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Archive for August, 2014

Your Career is a Garden

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

photo(6)It’s funny how the universe has a way of working out.  Just as I begin this post, a new connection on LinkedIn sends me an article I’m quoted in (I had no clue it was out, nor do I recall being interviewed for it) but it has a quote in it from yours truly that is totally apropos to this post, which is in part the following sage advice for your consideration:

Gone are the days of treating your career like a ladder.  Treat your career instead like a garden.

First, careers aren’t linear anymore.  They zig, zag, go 360, and move around all sorts of crazy non-linear pathways.  People get laid off, quit, or choose to opt out of the workforce altogether for various reasons.  People also jump back in–reinvent themselves in new industries by utilizing and maximizing transferable skills.  A ladder is straight, with usually only one directional option.  Ladders really don’t cut it when describing one’s career anymore.  There’s more than one way!  Besides, the 40 hour work week with ONE employer is dead.  Over.  So over, we need a new word for over.

Instead, think of your career as a garden.  First off, have you ever witnessed an extraordinary garden? Apart from the beauty and gobs of hard work behind the scenes to make it beautiful, they rarely have only one flower in them.  The best gardens have vegetables, herbs, and flowers of all kinds.

As I begin writing my new book about Multipationals, (yes, I’m declaring that a word, right here and now) or people with multiple careers advancing at the same time, I realize that the most fascinating and interesting people on the planet now treat their careers not like ladders – but like gardens.  They look for opportunities that might be a little different from what they currently do, but the new opportunities heighten or intensify their existing expertise and skill set.  In the meantime, they weed out the “junk you don’t want” – as I was so eloquently quoted in this article unbeknownst to me today.  I’ll also be discussing this with my friend, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz on his radio show Friday evening 8/15 at 6 pm in Indianapolis on WIBC.

Gardeners painstakingly weed out the stuff they don’t want in the garden.  They constantly evolve the garden into its magnificence over time.  They foster the plants they love in the garden.  The seasons, temperature, and care all can change the garden as well, just like our lives.

One of the hardest jobs I see as an educator is preparing the next generation of students for this new garden-like or portfolio-like approach to career development.  No one in school ever taught me how to look for pockets or varieties of career opportunities in the same space and time – I had to figure it out for myself, and I’m still struggling with optimization of it.  But now, through my writing and teaching, I’m going to investigate how these amazing multipational career gardeners are managing it, as they will own the future, so I can help the next generation of rock stars shine.

Mark my words.  Or mark my nasturtiums…!

Who’s the Other Half of Your Eutectic Mixture?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

This post is brought to you by an old memory that hit my nose when I walked in home tonight–and from pharmaceutical preps lab a few decades ago.

Sometimes, when you mix two solids, you can form a liquid at room temperature.  It’s called a eutectic mixture.  Several substances can do this.  But for us pharmacists, the #1 classic eutectic mixture is…wait for it….camphor and menthol.

That is, when you mix two solids–camphor and menthol–at room temperature together in certain proportions, they melt together and form a liquid.

I always thought this was magical chemistry.  Even in the very practical and downright scary pharmaceutical preps lab–where everything was serious.

If you’re a solid (OK – if you’re one of those theoretical physicists out there who thinks were all made up of waves – set that notion aside for a moment) and ask yourself – who melts you?  Who’s the other half of your solidness that makes you form a eutectic mixture?  It could be a best friend, or significant other, or maybe even a pet.  Whatever.

I just want you to pause and think about this magical chemistry for a moment in your life.  If you are truly lucky enough to have someone in your life who does this to you – I’m giving you permission to maximize your time with them.  Get gooier.  Melt.  Because–this life won’t last forever.

For those of us who don’t have a melty magical half–there are other things to melt with.  Books.  Writing.  Other passions.  Find them.  Get gooier with those too.

It’s important to find things that melt you.



Assessment, cont.

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Upon further cogitation today, perhaps I was a little harsh on the twin, Assessment, from my post yesterday.

What I really meant to beat up was standardized tests.

There are other forms of kinder, gentler, and probably more useful assessment.

Case in point: reflection.  Reflection now happens in my day job in ePortfolios by pharmacy students.  They are to write about their rotation experiences in their ePortfolios, on top of providing evidence of projects and items they learned about during their rotations.  So, ePortfolios serve two functions: 1. proof of learning and 2. reflection of learning (through writing).

I love writing. (I should think that’s rather obvious here at this tiny blog.)  What I never really pondered before this week was that I think a reason why I love writing so much is that I have the opportunity to reflect on what I’m learning in this crazy life.  And, I love writing even more because I can bring others along with me on my learning journey.

That’s probably also why I’m rabid about trying to get as many students engaged in writing and publishing before they leave college as possible.  To write–is it divine?  That may be a stretch for some (trust me, it’s downright painful even for me on things I don’t want to write about but sometimes HAVE to write about).  But–it’s a form of creation. Expression. Understanding.

Give me a writing assignment.  Maybe skip the standardized test…that’s the most peaceful way I can leave assessment.  For now.

Is Assessment Assumption’s Evil Fraternal Twin?

Monday, August 11th, 2014

You know what they say about assuming things…it makes an @$$ out of you and me.

Even though it may appear that assessment is the exact opposite of assumption in many ways, I’m starting to wonder if they are really more closely related than we think.

Lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with assessment – probably due to my stronger obsession with failure.  Failing, if done right, is an opportunity for one to assess what went wrong in a failure, come up with some alternatives, and try to correct it next time when confronted with a similar opportunity, right?

Well, maybe.

If you listen to all the gurus in higher education talk about assessment – the staple in their toolshed they always want to run to first is the standardized test.


These letters should strike horror in most of us who dared to go to graduate school.

The gurus SAY these tests can predict future success in graduate school.  But frankly, I’m not convinced.

Maybe I’m biased, because also candidly – my standardized test scores were terrible.  I took a PSAT, had a lousy score then, had a lousy SAT, and even had a terrible LSAT.  And yet, here I sit with a college degree and a law degree.

I’m just here to ask with this post – are we measuring the right things when it comes to assessing success (and for that matter, failure)?

Where are we measuring the following 21st century skills that are IMPERATIVE for our future leaders?

  • The ability to work in a wildly differing team in college?
  • Where and how are we measuring creativity?
  • Where and how are we measuring the ability to solve a real-world problem with a creative product or service that works in the real world (NOT a simulation)?
  • Oh, yeah, and make that product or service with LIMITED RESOURCES by crowdsourcing…
  • Are we assessing a student’s ability to go out to Google, find relevant and reliable information on a subject to curate the best stuff on a subject?
  • Are we measuring how wild their solutions (and for that matter, how many) solutions a student can come up with to solve a problem?
  • How and where are we assessing leadership? (And NO, SORRY, that’s not taking Strengthsfinder or Myers-Briggs and calling it a day. Knowing yourself is just part of becoming a leader.)
  • Where are we assessing how a student builds and fosters a disparate global network?

I’m not sure ANY of the stuff above is assessed on ANY of the standardized tests above.  But, we know our students and employees of the future need these skills.

To put this into the ether: why aren’t our standardized tests changing for assessment of 21st century skills?


I’m headed off to ponder this.  But don’t worry – I’m NOT going to create yet another standardized test to try and solve it. Promise!

The Gray Zone of Corresponding Responsibility

Monday, August 11th, 2014

If you’re in healthcare, you probably already know all about corresponding responsibility, a legal doctrine.  In Indiana right now, it’s particularly a sticky wicket, because pain management responsibilities between physicians and patients has also elevated.

At the day job, we held a continuing education program at our annual Pharmacist CE program in June in Indianapolis.  Thanks to the panelists, we also put together a couple of case studies from this panel discussion and Drug Topics was kind enough to give it the full attention this topic deserves.

Even though the author is long-winded, it warrants a reading.  And thanks to Drug Topics for giving us wiggle room to make this a feature in their latest edition.

Last, what you don’t see in this article is how well all the panelists worked together to put both this panel and the article together.  I certainly did not do this alone.  And in the era of interprofessional education front and center, the folks on this panel made it a true pleasure to work with them.  Thanks!

5 Things…On Writing

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

I spent the afternoon attempting to share my expertise on…writing…at NaShara’s place, Studio B – which is a FANTASTIC place for the creative class of Indy.  I look a little possessed in the photo posted on the conference today – hahaha!

But with good reason.  I get pretty fired up about writing.  Not just because writing is therapeutic and fun for me.  But, more important, when other people read your stuff, it literally changes brains.  It alters neurons.  It can affect change.  I honestly cannot thing of anything more powerful.

So, if you couldn’t be part of today for whatever reason – I wanted to share with you some major tips I shared with the writers in the audience today.  Ready?

1. If you want to write, read.  The best writers are voracious readers.  The good news in the session today was – when I asked what everyone was reading, I received solid, clear answers.  What was the last book you read?  Right now, I’m TRYING to read Capital.  It’s long, and complicated, but I’m trying.

2.  If you want to write, write.  This may seem like a ‘duh’, but you have to make writing a daily habit if you want to try and get good at it.  The good news here is that if you have an email account, you’re writing.  If you have social media, you’re writing.  Even if you don’t write in a journal – you’re still writing.  You just need to make time for writing for you and make it a habit if you want to make it a priority in life.

3.  There’s no sexy magic to writing.  Brother Neil has it right here on writing.  You just have to sit down and pound it out.  There’s no sexy magical way to getting it done, you just have to do the dirty work.

4.  Writing a book is a journey, not hard boiling an egg.  Hard boiled eggs have a finite time for cooking–9-15 minutes.  Once you put that egg in hot water, it’s done after 9-15 minutes.  The same is NOT true of a book.  Books are journeys.  There are no finite times when they are finished.  They are always going to be ongoing processes.  But…

5.  Perfect is the enemy of the good.  Voltaire said this (probably more elegantly than I just hacked out) but you get the point.  Don’t let perfect paralyze you when it comes to writing a book.  Good is good enough.  Good is good enough to ship (so says Seth Godin).  THERE IS NO PERFECTION, anyway!  Take that word out of your dictionary and keep plugging away.

If you follow those 5 steps, you’ll get there.  The rest will take care of itself.  You’ll find the teachers when you need them.  You just have to get started.  Get to writing.  Make it your habit.

I’ll be buying your book off of or better yet a local bookstore soon enough!

A Woman’s Place: In Houses, On Boards & Benches

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Time for another rant!

Today’s post is brought to you by the following:

1. The huge deal the local paper made about the first Chief Justice appointed that is a woman. (And the second woman justice ever to sit on Indiana’s highest court. Yes, it’s 2014–even in Indiana, believe it or not.)  I. Am. Mortified. (Not at the choice of justice, but at the fact that we’re celebrating the first woman and it’s…2014!)

2. This study that was discussed in Fast Company about the fact that companies with more women at the helm performed better financially. (Sorry, but duh.  But, we always appreciate the reminder and data.)

3. The fact that I’m working on this program, FUEL to RUN, for NAWBO Indy, coming up 8/28/14.

Let’s go back to bullet 2.  This study conducted stated that while more women at the helm of companies produced more profit, there was a consistent “lack” of opportunities for women to move up.  They didn’t get the cool assignments as much as men. (I know, I know – we’ve all heard this before…several times…).

Ladies, we have been talking to each other ad nauseum about this problem–but we’re going to need the guys to help us fix it.  Gents – if you’re reading this – give the ladies a chance at the opportunities to move up like you do the guys.  We know you love to be in charge and you don’t really want to let the girls into the club.  We get that.  But guess what?  Women outnumber men in colleges and grad schools now.  Like it or not, eventually, we’re going to be taking over!

Back to the ladies – if you’re sufficiently fired up and ready to say yes to more opportunities – here are some suggestions on how to get prepared for those houses (i.e. the Congressional House, Senate and the White House), boards (as in for-profit company boards) and benches (well, while in theory court leadership is probably left to the law schools – technically, to serve on SCOTUS, one DOES NOT need to be a lawyer).

House, Bench and Board Training For Women

ACE Regional Women’s Leadership Forum – For ladies in higher education, this is a place to polish your leadership skills.  (Besides, if you don’t think higher education is political–think again.)  They also have a National Women’s Forum and a Fellows program.

Boardroom Bound (Boardology) - They have a range of training to help women prepare for for-profit board work.  I did participate in this program (the Boardology 400 Seminar).  It was a multi-day session of training, where I not only had the chance to polish professional skills, but also meet some amazing women in high levels within corporate America.

Women’s Campaign School at Yale University – I’ve been to this one.  It’s a hard-core full week of learning how to run for office and the major components of a campaign.  It’s bipartisan, which I also like.

Lugar Series – I have not participated in this program, however, Senator Lugar (a true gentleman) was kind enough to develop this program while he was in office to help women of the State of Indiana learn more about serving in public office.  It is for Republican women.  It’s a year-long series that ends in Washington D.C. on visits for the women selected each year in the series.

Emily’s List – It was interesting to learn about Emily’s list at Yale last summer.  And, while they currently don’t have any scheduled training listed on their page, it appears that in the past and future, they will offer training to pro-choice Democratic women for their next cycle in 2015-16.

On Board Bootcamps - I just learned about this program recently.

2020 Women on Boards – Maybe you personally don’t want to run for office.  Or, maybe you just want to support women in higher level positions.  If so, this initiative is for you.  Women only represent 4% of boards in nearly 1500 publicly traded companies in the U.S., according to their website.  This initiative is to try and boost 20% of women on boards by 2020.  Aggressive, but bold–and I like it!

Women Corporate Directors – Another site and group I just recently learned about.

Those are a few that I’m aware of – and by all means, if you find another great leadership program to get more women on benches, boards and in houses – I’m all ears.  Really.  The more training and awareness we can bring around this – the less time that we have to wait to celebrate the ‘first’ woman in these positions.  It’s already 2014. How much longer are we going to wait?


Awkward-Parties and the Hater-Bullies

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Today, I’ve got little tolerance for either.

First, the front page of our local newspaper is celebrating the fact that we have our first woman, EVER, to join Indiana’s highest court.*  While that’s great that we are FINALLY represented, dear Indiana, does anyone else find it TOTALLY EMBARRASSING that it is 2014 and we are JUST NOW putting a first woman on the court?  Furthermore, I don’t know if this is something we should be celebrating.  I’m actually red-cheeked for my home state at this moment.  Nothing about this is progressive.  At all.  This should have happened a long, long, LONG time ago.  Does anyone else find this completely unacceptable?

(And I mean no offense at all to Justice Rush.  I’m sure she’s more than qualified to serve.  I just find it totally embarrassing that our state is just now getting around to putting a woman on the Indiana Supreme Court.)  This, my friends, is a very awkward celebration in my mind.  It’s like someone throwing a college graduation party long after grad school.

Second, I had a hater-bully over at LinkedIn that I had to shut off today in a group discussion.  While I welcome healthy debate and criticism, what I do not tolerate are those (in my own profession, nonetheless) who leave hate-filled rants and insults that have absolutely nothing to do with the post at hand on group sites at LinkedIn.  Managing several groups over at LI has led me to one conclusion within my own first profession: we need to teach more about professionalism.  Noted.

After this post, I’m going to leave these two ideas behind.  But I wanted to get them out there, so I could release them, which I’m doing in 3…2….1….!

*Technically, Myra Selby was the first woman to join the ISC.

Making a Comeback: Pharmacies with Third Spaces

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

This post is kind of a place holder for moi.  If you’re not into pharmacy and economic community development geekery like me, you can probably safely skip this post.

One of the stories I’ve been DYING to do – and will do soon – is about the resurgence of pharmacies with third spaces.  If you don’t know what that means, think back or pay attention the next time you watch It’s A Wonderful Life at Christmas or during the holidays – Mr. Gower’s pharmacy had a third space – the soda fountain.

So, a third space (defined by your truly) is a space where people can grab a cup of something to drink, or maybe eat, and hang out with laptops with free wifi and crank it out all day.  I’ve been fascinated with spaces in the community that aren’t home, work or school anyway – hence, ‘third’ spaces.  Every community that’s healthy needs a lot of third spaces, so people can connect, do work, and drive new ideas.  Besides, if pharmacy as a profession wants to own wellness, shouldn’t they be places you want to come in, get a healthy wheatgrass shot, learn about how to eat or live better, and hang out, rather than a place you want to flee faster than you can say, “prescription”?

Pharmacies USED to have third spaces.  Nearly every community pharmacy at one point had a soda fountain or diner, back in the day.  Sadly, we lost that along the way in many independent pharmacies (along with the independents themselves, but I’ll spare you that rant for another day).  BUT – they’re making a comeback, I’m happy to say!

Here are some really cool options of pharmacies with neato peachy keen third spaces:

Dichter Pharmacy – NYC – they have the soda shoppe/luncheonette counter.
New London Pharmacy – NYC  - has a nutritional room counseling set up (although technically, that’s not a third space hangout, I dig that they are into wellness via nutrition)
Tisane Pharmacy – NYC – has a tea and coffee bar – yay! I’d SO be there filling my prescriptions!
Cowan Drugs – Lebanon, IN – John Cowan has an old fashioned lunch room one of the family pharmacies – which last time I went in was PACKED.
Butt Drugs – in the first capital of Indiana, Corydon IN.  They have a soda fountain.
Duran Central Pharmacy – Albuquerque, NM – Lunch and pharmacy – and I’m drooling looking at their southwestern menu - yum!
Several pharmacies in Missouri - still have soda fountains – yay!

I’ve ranted here before that pharmacies are not places we want to hang out.  People are sometimes sick in them during the flu season, they aren’t very aesthetically pleasing, and they’re just not fun – they’re stressful in a lot of cases.  When it comes to a great place to live, and a tight, neighborly community, we HAVE to have cool third spaces – places for peeps to mix it up and enjoy their lives, not be burdened by the chore of going to the pharmacy on a long list of painful errands.

The pharmacies above I certainly hope are the future for us in pharmacy – especially if we want to own WELLNESS.  Wellness means many different things here…healthy people, and a healthy place to hang out!



Are Pharmacy Schools the New Law Schools?

Monday, August 4th, 2014

pharmacylawControversy. You know I love it.  But I’m not going down this post out of pure controversy only.  I’m doing it out of love for my first profession–pharmacy.  I can’t say how many times I’ve had this conversation either over the past couple of years, but one more time just today reminded me that I probably need to put this out there and let everyone ponder it for a bit.

Here goes…

Will pharmacy schools become the new law schools?

If you’re not following what is happening in law schools right now, it’s not good. Enrollments last year were down across the U.S. by 40%. It became so bad that one law school isn’t even enrolling a 1L class this coming fall. (I’ll let you Google it to figure out which one of the 203 law schools it is.)

When the economy crashed, the profession of law was not immune.  Now, firms have merged, closed and cleaned houses in order to survive.  A law student can rack up 6 figures of debt, only to get out and, if they’re lucky enough to find a job, maybe pull $50K per year in salary (and that’s on the high side).  Why sign up for an expensive graduate school, rack up debt, and never see a job on the other end?

My friends, I’m worried that pharmacy schools may be heading in the exact same direction.

When I was in pharmacy school (the first time), there were about 85 schools in the U.S.  Now, there are 130 and counting.  (And keep in mind, I’m not THAT old – this spike has occurred in the last 15 years or so.) There are six pharmacy programs in the Chicago area alone.  I think Florida is opening its 9th school of pharmacy.  We in Indiana now have 3.

Pharmacists in major cities are starting to run into a lack of job offers.  They’re also graduating with 6-figures of debt. While there still is some need in rural communities for pharmacists, most major cities don’t have a shortage–they have a surplus of pharmacists.  Even with provider status one day coming under our belts – will this be enough to sustain all these pharmacy school graduates?

While I watched my law school friends find a job after school with a lot of debt, which took YEARS in some cases – I’m here to ask those of us in the profession of pharmacy: when are we going to stop this unsustainable train?  I’m not sure anyone is going to, unless we demand it of ourselves.

But, in the meantime, I want to give some sage advice to those who are already in – and want to insulate themselves from this potential cliff we may fall off of in the near future.  Ready?  Here goes:

How to Create Extra Value as a Pharmacist:

1. Find your unique pharmacy career corner(s) ASAP – A PharmD anymore isn’t enough.  You must bring something unique to the table in order to get on the top of the resume stacks.  Maybe it is a certain therapeutic area (for example, oncology is growing wildly in biotech and pharma right now).  Maybe you are interested in the operational or business aspects of pharmacy (great – try to align yourself for a fellowship or a dual degree/MBA if you can).  Which leads me to my next suggestion…

2.  Look for schools with tracks, specialties and dual degree programs.  A PharmD PLUS something additional would be a good way to bring value to employers.  It’s like a super pharmacist!  Can you get a dual degree or go down a research track, or a biotechnology track, or a pharmacogenomic or informatics track? Bring something else to the table other than just a PharmD.  (And trust me, I know how hard it is to get a PharmD – after going to pharmacy school twice myself.)

3.  Ask that pharmacy school you’re thinking of attending what they have that is one-of-a-kind.  Right now, I’m working on BU Well, as I previously mentioned here, which I think is a one-of-a-kind open source multimedia journal that will ultimately be managed like a law review–by the students–not professors.  That’s cool and one-of-a-kind.  Maybe the school you’re looking at has a healthcare policy center, or a wearable technology lab, or an entrepreneurship pitch program for pharmacy majors, or a media communications lab so pharmacy students can learn how to talk to and in the media–youtube, social, traditional, etc.  Whatever.  Just ask that school what they are one-of-a-kind at, and if you get blank stares, run.  (And no offense to any of the first pharmacy schools out there, but pharmacy really doesn’t have any ivy league schools.  There are no sure bets when it comes to pharmacy, unlike Harvard and Stanford, as examples.)

4.  Accelerate if you can.  There are 3 year pharmacy programs out there.  There are 7 year pharmacy programs out there.  You just have to make sure you find the right fit for you.  However, with pharmacy school tuitions rising faster than the standard cost of living, time unfortunately is money.  You can always go back to school later and get another degree – when you have a job and money to pay for your graduate program.  Later.  (I’m living testament to this.)

5.  Take a class that helps you learn how to create new, innovative plans – Entrepreneurship should be a cornerstone of all pharmacy programs.  It used to be back in the day when everyone went home to run their own drugstores. And candidly, I’m glad to see it’s back in the ACPE draft 2016 standards for pharmacy schools. Why we’ve gotten away from this as a profession, I don’t understand.  However, I don’t care who you work for (as a pharmacist or any other professional, for that matter) – anyone who can take an idea, put it on paper, build a plan around it, sell it, and then execute on it is going to be a highly valued employee, intra or entrepreneur, period.  If you’re in pharmacy, even better – because we have so much room for innovation right now, I weep at all the potential.  Where I see the disconnect is students thinking they don’t have the power to change anything.  They do – just given the right coursework, skill set and attitude, anything is possible!

I’m not going to leave you with doom and gloom.  However, I am throwing out a cautionary tale. There is a yellow flag on this play in pharmacy schools.  We as pharmacists need to stop the madness and stop waiting for someone else to regulate us. We need to regulate ourselves. If we don’t, we will end up the new law schools, and I can tell you having witnessed it first hand with my law school friends–it’s not pretty.