From Core to Cluster in Opportunity-Seeking

I actually started doing sales training even before Mansmith and Fielders Inc. was founded in 1990. Three years as a working student and three years doing FMCG brand marketing work at RFM after graduation prepared me for the work of an entrepreneur. One of the operations I started running as a start-up was a direct sales company. That new venture eventually beat a much larger multinational competitor, which kickstarted my initiation into sales training.

From sales training, I shifted and focused on marketing training after some of my students at the Ateneo de Manila University began asking for my case lecture notes, as they liked the way I present cases to emphasize a point. That eventually led me to publish my work into several books (18 as of last count), which all became bestsellers one time or another.

My third professional shift was in the mid 2000’s when I brought the Blue Ocean Strategy from France to the Philippines and facilitated it for 4-5 years. I did not know then there was a name for what I had been doing. I truly enjoyed my training in France, New York, Australia and Singapore. I moved on to innovation (Market-Driving Strategy), then the bigger picture of the Business Model in 2010, and finally to entrepreneurship, connecting the dots annually in some of the best ivy leagues in the world – Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT Sloan, and the London Business School.

I thank my clients who have allowed me to learn many lessons from them while facilitating over 1,000 seminars in almost all industries for the last three decades. Let me share a few:

1. Constantly expand from core to your natural adjacencies. I have done it six times:  from Sales to Marketing, then to Blue Ocean Strategy, then to Innovation, then to Business Model, then Entrepreneurship.

2. The constant shift from core to adjacencies creates a cluster of competitive advantages. In the learning and development industry, that is a cluster of interrelated and competitive knowledge.

3. It is not enough to understand marketing. Like a specialized medical doctor, one needs to understand the framework of marketing’s sub-disciplines – – growth marketing, defensive marketing, market-driven strategy, market-driving strategy, market challenger strategy, service strategy, marketing implementation, etc.

4. The more a marketer is exposed to a particular industry, the more they will operate in the same way and become a “prisoner” of their industry’s logic, where all players practically operate in the same way. This is especially critical if they are a newcomer or challenger wanting to grab leadership. It is also critical for market leaders to know the possibilities of how they will be attacked by competition.

5. I have always advised my clients not to fall in love with industry benchmarking, and follow what their market leaders are doing. Rather, to adopt practices from other industries and disciplines.

6. Many times marketers and businesses like to hang on to certain beliefs and practices that worked in the past, especially when they are in crisis. But a lack of understanding of the vast options available to them will make them continue to do what they have been doing all along – – cut and paste.

7. Many marketing and business executives are afraid to take risks. Risk avoidance is the norm. They are afraid to commit mistakes, hence, they are constantly over relying on market research, requiring a 98% confidence level. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, can spot opportunities from a mile away and are not afraid to make themselves vulnerable through experimentation. They can make decisions quickly even with 60% of the required information, then tweak and pivot their decisions. This is one trait marketers can learn from entrepreneurs.

I realized I am in such a unique position to help clients by offering different perspectives. I also realized I enjoy many advantages as a marketing educator – – my direct sales exposure, my marketing practice from the perspective of an entrepreneur, and my exposure to different industries the last three decades shifting from core to adjacencies.


Josiah Go will be presenting a 3-hour special “Marketing in a Recession: Lessons From Past Crisis” seminar on Oct. 20, 2020, 2-5pm. Registration price can go as low as P1,500+vat for each participant in a group of 6. 

See the outline and registration via

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Josiah Go features the movers and shakers of the business world and writes about marketing, strategy, innovation, execution and entrepreneurship


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