Projects List

I am a list nazi. I feel that my life has order when it has a list attached to it. If you’ve seen the movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It“, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, it shows you how lists can give a semblance of organization to an otherwise chaotic life. Like SJP, I have a mental list, a written list, a computerized one too… and post-its galore! Sometimes there are just way too many projects and way too many lists so there should be a “mother-of-all” lists. I have a personal to-do list that is separate from my home list and business Projects List.  For this post, I will share some stuff about my business Projects Lists.

One of the many valuable things that I learned from my corporate stint is to always have a Projects List. We even had a Global Projects Management Seminar that we were all required to attend. The backbone of any succesful launch is this Projects List that we all go back to. It serves as the document that distributes accountability and reinforces responsibility. The list enables the breaking down of tasks into pieces in order to manage it well. There is a logical sequencing of tasks that helps us to determine the priority and urgency in order to finish a project in stages.

For instance, a project that I am currently working on are product line extensions. I have a cologne and alcohol line now that is not yet nationally distributed but our current customers are already asking for new product lines. In going about this, all products that were qualified during brainstorming will now be pitched into the ideation stage. For this, there is an ideation success criteria that once approved, will move on to development, commercialization, and launch stage. For the ideas that didn’t make it to the cut, they are all placed in a “Backburner” list.  Maybe the timing isn’t right for these ideas or R&D can’t deliver, or maybe the investment or risk is too big to invest in it… in short, they are simply not doable now… but who’s to say they are not great ideas that might be launched at a later time? 🙂

When you make your list, always keep the end in mind. What are your goals and what are the things that you need to do to reach them. Write down your tasks. A tip that I got from business school is to state it with a VERB first. For instance, EMAIL R&D regarding product registration update. The verbs that we see serves as a CALL TO ACTION that immediately tells us what to do at first glance. This column is basically the To-Do section.  For each idea, an action step has to be highlighted.  Next, each person has to “own” their responsibility towards making each project come to life.  And what about all the notes you’ve been taking down?  This is where the reference column comes in. Place any project-related handouts, notes, minutes, web sites, and any other related documents that you may need to refer to as the project progresses. Other stuff not needed or not yet needed can be placed in the Backburner Items, as stated above.

Lastly, edit,edit, edit!!! Go back to your list every once in a while. Tick off the things you’ve finished, scrap out the dead-end materials and always rewrite your list. It helps you focus, puts you on track and more importantly, it simplifies! It also helps you to remember what you need to do constantly, that it sometimes comes out in the form of a nagging reminder voice inside your head. LOL 😀

We do what we can to make our projects come to life. We all have different methods of doing so. Personally, I am a fan of writing it down and having folders per project. I know we live in a paperless society, but for me, this what makes me move. Seeing those papers and sticky notes makes me annoyed at the clutter and makes me want to clean it out by getting a go at them. Buy those techni-colored folders and binders if you have to… whatever gets your creative juices running… and running fast! If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past few years and how many failed ideas is that once you have a great idea you have to act on it fast! Always remember that if you were able to come up with a certain idea — somewhere out there, someone is also thinking about it. It’s a matter of who can get it to market first and market it right!

I will post a sample projects list that I am currently working on… as soon as I figure out how to attach files on my posts. 😛 Post sample Projects List on startupbabies blog — now included in my personal Projects List! 🙂

Getting To Know Me

I received some feedback from my readers that they are interested in my blog but want to get to know me also. I haven’t quite decided yet if I wish to remain anonymous, semi-anonymous or let myself be known some day. But for now, here’s a survey that I answered online months ago. I am sharing it with you guys in an effort to give myself and my blog some sort of human aspect. I hope my answers give you a few insight as to who or what or type of person I am. At the same time, it also serves as a check list of accomplishments I wish to achieve in the near future. Here are my honest answers. Don’t judge me ok? 🙂

3 WAYS I AM STILL A KID:

  • I act up when I “lose” a game and retaliate by “cheating” 😛
  • I love to daydream. Sometimes when I have a dream, I try to go back to sleep so I can “continue” the dream.
  • I love to eat ice cream, coke, chips… and whatever junk food i can get my hands on… while watching cartoons!!!

3 WAYS I AM ALREADY OLD:

  • I get tired easily when I don’t get enough sleep.
  • I can’t seem to get enough of sleeping…. love, love, love to sleep.
  • I refuse to admit that i am 30+ years old already… i stopped counting at age 28.

3 THINGS I WANT TO DO:

  • Meet my other babies already!(maybe 2 more?)
  • Travel around the world – go on a cruise… enjoy the beauty and the wonder that God has made.
  • To have a very big and successful company with its own building and provide many jobs! (wishful thinking, but can only hope!)

3 WAYS THAT I’M A STEREOTYPICAL “BOY”:

  • Anything you can do, i can do it too… or better yet, do it better!!!
  • I can sometimes think like one.
  • I can keep my own liquor.

3 WAYS THAT I’M A STEREOTYPICAL “GIRL”:

  • I like being wooed. I’m cheesy but pretending to be not. I like sweet nothings and happy endings.
  • Sometimes I can be a drama queen if i choose to.
  • Retail therapy and nice dinners.

3 NEW THINGS YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS:

  • Launch new brands and gain national distribution.
  • Total Home Improvement – decorate and cook ala Martha Stewart.
  • Vacation – visit a new country.

3 THINGS YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF:

  • I live to love.
  • I’m hungry for success.
  • I actually have brains (hell yeah!)

3 THINGS YOU HATE ABOUT YOURSELF:

  • Being a drama queen and being restless.
  • Being moody sometimes (ok, most of the time!)
  • I have lazy days – product of procrastination!

3 PARTS OF YOUR HERITAGE:

  • Filipino
  • Chinese
  • European? (i wish!)

3 THINGS THAT SCARE YOU:

  • Losing loved ones.
  • Not being loved/appreciated.
  • To be cheated on and be back stabbed.

3 CAREERS YOU ARE CONSIDERING:

  • Zillionaire extraordinaire! 😀
  • Blog Writer and Marketing Consultant
  • Woman of Leisure (read: Glorified Housewife!) 🙂

Mastery of the Self

I belong to a very traditional Chinese family. Read: there are a lot of rules about social conduct. These rules give high regards towards respect and filial duties. They also teach you to keep your emotions in check and to put others’ needs before yours. These rules are a bit rigid. While I don’t agree with some of them, they have helped me a lot in maintaining cordial relationships and have somehow helped me also with life and business.

I chanced upon this over the internet months ago but can’t remember where I got the source. Do drop me a line if you know where this comes from so I can give the proper credits. For me, this should be part of Sun Tzu’s Art of War code. It defines knowing yourself, your enemies and your surroundings in a different light. I want to teach these also to my kids but I want a tamer version of it. The statements below are powerfully written, it is what I try to do each day and what I would like to teach my kids to help them go about their lives. Move over Dr. Phil, this is what mastery of the self is all about! 🙂

Emotional Intelligence in one sentence, is the ability to identify, understand, and manage moods and feelings – in both ourselves and other people.

This involves 3 domains of expertise:

  • Self-awareness. The ability to be able to identify moods and feelings in ourselves and understand how these affect other people. Many people are blind to the true impact that they have on others. We like to think of our own strengths and weaknesses in one way – but others often have a very different idea of how they would describe us.
  • Self-direction. The ability to alter those emotions and set goals to your advantage. Because often the only difference that distinguishes winners from losers is their mental state. Knowing that you are angry or tired and unhappy isn’t very helpful. But being able to change your mood to one of calm or enthusiasm – now, that’s a worthwhile skill.
  • Interpersonal savvy. The ability to identify and manage emotional states in other people. People don’t have to do something just because you tell them to. Even if you are the leader, they can choose to do it more slowly or to put less energy into it if they choose. It is the skill of finding out what makes other people tick so that you can influence and persuade them to do their best and to be at their best.

Make yourselves likeable. Do not try to impress people all the time. Rather than making yourself interesting, why not make yourself interested and the funny thing is that the people you lead finds you becoming more interesting in the process.

Work is work but it is only a tiny component of life. And so in anything you do, whether you are in a position of leadership or not, never forget that it is nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice. 🙂

My Third Alterego: StartUp SAHWM

I came from the corporate world. After 5 years of Brand Marketing Management, I have taken my corporate hat off to become a Stay-At-Home-Working-Mom.  It also means multi-tasking, all-around team all rolled into one person. There are days when I miss the corporate life. I miss having a team of highly talented people to brainstorm with, accomplish projects, meetings and yes, even those dreary presentations. I miss having ground-breaking market research that enables you to make better decisions. I miss having millions to spend on advertising and promotion. With no moolah in hand, I have to do everything myself for our business – background market research, crunching the numbers, product testing, packaging development, training, and yes, even delivering our own goods to the store. What I miss the most though, is the human connection. It sometimes feels lonely to eat lunch and to have that afternoon cup of coffee by your lonesome self and to not have anyone to talk to about work… or even chitchat about your life! Those are the worst days!

It took me 2 years to finally start-up. Product ideas took the longest time to develop. If it takes around 6 months to a year to properly launch a product in the corporate world, think about doing it by yourself with no resources whatsoever. As in any other company, thinking of a good idea is the hardest task especially now that almost everything is already out in the market. Most ideas never happen because somewhere along the way, there are so many obstacles. A visionary may have thought up that great idea but without a well thought-out plan and masterful execution, that idea flops. As an entrepreneur, I find that the most powerful obstacle to pushing through with an idea is actually yourself! Being discouraged when you bounce your ideas to other people and getting a lot of negative feedbacks raises a lot of confidence issues about the projects and self! That doesn’t mean we should stop talking to other people about our ideas though, that only means that it’s either there were some points that we didn’t see clearly (tunnel vision) or maybe we really do need to can that idea and move on to the next one on the list. Other times, I get sucked into the idea warp especially when I am “passionate” about something, my judgment gets clouded. During the times that I am gungho on a certain project or idea, I tend to lose myself and I have to remind myself to step back and see if I’m still on the right path. For this, I am glad that I have a business-minded husband who never fails to give me his honest opinion, very creative friends who helps me spice it up and a very patient support group who always listens to my one thousand and one ideas that may or may not be silly, doable or even probable.

The other things I learned along the way that enabled me to launch different projects related to the home and the business:

– No matter how many ideas you have, always be organized enough to make a list. Put a single-minded focus on one item on the list, do what you can to make it work and if it doesn’t, just move on.

– Don’t tackle too many ideas in one go, sometimes that’s what makes you rattled and lose focus. Prioritize! Put the other good ideas that you have on a backburner. Carry a notebook for all your lists, ideas, and backburner stuff. After all, you’ll never know when inspiration will strike! 🙂

– If you are able to qualify an idea, give it a roadmap as to where you want to take it. Always keep the ball rolling. As with all SAHM or SAHWM, the common obstacle for working hard are distractions that comes in the form of household chores, shopping, online addiction, the kids and other matters. A colleague of mine once taught me that even if you feel “lazy” to work on your project, make sure you make 1 little step everyday to help move the project along.

– For every action step, list, organize, decide, and execute with passion. Ideas without passion or purpose lose that personal oomph that makes it a winner product. Don’t launch products or ideas just because!!! Everything should have meaning to it. If not, it is only waste and further clutter. We should all create truly meaningful things. After all, at the end of the day, your output is a reflection of who you are.

Starting Up really is hard work! I admire people with rags-to-riches stories, am truly inspired by the humble beginnings of other people and greatly respect the small entities who battle out Goliath companies daily. I am so excited to make it happen for me too.  I can’t wait to make my own ideas pan out, grow the company, fulfill a sense of accomplishment and purpose and leave my own mark and long-lasting legacy too — after all, ain’t that the best gift we can ever give to our kids? 🙂

My Second Alterego: StartUp Mom

I gave birth 10 months ago to a baby girl. To prepare for that momentous event, I prepared by reading the bible of all pregnant mommas, What to Expect While You’re Expecting!.  If that weren’t enough, I even downloaded apps for that and had an overload of google searches ranging from pregnancy, baby names, nursery rooms, etc. I was a research nazi.  With all the preparation in the world though, I was still taken by surprise when the actual day came.  We were setting up the nursery during my 37th week when we had to go to the hospital because the baby wasn’t moving. With no luggage packed, no baby stuff, not even a piece of overnight clothing, we gave birth that day via CS. Talk about a dramatic entrance to the world! She truly is my daughter!

Fast forward to 10 months, I am a struggling momma. I sometimes feel inadequate when I can’t make my baby go to sleep… when she doesn’t seem to want me and would rather have the nanny feed her. I am jealous of other moms who have happy babies who make cute googoogaga sounds. I envy mommies who have babies who quietly sit on their strollers or car seats. I feel guilty when the baby is crying her heart out and I just want to tune her out. I wonder how other moms do it… and still look so fab at the same time! I wonder what I did wrong along the way or why I have such a fussy baby. She is one feisty girl… she truly is my daughter!

I have heard the same complaints from my mom about me.  I was also such a hard-to-manage baby, always inconsolable.  I was never the “cute one” or the baby that makes you want to go “aww…”. But look how I turned out, right mum? 😉 Every day is a learning experience for me with my baby. There are days when I just want to crawl under the sheets and take a break. It’s really tiring to take care of a fussy young one but we have to make it work. I am one determined momma… I truly am my mothers’ daughter!

What have I learned these past 10 months?

–          In doubt, ask Google! We’re lucky to have the internet!

–          In doubt, ask your mommy friends! Been there, done that – experience is still the best teacher!

–          In doubt, ask your mom! They say you never truly appreciate your mom until you have kids of your own. 

–          Lastly, that you are not a SuperMom – not at the start, that is. We need help and we should never hesitate to ask for it…   especially from your husband.  It will actually surprise you how strong he can be for the both of you. 

My journey to Mommyhood is just unfolding. Each kid has their own personality.  I’d like to believe that I can be a good and patient mom… be responsible enough to help mold her to being the best person that she can be. As parents, we all want what’s best for our kids, we do the best we can — or we die trying! My baby is uber fussy, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.  I wouldn’t want to trade my baby for a cute giggly one, because she is mine and she is ME! They say, we have until the age of 7 to build a good, solid foundation for your kids. I am a StartUp Mom… I still have 6 years to screw up or make things right. Hopefully fussy turns to FUZZY feelings of love, because at the end of the day — THAT’s what makes it worth all our while.  🙂

The Business Idea

We often hear people say that our parents had it good… that they were able to come up with a lot of good business ideas back then because nothing cool was invented yet during their time. We feel that our generation has almost everything that’s why it’s hard for us to think of a good business. All the good ideas are taken already is our everyday mantra.  Well, tell that to Steve Jobs (God rest his soul).  I think he is the entrepreneurs’ hero today.  He was able to launch a very creative product invention that touched the lives of so many people.  If he could think out-of-the-box, so can we.

Creativity was never really my strong suit.  I was always the organizer and executor for all my projects and activities. Give me an idea and I can work out the kinks and get the ball rolling.  But how do you start or execute something if you don’t have the idea to begin with?  Are people born with creativity?  Is it innate or is it something you just pick up along the way? I believe, that similar to leadership, the attributes that enable us to run a business are sometimes inherent in us.  That doesn’t mean though that just because we aren’t born with these traits, we can’t have it.  Take for instance, IQ.  I was born with a normal IQ.  I wasn’t even above average or high IQ.  I was just your average Jane.  It was because of this stigma of being average as opposed to my intelligent siblings who raked in a superior IQ rank that led me to have confidence issues and made me “lazy”.  Long story short, I worked out my issues and gave it a go and got my IQ rank to Superior by scoring a high AI (acquired intelligence).

Back to creativity, sometimes we just get too boxed in on the idea of looking for the next big thing when we could be better off making the next big thing.  You can make creativity happen if you look around you and see that indeed, there are a lot of opportunities. We just need to do the grunt work. Research, Research, Research! There will always be an opportunity for something.. you can find opportunity in the face of threats and weaknesses.  Every strong brand has an Achilles heel and this is where the small-time hungry entrepreneur (read: passionate!) strikes.  Just make sure that when you take on a giant, you have to be prepared. Again… research, research, research! It may sound like a drag but a whole lot of research goes a long way.  No one ever made it to the rich and famous business list without doing any heavy lifting.

Again it’s the start that is hard but that is the first step. Start from somewhere and the easiest way to do that is to simply make a list of all your ideas.  The more the merrier! After which, qualify the ideas.  Don’t worry about draining all your brain juices and not getting anything. If you’ve heard about the Law of Averages, it states that there is a hit-miss ratio. So the more ideas you jot down, the higher the likelihood that you will get something out of something.  Get the art of the start down pat.  After that, you’ve got game, everything is soooo ON!!! 😀 Start NOW… after reading this post… and let me know how it goes 🙂 Good luck!

All You Need Is Love… and Respect!

Happy Hearts’ Day Everyone! 🙂 This time of love brings me back to my honeymoon days. The first few years of newly wedded bliss makes your head feel light and takes your heart up above in cloud nine.  They went by with a blur with so many magical first moments with your husband. The first time he introduced you as his wife… the first time someone called you Mr. and Mrs…. (yes, I have even have the first wedding invite I got that said so too!) … the first time that you sat in the middle of your new place… curling up with your husband and de-stressing the hectic work day by watching movies together… playing hooky… sleeping in together… breakfast in bed…  these are just be a few of the many magical moments that will happen during the first years of marriage.

But sometimes, the first few years also seemed sooooo long… living together is so exciting but there are also a lot of challenges, adjustments and “giving in”.

Some of the adventures and challenges we faced:

1.)     The Kitchen is the most challenging room in the apartment.  Culinary skills – zero!  It’s so hard to distinguish frozen beef from frozen pork, allocating space for all kitchen appliances and trying to find out just how many cooking utensils you actually need.

2.)     the Bedroom (?) – NOT! 🙂

3.)    When the in-laws come to visit and when your parents come to visit — there is always that need for the house to look well-kept and to impress.

4.)    Household Help! Need I say more… this deserves a whole new other blog post.  =P

5.)    Juggling work with your married life and your social life.  Gone are the days when you can say YES to any social event.  Now you need to check in with your husband to make sure that he’ll be okay being home alone while you’re out on the social scene with your gal pals.

6.)    Still staying as beautiful and fun as you were when you were single.  Ask any newly wed man what he fears the most about getting married and top box answer would always be “my wife will let herself go…”!  A good friend of mine once told me… don’t forget to fix yourself up even around your husband.  It’s not just because we have to please our better halves… but we feel better, look better and are happier when we take care of ourselves.

How to deal with the challenges that would come your marriage way is not about who gives in or what adjustments need to be made.  It’s just a simple paradigm shift of how you make things work and how to go about everyday life with another person. Below are some thoughts from other couples that might be a good guide to ease through the birthing pains.

1.)    Whatever habits existed before the marriage will still be there afterwards.  Don’t expect too much change.  If he was a slob the night before marriage, he will be that same slob the next morning.

2.)    Thou shalt not project yourself onto your partner and get mad if he doesn’t do it your way… be it cleaning up, cooking, washing the dishes, paying bills, etc.  Work it out and just try to settle on who likes or doesn’t mind doing what.

3.)    You will be exposed to habits that will annoy the hell out of you. You can nag about everything, but that will just be a total drag – for you and for him!  If your husband, no matter how many times you ask him, never seems able to put a new toilet paper roll in the bathroom, then it might better for your sanity to just know that you’ll be the designated toilet paper replacer in the family.

4.)    It’s not really about compatibility but rather, being respectful to your partner.

5.)    Yes, you are a couple now, but you still need to nurture your individuality.  It’s OK and encouraged to have separate interests of your own.  Discover a passion that is hidden in the depths of your soul.  And if that’s too deep for you, grab a purse, your girlfriend and go shopping.  Hello, Retail Therapy!!! See a movie, get a massage, read a book and catch up on some sleep.  Do something (except bitch at him), that will make you happy too!

These are but just some of the adventures and misadventures. So often it’s the drama that stands out in our minds, when it should be those special irreplaceable times… those magical moments  that make a marriage. It’s the journey of making yours and mine into ours.  Live, love and laugh… laugh together!!! 😀 It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane things, just enjoy each other.  Today, take the time to go back to that happy place and do something now that you enjoy with your husband and have a good laugh. Happy Valentines’ Day y’all! 🙂 XoXo!

My First Alterego: StartUp Wife

What comes after “I do”??? After that amazing walk to remember, it’s a walk down the clouds to usher in a life that’s fab but also full of challenges.

I got engaged years ago… and started life as a newly wed wife. As a former glowing bride, I found my wedding day to be the happiest day of my life. I was happy to have found the man I wanted to start a new life with… and the man I wanted to grow old and gray with. Like all brides-to-be, I must’ve read every bridal magazine I could get my hands on to help me execute my dream wedding.  (And I’ve got expensive photos to prove it… ;)) The problem was how little information there was on what to do after your husband carries you over the threshold of the door to your new place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting to be married and I was looking forward to what comes next, but it’s also a bit terrifying to take on a new role and take your relationship to the next level.

There will be some stories shared about wifely duties, mommy responsibilities, anecdotes about transitioning into the different roles and other what-nots. After all, there will come a time that the honeymoon stage will be over and the real “work” is needed. Yup, you read me right, work! Ask any old married couple and they will tell you that they got to where they are through hard work.  Having a household that runs like clockwork entails the utmost attention to detail and effort.

The “newlywed year” (married less than 5 years) is an important foundation to a happy relationship. It’s a year to settle down, adjust to life as a couple, get used to each other’s weird OC habits and try to figure out where things go in which cabinet. Basically it’s just simply how to go about your daily habits without killing each other. It’s a constant struggle to juggle your duties as a wife, as a homemaker, and now, as a mom to a 9 month old baby. Add to that the adjustments to be made as a dutiful daughter-in-law while yet remaining to be a good daughter to your own mom. As if learning to share a bathroom isn’t enough! 😉

The posts in this blog are all first-hand experiences in being a newly wed wife AND a new mom. Hope you guys will enjoy the stories.  Feel free to leave your comments, share your thoughts and heck, free advice is always welcome.  🙂

Welcome to the married life and here’s to a marriage filled with live, love and happily-ever-after.  🙂

First Step

Most ideas never happen because it’s the ‘StartUp’ part that is actually the hardest task to carry out. We all have many hopes and aspirations about our life — the things we want for our family, the changes we intend to make at home, our dreams for our kids, and our own personal illusions of success and grandeur.  We may have the most ideal of ideals, the perfect solution for an everyday problem, and even the greatest passion — but we need to transform these visions into reality.  In whatever business or industry, family set-up or learning environment, success is dependent on the right start, right execution, and right follow-through.  Most projects get dumped during the initial stages for a dozen or so reasons — procrastination (guilty!), creative conflicts, A-D-D symptoms (hello facebook, twitter and temple run), while others simply have confidence issues (guilty again!). whatever the reason is, the first step is still to start… StartUp! and  StartRight! Easier said than done… but hey, we have to start somewhere, right? baby steps! 🙂