Pharmacy U

Summer reading! 5 growth-minded books for running a pharmacy



“Renewal is the principle—and the process—that empowers us to move on an upward spiral of growth and change, of continuous improvement. ” — DR. STEPHEN R. COVEY

By Gerry Spitzner

Running a pharmacy can be extremely complicated and time-consuming. On top of the usual pressures from running a business, pharmacy owners are responsible for ensuring the renewal and durability of their businesses. Reading is a useful practice that can help you grow as a pharmacist and to keep up with all the constant changes in the industry.

Every business must have a strategy to be effective in the marketplace. As a business leader in retail pharmacy, I’ve learned the value of not just having a good strategy but, more importantly, the tireless execution of that strategy.

While books written by pharmacists for pharmacists are extremely useful, people outside the pharmacy industry have written books that are helpful to pretty much anyone. Here are some books that aren’t necessarily about running a pharmacy but would be helpful for pharmacists:

How to Win Friends and Influence People – In this tried and true classic, Dale Carnegie describes ways to make people like you and to persuade people to see your perspective. Collaboration is the cornerstone of success in any team. Improved inter-professional healthcare collaboration has been cited as a key strategy for healthcare reform. When pharmacists collaborate as equals with other healthcare providers, patient outcomes and quality of care tend to improve. Carnegie’s book not only helps you to become a better pharmacist and business owner but also to become the best version of yourself.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – Stephen R. Covey’s book continues to be a best eller for the simple reason that it ignores trends and pop psychology and focuses on timeless principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. Covey explains how to improve yourself and solve the problems in your life. The book sets the foundation for professional effectiveness – increasing productivity, restoring balance, and developing greater maturity and responsibility.

Blue Ocean Strategy – In a book that challenges everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne contend that while most companies engage in head to head competition, this strategy is increasingly unlikely to create profitable growth in the future. Blue Ocean Strategy presents a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and outlines principles and tools any company can use to create and capture blue oceans.

Start with Why – In this book Simon Sinek starts with a comparison of the two main ways to influence human behaviour: manipulation and inspiration. There are two types of leaders: those who decide to manipulate to get to the end result, and those who start with the end result in mind and let everything else naturally fall into place. Sinek argues that inspiration is the more powerful and sustainable of the two. Your customers’ “Why” is more important than your “Why”. All organizations start with “Why”, but only the great ones keep their “Why” clear year after year. Those who forget “Why” they were founded show up to the race every day to outdo someone else instead of outdoing themselves. You are your best competition.

Be Different or Be Dead: Your Business Survival Guide – Roy Osing explains how businesses can navigate the turbulent waters of the contemporary economy. Never before has it been more important to be distinctive — to be different — in the marketplace than it is today. Competition is intense as businesses jockey for the winning formula to attract customers, remain profitable and survive in this challenging environment. This book ties together the concepts of strategy and execution with many practical and effective ways for an organization to enhance its performance.

So, there you have it, my personal favourites. This isn’t a short list of the best all-time books; I’m sure anyone can easily add their own favourites, since there are many good books out there. Seeking continuous improvement and renewal professionally and personally means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Empower yourself and your frontline associates with new knowledge, skills, and tools to confront issues, work as a team, increase accountability, and raise the bar on what they can achieve.


Gerry Spitzner is the founder and principal consultant of, a Vancouver-based business management consultancy providing strategic operations services focused on drug stores and pharmacies. For more information: