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Archive for April, 2013

3 Things I Tried in Teaching This Year

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

For all you Marcus Buckingham fans out there, I’m a maximizer.  Therefore, I like to experiment in the classroom each year, in an effort to make the class experience better over time.  Now that we’re in finals, I thought I’d throw down some of the experiments I tried this year, and share them with you, my amazing 13 fans.

I could, of course, write these ideas up in a journal or two, and it would take 6-18 months for them to get published.  Or, I could just throw them out here, and see if anyone else in the universe tried them too – and could share what worked, what didn’t, and what could work better with just a little tweaking.  Here goes:

1.  Hybrid learning in Pharmacy Law – OK, I’m going to keep it real here, since I was just a student myself until last spring.  Most adults have a 20 minute attention span before they check out of a lecture–and 20 minutes is a generous timespan.  It’s shorter relative to the age of the audience as well (the younger the audience, the shorter the attention span).  Most students check out at 10 minutes.  I’ll admit it – I checked out every once in awhile in class – if the topic was boring or I frankly didn’t care about it. (Yes, shocking.  I had to take law classes that I didn’t care about.  Sorry, again, just being honest.)

So…on the other side of the lectern, I teach pharmacy law (not the sexiest topic on the planet – and frankly dry because a lot of it is stuff you just have to memorize).  I decided to “flip” the lectures and post them online this year, using this product called Panopto, where we can record our voices over PPT slides or video (I chose the slides as my visual).  I pre-recorded lectures, and posted them so students could watch them anytime, anywhere, “on demand” (provided that anywhere had internet connectivity).

More than half the class liked this hybrid model.  Over 10% of the class, in fact, wanted it ALL online instead of the combo with live class too.  However, most of the live class time I reserved for guest speakers, for several reasons: 1. the students want to hear from other professionals than me, 2. I like bringing in subject matter experts in law (I mean really – there’s no way I can know everything in Fraud & Abuse, Reimbursement, HIPAA/HITECH, PPACA, FDCA, CSA, Stark, Antitrust and state pharmacy practice acts of Indiana and 49 other states.  So, why not bring in some of the experts to help out and mix it up?)

The “money” question on my post-hybrid-class survey was whether or not students agreed that they had to be self-accountable for their classroom learning in this model – and most either strongly agreed or agreed with personal responsibility for learning being kicked up a notch.  Good!  Considering I’m not always going to be around to point them in the right direction of looking up their answers, this question alone tells me that hybrid learning is on the right track for this class.

2.  ePortfolio – Pharmacy students have to drag around this 5 inch binder called a “portfolio” during their last year of pharmacy school while they are out on rotations in pharmacies.  It’s full of all their licenses, records, history, rotation information and documentation of their last year of experiences.  Good portfolios by the end of the rotation year can double as weapons, because they are heavy and back-breaking to lug around, with hundreds of pages of information.

So, a team of us put together a electronic portfolio template on WordPress for our students as an experiment this year.  Each student has a WordPress blog of their own on a secure server, where they post all their stuff, instead of dragging it around with them all year.  NO MORE 5″ binders, no more plastic cover page protectors, and no more lugging.  We can see the back end of every user’s portfolio and double check when and what they’ve uploaded, instead of requiring the students to drag the portfolios in to campus a couple of times a year for a manual check.  Preceptors of the students can check out their sites online for information.

This one is working thus far.  Dig!  (Although, somewhere, a plastic binder factory is weeping a little…)

3.  Children’s book project – If you follow my shenanigans, you already know that I’ve mentored 4 different groups of students either solo or with other faculty to produce a published book project now.  Three books went to publication, one did not.  This year was the asthma book with 3 other colleges.  What I tried new this year was adding the 4th college, the College of Business students to the project, which was BRILL, because they really owned the project and took more off of my and the other faculty mentors’ plates.

What else the students added this year was the closed Facebook group to collaborate and communicate while they were all running around off campus at different internships or practice sites, they used Dropbox (as the students did last year), Google+ hangout (instead of webex from last year) to meet up live real time, and Kickstarter for fundraising to publish.  And, of course when we had to get everyone together in the same room, thank the universe for Doodle.

They worked–the book is published!  And while we’re going in a different direction next year (for a myriad of reasons), self-directed, interdisciplinary, project-based learning is always the highest form of learning out there, bar none.  It’s one thing to teach and test, but an entirely better way to learn by providing projects with fuzzy outcomes and admitting the teachers DO NOT have all the answers.  It honestly doesn’t get any better than that in education, at least in my mind.

There you have it! No waiting for publishing approval, or feedback, or peer review.  It’s just 3 ideas I tried this year while teaching.  Some worked better than others, but the important part was that I tried.  I experimented.  And in my book, good teachers are never afraid to try new things, because good teaching and learning is all about experimentation – ESPECIALLY in the life sciences!

Big Fat Week

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Big week here, my amazing 13.

First, the good news: I officially got in to the Women’s Campaign School at Yale this summer – YAY!  This is what the mystery was around the post I had on the Iron Lady.  I decided to apply when I found out she passed on….as someone needs to pick up the girlpower torch and carry it forward, right?  Well, at one point we all have to stop passing the buck and turn that “someone” into “me, myself and I,” so I did.  Wish me luck, I’m super excited about attending this event to learn if I have the guts/stomach to run for office in the future.  And speaking of guts and stomachs…

Second, I received an email from one of my friends Saturday that just said the following:


Hint: He is one of my law school chums.

Yes, we find out this Thursday whether or not we passed the bar.  After my last episode, I’m kind of hoping I forget by then and just get on with my day and find out circuitously from my other friends, frankly.  Nothing like getting vomit all over your laptop either by waiting for the refresh to finally show the link on the very, very public page online.  Thinking about it right now as I eat my lunch kind of makes me want to hurl.  On the other hand, it will be what it will be–queasy stomach or not.

Big fat week.

Here’s hoping YOUR week has more of the good stuff and less of the stuff to make you hurl!

5 Businesses We Are All In Now

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

My prior post sparked this post, along with a conversation I personally had this past week.

Anyway, I was talking to someone about “economic development” as a professional background, whereby the experience level of this person needed to be around 10-20 years.  As we chatted on through the conversation and I was going through my mental Rolodex to help connect to someone in my own network with this type of experienced professional, I kept thinking to myself, “Aren’t we pretty much all economic developers these days?”

This mental battle in my head led me to what I’m about to argue – that like it or not, we are ALL professionals now in the following realms.  Even if we didn’t major in it in college.  Even if we never took a class in it.  Even if we’re a “professional” in another realm. I’m here to say that, WE ARE ALL IN THE FOLLOWING 5 BUSINESSES NOW, LIKE IT OR NOT!

1.  Journalism – see my previous post.  If you’ve got a keyboard and internet access, you’re in.  Seriously – that’s all you need.

2. MarketingI hate to say this because it sounds somewhat cliche – but we’re all brands now.  If you think you don’t have a brand, just ask your boss about it – s/he certainly thinks you do.  If you were a brand in the grocery store, what would the box or bottle say?  “Awesome multitasker,” “really organized,” “cleans up messes lickity split!” ???  Whatever it says, it does say something, (even if you choose to ignore it) so you probably should own it, rather than letting it own you.

3. PR – this is kind of a subset of marketing, I know.  But, part of owning your brand is properly owning how it is distributed, and with what messaging.  If you also think you’re not in PR, when was the last time you were missed over for a promotion at work?  Was that promotion made by a boss?  Did you get the chance to plead your case on why YOU should be the one promoted?  If you were dissed, you might want to pick up a good book on PR – because guess what?  We’re all in the PR business now.

4. Networking – I know, I know, dear introverts – this one we don’t want to own.  However, you can be a hardworking introverted networker and still get the job done.  Do your best to either go deep, go wide or both.  Go deep if you’re new to a profession.  Go wide if you’re a thought leader in a profession, but need to start branching out into other professions in order to share your expertise and learn how other professionals may work with you.  The very best networkers do both, which means double the work, but more than double the fun!

5. Others – OK, I was a little deluded.  There are more than 5 here.  Stuff like financial advising, coaching, IT, social media, leading, career management, understanding and abiding by the law–these and so many more we each now need to own.  Back in the day, we could rely upon others for a lot of this.  But now, we’ve got to own more than ever, because it is a fiercely competitive, 24/7/365 world we’re living in now.

Just giving you the heads up.

A Peer’s Review of Peer Reviewed Articles

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

I’m probably going to get hammered for my opinions on this post, but I was asked recently–”Albert, if you’re so big into writing, why haven’t you written more peer reviewed journal articles?”

Well, there’s a pretty big reason why I don’t.  Here it is.

Honestly, if I think something is worth spending my time, thoughts and energy enough to carefully craft on paper, in hopes that someone else in the universe might find it helpful, then why not write a book instead of just a journal article?

Now, this commentary really doesn’t apply for clinical trial data that is turned into journal articles – that’s a whole other ball of wax that I can’t address here in a single blog post.

But for academic papers that aren’t original clinical trial research, I feel this way.  Seriously–why go through all the rigamarole to put your words into someone else’s format, then have it gone over with a fine tooth comb by people (anonymous strangers) who may have never written anything–book or journal article–only to get back feedback that is next to useless, and that doesn’t really mean anything to the heart of what you’re trying to convey on paper anyway?

Why not instead, if it is something really important to discuss and put on paper, either get it out there ASAP (via a blog) or, put together something that you individually control and is more enduring, like a book?  You can share your book with people you actually trust before you publish it, who have opinions you value, to give you feedback on your book and make it even better before it is published.

As for peer review – I actually have published in this venue – via law review.  I’d take the opinion of 30 critical law students going over my law review note with a fine tooth comb before a handful of unknown, anonymous “peers” in some journal that I’ve probably never met.  I also know that law review students can write, which I can’t always verify with anonymous reviewers from journals.

The worst job according to a list I saw online today at one of the major websites was “journalist.” Bummer for professional journalists, I suppose.  But here’s the good news behind that stat for the rest of us: we can ALL be journalists now.  We can write content and publish it on our own!  We don’t need a professional title, or even a journal with anonymous peer reviewers anymore.  We can do it all on our own now, or choose our team thoughtfully.

Sounds pretty good to me!

Choosing Your Own College “Way”

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

There was a lot of rhetoric, pontification and speculation in this weekend’s local newspaper on my employer and first alma mater, Butler University.  And while I usually limit my posts on the day job here and my general feelings on my current employer/first university choice, I’m going to throw out a disclaimer first: what I’m about to say is my opinion and my opinion only – not my employer’s.

I thought it was worth a post, however, to share my own reasons for choosing Butler, (more years ago than I care to admit), in hopes that this might help some high school students out there, struggling to figure out what college or university to say yes to in order to help them wisely make a decision that could have one of the largest financial and personal ramifications on their lives.  (And yes, with tuition at most 4-year programs being the cost of a pretty decent house in the Midwest now, it’s an absolutely critical decision that each high school student attending college now must carefully make along with her parents.)

First off, when I was in (public) high school, I knew I loved science and chemistry.  I wanted something medical-ish, but I never wanted to be married to my job – hence, medical school was out.  So, I chose pharmacy.  Then, I had to stay in Indiana (or at least that was the parameter I was given by my parents.)  That quickly narrowed my choices down to two: Purdue and BU.

When I visited Purdue, I kept thinking one thing in the back of my mind: too big.  WAY too big.  I didn’t dig the size.  Next.

Option 2? BU.  It wasn’t intimidating.  The pharmacy program was strong.  I could have a car on campus as a Freshman (something that most kids now probably wouldn’t care about, but I did at the time, since I needed a job…or two).  They also had something called “automatic advancement” – where I could get into the pharmacy program automatically if I kept up my grades and stayed out of trouble.  Plus.

Oh. Yeah.  They also gave me a 1/2 tuition scholarship.  I’m not going to lie – that helped make my decision even easier.  Bonus.

There was no “Butler Way” on paper back then.  (And the “Butler Way” was articulated by the sports people at BU.  That didn’t come from the academic side, just FYI).  Frankly, I still to this day really don’t know what the “Butler Way” is; everyone at the university has their own idea what, in fact, it really is–but I try not to use that term, since to me it is ill-defined and somewhat nebulous.

For me, college frankly wasn’t a bucket of fun, either.  It was a lot of hard work.  Pharmacy school is still to this day one of the hardest things I ever accomplished (way, way harder than any of the other 3 graduate programs I went through, by a landslide).  I pretty much had a job or two, (or more) all the way through undergraduate too.  My parents never finished college, either, so they made sure I was going to finish, and I did.

That was my own Butler Way, I suppose–work your $%^! off, study hard, sustain yourself, focus, and finish.

The bottom line: my choices had honestly nothing to do with sports, and nearly everything to do with academics.  OK, maybe a couple of nails in my choice included life mechanics – like having a car and size of the place – but at the end of the day, I’m here to say, that sports were never a consideration in my choice of university.  When I was a student at BU, the basketball team was there, and other sports, but I never had time to go to the games.  I was busy working and studying, honestly.  Besides, I seriously doubt people like Drew Faust or John Hennessy really get up every morning and focus first on what their sports teams are ranked.

My message to those out there right now making this very, very tough choice: choose wisely.  Look at each school by what is important to you, and ignore the hype.  Make sure the school you are choosing fits what you need and want in a career that you will carry forward for the rest of your life.  And don’t choose based upon which school has a higher ranking in a glossy, slick magazine or an online website (those are all un-scientific anyway–at the very least when it comes to you and your wants, values, and needs individually), the rank of their sports teams, (unless, of course, that is really important to you and your future), and just choose your school based upon your own “way.”

Drunk Tank Pink

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Just finished reading (a book–that had nothing to do with work or law school) – Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter.  There were a few curious bits in it – like:

-Pink calms people – and when sports teams caught on to it, starting painting the away team locker rooms pink until they were told to make both rooms the same.  (So, why don’t they use that color instead of orange in the Hamilton County jail?  Yes, I went there.  No, not because I personally was incarcerated.)

-Red is attractive to males – but it is also a good color on occasions when paying attention to details counts.  (Maybe more red on pharmacy drug bottles and labels?)

-Red trunks or uniforms on athletes allows them to win more too.

-Staring at a photo of a loved one reduces pain vs. staring at something else.

-When we need to restore, it’s good to get out into nature – as it doesn’t overwhelm us, unlike man-made noise and cities.

There are other interesting little psychological tidbits in here – but the above came to my mind first.  It is a good fast read if you like psychology.  Furthermore, I’m always fascinated by how our surroundings affect us, and this book puts in a series some ideas on how our world really does, scientifically, changes our mood and behavior.


Friday, April 19th, 2013

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone, watching all that is going on in Boston unfold.  Honestly, I hope the mess is over soon.  However, something has been tickling the back of my brain for a couple of days ago on a piece I saw about the Boston bombings on one of the major news outlets this past week.

The reporter was interviewing a local Bostonian when he said the following (paraphrased): “Boston is about 3 things: politics, sports, and revenge.”  Of course, when I shared that quote with a local Bostonian friend of mine, he replied “Amen!”  In my limited experience with Bostonians, I’ve generally found this to be true as well.  (After all, most Bostonians I know think I’m Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms, and that is sooooo not me!)

So…more important and my point…if YOU had to come up with 3 things about yourself to describe yourself, what would they be?  Best I can come up with for myself is ‘serial entrepreneurial educator’….but I don’t know if that fits yet. Regardless, I think it is an interesting way to investigate yourself, your hometown or your region.  The power of 3 can be awesome…and a little intimidating, but important when it comes to your personal values, what you want to spend your time doing, and most of all, your authentic self.

Pretty deep for a Friday.  And philosophy aside, I hope all of my 13 fans–inside and outside of Boston–are safe this weekend.

25 Tools in the ‘Know Thyself’ Toolkit

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Just got off the phone with another young professional who is finding her way in the world – which made me think to drag out one of my favorite tools regarding practicing what I preach: my own “Know Thyself” Toolkit.  Allow me to explain what that is (even though I’ve probably blogged about this before, but that’s the joy of getting older – we sometimes forget.  I digress.)

So, my own Know Thyself Toolkit is a word document that simply lays out all the results from all personality-based tests I’ve pretty much ever taken since college.  There are “duh” tests on here – like Myers-Briggs, but I also have more obscure tests on here too, which I’m about to throw down here for my oh-so-awesome 13 fans, since hey – it’s your job to know you better than anyone else, right?  (Just like it’s my job to know me better than anyone else.  And I generally practice what I preach.)

Let’s do this!

1. Start with a personal mission statement – Really, REALLY hard to write, but important – this may take a few years in the work world or a few more than your fair share of personality tests before coming to grips with what you’re here to do in a rolled up small sentence.

2.  Myers-Briggs – again, duh.  INTJ – always have been, always will be.  Next!

3.  Personal Values Card Sort – I hope this test is still out there – used to be able to just google this phrase and up would pop a PDF card printout to literally sort values that are important to you.

4.  Strengthsfinder – I also think of this one now as a “duh” since a lot of people I know have taken it – but if you haven’t – two books: 1. Now Discover Your Strengths or 2. Strengthsfinder 2.0.  Take the quiz.  Top 5 strengths – LOVE!

5.  Insights 

6.  True Colors – 5 & 6 are similar, but the colors are different.  I dig Insights too because it tells you how you lean normally AND under stress.

7.  Career Puzzle Transferable Skills – I did this one at a workshop of a former employer.  I still have my puzzle somewhere too on oversized paper.

8.  Holland Theme Code – good for the college kids – but good for grad schoolers too.  And, I took it right before law school graduation – and it was frighteningly similar to my earlier Holland Theme.  AIE the first time I took it.

9.  360 degree feedback – this is old school.  Ask your friends and your boss to write a tweet-length blurb on you, and collect those phrases – perception is reality.

10. Kolbe – A – I’m a quick start – shocking. Not.  I’m also conative in my mind – I do. I don’t think or feel as much.  Get ‘r done.

11. The One-Minute Entrepreneur – Entrepreneurial Strengths Assessment – LOVE this out there for the ‘treps or budding ‘treps!


13. Multiple intelligences balanced learning styles test – who knew I was a rhythmic learner?!? Guess I know now!

14. Managerial Style Questionnaire – from Hay Resources Direct.

15. Conflict style – How do you deal with the mess? I’m an Owl! Fox! Teddy Bear!  Three-way tie!

16.  Left Brain/Right Brain test – the left brain won that day – 52% vs. 48% on the R.

17.  Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory – future-oriented.  Another shocker.  Not.

18.  The Passion Profiler.  I dig creating here.

19.  Find Your Strongest Life – also by Buckingham – I’m a motivator/weaver.

20.  Fortune’s What Kind of Manager Are You? Quiz

21.  The Animal in You Test.  Wild dog! (Hold all peanut gallery comments on those results, please…) and Owl.

22.  What is your leadership style? (from – I am the Enlightened Warrior.  Hear me roar.

23.  Strong Interest – see Holland Theme above – only difference the second time I took it was E & I switched.  Now I’m AEI.

24.  StandOut – Pioneer.

25.  Leadership Conversations

Wow. 25 tests to tell me who I am.  And yes, all these must be taken with a grain of salt–no test is perfect, and you should never fit one person into one bucket; fortunately, we are all more complicated than that.  However, if you don’t have any tools at all in your toolbox to describe yourself, how on Earth will you ever present your best version of you to the rest of the universe?  Besides, being authentic is really, really important.

It’s the you we all want to hear from anyway!

p.s. – another test out after I wrote this post on your collaboration style.  I’m a ringleader here – what are you?


Friday, April 12th, 2013

First off – the ladies who published the children’s book presented their project and officially launched their book at Butler U today at URC – congrats to them – they crushed it, and this post really has nothing to do with them (or does it??? I don’t really know)…but regardless…

How many of you, fabulous 13, have heard of the world-famous WD-39?

Zero, I’m guessing.

But how many of you have heard of WD-40?

All, I’m guessing.

Here’s what I didn’t know until I started reading Paul Jones’s book, Schedule for Success: In 1953, a Norm Larsen was looking for a corrosion preventer.  He tried a lot of different things to find this preventer. In fact, guess how many times he tried to get this magical formula to work?  When did it FINALLY work?

Yup – at trial #40! Guess what Norm invented?  Yup – WD-40!  Hence the name, WD-40.

Here’s my point: how many of us give up at WD-10?  WD-20? WD-39?  Just think if we all got to Norm’s 40.  Or Thomas Edison’s 10,000 trial of the light bulb….by never giving up.

Don’t give up.  Thankfully, we don’t have any squeaky doors anymore thanks to Norm not giving up, and we have light from Edison–he didn’t give up either. Don’t give up.  Seriously.  Ever.

Keep going!

Product v. Service

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Students finished up their policy projects in RX526 – Pharmacy, Policy and the Law yesterday.  They rocked it – and I always love it when they teach me things.

One of the “debates” I challenged a group of them with yesterday was the idea of splitting product vs. service in pharmacy practice in the future.  For example, yes, you can get your drugs in that tiny vial with the 6 point font – that’s the product that pharmacy produces.  But–what about the services pharmacy provides?  Like – medication therapy management – where you can literally bring in a brown bag full of ALL your medications (prescription, herbal, over the counter, vitamins, etc.) to a pharmacist and s/he can go over all of them with you to make sure you’re on the best therapy for you AND that you’re taking the drugs at the best time(s) of day.

I challenged one group to think about splitting the service from the product – would this be possible?  The students seemed to balk at it a bit, but on the way in to work today, I was thinking about – my new glasses.

I got my eyes checked at one outlet.  I got my prescription glasses at another shop.  But–I MUST get my glasses adjusted again because they just aren’t fitting right, and I’ll be heading to my favorite eyeglass service provider (a third shop) to get the glasses to fit right.  But–last time I went to this 3rd shop – they didn’t charge me for the service, which I was MORE THAN HAPPY to pay for!

So, ponder this, my friends–are you splitting service from products for your own consumerism?  Are you thinking about how this can alter your business if you do?  Maybe you can get your drugs at the “cheapest” place, but what about the service and information – would you go to the same place for this?

I’m not for my glasses…just. Sayin!