Four years ago I started this blog with the intention of developing a writing practice. I've posted five posts since then. This isn't the first time I've set about trying to write more frequently and failed. My teenage years are full of diaries with less than ten entries. But if I'm serious about honing my writing skills and developing my voice then I need to take action and it needs to be in a way that involves some level of risk (i.e. public accountability). I need to get over the idea that it has to be entertaining, well structured, or that I need to feel motivated to do it. I need to behave like a professional and turn up when I say I'm going to. Just like Leonard Cohen. I know I've said this before in one of my five posts thus far, but all or nothing isn't the best way to be. Repeating the cycle of trying and failing multiple times is OK when you're trying to establish a habit. Good, even.
It was listening to a podcast that really turned the lights on for me. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts since I started running earlier this year. I can't believe it's taken me so long to discover them. This one was the Tim Ferris Show with Seth Godin. He has a few episodes with him which are all really worthwhile listening to, but the one that I connected with most was #343. I'm not going to proclaim to know a lot about him, but my understanding is that Seth Godin is some sort of marketing guru who moved away from large corporations and amongst other things is a prolific writer and teacher, establishing a program called the altMBA. He blogs every day and encourages others who want to get better at writing to do the same (or at least regularly). I purposely haven't gone to check out his blog before writing this because I don't want to go down that rabbit hole this early in my working day. He's written over 7500 blog posts, and he claims the secret to it is not to strive for perfection, just to develop a practice. So that's what I'm doing.
I'm going to start to write a blog post every day of my working week. At the moment that's Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They don't have to be long, a minimum of one sentence. I'm not prescribing the content other than it has to be about something that's made me think, as opposed to something that has happened to me. We'll see how that goes.
One part that really struck a chord, which I want to write down so I process it properly, was their conversation about how talented people often struggle to recognise their value proposition and utilise it effectively. This is something that I think is prolific within the Pharmacy workforce. Almost universally, the most broadly intellectual and talented pharmacists that I know are also the most professionally drifting. While there are some who seem to manage it, it mostly seems to result either in them staying within the profession and becoming cynical, or shifting careers thinking that it will solve things (will it?).
This is a snippet of the podcast which happens around the 1:25 mark which got me thinking
"This all started with what I saw inside the altMBA, where people with talent, when they felt safe, were very clear that they didn't believe who they were or where they were going or what they were creating. And until they could come to grips that they had value to add, it's really difficult to have the sufficiency to have empathy, to have sufficiency to see other people."
Tim asks him how someone goes about developing that sufficiency to recognise their own value...
"as soon as you can adopt the posture that your are needed to do a generous act, that someone in worse shape than you is drowning and that you have something to offer them, it shifts from a selfish act that is shameful to a generous act that is making a difference."...
..."once we realise that there actually is somebody who would miss us if we were gone, then we can get out of our head and realise that we are not doing this to get in the light or to hide from the light, we are doing this because someone else needs us. And so the big shift is to stop thinking of prospects. Stop thinking of people you are marketing to or at, and instead say "where are my students"? Where are the people who are enrolled in this journey who I have a chance to teach?"
This reinforces so much of what I've been thinking about recently. The story that I see unfolding as I get further along in my PhD is that I truly do believe in the value that Pharmacists can offer people who are managing cancer and chronic conditions. People with cancer's non-chemotherapy specific pharmaceutical care needs aren't necessarily all that different, but seem to be generally overlooked by providers. This leads me to believe that this is not a product problem, it is a marketing problem.
We have services that are specifically designed to deliver better medication-related outcomes (medication management services/MMS). But evidence suggests that the providers of these services (i.e. the Pharmacists) must be really bad at articulating the value of their service in a way that resonates with their target consumers (i.e. patients and referrers/GPs). It's possible (likely?) that part of the reason for this is that many pharmacists don't have a good grasp on their value proposition themselves.