What is your Brand?

When I think of a go-to pizza, Shakey’s is the first thing that comes up to me.

When I think of an old-school but stable bank, it’s Metrobank.

When I think of a sports brand that most athletes wear, it’s Nike.

To me, this is the true meaning of a brand. The customers brand you and not the other way around.

The problem with most businesses or marketers is that they create their brand message based on the image that they want to project, not based on how customers are branding them.

I always ask in interviews, “if I call your former colleagues, what do you think will they tell me about you?”. That’s your brand.

I am writing this because I’d like to share the proper mindset in discovering your brand. Also, Hilsoft never used a tagline, only a slogan “Loved by Filipino SMEs for over 17 years“. I think its about time to use one this coming 2019.

Looking back, I often hear from customers or partners that if you want your problem to be solved then call Dennis. Even in our team, if the devs couldn’t solve the coding problem, then they call me. Debugging that takes days, I can solve in minutes.

So I am branded as a guy who can solve anything. Relative of course to business automation problems whether if it is a user issue or a software issue.

Just recently, I encounter different cases during sales meetings with clients. So we in the sales team always come up with solutions. It can be a simple software customization tweak, hardware integration or even iOT.

Now I can confidently say that not only me but we are tagged as a company who can provide solutions to each business process problems that the customer have.

A few years ago, I printed and posted a message in our office wall, “You can solve anything.” I posted it to impart to our team that with resourcefulness, creativity and having an innovative mindset, any programming problem can be solved. So I figured, why not use this as a company tagline to tell the world that there’s a solution to every problem and Hilsoft can help and collaborate with you in solving them.

My next job is to make sure that I communicate this tagline to our team, so we are all aligned as to who we really are and how we are different from the others.

The most important thing is to create a process of how our team can systematically execute this brand to customers.

So in your case, what is your brand? Or should I say, what do your customers tell about you? I hope this writing can help you in discovering them.

So What If We Are Introverts?

I consider myself an introvert. Introvert, in urban dictionary, prefers to spend time alone in order to recharge their inner being.

We always think thoroughly before we say or act on something. We form thoughts in our head, and we like to be isolated most of the time. In my industry, programmers are stereotyped as introverts. In our office, the devs are working with lights-out, with headphones and a hoodie.

The thing is, we often appear to be shy and timid, but in reality, small talks are not our thing, and these conversations draw down our energy rapidly.
The problem is when the energy becomes negative that results in social anxiety, heart racing, blushing, stuttering, and harmful scripts in our heads like we think others are judging us.

In social situations, we are often expected to speak out and socialize as if it is easy for us. We are pressured to be extroverts. And this cycle tends to repeat for us, and if we are not self-aware, then we limit ourselves into enjoying life and people around us. Some of us fail in pursuing our dreams because we are tolerating that negative energy.

To me, it’s a matter of becoming self-aware and turning that negative energy into positive.

Going back to the question, so what if we are introverts? There’s nothing wrong in being an introvert. In fact, super successful people like J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, and Warren Buffet are all introverts.

The thing that bugs me is that when you mix introversion and shyness/timidness. There’s a clear line between the two. Timidness, by definition, is lacking in self-assurance, assertiveness, self-esteem or courage.

As I said, there’s no problem in being an introvert. The problem is when you use the introversion as an alibi for not pursuing what you want. For being afraid to pitch your idea to your boss, to an investor or your colleague. For not having the courage to speak out when you see problems in whatever situation you are in. Your future is what at stake here if you tolerate those.

Let’s not try to change from being an introvert to extrovert. Instead, let’s turn our timidness into being assertive.

So, how do we do it?

Here’s some suggestions that I’ve been doing over the years:

  1. Make extra efforts to improve. This is not an overnight thing. You have to form a habit of being self-aware and being in constant research mode.
  2. Change the negative scripts in your head into positive. Scripts like, “I don’t look good”, “I am not that smart”, “I might fail this”. Change it to “I am prepared for this, and I am confident”, “I am calm and in control”. Repeat it over and over again before you engage into a conversation with someone.
  3. Practice. The best teacher is the experience. Make sure that you practice your presentation well enough the day before. Consciously invite people into small talks and conversation. I know you don’t enjoy it, but see that experience as a weapon when you are faced in a professional situation.
  4. Play good hip-hop or party songs before engaging. NBA players do that during shootarounds before the game. That establishes a good feeling and energy before starting the game.

To summarize, be proud that you are an introvert. Be pleased that you think things over before doing it. But make sure you are prepared during life-changing moments or interacting with people especially when you are pursuing your dreams or want.

I AM – Affirmations for the Soul

“I am not good enough.”, ” I am not going to make it.”, “I am going to fail.”, “I am not a good speaker.”, “I am not going to live a happy life ever.”, “I hate my job.”  Sounds familiar?

Everyone experiences these tapes from our heads, and that ruins our day. We drag ourselves going to work because of all we think about are these negative thoughts and complaints about our life. We become paranoid with our significant other because our self-esteem is low and we tolerate them.

I’ve been there. I was in my early 20s when I become aware of this. I studied behavioral-cognitive therapy, mindfulness, Buddhism, and meditation. As time pass, I gradually stitch techniques together and stumble upon tools on how to swing negative to positive.
If you search “positive affirmations” on YouTube or Audible or Google, you can find a lot of interesting positive affirmations you can listen to every morning or even at night before you sleep.
Try it, and it will change your life forever.

Below is the top 10 on my list of positive affirmations I listen to and tell myself every day.

  1. I am confident
  2. I am calm and in control.
  3. I am full of life and filled with gratitude.
  4. I am enough, and I have enough, good health, work, and relationships.
  5. I am living my life out loud, and I love it.
  6. I love and enjoy who I am.
  7. I am a strong and confident person.
  8. I have the ability to do anything I wish.
  9. I am a wonderful person with so much to offer.
  10. I am not my negative thoughts. I am my actions.

Will You Ever Take Care of Yourself? (Creative Thoughts about Health)

This blog post is not a promotion nor a campaign. It is just an honest question and an attempt to save a life. I am perplexed with people who look for happiness but don’t even consider changing their diets or workout.  Some may be wondering why they usually wake up with a heavy feeling and do nothing but complain in social media about work and life.

Maybe I should rephrase my question. Why should I take care of myself? This question can be answered depending on one’s values, priorities, and outlook.

The following are some possible whys:

  1. So I can live longer.
  2. So I can spend quality time with my loved ones.
  3. So I can be mentally stable.
  4. So I can be happy.
  5. So I can achieve a good figure, and people will like me.
  6. So I don’t live my life in my 40s lying on the hospital bed and/or taking maintenance medicines.
  7. So I can be more efficient and productive at work or any business I am in now.
  8. So my blood flows evenly, my nerves are relaxed, and my heart gets stronger.

If you really contemplate on it, it’s a no-brainer. You should take care of yourself. It’s no different with the question, should I take care of my children? Should you bring your car to its scheduled maintenance? Should you work hard to be successful in your business?  These will not matter when you’re dead or crippled. 

If you are in your teens or 20s, these still don’t make sense because you can eat literally anything but mind you that starting good habits early is the best investment you can make for your future.

In my next posts about this topic, I will share with you my habits of watching what I eat, how I developed it and the system that I do in my workouts.

Meantime, you may start small, then one step at a time.  Dieting should be the first step.  Exercise will mean nothing if you don’t change your diet.  Start with removing rice in your diet. Switch it with green leafy vegetables, oatmeal, and fruits. I know its hard but just refer to the why’s above. You only live once, and there will never be the next time. 

Are You Bored? Try Reading Books

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.”  This is a great quote from George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones.

The first-ever book I’ve read was The Godfather during high-school. Growing up, I was never tagged as a book reader until I had that book. From there on, I never stopped looking for something to read every time I pass by a bookstore. I shifted to ebooks, Kindle, Audible and now even Blinkist, a curation of bestseller books in a shortened form.

To me, if you complain that you are bored but you don’t read, then you have no right to complain.

But some books look interesting to read at the beginning.  In many cases, I stop in the middle because maybe the content was not what I expected or the writing was crappy.

So today, I am thrilled to share with you the books I finished reading and I recommend. Most of them are inspirational and mind-opening for us to pursue creativity and innovation.

This list is in random order. Items with the asterisk are highly recommended:

  • Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  • The Everything Store (Jeff Bezos and the Age of the Amazon) by Brad Stone*
  • Shoe Dog (Nike Story) by Phil Knight*
  • The Airbnb Story by Leigh Gallager
  • Unf*ck Yourself by John Bishop*
  • Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  • Principles by Ray Dalio*
  • Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time*
    Drive by Daniel Pink
  • Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuck
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
  • Sales Management: Simplified by Mike Weinberg*
  • Made to Stick by Chip Heath
  • The CEO Next Door by Tahl Raz, Kim Powell, and Elena Botelho
  • Built to Last by Jim Collins*
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins

How to Get Things Done

Great Monday! I just wanted to share some of my new learnings these past days about managing tasks, being more efficient and less work stress.

1. Getting things done by David Allen (GTD) – https://gettingthingsdone.com

2. Bullet Journal by Ryder Carroll – https://bulletjournal.com

3. Mind Mapping by Tony Buzan – https://www.mindmapping.com

These concepts have helped me creatively clear out my head and organize my thoughts.

Happy learning!


My Top 5 Mood Enhancing Questions in the Morning

Taken in Pasay -April 2018

Today, I am introducing “Curated List” found at the top menu of this blog.  As I document things in my life thru this platform, I’d like to share some creative content on different topics that might be valuable to the readers.

Here are the top questions I ask myself in the morning when I wake up that makes me get energized in the morning.  I follow-through by doing frequent check-ins through the rest of my day.

  1. What are the three things I am grateful for?
  2. What are the three important tasks that I should focus on today?
  3. What’s my energy level today? (1-10) Why?
  4. What’s my enthusiasm level? (1-10) Why?
  5. What’s my mood? Why?