has been almost three months since marketing legend Edwin Totanes or fondly, ET
to his colleagues returned to his Creator on November 22, 2018 (Thursday) at
age 61. It was sudden and shocking as we, Mansmith consultants were just on
group chat the day before and he was telling us that he will be discharged from
hospital the next day after being admitted for severe back pain.
met Edwin when he was already Vice President of Universal Robina Corporation
(URC), a training client of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. for over a decade. His
reputation precedes him; who would not have heard of Edwin? Later, he, along
with five top executives of URC attended my 1st Business Model Innovation
seminar on June 24-25, 2010 and gave me glowing testimonials about the new
international cases he found as gems. I remember he was on student mode when he
attended, never boasting who he was and what he has achieved in the field of
later nominated him to the Agora Awards by the Philippine Marketing Association
(PMA) in 2013 and he won. Lance Gokongwei joined him and me as nominator on
stage when he was recognized.
I launched my Q&A blog a year later on May 20, 2014, I have chosen Edwin to
be my first subject and he readily agreed, generously sharing about his P&G
days as well as the innovation strategy and later the defense strategy of C2
when Del Monte Fit n Right was launched. I had to break up the interview into
two parts because he had so many nuggets of marketing wisdom to share. His
Q&As were the most read and most shared in 2014 and it has also set the
standard of my subsequent interviews with various thought leaders.
I invited Edwin to speak in our charity event and he readily said yes without
asking for any condition in return. He just asked to give him time to clear
with his boss as a courtesy.
would repeat the invitations in various MarkProf Marketing Leadership Bootcamps
we sponsored yearly for the most outstanding graduating marketing student
leaders and he never said no, always eager to share his experiences to younger
was an animated storyteller, at times cocky, but always with a great sense of
humor. He has always been methodically offering why certain things were done in
certain ways, sharing trivia and anecdotes of his favorite C2 story, among
others: the C2 name did not win in the research, but he recommended and got
approval from the URC board anyway, explaining that market research result
should only be a reference in marketing decision-making and not be accepted
late 2013, one of his subordinates was nominated for the Mansmith Young Market
Masters Awards (YMMA), the first and only recognition for young marketers and
entrepreneurs 35 years of age or younger, but the nominee admitted that she
will be transferring to a new company come awards night. As co-founder and
organizer of the Mansmith YMMA, I called him that there is gray area but he
defended his subordinate then with a compelling remark ‘Joe, she is most
deserving. I am willing to write an endorsement if needed’. I got his
letter soon enough and shared it with the board of judges that year. Knowing
that Edwin will never inform the recipient of his endorsement despite the
residency gray area, I decided to let her know after she won. Edwin was always
kind-hearted; he is this kind of a person. In the Mansmith YMMA case, he could
have given the excuse that the nominee will soon leave their company to join
another, but he took a position that worked in her favor. The incident made me
know him not just as a good marketer, but more than anything else, as a good
human being, experiencing for myself the goodness of Edwin.
and I worked together when we both became judges of the Agora Awards in 2015,
when the PMA decided to get past winners as judges. I was made Chairman (having
won in 1994) and witnessed Edwin having a high standard of the achievements he
expects from all nominees. But he was easy to work with and made it comfortable
to have a conversation with him. Indeed, a real people person.
years, I have searched for someone to take my place as Mansmith’s Chief
Marketing Strategist. I wanted to focus more on helping the SMEs through
Mansmith’s Day 8 Business Academy for SMEs and be Mansmith’s Chief Innovation
Strategist. I wanted one who not only have the experience, the storytelling
skill, the patience to answer clients’ questions, and the prestige, but most of
all, I wanted one with good value system, a senior guy who is not after the
money and the ego but has the heart to teach and the authenticity to be a role
model. It was a tough qualification but when I learned he retired, I invited
him to join Mansmith as the new Chief Marketing Strategist in 2017. He
accepted. I later learned from his eldest daughter Aja that he accepted because
Mansmith, being advocacy-based, was consistent with his value system.
the same year, Edwin was nominated to the Mansmith Market Masters Awards (MMA)
by his then brand manager at URC and now managing director at Wellmade
Manufacturing and Mansmith YMMA, Chay Cruel. The Mansmith MMA is the first and
only recognition for senior marketers not just based on prior performance but
also in mentoring young marketers; nomination is only reserved for recipients
of Mansmith YMMA. He won in 2017 together with Inquirer’s Rene Reinoso,
Unilever’s Gina Lorenzana and P&G Thailand’s Raffy Fajardo. In his
acceptance speech, he shared the analogy of a sun shining to enable others to
see the beauty of the world and its likeness to a mentor’s job of allowing
mentees to shine.
have spent countless coffee sessions in Cafe France Libis with Edwin, our
favorite meeting venue since it was near my house and near his daughter’s
office. He would share a list of questions he wanted me to answer, clarify my
thoughts, discussing my inputs further. I found him to be truly a humble man
open to learning. He would also share part of himself – his heart attack while
working in Indonesia and his involvement with the Ateneo scholarship program,
among many others.
last time I saw Edwin was during the 60th anniversary of RFM Corporation where
we both worked in the past (I, in the early to mid-80s while he, about a decade
later). We were supposed to meet again on November 26, 2018 when he invited
Chiqui and I as guest speakers in his Ateneo class. Edwin had ask us to share
about the concepts of ‘The WE Entrepreneur’ and the ‘4 Gates of
Entrepreneurship’ as published in our respective books of the same titles.
Despite losing him a few days prior, we still pushed through with our talk
because it was a commitment and he would have expected us to be present in his
class (thanks to his children who went to his class to introduce us).
remember Edwin always with a smiling and happy face and will strive to follow
his footsteps – a diligent student and a patient mentor, proud but kind,
achievement-focused but people-oriented, serious but witty, a great marketer
and an even greater human being.
you are an inspiration!
was co-author of the 2018 bestselling marketing book ‘The Mansmith Mentors
List: The 8th P’s of Marketing’ and spoke during the 9th Market Masters
Conference. He, along with all Mansmith consultants donated their professional
fees to the Yellow Boat of Hope, in order to buy boats to help children in
Lomopog, North Cotabato travel to schools, in between parents use the boats for
interviews with Edwin Totanes should be required readings for every marketer
Record-breaking, bestselling author Josiah Go is the Chairman of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines), and Chairman of Waters Philippines (the market leader in the direct selling of premium home water purifiers in the Philippines). He is Chairman / Vice Chairman / Director of over a dozen companies.