What To Do When I Turn 60

I used to be the youngest in many things – – youngest national president of the Philippine Marketing Association (then) at age 28, youngest bestselling marketing author at age 31, youngest Agora Awardee in Marketing Education at age 32, youngest lifetime achievement awardee in marketing education at age 45. I have been extremely blessed  and grateful for all of God’s gifts in my life. 

But my “being-the-youngest” days have been over a long time ago. For the last two decades, I have been spending time mentoring younger people so they can have their own victories earlier than later (in age).  One of these programs is the annual Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards (YMMA), co-founded with Chiqui Escareal-Go in 2005.  In those 17 years (and counting), we have had 155 winners (and counting) –  many of whom have become CMO in several major companies in different industries. As an advocacy-based non-formal educational institution, we are grateful we have been able to launch many innovations and continue with the YMMA program uninterrupted. We are glad our surplus in trainings and our many partners who believe in us and our advocacies have been able to fund the YMMA, along with some of our newer projects – – the Mansmith Innovation Awards, the Mansmith Market Masters Awards for Senior Mentors, as well as events such as the Business Model Conferences and the Mansmith Innovation Summit.   

Today (April 22) is a special day for me as I celebrate my 60th birthday. I will be spending the whole day attending two meetings in Unionbank, a bank I admire and have often cited in my various talks. I am happy to be considered for reelection as an independent director of the board again, serving alongside many heroes I look up to. 

Many companies set optional retirement age at 60 and mandatory retirement age at 65. I retired from my own company at 59 to spend half the time traveling and to other to write more books. As we know, travel had been limited or non-existent because of Covid restrictions in the past, and when I try to finish writing my 20th book, either other talks had to be prepared or another mentoring, coaching or consulting session had been scheduled.  But definitely, a new book will be out by 2023, so do watch out for it. 

Reflecting on all these years, I have been blessed with a meaningful life, a good family, good friends, good network, good health, and modesty aside, a good name I continue to work hard to maintain (thanks to my parents for their constant reminders before). I praise God for all these goodness, even if sometimes I feel undeserving. I praise God for using Chiqui and I as conduits to help and make a difference in the lives of others.  I praise God for giving me more than a fair share of His Grace. 

More recently, I was approached by eight different groups to explore possibilities to join their boards, including an offer to join the government as well as to join a university. I am honored to be considered but I have accepted only two board appointments so far (aside from maintaining my own businesses and advocacies) – as Independent Director of Union Bank of the Philippines, as well as Board Trustee of University of  St. La Salle Bacolod. I learned so much from sitting in these boards, as well as attending their committee meetings. They have provided me unique opportunities to observe the logic of banking as well as of educational institutions. I thank them for their trust and look forward to continue to add value to the board and our shareholders.  As I turn 60, I am now ready to explore more board opportunities from other industries on a selective basis where I can be relevant and active.

I find that I have been able to provide such value to boards and clients due to a clear line of sight of knowing where I wanted to go especially as a life long learner who enjoys gaining new knowledge and being able to connect the dots that lead to valuable insights.  I believe it all started from my deliberate shift some two decades ago from my core in marketing and sales, that expanded to its adjacency in blue ocean strategy and innovation, and further more to the adjacencies in entrepreneurship and business model.   These six different lenses were sharpened through constant study and experience and have allowed me to keep thinking differently, seeing things differently and doing things differently.

Sanofi Consumer Health’s Ian Santos had described me as a contrarian, “but in a good way”, he said  – – for asking even basic questions on why we do what we do, realizing there are many things we take for granted. Sometimes I have been described as a scary “professor” who keeps posing the hard questions, for always challenging assumptions, and still being able to provide or offer alternative solutions to existing problems, at least most of the time. This could not have been possible without the many years of learning and the psychological safety provided by the leadership of the boards that enable conversations and discussion no matter how unfamiliar the question asked, and when another perspective is shared, no matter how different from the norm.   

I wrote this article while reflecting on a beach in Palawan. I like to end this piece by sharing an important quote from the poem – – “Song for Myself” by Walt Whitman, which has guided me in most of my 60-year journey so far, and where I have discovered my identity and my purpose – – “Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity. When I give, I give myself.”

*****

The search for the 17th annual Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards (YMMA) is ongoing until May 6, 2022. Forms can be filled up in www.youngmarketmasters.com 

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