Ten Years, Four Lessons: A Message to Fresh Graduates

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Note: An ad-libbed version of this message was delivered during the 45th Pre-Commencement and Recognition Ceremonies of the College of Business Administration and Accountancy in MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology last April 5, 2015.

Ten years. I can’t believe it’s been ten long years. I could still remember when I received my degree in BS Biology (Zoology). I was sitting there during the commencement exercises ten years ago. I was then an eager fresh graduate, willing to rush through life. I thought I had figured it all out – 4 years of med school, a year of post-graduate internship, another year to review and pass the Physician Licensure Exam, then specialize in Pediatrics. That was supposedly my path to success.

For as long as I can remember, I had always had a consistent answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I have always wanted to be a doctor. Lovette Jam Prada Jacosalem, M.D. There’s a nice ring to it, yes? So, why not?

But if someone told me ten years ago that I would quit med school a year into it, be a corporate slave and then work through online jobs, start a small business, and earn a degree in Masters in Business Management, I would have laughed and maybe snorted in disbelief. Like a hardworking horse with blinders on, I have always set my eyes on the road ahead and worked as hard as I possibly could. Ten years ago, I was certain I would be a successful doctor.

But apparently, life isn’t always how we envisioned it to be. Sometimes, reality hits us right between our eyes. What we thought would make us happy and successful could turn out to be something that brings much pain and suffering. While pain and suffering may make success sweeter, sometimes, we wake up one day and we just know in our heart of hearts that it wasn’t meant to be. That it’s time to walk away.

I may have deviated from the life path set by my 20-year-old self. But I learned some things along the way. And I think today is an opportune time to share them with you.

First, I learned that we define our own success. Success should be defined in personal terms. We learned in economics that scarcity has value. But value of what? for whom? and how much? That’s the side of the equation we don’t usually focus on, but we must. We need to define what success means to us and determine what truly is of value for us. Because the moment we let go of other people’s definitions of success and value, real clarity begins.

As a serial entrepreneur and bestselling author, Rick Smith, puts it, “Make certain you are on the right journey. It’s about living where your unique passions and strengths intersect. It’s about not trying to force ourselves into roles that were never meant for us, or slaving toward a prize we will ultimately discover is worth very little. It’s about the meaning and value derived from intentionality, from being in control of your life’s own direction.”

When we define success in our own terms, the journey and the destination becomes a little clearer and success becomes achievable.

And when we do reach success, we need to keep our feet on the ground. That’s lesson #2. While it’s good to take pride in what we do, to celebrate our successes, and to pat our backs for a job well done once in a while, it’s not okay to rub your success on other people’s faces. Remember to be humble. Let’s keep our feet firmly planted on the ground and have a grateful heart. Let’s acknowledge the blessings we have received and will receive.

Today, more than ever, let’s remember to thank everyone who helped us out one way or another – our parents, our professors, our mentors, and our friends who helped us get through our degrees.

Third, it’s important that we never stop learning. Yes, it’s a crazy world out there. Unemployment rates are frightening. The competition is tough, yet the opportunities to learn are endless. There are many ways to better equip yourself to get ahead of the competition. Invest in yourself.  Attend trainings, seminars, and workshops. Sign up for online courses. Or maybe, go to graduate school. Enrol in a reputable school, where you can learn from thought leaders in your field, where you meet like-minded people from different industries.

In all honesty, I didn’t expect much when I enrolled in MBM. I didn’t even know what I got myself into. I just threw myself blindly into an unfamiliar territory. My background was in biology, but I plunged headfirst into the world of business. It was scary, yes, but I sure am glad I did. It was a bumpy road for me, but it was all worth it. The MBM experience was something I wouldn’t trade for anything else.

Which leads me to my final point. Life is never smooth-sailing. Grad school is no exception, especially when you have a job and other responsibilities on top of your studies. But a mantra kept me going: Let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14). Life isn’t easy. I’m pretty sure each one of us, graduates, had gazillion bouts of stress, panic attacks, and moments of self-doubt. There had been times when we’d ask, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ or the more familiar version of ‘nganong ni-enter pa man ko?

There were times when we start to doubt ourselves and our capacity to move forward. It happened in school, and it certainly will happen more often in the real world. But I learned that whenever doubt finds its way into our hearts and minds, we just need to take a deep breath and wait it out. Breathe it all in. Love it all out. It may not automatically make everything better, but it would definitely give us enough inspiration and motivation to push forward; to move a little closer towards our dreams – for ourselves, for our families, for the community, for our future.

Let me end this talk with this message: The power of education can’t be measured unless you count its power to create a career, a life, provide for a family and most importantly, pave the way for a better tomorrow. As we soon leave the premises of MSU-IIT as graduates, we hold that power in our hands. We have been blessed to be where we are right now. May we not forget to look out for opportunities to be a blessing to others as well.

Thank you. Congratulations, and may the Almighty God bless us all.

Social Media Marketing: A Talk at the First MSU-Main E-Commerce Expo

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share what little I know about social media marketing to the young entrepreneurs of Mindanao State University – Main Campus in Marawi City.  It was their first ever MSU-Main E-Commerce Expo.  

Young minds at the First MSU-Main E-Commerce Expo

The expo, revolving around the theme of “Creating Relevance Through Internet Marketing,” was an all-day event with talks on e-commerce (by Mr. Lemuel Velasco) and social media marketing. The students also showcased their e-commerce websites and video ads for the campus.  

It was great to see the output of these young, creative, talented students — from coming up with products to sell online, to building the e-commerce website, to marketing their sites. If only I had these lessons when I was in college! :p 
 

Anyways, I’m sharing with you all the PowerPoint presentation I used for the one-hour talk. You can see the references at the last 2 slides if you want to delve deeper into the subject. And I hope you pick up a thing or two you can apply to your own business. 😉

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Social Media for Small Businesses from lovette jam

My sincerest gratitude to the students of Marketing 111 (Internet Marketing) and their instructor, Mr. Richard S. Celeste, for this opportunity. 🙂

Networking for Bloggers | Blogging 101.5 by Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc.

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Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc. conducted a Blogging 101.5 seminar yesterday, geared toward helping those who want to start up a blog, those who have already started blogging, and to those who find the discussions interesting and helpful. The discussion went beyond the usual Blogging 101 topics (basics of blogging and how to start up a blog) to include how to properly choose your branding and unify your brand online, and how to maximize your network potential — thus the additional .5 to the typical Blogging 101.

I was one of the speakers who was given an opportunity to share knowledge during the event. Gab tackled the Basics of Blogging, and Alex discussed branding. I spoke about Networking for Bloggers. My presentation can be viewed here and is available for download. 🙂

What about you? How do you connect with other bloggers?

10 Elements of a Good Blog

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There’s no question that a great blog design is a key point to keeping visitors to your blog interested.  Yes, at the end of the day, content is definitely king, but as Danny Brown puts it, “[if content is king, then] the design is your Royal courtyard.”  And you would like to keep your courtyard attractive and appealing, right?

Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to speak before bloggers and would-be bloggers for the Blogging 101 seminar hosted by Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc in celebration of Iligan Bloggers Month.  Yay! Salamat IBS! 😉

Here’s the presentation for you to view and download.  Enjoy! 😉

Huling Hirit sa Tag-Init: The Cebu Blog Camp 2011 Experience

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To officially end the summer break, I attended Cebu Blog Camp 2011 with fellow Iligan Bloggers, Xy-ZaMa’am Arlene, and Fleire (a Cebu-based Iligan blogger) last May 28.  It was my first blog camp ever (or my first event as a blogger (daw)) apart from a couple of meet-ups with Iligan-based bloggers to formally and officially start Iligan Bloggers Society.

Take 1: Ma’am Arlene, IBS Prexy Xy-Za, Me, Fleire, Dabby

Take 2 kay natabunan daw ang CBC2011 logo. 😉

In a prior post, I enumerated some reasons why I really, really, really wanted to attend the camp and braved typhoon Chedeng just to get to Cebu by boat! (Haha! OA lang! Wala po kaming naramdamang bagyo. ;))

So anyways, let’s move on and see if my expectations were actually met and the reasons for attending (IBLOG) were justified…

Pass number 84, wala kadaug sa raffle. :p



I — It’s free! 

Yes, it was really free. No fees and no required purchases whatsoever. I was thrilled enough when I learned that registration was free. What I didn’t know was there were even more freebies! For starters, early birds were given AirPhilExpress shirt and slippers. 

And it did not end there. There were more and more and more! Round trip tickets from airphilexpress, shirts and bags and ballers from Mozilla Firefox, shirts and badges from PicLyf, stickers from Google, and many many many more were given away in between presentations.

And of course, the passes also came with free lunch and snack.

*burp*

B — Because the topics are all interesting, and the speakers are masters of their craft. 

I took notes like crazy — as if there would be a pop quiz after the camp. And I even took pictures of the slides of the last two speakers just in case I can’t keep up (obsessive-compulsive mode). Yikes!

So here are the topics discussed during the blog camp…

Photography 101 by Paul Gotiong. Sir Paul is an award-winning photographer. He discussed the basics of photography, including aperture, shutter speed, ISO; understanding the histogram; useful camera settings; composition; types of light; recommended gears; and posting photos online.  Needless to say, it was an information-packed talk. I learned a lot, but um, I must admit I seriously need hands-on training. 😀

Travel 101 by Estan Cabigas. Sir Estan is an award-winning travel blogger and photographer.  He talked about how to travel alone, and he shared 8 very important things travel bloggers must do: (1) have a curiosity for the world, (2) research and plan, (3) keep an open mind and talk to locals, (4) bring what is essential [camera, notebook, pen], (5) experience the place, (6) respect local customs and mores, (7) learn about the local culture and language, and (8) always be safe.

Google and Travel by Aileen Apolo-de Jesus. Ms. Aileen is the very pretty and perky Google Country Consultant for Philippines.  Her presentation was on improving traveling with services by Google. She also discussed some new cool tools from Google to “add oomph to your blog.”

Bloggers’ Etiquette 101 by Janette Toral. Ms. Janette is the founder of Digital Filipino and author of Blogging from Home.  Her topic was Bloggers’ Etiquette 101, and she’s super awesome! No wonder she’s one of the most sought-after speakers in the country. She certainly knows how to keep the audience engaged and also wanting more. You can check here presentation about bloggers’ etiquette when attending events here.

With Ms. Janette (actually, pwede na icrop sina Xy-Za and Fleire. Hehe…)

Food and Restaurant Review 101 by Chef Anthony Gomez.  This is one of the topics I was looking forward to.  I’m a foodie, so I was all ears during his talk.  Chef Anton worked as Head Chef in Ativo Italian resto and also in Marco Polo Cebu.  He was super passionate about food, and he taught us how to understand food in order to appreciate it.  According to him, food should be enjoyed with all the senses.  

Social Media Marketing 101 by Coy Caballes.  The last two presentations were related and were focused on promoting your brand (or blog).  Coy is a vlogger and he’s the Social Media Manager for Globe. His presentation was on social media diet, complete with appetizer (facts and statistics), drinks (the right mix of channels for your campaign), main course (content), and of course dessert (rewarding your community).  His presentation can be found here.
Social Media Marketing Success through Facebook by Ruben Licera.  While Coy discussed social media in general, Sir Ruben, who is a Certified Internet Marketing Expert focused on the king of social networking sites — Facebook!  He shared eight Facebook Success Secrets: (1) Set your goal; (2) Keyword Research; (3) Choose the right visibility for you; (4) Quality content; (5) Leave trails; (6) Go viral; (7) Heighten engagement; and (8) Monitor and evaluate.  I must admit, this talk was rushed as we were pressed for time. I can’t keep up taking down notes, so I just took photos of the slides. Hihihi! 

L — Love of learning new stuffs.  
In every experience, what counts most are the lessons learned, insights gained, and decisions on what to do with the newly acquired knowledge. Here are a few significant learnings and resolutions (www.char.com/heavyrasad):

  1. Photography 101: I learned two things from Sir Paul:
    • Watermark your photos. Before Cebu Blog Camp, I never felt the need to put a watermark because I felt my pictures were not as good as they should be. (Kumbaga, pang professional photographers lang ang watermark. Haha!) But now, I intend to do a little extra effort in posting online.
    • Always reformat your memory card.  Deleting photos is not enough.
  2. Travel 101:  One thing that Sir Estan said that stuck was that ladies should not be afraid to travel and explore alone. (Ummm… Sige, next time na lang ang resolution.)
  3. Google and Travel:  Ms. Aileen made me realize that there are indeed multiple ways to add oomph to your blog. That means my blog is in need of serious revamp. I will find time for that, I promise. 🙂
  4. Bloggers’ Etiquette: When attending events, prepare a pitch. As Ms. Janette said, “you will meet media, fellow bloggers, host, and organizers at events. Best to have a short introduction about yourself and your blog. They usually ask: what do you do? Where are you connected? What is your blog about?”  True! This reminds me of the need to renovate this blog and focus on a specific niche.
  5. Food and Restaurant Review:   The next time I attempt to describe food, I would listen to the sound of the crunch as I bite into Balamban liempo and Cebu lechon. I would capture its aroma; feel its texture; enjoy the balance of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter taste; and just fully enjoy the experience. 😉
  6. Social Media Marketing:  I realized that there is no need to be overwhelmed with the number of social networking sites out there.  You just have to focus on a few that would cater to your needs.  
  7. Social Media Marketing Success through Facebook:  Facebook is truly a very useful tool to increasing traffic.  I’ll do this later, perhaps after the site renovation. Let me just focus on content. Baby steps. 🙂
O — Opportunity to meet new friends.  
Ah yes, I met wonderful people because of the camp.  I did not really mingle much after the event because I am really shy (true story!).  I only got to talk with our tablemates, Jam and Kristine.  (Note to self: Update blog roll).
Obvious na ang height difference sa duha ka Jam! Haha!

And then Fleire introduced Xy-Za and I to Ms. Janette, and we got to enjoy a sumptuous meal at Casa Verde, The Walk, IT Park afterwards.  Weeee!

at Casa Verde
G — Gimingaw ko sa Cebu! 
Non-Cebu-based bloggers were invited to a day tour the day after the blog camp.  I have to say, this trip certainly made me love Cebu even more. And so this part deserves a separate post. ^___^
So yes, my expectations were met and even exceeded! My utmost gratitude to Johnn Mendoza, the organizer, and the rest of the Cebu Blog Camp team for the invitation. The trip was super worth it, and I’m soooo looking forward for next year’s camp! 😉

Integrated Marketing Communications

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Managing and coordinating the entire communications process calls for integrated marketing communications (IMC). By definition, IMC is a concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan. Such plan evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communications disciplines and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum impact through the seamless integration of discrete messages. Considering that the mass market can be fragmented into a multitude of minimarkets, each requiring its own approach; there is a continuous proliferation of new types of media; and there is growing sophistication of consumers, there is clearly a need for marketers to utilize a wide range of communication tools to efficiently deliver messages to specific audiences. Marketers should combine personal and nonpersonal communication channels to achieve maximum impact (multiple-vehicle, multiple-stage campaigns). Therefore, it is clearly imperative for companies to move toward IMC, the absence of which results in uncoordinated communications and image diffusion. A comprehensive integrated marketing communications plan can produce stronger message consistency and help to build brand equity and create greater sales impact. It can also unify the company’s brand images and messages as they come through multiple company activities. It therefore improves the company’s ability to reach the right customers with the right messages at the right time in the right place.