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7 Questions on Leadership with Janelle McSwiggin

Name: Janelle McSwiggin

Title: Medical Writer

Oranisation: Willow Bark Health Writing

Janelle Barowski, MSN RN, is a medical writer who received her Master’s degree in Nursing Management. She lives in New Hampshire and works at her medical writing company: Willow Bark Health Writing. Janelle continues to work at the bedside as a pediatric nurse. Follow her on LinkedIn to learn more.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Janelle's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Imposter syndrome has proven difficult. I find that there are times where I start to doubt my capabilities, especially at first. These moments are more rare lately, but the self-doubt was intimidating at first. There were thoughts of "Can I do this" and "did I make the right choice?"

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I was unhappy at my current role as a bedside nurse, so I paved a new one as an entrepreneur. I began writing, researching, and networking to grow my business to where it is today.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I'm not a morning person, so I like a slow, melodic morning. I usually drink a cup of coffee and write or work on administrative tasks to wake my mind up. Most days, I'm writing, networking, having meetings, or working on my educational resources for new writers. In between that time, I make sure I'm taking walks, swimming in my pool, and skiing when i can. I have a bird and a lizard that I connect with during my downtime. My evenings are usually spent connecting with my small family or working on passion projects. I work from the couch, so I can chat with my family in between writing. I love to cook, so I usually prepare dinner. Before bed, I wind down with a movie, or sometimes a book. I'm usually asleep by 10:30.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

The power of emotional intelligence and networking will serve you well. Sure, your credentials are noteworthy. But, I find that having a large network is one of the most important aspect of my job. That's something I didn't learn until I was in a leadership role.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I think the Harry Potter series is a great story of strength and leadership. Dumbledore is a leader who knows what to share with his team, what to keep to himself, and how to play the larger game of chess. Young Harry is an excellent example of a character growing into his leadership qualities. Hermoine is an exemplary example of intellectual leadership qualities. Is it a kids book? Sure, but it also has some profound lessons on leadership.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Remember that everyone is human. Be compassionate, be empathetic. Be the leader you would want to follow.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

I was at a cross-roads with my career. I could either continue on as a health writer, or I could steer my business towards a more self-sustaining path. I created my 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year goals. I reflected on what was important to my overall mission, and decided to investigate passive income streams. Now, half my revenue comes from passive income.

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