Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Glimpse of a [Desirable] Future
Delivered at the STI Rosario Commencement 2015 on May 8, 2015

Let me share with you a glimpse of a (desirable future), specifically a framework by which you may set standards for success. You successfully completed one block in a long journey. As you march today, you have officially entered a new block in this journey. The path that you choose and the basic principles that you use to navigate this new journey will define your success. 

Success and Your Future

At this point in your life, the future remains a puzzle, and success a distant future. That is typical. The road to success and a better future are usually long and bumpy. Most often, the end of the road, sometimes even the side of the road, is hardly or not at all visible.

It helps if we can paint a picture of success. Visualize it. Understand it by using a metaphor or symbol.

Imagine a tree. It has roots. It has a trunk and branches. It has a crown. I believe that life imitates a tree. Likewise, success resembles the philosophical concept of a tree. In success, there is a foundation similar to the roots of a tree. In success, there is a journey similar to the branches in a tree. In success, there is a pinnacle similar to the crown of a tree.

Roots of Success

Roots form the foundation of the tree. They keep the tree cemented in the soil, strong enough to survive a storm and a draught.

Success has its own roots. Family, friends, and even places where we grew up can be among them.

In boxing, Mayweather, Pacquiao, Donaire, the Chavez brothers and many more are second generation boxers. They are more successful probably because of the second generation advantage. In basketball, there are many successful second generation players in the NBA and PBA.

In the profession, many successful doctors, lawyers and engineers are second or third generation hold overs. In politics, we have dynasties all over the country. In business, second generation practitioners have found bigger success combining the diligence and pioneering efforts of the past with technology of the present.

Family as a root of success works in a reverse mode as well. My brother-in-law, a German engineer who found success in Australia and grew up in a well-knit family, has retired and spends most of his time doing two things. First, he travels to places around the world which he was not able to visit in his younger years. Second, he painstakingly puts together a family tree that connects his generation to the past and the younger ones.

It is amazing what he has done. He was able to trace his connections in Germany and ours in the Philippines – my mother side and father side -- four generations back and two generations forward. That is a total of seven generations. If each generation is equivalent to 50 years, that is a total of 350 years more or less. Despite his distance, he sends birthday greetings to as many relatives as he possibly can.

Marc Pingris, a PBA player known for his physical strength and ability to defend against much taller players, was separated from his father early in his life. He became a successful basketball player. Probably even a superstar.  At some point, he needed to re-connect with his roots. Probably, he did this to give him the emotional strength to face the bigger challenges later in his life.

A friend who became a successful research and advertising executive volunteered to manage my family’s real estate project in Catbalagon, West Samar after his retirement.

He was separated from his father when he was still a baby. An aunt took care of him. His father got married to another girl and started a family. The father is old and graying and lives in Catbalogan.  With his retirement money, he can live comfortably and well. Yet he opted to go to one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines and postpone his retirement to reconnect with his father.

Education is another root of success -- the years we spent completing our formal education from kindergarten to college. The schools we attended, our classmates (best friends and our mortal enemies), our teachers (those who made us enjoy learning and those who used fear to teach us), and school officials who taught us discipline and compliance.

I have friends whose strongest network of business partners remain their school mates either in high school or in college. While teaching at the Graduate School of Business in DLSU, I was amused to learn that many of my colleagues were either classmates or school mates. The bond among graduates in the Philippine Military Academy is so strong. An officer, when appointed as chief of staff, by tradition and in practice, is expected to appoint his batch mates to key position.

The network of classmates and batch mates is pretty much a reality among the country’s Presidents from PNoy down to Marcos. Kapuso, kapamilya, kaibigan, kaklase.

On your graduation, and as you step out of this school, you and this school become partners to your success -- in perpetuity. I am not exaggerating when I say “in perpetuity”.  This partnership does not end when you get your diploma.  It continues –

o   When you look for a job;
o   When you are considered for a promotion;
o   When you transfer to another company for greener pastures;
o   When you apply for graduate studies;
o   When you apply for overseas employment and even when you travel for leisure;

It continues when you fall in love and you share your school life with your special someone;
o   When you raise a family and you teach the value of Christian education to your children and grandchildren;
o   When you are recognized for your achievements in industry or in government;
o   When you migrate and you submit your educational profile;
o   When you want to teach, full time or part time, and your employer requires full academic credentials;
o   It continues even when you are old and grey and you want to reconnect to your early years;
o   When you retire and reunions start to preoccupy your life; and
o   When you are gone and people recognize your achievements posthumously, and when your possessions and records become museum pieces.  

Your partnership and your linkage with this school will definitely endure and persist. It is part of tradition. It is part of a prescribed management system.  At the same time, it has practical benefits.  However, there are going to be occasions when this partnership would manifest itself for a specific purpose.

Some years back, the Ateneo community, with the Alumni as the lead group, embarked on a program to make Ateneo the UAAP basketball champion. That campaign produced stars like Villanueva, Alvarez, and Gonzalez who are now playing in the PBA. The Ateneo community accomplished this goal after two years, but with much support from the Alumni – training, physical conditioning, financing and many more. It was a vision that involved the active participation of the Alumni. 

There will be occasions when this partnership would become more colorful and challenging such as when external factors or policy decisions threaten a University’s heritage and tradition.  I can recall parallel events that happened in other schools. 

o   For example, Bosconians successfully blocked the sale of the Makati campus and the transfer of this campus to another location outside of Metro Manila; 
o   Maryknoll alumni protested when administrators decided to change the name of the school to Mirriam; The name has since been changed but the alumni involvement to this issue remains.
o   Graduates of Mapua Institute of Technology protested the change from Mapua to Malayan Institute of Technology.  
o   University of the Philippines alumni blocked the conversion of the Diliman campus into a commercial center. A new president with a business orientation changed all that.
o   In one national election, the U.P. alumni successfully mounted a text campaign against the re-election of a Senator who, as Chairman of the Finance Committee, cut the budget of the University by a significant percentage. He is now an ex-senator.

In these examples, graduates reconnected with their alma mater for a specific purpose – to protect their heritage and keep the community intact.  They found a common cause to be together and to establish or re-establish their school ties.

On the other hand, schools purposely call on their alumni for support, to attend ceremonies and programs, to participate in major activities and to tap their services for specific engagements and projects.  Schools keep an active file of their graduates for various reasons.

I am also an alumnus of Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines.  Ateneo regularly sends me mailers that inform me about the projects and programs of the University.  I get to learn about the latest professorial chairs, scholarships, sports programs and cultural events. Last month, I received a full-color Easter Card with this message: As you celebrate Easter, may the glory of God’s miracle renew your hopes, your faith and your joy.

These experiences, even if these are my own, tell us that the moment you enter a school, you covenant yourself to a lifelong partnership with that school. Conversely, the school knowingly and willingly binds herself to the same contract for a lasting relationship with the student. 

Journey to Success

Like the branches, your journey to your success will unfold in many mysterious and challenging ways. Some entrepreneurs attempted 100 times to succeed in one. Some lawyers needed to take the Bar two to four times. In these challenges, you need your family. Keep them. You need your friends. Keep them. Make more of them. You need God. Be with Him always.

Success has no shortcuts. Benjamin Franklin said that “the best way to build a dream is by attending to the little things that comprise it. Its foundation is in the little details; its beauty in the fine points.”

Abraham Lincoln once said that “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”

Crown of Success

What type of success should we pursue? How do we measure success? What will tell us that indeed we are successful?

Sooner or later, maybe sooner, you will have to wrestle with these questions and find the answers that go straight into your heart. There are some guidelines or practical tips that we can use. Let me share with you some that I have used when the stakes are high and when the chips are down:

First, and perhaps most importantly, success must be measured in elements other than money. Ralph Waldo emerson, in his poem, captures some of these elements. Emerson wrote --

“To laugh often and much,
to win respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a
redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”
Second, your success must evolve from acts that make other people successful. A success that is a stand-alone and does not breed success is shaky.  This is not just a tip. It is a must.

Bill Clinton, twice elected as President of the United States and among the most sought after adviser and speaker, once said that “We cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs.” 

I teach such principle in the class room. I always remind my students in Strategic Management the importance of the external community in building success. I support these with corporate cases and with frameworks written by Harvard and Wharton professors.

The Performance Governance System of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA), a framework crafted by Dr. Jesus Estanislao to help local governments and national government agencies develop strategies, emphasizes the importance of  managing an organization that thrives by value-adding to the bigger community.

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC), a management framework developed by Kaplan and Norton of Harvard Graduate School of Business, promotes a strategy that is driven by goals other than money such as people, process and customers. Profit becomes an outcome of this strategy.

Collins and Poras, authors of Built to Last, concluded that excellent companies demonstrate sustainability. These are companies that survive the tests of time and remain viable beyond 100 years. Coca Cola, General Electric, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Disneyland are some examples. In the Philippines, we have quite a few. San Miguel, Ayala, BPI, and Aboitiz.

If you run through the list of companies with a market value way beyond their assets, these are the companies that subscribe to the Bill Clinton principle. Does it apply to small companies and individuals? Yes. In fact, it is a principle that evolved from the experiences of small companies which grew to become successful companies.

The latest marketing framework, as written by Bob Gilbreath, suggests that a good marketing strategy is one that is premised on improving people’s lives. By doing so, according to Gilbreath and based on studies done, you succeed.

 A successful farmer, the envy of other farmers, decided to share his seeds to his neighboring farms. Friends of this farmer were alarmed. Why are you helping your competitors, asked the farmer’s friends? The good farmer answered back: If I don’t share my good seeds to my neighbors, their bad seeds will infect my farm.

Success is not achieved by making others suffer. Your success will eventually be measured and judged in terms of how you made others equally or even more successful.

Proverbs Chapter 11, Verse 25 says: He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” 

For comments, email to Nick Fontanilla @

Monday, August 26, 2013

creating a difference...through PMI

This management team of Metrics Asia is creating a difference. Sacrificing for country, industry and the profession to provide critical information about conditions in the Philippine economy month after month. Taking over the task willingly at the time needed to keep the Purchasing Managers' Index going. Modern day heroes.

So does this PMI operations team. Facing all challenges. Determined to make a difference. To serve. To do something meaningful. For country and the supply chain profession.

And the associations that made it possible -- Foundation of the Society of Fellows in Supply Management (SOFSM) and the Philippine Institute for Supply Management (PISM).

Together, proudly and happily, they commit to keep the PMI going every month. Together, they envision to expand to cover ASEAN and Asia-Pacific. Cheers to a great team.

Watch out for PMI Philippines August 2013. For more information, email to

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

anticipatory marketing

There are two components of Anticipatory Marketing (AM). Consumer choice and consumer experience.

Consumer choice is a consumer's mental image of a product or service. The mental image is what the consumer prefers or desires. Christensen, Olson and Ross refer to it as a consumer's self-referrent image of a product. A choice that emerges from a combination of knowledge, experience and suggestive information. It is most often what a consumer buys. Although not all the time. There are multiple gaps between a consumer's choice and a consumer's decision to buy.

For example, a time gap exists. Benjamin Libet's theory on free will recognizes a time lag between conscious purchase and free will. This time lag affects a consumer's ability to respond in real time. Which explains in part, or which appears to lead to, impulse buying. Shariff and Peterson of University of Toronto explain this perfectly well in their article on anticipatory consciousness. There are other gaps. Resource gap. Convenience gap. Influence gap. Which are all self explanatory. AM fully recognizes the consumer's self referent image and the realities that allow or prevent this image to materialize.

This position is significant in the formulation of an AM agenda. AM understands that consumer choice, to a manageable extent, is predictable. AM contends that by understanding and measuring the conscious choice, both in the context of what is desired and realities of consumption, a marketer may be able to anticipate the actions of a consumer. How?

Consumer experience is the sum total of a consumer's conscious choice and conditions that dominate this choice. This is measured by actual transactions which may be available in documented transactions or defined in statistical surveys. In its absence, actual transaction may be substituted by primary data drawn from a well-designed statistical survey. AM requires an investigation of consumer choice and free will. Results strengthens findings derivable from actual transactions.

The charts below shows an execution framework for AM presented in a hierarchical sequence (chart 1).
Chart 1: AM Execution Framework 
Is AM anticipation marketing. No, it is not. Although AM looks at anticipation marketing as an important influencer in consumer choice. It may have a greater influence in a consumer's free will. Anticipation marketing, as defined by Baron, Hickey and Merrel,  is identifying, exploring and understanding an interesting consumer response phenomena -- collective irrationality. It is a strategy that drives interest in a product in the absence of above the line and below the line advertising.

How is AM different from predictive analytics? Predictive analytics makes use of transactional data to generate a predictive model. Sometimes exclusively. AM borrows from various disciplines, as shown in the chart below, and formulates a consumer model that combines consumer choice, free will and consumer experience.

               Chart 2: Components of AM      

For comments, email Nick Fontanilla to or For inquiries on Anticipation Marketing and how a company may be able to make use of this tool, email to

1. Glenn L. Christensen, Jerry C. Olson, William T. Ross, "Why Consumption Vision? Understating Consumer Value in Anticipatory Consumption Imaging," Advances in Consumer Research Volume 31, © 2004 ( 
2. Azim F. Shariff and Jordan B. Peterson, "Anticipatory consciousness, Libet’s veto and
a close-enough theory of free will," University of Toronto (
3. Ellen Baron, Kristin Hickey and Paul Merrell, "Anticipation Marketing: Understanding buzz for Generation Now, Esomar, 2008.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

PMI on its 61st Run

Amazing Feat: PMI on its 61st run

The Foundation for the Society of Fellows (SOFSM), advocacy arm of the Philippine Institute for Supply Management (PISM), has completed 61 months of PMI Philippines in July 2013. Truly, an amazing feat. SOFSM and PISM have accomplished two important goals. First, providing government and industry with a leading economic indicator now used by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Second, enhancing the image of the supply chain profession making supply chain an important component of economic growth and development. This feat was made possible with the support of BSP, The Asia-Pacific Centre for Research (Acre), Inc. and AB Fontanilla Consulting Services.    

A Project of SOFSM

The Purchasing Managers Index Philippines is a project of SOFSM in cooperation with PISM. PMI Philippines was designed to complement and to be consistent with PMI surveys in other countries. This index started in North America in 1931. There are now 32 PMI countries including the Philippines.

Marketing Arm

PMI Philippines is  exclusively distributed by I-Metrics Asia-Pacific Corporation (IMetrics Asia). Metrics Asia is an e-commerce and consulting company.  Metrics Asia's product portfolio includes PMI Philippines, PMI ASEAN, PMI Asia, E-Commerce Index Philippines (ECIP), Product Demand Index Manufacturing (PDIM), and E-Commerce Maturity Model (ECMM). Metrics Asia also provides training in ecommerce analytics, predictive analytics, and performance management. 

I-Metrics Asia recently participate in the National Retail Conference and Stores Asia Expo 2013. It has lined up other events to bring PMI Philippines to more areas and practitioners.

PMI Philippines is used by users and subscribers primarily for management reference and decision making.

For more information on PMI, contact


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August 20, 2013
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

PMI on its 44th reading

In April 2007, we conducted the pilot test for the Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) Philippines. Fifteen months after (July 2008), PMI Philippines made its foundational run featuring PMI Manufacturing. Since its initial run, the PMI has been conducted every month without fail.

Now on its 44th reading, PMI Philippines has become the earliest leading economic indicator available to planners and decision makers. It provides policy decision makers with a directional tool based on actual conditions in industry. Two other PMI surveys have been activated -- PMI Retail/wholesales which is now on its 35th run, and PMI Services which is now on its 17th run.

Together, these three economic surveys provide policy decision makers in government and industry with a significant foresight about the economy month on month. PMI users were asked to evaluate how this economic indicator is able to help the company. Significantly, 58% of PMI subscribers use PMI as a management reference while 15% use this indicator for decision making.

PMI Manufacturing, as a leading economic indicator, has been able to sufficiently plot the direction of the economy -- whether it expanded or contracted -- each current month as compared to the previous month. This reading is reported to readers during the first week of the succeeding month -- three months ahead of the GDP.

Where PMI is extensively used (such as North America and Europe), PMI is used as a leading economic indicator to predict way in advance the GDP. It confirms if the economy expanded, a confirmation that gives decision makers a persuasive guideline for action. It is most useful, however, when it gives readers a bold reading of when the economy is contracting. The PMI was able to foresee the economic contraction in the last quarter of 2008.

For more information on PMI Philippines or if you have questions, send an email to