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Archive for May, 2012


Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

My good friend, Failure, decided to show up around lunchtime.  He came in, had a seat, informed me of my failure, then left.

I’m OK when my friend Failure comes to visit.  Why?  Most people hate him.  But, I think he’s merely misunderstood.

Because, Failure is inevitable.  Like death.  Like taxes.  Like change.  Inevitably, he’s coming to your neighborhood, and directly to you.

I say, welcome him in.  Offer him a drink.  Talk to him.  Understand where he’s coming from.  Most of all?  Learn from him.  Because, when he shows up, that just means I’m that much closer to his counterpart and my other pal, Success, to show up.  Everyone likes Success.  But what most people struggle with (myself included sometimes) is that you have to go through Failure to get to Success.  Failure is just like the doorman to an awesome party thrown by Success.  But, you have to have the password.

Here’s the password – in case you’re trying to get into the party.  It’s actually several passwords:

1-Work – hard work gets you in to the successful realm.
2-Learning – understanding where Failure is coming from, learning from failure, then reapplying it one more time to get to success
3-Luck – another awesome force, but really ephemeral…luck can be flaky…don’t rely on him too much.

Never be afraid to let Failure in and hang.  You’ll learn something from him if and when you do.  I did today, and I hope you do too the next time you have a chat with him.

Identity Crisis

Monday, May 28th, 2012

First off, hope you have a safe and memorable Memorial Day.  I love this holiday weekend for several reasons…but one of them is that it is also my birthday weekend.  29. Again. Yay.

That aside, I’m wondering if others are struggling with this out there in the ‘net ether.

My name is Erin Albert, and I have a crisis of identity online.

I think I’ve spoken and written about this before, but for those of us with online identities for our day jobs, for our companies, and for ourselves, it really can become quite a menagerie of messages online.  For example, I noted that some of my tweets were getting mixed up with my brands online, which ended up costing me a follower or two, simply because the wrong messages were going to the wrong audiences, unbeknownst to me.

I’ve subsequently fixed the problem with this one social media stream. However, I wish there was an aggregator where I could write the message, THEN determine which channels it should go through – without paying, without too much hassle.  There are some platforms out there that manage some of this decently, but not all my identities for free.  If you know of a good free tool, please hit me with it.

And generally, I’m here to tell you that if you have multiple interests as I do – work online personally, professionally, and otherwise, managing the messages online can get messy. There’s an opportunity here for someone to clean up the mess.  Just not sure how yet.

Most of all, I think it is important to just be you.  Stay authentic.  Keep it real. Because if you start going plastic for your tribe, they’re not going to dig that at all.  In fact, of late, some of the most interesting characters I’ve ran into don’t have any social media presence online. None. Nada.  They quite frankly don’t like online presence.  I find that fascinating.

Rock on.  Hope you don’t have an ID crisis like me.  But it’s an interesting problem to have in this day and age.  While I struggle to figure the online world out just like everyone else, I’ll just enjoy the ride….despite having multiple channels….

Getting One’s Professionalism On

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Joseph had his amazing technicolor dreamcoat.  Harry Potter had his wand and his broomstick.  Carrie Bradshaw had her Manolos.

I’m here to tell you (you, meaning college students specifically that I’m talking to with this post today), that you need to think of wearing professionalism at work just like clothing mentioned above.  Why?  Read on.

I read Pete the Planner’s Intern’s post today on how to be a great intern, and I thought it was good.  Furthermore, it seems of late this has been an issue I’ve faced…several times…in my own life.  Not so much how to be professional.  Instead, how to help others become professionals themselves and TEACH this skill.  So…I’m going to add a few items to the list linked above for your consideration while interning, in an effort to help you be all you can be when it comes to blossoming as a professional.  Ready?

1.  Own the job:  Pete’s intern says blend in and make them forget you are the intern.  I say, act like you’ve already got the job, and you’re fighting to keep it each and every day.  Go above and beyond.  Anticipate needs.  Prevent fires.  Own your responsibilities.  By the way, NONE of this you really learn in college per se, you just have to get your Manolos/wands/dreamcoats on and deliver these mad skillz.  They aren’t really super teachable – they just are.

2.  Ask the 3 key questions:  In the world of pharmacy rotations, you don’t get to pick your rotations.  However, you can manage them well, or they can manage you.  Don’t be in the latter camp.  Stop the madness by asking 3 key questions on your internship day one: 1. To whom do I report? (If this isn’t obvious).  2.  What is expected of me out of this internship?  (Projects, processes, orientation, etc.?)  3.  What resources do I have available at this internship to get #2 completed?  Again, it is YOUR responsibility to take ownership of the position and know what is expected of you from day one.  No. One. Else’s.

3.  Feedback: do it, but don’t overdo it:  Ask for a time, perhaps once per week, where you can sit down with your boss/preceptor/manager to get feedback on where you are and where you’re headed.  AND…even more important, do NOT over request feedback.  Some younger people today love and expect instant and lengthy feedback.  Don’t suck the life out of your boss/preceptor/manager–they’ve got other fish to fry.  Instead, respectfully request that you take perhaps 30 minutes of your boss’s time at the end of the week (if for example on a 4-week internship) for performance review.  That’s it.  Don’t email them every 5 minutes and expect instant feedback and answers.  Sometimes, they don’t HAVE all the answers.  That’s why you’re there – to help them FIND the answers, in some cases.

4.  Treat the internship as priority #1: because it is.  That means, don’t ask for the weekend off to fly to Timbuktu to spend time with your friends if you’re already committed to serving in this position.  That means, don’t alter your schedule because it isn’t “convenient” for you.  Why?  Because there are about 1,000 others who would probably be more than happy to take your place in that internship, and THEY WOULD NOT ask for that time off.  So why should you?  (Emergencies are another matter – but even too many emergencies reeks of you not being able to manage your life.  So if you can’t manage your own life, how are you going to manage a job on top of that?)

5.  The vault holds a chamber of secrets for a long, long time:  This world really is small and shrinking.  Your work ethic and professionalism are remembered for a long, long time.  That can be a force in your favor, or used against you.  It is against you when you aren’t professional on your internship.  Think of it this way – your professional reputation (or lack thereof) is very much like a bank account.  You make withdrawals when you screw up, or don’t show up, or are late, or whine, or complain to your boss.

You make deposits when you go out of your way to bust a move to get things done, anticipate needs, and show up on time and work hard to achieve what it is that you are there to do.  The bank account goes with you wherever you go.  Thus, if you did a lousy job at a site that has 2,000 employees, do you think your transactions don’t carry any weight?  They do.  Furthermore, people talk.  And if you did lousy at that 2,000 employee internship, while you only had 1 boss, he or she can talk to those other 1,999 co-working peeps and tell them what a lousy job you did.  Keep this in mind every time you show up to work.

There you have it.  Professionalism isn’t a course in school, it is a mindset.  You must, must, must start thinking like a professional the day you hit the job market.  Otherwise, you’re going to be out of the job market, and fast.  Get that professionalism on, and never, ever take it off at work, period.  People are watching you, so make sure you put the “amazing” back into that amazing technicolor professionalism dreamcoat!


5+ Cool Things I Learned About Social Entrepreneurship This Week

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Yesterday, I did something crazy that I don’t normally do.

(That’s typically a good start to a good blog post, BTW…)

I flew out on the 6 am to Washington DC to attend the 2nd Annual Americans For Community Development Conference, which is still going on today.  (I had to get back for the start of bar prep class.)  BUT–attending just one day was awesome.  Here’s a few bits I learned about social entrepreneurship, and specifically, the Low Profit Limited Liability Company (L3C):

1.  It’s all about Crowdsourcing – Kickstarter, Kiva, IndieGogo, even Localstake here in Indy, you name it, and peeps are trying to fund it.  Projects abound that people are attempting to fund, and skipping over the bureacratic red tape in cities, and going straight to the people to get ideas put into action.  The keynote speaker yesterday was Storm Cunningham, who talked about “Re” – recycling, reusing, and creating sustainable reinventions of cities and towns.  He’s got several books – google him.  But the most exciting part he talked about was his new L3C, ReCitizen, L3C.  This is a company he’s starting to help others do crowdsourcing, crowdfunding – and get this – crowdmapping – of communities.  Which leads me to my second point:

2.  It will be all about CrowdmappingUshahidi is the leader in this technology – but think about it this way.  You live in a city.  There’s an empty abandonded lot that is bugging you to no end in your neighborhood.  You take a picture of it, it shows up on a map – and you all have a meetup in your ‘hood to talk about what to do with the lot.  That, my friends, is crowdmapping – and that’s what is coming next in the concept of “Re” for cities.

3.  Meet the new high line: the low line – We all know the high line is one of Manhattan’s most excellent “re” projects in the recent past.  Yeah, kudos to them for figuring that out.  The next iteration?  The low line.  The idea hunters totally exceeded the dollars they crowdfunded; now, they need to take the project to the next level.  My challenge to Indianapolis personally: what about the catacombs below the city market?  Hmmm….?  Sweet Underground park.  Just. Sayin!

4.  Sometimes when a NFP won’t work, and mission is still most important, the L3C is the answer – One of the best practical talks I attended yesterday was by the peeps of Endless Sky L3C, which is an organization that feeds people in Montana.  The founder was head of the NFP Food Bank for several years, until she stopped banging her head against the wall of the NFP business model when local farmers wanted her help with locally grown food via processing and distribution.  Now?  She doesn’t have all the “no we can’t do that because we are a NFP” stuff to worry about with her new L3C.  She’s feeding the state, with locally grown food, at different price points, AND helping out her local farmers all at the same time now.  Booyah!

5.  Healthcare and social entrepreneurial business models – So, below are my slides from the healthcare panel.  The other speakers talked about how L3Cs could be used on the hospital NFP and foundation sides, particularly around hospital mergers between NFP hospitals and FP hospitals.  I say, we should have a VARIETY of business models available in each state (including Indiana – Indiana Legislature, are you listening?!?) for entrepreneurs to build long term sustainable businesses!

The Project: The New Job

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

I’ve been having a lot of interesting conversations lately about the world of work; however, the conversations have shifted a bit.  They used to be all about a “job.”

The common question is, “What do you do for a living?” when you first meet someone, at least here in the states.  That’s not necessarily true in other countries.  In fact, some find that question borderline offensive.  But now – instead of asking about jobs, I’m noticing more people asking about “projects.”

As I noted this, a friend of mine over in France via Facebook noted the same thing.  When she meets others there, they ask her about her “latest project.”

This is smart.  Why?  Because all of us do so much more than just our jobs.  Right now, I’ve got a project and talk going on in Washington D.C. next week, I’m starting my project of bar review next week, I’m helping to promote a women’s conference coming to Indianapolis, and I’m working on my next book.  These are all–what I consider to be–projects.  Furthermore, they don’t necessarily have a direct bearing on my day job per se.  They are interesting, some are even cool (the bar review won’t be included in the ‘cool’ part), but they aren’t directly related to my “job.”

So, what is your current project?  Is it even related to your day job?  If not/so is really irrelevant.  It’s more about what you’re currently passionate about, and I love that, because unearthing passions is a far more awesome thing to learn about someone else than learning their job titles…

The 6 Million Dollar Network

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

During lunchtime, I gave a talk today about “getting your bliss on” – or how to find your calling, passion(s), values, etc., so you as an individual can not only move forward, but experience your best life possible.  I hope those in the audience found it helpful.  I’ll throw in the slides here too – see what you think. It was fun to get out and speak again – although I’m rusty after 4 years of being on the law school DL, and after opening my big box of bar review materials today – it may be even longer before they release me into the wild again permanently to do more fun stuff like speak at networking groups.

One of the data points that always strikes me from my blissness talk with networking is the $948 study.  MIT researchers studied IBM employees and found that for every external contact an IBM employee had in their email address book, that was worth $948 in potential revenue to the company.  So–I gave every gal in the room some homework – to go home, hit their social networking sites, and calculate what the network was worth.

I also must walk the talk – so I did this myself:

LinkedIn: 1,950 contacts
Facebook: 995 contacts
Twitter: 3,451 (just counted @yuspie – not the other accounts)
Pinterest: 200 (just counted overall followers – not for individual boards)

(And yes, there’s overlap – and other sites like slideshare, instagram, etc. that also count, but I didn’t count here.)

Total of above?  6,596
More Math: 6596 x $948.00 = $6,253,008

Wow.  I have a 6 Million Dollar Network!


So – have you calculated your network’s value?  Furthermore, and maybe even more important – have you shared this with your boss?  If your boss is you, have you considered this?

Something definitely to think about….

Resumes are Dead: Long Live the Project

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

A friend in higher ed sent me this HBR article about candidates now.  Resumes are dead.  LinkedIn is OK.  But the real holy grail?

The projects.

We are all about our projects now.

I was trying to think back to the last few projects I worked on.  Some rocked.  Some totally failed.  Some–who knows?  But I learned something from each of them.  Here’s a sampling:

1.  Children’s Pharmacy Book – SUCCESS – I learned on this project that interdisciplinary teams, if the right people, can accomplish great things.  Of course, I already knew this, but it was reconfirmed on this project.  Furthermore, I learned that Gen Y can work well on teams too.  Last but not least, I learned to have a little faith in the process.  Coming off of a former book project that was a complete and utter failure, I made it very clear with this team that the idea might not work.  But after one of the students said to the group after I gave a disclaimer that would make any law school proud, “Don’t worry, Dr. Albert.  It will be alright,” I had to have faith.  And I’m glad I did.  I deem this a success not because we got it published, but because a 7 year old daughter of a faculty member finally understands what her mommy does professionally.  I also deem this a success when one of our college grandmothers successfully reads the book cover to cover with her 21 month old grandson.  This one worked.

2.  Coordination of Pharmacy Law – SUCCESS – My endpoint here was primarily survival this spring.  I never coordinated a pharmacy law course before.  Not only did I have the pressure to make sure the students understood the federal and state drug laws, but I also wanted to make sure the students knew how to talk policy with lawmakers from this class too.  Frankly, there’s nothing more powerful than going straight to a lawmaking source to make sure they understand what you do as a profession.  Anyway, while my didactic lectures could use more interactivity and polish next time, I think it overall was a success, because of the policy add, and because of the Henrietta Lacks assignment add as well.  I failed when my students didn’t do great on their exams, but I’m hoping it pays off when they go to take their law exams in the end when the stakes are higher.

3.  My last book, Plan C – ?????? – I got the message across in the book that I wanted to: that people can rock the day job AND a part time biz on the side.  (If you’ve never read my blog before – we’re all entrepreneurs now – like it or lump it.)  Did I do everything I could to successfully promote the book?  No.  I had work obligations that were on aggressive timelines that warranted more attention than ever before at the day job this spring semester, and so I put the book into publication last November.  Could I do more with this?  Yes.  Am I ahead of my time on this one?  Maybe.  But if I had to do it all over again, I doubt I would have done it differently.

4.  Law school – ?????? – I guess I could consider law school a project here.  Was it a success?  I don’t know.  And I honestly probably won’t know until about 20 years from now.  Did I study as hard as I could have?  No.  Could I have done better in some classes, particularly the ones I loathed?  Probably.  But I also did a few things that I was pretty proud of – like Law Review (when everyone told me I couldn’t do it because I had a day job.  Sorry, peeps, you were wrong on that one), and the fellowship, China, and starting a law society.  That’s all pretty cool stuff that I didn’t really expect along the way, but I’m glad I did them.  I’m not ready to call it a success just yet.  We’ll have to wait and see.

I guess I can now say – you are your projects now…at least according to HBR.  Is that fair?  I don’t know.  But I have been asking about resumes…and sounds like they’re dead.  It’s all about the project portfolio, peeps.  You were warned…just watching your back!

Herding the Catty Attack

Monday, May 7th, 2012

I never, ever enjoy feeding negative stereotypes about women.  We have it hard enough in a man’s world still to this day!  However, the universe kept bringing me this theme today, so I figured it was something that needed a post, so here it is.

One of my friends started this morning by posting a blog article about women knocking down other women when they become successful.  She called it crabbiness. I replied to her post that I was a little torn about women helping other women.  On one hand, if another woman asks me for an opinion, I’ll give it.  On the other, if I didn’t ask for feedback, I really don’t want it.

I ask those I respect and admire, while realizing that EVERYONE, including the unsuccessful, has opinions.  But I prefer getting feedback from those who have succeeded, been there, done that, and to whom I respect, not really anyone else.  Furthermore, I can’t stand it when people (men and women included) come out of nowhere and ask me for favors that haven’t been in my life.  While I love to promote good people, I struggle with the lack of social capital respect in the drive by shooting social capital requests.  So, I’m feeling a bit waffly here.  Is that crabby?  I don’t know.

Then, one of my mentors I went to lunch with (who always kicks my butt, BTW) shared with me some “watch out” stories about some other situations in town.  She wasn’t being catty at all, she was merely being a good mentor, but in one case, my gut totally agreed with my mentor’s assessment of this third person she was describing, who clearly IS catty.  I was grateful for the heads up, because it reconfirmed what I already had suspected.

So, to the heart of my post – what do you do with a catty person heading your way?  First, NOT ALL women are catty. Dudes can be catty too–albeit rarer.  Second, I’m talking about this in a business context, not a real housewives of wherever way.  Third, I think there’s better ways to handle the cats when they head towards your sandbox.  Here’s how I’ve done it in the past, and I’d be curious to hear how others handle them too:

1.  Keep your cool – I like this article, because it talks about what to do in this situation, and the fact that cats are like bullies – they want to see you cry, because it gives them power.  They like rustling your emotions up.  Best way to handle that?  Never let them see you emote.  Shut down on them, and they detest that.  If they can’t rile you up, then they lose their power.  Awesome.  Stick that in their meow mix!

2.  Roar back – There was a case not too long ago where someone really got in my grill about giving a talk, and I had keep repeating “No” in a lot of different ways.  I really wanted to ask if they didn’t get the “n” or the “o” part, but sometimes, the average adult needs to hear something at least 9 times before it sticks.  “No” is included in that, and a lot of cats need to hear it 18 times before it sticks.  Keep repeating it.

3.  Disengage – If you see the cat coming – go back deeper into the jungle.  Seriously, there are people in my sphere who and when I see coming, it’s just best to run and get out of the way! Don’t even give the cat a chance for a swipe at you.  You only have 9 lives, don’t waste them on this emotional feline vampire.

There’s 3.  I don’t have a lot of great solutions here – just a few that have worked well for me.  It’s best to channel your energy to those you love, to those who treat you with respect, and to those whom you respect.  Don’t waste the energy on the cats.  You have only a finite amount–spend it on those you love.  And never, ever let the cats see you sweat or cry.  That just gives them more energy.  Save it – and give it to those who really matter!

MCA the 4th B with you

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Today wasn’t my best day – for 2 reasons.

1. MCA passed away – he was 47.  If you have no idea who he was, he was part of The Beastie Boys.  This was a rap group back when I was growing up.  They were awesome. MCA apparently battled cancer.

2. My cat, Bob passed away – he was 17.  If you have no idea who he was, he was the best furry little cat I ever had in my life, also back when I was growing up.  He was awesome.  Bob (or “B” as I called him) battled hyperthyroidism, then renal failure.

Bob adopted me when he was just a kitten, and when I was just embarking on my life post-college.  First house, first car, first cat.  He stayed with me through several houses, moves, jobs, boyfriends, etc.  He was there.  He was the. Best.

I called one of my friends because she had big great news, then when we chatted about Bob, she remarked that him staying around long enough was really to see me through law school.  I think she’s right, actually.  It was a great gift, and I’m sure he knew he was helping to move me forward, just like the first time when he came into my life and I was launching my first adult life post college.  I truly am grateful.

However, death sucks.  Especially when it takes our peeps and pets too early.  I will miss MCA and his music.  I will miss Bob and his awesomeness.  Rest in peace, both of you.  Hopefully you are somewhere in a big field of catnip, where the Beastie Boys are rapping in the background.

That would be a good version of the next life.


The Post-Law School Re-assimilation/Reintegration Program

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

So…being a total of 2 days out from my ‘final’ final of law school, I’m beginning to think there’s a need for a post-law school re-assimilation and reintegration program back into society with the humans.

Allow me to explain.

It’s been 4 years, pretty much year-round of the following schedule for me:

1. get up,
2. go to work,
3. go to school (while the humans go home and relax),
4. go to bed,
5. repeat.

I’m struggling with bullet 3 currently.  There’s commuter traffic messes that I’m suddenly dealing with again (Oh, by the way, northbound I69-116th street interchange reconstruction chief planner: perfect timing on this coupled with my law school cessation).  I get home now…and there’s no cases to read.  There’s no writing to do.  There’s no calculations for patent term extensions I have to do.

This. Is. Weird.

That’s why I think after 4 years of this wheel, there should be a slower off ramp, rather than a sudden stop of the wheel.  We’re all getting whiplash.  (Or is it just me?)  I don’t know.  But when you are so used to literally cranking it out nonstop for 4 years, it is hard to just…stop.

They have reintegration programs for prisoners and schizophrenics….why not law students?  (ESPECIALLY students in part time evening programs.)  Did I just compare law school to prison and schizophrenia?  I believe I did.  Sorry about that.  But it is true – readjusting one’s lifestyle is just hard to do overnight.

No worries, I’ll be back on another wheel called “bar review and preparation” in a couple of weeks.  I’m sure some sense of 4 year previous normalcy will return then.