Nomad Manager Progress Report #6: The Worst / Best Time To Take A Break
Disclaimer: The original title of this post was supposed to be “Labo Labo Sabaw Lang” (inspired by the language I find myself using a lot with Chely lately) because this was supposed to just be like a mind-clearing post because I can feel neurons short-circuiting (well, not really, but you know what I mean) because of all the things I’m supposed to be thinking about right now – pending articles (too many), an upcoming speaking engagement at Manila FAME this Friday (yikes!), post-Muni Eco Fashion Workshop feedback collection + blog post (again) & video (!), and “job description” for volunteers & interns I’ll be shouting out for on Muni.
My head is a mess, I am quite overwhelmed (to say the least) and I can’t concentrate on any of the above pressing tasks.
And this is the time that I choose to step back and write a reflective blog post.
But I’m justifying this break by saying that the busiest moments in life really are among the best times to take a break and remind myself about why I’m doing what I’m doing and what it is that I’m getting myself so caught up in.
It feels like so much is happening with and around me and I’m barely (actually not even barely) keeping up with my posts for both www.muni.com.ph and here. But there’s really been so many kind of epic little victories and lessons for Muni.
Nomad Manager Progress Report #4
Hello, it’s been a while since my last “progress report”…almost a year now, actually.
I haven’t posted new travel posts or whatever for quite some time now since I’ve been busy with Muni PH, where it looks like I’ll be dedicating most of my green / yoga & meditation / local or social entrep / local or ecological travel posts from now on, lest they be of a more personal nature.
So given the headings on this blog, and said posting of said topics on Muni PH, what’s left to blog about here? The REAL reasons for this blog to begin with - my quest for location independence! (and other topics that don’t make the cut to Muni :P)
Progress Report #3 on Nomad Manager - Part 2 of 2
They say, “Love is not enough” or that “We cannot survive on love alone” (or wait, no, that was supposed to be bread, but anyway). But love can help sustain us when the future looks bleak and uncertain. Love encourages us to soldier on in the face of trials and tribulations, in the face of production mishaps, proposal rejections, underwhelming sales, and other disappointments.
Last night, I was trying to edit a Punchdrunk Panda 2011 recap video from all the videos we were able to produce last year. And looking back, it’s nice to see all of the things we were actually able to achieve. 2011 may have been our most challenging year yet, but we were rich with collaborations, as in I have never met more people because of the business before.
In 2011, we had two bigger photo shoots than we’ve ever done before, and worked with a lot of talented people like Pol Sena, Kryz Uy, Reza Aznar, Shayna Young, Little Red Moments and Legit Status. We were also finally able to produce PdP videos c/o Jopy Arnaldo of Fictionaut Productions and Patrick Vinalay of Red House Productions.
We organized our first event ever, Punchdrunk Panda’s Anteroom Sessions at Moonleaf Maginhawa, featuring musicians such as Slow Hello, Outerhope, Tarsius, Manuel Nicolas Alvero, Love in Athens and Love Never Dies.
We had the privilege of being immersed in My Masterpiece Movement culture because of our involvement with them for our Community Creativity Camp (CCC). We also got to meet other Yabang Pinoy advocates because of CCC.
We worked with new PdP artists Kneil Melicano, Ray Sunga and Steph Mangalindan, and shot artist webisodes for JP Cuison, Rob Cham and Tof Zapanta.
We had intimate blogger hangouts with David Guison, Arriane Serafico, Alexis Lim and Eileen Campos at Subspace Coffee House, and Thysz Estrada, Robbie Bautista, Ava Te and Gerd Perez at Milky & Sunny. (I’m sorry, I got too lazy to link everyone. Dami e. I’m sure you’ll find them through Google searches, or check PdP’s Facebook albums)
I also have to acknowledge those who have been part of the core PdP team, through their brief internships and their continuing involvement with PdP afterwards, Ritz Alejandro, Pat Remoquillo, Pat Manlapas, Joseph Velasquez and Jonver David. And model employee Nica Kim, of course, I couldn’t have gotten through 2011 without you. If you’re reading this, I love you guys.
It’s really overwhelming when I think about the number of people I had the blessing of working with in 2011. And I love that we’ve introduced more meaning and purpose to the brand this year by really doing more things to promote Filipino artists, not only in the field of graphic design, but also in photography, film, music, styling, make-up — and Filipino brands/companies as well.
But again, “Love is not enough”, and the passion we have at PdP can only take us so far. So I really hope we can turn things around in early 2012. We’ve got some things percolating, but it’s too early to say how things will really go for us this year. But I really hope things shape up for us. I love PdP too much to ever let it go. (Yes, parang pag-ibig lang.)
Progress Report #3 on Nomad Manager (Part 1 of 2)
Okay, here we go.
I was talking to Karlo last night and reflecting on what I’ve accomplished with PdP and my life in the past year. And while I may have taken steps forward, I’ve also taken steps back, and I feel I am almost at the same point I was last year.
Resilience Test #1: The Need To Hire
This same period last year, I felt really exhausted from the business, as a result of doing all the legwork alone + manning the PdP booth for several bazaars in November and December 2010, as briefly expounded on here. I was in desperate need of change. I felt like I had put so much of myself in the business that I hardly had time to pursue things that I wanted for myself. Travel, painting, other rackets.
This was partly solved by the move to hire an operations manager, as Nica’s presence made the work more reasonable and made me feel less alone. However, I still always felt the need to be around all the time (though I managed a couple of trips abroad during major PdP events, and the relatively more frequent attendance to painting classes) because I don’t want Nica to ever feel like I was deserting her while I went and did my own thing.
We also decided to grow the PdP team in October last year by adding a marketing officer, and a creative/art director to assist in creating PdP collateral and doing graphics for Punchdrunk Inc., PdP’s design arm (which we just started in late November/December). But I soon realized that managing extra people was a luxury we couldn’t maintain, and at the same time, less efficient than I thought it would be, because I was inexperienced in how to properly manage a team. Suffice it to say, that didn’t pan out, and our team is now composed of just myself, Nica, and a Canada-based Gail.
Resilience Test #2: The Need To Sell
I’ve already mentioned here how we were experiencing really low sales in 2011, and even into the Christmas season, sales were underwhelming, considering the 4th quarter of the year has provided us with 50% of annual revenue in previous years.
The unexpected sales performance was a major setback in our hopes for business progress and development in 2011, but at the same time, it also helped us to become even more aggressive and resourceful in our efforts to pick ourselves up from that. So I really tried to look for ways to bounce back from this, getting consultancy from a renowned business guru, and looking for more outlets to sell our stuff.
I won’t deny that 2011 sales were discouraging, and that it seriously made me think about the longevity/sustainability of the business, or if it would make an impact to anyone at all if our business folded. And well, I don’t know if I’m just drowning in delusional self-importance, but I feel it does matter if Punchdrunk Panda closes.
PdP Powwow #2 by Jen: Resilience
So we began our intended 11:00am meeting at 12:22p.m. (late again!) with my Powwow on “Resilience” (read paragraph#4 on the link for significance of Powwow). I wasn’t scheduled to give my powwow til next week, so medyo hilaw pa siya. It wasn’t in its most ready state; I wanted more time to think about it to bring it to a more PdP level + I wanted to deliver it in Pecha Kucha (pronounce as pechakcha?) format, but I was pressed for time as I had only prepped it earlier that morning.
Nevertheless, I wanted to share this with my team already because I felt we needed it. I feel some people may have been sadder, more stressed out or lost in the past couple of weeks, so I felt this could be a pep talk of sorts. I don’t know if I was able to deliver it as effectively as I’d hoped, but I do hope it raised people’s spirits. It certainly did mine. In fact, I admitted to Gail earlier that morning that I needed this powwow for myself.
In my powwow, I detail 3 major points that overlap through resilience theories.
Resilient individuals/companies have the ability to:
- Face down reality (i.e. Maintain a positive outlook but not in denial)
- Search for meaning (i.e. See current challenges as building blocks for the future)
- Improvise (i.e. Make do with what’s available; come up with quick solutions when problems arise)
I have not hidden in my previous posts that our sales have been rather dismal lately. But I won’t let that bring us down so easily.
Over the years, I have seen PdP evolve from well, its rather selfish, meaningless existence (i.e. when we used to buy fabric vs. creating our own graphics for laptop sleeves; when we saw it only as a means for extra dough on the side) into a company with a higher purpose for existence, a company about people (now that we’ve added people to our team, are aiming to highlight our artists more, and are trying to connect people through our little events and webisodes).
Because of this, I intend to do all that I can to let people know more about our purpose, in hopes that each group or individual we get in touch with is inspired by our passion for elevating design, elevating the Filipino, and well, our passion for passion itself.
I am convinced that we are capable of doing something really important here, though it might not be immediately apparent yet because people might still see us a retail company more than anything else.
But I want to be a company that inspires. And not just inspires, but inspires to action.
When people see our merchandise, I want people to feel inclined to support fellow Filipinos, or for design-admirers to support our artists. When people see our webisodes, I want people to feel like they can achieve whatever they want to too. When people come to our events, I want them to feel like they’re part of something bigger.
So no, I’m not in denial of our current state as a business. And I do find meaning in this struggle, because it’s struggles like these that get us to move our asses. In previous years, we were relatively complacent as a business because sales came much more easily. I now take this period as a time for us to really reassess our priorities as a business. It’s now just a matter of quickly improvising while keeping our purpose in mind.
Let’s go PdP team! :D
* If you aren’t part of the core PdP team, but are one of our loyal supporters, and managed to read up until the end of this post, do help us out by promoting Punchdrunk Panda! Sign up as affiliate on our site too and get 5% for sales your site/share/tweet generates. :)
Powwowwow yippee yo yippee yay,
Progress Report #2 on Nomad Manager - Part 1 of 3
It’s been around 3 months since I first started this blog, with the intention to chronicle my steps towards “nomadic management” by 2013. But this is only the second progress report I’ve written thus far. Heh.
I was reviewing old entries to see if maybe I had written about my progress in one way or another, apart from my Progress Report #1, but I guess I just had bits and pieces everywhere without any comprehensive summary. I did find it helpful to review my original track, and I am enjoying the fact that I seem to be working my way towards nomadic management quite well (in the sense that I’m building my team). I’m disappointed that I can’t really seem to find any old entry on actual strategies though. Meh. Anyway. So here we go. Here’s what’s up or what’s been in my head as the wannabe NM.
The “New” PdP Team
Our 2 new hires (former PdP interns and incoming marketing officer Jonver and creative director Joseph) are finally starting employed work tomorrow. I’m really excited about working with them to further PdP and developing a rock-solid team.
Our sales for the last quarter is probably the lowest I have experienced with PdP thus far, and while most entrepreneur-friends share the same circumstance, I am not certain to what degree they are experiencing the same. However, an entrepreneur friend agreed with me when I said it was odd that during the year of the fuel hike, or Ondoy, and the year of recovery after Ondoy, people still seemed to buy more. I can’t tell if it’s because of our products/designs (though I feel we’ve leveled up), because I’m pretty certain that our marketing this year has been more intense than in previous years. Nonetheless, I intend to end the year with a bang, and milk the last quarter for everything it’s worth. :P
While it may be counterintuitive to hire more people when low sales leave us with less money to allocate, I am counting on Joseph and Jonver, together with Nica, Gail and I, to really bring in more revenue, either through increased sales or new business. So yeah, we really have to work hard, guys. :) Gail, Nica and I were working on closing some international deals a few weeks/months ago as well, but we’ve yet to get feedback on that, but I do hope we close them because it will be a big deal for us and for the workers behind our production. It would be especially nice for them this Christmas. *fingers crossed*
Progress Report #2 on Nomad Manager - Part 3 of 3
Burnout & Rekindling
[I’m excited about the Kindle I’m to own in about a week’s time, but this is not about the Kindle, and there was no pun intended.]
Earlier this year, in January 2011, I experienced the worst burnout/meltdown as a business owner. My partner Gail had migrated to Canada in May 2010, and while she did what she could from there, I managed the business alone locally since then.
When you manage your own business (and you don’t have a physical store of your own), people don’t seem to realize the extent of the work you still have to put in. I had to oversee production, quality control, coordinate with consignees on deliveries, sales reports and collections, prepare accounting documents and shipments, split the work of creating marketing collateral with Gail, man bazaar booths without any permanent/truly knowledgeable fellow booth manners (i.e. teammates like Gail who I could count on to answer product/brand-related inquiries confidently). I had to beg true friends/coerce househelp to help me man booths. I only ever left the booth to pee. Sometimes I didn’t leave at all. I felt I had no weekends. Or when I did, I felt guilty about them because I knew there was still pending work to be done. I could go on. But I won’t. In a nutshell, I basically died last December.
And then the bingo.
I feel things turned around for me when Nica came into the picture. This was not immediate, but a lot of things changed for me since she joined us. While we have yet to improve sales, having her around, showing her the ropes, and being able to trust that she knows those ropes helped lift a heavy weight off my shoulders, giving me more anxiety-free days to focus on more long-term planning for PdP.
Jonver & Joseph are pretty much part of that team now. And while I’ve yet to really officially work with them, if they work like Nica, then I’m lucky enough to have a strong team to work with (making me less anxious). At the same time, it makes me feel like the business has an even higher purpose than myself or the PdP-losophy/cause. This time, 3 other people will be dependent on me for sustenance. Both financial and otherwise. And while it’s a daunting responsibility, I also find it quite exciting.
‘Til my next progress report.
Progress Report #2 on Nomad Manager - Part 2 of 3
After carrying out a “sharing-presentation” on Martin Lindstrom’s talk for my team, and gathering them for a brand-planning session, I gave them a little homework. In an article by management legend Peter Drucker published in the January 1999 Harvard Business Review, he emphasized the importance of knowing your own strengths, work style and values, as well as that of your colleagues. So I created a questionnaire to help my team bring out the answers to these. I felt it was a great assignment because apart from helping form a more well-oiled team, I’m just a sucker for these personal, introspective exercises. Perhaps it’s the Psychology student in me. But yeah, I just like thinking about these things because it helps me reassess who I am and where I am in my life right now.
In assessing myself, I felt that, at this point in my life, I most value learning and teaching, and developing people. I only know what I know, and I feel that isn’t really much, and the little that I do know may very well be wrong. But I know that I want to share and help people be the best that they want to be. I have distant dreams of teaching to college kids one day. But for now, I’ll use my team as Guinea pigs. :P