including myself) to figure out during the educational experience.

Furthermore, I’m not totally sure this can be taught in a class, per se.  Or be learned in a book.  I think you just have to experience it to truly appreciate this skill.  Pat yourself on the back.  Solve the riddle on your own and commend yourself for not needing someone else to do the work for you.  I shared with my frustrated student that while I love my ‘trep class, he really doesn’t need it.  ‘Trepping is not a class.  It is a state of mind.

However, to my student: I apologize.  I failed you.  I’m sorry.  However, the best part about this?  The stuff I teach as an entrepreneur…? You can learn it on your own, if you really want to.  Just get out there into the world, and start solving problems. (And I don’t care who you work for–if it is yourself, or for someone else.) View problems, and then flip them into opportunities, and finally figure out how to solve them and create real solutions to address them.  That’s what being an entrepreneur is about – and although I failed my students in offering the class, there’s still time to polish this skill.

That, and I will promise to get the entrepreneurship elective back on the radar, now that law school is hopefully out of the way…mea culpa.

A Story…With A Happy Ending

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Once upon a time….two falls ago or so….I was driving in to work when an idea hit me.

A crazy idea.

I shared an office at the time, so I spilled it on my office partner when I got to work.  It was to build a children’s book about pharmacy as a senior student project.  I opened up by asking her how she explains to her daughter what a pharmacist is, and she said that she really didn’t have any great tools to teach her daughter what mommy did at work all day.

Fast forward to tonight; we launched that cray idea into the world.  It’s called Pharmacy and Me.  We had most of the 9 authors and illustrators there (all seniors and all from Butler University) to autograph copies of their work.  Totally. Sold. Out the first run…a wonderful problem to have!

One of my colleagues while I was on the way to the party asked me when the movie adapted from the book was coming out.  We’re still negotiating the movie rights…(and if you’re in film, give me a call.  Our people can talk with your people).

I asked the students what they gained from working on this project.  Other than it was a LOT more work than they initially realized, and that being published and having their names at was pretty cool, they thought one of the toughest challenges was working with others not like them.  Working through others, when they could not do the work themselves, and staying on time and task, while being scattered all over the world during the past year.

Earlier in the week, we received the books for the launch party tonight in our office, and a co-worker had her copy on her desk on Tuesday.  A couple of pharmacy residents popped in to the space, admired the book, and one remarked that she never got to produce and publish a book when she was in pharmacy school.

Hey, chica, neither. Did. I.

This is the point at my disjointed story where we arrive at my philosophy on teaching, which is this: I feel it is my personal duty and obligation as an educator to get to my students opportunities I never had as a student.  That is the energy that pushes me forward–to try new and different things, because new and different is always in style in the working world.  Students can witness my own personal dare to take on risk, and potentially failure, and in turn, I hope that it rubs off on them.  That is my main secret genius plot with projects I take on related to teaching.  This time? I think it may have worked.

As we departed from the autographing soiree this evening, I reminded the pharmacy student authors not to forget Dr. Albert when they became rich and famous!  And, who was the last customer of the evening?  None other than my former office mate and her daughter and son.  Apparently, the daughter required that mom pick the book up TONIGHT.

My former office mate emailed after they got home to tell me that the book was a hit.  Her daughter read it twice–in the car on the way home and then again before bed.  She apparently asked a lot of good questions about being a pharmacist, and she now has a better understanding of what her mom does at work all day.

I can think of nothing better in teaching than this.

Part V: What I Would Change About Law School – My Final Law School Outline

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I fully realize that I’m pretty powerless here.  But it’s fun to fantasize – that is, what would I change if I could wave a magic wand and change law school?  Here’s part V of my VI part review of law school.

What would I change?  Wow. Lots.

Here are the hi-lights:

1. Shorten it – it really should only be 2 years full time, or 3 years part time.  If you really, really want to keep the 3rd year full time and 4th year part time, it should be full of PRACTICAL training in the REAL WORLD.  It’s too long.  This last year has been a LOT of deja vous….and my time is limited on this planet.  I don’t like Groundhog Day rewinds.

2.  LSATs: kiss them goodbye – one really doesn’t need to take a LSAT.  It’s about as worthless as other standardized tests.  My SAT score was bad.  Yet I still managed to get through college.  Same with law school – LSAT score was bad, but I still managed to get through law school.  (Well, most of it anyway – I still have 3 final exams to finish up before I’m officially “done.”)

3.  Moot court should be required – this is one of my regrets – I didn’t participate in moot court – but then again, it was for little credit hours and “optional” during law school.  Should it be?  I don’t think so.  But it also needs to have some CREDIT attached to it so those of us trying to finish a degree have a chance to plug some hours in and get it done.  Litigation is just another skill that is important to explore in law school.

4.  More extra-curricular activity – I should have done more of this.  Although we managed to found a new law society during our law adventure, I still don’t think it felt like enough.  But seriously–when you’re working full time and going to school darn near full time, extra curricular activity turns into stuff like “grocery shopping” and “paying bills,” not starting a law society.  I wish law schools would help the part time students with this more.

5.  Yearbooks – do schools still do yearbooks?  Not sure.  But it would have been nice to have a list of the graduating class, what they each wrote their papers on (we have a writing requirement to graduate) and what area(s) of law they have an interest in working in and around, so I can find them later on when they are out in the world and I can work with them again.

6.  All classes are optional – My law school isn’t set up like this, but a lot of law schools are set up like this.  OK, there may be a few classes that should be MUST DOs – like contracts and Constitutional law – but beyond that? Let the peeps decide what they want.  The practice of law is so broad and diverse that it really doesn’t make sense to make us all take certain classes if we are NEVER GOING TO USE THEM EVER in the real world!

7.  Lower the cost – First off.  I’m lucky.  I attend a state school, as a resident, so I get law school on the “cheap” at one of the lowest cost programs around.  However, law school is still expensive. It’s had double-digit increases in tuition the 4 years I’ve been taking classes, and I was happy as a clam the last semester tuition bill I paid off.  I won’t miss the bills either.

With law school job prospects dwindling and the cost going up, it’s a cocktail for disaster.  I hope that schools figure this out.

8.  Put some classes online – I get that Socratic Method is a must have rite of passage for 1Ls.  We’ve all seen the scary law school movies.  It ads to the cache of school the first year.  After that?  Is it REALLY necessary for us to drive into class every night?  I say, no.  As long as you can interact online, there’s no need to keep on wasting gas to head to class every night.

Traditional schools are really struggling with letting this eyeball to eyeball stuff go, and I don’t blame them – it almost justifies the super pricey expensiveness…almost.  However, with real time chat and fully engaged students, there is no need to have students all sitting in a live classroom anymore.  Controversial?  Maybe.  But really – I challenge the notion that we all have to have live butts in the chairs to learn anymore.

That’s enough.  I’m sure there’s a LOT more where that came from.  But you get my point.  There’s a lot of opportunity for improvement when it comes to law education.  I just hope law schools listen to my plea and consider joining the 21st century when it comes to student learning.

A Higher, Higher Ed

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Today, on my very last day of law school, EVER, I find it deliciously ironic that I spent all day prior to my last law class this evening….at a higher education conference.

The Indiana Commission on Higher Education hosted a conference today in downtown Indianapolis on the state of higher education.  At the conference, they talked about the goal of 60% college 4-year degree attainment for Hoosiers by 2025. And I must give a shout out of thanks to my Higher Education Law Professor who gave our higher ed law class a shot at attending the seminar today.  Thank you, Prof. Baker.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to a fellow student, from IUSB, (shout out to my hometown) who is a mom raising 3 small children and going to school full time, while her husband is also going to school to hopefully move on to medical school.  She has student loans, and she worries about affordable daycare. She works about 10 hours a week as well on top of balancing her life and her school.  I told her I admired her ability to balance it all and have a nearly perfect GPA.

Yet, meanwhile, on the other side of the room, the speakers (most of whom were older men) talked a lot about Harvard, Oxford, Princeton, and threw around other fancy college names and fancy terms like “disruptive innovation” (yeah, I didn’t go to any of those fancy schools, but I did read Christensen’s book).  They did, however, mention that males are falling behind in higher ed, now with a 60%/40% female: male ratio in higher ed.

I think the entire day was ironic.  While I’m a first generation woman and college graduate of a 4-year program in my family, some of the educators seemed to think that first generation college students and their families didn’t understand “the value” of a 4-year education.  Trust me, my family did.  And I’m pretty sure other parents still to this day see the value – PARTICULARLY those who didn’t get the shot at going to college themselves.

Then, the higher educators talked about “assessment” and “rubrics” and “outcomes” relative to higher ed.  I got frustrated.  For me, when you start talking about problems, the entrepreneur pops out and I just want to get to SOLVING the problem. So, here’s the problem as I identify it at the undergrad level.  College education (again, at least at the undergraduate level) should teach you how to do 3 things (fancy rubrics, assessments, and all other jazzy stuff aside):

1. write
2. speak
3. solve problems/think critically

That’s what employers want.  That’s what we should be focusing on.

You can have all the fancy rubrics, outcomes, and assessments that you want, but really–at the heart of the end of the day, LAS and undergraduate education really boils down to these 3 things.

Now, if you want to drill those 3 things into a philosophy course, or a Histrionics of film and TV course, Elizabethan Literature, underwater basketweaving or any other course, that’s cool.  But really?  These 3 are core.  Foundational.  Epically important. Things that matter.

Secondly, professional education in my mind sits on top of that, and it differs for each profession.  While my own opinion isn’t shared by all–which is, that I personally think professional/technical training should be in tandem with the core LAS education – some disagree and think the core should come first, then the professional/tech training.  I’m not sure most students have that luxury anymore.

Honestly?  I didn’t.  I went to pharmacy school – which was a combination of the core reading/writing/speaking/problem solving AND technical training.  To merely go to school for 4 years to contemplate one’s navel is just a luxury most of us commoners simply can’t afford anymore.  One of the stickiest things I learned at the conference today?  There is a school pushing $60K a YEAR in tuition now!  (I won’t say which one.  But I will tell you it is not in Indiana.)  Think about it–a 4 year degree from this college is the same price as a really nice HOME for most Americans now.

My last rant before I depart is a point I made during the roundtable discussions, where I went to the “faculty” breakout rather than the “student” breakout – which is this:  4 year undergraduate programs used to do a pretty good job at training people to get a JOB (although it could be argued we are slipping in this respect against global competition.  Just ask anyone who’s back at home living with their parents after graduation and still can’t get or find a job.)  What I argue we are REALLY TERRIBLE AT is that we do NOT train our students to CREATE jobs.  One of the panelists mentioned the Bill Cook story.  I mentioned that there are companies out there hiring kids out of high school to NOT go to college and work in the real world for awhile! (See the Peter Thiel piece.)  We need more Bill Cooks, but are undergraduate schools really creating more Bill Cooks, or just Joe Employees?

See what I mean?  Irony.  Living it today.  And while I don’t really consider myself a “pure academic” in any sense of the word, I worry about that gal I sat next to today.  How is she going to get through school and complete her degree with 3 little ones at home?  Will her husband be able to go to medical school?  Will they incur a mountain of debt to do it all?  I don’t really have any good answers here.  Just a lot. More. Questions.

Commercial Inspiration

Friday, April 13th, 2012

One of the (several things) that kind of sucks about the economic downturn is the lack of inspiration.

Allow me to explain.

For example, when I was feeling a need to re-charge my creative mojo in the past, the first place I’d head for an elixir was a bookstore.  I LOVE perusing the new books and magazines for ideas in what is new and exciting.  It always juiced me with great ideas for writing, reading, and generalized awesomeness.  Love love love.

Now, I have much less to choose from.  In fact, Borders is gone.  I can’t touch and feel books on  Barnes & Noble I guess is still around, but they are further away from home.  The closest one to me is actually the the IUPUI bookstore, which just happens to be a B&N.  But, I honestly don’t crawl over there, unless I’m buying law books.  Thankfully, that has ended for me.

For the past 4 years, I’ve also had next to no free time.  I didn’t have the luxury of shopping at many retail stores, because I simply didn’t have the time to shop.  (Or, for that matter, in some instances, the patience.  But I digress.)  But let me ask you, dear reader, the same thing I’m asking myself right now:  When was the last time you stepped into a store–ANY store, and literally got inspired by it?

I’ll wait….

….still there?

I am….and I’m still waiting for your answer.

I can answer this while I await your answer.  It was a little art bookshop near the Monet museum in Paris.  It was full of really cool art books, notecards, and sort of underground, in an old space around a palace.  That was spring break, and that was in Paris.  Note that it wasn’t in the United States.

My point?  This.  Dear retail stores in the United States of America – while you still HAVE retail stores, before you close up brick and mortar and go totally online…I want you to really think about WHY people should shop at your store.  Do you have a pretty store?  Is it inspiring?  Does it bring you joy when you walk in?  Are the people that work there inspiring?  Fun?  If not, why not?  Joy, beauty and fun don’t necessarily cost a fortune.  Apple has done a good job making its stores and products pretty while still being affordable.  They even still have cool retail stores.  But wait, that’s not all–you can still get that freakishly rare thing there too–called “customer service.”

As for the rest of you, dear retailers, why should I spend $4 per gallon of gasoline to roll over to your store, if it is full of brown tiled floors, sterile white walls and uninspiring shelves full of homogenized products I can buy anywhere?  Heck, even P&G has a store at the subway now.  Why would I bother with your retail store, which is totally uninspiring and deal with the hassle of standing in line instead of just buying online?

This is what I’d like you and me to ponder.  I’m thinking about it a LOT in regards to some upcoming possible research I’ll be doing….I’m brewing on it.  But I want you to think about it too.  Why give the retailers your love, if you’re not getting any inspirational, fun, and beautiful love in return?