You know as well as anyone there are different types of people in the world.

Some folks bluster about, announcing their prowess and successes left and right while achieving minimal accomplishments while others quietly and strategically plant purposeful and long-range goals with allies and colleagues.

These human differences have been in the forefront of  my mind as I’ve been observing my own behavior in the last few weeks and thinking about individual personalities. I recognize that I am quick to take offense (still) and, when even slightly irritated, can rapidly act out of my sense of justice.

In fourth grade, I bent over and tossed fluffy snow in the air near a girl who cut the line at recess. I felt she had behaved out of bounds of our elementary school’s agreed upon norms of taking turns. In the principal’s office (only she tattled), I explained how my act was technically not included in the “no throwing snowballs” rule. Mr. Mates viewed that as a stretch. Then recently I experienced a few frustrations while transiting the cordoned lift lines at ski areas: a skier with skis parked perpendicularly, impeding flow and a gaggle of snowboarders standing and blocking multiple lanes. I react with some verbal requests or a light tap of skis. But…

What does my behavior accomplish? Releases a bit of my frustration with oblivious folks maybe. But does it educate the target individuals about the unappreciated actions and lead to a change in their behavior? Not a bit. It is one of my personality traits which I realize would make a terrible lobbyist. You want a representative that will skillfully impart your issues and influence legislators to support your desired outcome.

There are several traits of effective lobbyists that you want in your advocate for representation at your state house or at the Capitol to truly move the profession forward:

  • In-depth “subject matter expert” with knowledge of existing law and the profession;
  • Ability to share expertise to educate legislators and others on the specifics of applicable law and practice regulations;
  • A respected reputation and track record of experience with legislators;
  • Longevity in the arena which leads to relationships with numerous other lobbyists and lawmakers;
  • Demonstrated continuous personal growth through openness with peers, colleagues and others;
  • A calm and steady demeanor which avoids heated, quick reactions and personal attacks;
  • Consistency and integrity demonstrated by repeatedly and continuously maintaining public positions and views;
  • Maintaining the unspoken, community bond of trust by holding conversations and comments private until the appropriate time;
  • Developing and retaining a long-range view to benefit pharmacists and the profession years from now;
  • Acting on well thought through, strategic steps and eliminating irrelevancies.

Here are questions to consider. Does your candidate successfully meet these criteria? How does your potential lobbyist respond to these inquiries?

  1. What are all the existing and interwoven laws and regulations supporting your desired initiative?
  2. Who knows all this information and is able to readily share with others?
  3. How does one develop a viable, respected position given opposing entities?
  4. What is the size, strength and position of the community backing your position as well as opposition?
  5. Where are persistent, durable partners found to leverage and assist in your legislative effort?
  6. Who maintains contacts in boards and regulatory agencies, especially the pharmacy board and agencies affected by proposed legislation?
  7. Who demonstrates a balanced and dedicated posture without becoming personally involved when questioned about how proposed statutes would affect their job?
  8. Who can the candidate recruit to testify? How open and effective would this testimony be?
  9. What effect would changing the wording of a phrase from “shall” to “may” or “shall NOT” have in terms of passage and benefit to your constituents?
  10. How would recruiting a leader that willingly or regularly breaks bonds of trust affect passage and long-term views and plans for pharmacy?
  11. Where does the responsibility lie for inserting the desired, effective language into the bill? (In Colorado, bills are composed by a drafter. Nationally, there is the Office of Legislative Counsel and other sources.)
  12. What time constraints are desired and included in the proposed legislation for complete implementation of new or updated rules and regulations?
  13. How does the process of lobbying for this bill impact future desired and necessary efforts? What are ramifications to sunset legislation?
  14. How frequently is your candidate solicited by legislators or lobbying colleagues to testify, educate audiences and explain existing or planned legislation?

I’ve developed these (100% personal) views from the numerous dinners and discussions I’ve had with Val during his over-32 years involvement in advocacy. We regularly found entertainment and intrigue part of our evenings as pharmacy worked through dozens of issues and “sunset” passages. These traits are not just effective in the legislative arena but extend to working with larger governmental organizations such as regulatory boards and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and peer associations.

In Value Pharmacists’ blog posts, with the exception of this and some of my other posts, you’ll read about laws, rules and regulations with well vetted and “ready for prime time” insights. We leave out personal views on pending legislation; predictions specific to outcomes and the idle talk (for the most part). Val’s integrity and trustworthiness explains why you won’t read much of “what’s in the works.” Also, we don’t want to waste your time on speculative topics.

While Val remains an active advocate for pharmacists I continue to be entertained at dinner and patiently wait to share rumors, progress and all the results with you.


For further perspective and details of how lobbying works, read  our primer on 10 Keys_to Success Under the Gold Dome.

14 Questions to Qualify Your Lobbyist

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