All Posts by Alex Barker

Success Stories: Tim Ulbrich Completed His Personal Finance Book in 6 Months – And Sold 700 Copies in 6 Weeks

About Timothy: Timothy is a pharmacist and founder of yourfinancialpharmacist.com. He works full-time as an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Associate Dean of Workforce Development and Practice Advancement at Northeast Ohio Medical University. After Timothy and his wife paid off $200,000 in non-mortgage debt, he created a successful blog to help other pharmacists with personal finance. His big goal was to write a personal finance book for pharmacists.

How He Used Alex’s Side Hustle Coaching Services: After working with Alex, Timothy was able to set his priorities and focus on completing his book, Seven Figure Pharmacist. He also gained the confidence he needed to successfully promote his book, increased his understanding of social media platforms and developed a strategic marketing plan. Timothy also became more accountable and learned how to challenge himself by thinking critically about his goals and ideas.

Results: Timothy and his co-author, Tim Church, were able to finish writing their book in six months. Timothy gained confidence in his product and is now comfortable selling his book by engaging with his audience using social media. He and his co-author developed a marketing plan that allowed them to sell 800 copies in six weeks.

CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE FOR TIMOTHY’S BOOK TO SEE HIS FINAL PRODUCT.

STAYING FOCUSED

When Timothy first started writing his book, one of his big challenges was staying focused and prioritizing.

“I had to get through the mental block of getting the writing finished and sorting through my priorities.”

He also needed someone to keep him accountable to the tasks he needed to complete in order to finish his book.

Hear Timothy talk about how Alex helped him to stay focused and complete his book.

After he found his focus, he knew he needed to piece together a marketing and promotion plan that fit his brand and accomplished his goals.

HOW HE DEVELOPED THE RIGHT MARKETING PLAN

Before Timothy started working with Alex, he knew he had great content for his book—he just didn’t feel confident about selling it.

“Six months ago, I never would have felt comfortable jumping on a Facebook live video to engage with my audience with little preparation. Now, I am fine with that.” Hear Timothy’s dramatic shift in mindset as he gained confidence and an understanding of social media platforms.

By working with Alex, he discovered that a grassroots approach to selling and marketing was right for his brand.

MAXIMIZING WHAT WORKS

Before working with Alex, Timothy struggled to determine the true value of the information contained in his book. Now, he feels comfortable holding true to his book’s value and has confidence in what it is really worth.

Based on that value, Alex helped Timothy to develop and refine his marketing approach.

Timothy and his co-author created a website, drove traffic to the site and used Facebook, the blog and speaking engagements to connect with their audience.

“Alex helped me to see the power of that approach and helped me to maximize what worked.”

Hear Timothy discuss the highlights of his coaching experience with Alex.

“DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A COACH TO KEEP YOU ACCOUNTABLE”

Timothy connected with Alex during weekly meetings and throughout the week to talk through book content and his progress on his “to-do” list. These calls reminded him to stick to his prioritized list of tasks and helped him realign his priorities as needed.

Alex helped Timothy to think critically about his priorities and plans by asking challenging questions—and these questions ultimately trained Timothy to think on his own.

Hear Timothy discuss how Alex was a coach, not just a cheerleader.

THE VALUE OF EXPERIENCE

As a solopreneur, Timothy initially had some reservations about coaching and believed that he could accomplish his goals on his own.

Now, he sees the benefit of Alex’s input, experience and feedback—especially when it came to his marketing plan.

Learning about what worked for Alex—and what didn’t—helped Timothy craft an effective marketing approach.

Hear Timothy describe his coaching experience.

A BETTER END PRODUCT

Because he also works a full-time job, Timothy found that he was often making decisions quickly for efficiency’s sake. Working with Alex helped him to thoroughly vet his decisions and get feedback from trusted sources.

Ultimately, working with Alex helped Timothy to move his idea forward and create a better end product.

Hear Timothy discuss how Alex helped him to create a better end product.

AN ENLIGHTENING EXPERIENCE

Although Timothy had some initial reservations about coaching, he described the experience as “enlightening.”

“I felt like Alex was opening doors to a world I knew nothing about.”

Hear Timothy give his “10 Second Pitch” for Alex’s coaching services.

If you are ready to start or grow your side hustle business and achieve amazing results, contact Alex for a free consultation.

Announcing A Free Non-Traditional Pharmacy Career Conference

After writing for four years about the pharmacy profession, one issue comes up again and again:

career dissatisfaction.

Studies show many pharmacists are unhappy.

Over 50% of community pharmacists wish to quit their jobs. APhA reported Pharmacists from all practice areas are experiencing more stress, difficulty seeking a new job, and lower satisfaction.

There are nearly 300,000 pharmacists in the USA alone. According to the research above, there are possibly 100,000 unhappy pharmacists.

This should not be true, but it was true for me.

When I started my first pharmacy job, I was miserable. I dealt with bullies, monotonous work, and office politics. I felt like I made a mistake choosing pharmacy as a career. I thought I wasted seven years of my life becoming something that I did not find interesting.

One day I read a book that changed my life: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. The book made me realize that if I wanted to change my situation, then I needed to take action.

Now, I find myself in a fulfilling pharmacy role. I have joy again. My wife and I do not argue (as much). Moreover, I find my hobbies more fulfilling.

When I first interviewed a pharmacist about her pharmacy position for my column, I found what I was meant to do and what I love to do: tell stories.

This Summit Announcement is a conference about stories. It is about pharmacists who love what they do and sharing how other pharmacists can do what they do.

The Happy PharmD Summit - The First Non-Traditional Pharmacy Career Conference.

The Summit is Free to attend. You can view each session a for a few hours after it appears live.

The conference will host over 20 speakers from different pharmacy career niches. Along with our speakers, we have multiple bonuses for Access Pass members, which are those who want to take their career transition seriously.

For Access Pass members, we have:

  • A free copy of the book The Seven Figure Pharmacist
  • A Secondary Income Strategy Session with our Business Coach
  • The Pharmacist’s Salary and Benefit Negotiation Guide
  • A 3-Part Webinar series on Salary Negotiations from 3 Negotiation Experts

Plus, I’m working on a Career Transition Mentor Program where all Access Pass members gain mentor access to provide support during a transition.

As of August 1st, we have over 1,000 members registered, and my goal is 5,000 people signed up! If you are considering a career transition or looking for a new job, join our free summit!

How Multiple Investments in This Young Pharmacist’s Future Created Freedom

After graduating from pharmacy school in 2009 and working in pharmacy for several years, Christine Tsakiris couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t on the right path.

She spent one year of her eight-year pharmacy career in managed care and the rest of the time working a hospital setting. Despite trying out two different work settings, she still felt like her job wasn’t right for her.

Although she enjoyed being a pharmacist, Christine found that she was encountering patients after they were already sick and experiencing critical health issues—and she believed that she could use her education and expertise in a different way to help patients.

“I was at the hospital interviewing an amputee patient for his medical record, and he had the trifecta—diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. I could tell he had given up on taking care of himself,” she said. “I felt like I was on the wrong end of medical care; I wanted to be more proactive and work on the preventative side.”

After taking a close look at her lifestyle and finances, Christine determined that she needed to cut expenses and generate passive income to provide the cushion she needed to pursue her dream.

To cut expenses, Christine made the decision to sell her home and pay down her debt. She also spent time working on personal growth.

“I looked at my life and the things that were holding me back personally and professionally,” Christine said. “I also got into the mindset that if I want to change something in my life, I can.”

Creating passive income

Around the same time that Christine began to consider a different career path, she heard about investing in oil wells from a friend. She learned that when an oil company drills a new well, the company provides a portion of the funding and obtains the rest of the money directly from investors.

She began learning more about the oil industry by doing research online and reading books such as Investing in Oil and Gas: The ABCs of DPPs. For example, she learned that investing is typically done by the acre and each acre costs a few thousand dollars, depending on the specific site.

She also learned that investing in oil wells before drilling begins is riskier, but cheaper. That’s because the company can’t be 100 percent sure that they will hit oil before they actually drill. And, although some people invest millions of dollars into oil wells, she learned that you only need $10,000 to $20,000 to get started.

After extensive risk analysis and research, she decided that this was the passive income venture that she was looking for.

So, Christine created Sirikast Energy LLC as a vehicle to allow her to invest in oil leases. To get her start, she used some of the savings she accumulated while pulling down a pharmacist’s salary.

Although she put about 20-30 hours per week into her passive income business while she was learning about the oil industry, Christine now describes her investments as “set-it-and-forget-it.” She invested in a few wells, completed the initial paperwork and now receives monthly revenue checks. Christine said she also has the option to invest in more wells when she is ready to grow her business.

“Passive income will involve time upfront, but I didn’t want to spend time on it on an ongoing basis,” she said.

The results

Christine is now debt-free at age 34. She quit her full-time pharmacy job in March 2017 and is putting her time to good use by pursuing her passions.

Because she enjoys writing about things that interest her such as health policy and history, she is putting a blog together and has started a Twitter account. She also is working with children at the American Heart Association’s Halle Heart Children’s Museum to teach them about their heart, circulatory system and how to be healthy.

Although she said her passive income isn’t anywhere close to her pharmacist’s salary, it enabled her to leave her full-time job and pursue a career that is meaningful to her. And, she realized that she didn’t need her pharmacist’s salary to survive.

“We make awesome money as pharmacists, but we don’t need as much as we think,” she said. “After I started focusing on cutting expenses, eliminating debt and living within my means, my life got a lot easier.”

When asked to compare her life now to her life five years ago, Christine says she’s “100 times happier.”

“I was placing a lot of value on the amount of money in my bank account, and I was miserable,” she said. “I was working all the time and I didn’t know what I was working for.”

She said that going through her work and lifestyle transition has led her to feel more in control of her life and career. As an entrepreneur, she learned to work through self-doubt and perfectionist tendencies that almost every business owner struggles with at some point.

And she has no regrets about her journey.

“I wouldn’t change a thing, because it got me to where I am today,” Christine said.

She said she also learned a valuable lesson about relying on herself and taking ownership of her life.

“You can’t rely on a company or anyone else to create a perfect job for you,” Christine said. “You need to take ownership of your life. If you’re not happy, you need to value yourself enough to live the way you want.”

Ultimately, Christine said she believes that your mind is your biggest asset—but it can also be your biggest downfall. As a big believer in positive thinking, she says that success or failure all comes down to your thoughts.

“If you are resourceful enough to create the life you want, you can be much happier,” she said. “If you want something, imagine it; then, do it. Don’t be afraid.”

What’s the Difference Between a Pharmacy Job and a Career?

When you and I first started our journey as pharmacists, we were taught by academics about our prospects in the pharmacy industry. We were told that we would have clinical patient care jobs and that we would need to know things about medications to prevent poor outcomes.

We were given opportunities to present our knowledge to patients and help them one-on-one. I think most every pharmacist can remember the first time that they made their first difference in someone’s life—maybe you answered your first question about a medication or one of your relatives reached out to you about the 17 medications they were taking.

Whenever I talk to students about joining the pharmacy profession, I hear similar answers when I ask them why they chose this profession. It’s usually something to the effect of, “I went into a pharmacy and loved what I saw,” or something like, “I really want to make a difference in patients’ lives.”

I totally get that.

But what happens when these idealistic students get out into the workforce is dramatically different. In fact, an article from 2013 stated that a majority of pharmacists in the community setting want to quit their jobs.

New practitioners either get a residency or go straight into the workforce. Whatever path they choose, they usually come into their new job with all sorts of new ideas, passion and excitement about getting their career started.

Then, they experience what I like to call “career fatigue.” Because they are surrounded by patients, coworkers and bosses who tamp down their excitement and passion, they begin to become “adjusted” to how things “really are” in the workforce.

When they are surrounded by all that negativity, it’s understandable that new pharmacists would lose their excitement very quickly and experience burnout within just a few years of starting their practice.

Do you have a J-O-B?

When we started as students, we chose pharmacy as a career—not a job. Here are some of the qualities of a pharmacy job:

· You can’t wait until you shift ends—every single day.

· You can’t stand talking with co-workers and bosses anymore.

· You get frustrated easily when talking with upset patients.

· You’re so ready to quit, but you have no idea how you would transition into another pharmacy job that would provide you with the freedom you seek.

· You say to your friends outside of pharmacy that their job sounds super interesting and warn them against ever becoming a pharmacist.

· When you speak with interns who come to your store, you are pessimistic. You talk about how saturated the market is and how difficult it will be for them to payback their loans.

· You don’t do any extracurricular activities that are related to pharmacy because thinking about pharmacy more than you have to is painful.

· You haven’t updated your CV in more than five years, and it isn’t because you haven’t applied to a job—you just haven’t accomplished anything significant.

· You apply to more jobs that you can count and receive no response.

A job is something that causes stress, provides little fulfillment and isn’t indispensable to a company. The problem with so many pharmacy “jobs” is that you are dispensable. One great thing about our industry is that we have such a high starting salary; on the downside, the majority of pharmacists are replaceable.

It is a lot easier replace one pharmacist at a Walgreens in downtown Seattle than it is to replace someone like an architect.

Yes, both jobs have learning curves. And yes, both jobs require a period of adjustment. But overall, a pharmacist who has worked at any retail chain can figure out the system at any other retail chain with ease.

Because pharmacists often aren’t specialized in their own niche and don’t provide themselves with a career that makes them unique to a company, it’s relatively easy for companies to overlook us when we are applying to new jobs.

Having a job that is sucking the life out of you is difficult. It makes it hard to manage everything else in life, simply because you’re miserable. You spend the majority of your time thinking about what you’re going to do outside of your day job, and you spend your time away from your day job dreading your return to your day job. What an awful way to live!

To relieve the stress of how much your job sucks out of you, you begin to focus on things that bring you a little sense of relief and pleasure. I get lost in video games when I’m not fulfilled by my work. Other people turn to hobbies or more dangerous pursuits, like illicit drugs and alcohol.

If you hate your job, the idea of trying to improve yourself and your career situation by volunteering for an association—or even volunteering to stay late or take on an extra project at your work—probably sounds absurd. That seems like a path to more misery.

Your ability to tolerate your job is so low, that to even think about doing extra is painful. However, the pathway to a career involves a little bit of grunt work and sacrifice for a bigger payout.

What a career looks like

A career is work that gets you excited. When you are commuting to your day job, you think about all the fun things you get to do that day.

A career makes you feel satisfied. At the end of the day, you go home happy knowing that you accomplished something valuable.

A career has room for advancement, allowing you to see a clear path to where you want to go. It may not be managerial advancement that you want, but rather advancement in the kind of projects you are working on and influence you have in your workplace.

When you have a career, headhunters and companies are actively try to get you to work for them.

A career in pharmacy is possible. I’ve already hinted at how to get started in building your career, but it takes work. It’s not going to happen overnight.

It took me three years of hustling on the side to be approached by companies to consult for them.

In addition to building my own career, I’ve helped many other pharmacists find their paths to fulfillment by helping them to create the careers they want.

I know from experience that it is possible to do something you love while still pursuing a career in pharmacy, even if it is a non-traditional career. If you want to ditch your J-O-B and create a career that has you feeling excited to go to work every day, check out our non-traditional career summit. It’s free to register. Sign up now and take your first steps toward learning about an array of career options for pharmacists and making the transition to a career you love.

How One Pharmacist Published a Book—and Sold 700 Copies in 6 Weeks

Timothy Ulbrich is a pharmacist who had a big goal.

After working with his wife to pay off $200,000 in non-mortgage debt and creating a successful blog at yourfinancialpharmacist.com, Timothy knew that he wanted to share his message about personal finance with more pharmacists.

He started talking to lots of pharmacists and found out that, despite earning a six-figure income, many needed help managing their finances. He consistently heard pharmacists say, “I am living paycheck to paycheck.”

Timothy always says that he is a pharmacist by day and a financial nerd by night. Plus, he has a ton of personal experience with paying off debt and working toward financial freedom.

He could relate to what these pharmacists were feeling.

So, he decided to write a book.

His book, he decided, would be unlike any other personal finance book on the market. It would provide quality personal finance advice tailored specifically to pharmacists.

It would be exactly what pharmacy schools were NOT teaching.

And, it would focus on one of the things that resonated most with the readers of his blog: one of his most successful posts, entitled My Top 10 Financial Mistakes.

By his own admission, Timothy made some mistakes with money.

He wanted to prevent people from making the same mistakes that he did, and he figured that this book would be a great way to do it.

And that’s how the idea for Tim’s new book, Seven Figure Pharmacist, was born.

Setting a Goal

Timothy and his co-author, Tim Church, who is a pharmacist at the West Palm Beach VA, started outlining the book in summer 2016.

He and his co-author tag teamed the project and decided to emphasize the pharmacist perspective by including stories that are relevant to pharmacists.

They finished writing the book in six months (which Timothy said he would not recommend—a year or 18 months would have been much more comfortable considering that has a full-time job as an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Associate Dean of Workforce Development and Practice Advancement at Northeast Ohio Medical University).

Because of his full-time job, the rigorous writing schedule was tough to stick to at times. But Tim got through it by creating a prioritized list of tasks and staying accountable.

Creating a Buzz

Timothy hired me as a coach to help him through the complex task of writing his book and figuring out the best way to promote it.

Because Timothy and his co-author decided to self-publish the book, they also needed to come up with a marketing and promotion plan.

Ultimately, Timothy and his co-author decided to take a grassroots approach to marketing because it seemed right for their audience and their brand. Eventually, Timothy began to see the power of that approach and began to maximize the tactics that were working well.

Timothy learned how to use social media platforms for optimal marketing, created a website, drove traffic to it, started a blog and booked speaking engagements.

His coaching experience helped him to prioritize more efficiently and to make the best possible decisions—which he believes led to a better end product.

Most importantly, Timothy grew more confident in his product and became more comfortable with selling it.

At first, he didn’t feel comfortable jumping on a Facebook live video and engaging with his audience with little preparation. Now, he is fine with it because he understands that video is more engaging for his target market than reading a blog post.

Also, Timothy understands the true worth of his book.

As part of their review process, Timothy and his co-author created a group of 50 pharmacists to give them feedback on the content, title and promotion plan.

One of Timothy’s former students was a part of that group. After reviewing one of the chapters, she told Timothy that she took a specific action based on what she read.

Timothy said hearing this news provided him with the assurance that the book was truly valuable and achieve its intended purpose, which motivated him to continue with the project when the going got tough.

The Final Product

Timothy and his co-author did a pre-launch in March 2017 and officially released the book on April 17, 2017. They sold more than 700 copies in the first six weeks.

They also went on the road to four Ohio colleges and the Ohio state pharmacy convention to promote the book—which they jokingly called their “Book Launch Tour.”

Timothy said he is hearing great stories about how the book has helped people relieve stress in their lives. He’s even had people tell him that they are taking the book on vacation with them.

As word starts to spread about the book, Timothy and his co-author plan to reach out to pharmacy schools about incorporating the book into their curriculum.

To find out how to order your copy of Timothy’s book, visit www.sevenfigurepharmacist.com. For more personal finance advice for pharmacists, you can also check out Timothy’s blog at yourfinancialpharmacist.com.

Tim and Tim are gracious enough to allow any reader from The Happy PharmD to get 15% off the price of any package. Just use the coupon code BARKER on their page.

Achieving financial freedom is a great goal for any pharmacist to have. If you want to learn more about how you and other pharmacists can create their best life and achieve career satisfaction and financial freedom, check out my website, thehappypharmd.com.

How Three Preceptors Used Their Experience to Help Pharmacists Obtain Residencies

Brandon Dyson is a board-certified, residency-trained pharmacist. He’s also a preceptor.

In March 2016, Brandon and fellow pharmacist Sam Oh launched a website, tldrpharmacy.com, which helps pharmacy students and practicing pharmacists by providing them with information and tools to become better pharmacists.

Among other things, the website offers a blog, professional development information and cheat sheets.

But as residency season 2016 approached, Brandon noticed a demand for information about the residency process.

Sure, he received questions from his followers, but he also received questions from his students. And many of them sounded terrified.

Brandon said that he remembered feeling that way, too.

When he thought back to his own experience as a prospective resident, he knew that there was a huge market for this information.

Statistics from the ASHP Resident Matching program show that of the 5,438 residents who participated in the matching program in 2016, 1,817 were not placed.

It can be tough to land any residency, Brandon thought, let alone the residency you really want. And he wanted to find a way to help students achieve their goals.

Writing the Book

After validating his idea with a test blog and an email to his followers, he decided to work with Sam to write a book.

Brandon and Sam’s goal was to write down all the things that they wished they would have known when they were applying for residencies and to share all the lessons they learned.

So, Brandon and Sam began outlining.

But because they were both balancing full-time jobs and families, they weren’t making progress as quickly as they hoped.

Instead of waiting until their book was finished to get feedback, they offered an incomplete version of their book to their email subscribers at a very low price. Much to their surprise, about 15 people purchased the book.

Selling these few initial copies helped the pair to become more motivated; they knew that they had to meet certain deadlines in order to provide these buyers with content in advance of important events in the residency timeline.

Although Brandon and Oh were excited to complete the book, they knew that they were going to need some extra help. They brought in Stephanie Kujawski, another residency-trained pharmacist and preceptor who is a frequent contributor to their website.

The three authors found that their writing styles were very compatible, which helped to establish continuity and flow throughout the book.

Another benefit of having three authors was that there was a higher chance that another author would be interested in writing about a topic you didn’t particularly like.

“Sam was super into writing about how the match actually works, but I didn’t want to touch it,” Brandon said. “It helped to have someone else available to write that part.”

Publishing the Book

After months of work, they digitally published their book, Mastering the Match: How to Secure a Pharmacy Residency, in March 2017.

They presold the book to a select audience at a discount, but missed the 2017 residency season. However, this allowed Brandon, Sam and Stephanie to incorporate the valuable feedback they received into the digital edition in time for the 2018 residency rush.

“The book will tell you how to make yourself the most attractive candidate you can be,” Brandon said. “Obviously, we can’t guarantee a match, but prospective residents will feel a lot better after reading it.”

Achieving the Goal

Brandon’s main goal is to help students feel less confused and more confident going into the residency process. He wants students to feel like they can accomplish their goal of landing a residency—and that they are worthy of the opportunity.

Brandon said that what makes the book especially valuable is the perspective of the authors. All three authors have been through the residency process and ended up matching with their No. 1 ranked program. They all ended up working at the residency facility after their program was complete and are now preceptors.

The book also focuses on common mistakes that prospective residents make, such as not answering questions, failing to ask questions about the program and choosing the wrong topic for their presentation.

“You have one chance to make a first impression, and you are going up against 100 people for two or three residency slots,” Brandon said. “You really have to shine and put your best foot forward.”

Although the book is geared toward P1 – P4 students, the chapters on interviewing, presentations and cheat sheets on interview questions could benefit almost anyone.

Some schools are great at preparing students for residency and others are not, Brandon said. His book is intended to help fill these gaps and help students to stand out.

“Everyone has research and a publication on their CV and everyone’s GPA is above 3.5,” Brandon said. “All residency candidates look the same on paper, so you need to stand out by being yourself.”

And Brandon’s book aims to give prospective residents the confidence to be comfortable doing just that.

If you are thinking about residency, Mastering the Match: How to Secure a Pharmacy Residency is the book for you. If you are looking to express yourself and do something you love while still pursuing a career in pharmacy, check out my conference on non-traditional pharmacy career paths.

How A Pharmacist Turned Her Passion into a Secondary Income

With our ever-changing pharmacy job market, decreasing pharmacist job satisfaction and lack of employment variety, what pharmacist has the time to think about doing different things with their life?

My answer: Every. Single. Pharmacist.

Unless you are completely satisfied with all aspects of your work, your personal life and your finances, you should always be looking for new opportunities that might help you to achieve your goals.

Maybe you’re like Dawn, who is a pharmacist by day and has a full-time job that involves weekend shifts. On top of that, Dawn has a two-hour commute.

Creating a secondary income for someone like Dawn is very difficult. She barely has time to herself, and on top of her other responsibilities, she also is taking college classes at night.

Maybe you’re sick of your job and want a change of pace. Maybe you want to make a few extra bucks on the side. For Dawn, it was a desire to break free from the mundane.

When I first met Dawn, she was interested in generating extra income on the side using an MTM business model. She joined our course, The Side Hustle Fast Track for Pharmacists, went through all of the lessons and still had her heart set on creating a MTM business.

Although MTM businesses are a valid model for any pharmacist to pursue as their side income, they do have their innate problems, including time commitment, calls out to patients and documenting.

With Dawn’s busy schedule, it would have been nearly impossible for her to make any sort of money by calling patients at 8:30 p.m.

Feeling Stuck

Dawn was stuck. She felt that she couldn’t move forward with any of her ideas, and pursuing something such as an MTM business was daunting and overwhelming to her.

She was doing everything she could to get ahead with her finances, such as budgeting, making smart decisions and cutting living expenses, but she still wasn’t making any progress toward building a side business—or creating freedom in her life.

That’s when Dawn and I started talking.

Finding a Passion

After thinking through all of the hurdles that she would have to overcome in order to start an MTM business, Dawn decided to try to find a new side hustle idea.

I started our coaching sessions by asking dawn questions about what she really loved doing and who she would most like to work with.

Like many pharmacists, she defined herself as the typical Type A personality (maybe you recognize this trait in yourself).

Dawn loves details—and all pharmacists know that the devil is in the details.

I came to find out that Dawn really enjoyed the detail-oriented work involved in writing and editing.

What Are You Doing for Free?

A question I love to ask pharmacists who don’t have a side hustle yet is, “Are you doing anything for anyone for free?”

As pharmacists, we tend to dismiss our side hustle ideas by telling ourselves negative things such as, “No one would ever pay me for that.”

We tend to believe that because we aren’t a professional outside of pharmacy, our service isn’t of enough value to charge actual money. So, we don’t even consider helping people with non-pharmacy related issues as an option for a secondary income.

When I asked Dawn what she was doing for free for others, she told me that she was editing foreign exchange students’ papers at her night school. She was doing this for free and had been doing so for many months.

I stopped the coaching session right there.

I said, “Dawn, you have your side hustle.”

Although Dawn was a little timid at first, I challenged her to charge the next student a fee for reviewing his or her paper.

Impostor Syndrome

When someone becomes an entrepreneur, at one time or another they always wonder if they are really worth what they are being paid.

This is completely normal.

You can blame your parents, your upbringing, your school, bullying, or self-doubt, but sooner or later nearly every entrepreneur asks themselves, “Is my service really worth this amount?”

I was no exception when I got started as an entrepreneur.

I remember sweating on a phone call asking a potential client to pay $37 a month for my consulting services. Now, I laugh about it.

I was undercharging so much because I put so much pressure on myself to get this person to just say yes to my services.

Dawn took me up on my challenge and charged the next student a fee. The student paid her immediately, and within a few weeks she had her client list filled.

As of this writing, she is editing 2-3 papers per week and charging $45 for each review.

You might be saying to yourself, “Well, I could make that much money or more if I went and got a second job as a pharmacist.”

That may be true, but do you really want to go work for another pharmacy and go through the process of interviewing?

In this job market and economy, becoming an entrepreneur is actually a safer bet than getting another job.

Hard to believe? Well, here’s why.

When you are an entrepreneur, you rely on multiple people to pay you for your services. So, if you lose one contract, you still have other clients that will continue to pay you. But when you only work for one person, losing that one contract would put you in financial peril.

If you are ready to take the leap like Dawn did and get your side hustle started, I encourage you to check out my course, The Side Hustle Fast Track for Pharmacists.

Or, if you want to start a side-hustle​, and have questions, feel free to book a call with me!

The course includes three modules with a total of 60 lessons to walk you through the process of unleashing your inner entrepreneur. If you sign up using this link before July 1, you will receive two free individual coaching sessions with me.

With the right tools, it is very easy for pharmacists to get on the path to financial freedom by taking their already-developed skills, expertise and passion and turning it into a secondary income. Visit my website, www.thehappypharmd.com, to learn more about how pharmacists can create the life they want.


How One Pharmacist Became a Holistic Health Coach and Herbalist

When she was in pharmacy school at St. John’s University in Queens, Marina Buksov was very happy with her studies and excited to become a pharmacist. Then, something changed.

As she was considering her options after pharmacy school graduation, she started to feel nervous because none of them appealed to her.

After deciding not to pursue several fellowships, Marina accepted a full-time offer from a small, local pharmacy where she already worked. Unfortunately, that offer fell through because the owners decided to sell the pharmacy.

She started looking for random jobs and eventually ended up at a natural pharmacy. She had always been interested in herbal and holistic medicine, so this job was a good fit for her.

“My philosophy is to do no harm and start with the least harmful treatment and go up from there,” she said. “I use lifestyle, diet and herbal remedies whenever possible.”

An Early Interest

Marina said that she has been interested in holistic medicine ever since high school. When she went to the doctor for her own medical issues, she was shocked by how many medications her doctors wanted to prescribe.

But it wasn’t until her pediatrician took the time to counsel her about her diet that all her issues finally went away.

After taking alternative medicine courses as part of obtaining her pharmacy degree, Marina decided that she wanted to obtain additional training in using natural remedies and nutrition to help her patients.

She took a course at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in clinical nutrition and began studying at Arbor Vitae Traditional School of Herbalism in New York.

She also started her own health and wellness business, Raw Fork, to help her share her knowledge through blogging, offering health coaching services and selling holistic health products. On the site, she offers some of her own herbal tea blends to treat conditions including low-functioning immune system, sleep problems, cough and stress.

Promoting Wellness

Although Marina believes in promoting wellness through the use of natural and holistic remedies, her pharmacy school training has taught her that pharmaceutical medications can save lives, especially in emergency situations.

However, she believes that many chronic conditions don’t have to be treated with medication. Allergies and autoimmune disorders are a few examples of conditions that can be treated safely and holistically.

After all, herbs have been used to treat medical problems for centuries, Marina said. In fact, she noted that 70 percent of today’s medications—or the ideas for them—come from herbal remedies.

But perhaps most importantly, Marina said she helps her patients get in touch with their bodies and find a connection to their own healing.

“Patients can listen to doctors, pharmacists, health coaches and herbalists, but healing really starts with self-care,” she said.

Herbal medicine also is about connecting to the land, she said, and is much more intricate than finding one solution for an individual health problem. When it comes to using herbal remedies, her advice is always “start low, go slow.”

Many health problems can be traced to harmful behaviors or foods that people in our society routinely consume—and they can’t be solved with capsules that come from strange places, she said.

“People need to get to know their medicine,” Marina said. “In herbalism, the taste, texture and feel are very important.”

Making the Transition

In order to make time to pursue her passion of holistic healing, Marina had to transition from full-time to part-time pharmacy work. And because Marina lives in Brooklyn, earning enough to keep pace with the high cost of living was a big factor to consider.

Thanks to the many self-improvement books and tapes Marina has read and listened to over the years, she said she didn’t hear the fear of failure; instead, she made a plan.

She calculated her expenses and figured that she could try working part-time for six months or a year. If things weren’t working out, she could always pick up an extra pharmacy shift or two and fall back on her savings in an emergency.

Although Marina knew she was choosing a non-traditional pharmacy path, she found inspiration in her close friend and fellow St. John’s pharmacy graduate, Christina Tarantola.

Christina, along with pharmacist Adam Martin, created The Fit Pharmacists, which offers holistic and lifestyle coaching for clients and teaches pharmacists how to include nutrition and alternative medicine into their practice.

With Christina leading the way, Marina knew that she could make a difference for her patients by providing holistic pharmacy services.

Making a Difference

Marina went from feeling frustrated with her pharmacy career options to feeling like she could really make a difference for her patients.

Before finding her niche in holistic pharmacy, Marina said she felt like her actions were dictated by the prescriptions doctors wrote and the medications that insurance covered. And she often didn’t agree with either.

Now, Marina feels like she can make a difference for her clients because they actually listen to her—not their doctor or insurance company. She said that her pharmacy degree combined with her knowledge of herbs and education in nutrition helps her to understand the full spectrum of health.

She plans to continue making a difference by working on her business website, cultivating her list of online followers, teaching online and local courses, and reaching out to more people to promote the benefits of herbal medicine.

She also plans to explore herbalism as it relates to female health and fertility. She has met many women in the field of holistic medicine and is considering the possibly of opening a birthing and nutrition center in upstate New York for women and babies.

For more inspiring stories about pharmacists who are creating the careers and lives that they want, visit our success stories here.

How a Pharmacist Can Write a Children’s Book

Note from Alex: 
This is a guest post from Thomai Dion, PharmD. I first met her months ago thru her website, performed an interview with her on my podcast Pharmacy Life Radio and learned about she quit pharmacy to spend time with her family and pursue her dream of becoming a published author. She recently told me how she published multiple books on Amazon and her website, and knew others would be interested how to publish their own books. My recommendation, take notes! 


My name is Thomai and I’m a mom and pharmacist with many interests. I enjoy participating in a slew of activities, from writing to gardening, running to painting. One of the things that I enjoy doing the most (although admittedly never anticipated embarking on before having kids) is creating children’s science books. Since becoming a mom and discovering how inspiring it is to witness my own little one’s natural inclination to learn, I’ve created my “Think-A-Lot-Tots” science book series for babies, toddlers and kids, all of which can be found on Amazon. These books began as a way to teach my child about the world around him and have since expanded into an entire collection revolving around biology, chemistry and medicine. How does one even approach trying to teach biology to a baby, though? Aren’t topics like chemistry all about molecular structures, complicated facts and an onslaught of numbers? I would argue that although this is perhaps the perception of “science”, it is not actually its definition.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines science as “the state of knowing” and a “department of systematized knowledge as an object of study.” In other words, science isn’t strictly limited to numbers, facts and figures; rather, it’s a process by which we learn. Childhood in and of itself can also be considered a learning process; every teachable moment, each experienced one at a time, allows us to understand our world. What’s more is that the beautifully one-worded inquiry of “Why” that is so often asked by the youngest of children is actually the foundation to all learning and, in turn, all of science. Children are perfectly positioned to learn, submerged in the process of science and education throughout their growing years and overall childhood. With this in mind, it is not about “if” we can teach science to babies, toddlers and children, but rather, “how”. Understanding this makes the idea of creating a children’s science book much less intimidating and also highlights how valuable a resource like my Think-A-Lot-Tots collection can be.

If you have an interest in creatively sharing your science background in hopes of exciting and inspiring a little one out there then you’ll enjoy the rest of this post! Here I outline the 5 steps I’ve developed and routinely apply while writing my “Think-A-Lot-Tots” series. I’m going to use my recently released book “Counting Atoms and Elements 1 Through 10” as an example. First and foremost, let’s start with the most important aspect of wanting to write a book for kids:

1. Write because you like to write.

When we envision ourselves as an author, there’s always the inkling of hope that perhaps everyone in the history of everyone will be absolutely smitten with our work because, clearly, it is amazing. And your work may truly be amazing, but the possibility of stardom should not be why you start writing and cannot be why you continue. The best way to embark on writing (or with any project) is because you simply enjoy doing it. Do it because you are passionate about it. Do it because of the difference it could make for a family, for the impact it could have on a child’s willingness and curiosity to learn. Whatever you do though, don’t do it just for the money.

2. Identify a foundational topic of learning that all children are taught.

And I don’t mean one that is necessarily science-related. Children learn about basic concepts first such as colors, shapes and numbers. For my “Counting Atoms and Elements” book, I chose to focus on numbers and counting as my foundation.

3. Draw a connection between that foundational topic of learning and a scientific concept.

You have a basic idea of what you’d like your book to focus on! Great! How do we tie that to science, though? We’ll have to think about how concepts are introduced to children and, in turn, how they are taught. For example, children learn to recognize articles of clothing through pictures, vocabulary and the experience of dressing (shirt, pants, socks, shoes, etc.). A similar strategy is also employed when teaching about, say, shapes. We identify shapes within our everyday objects alongside pictures and words (circle, square, triangle, etc.). We may also playfully “search” for them during our daily routines, (a circle sign, a triangle roof) allowing the child to “experience” the concept of shapes too. In both of these examples, the overarching teaching strategy is drawing connections! Make the scientific concept you have in mind relatable to what the child may already be experiencing and learning. For “Counting Atoms and Elements”, I decided to correlate each of the numbers 1 through 10 with the quantity of protons, neutrons and electrons found within an atom. I use simple pictures, basic scientific vocabulary and allow the child to “experience” the topic of numbers / concept of atoms by counting each and every proton, neutron and electron throughout my book.

4. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

You’ve identified your book’s foundational topic and you’ve drawn a connection between said topic and the science you’d like to further teach. Excellent! Now do it again. And again. And again. Splice out examples throughout your book so that the same connection is made over and over for the reader. In my “Think-A-Lot-Tots: The Animal Cell” book as well as “The Neuron”, I name each and every part of the cell in a similar way while drawing analogies between that “part” and an item the child may already be familiar with. (The dendrites within a neuron look like little trees; the myelin sheath is like a necklace). For “Counting Atoms and Elements”, I repeat the same cadence with each number introduced. “This atom has 1 proton, 1 neutron, and 1 electron. It is Hydrogen! This atom has 2 protons, 2 neutrons, and 2 electrons.” Etc.

5. Simple sentences and colorful illustrations.

Just because I may be writing about something scientifically complex does not mean it must be taught in a complicated way. To clarify further – My “Think-A-Lot-Tots” books do not strive to make an expert of the reader; rather, they work to introduce an idea and potentially spark an interest for more learning as the child grows. As a result, my books are a starting point to learning and my writing is simple. My sentences are succinct with only one or two present per page. I still make a point to include scientific vocabulary, though. My toddler learned the word “mitochondria” at 3-years-old through my books and I couldn’t have been more proud as he exclaimed it repeatedly while running through our kitchen. (We are still working on “inside voices”, but at the same time I won’t argue if he wants to loudly sing about the endoplasmic reticulum or nucleus). For “Counting Atoms and Elements”, I name each element within the periodic table from 1 to 10 (Hydrogen, Helium, etc.). It’s important to keep concepts as basic and understandable as possible, but it’s also important to include key scientific vocabulary and build upon that learning whenever the opportunity presents itself.

And there you have it! My 5 key takeaways to effectively writing your own children’s science book!

Thomai Dion is a pharmacist and mother to (soon-to-be) two inquisitive and analytical thinkers. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Rhode Island and believes it is never too early to start learning.

“Think-A-Lot-Tots: Counting Atoms and Elements 1 Through 10” is now available online at Amazon.com along with her other books within her collection. To learn more about Thomai’s work and to stay updated on the latest news, you can visit her website and sign up for her newsletter. You can also reach out to Thomai at tdthesciencemom[at]gmail[dot]com and follow with her through social media:

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/tdthesciencemom
Instagram:
www.instagram.com/sciencemomtd
Pinterest:
www.pinterest.com/tdthesciencemom
LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/thomaidion

Why Pharmacists’ Salaries Are Decreasing: A Conspiracy Theory

I recently spoke with a pharmacist who wanted out of her retail pharmacy job. Aside from the typical complaints about retail pharmacy, such as bad hours and being poorly treated, she said,

“Everyone knows pharmacist salaries are going down. We are being replaced by machines.”

Her statement struck me for two reasons. First, it was very matter-of-fact. Second, this pharmacist seemed to have accepted that this was the future of pharmacy. Although I disagree with this particular pharmacist’s sentiment about the future of the profession, it did make me wonder whether there is a conspiracy at work in the pharmacy industry.

Before we get started, here’s a disclaimer: The pharmacy conspiracy theory that I am about to present to you has not been validated. It is the simply product of my analysis of industry trends, my personal experience and my knowledge of the pharmacy job marketplace.


Let’s Go Back in Time

You are probably aware that pharmacists are seeing a decrease in salaries and flattening pay over time. However, this wasn’t the prediction for the future of our industry.

In 2000, the Pharmacy Workforce Center released a report stating that there will be a huge demand for pharmacists in 20 years due to rising health care costs and an increase in the aging population. This group tried to read the signs and anticipated that the future demand for pharmacists would far outpace the supply.

Now, a short 17 years later, the supply of pharmacists has exceeded the anticipated demand. This has had multiple effects on the job economy for pharmacists, including:

· Fewer available jobs, especially in urban areas

· Elimination of signing bonuses

· Decreased benefits

· Decreased actual salary/wages

· Decreased offered salary/wages, especially for new graduates

· More part-time jobs such as floater positions, for which reduced benefits are offered

· Flatter salaries over a 10-20 year period

Despite all this, I maintain that pharmacy is still an excellent profession to get into, only if you take control of your career and do not expect to be handed a job. However, our industry is not without its problems. And, although some pharmacists are looking for a way out of the industry, I don’t believe it’s necessary to run for the hills just yet.


Who Benefits From Changes in the Pharmacy Marketplace?

Let’s think for a moment about who is benefiting from these changes in the marketplace. Certainly not the pharmacists, who are seeing lower pay, reduced benefits and flatter salaries during the course of their careers.

It’s the pharmacy executives, business owners and stockholders.

Allow me to explain: Hiring a pharmacist is a big deal because it costs lots of money. If you think about the average salary for a pharmacist plus benefits, you are going to pay well over $140,000 a year in any state in the U.S. If you run a business such as a retail pharmacy chain or a hospital, the easiest way to boost profits is to create systems that help you to eliminate costs—and pharmacists are a HUGE cost.

If you are a pharmacy executive who is responsible for hiring pharmacists, would you prefer to have more applicants or fewer applicants for your new pharmacy jobs? Of course, you want more applicants. The more applicants you have, the more qualified potential employees you can find and the less you can offer to pay. Why? Well, because more people are desperate for the few available jobs you have, especially if your business is located in a choice area.

Before you start making pharmacy executives the enemy, take a moment to sympathize. These people are running large, multi-million-dollar companies and part of their job is to figure out how to make the businesses profitable. And, like the rest of us, pharmacy executives receive rewards if they succeed at their jobs.

So, is it any wonder why pharmacy executives want more pharmacists in the job marketplace?


The Conspiracy Theory

What if pharmacy executives supported (even financed?) the Pharmacy Workforce Center’s 2000 report stating that there will be a huge need for pharmacists in the future? What if there is a bigger reason why pharmacy executives support new pharmacy schools that are popping up all over the country? What if these new pharmacy schools aren’t really intended to meet a demand, but instead to decrease salaries?

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

What we do know to be true is that many pharmacy schools receive funding from retail pharmacy chains. ​

But no matter what thoughts you have about big pharma, executives and ivory towers, you should remember that this isn’t the end of the world. The pharmacy profession will still exist in the future.

Although the pharmacy model may change, I believe that pharmacists will still have jobs because there always will be a need in the marketplace. No matter how many machines are made to perform some of our technical duties, no machine can take the brain of a pharmacist and help people the way that a human pharmacist can.


What You Can Do

Here’s your call to action: Don’t take this lying down.

Whether or not my conspiracy theory is true, you need to take charge of your career. You should be upset by the fact that salaries and benefits for pharmacists are down and full-time jobs are being turned into multiple part-time positions to keep costs low. Take that emotion and turn it into useful action, rather than spending time complaining about things outside your control.

Don’t be a victim and blindly accept what other people say will happen. Now is the time for you to take back your career and improve your circumstances. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:


· Network, network, network. Go to your next state conference and talk to the big players in your area’s pharmacy industry. Find out if you can help them or volunteer your time. This could lead to a new (better) job.

· Learn a new skill. Acquire a new skill and offer to provide it to other companies. Enjoy working with computers? You never know when a company may need a pharmacist with an information technology background. Have a knack for marketing? Offer to help a pharmacy or health system expand their social media presence.

· Develop skills outside of pharmacy. Fuel your creative energies in your spare time by creating a side hustle that you enjoy. Write a book, build websites, do voice-over acting or try your hand and blogging. In addition to giving you the flexibility to one day leave the pharmacy industry, you can make some extra cash.

· Create value at your job. Make personal and professional development your priority. Create new opportunities for your employer to make money, then ask for a promotion or a raise.

Gone are the days when pharmacists graduate from college, have a great job handed to them and continue to earn easy raises and promotions for their entire career. We live in a new era where pharmacists are having a hard time finding a full-time job.

If you want to maintain your standard of living or generate additional income, you have to take charge of your career, your finances and your future—starting today. Whether you decide to start a side hustle or hope to transition out of the pharmacy profession for good, check out our free PDF, “8 Ways for Pharmacists to Make Extra Cash with No Investment Costs.”

Whenever you feel tempted to give in to the belief that your job will be taken by machines in 10 years, remember that there is no replacement for caring human interaction in the pharmacy profession—and that only you can control your future.