How will you spend Christmas 2020?

Happy New Year! In case you do not know yet, Advent is the start of the Liturgical Calendar. Here is a video to know more about Advent:

It is already cold outside, do you feel the Christmas Spirit? Have you done your Christmas shopping? Are you already preparing for the parties and reunions? Oops you cannot do that. How do you plan to celebrate Christmas 2020?

Since September my kids have been asking me everyday, how many days till Christmas? 109 days, 96 days, and the count goes on, but deep in my heart I am sad that I cannot give them the Christmas they enjoyed in the past. Although I am already warning them that Christmas this year will be different, I am still hoping we can make them happy this coming Christmas. My daughter, in her online class today told her teacher she is sad because she would not be able to visit her family in Laguna. They also want to go out again and see the beautiful Christmas decorations and lights.

But does it mean, we just have to surrender that 2020 maybe your worst Christmas ever or can we celebrate a different kind of Christmas? Maybe this year, I will try to teach my children a different kind of Christmas, as the video below suggests:

Let 2020 be a year of real waiting and reflecting, letting go of all our baggage in our homes and in our minds. A year to reflect what is really important in our hearts. A year that we start doing what we really want to do in our life. Have a blessed Advent.

Why did God allow 2020?

Why did God allow 2020? I do not mean to open a Pandora’s box or promise that after reading this article you will find the answer to this very controversial question.

I invite you to watch the video below and after, spend a few minutes to personally react before you continue reading:

Is it true that God is an absentee landlord? Is God a prankster? Did God set the rules in opposition? If this is the first time you watched this movie and may have not noticed, Al Pacino was playing the devil. Is the devil a fan of man? the last humanist?

This is what the devil wants us to believe. But unlike what we see in movies where the hero and the villain is clear, the devil wants us to forget he exists. The devil wants us to believe that it is all God while the devil does his work in incognito. I would like to remind people that the war between good and evil, God and the devil is real.

When I was looking for a video for my article, i set aside this one. It may open a can of worms, it is hard to explain and some people may question their faith. But while hearing mass today, God inspired me to use this video. I too must admit, I forgot about the devil until I watched this video. It was all God, God, God, but where is the devil? The devil exists and he is in a war with God for souls.

Watching this video may rock the faith of some who may view it but God reminded me of my own faith struggles. He reminded me when I was young that I had a phobia of death and about dying. It was so bad it was manifesting through hyperacidity, palpitations, etc. I was using my head to answer the question of God’s existence. I, like the boy St. Augustine met in the beach was trying to put the whole sea inside the hole the boy dug. My phobia was instantly cured when hearing mass in my late teenage years, God inspired me that I just need to have faith. Years of questioning God, the Bible, the Creation I just need to say amen and believe.

Pope Francis gave a similar answer when asked by a 12 year old Filipina why does God allow Children to Suffer; “Only when we too can cry about the things that you said are we able to come close to replying to that question,”. Intelligence will never be able to answer the existence of God, only when the heart has understood will the head follow.

I leave you with this reflection question, when was the last time you thought about the devil and his acts?

Happy Lockversary!

It has been one year since the lockdown, for some it was more. Classes were suspended one week before, while us at work had a trial lockdown starting March 12. A trial lockdown that is more than one year old now. I do not need to tell you how hard a year it was, we were all affected:

So how was your one year in lockdown? Some say you need 40 days to change a habit, others say you need to to do the 21/90 days to build a new one. Which ever is more effective, we have been in lockdown for more than 365 days, definitely we all changed. I even wonder what will be the new me after the lockdown, from someone who likes to go out or travel I might be now a home body.

During the one year lockdown I was able to follow my reset-realign-restart formula which reinvented SMEpinoy.com and AgentisConsult.com. If I was to plot my wheel of life, there would be major improvements in most aspects of my life.

(SOURCE: https://codescale.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/wheel-of-life/)

Sometimes I felt guilty that the lockdown was more a blessing to me compared to other people. Until I lost my mother, although she did not die because of COVID, I believed she was an indirect victim of COVID. Being a nonagenarian, she cannot get the proper medical attention she needed.

Furthermore, there is now a more contagious variant which brought things closer to home. There is at least one from my different circle of friends getting COVID, not just individuals but also their families. From averaging 2,000 new cases a day, we are now at 5,000 new cases a day. The UP OCTA even projected it can go to 6,000 new cases a day by the end of March. Even if there is already a vaccine, a Philippine Senator projected that at the pace we are going, we will reach the needed 70% vaccinated to get herd immunity by 2033. Even if we drastically improve our pace, it only mean we would not be able to reach the 70% needed this 2021. It only mean that at best we are just halfway into this lockdown.

I am stating this not to scare people, or make them lose hope. In the spirit of Strategic Planning, we should know the real score so we can plan appropriately. In the spirit of ISO 9001, we should revisit our plans, check how we are meeting them and adjust where necessary.

If you have hibernated for one year, do not believe you can survive by being idle for another year unless you have millions in your account. Even if you have millions, you still need to reset, realign and restart the other aspects of your life.

If you have been adept to have followed a plan during the pandemic, it is now time to for a revalidation. Personally, I have neglected my health. I also feel a need to have more impact in helping the community. Sharing what I know is not enough, I should start a project that would have a more direct impact to people’s lives and the environment. Whatever it would be, I would now review and adjust my plans.

Just do not forget, that to survive another year of lockdown we need more than ourselves. We need support from other heroes in our life. Whether we like it or not, this is not the end of the longest lockdown in the world. Happy Lockversary to you all!

ECQ Part 2 – A Holy Thursday Reflection

After a year, we are back in ECQ. When I wrote my Business Insights article, Happy Lockversary! (https://smepinoy.com/happy-lockversary/) at least one person in my circle of friends are getting Covid. Now at ECQ 2, there are at least 3 and growing fast. I read different reasons from different sides, but for me no one reason is the cause of the problem. As I always hear at the beginning of my favorite show from my favorite channel…

Are we already in a disaster? If you have not seen it as such, it means you need to prepare more. Hospitals are already overwhelmed and even our President has recognized this. No need to sugar coat it, expect bleak months ahead.

In the different Social Media groups I belong to, there are cries for help for family or friends. Most are looking for hospitals that can accommodate their sick. I could just imagine if my mother had her bad fall at this time, we could not have given her the hospital care, wake and burial she got. But with so many sad stories and pleas you hear, I feel guilty to even think we were spared from what thousands are experiencing now.

So how are you holding on? This holy week we do not need to be reminded to avoid beaches, you are forced to stay home. You do not need to look for inspiration to reflect, you are forced to quiet down. During this Holy Thursday, just surrender to the silence. When ready take time to reflect and pray. Reflect on what is happening all around us and include some prayer time for our country which needs a lot of healing…

The Great Reset – A Good Friday Reflection

God is Pesky, He has been waking me up for several weeks during our common early morning time to write an article. I tried but somewhere in between, work got in the way. It was a busy month at work, finally I got to make time yesterday to write ECQ Part 2 – A Holy Thursday Reflections (https://smepinoy.com/ecq-part-2/). Although I included Holy Thursday in the title, I do not know what to write today so it was supposed to be a one time thing. God is Pesky, I am now writing an article for a Good Friday Reflection.

Sad news greeted us this morning due to the passing of a High School then College Batchmate due to Covid. I am not doing a tally of those who got Covid and those who died from Covid, but it is already a part of our chats in my different Social Media groups. There are even more who are collateral damages of Covid, such as my mother. People who did not get the medical attention they needed because of the Pandemic.

What is the God’s message this holy week to you? During this holy week, we will be letting go one of the 2 units we are using. I confess, I am an Anonymous Hoarder. I have a lot of things in storage that I hope to find useful in the future, broken things I hope to repair or old memorabilia to show my children. I have kept things which are now 30 to 50 years old, some still in boxes, which my kid broke in 5 minutes. Downsizing this holy week has forced me to finally accept God’s message, its time for a great reset. Although I have been clearing a lot of things since my mother died, it was more automatic and a chore. I was able to sell a few of my things online but most of them were shared to those who will have better use for it than sitting in a plastic box in my makeshift warehouse. God’s message for me this Holy Friday…acknowledge that 2021 is a year for my Great Reset.

While I was searching for a video to add to this article, I was surprised that there have been a lot of discussion on a global Great Reset. I would not want to touch on that, but I would like to share a video that may help you reflect this Good Friday. Just incase you also need to reset your life.

Serendipity – A Holy Saturday Reflection

Holy Saturday for me is the most boring day in Lent. After going to the emotion-filled final hours of Jesus and His crucifixion. After going though different celebrations and activities we stop and wait. You cannot consecrate the Host because Jesus is dead. We are in a bubble, just waiting for His resurrection. Feels familiar? We have been doing it for more than a year. It seems that we are in an over extended Holy Saturday. After thinking that we will only be in lockdown for one year, we are now over and still far ahead. Are we half way till the end of the Pandemic? When will I get get vaccinated, I am in Priority Eligible C? Much worse the number of people testing positive is increasing, will I get Covid first before getting the vaccine?

While waiting for the pandemic to end, what will I do? Do I bum it out? Do I think of a new racket? If I have one, how do I sustain it? Or, do I wait for a Serendipity…

What does Serendipity mean? I first heard the word when I was part of the Yuppeace Faith Community based in Don Bosco-Makati which was born from the volunteers of World Youth Day 1995. We call a Serendipity session, the sharing of a group of four individuals from Bible Passages. Googling, Serendipity simply means finding something good without looking for it. But I like most the definition below :

How can we even think of something good happening when we are in a lockdown. Do we wait and pause our lives for two years? While waiting, it will be good to also dream of a serendipity.

Happy Easter!

Easter is the most important event to those who believe in Christ, much more important than Christmas. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven is proof that He is the son of God. If Jesus did not rise up on the 3rd day then He is human like us. You could imagine what will be the effect if they found a tomb of a jesus with a body in it.

How is your lent journey on the 2nd time during the pandemic? We hope this would be the last, but some say this will be the new normal. Whatever it is, we have to adapt, we have to move on, we have to rise. In case you were able to find an idea or a direction during this Lent, don’t let them die with the pandemic, it is time to execute your ideas.

Welcome to ECQ Part 3 – How are you coping?

Although they have been warning us to watch out when COVID has variants, I taught it was something just like the Beta Variant. But the Delta Variant caught me off guard, I did not see something like this coming. After one year and 5 months welcome to ECQ part 3. So how are you coping? How is your income? Although some are lucky to still be earning, but the majority are trying to survive. How can you earn during the lockdown?

Have you been vaccinated? I remember one of the stories I read in Social Media, there was an Anti-vaxxer being wheeled into the ICU and begging. Please give me the vaccine, I will take it now, whatever it is. The nurse sadly said, sorry now is too late. So please get vaccinated.

How about your personal life? How are you coping during the pandemic? For this ECQ, which I doubt will just be two weeks, I invite you to watch this video

Hope the video made you rethink about priorities, something to reflect on during the lockdown.

If you want to read more articles to help your reflect, I invite you to visit my previous articles at https://smepinoy.com/category/spiritual-insights/.

SMEpinoy MBAlite

To help businesses succeed in the New Normal, we are dedicating this webpage through tips on how MSMEs can manage using MBA principles.

CH 1 : How my sanity survived the New Normal? – 2021

I am revitalizing my 2020 article into a video.

Below is my article in 2020:

CH 1 : How my sanity survived the New Normal? – 2020

Before the ECQ I have some routine breaks that revitalized me, like early morning walks in the beautiful campus of the Ateneo (felt like Baguio even in summer), weekend beer with friends and office mates, church community activities and a sideline business that quenches my thirst to share. My routine breaks are nature and community, then came the Covid-19 pandemic where I was forced to stay home for months and close my sideline business. I was privileged that even during the ECQ I was still able to work from home and have a family to take care of as a routine. I could not imagine the otherwise of being alone and doing nothing. Having got used with routine breaks, I tried new activities such as gardening, delivery disinfection, home repairs and insect extermination. I also kept myself updated with news and pretended to be a back-seat IATF, but my sanity was still breaking while trying to be normal in the New Normal. The intensity increased when it became clear that the New Normal will last for around two years. I felt like the boy in the video, I was becoming grey.

After a few weeks, I shifted my mindset from being inward to outward focused, my thirst to share was awoken once more. It started with a free webinar on how to manage your business on the Post-ECQ using the knowledge I have gained as a back-seat IATF and hours of reading on the internet. The message was simple, to survive in the Post-ECQ MSMEs needs to go digital and Reset-Realign-Restart(a). To Reset, I re-assessed my SWOT(b), Strengths and Weaknesses during the ECQ and looked at the Opportunities and Threats then started strategizing for the New Normal. I saw that my Strengths matches with the Threat the MSMEs will face on how to operate in the New Normal and made this as an Opportunity to help MSMEs succeed in the New Normal. This will be my re-mission, a rehashed mission to re-focus to support MSMEs. I took the SMEpinoy.com brand out of the “baul”, and planned to use this as a vehicle for my re-mission. I created a BHAG and created an initial plan using the Business Model Canvass(c) framework. To Realign, I fired up again my sleeping partners in Servus and asked for a re-commitment, to continue working with those who are still willing. To get new blood, instead of finding partners or start a new company, which is unwise knowing how hard it is to close a corporation, I instead looked for new alliances with existing businesses. People who like me are just waiting for the starting gun of the lifting of the ECQ and start sprinting to do business in the new Normal.

But this was not the case, we were just brought down from ECQ to GCQ and still finding it hard to Restart. More businesses are forced to close or slow down which cause a lot of people to lose their job. Digital Commerce was booming even though the government said they will tax them. DTI said the online sellers should register their business so the online buyers can run after suppliers of defective product. I see the value of DTI’s reminder to protect the online buyers, but I also see the risks of registering your business. A business is not simply finding a product or service, branding it and selling it. The department you see at large corporations, HR, Operations, Finance, etc. must be present in any business big or micro. Although for big businesses it can be a division for a micro enterprise it will just be a function done by the sole owner of the business. Not doing this other functions is one of the major reasons why less than 0.7% of businesses in the Philippines survive more than 5 years, it is even much less during the Covid-19 pandemic. As it is hard to register a new business, it is much harder to close a business. During the GCQ, I am receiving at least five FB page group invites a day for new online businesses. Based on the statistics, from the 25 new FB page invites I receive per week only 1 or 2 will still be there 5 years from now.

Thus, I saw a new segment of society that needs the support of my MBA and more than 23 years of experience as an Entrepreneur, people who lost their old source of income and trying a new one. I took out again my trustee Business Model Canvass Template to create SMEpinoy Business Sanctuary whose mission is to guide startups from the dream stage to the expansion stage. The GCQ, as a blessing in disguise has given me time to Realign before Restarting a better planned and equipped SMEpinoy.com.

To answer the question, SMEpinoy.com and the weekly “e-numan” is how my sanity is surviving in the New Normal.

References:

  1. Reset-realign-restart : https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/economy/covid-19/guide-to-organizational-recovery-for-senior-executives-heart-of-resilient-leadership.html
  2. SWOT Analysis : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWOT_analysis
  3. Business Model Canvass : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Model_Canvas

CH 2a : The struggles of an Entrepreneur – 2021

I am revitalizing my 2020 article into a video.

Below is my article in 2020:

CH 2a : The struggles of an Entrepreneur – 2020

I have learned to make it a habit to do an external analysis of the macro-environment to anticipate the different forces that might affect my business. The Macro-Environment Analysis, or some call it the PESTLE Analysis(a), is one of the MBA frameworks in Strategic Management. One method to do external analysis is by keeping up to date with the news, much more in the New Normal. Recently one news that came out will have a big impact on businesses in the Philippines. There is a sharp drop in the Philippine economy, much worse than the 1984-85 economic crisis during the Marcos-era.

This is a Threat in the Economic Factor to all businesses in the Philippines.  During the ECQ I was optimistic, once the Quarantine is lifted people had the SAP to still spend in the New Normal. But the prolonged quarantine is depleting the savings of most Filipinos. OFW’s are going home, people are losing their jobs and businesses are closing. I am wondering how much cash will be left circulating in the Philippines after the quarantine. I am feeling sad, this has also brought back memories of how hard it was in 1984-85, our family had a major setback in our lifestyle during the 1984-85 recession which gave me bad memories that built my character. From this experience, I learned to live a simple lifestyle.

Filipinos and businesses struggled during this period, we had the Smokey Mountain (not the band) and Negros (including the Escalante Massacre(b)) which was our very own Ethiopian Famine (Band AID(c) and USA for Africa).

Before the Pandemic, a Philippine statistic was less than 0.7% of businesses survive more than 5 years. I could imagine that in this pandemic it will be much less. To show it in a different lens, I receive around 5 new Facebook Page invites for new businesses per day, that is around 35 per week or 140 new businesses per month. If we follow the pre-pandemic statistics, only 1 of this 140 new businesses will survive more than 5 years. During the Pandemic where businesses are closing, the Philippines would be lucky if 1 of around 200 business would survive more than 5 years.

If you are a neophyte entrepreneur during the pandemic or even have an existing business, you need to ask yourself, how can I be the lucky 1 to survive more than 5 years. Follow this up with the following questions:

  • What is the difference of my product or service with the others existing in the market?
  • Aside from a product/service and an FB page, how can this difference make me capture a chunk of the pie (market share) to make it feasible to maintain this business?
  • If I were lucky enough to capture a significant pie of the market, how can I protect this competitive advantage to make me survive more than five years.

The struggle of an entrepreneur is on how to develop a product or service that can capture a significant market share that will make it financially feasible to survive in the now and after I captured this market share, how do I protect my competitive advantage to expand in the tomorrow. This struggle is greater during the New Normal where the pie being shared has decreased and the number of new players increased.     

A lot of people dream to be an Entrepreneur by necessity, having lost their jobs, or were enticed by the thousands of rag to riches stories. There are exceptional entrepreneurs who started their business during the recession. One of the business cases we analyzed when I was earning my MBA was Chowking Food Corporation, its founder Robert Kuan started his business in 1985 and even expanded during the recession. His strategy was to build his company when it was cheap to setup a business and be in position as the economy grows.

The silver lining, if the forecast below will be accurate, we have the same scenario as 25 years ago.

The economy is expected to recover after two years, there is hope. There are also people like Robert Kuan who believes that now is a good time to start your business. Actually it is not the business you need to start, its your product or service. Capital is cheap and the best time to test your product/service.

But still we have to beat another statistic and be The 1 of the around 200 new businesses to survive more than 5 years. People do not just enter into something to fail and maintaining a business with only a product and an FB page is a sure way to fail. We enter a battle prepared, just like a general you need to spy on your enemy, know the terrain, assess your soldiers and then create a battle plan based on all this factors. I will discuss in the future chapters of SMEpinoy MBAlite how to prepare yourself for battle so years after you can call a little part of your life Happyness…

References:

  1. Pestle Analysis :  https://pestleanalysis.com/what-is-macro-environment-analysis/
  2. Escalante Massacre : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escalante_massacre
  3. Band Aid : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Band_Aid_(band)