The Savvy Scribe

Tony Guerra – Pharm D and Author

Meet Tony PharmD, Podcaster, YouTube Creator, and Author

Carol Bush welcomed Tony Guerra, host of the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast to The Savvy Scribe to talk about being a creator, author, and teaching Pharmacist.


Carol:                        00:32                 Welcome to the Savvy Scribe podcast. Today I’m doing a solo show today without Janine. The productivity queen is working hard or she’s working out or working one of her 10 jobs. I’m very excited to welcome our good friend Tony Pharmd on Twitter, also known as in real life. Tony, welcome to the show and Tony is not only a nurse’s best friend. Okay. Oncology nurses, best friend is the pharmacist speaking from my clinical background and that he is also the host of the pharmacy leaders podcast where he features interviews and advice on building a professional brand and purposeful second income, which is why one of the things I really love about him, he talks about profit and money and managing finances, which is the number one important thing that we want to do as entrepreneurs and CEOs of our own business. Tony is also a writer and author of several books and he has a Marvey youtube following as well. So welcome to the show, Tony.

Tony:                        01:39                   Thanks for having me.

Carol:                        01:40                   Well, we’re excited that you’re here. And also we share a love of the Midwest, you know, in the healthcare marketing network. I was talking with one of our new members yesterday who’s also in Des Moines, Iowa as a matter of staff. Cool. And that we have a lot of people on the east coast and west coast, but not a ton of midwesterners. So, you’re in Iowa and I’m in Kansas.

Tony:                        02:06                   Well, I’m a Washingtonian. That’s where I was born. So I’m from Washington DC. But if you marry a Midwesterner, you end up in the Midwest.

Carol:                        02:16                   That’s exactly right. Well, Tony, it, we’d love to hear in our community. Everyone loves to hear the story of what prompted you as a healthcare professional to begin this journey of creativity, whether you’re a writer or a content creator. So I’d love to hear just in the beginning, tell us about what you do and a little bit about your writing or creativity journey.

Tony:                        02:44                   My full time job as a teacher, I as a chemistry and pharmacology in college, I teach at a community college and part of what I do is also teach pharmacology to students who are looking to become nurses. And I didn’t know pharmacology was such a struggle and I kind of understood why a little bit later in that some nursing curricula have chemistry before pharmacology and some don’t. So it’s kind of like putting the cart before the horse if you take pharmacology that way. And, and my first kind of big hit was writing a book for that group that uh, you know, solve the problem of I don’t have chemistry, I want to succeed in pharmacology. Here’s a book you can listen to over the weekend. And just anecdotally, since I’ve been doing this for some, by almost five years, those that have listened to the book had 11% higher grade in their pharmacology class, wherever they went to school, then if they didn’t listen to the book beforehand. So to succeed in pharmacology you have to kind of take in pharmacology. So it was just really successful. But I also understand your tribe likes to hear about failures too. So you just let me know what you want me to start with and I’ll start there.

Carol:                        04:06                   What’s your first audio book? And they are all audio.

Tony:                        04:11                  I’ve made 14 audio books. Yeah, summer successes. Some are failures, but you want to stick with the 80 20 rule with your writing. And so I think many people beat themselves up when they hear this writing didn’t sell or something like that. But 20% of your writing will generate 80% of your money.

Carol:                        04:32                   Okay, perfect. So, the book and the content creation and you focused on the production through audible, is that correct?

Tony:                        04:43                   Yeah, they just hit us pretty hard with the change in reimbursement. So I’ll lose about 25,000 every year coming up. But I still sell about 10,000 books a year in all three forms. So I’m still making about five or six a month. But that’s all passive income and it’s more because I have three, seven year old daughters and, and besides life insurance and those things, it’s nice to know that royalties will support my family if anything happens to me.

Carol:                        05:12                   That’s perfect. And it sounds like your family is a big quiet, but I understand. And part of the reason that you started the pharmacy leaders podcast is also because as you are connecting with people and you are a thought leader and a social media influencer in that pharmacy space, there’s a very particular challenge for pharmacy students that they graduate having a lot of debt.

Tony:                        05:40                   Oh yeah. The average is now a one 65, I think for the average student, closer to 200 for the privates, one 40 for the public’s. And we’re in a real, real tough job market now for pharmacists. Just as physicians, we’re actually in a tough job market in the late eighties if you’re, I don’t think you’re old enough to remember that, but I am.

Tony:                        06:05                   Okay. But it also, we can talk a little bit about this, but I think the, the one thing that I buy with my money is, I have to, this is maybe pathologic, but I have two years of income in the bank. So My, my nest egg is not a nest egg really. It’s just that provides peace of mind for me and for my family.

Carol:                        06:28                   And I think that’s perfect. As the partner, my husband works for Spirit aerosystems, which is the old commercial Boeing, and he builds the tools who build the planes. And so, especially with the recent issues related to the Max 80, I’m very cognizant of the whole pathological need to put a lot in the bank for savings to weather all kinds of economic situations in downturn. So I totally, totally understand that. So a little bit about as you were writing the books for the folks who now are in our tribe, our freelance writers, so they’re writing for other people, but strategies really helped you get started in focusing on developing the passive income and what, what tools helped you?

Tony:                        07:22                   Well, I think that your guys’ job is a lot harder than mine. I write a book, publish it and hope that it, it brings a return. And most of the time it does, but sometimes it doesn’t. But you guys have to continue to pitch, continue to pitch. And I think that it’s good to have both where you’re actively working as a writer, but then also have that passive income from the larger books. But then the next question is always, well, what do I write about? And what’s going to happen is, is that as you write, you’re going to get feedback on some of those articles and you’re going to find needs. So while you’re writing that article for somebody else, maybe getting paid not a ton for that specific article, they come back to you and say, oh my gosh, you would not believe how many people wanted to hear about that. And I’ll give you an example in the pharmacy space where there’s the pharmacist mom’s group, and I don’t know if there’s a nurse’s moms group, but that group is now 23,000 pharmacists in Facebook. And I’m not allowed in. You have eliminated half of us. Uh, and so there’s 300,000 pharmacists, I think total. So out of 150,000 that means they’re getting close to having 20% of the entire group of pharmacists in that, that one space. And so if you are one of those, Susie Solomon was the one that started it, but when you’re tried gets that big, you’ve definitely hit a chord. So I think one of the biggest mistakes that I see is you’re going to try to get education and like a degree or a writing degree or things like that for something that you might need instead of doing what you should be doing, which is hanging out with you, Janine, Janet, getting the skills that you need to do the project you’re trying to do right now. I think that, uh, the way that you do it as a a lot better. So the, but the answer the question briefly, uh, really what, what someone wants to do as a writer is make sure that they’re tracking the results. Even if they don’t have the direct numbers, give them a call back, give an email back, hey, I just wanted to see how that article did. Did it do well? Did it not? And then that’s when you can find out what your bigger projects should be on those things that really hit home and some of the smaller things that you’ve written.

Carol:                        09:43                   So I really loved it. You’re identifying, you know, really stressing that, identifying the need. And for those in our tribe who maybe create a content related to course creation or those who are in the education space, whether they are, um, you know, nurses, physicians, social workers, whomever, if they’re planning any educational event, they’re very familiar with, they have to do a needs assessment about your audience before you plan the event. So same thing with, um, with the books. So what was the synergy between the books and the pharmacy leaders? Podcasts? So talk a little bit about, was it the book first and then podcast or which was chicken and the egg?

Tony:                        10:32                   Oh, okay. Well, there are actually two different brands and they’re completely separate. Okay. No, they don’t actually fit at all. Really if you want to, I kind of put the cart ahead of the horse here with the pharmacy leaders podcast, which is you really want to get your own gig going, but it feels a lot better to give. So, the pharmacy leaders podcast, I just, what I did with it was I created a revenue model that doesn’t rely on advertising. So at the end of every podcast episode, you’ll hear an advertisement for one of my books. So last year I had 205,000 downloads, I think on that podcast. And it comes from giving status to people when you’re doing a podcast or when you’re writing something which are really providing a status. So just like you where you would, where Kansas state and I would wear Iowa state, we gained status from our Alma maters you podcast and you interview someone, you give them status, and then all of a sudden they come to you to become your Facebook friend and those things.  So instead of create, trying to create a space where I pay attention to me, pay attention to me, pay attention to me. If you pay attention to enough other people, they will pay attention to you. And it was doing last three episodes a week, uh, that, that created those bigger numbers. But now they know about me, then they care about my books and then they share my books and those things. So it’s really give, ask, receive a, which is maybe sometimes the opposite of what we actually try to end up doing in practice, which is, man, I really want people to read my writing. I want people to buy my books. But what you have to do is give status to other people or give free content to other people. And then that’s when they’ll pay attention to you, just like you guys do with the tribe.

Carol:                        12:24                   Yes. Actually that is something that’s very important for our tribe to understand about prospecting clients. It’s the same thing when you’re working in Linkedin because for example, that’s actually where predominantly most of our client leads come up with a website and Linkedin. It’s the same thing. Give, give value, give value, give value, ask and receive it. It’s the same thing. So I think that’s a very, very fascinating about that. So when we’re talking a little bit about the power of your community that you’ve built your tribe, I don’t know that people know this. Tony is a great champion of the healthcare marketing network. And like I said, you know, in the healthcare marketing network, we’re all about multidisciplinary approach. Rising tide lifts all boats. Um, and I think how we connected originally was of course Janet, but we had a project about a year ago that was going to require us to onboard about 80 or 90, writers and the project involved working with. I have really cool client and it was actually internal venture capital that was provided to an executive with the company to do their own pet project, but it was going to require taking pubmed abstracts and translating them into plain language.  And so of course a lot of the pubmed abstracts have medication adherence, a lot about clinical trials, things that pharmacists know a ton about. And we needed to onboard a lot of people. I think Janet reached out to you and said, Hey Tony, would you, you know, put a, put a promo out on your podcast. And O-m-g was, it was pretty big. In fact, I need to look back, go look back and pull the data. But I know we had hundreds of applicants and we in fact, so I have a little number scenario and I do need to pull more numbers because this is a great case study for your tribe, is that with that first part of that project, we paid writers and editors in the healthcare marketing network who qualified and had to go through, you know, a process and vetting and a writing. I particular writing tests, but we did pay them over $60,000 last year and over half of them were pharmacy students or pharmacy professionals looking for extra money. So we actually put to work some of those pharmacy students did not have to work at, you know, quick trip for their summer job. They got to be at home working on this project and earning money. I’m very proud and excited about that because it made a lot of difference for some folks.

Tony:                        15:29                   You’re a writer, you need kind of that group that comes from the national and state associations. So I focused on the National Association and I’ll be going to the American Pharmacist Association meeting in Seattle this Friday. But their email list is about 46,000 and there are certain things that they want and one of them is opportunities to work in non nonclinical or non patient care settings and it’s not that they don’t want to work with patients, but as any nurse pharmacist position knows there’s burnout and it would just be nice if a little bit of your week is non patient care and that’s why I love the writing and I love your writing community is that that writing community allows you to support patient care, patient care job that maybe is 32 hours instead of 40 or 48 or even less and then a non patient care and flexibility to take care of things like my kid has to come home right now because they’re sick or I need a little bit extra money or it costs about $7,000 to take three children to Harry Potter world.  This gig economy provides tremendous opportunity, but I think it saves more careers than anything else in that you’re kind of giving back the humanity to the person who would work 60 hours and it would burn themselves out and does burn themselves out. And I think that that’s a phenomenal thing that your community does is provide this non patient care opportunity.

Carol:                        17:05                   I don’t think we’ve focused on that enough, but predominantly why people do join our community is the transition. They are burned out or they’ve been laid off or they are looking for that creativity. They, you know, they want to surround themselves with a community who have an abundance mindset that lift one another up. Because unfortunately in healthcare cultures that’s very uncommon. And they also, like you said, have the desire to, you know, make that extra, whether it’s take the family on vacation, you know, braces on someone or we are caregivers ourselves of our 80 year old parents, et Sandra. So much generation. Yeah. Oh yeah. Your, your parents and your kids. Definitely. So we talked a little bit about how we connected in the power of both of our communities. So here’s where we get into the, I think we talked a little bit about that success. You definitely verified through the audio books, the pharmacy leaders podcast. I know actually your youtube channel is a huge success, but what are you most proud of in your, in this journey so far? And what were those strategies that our listeners, you know, what’s a simple strategy and it might be a mindset issue. I don’t know. What did you use to employ to achieve whatever you’re most proud of?

Tony:                        18:33                   Hmm, let me, let me take that in two parts. So what, what really gives me joy with the podcast part is to see the parents. So what’ll happen is I’ll interview one of the students as they’re on their third or fourth year of school. And then you see the parent kind of, you just kind of tear up as you see the parent saying, I’m so proud of you. And all of that. That’s kind of the gut wrenching heartbreaker just like, oh my gosh, that’s amazing. That parent child connection is there. And it’s a, it’s a very public giving of status to not only the student, but also to the family. And that is huge. And then every once in a while I’ll get the parent tried to friend me on face, no marriage proposals or anything like that. But

Tony:                        19:22                   So in terms of just kind of a good feeling, those are kind of the successes. Janine talked about the loneliness that comes with writing. And I guess my biggest success is, I want to say there’s a group of 10 of us or 15 of us in the social space. And for example, the, your financial pharmacist group. I’m going to be at their table at the American Pharmacist Association. So I’ll be doing one of their round tables. I had a real estate background, so I’ll be leading some of the students through how to get their first homes. I connected with Brandon Dyson of Tldr Pharmacy, who it is an oncology pharmacist, actually the director of pharmacy down in Texas. And he has Tldr, and he’s a great guy. If you want to interview another pharmacist and that really knows oncology a, he teaches the pharmacology at Georgetown, their PA program or a nurse practitioner program.

Tony:                        20:19                   I can’t remember which. But basically as a guy, we have very few friends. I think the average is like 0.8 but I don’t even think we’d get to one like good friend. So what I’ve done is I’ve created friends through Todd Uri of the pharmacy podcast network, Brandon dice and Tldr. Add a Mark Adam who is the fit pharmacist, the the YFP team. There’s three tims. So I basically built this kind of like Bro Group and you know, I don’t, I’m not allowed in the moms group. So these are my brothers and social media and we all make money different ways, completely different ways. I didn’t, Matt mentioned Eric Christensen, who’s met Ed one Oh one then barker, who’s happy? Pharm d. So I want to say there’s 10 or 15 of us that have kind of have our own like tried with our own individual work. So I think that this is from my church.

Tony:                        21:17                   But the thing that I’m most proud of is that I made us group within the group. So you’ve got the healthcare marketing network. Every person in your group should at least have a group of maybe four to 15, some smaller group of whatever it is, nonfiction, healthcare writers or oncology writers. I don’t know. But, so the second thing I would be proud of it is creating a group of, uh, fellows in this kind of social media Gig economy, uh, that I’m working with, but not working against. It’s very kind of a unique relationship. But that’s the other thing I’m excited about is that I’m not alone, Janine.

Carol:                        21:56                   That’s huge. Because success as an entrepreneur, if you have a tribe, this multilayered tribe of people, I can’t even cite the data, but it’s a proven fact that those of us who have tribes of likeminded people continue cause their accountability, success and persistence. Because you know, what? 50% or more businesses fail. So just because people are part of a powerful tribe means you’re destined for success at a higher rate than others. So I’m the opposite of success. Here’s where I get into, because one of my members of my tribe, he told me this last week was like, Hey, we’d love to stories of success, but what about the Times people failed? And I like to look at failures as not like, oh, it’s the end. There’s setbacks because setbacks are a part of our journey. And just like Janet and I in our journey of working together, the healthcare marketing network, it didn’t happen overnight. We threw a lot of stuff on the wall to see what was going to stick. Um, so in terms of your journey, what things about like setbacks at first, is there a story that you could share that the setback that led you to your greatest growth today? And what was that pivot that you made that turn the step back  to something of growth? I don’t know if you’re familiar with entrepreneur on fire. It’s one of the biggest entrepreneurial podcast and he’s not as nice as you. He starts with the failure. That’s the first thing is like what was your worst entrepreneurial failure? And then he starts the a few from there. And the biggest failure I had was I had written memorizing pharmacology book, which now sells I think six to 8,000 copies a year. And I thought it was terrible and I thought no one wanted it. Put It on which is one of those sites where you know you have the books made and then you know, I needed them for my classes and, and so I thought nobody cared about them. But then once I put it on Amazon or it went on Amazon and then I made the audio book, that’s when it took off. So you may not realize that you just put your writing in the wrong place. And that was the biggest failure was that my writing was in the wrong place. is meant for people who need bulk books and maybe bookstores by them for their classrooms. But is better than Google because Amazon has a bunch of people with credit card numbers looking to buy something.


Tony:                        24:40                  When you’re talking about your writing, you want to get it on Amazon. And audible as quick as you can. I pay for, I pay for audio talent because I choose not to use my own time to do that. That’s a personal choice, but it’s a lot cheaper to record it yourself and in nonfiction, people want to hear from you. So the biggest failure was putting my writing in the wrong place, calling myself a failure. And many people know that, you know, you’ve pitched a story to one person and they say, yeah, that’s just not for us. And they’re just saying, that’s just not for us. It’s not saying it’s bad, it’s just not for us. And then someone else is like, that’s for us. That’s what I wanted. And I think the biggest lesson I can give is don’t allow it person to say that your writing is a failure, rather, you’ve just failed to go to the right place with it.

Carol:                        25:38                   I love that. That’s perfect. I always like to also client work when someone says no, they’re not saying no to us. They’re just saying not right now and it might not be a good fit next. Okay. Go forth and conquer. Um, but I, I love that analogy and I think that’s a huge takeaway. A lot of folks in our community when they’re pitching, getting that no, feels really personal. You just need to tweak it and get to the right place. So I definitely love, I think that’s one of the best pieces of advice that our tribe could definitely take the heart. Before we wrap up, I’d love to just showcase a little bit about how can people work or connect with you and because we’re about rising tide lifts all boats, what’s, what’s something that healthcare marketing network tried can do for you? Like do you have a cool theme coming up or can we give some social love to something you’re working on the memorizing pharmacology book. Anyone knows? Any nursing students that are studying with pharmacology, if you can share it with them. I make like a dollar 40 a book. So it’s not the money that I know that lives have been changed because what happens is is that if you’re spending a bunch of time on something doesn’t mean you’re going to get through it because you just didn’t have the right mentoring and then once you can kind of get that mindset shift, that would just be awesome. Also, I just wanted to say thanks to you guys because you, it takes a ton of time to maintain the community. There are those Fridays where nobody responds with their great Friday or Sunday or whatever it is and I just appreciate all the hard work do you guys do to help us succeed as writers?

Tony:                        27:24                   Well, thank you very much and I agree. I think a great share would be to connect the memorizing pharmacology because of the data shows. Right? Someone who listens to that book 11% that can pharmacology if they listen to it before the semester.

Carol:                        27:44                   I love that. I love that. So also a little bit of fun at the very end. I love to hear what would, what are like three things or one thing. I know, what would our tribe be surprised to know about you?

Tony:                        28:00                   I’m comfortable running marathons. I got three seven year old daughters, which will one day be three three 17 year old

Carol:                        28:08                   and we’re going to pray for you throughout your lifetime.

Tony:                        28:13                   And then I’m, I’m a crossfitter too. That’s kind of something that’s new in the last six months that just something I love to do. But I think Janine was a gymnast or something like that. So I first strict handstand pushup like a week ago. And then my daughters are now competing with me in the living room. So you’ll see me at 46 years old doing handstands against my seven year old daughters. 

Carol:                        28:40                   since we are connected on Facebook and everywhere, I love following how you support your daughters. You’re a strong support and you’re raising strong daughters as a crazy nema two granddaughters. It’s very, very important. So we’re in, yes I am. I’m 58. Dude. I am crazy. Mima there’s a Hashtag my family, they call me crazy mee Maw, all the kids and the old just dubbed me. She’s a crazy me ma. Uh, so now it’s a Hashtag and yes, and crazy meme. I figure if making any Oliveira’s can be grumpy and you know, promote unhealthy eating of all the Disney foods, I could probably be crazy me, Ma, and maybe promote, you know, strong girls. Well, Tony, thank you so, so much for your time. I can’t wait to share the love of everything that you’re doing and also I that will continue. I know that there’ll be other interviews and we’re going to continue to collaborate very strongly with the pharmacy community because we love, love, love our pharmacy, freelance partners.

Tony:                        29:55                   Okay, well thanks for having me on and if you ever need anything, call pharmacy.


Thanks for listening to the savvy scribe, a podcast for freelance healthcare and medical writers. For more tips and links mentioned in the podcast, go to and don’t forget to join Carol and Janine for future power episodes and great conversations here at the savvy scribe.

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