Friday, October 10, 2008

In Love With Marketing

Thank God that I do not use "Axe" or I will definitely cause the death of society columnist Malu Fernandez. I used to like her because of her funny and sarcastic comments about Kris Aquino and other creatures from our small planet, but her rumblings about our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) is simply awful. While, we could make fun of the social climbers,preposterous politicians, and tawdry showbiz starlets, OFW's should be treated with respect for they fuel our economy-- or all of us would be eating Lucky Me forever.

This is a late entry about Malu Fernandez; if you don't know her, then you should probably stop watching those crazy telenovelas and realize that there is a more cerebral thing to pursue than watch Dyesebel and Wowowee. This is a late rejoinder for the Malu Fernandez brouhaha, but I just remember her after my speech at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) for a seminar sponsored by the Philippine Marketing Association (PMA). I was the last speaker, and I had the chance to listen to the two speakers before me ( I normally arrive twenty minutes before my talk, but since I wanted to "feel" the crowd and devise a way to truly connect with my audience, I came three hours early) It's an intimate event, I actually like it when I could interact freely with my audience. I hate big seminars with one thousand to three thousand people in attendance... there is no connection. I rather read books, and listen to Podcasts than sit for an hour and listen to a "hotshot" speaker. In Reality, you do not really "learn" from these seminars, you only attend to "validate" or "invalidate" your assumptions, and probably network and meet potential clients. I give seminars, I make money from giving speeches , but I do not suggest that a would-be-entrepreneur attends a seminar to confirm his or her "gut feel". I remember a story of this blind man who sells hotdogs in the busy street of Manhattan in New York. He is a very dedicated man and well-loved by his customers. Whether the stock market is down or up he is always there selling his food stuffs, recession or no recession, he still delivers. A very driven man, he was able to build an empire -- a chain of hotdog stores in the streets of New York, enabling him to send his only child to a prestigious business school. Immediately after college, the son took over the business. And because of his learning's in college, he conducted major market research surveys, change operations policies, and seek advice of some consultants because time was hard when he took over the business from his father. In the end, the son realized that business is really bad and decided to closed a substantial portion of the hotdog business. All the while, the father was just allowing his son to run the business. When the son was about to totally shut the business, he asked his father how he managed to survive and run the business despite the many problems he encountered in the past? The father told his son "... You see my son, I am a blind man, I did not even finish school and the only thing I know is make great hotdogs and be true to my customers, and since I am blind, I don't read newspapers, I don't even know what's happening around me, I don't know that there is a stock market crash, or a political turmoil, I just don't care, I just do what I do best... and that is to make great hotdogs, sell them and make my customers happy".

What is the essence of this story?

Sometimes we tend to analyze things so much, paralyzing our spirit to fight and go on with our battle plan. We tend to believe everything that our friends, the community, and the media tells us. They stop us from pursuing our visions and goals simply because we no longer believe in what we are capable of doing. We listened and followed cold statistical data as if they are absolute truth, and not following them would mean disaster to our business. Don't get me wrong, I believe in research but research and insights are there to guide us, to inspire, or aid us to make calculated moves.

In the end, successful business people and marketers are those who believe in his/her capabilities and are truly "connected" to his market.

Going back to my speech and the OFW, I stressed the importance of "bringing back the love" between the customers and the company. Love is the very reason why our OFW's are killing themselves to work in barren desserts, cook for aged lunatics and maniacs in Europe and Hongkong, and survive the cold winter in New York. Love is what is lacking in business and marketing today. Customers no longer feel the sincerity of the companies that sell products to them. How could a company stomach putting melamine in a milk that is supposed to make a child grow healthy and not kill him? Why would local retailers even sell smuggled goods tainted with formalin and banned in other countries?

One local company is encouraging a family to eat together-- to connect. Good try, but will our children be healthy with these instant noodles? or while the sinabawang gulay is a good campaign to encourage kids to love ampalaya, are these food additives safe? or we are just teaching mothers to simply ignore natural ingredients and just rely on these MSG-laden food additives?

I am a marketing person, I know the power that we have to convince, change perceptions, and influence people. But I hate the entire "seduction" phase that we employ just to hook our "markets".

I want real love. I want the kind of love that our OFW's are giving just to provide decent meal and piece of clothing to their love ones --- and to us in general.

I want real love not some kind of milk laced with melamine to improve business profitability.

I want real love in marketing.

I am so in love in marketing. I want to show it. I changed the tempo of my speech at AIM.

I saw from the faces of my audience that I connected well with them. Because I showed that love is the essence and the real meaning of marketing.

It's a good start.

I am so in love, I am writing about it, and will continue to advocate it.

Love me or hate me for it.

But, I will bring back LOVE in marketing.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Look, Ma! It's An Open Market!

So, you're planning to foray into business. Or, perhaps, you've been there for already quite some time now. Or, even, maybe you wanted to do so since long ago but were afraid to try. Or, still, you must be a young professional on whose dynamism and brilliance your company depends greatly.

Now, now, that globalization's open competition in the economy shouldn't dampen your spirits, should it?

And that the forecast glut in your chosen industry shouldn't frustrate you either, should it? And, that the fear of not getting your desired market share shouldn't stop you, should it?

Actually, there could be as many threats to a business venture and its management, depending on how well you prepare yourself, how effectively you deal with those otherwise little nuances that need to be either unlearned, demystified, or eliminated, or whatever; and of course, on how you perceive them.

To put it more simply, diving into and swimming through the market ocean (without drowning, that is) shouldn't be too complicatedly hard to master. After all, the plays of the market essentially depend on creativity, and creativity makes those complicated matters simple. And yes, with your creativity, threats could in fact be challenges that are even exciting to face up to right?

And mastering those market plays in your favor is indeed the crux--and fun-- of the art and science of marketing.

Now, that's not being too simplistic about it.

Just look at there. That's a vast market you're seeing, isn't it? And practically everybody does some selling, buying, or trading of goods and services with some regularity, right?

Again, yes, these market games have been long dominated by the big players (with their vast arsenal of resources, networks, etc., ) with their time, and terrain-tested strategies and tactics have thus gave them success.

But are you-- would be entrepreneurs, young blood, wellsprings of fresh ideas, and potential generation-next-in-the-industry-- conceding defeat by default? Are you admitting inferiority to those business strategies and tactics as if they were grand absolute truths?

Of course, you're not! and we should never be!

Starting on my first work, after college, as an account executive for a yellow page company, I continuously and determinedly searched for, studied, and experimented on various marketing approaches to marketing various products; approaches that defied the rules of those familiar, safe ways, but proved themselves effective. I simply did not follow the trend-- I defied!

And that's the fun of it all.

So, for you out there who wish to venture into marketing and business, here's my challenge: Brace up. Name your moment. And claim your future. Now.

Here are some basic tips to help you make that first dive, and swim around:

1. THINK BIG- Situate your steps--however small--in visions of big leaps; don't confine your capabilities and potential within "familiar safe shells" . Be bold and daring, and imaginative

2. MOTIVATE YOURSELF - Don't wait for opportunities to knock your door, because chances are.. they will not. So create your own tracks. Be aggressive. Command the game.

3. WHAM! WIN THE HEARTS OF YOUR MARKET- Don't just do business with them: give them a little something more than your product. It won't cost you that much, but will reward you greatly.

4. And, Lastly, JUST DO IT. AND DO IT RIGHT. Beginning from your very first step.

Nothing is more gratifying than seeing the fruits of your labor despite the obstacles and air of negativity around you. No economic crunch and bailout should dampen your spirit.

Reclaim your place under the sun, it's been there long time ago... waiting for you.

The market is wide open--- just open your heart and mind to it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wilted Plant In My Window

I am listening to this song but I cannot dig the lyrics; I just feel that the melody is caressing my inner being.

It jolted me.

My life has always been ruled by work and work alone. True that there are a lot of "drama" in my kind of job: Clients changing the direction after weeks of endless brainstorming, and with staff being paid overtime pay to complete a project only to be told that "...sorry we changed direction, it will be put on hold..." you cannot do anything, you are a helpless. You do not follow or make your own schedule, the clients dictate it to you, and you cannot haggle, or the next big time agency is ready to take over your place.

You gather your staff and pretended to enjoy bottles of San Mig Light. Vignettes of job orders overshadow the temporary refuge provided by the cold beer, and you are down to reality that you cannot visit the beach and try kayaking. Your calendar is full until December 30.

What the fuck, I have not even planned my birthday bash yet I am helping launch two new businesses. My bed is complaining that we seldom bond, the lone plant in my window has wilted, and no amount of water could resuscitate it, I reluctantly signed its death certificate.

I plan my escape, every Saturday I would thread the blighted roads leading to Mendiola, and the smell of books and the serenity of the abbey would inject new life to my veins-- away from my world.

Ideal. Sincere.

But, I have to leave, the smell of books, and the audience, while they continue to inspire me, are great accoutrements to my life, but I need to replace my plant in my window, and carress my pillows.

I need to breathe.

It's my new reality.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Napoleonic Dream (the Poem I wrote for my first batch of Bedan students)

The first meeting was a tug of war
two conflicting thoughts,
of priorities and direction;
Till the pandemonium broke in
a buffet of treasure was opened
to gaze on its illuminating rays,
of sunshine and hope
that dispel despair.

It rolled, the height of rapture,
and the deafening silence of defeat
only to be awakened and jolted
to declare that direction needs fine tuning

The first meeting was prophetic
and the king maker planned of surrendering
from the battalion of soldiers
who may be rearing to fight an uncharted battles

To declare the barren desert
and the vicious jungle the territory
of inspired and enlightened combatants

And the last meeting signaled
the beginning of an unknown battle
of Trojan horses whose identity remain covered
and the king maker sits in his throne;
unmindful of what happens in the battlefield
for he has already done his share of making kings.

When efforts are written in the sandy pavement,
where not even camels of proven tenacity could bear,
A king maker needs another battalion
of combatants who will follow a war plan
that will catapult the kingdom to victory

And the trumpet from the pinnacle of hope
dies down.... anticipating
that more bloody battles would be won
in an arena of hopeful soldiers whose
faces are covered with blankets of seeming desire
to just carry an empty weapon.

This is the combatant's last claim to victory
with success not be subjected to a Russian roulette
of hope and dreams sold and burned
to plain luck; fatalism.

As the king closes his doors, he opens
a window to see how the rays of the
sun brings hope to the combatants
he once loved and shared dreams
of great magnitude



I remember writing this poem few weeks before the graduation of the first batch of students I handled at San Beda College. I could say that I really mentored this batch because they showed enthusiasm and great interest in my subjects. However, I got so disappointed with one of their final papers, and I admonished them. Sensing that I couldn't be mean, and too afraid that expletives coming from me would be heard by the monks in Mendiola, I decided to just write this poem. I did not even edit or check it. I just wrote what I felt at the moment.

Silence enveloped the room after I read the poem. For ten minutes nobody spoke, until Aaron Santos asked to get a copy of the poem.

Today, these students remain my friends, and I am too glad they continue to recognize my contribution in their life (no matter how small it may be). I guess I will forever be a teacher because I find joy in molding the minds of young people.

I am forever a student of life, and I believe that while students could learn concepts, strategies, and techniques from me, I value the importance of imparting wisdom to them. I always strive to inspire, motivate, and encourage them to go the extra mile.

It is gratifying to share.

It is a joy to help build their dreams.

Pagtangis ng Propeta

Balaraw and itinarak sa kaluluwa
ng buang na henyo;
Ni hindi nasilayan ang
monumentong itinayo ng
hubad na dyosa.

Siguro , nakapikit ang mata
ng araw kaya di nasinagan ang
katawang luray sa pagtaghoy,
ng kahilingang mabigyan ng
likido ang plumang pinanday
ng poot at sigla, ng
hamog at baga.

Marahil gayon nga ang liriko
ng himig ng bwetre, pilit
na idinuduyan ang kamuwangang
di nakikita ng rayos ng umaga.

Pilit na hinahablusan ang balat
maputi, mapusyaw, may alinlangan
na di na darating ang
propeta ng walang digma;
siguro mas mahusay na magpatiwakal
at tarakan ng kampit
ang kahunghangang pinanday ng pait.

Lyrical Attempt

You said I should not follow your footsteps;
Why should I when I can't see any mark on the floor?
It's there you admonished me. You're even showing
it using that unlighted cigarette you are holding.

I am not interested about the footsteps you've created,
I simply think there is no need of tracing--following them,
for they leave nothing but watermarks to my soul


Free your mind form the chains of broken past
Swallow the cold reception of this hungry morning's mist
Drown with uncontrollable bubbles of your self-concept

Because it is the sound of the aged chains that set you free;
unwavering with the faith to dislodge the nobles
from the throne

Come and reclaim the pedestal and navigate
in the cobwebs of human frailty


Far from the brink of nervous breakdown,
the pendulum signals the rebirth of the
untested terrain.
Which direction?

For you are inside the far-fetched
jar of a burning coal.
No amount of heat could melt
your unswayed heart, for you
have become deaf from
the calling of your inner being

Soak your rested body in the
aroma of my tired limbs;
climb and fetch me from the
height of mass hysteria,
cure my body of your vagabond persona

Last Few Vignettes for 2007

I chose to end 2007 by uncluttering our "foxhole". You see, my firm, InAsia, has been running (base on the pace that I want) for almost seven years now. I have never been fulfilled despite the fact that I sometimes miss the perks given to a senior executive every Christmastime. Today, I am no longer an eager executive who would leave the country (actually to recharge) before or after the holiday hullabaloo, but an employer who must secure the 13th month pay, gifts, and bonuses of my lean staff.

I am writing this entry from my office amidst tons of papers and "to-do-list" since my team reported today for our annual office clean up. It feels good to unload (literally and figuratively) of the numerous items we accumulated all these years. And while, checking some of my old files, I came across this notebook of mine where I scribbled a couple of "literary attempts".

This year, I attended a writing workshop (Joy of Writing) conducted by Tweetums Gonzales, and while I did not finish the course ( I only attended three sessions) because of my crazy schedule, I got so interested in creative writing. I never realized that I have already accumulated some materials and I want to share them with you.

I am not an expert in writing but I certainly find joy in expressing my thoughts. I hope I make sense here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Interviewing Tim Part One

The mute lampshade suddenly morphed into a spotlight with Pavarotti on a background in a passionate aria. The location: your living room. The audience: seven different "individuals" who have become your loyal friends these past seven years. They are all stunning, born out of gnarled, but inspired hands of great artists. They are the only ones who could tolerate your loud snoring, and moments of insanity. Their sense of smell is exposed to the sweetest red wine, a sandalwood scent, or even the foul aroma of tuyo coming from your kitchen. You love them for they are devoted to you--- your faithful audience. Tonight, they are putting you on the spot to answer some questions that they have been wanting to ask all these years.

Pavarotti stops.

Tim : Okay shoot, I am ready but would you please allow me to have my brewed coffee first? this would be a long interview right? Who would be the moderator?

Candida : I would be the moderator tonight. I guess I am the most qualified in the group because I am the most cerebral here. I attended Oxford, and that is where I met that bastard lurking in front of Pavarotti.

Mateo : Candida, will you please stop it! We are already history, and you should not get angry with me, besides it is not my fault why I left you.

Tim : Guys, we have not even started and you are already quarrelling? I will stop this interview. Rudy Giuliani is waiting for me since last week. Besides, I have several appointments tonight. I am also in a middle of knowing why Nino Mullach should move over for Sheryl Cruz. My friend Donald is too inquisitive to know the real score. I should see him next week at Fully Booked.

Candida: Oh I am sorry Tim, I just got carried away. That dirty old Mateo is really getting into my nerves. Okay, for my first question. How are you Tim?

Tim: I am good Candida. I have lots of plans this year, and I guess I would be more focused and less distracted this year.

Candida: What do you mean by that statement?

Tim: Oh, I will work to achieve one goal per quarter classified into three areas : personal, professional, and spiritual.

Arcadio : You mean you would be more religious this year?

Tim: I said spiritual not necessarily religious. I think I am not a faithful christian this year, and I want to grow spiritually next year. Maybe I need a community where I could grow as a christian. I hate discussing spiritual concerns, but I know I need this to balance my life.

Mateo: I saw you taking some supplements and medicines. I also noticed that you have been eating too much. Sometimes, I wanted to get out from here and lock your fridge.

Tim : You got me there Mateo. Yeah, I need to watch my weight and be more conscious of my health. I am scheduled to have my physical exam mid of January. Please remind me. You need not lock up my fridge just whistle from there if you think I am eating to much.

Candida: I heard that you are back at San Beda after four years of being absent from the academe. How's the experience so far?

Tim: You know teaching is my passion. I don't teach to have extra income, although my rate has increased this year courtesy of my chairman. It gives me so much joy seeing my students succeed. I guess this is a badge of honor that every teacher would wear forever. I am known to give difficult assignments, and I expect only the best from my students. They are catching up pretty fast although, it is certain that some of them will fail. Did I tell you that I am also pursuing a post graduate course at the Development Academy of the Philippines?

Candida: Great to hear that Tim. I remember my days at Oxford while you are narrating your experience at San Beda. That old Mateo got accepted at Oxford because he excelled in sports while I remain an A student.

Mateo : And because I was the most popular guy in campus, you lured me into liking you because you needed to show me off to compensate for your .... oh never mind.

Candida : Excuse me Mateo, I detest that statement. I was a campus figure even without you. And the nerve to go out with Juliet! that woman is a whore, she is known to have slept with the entire varsity team at Oxford!

Mateo: Candida, don't be bitter. I was actually very surprised that Tim got you to be here. He got me first along with Juliet, probably he saw the chemistry in us . And look at you, Tim put you near his kitchen. Are you some kind of a maid here ?

Tim: I guess this interview is going nowhere. I rather meet Giuliani and Tom Peters in my room.

George Benson took over from Pavarotti while Tom Peters started to rant. This would be a long night for Tim.

Till the next interview.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The smokey place is the best asylum for the restless
An eye contact signals the intention to accept your
prodding for a temporary liberty
Amidst the booming voice of the DJ " it's a fuckin hot evening"
how come I am feeling cold?
You spotted a Viva Hot Babe on the corner
Shit! that bastard is about to caress her nipple
You measured your waistline.... 36 and growing
How can you have her when your body is about
to explode with tons of fats?
Half-finished with your San Mig light, you left
the crowded room and journeyed to cleanse
yourself with a hot cafe latte...
Accross the table is an interesting creature
reading John Maxwell. Will you converse?
Oh don't worry her standards may not focus
on your 36 waistline but on what you have
under your sleeves...
You nipped the latte, You looked at her...
Not violent, neither welcoming;
It's a good start though, and the latte is gone
"Hey how's John Maxwell?"

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I managed to deliver a pretty good lecture last Saturday without a hot brewed coffee in my veins(my class at San Beda starts at 8 in the morning and the nearest Starbucks to my pad opens at ten). While my salary as a college professor is just enough for a cup of capuccino, I offset it by raiding our library with new books. I am currently reading a book entitled "Conversation with Marketing Gurus" and I found the inputs of Al Ries and David Aaker interesting and relevant. I had an orgasm after finishing the book. Next blog, I will share my take on this book.

Next to our library, I have a new haven at High Street Fort Bonifacio--- Fully Booked. This modern "temple" for the mind is the best thing to happen in Manila. I could stay there the whole day and leave the place bursting with new knowledge with an empty wallet to boot. As of my last inventory, I already got a total of fifteen books, eight CD's, and twelve magazines from this landmark bookstore. If you see me eating instant mami noodles for the next two months, you know the culprit.