Q&A with Gretchen Ho on Winning and Inspiring Others to Win

Q1: Your name is synonymous to volleyball. Yet, your first love was basketball. What life lessons have you learned shifting from basketball to volleyball?

A: I’ve learned that you have to accept the realities in your life and make the most out of what you have. At that time, we didn’t have a basketball team in high school and I wanted to be a school athlete. So I tried out volleyball and came to really love the sport. I’ve also learned that you have to try things before saying no to them because you’ll never really know. The opportunities that you have in front of you might be greater than what you had previously planned for yourself. Trust and let go 🙂

Q2: You won many games but lost a few too. There must have been tremendous pressure when people expect you and your team to always win. What keeps you going?

A: It’s not easy being an athlete. You have to be resilient when it comes to failure. When you lose a game, you can’t stay down. You have to get up right away, train harder, acknowledge your mistakes, and improve on your flaws. At a young age, I was already faced with these personal battles. It’s not always easy, especially when there’s tremendous pressure. People looking at every move. I guess what keeps me going is my passion for the things that I do and my hunger for learning. I always want to be better.

Q3: You have been part of many teams. What were three important team leadership mistakes you will never forget?

A: 1) There was a time when I was elected captain of my team and I was so excited to get back on the court right after our off-season. Because I was too excited for training, I couldn’t sleep. I ended not waking up to my alarm for my 6am training and oversleeping. I woke up at 7am and hurried frantically to training. I was so embarassed because of that and felt like I lost my credibility right from the start. I was supposed to be the leader but I failed to give a good impression at the start. From this experience, I learned that as a leader, you have to set a very good example, else people won’t follow you or believe anything you say. It’s hard to be on your toes all the time, but that’s part of the responsibility.

2) Leading is not always about roaring, talking or charging. Sometimes, you can lead by just being silent. I always thought that leaders were supposed to be vocal, but that’s not the case all the time. What’s more important is that you get the trust and respect of the people around you, and making sure that you are getting everyone on the same page, faced towards one goal.

3) As a leader, it’s important to have many dreams and a vision for your team. The thing is, as a leader, you have to have a systematic or concrete idea on your mind on how you will get things done. It’s not just about planning. It’s about making things happen with the amount of resources (talent, money, labor) that you have. The thing is, I’m a real good planner. I have so many ideas on my mind that I want to happen. But I’ve realized that it’s so easy to plan, and everybody can do it! Not everybody can put things into actuality, though. That’s why I constantly challenge myself to GET THINGS DONE. Hence, my mindset about things is to do them now, not later, not tomorrow, but NOW.

Q4: You are part owner of The Inspired Project, a budding retail business that’s all about motivating young Filipinos to follow their dreams and aspirations through graphic T-shirts and other related collaterals. What was the insight behind this? 

A: The Inspired Project is actually a dream business and advocacy. As an athlete, I place a high value on motivation and inspiration to keep me going through victories and defeats. Self-motivation is actually a skill for us. You have to know how to pick yourself up through all the adversaries that come your way. Now, this may become a challenge because of the crab mentality that is prevalent in our society, especially with social media being an effective means. I’ve always loved inspirational quotes. Sometimes, when I run, I make some myself. So I told myself, why not do the same on merchandise? This way we get to spread inspiration everywhere and promote a culture where people help each other instead of putting each other down. Our goal, as a brand, is to be able to spread inspiration through our merchandise, events, mini concerts, forums and advocacies.

Q5: You gamely contributed two marketing tips for my twitter account where I give marketing tips daily. Can you share what was on your mind when you wrote ‘Marketing Tip 4600: Humility will get you to more places than pride. Acknowledge mistakes & inadequacies. Learn from them’

A: I actually just came from training when I was thinking about this. It’s my favorite quote. Every game and training, it is inevitable that you will make mistakes. Before, everytime I did make a mistake, I felt devastated to the point that it ate up my confidence. As I grew older, though, I learned that even the best continuously make mistakes. The difference is, they take these mistakes as stepping stones for learning. The difference is really attitude. If you learn to lower your pride and accept that you don’t know everything, it will take you to more places because you get to learn more and absorb more. Pride’s glory is only short-lived.

Q6: What about ‘Marketing Tip 4601: Always be genuine with your brand. People are smart enough to figure things out nowadays’. Can you share some nuggets of wisdom about authenticity?

A: This is my personal motto. To always be genuine with everything that I say and do. I believe authenticity goes a long way. It’s one thing to market something as great and all, but if you are going for longevity, you have to produce something that has quality. You have to perform. You also have to be honest with people when you fail to deliver. Inform them about what’s happening. Like what I said, people are already smart enough to figure out the truth.

Q7: You earned double degrees at the Ateneo de Manila — Management Engineering and Communication. How are you making the most of what you have learned from both disciplines or what are you able to use from your degrees in your chosen career path now?

A: Marketing was really my original career path. Management Engineering taught me the business side of it, and I studied Communications to learn more about the creative part. I think my course is not really that far from what I’m doing right now. I’m still dealing with a lot of marketing and advertising, especially when it comes to my career as a personality, and also with my business, The Inspired Project. In general, Management Engineering taught me how to be analytical with everything, while Communications taught me how to get my ideas across. I think it’s a good mix! As a host, you need to be able to think on your feet and communicate well.

Q8: You were once a marketing intern at Nestle. Instead of a corporate marketing career, you now host a lifestyle-oriented sports TV show, allowing you another shift in career. When should one shift from an existing preference to another?

A: I think it’s a matter of evaluating the opportunities that are right in front of you and matching them with your interests. Sometimes we may already have a perfect scenario in our minds of what we want to be, not knowing that there might be something better for us. For me, I always thought I would go corporate marketing, but I told myself, why not do these things while I’m young? I might never have the chance again, while corporate will forever be there. After all I have nothing to lose and all the experience to gain. I think you just have to open your mind to things and slowly you’ll discover where you belong. I believe that God will give you the right desires and the peace of mind once you’ve made the right decision. I am so grateful that God led me here because if I pursued corporate marketing, I wouldn’t have had traveled all over the world, nor met all the people I know today! My profession is quite unstable but I believe that everything will turn out okay in the end. I think also, when choosing a profession, you have to balance out your realities, capabilities, opportunities and passions. Go where you grow!

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