The year was 1992. I launched my first marketing book called “Contemporary Marketing Strategy in the Philippine Setting”. A senior colleague and reviewer, the late Professor Roger Buhay encouraged me to add “Philippine Setting”, to set the tone defining my kababayans as my target market. This was to address the non-availability of high quality marketing books with local cases.
I was barely 30 years old then. “Will people buy my book?,” I kept asking myself before the launch. Back then I was the youngest national president of the Philippine Marketing Association just a year before. I have been teaching marketing part time at the Ateneo de Manila with outstanding ratings and Ateneo’s Rudy Ang just asked me to be Director for Marketing Minor which I accepted 1992-1995. I have also been a successful entrepreneur since 1985, or so I tried to reassure myself while thinking that if I failed, I had youth as an advantage. I can keep trying again.
(Above: My first book launched in 1992)
Fortunately, the 5,000 copies I printed sold out in three months. Thanks to Mrs. Socorro Ramos of National Book Store who supported me all out. She encouraged me to write more books. Years later, when I visited her and she knew it was my birthday, she had her assistant buy ice cream and treated the entire department I was dealing with. Thanks to Mrs. Ramos and thousands of my relatives and friends who bought my first and subsequent books, I can now add the credential “bestselling author” in my CV.
So I became a “slasher” long before it became an in thing, i.e., industry leader / bestselling author / seminar speaker / successful entrepreneur / marketing educator. Now I also have a blog (www.josiahgo.com) which is cross posted in Inquirer Business every Fridays since 2014.
My three-years brand and new product work experience in RFM in 1982-1985 became an advantage as I simply followed the same NPD process when launching books, producing four marketing books in three years. I became a recipient of the Agora Awards on my first try in 1994, became the youngest awardee in marketing education, and my very first third-party validation as an author and educator. This boosted my confidence over the roof as I was an outlier in that category. Most Agora awardees are mostly two decades older, in their 50’s. This episode in my young marketing life actually planted a seed in my mind – that there is a need to encourage and recognize young marketers, not just the senior ones. This was what inspired the launch of the Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards (YMMA) in 2006, the first and only annual awards recognizing outstanding young marketers and entrepreneurs 35 years and younger. To date, some 155 YMMAs have been recognized, and many have moved on to be CMOs of major companies.
I also pivoted myself many times as a business educator. From sales and marketing, to blue ocean strategy and innovation, and in the last decade, added entrepreneurship and business model. Of course, I continue to deep dive in each specialization. For instance, in marketing, I explored market-driving strategy, instead of the usual market-driven strategy. I went into defense marketing, growth strategy, marketing innovation, and found there are five skills of master strategists and four levels of differentiation, which I learned and put together from the many interviews I did with CEOs and CMOs. Each pivot gave me the advantage to look at situations with more lenses, spotting discrepancies and opportunities quickly, challenging conventional wisdom.
A few years ago, I was having coffee with my former Ateneo student, Xandra Ramos, who by then has taken over National Book Store as managing director. She encouraged me to curate some of my interviews into a book, a kind of reverse mentoring at work where student “taught” the teacher. Her advice turned out correct. Despite my initial reluctance, “The Rainmakers: Strategy and Marketing Lessons from 25 Top CEOs” broke National Bookstore’s all-time launch sales record of a business book by 800%, selling some 1,600 copies in two hours. That’s about one book every 4.6 seconds, a great way to celebrate my 25th anniversary as an author. I followed it up with “The Mavericks: How 35 Marketing Rockstars Think, Strategize and Execute” which became the business book of the year 2019.
But if there was one thing most fulfilling about being an author, it is the power to help and influence others positively. I was walking in Greenbelt one time and a stranger stopped me to inquire if I were Josiah Go. She wanted to thank me and told me that after reading my book, she and her partner decided not to close their company. At another time, a next-gen entrepreneur thanked me for my help, and that instead of closing their restaurant, they opened a second branch and both are doing well. These thank-you’s are priceless psychic rewards.
Besides these direct effects of our marketing and entrepreneurship books to our readers, we have also been able to help others in other ways. 100% proceeds from the sales of all books since 1992 go to the Josiah and Carolina Go Foundation . We have been able to donate 30 houses for the homeless under Gosingtian Village in Novaliches, 2 other Habitat houses for the poor, another 4 houses in Bulacan, close to 100 Operation Smile free cleft lip operations, countless scholarships, among others – all done with the help of my companies – Waters Philippines and Mansmith and Fielders.
I praise God for the guidance and the blessings for the past 30 years, enabling me to reach out to others, and impact lives in ways I could not have imagined when I began writing.
Let me end by sharing 30 important lessons in the last 30 years, writing about marketing and entrepreneurship.
- Self doubt can be a double edged sword but you can use it to keep improving or challenging yourself.
- You will never reach your (desired) destination by giving up. Don’t quit!
- What you do today is always a rehearsal of better things that may come in the future.
- Always do things well as if it’s the last thing you will do or be remembered for.
- Focus on your strengths. It is best to compete with yourself by continuously beating your personal best.
- Recognize your flaws. No excuses. No blaming.
- Don’t self-sabotage. Work on improving your shortcomings.
- Plan well but trust your gut.
- Pause regularly to evaluate, redirect and reflect.
- Keep moving forward, not backward.
- Never fear failure. But test your assumptions to minimize failures.
- Keep developing your skills by doing something you have never done in the past.
- Never overestimate your strengths. Be humble.
- Learn to listen well. You can discover many new things from others.
- Opportunities are everywhere. Don’t rush to do marketing. Find the opportunity first.
- Be relevant before being unique.
- Make yourself obsolete by introducing something new regularly.
- Keep the cannibals within the family. Continue to spot and push boundaries.
- Network with the right people even before you need them. They form part of your ecosystem that can connect you with others, mentor you on new opportunities or even provide economic and emotional support.
- Always show your value to your network by establishing integrity and credibility.
- There are people who may have underestimated you, looked down at you, or have ignored you when you were just starting out. Be extra kind to them anyway, especially if they need your help.
- Know your “Why” before your “How”.
- Acknowledge the leaders who found you, tapped you and believed in you.
- Do things with love. Have a high standard. Don’t compromise on quality.
- Personal branding matters. Value your reputation. Make people proud of being associated with you.
- Be different by being different, not by being the same.
- If you can’t it do it right the first time, pivot, you may get it right the second time.
- You don’t have to be the first in everything. You just have to be the first to succeed and stay successful.
- Be patient with your life. In God’s time, not your time!
- Don’t just be a good entrepreneur, or marketer. Be a good human being. Be a force for good.
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