The USP of Orange Cows

SEPTEMBER 19, 2014
Erin Albert, MBA, PharmD, JD
What is your unique selling proposition? What sets you apart from your pharmacy peers?
Quick: when you read the title of this post, did you think USP DI and the Orange Book? Excellent. That’s what the pharmacist in me thought about, too. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about. Instead, I want to discuss a fascinating, absolutely enrapturing subject—you.

What is your unique selling proposition, (USP), as coined in the 1940s? Or, what is your purple cow (as coined by marketer and author Seth Godin)? I call it an orange cow now, because I like orange, we are all-familiar with the Orange Book, and orange is the new black. Said in a different way—what are you here to uniquely offer the world? Each individual on the planet has something unique to offer, so what is your orange cow?

Many individuals in the profession of pharmacy are talking about how there are too many pharmacy schools, too many pharmacists, and not enough jobs. But that’s hard to change. Instead, why not view this problem as an opportunity? The way you can address and beat this challenge is by finding, growing, and extolling your very own orange cow on the universe.

What Do You Love Inside Pharmacy?
Sit down with a blank piece of paper and a pencil or pen, and ask yourself the following question—what do I love about pharmacy? Then, start writing.

Think about the therapeutic aspects of the profession. Are there particular areas of science you love? I’m particularly fascinated with neuroscience, for example.

Next, think about the operational aspects of the profession. Do you love informatics? Counseling patients? Technology? Medication adherence? Medication therapy management? Teaching? Research? Curating? Writing? Speaking? Who do you like writing for and speaking to? Do you love classroom teaching or teaching one on one? Write all the technical stuff you love to do. I love the law relative to pharmacy practice, for example.

Also, think about what you love to do in terms of professional development within the profession. Do you find yourself reading certain continuing education program material? For me, that’s always pharmacy law information. For you, that may also give you clues on your orange cow. Write those down, too.

What Do You Love Outside of Pharmacy?
Once you’ve exhausted your loves inside the profession, start writing down other things outside of the profession you love reading, writing, or thinking about.

One of my pharmacist friends has a passion for fashion. Another is interested in wearable technology. While another loves cooking gluten free, and yet another loves triathlons. What are you spending time doing when you are not at work? This is the stuff I want you to fill the paper up with after thinking about the areas of the profession you love—all the stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with pharmacy.

Mash Up
After filling up your one pager with things you love to do, both inside and outside of the profession, move away from the paper for a while. A day or two later, pull the paper back out and view it with fresh eyes.

Are there items on your one sheet that may blend together? For example, let’s say you love preventative and wellness care in pharmacy, and you are also into yoga. Is this blend potentially your orange cow? Could you be the ‘Yogarmacist’ with the prescription for keeping people healthy?

Or, let’s say you love psychiatry and discussing art. Did you know there are actually textbooks on art and psychiatry? Maybe your nearby college would love to offer that class, but they have no one to teach it. Maybe that college would love you to teach that course.

Mash up your favorite passions, pick out your orange cows, and own them. My orange cows are:
  1. Littering the universe with knowledge at the intersection of pharmacy, law, entrepreneurship, and business
  2. Cheerleading for girls and women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, art, design, and entrepreneurship.
Your orange cow(s) may be something completely different.

Don’t be part of the pharmacy herd that keeps complaining. Put your orange cow to work for you, and you’ll stand out in a unique way that helps you grow professionally, gives you higher career satisfaction as the guru of the subject, and potentially helps the universe become a better place—for your patients, your profession, and for you.


Erin Albert is a pharmacist, author, entrepreneur, lawyer, and associate professor at Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. For more on her writing, go to www.erinalbert.com.


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