Today’s episode is an interview with Dr. Erin L. Albert. She’s a pharmacist, attorney, educator, podcaster, and author. Our conversation focuses on thought leadership through writing and publishing so that you can be inspired to share your ideas with the world.
Erin is both a pharmacist and an attorney. She is an author of over a dozen books, and has served many corners of pharmacy practice–community pharmacy practice, the pharmaceutical industry (in a variety of capacities, such as clinical research, pharmacovigilance, field-based medical affairs, and medical marketing), pharmacy benefits, Medicaid, drug pricing, and academia for over a decade. She taught at Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, where her writing skills transferred into publishing, and she taught/mentored student publishing projects–including several children’s book publications, adult pharmacy publications, and even founded a healthcare review for students across campus, BU Well. In addition to publishing her own books on a variety of pharmacy, legal, entrepreneurship and STEM subjects, Erin also has written for Pharmacy Times, Pharmacy Careers, and GoodRx. Last, she has podcasted for decades on a variety of topics as well, including writing and publishing, most recently on her own show, The Edutainer. Her books have been featured on DanPink.com, Entrepreneur, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Forbes. Her latest book is Punk Rock Pharmacy: DIY Your Healthcare Career.
ebooks: https://payhip.com/pharmllc and on Amazon.
Highlights from the interview
Thought leadership is, “Influencing a narrative by understanding what needs to be done or needs to be changed.” Thought leaders can influence the narrative to affect positive change. Writing and publishing is important for the narrative. We can call out bad behavior; promote good behavior; and solve problems. We might be able to make things better by publishing.
Publishing includes more than one venue. Podcasts, video, and anything you put into the universe to consume is publishing.
Erin’s new book is Punk Rock Pharmacy: DIY Your Own Healthcare Career (eBook subscription). Different generations consume content in different ways. “Fan fiction” is popular right now. Punk Rock Pharmacy is like an experiment. It’s an “ebook-u-mentary,” and it’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Part is written and can be purchased now (April 2021). The rest will be like fan fiction where the readers will interact with Erin and help her shape the narrative on what they want to know about their own healthcare career. Erin is looking to other healthcare professionals to help her help them. Erin’s Annual Pharmacy Rebellion Survey helped with Punk Rock Pharmacy.
Who is Erin trying to reach through writing and publishing? It depends. On the Edutainer Podcast, Erin explores the intersection of education and entertainment. The podcast is not just about pharmacy and healthcare; it’s much broader. In print, Erin sticks more to pharmacy, pharmacy and law, entrepreneurship, and STEM.
We need specialists and generalists. Erin is a generalist. She prefers to talk about a lot of things and does not limit herself to one topic in the broad sense of publishing.
Recently, Erin attended the California Nurses Association (Virtual) Conference on Policy and Politics. She loved it! Nurses are doing things that pharmacy can use. Pharmacists can elevate the pharmacy profession by taking the greatest hits from other professions and bringing them into our own. Seeing other people do cool things can inspire you to do something different too. Case examples inspire others.
Erin wants to help coach and develop pharmacists into the careers they want. People want to be what they can see. Some career paths don’t exist on paper. Giving pharmacists a way to see how wide healthcare and pharmacy practice are now will help them reinvent themselves and take slices from others to create their own customized career portfolio.
“What makes you weird is your superpower.” We need to bring our passions and interests from outside of pharmacy into the profession to create something unique and cool.
You must know yourself better than anyone else. Know your Ikigai:
- What you love to do [and what you don’t love to do].
- What the world needs.
- What you’re good at.
- What you can get paid to do.
- BONUS: What you value.
Some pharmacists who are unhappy with their jobs panic and start applying for jobs. In the end, they end up treading water. As an alternative, Erin recommends getting clear on who you are. Know your strengths and seek to use them. Anyone looking to change careers needs to do the hard work to figure out what they love/don’t love to, what the world needs, what they’re good at, what they can get paid to do, and what they value. Do the work first, then start shopping for a new gig. It’s ok to search for jobs without “pharmacist” in the title [if you’re a pharmacist]!
The Medical Science Liaison: An A to Z Guide, First Edition was Erin’s first book. (Also see The Medical Science Liaison: An A to Z Guide, Second Edition.) At first, she planned to publish the content in a peer-reviewed journal. After 6 months of waiting to be published, she became frustrated. She pulled the paper and transformed it into a book. She even created an LLC to help her manage her writing and publishing projects. You could say Erin became an “accidental entrepreneur.”
Erin continues to write because she got onto the “writing treadmill” and enjoyed it. She enjoys the routine, and her goal is to publish one book per year if there is an interesting topic that she wants to write about. She has generally published one book per year.
Erin enjoys writing about what she’s curious about. It’s part therapy and part investigation. Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Writing a book, sharing a video, or publishing a podcast is Erin’s way of taking people along on the ride with her on her learning experience.
Ideas can develop over time. Erin talked about “idea funnels.” Something she is curious about might start with a LinkedIn post or blog, then a podcast, and eventually a book. Ex: Erin’s Rebellion survey on LinkedIn morphed into the Punk Rock Pharmacy book. Look for the Annual Rebellion Survey mid-year 2021 on LinkedIn.
Post-pandemic, people have changed the way they consume content; generational differences impact content consumption too. Erin is trying to experiment with how she publishes content as a result. Writing and publishing is her laboratory, and she is experimenting constantly. For example, on Erin’s weekly videos, she focuses on pharmacy law, pharmacy benefits, and career development. Erin has self-published books and published books through a publisher. It’s all kind of an experiment because there isn’t necessarily one best way to publish content anymore.
Promotion is a challenge Erin faces with publishing. No one will ever promote your book like you will. Publishers don’t solve promotion problems. You need to build your audience. For example, Erin built an audience and a tribe around the book Single. Women. Entrepreneurs. (See also Single Women Entrepreneurs: 5 Years Later.)
If you’re going into a new area, and you’re not the “thought leader” in that area (yet), writing and publishing a book helps you become a self-fulfilling prophesy. You become a thought leader by and through curating a new tribe.
At the 2019 Medipreneurs Conference in Asheville, NC, Erin and I discussed reaching a broader audience with her books through audiobooks. Erin narrated parts of The New Pharmacist: 46 Doses of Advice (2014) on her podcast in a mini-series because I inspired to to do it and for the benefit of the Class of 2020 Pharmacy School grads. (Way to go, Erin!) She did not read the book cover-to-cover on the Edutainer Podcast, but the response to reading The New Pharmacist: 46 Doses of Advice (2014) on the Edutainer Podcast was awesome!
Why did Erin write The New Pharmacist: 46 Doses of Advice? Erin says that once her Butler University [pharmacy] students got their first jobs, they would ask, “Dr. Albert, is that all there is?” The book was her reply to them in “mini doses.”
Fun fact! Erin’s writing voice is much like her conversational speaking voice.
Erin also read some of her books for children on her podcast, including He Huffed and He Puffed But…A Tale of a Wolf With Asthma. Her books for children are a product of collaboration with college students from different disciplines (education, business, pharmacy, and health sciences). They co-wrote, developed, and illustrated the books.
Erin is thankful to her readers, listeners, and followers. She feels it’s an honor and a privilege to have a voice people listen to. We’re all here to learn from each other. Whether it’s one-on-one in conversation or in podcasts and books, we can all use our voices to affect positive change. We have a certain level of responsibility to use our voices.
Dr. Erin L. Albert inspired me to look into starting a podcast when we met at the 2019 Medipreneurs Conference in Asheville, NC. If not for her, this podcast might not exist. Thank you for the inspiration, Erin!