New job, new challenges, new people (Or the lessons I’ve learned from being a marketer)

The “standard” photo-op (that’s me in the middle, standing) on my last day.

(Original is published from Medium).

It has been more than a month since I assumed a new role in a new organization. It was a bittersweet ending to a long stint in an company that I have once called home. For four years and four months, I have grown and learned a lot. I also made new friends who were sad to see me go.

Being in an organization that moved fast, there were high and low times. What kept me going were people who stuck with me during the good and not so good times. Now, I’m starting all over and assuming a different new role with an organization that has bet on me.

Build, build, build

Over the years, I have been accidentally moving from one role to another. I am a journalist by education and training. I was molded to work and think fast, and to deliver under a tight deadline. I was expected to get things out as quickly as possible. It was a mindset of “First-in, First-out.” It was a world of get-your-facts-straight- quick-and-publish!

From traditional journalism, I later found myself working for one of the first online news organizations, where I further honed my journalistic chops. I got to experience technology and the growth of the Internet, first-hand. I was among the few journalists who had access to mobile devices enabled with the Internet (remember the Blackberry and the Palm devices?) Those tools helped push me to write and create content at the speed of thought.

My exposure and love for technology soon landed me another job. I was hired to build and lead a news organization under a popular but aging Internet brand. I was tasked to put together a team who would man several websites aimed at generating different audiences online. The goal: drive and generate traffic to a website using a combination of original and aggregated content. My journalism training paid off, but I realized I had gaps in my skills. I learned that “content does not grow on trees.” I had to figure how to “connect the dots.” I decided to call it quits after several years.

Can you do product development?

We’re quick to blame technology, but it is really us who is at fault. (Meme taken on the Internet)

Let’s fast-forward to the day that I got a call from a former colleague. In this call, I was asked to consider joining a team of people that would lead innovations in a gargantuan organization. I didn’t hesitate. I signed up!

So, I took on a new job — a job that was way out of my league: product development. I was tasked to think about the future and understand how people behaved. It was my job to understand consumers to help design digital products and services that would allow this organization to sell hardware products. It sounded simple, but it was not. I was taught to think of tasks as projects. Each project had a start and a finish. Each had specific business objectives. Each had results that we had to measure. Everything that I was doing had a bottom-line: sales.

No excuses.

Learning by osmosis

I had to learn fast to survive my new job. I learned by doing. There was no TRAINING. There were no books, nor guides for me to follow. But I had great mentors and colleagues who showed me the ropes. I stumbled. I fumbled. I sucked. But with failure came wins. They were not quick ones, but they provided me good insights on what product development meant.

Product development apparently was just like journalism. You needed time to gather the information and validate them. And when you’re ready, you need to use those information to create a story. It was this STORY that had to be organized in a familiar or surprising way to convince a target audience that what they’re buying was something they wanted. While journalism was in the business of selling news and content, product development and marketing was in the business of selling products as stories that customers can engaged with.

Dilbert image (Sourced from:

Landing a marketing job

After my stint in product development, I was appointed to do digital marketing. This was where I learned to drop the journalistic mindset of “first-in, first-out” when churning content.

Marketers had to follow a process and a calendar of activities. Activities were driven by the need to either generate awareness or to convert people from spectators to loyal customers and fans. There were a lot of planning and meetings required (and alignment, to boot). In journalism, especially in the field, you just had to wing it, and hopefully gather as much information that you could turn into a story.

Marketers had to understand and establish their target audience; figure out a communication plan and develop content that would engage the target audience; and finally, execute the plan and measure the results.

In marketing, I learned that we needed to “start with the end in mind,” whereas journalists were trained to follow their journalistic instincts (thus, the term “nose for news)— unless they were chasing an investigative story that took a lot of planning, research and legwork.

Journalists generated stories at breakneck speeds. Marketers have to make sure stories reached the biggest audience or the “right audience.” Both were storytellers. Marketers, however, have bigger challenges of selling a product, a service, or an idea to a target audience.


The Storytellers

Journalists, content marketers and communications specialists are all in the same boat. The skills required, and the mindset needed to be able to do fantastic work vary, however. But one that sticks out is the idea that we are all storytellers. The way we tell our stories depend on who we’re talking to — the audience that get hit with brand advertising and news.

We all need to figure things out — fast. Just like journalism, marketers are challenged with the fact that there’s just too much noise — and they need to find the right channel to send their message across. Today, it’s Facebook and Google. Tomorrow, it may be something else.

The biggest lesson that I learned over the years is that being able to clearly communicate, in whatever means, in this day and age, is perhaps the skill that is underestimated or not fully appreciated. This is the same lesson I shared to my communication arts and journalism students. Word.

Editor’s Note: The author is trying to write more than 140 characters a day. He is currently engaged in content for a new set of audiences. But he still forces himself to engage his audience with relevant stories.

I am 44 years old, and I feel fine and dandy

One of those occasional pose for posterity (and because who can’t resist this beautiful picturesque place in my alma mater)

I am 43 years, 11 months, 4 weeks, and 2 days old, as I write this. How does it feel being at this age, as a man, a husband, a father, a friend, a colleague, a teacher, a buddy?

I still listen to the same music that I have discovered more than 20 years ago. I still collect books and buy my Wired magazine if the cover catches my fancy. I also sleep more these days than I should. I’d rather stay home on weekends and catch up on my readings — and my students’ assignments. I love a quiet time, coffee on hand in my favorite shop.

Road trips make me excited, and I love long drives. I want to travel to Europe, Japan, and some exotic places in Asia with my family. I want them to see the Great Wall of China or experience the rides at the Sentosa in Singapore, or walk the streets of Seoul at night and bask at the neon lights that make this city alive. I want to visit museums or art centers in my own country, and meet poets, artists and writers whom I respect so much.

I want to learn the new solo from my old-time favorite rock ballads, and if I get the chance, finally write that song for my wife, which she has been begging me to do ever since we met. For unknown reasons, I have trouble writing THAT song, yet I can play a tune on my aging Fender Stratocaster. Mind you, I could play the guitar well — at least for some of my friends’ standards. I love Blues, Rock (Hard Rock), and the standard Jazz music — and okay some 70s and 80s classic rock.

Still wants to be a guitar-slinging rock star

My taste for food is simple. I love them sweet and sour. I also love them roasted and skewered. But due to my recent health predisposition, I have to avoid eating food that turns into sugar, which apparently my body cannot take too much (yeah, my body is insulin resistant). My doctor and my dietician are both telling me that I have to watch what I eat. At this age, I have to force myself to eat my veggies more.

From an interesting menu I found in one of the local restaurants

I have been active since I was a kid. I played a lot (and slept so little). I was a ball of energy, my mom and friends would say. I was always seen running around; could not keep still. I was called the little “Dennis the Menace” since my energy was always cranked up to 10 that I ended up getting in trouble. Meeting me now would make people wonder where did that energetic kid go. What changed? I believe it was me becoming a pensive (read: introverted) teenager who would rather stay with the crowd and would rather melt whenever his name got called by the teacher.

From wanting attention to hating it, the change happened before I hit puberty. I gravitated to fewer friends — at least 1 or 2 really close friends. I got bullied too because I was a small, brown-skinned skinny fellow who only ate hotdog for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I grew up being the only child until I was about 10. Just imagine the attention I was getting from my parents. I owned it all. Then, my brother popped out of my mom. I was sort of jealous. But since my mom had to go back to school to finish her College education, I was forced to grow up and take care of my younger brother. (Thanks to my aunts, however, who were there to help out — I owe them my childhood and my wonder years of learning how to put on a diaper on a baby and how to properly prepare a warm milk for my younger brothers).

I also had a loyal pet dog. His name was Black Tail because he had a black tail. He was a mixed kind of breed — not exactly the dog you would find in pet stores today. He had no pedigree. For me, however, he was my friend and my companion when I was left alone at home. I would let him sleep inside the house (which angered my mom), and I would also do the same in his little dog house (which further frustrated my mom). I smelled like my dog — most of the time. I didn’t care. I just missed having someone stay with me until my mom came back from school.

I also had a dog. His name was Black Tail because he had a black tail. He was mixed breed — not exactly the dog you would find in pet stores today. He had no pedigree. For me, however, he was my friend and my companion when I was left alone at home.

I have often wondered how I would write my own story when I’m older. Would it be as exciting and intriguing as the stories of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov whom I idolized since one of my college buddies introduced them to me. As I turn another leaf in my life, I could only think of a few words to describe it: steady and comfortable. My life does not even have its ending yet — or neither do I have a clear vision of how life would be in the next 10 years. I’m taking it one day at a time. I am more engrossed with my daughters who are growing so fast, I could no longer keep up with their changing interests. I also have been married for 17 years now. And I must say it has never been this good. Me and wife are happy together, and I still can manage to make her laugh.

I’m also in a job that have turned out to be an interesting journey into self-discovery. Having navigated different organizations and having met with interesting people along the way (including the most difficult persons to deal with), I am friends with a handful of them — some have become mentors who have my back, some confidants who would always remind me not to lose sight of the very purpose of our work — and it has always been about our families.

From a page in one of the books that I own (forgot which one).

Talk about friends — I have kept a handful so far in my 44 years. I am still in contact with my close friends from as far back as high school. I also have brothers and sisters from another father or mother who have kept me in line — they would often wake me up from my stupor. I love them as my real brothers.

To end, I am imparting some life observations (lessons) which I wish to share, as I conclude this long read:

  1. Never lose sight of your purpose in life. Whatever that is, take that with you wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.
  2. A job is just that, a job. Don’t let it define you.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try out new things even when you are at my age. Old dogs can still learn new tricks.
  4. Don’t stop learning (and if you can, teaching).
  5. Keep at whatever you love doing. It reminds you that life is not just about working from 9am to 7pm, and going home, and repeat. Take up a hobby; commit to it.
  6. Real friends will always tell you things you don’t want to hear. Listen to them.
  7. Family first. Love and take care of them, no matter what.
  8. Life is short. Always thank God for every day that he gives. And I’m going to borrow this line from Steve Jobs: Don’t waste your life by living someone else’s life.
  9. Give yourself time to travel and discover the world (with your family if you can).
  10. Always say thank you, and please. Be patient and be kind even to people you hate. Love them back. (My Sunday school taught me that).

The author contemplates about his next move.

Things happen, how you react matters

It took me long to update this personal blog. But, here it goes:

The day almost ended without much happening. Sunday was a day of rest, a day for family, a time of reflection and worship. However, as I went back to my room to read a book, I heard a shattering of glass outside my apartment. I then heard my wife calling my name. Something broke and I was afraid it needed my attention.

I went down from my room, and there it was–shattered glass all over the parking  area where my vehicle was. My wife said that my new neighbors who were moving in caused a loose glass jalousie to fall directly onto my car’s hood. The sharp glass created a deep but small dent on my car.

As I went to check the damage, my new neighbor looked troubled. He saw the frustration in my face, and he acknowledged the accident.

Things happen everyday. But what matters is how we react to these life events. I’m known to be calm. Sometimes too calm while others panicked. I also don’t say much. Perhaps that’s the observer in me. I assess a situation first and think how I would react. I hate confrontation. But when push comes to shove, I use reason, not emotion to get myself out of a situation. I am often get called out for being too “soft and kind” when a situation calls for aggression and toughness. It’s my demeanor. I don’t talk much. I listen. Then react. I talk when it’s my turn. Good thing, I have friends and family that are there to help. Friends sometimes come to defend me. Sometimes, I forget that I need help.

2017: My Views Moving Forward

cropped-10277240_10152729199308269_6766472510073464371_n.jpgThe following words are not my predictions of 2017. They are, however, an attempt to put down in words how I see 2017 panning out.

  1. I will continue learning & teaching kids. My strength lies in learning and teaching — and doing it has been both my joy and challenge.
  2. Full-time or part-time, or both? How do you define work these days? Is it a 9-to-5 kind of thing, or is it a series of opportunities where you are tasked to find solutions? (Look up Gig Economy). It’s going to increasingly happen more next year.
  3. Travel and discovery. This is on top of my list. Discover a new place with my wife and kids. It could be another country, or another place where we could drive to.
  4. Active versus passive income. We all need to retire soon. I’m looking at accelerating this plan next year. Here’s to retired at 50.
  5. Family will always come first…before a job or a gig or any material pleasure.
  6. I will finish a race — at least a long swim. Been practicing for more than a year now without clear goals. (Time to learn how to run properly, too.)
  7. Ending my dependence on medication (for diabetes). I picked up a book called “The End of Diabetes” by Joel Fuhrman. I’m still in the first few chapters, but I have recently realized that diabetes is a condition that can be reversed with proper nutrition/diet and complete overhaul of our lifestyles. (No more junk foods and hopefully expensive Starbucks coffee).
  8. Simplify life. It’s a marathon. I will get rid of more junk and unnecessary stuff from my cozy home. Best to move forward with few, simple things in life.
  9. Start a venture. So many ideas up in the air. Need to pluck them out and turn them into reality next year.
  10. Develop a system of “continuing education” for me, my kids and my wife. It could be a regular visit to museum or a tour/experience that we should try together. (Enough of the theme parks and exhilarating rides).

Can’t wait for 2017 to happen!

The author in his best ‘villain-like’ pose.

About the Author: A corporate worker with a 9-to-5 job, he also dabbles on being a part-time professor in a university; a budding entrepreneur trying to iterate ideas into products; an ex-journalist who remains optimistic about the role of media in a post-truth society. He loves time alone to listen to a podcast or to read a book. He also finds time to study new guitar licks from his favorite rock guitar idols.

Pursuing the Why in Life


The road to happiness is like this road. You know it’s there, but it vanishes as you approach it.

Recently, I had been listening to this book called “Starting with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” It reveals the stories of people who have become great leaders. Their secret: they had a sense of purpose. They asked the question “Why” before anything else. Their life was driven by this question: Why.

By asking the question “Why?”, it became clear what their purpose was in life. He cites great leaders like Martin Luther King who once had a dream to change the American’s society views on race, specifically on African-Americans.

By asking why, the Wright Brothers were able to build an industry that we now call aviation.

By asking why, Steve Jobs challenged the status quo and revolutionized the PC and the mobile phone industry.

Starting with Why crossed paths with another project that I’m doing, which also traverses the questions of why are we doing the things we do. Answer: We’re all in pursuit of happiness. Happiness takes different forms in our lives. But for me, the ultimate form of happiness is being able to emancipate myself from the rat race and pursue passions that would bring joy not only to me but also my family.


As you look out the window, you often wish you were out there chasing your dream. But reality always kicks in, and you go back to your comfortable office chair and work.

Okay, I’m not here to preach nor offer a silver-bullet to anyone who wishes to be emancipated from their current shackles of the daily grind. To my mind, life is NOT about work. And work does not define you. Money is important but it shouldn’t be the end.

Lately, I realized that the most precious human currency is not money. Guess what? It’s TIME! Time is irreplaceable. Time is not infinite. Time is a limited resource that our creator has granted us on this earth. So why waste it on a pursuit of the wrong forms of happiness.

When we were young, time wasn’t a problem. We procrastinated and we wasted time on mundane activities for quick and satisfying rewards. For us, time was the least important matter. We were out chasing money, thinking that it would buy us more time.

Twenty to forty years later, money would probably be enough to buy us some laughs and satisfaction; a nice and comfortable home; a collection of gadgets and technology; and perhaps a symbolic trophy of success in the form of a career.

However, happiness remains elusive, just like that vanishing point in the highway.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

“Time flies when you’re having fun,” an old adage kept coming back to me. Yes, it flies so fast, you suddenly find yourself in a place that is so unfamiliar, so different. We look at ourselves in the mirror. We see a different image of ourselves: older, tired, beaten-down.

It’s not too late, however, to start exercising again; looking good and slowly picking yourself up–redesigning your life in pursuit of happiness.

Start asking yourself why are you doing the stuff that you do. What is the purpose? What’s the impact. Only after that you get clarity, a meaning, a direction. It’s never too late to begin now.

Ask why now.