Margaret Chamblee is a licensed pharmacist with direct sales, marketing, and management experience. She has an extraordinary work ethic and a unique drive to identify and seize opportunities that render a profound positive impact on organizations, associates, and individuals. Margaret can analyze complex information, develop strategies, and lead collaborative efforts to maximize both professional success and personal growth.
Tell us about yourself?
First, I am honored to have this opportunity to speak with you. Thank you for valuing me and my contributions.
Professionally, I would describe myself as a very disciplined, intentional person with the mental stamina and persistence to just “get it done.” Sometimes it’s meeting the expectations of others, and sometimes it’s from my own seemingly never-ending list of demands, but I am willing to put in the creative effort and time to produce the best results I can. Whether it’s preparing a training module, programming a spreadsheet, or discussing a complicated biomechanical concern with another healthcare professional, wherever I am, there I am, giving my full attention to the person or task at hand.
One time I stayed working all night at the office and the next morning called my husband to let him know I was on my way home to help get the kids ready for school, only to learn that massive flooding occurred overnight, school was canceled, and I was actually not going anywhere. I was just so focused that I missed the storm outside.
I am also professionally resilient and face adversity with optimism. I recognize that within every tribulation is an opportunity for self-development, and I never stop looking for the key “learning opportunity” in everything, because the lesson is often different than the “learning.”
Personally, I genuinely love life and have varied personal interests. Even though I do not consider myself an athlete, I appreciate the challenge of training for and completing half marathons with my children. I also enjoy preparing meals (we eat at the dining room table every night almost without fail), home improvements, and researching and planning rewarding family adventures. I am not one who requires “me time,” but instead seek to energize and grow personally through meaningful life experiences with my family.
What makes you different than other professionals in your field?
It’s probably a combination of years of accumulated knowledge of a lot of different orthopedic products with a sincere desire to help people as best I can that makes me unique. In recommending the ideal orthotic product, I seek to understand each patient’s clinical condition, physical limitations, lifestyle, and personal preferences to ultimately lead to the orthotic choice which will offer the best possible outcome. I think when you follow the “golden rule” of treating people the way you hope to be treated in your time of need, including giving them your full attention and being resourceful, you have the opportunity to have a profound impact on the patient’s life as well as on the lives of their family and other caretakers.
What was the most important part of your professional journey?
As a senior Pharmacy student in my final practical semester before graduation (my “residency”), all students had to return to Austin for a career fair. We were required to interview with three different companies, even if we already had a job lined up, which I did (the evening shift for an 8-bed critical care cardiology unit for Methodist Hospital in Houston).
One of the interviews I had was with the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly. While I never considered a career in sales, Eli Lilly was recognized for hiring pharmacists, and the person I interviewed with, Buck Payne, truly inspired me to explore this alternative path.
One thing Buck taught me was, “When everything is equal, friends buy from friends; when everything is not equal, friends buy from friends.” This was his way of explaining that people WANT to work with people they like and trust, and this has been a principal I have lived by, not just as a career salesperson and executive but also in life. While we will all tolerate superficial or self-absorbed personalities, in general, we WANT to work with people who are kind and genuinely caring. We want to “buy from friends.”
While I was the only one in my class who chose a nontraditional path to utilize my degree and licensure, it was most certainly the most important decision I ever made. Opportunities for professional growth within Eli Lilly were abundant and gave me the sales and management skills to ensure quick success with our first company. The important lesson I learned from my first boss taught me the value of developing strong relationships. In fact, the very first customer with our first company, an Occupational Therapist in San Antonio, STILL does business with us today, almost two decades later.
What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
The worst purchase I have ever made is an all-in-one weight /workout machine. While the salesperson greatly inspired me at the time, the reality is that I do not take the time to “work out” and, for the last 15 years, have had to pay professional movers to move it twice.
Aside from the universal magnetic car mount called a “caw,” the best and most life-changing purchase I’ve ever made is an iPad. While I had an iPad years before my first iPhone, it was purchasing them for our sales team in 2011 that made a huge business impact. I learned how to program PDF documents in Adobe Acrobat XPro, and soon our team was equipped with an innovative device that could be used to reference information without fumbling through hard-copy catalogs and binders, collect signatures from a patient on required documents, and easily scan and exchange clinical information with the office staff. iPads completely modified our business processes and set our company apart as the technological advances made us assuredly more efficient.
What takes up too much of your time?
Trying to be everything to everybody. I did not learn at an early age to say “no” and recognize that I was not necessarily asked to chair a school committee or be on an advisory board because I am “all that.” The reality is that people who are most generous with their time are often asked to volunteer more of it. It not always who is the most capable of executing a volunteer position; often it is the most dependable who are asked to donate their time.
Trying to be everything to everyone can leave you feeling perpetually “behind,” thus leaving a distressing feeling that there are simply not enough hours in the day to meet everyone’s needs. This is something I continually work on both professionally and personally.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs or leaders in their field?
The most important piece of advice is to surround yourself with highly capable people who share your vision, your personal standards of morals and ethics, and your desire to excel. Do not hire “employees” – instead, seek people who want and deserve to be a part of the great company you have created. In a successful organization, there is no place for people who race to the time clock and can’t wait until the 5 o’clock whistle blows. You need a support staff who genuinely care about the success of the company, who you can implicitly trust, and who have the wisdom to value what you are allowing them to be a part of. Your organization will only be as good as the least worthy person on your team.
My second piece of advice is to be mentally, physically, and financially prepared for the sacrifices required for the initial and likely continued success of your company. I once had one of our sales managers say to me, “Margaret, you’re just so fortunate to have the life that you have. You have this great company, your kids are all successful in school, you have such a pretty home, and y’all get to travel so much.” I quickly stopped him and firmly explained that these things are not serendipitous, due to good fortune or “luck.” My success is a result of CHOICES and purposeful concessions; studying hard in college so I could be accepted to a solid professional program, committing myself to my career at Eli Lilly, and absolutely devoting myself to our companies, to continually learning, seeking better ways to do things, and trying and failing then trying again.
Being the first one at the office and the last one to leave, staying up all night learning about a product or process, pouring over relevant industry manuals, and figuring out where to get the money to pay bills are all things that your team never has to deal with, but they should be mature enough to respect that you are doing these things for the success of the company, and ultimately to keep them employed.
My final piece of advice is to be passionate about delivering an outstanding service to your customers. Continually search for innovative ways to conduct your business and be an expert in your field. You also must commit to conducting business in a way that is always fair and reasonable because, without customers, you won’t have a business.
What drives you to keep going when it’s really tough?
I believe that, in general, there is an order to the world, and we are all responsible for our different chambers in this anthill of life. Some of us are workers who gather necessities; some are caretakers whose empathy keeps things in order; some are carpenters who build infrastructure; some are royalty to whom we look for leadership. But in general, we all share a common goal of peaceful survival.
So how does this “drive” me? Well, I know that I do have a purpose and that for everything to happen the way it’s supposed to be, I cannot “disrupt the line.” I must remain focused on doing my part because if I don’t, it could have implications that affect other people.
So, I accept there is a tomorrow, and “this too shall pass,” but if I take everything I learn today and use it to help me be better tomorrow, then I will continue to grow and discover better ways to be me. Being my best ensures my job within the anthill creates a positive impact, and this gives me the purpose to remain driven just to do what I “gotta do.”
How should people connect with you?