I’ll Be Teaching FREE Cash Planning Workshops – Dates & Links Will Be Posted Here

LINKS ARE UPDATED BELOW! 🙂 CLICK THE LINK TO YOUR PREFERRED DATE AND TIME, AND REGISTER. 

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A few days ago, I reached out to friends and people from my social media communities to offer to share a skill that may help many especially during these times of uncertainty. I can’t share cooking or workout tips because I seriously suck at both, but I can share a skill that may not be instagrammable but absolutely necessary: Daily Cash Planning using spreadsheets.

For the past few weeks, I have been working from home with our team from @rags2richesinc to continue creating livelihood for artisans, and with our team from #TalinoLabs to build inclusive tech start-ups. And while work has been busier than usual with back-to-back-to-back video calls and virtual meetings, I thought that I could use some of my no-traffic-no-commute time to share my spreadsheet skills and tools to others who may be needing them now more than ever.
When I posted on Facebook about my plan to offer the free virtual workshop, I got A LOT of replies and private messages. I felt the pain and panic of a lot of people but I also felt their proactive hope. So instead of just doing this once, I’ll be giving 3 workshops (for now) via different organizers. I am still fixing the details with the organizers and I’ll be posting them here when they are finalized.

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I want to reach as many people as possible (which is why I canva-ed this. haha though I @canva_ph everything. It is my stress reliever) with these 3 workshops so that they can hopefully lead to better decisions and positive impact (and hopefully more jobs / jobs saved) for a lot of enterprises and organizations.

I’ll be posting the links and schedules to the virtual conferences here. Watch this space (literally haha).

First Session: with Impact Hub Manila 

Second Session: with Start Up Village 

Third Session: with Bounce Back PH

Link to the presentation

Link to the Google Sheets Template

This Strange & Hopeful Birthday

I turn 35 years old today.

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YES, I have accumulated a LOT of selfies the past few weeks while in Quarantine.

I have experienced really strange birthdays before so I thought that anything could happen and I’ll be prepared. But I did not expect this and absolutely was not prepared for it. A Pandemic of this scale and magnitude. In our lifetime. Wow.

Part of me is still in shock to be honest. But part of me is also hopeful. 🙂

Because birthdays are the best click baits, I thought of using mine as a platform to share hope-driven calls to action. There are a few things that give me hope these days, and they give me hope precisely because they inspire action. If you feel like giving me a birthday gift (hahah – but these are more gifts for others really), I hope you can consider doing one (or more) of these:

1. Pre-order / Support / Promote Sol, our Rags2Riches Summer Collection for 2020.

Our designer, Chris Cera, designed the collection earlier this year when we all thought that 2020 will just be like any other year and we’ll continue creating livelihood opportunities for our artisans.

But 2020 is turning out to be not just any other year.

Now more than ever, the opportunities we can create, will support the livelihood of some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

If and when you can, I hope you can support us during this time. 🙂 We’ll be putting the pieces up for pre-order and when possible (after the lockdown), our artisans will make them and we’ll deliver them to you.

Your purchase today will be our bridge to a tomorrow that is safe and secure for our company and artisans. You can pre-order here (launching at 3pm, April 6).

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While we respond to the needs of our community now (by staying at home, supporting the frontliners), we can also invest on our future through supporting local enterprises.

Aside from R2R, please also support local enterprises, freelancers, and other service-providers.

2. Get yourself, your family, and community front-liners Reusable Face Masks from enterprises that are supporting people.

While our Rags2Riches artisans (and all of us, really) are on enhanced community quarantine, we have been finding ways to continue the livelihood of our artisans and prepare our enterprise for the future.

One of the products some of our artisans are able to make from home right now, is this Reusable Cloth Face Mask. Each piece sustains our artisans who can work from home as well as our artisans who don’t have the means to. You can buy them here we are restocking them almost ever day.

You can also buy Face Masks from other heart-driven enterprises such as Anthill, CANDID, Habi Lifestyle, TELA Story, among others.

Reusable Masks

3. Help our Frontliners from all sectors and industries

You can read the Things That Matter Blog on the 5 Small Ways to Help Out During COVID-19., or this information hub on how you can help from home https://helpfromhome.ph/

Talino Crowdconnect is also launching this week. It is a COVID-19 response platform that connects the needs of the front liners to the supplier of these needs, as well as the funding for them. For example, if a hospital is looking for X number of N95s, they can be connected to a supplier and a donor who can buy them these supplies (within a fair price range).

4. Promote or Apply for (if you are a front-liner or if you / your company will be moving essential goods) a RapidPass.

RapidPass is powered by DCTX, a team of quarantined, yet passionate designers-volunteers, under DevCon.ph COVID-19 Technology Initiative.

They are also launching their free website today that will enable front-liners, essential deliveries vehicles, and the like, to pass through checkpoints quickly without the need for close human contact. This system will get essentials moving quickly (like food, medicine, etc) and help keep our front liners safe.

If you qualify, you may apply for a RapidPass here.

5. If you are an entrepreneur / start-up / business owner (or if you are thinking of starting one), keep yourself informed and as ready as possible for the future

I know that these days are hard for entrepreneurs and MSMEs. Many of us are seriously thinking of (or are in the middle of) pausing, pivoting, and even closing. Even as we go through the challenges, let’s also constantly equip ourselves with the information and resources we need to support our people, identify gaps that we can provide or serve, and plan for the future while bringing as many people as we can with us.

SME-relevant updates will be shared via this Telegram channel hosted by UNAWA: https://t.me/UnawaCOVID19

UNAWA is the most comprehensive regulatory tech (“regtech”) startup in Southeast Asia. UNAWA can handle the tedious, confusing, and time consuming part of starting a business: registration (among others). 

I am incredibly fortunate that the things I am hopeful for are also the things I’m working on / am part of, every single day even throughout this quarantine.

As many of you know, I am co-founder and President of R2R. I am also currently the Director for Strategic Finance of Talino Venture Labs, which supports DevCon.ph. Talino Venture Labs is also the start-up builder behind Talino CrowdConnect and Unawa (among others). These companies are filled with people who have been working hard not just for themselves and their families, but for our bigger community.

So while this birthday is my strangest one yet, it is also the most inspiring.

Thank you for attending my TedTalk! 🙂

Stay at home, support our front-liners, and fuel your hope with action.

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My entry to the decade-end essay writing competition

This decade will be hard to beat.

It is the decade when I got married, gave birth to my two sons, almost-failed as an entrepreneur, rose back up as an entrepreneur, learned how to not sweat the small stuff, gained co-advocates and life-long friends, started applying sunscreen (eek hope not too late), started a blog, fell deeply in love with spreadsheets, started consulting for an inclusive tech company (more on that soon!), found a kindred community of searchers, and started loving vegetables.

This decade had awesome milestones, but more than these, it took away something from me too. It took away the bullshit that I thought was my blanket. This decade did not just wash the bullshit away gently, this decade shook me out of it almost violently.

My BS came in the form of some beliefs (some loosely held, some firmly held) that looked acceptable, even endearing from the outside. And so it was a painful process to get shook out of them. But in retrospect, I’m grateful that I’m a few pounds lighter without them.

Because this is a decade-end essay and I am SO original, here is the list of 10 hard-earned and heart-earned lessons I have learned and some of the BS I have unlearned:

1) Being an introvert is not an excuse to be a snob or be disinterested in people. Talk to people, skip the small talk if that stresses you out, but don’t ignore them. Life is short and unpredictable, make someone feel heard today.

2) Asking questions is the smartest thing one can practice even if it feels stupid sometimes

3) Create anyway even if you think your work sucks. Keep the receipts of your “sucky” work. You’ll be amazed at your own progress because of them. Progress is better than perfect.

4) Initiate that difficult conversation. It may be difficult, but having it will actually accomplish clarity. Being passive aggressive will never achieve anything. And no, he / she will not read your status message and change because of it.

5) Take the time to mourn, feel angry, get disappointed, and all the not-so-pretty feelings that may come up from time to time. Honor the process, but have no collateral damage and take no casualties. Honor the process, but always move forward.

6) Being happy for others when they get the things you wanted, is probably one of the hardest kinds of happiness to feel. Because it is not a feeling, at least not at first. It is a decision driven by grace, and practiced as often as it happens. It is not a “fake it til you make it” thing, it is a “practice it enough to know its value” kind of thing.

7) The highest form of self care is forgiving yourself. Strive to be better but forgive yourself for falling short. Then repeat.

8) Be very cautious when saying or hearing the following words and phrases: SCALE, Hustle, Self-Care, Full-time mom, Hands-on dad, Self-made, “Be Positive”, “Do what you love”. These words and phrases could be sources of toxicity.

9) Be compassionately woke. Hate begets hate, holier-than-thou criticisms beget resentment. If you want to change minds, you can’t do so while on a high horse.

10) No matter how old you get, you’ll still not know enough, do enough, or have enough of anything. But you are enough. So while you try to be more and have more, never let anything define you.

And because I don’t know how to end this, here is a quote from a song:

You win some or learn some – Jason Mraz

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Happy New Year and New Decade everyone! Hope you scroll through social media less, be with the people you love more, and not live life like it is one big competition.

You don’t have to write a decade-end essay too. Or if you still want to, you don’t have to make it perfect. Cause if you do, I’ll write another one that will be muuuuch better. I’m kidding! Or am I? hahaha I am. Sorry, old habits.

Wishing you all a joyful 2020 and all the decades after!:)

(Low) Productivity Hacks – How to Get Nothing Done and Still Feel Busy

January is that time of the year when most people are KonMari-ing their homes, downloading new productivity apps, buying new notebooks, starting new diets, paying for gym membership, and the like. I love January! It feels like a fresh start and it still has that cool breeze that makes me happy and energised. But I have been through many years and many Januaries enough to know that one fresh start a year is not enough. See, years ago, my productivity always waned towards the middle of the year. My New Year’s resolutions felt like they belonged to someone else. Then the next year, I would make a new set of resolutions and they will also fall through towards the middle of the year. And repeat.

Because I fell into that cycle so many times, I have also learned to identify the things that slowed me down, held me back, and contributed to my frequent back slides.

There are already so many articles written about how to increase productivity. This time, I’ll be sharing tips on how to have low productivity but still feel busy. haha I know. Crazy right? But I am a believer that when you identify a problem and really get to know it, it is the best way to start to fix it.

So here is my list of low productivity hacks! Some of these may be familiar to you:

  1. Download a “logic” game that is super addicting but since it is logic, it sharpens your brain too, you tell yourself. Open it for just one game and try to beat your high score just one last time. This is a great way to spend a few minutes, and if you are lucky, a few hours of not getting anything else done – Est. time: 5-10 minutes (if you keep to your one game), to a few hours
  2. Download lots of games on your phone. Try them out one by one. Set your high scores. Beat your high scores. Play with friends. Beat their high scores too. Life is a competition and you are always in it to win it.
  3. While in the middle of work, come across a person or a key word and decide to log on to social media to search for relevant results. Scroll down for just a few seconds. Get distracted by that cute baby, adorable dog, dog with his duck best friend, another conspiracy theory, thought-provoking article, and lots of memes. Open link in new tab. Again. And Again. You now have lots of open tabs and promptly forget what you were supposed to search for. – Est. time: the possibilities are endless
  4. Scroll through social media, find a friend / old crush / frenemy / hero / celebrity. Go to his / her profile. Scroll until his / her first post ever, while being super careful not to accidentally like any old post – Est. time: it depends if the person is new to social media and with only a few posts or a few public posts.
  5. See a polarising post / news / status message. Read all the comments. Nod and bask a bit in the feeling of validation when reading comments you agree with. Grit your teeth when you disagree with some comments. Label those who disagree as trolls. Yes of course, all of them. Think of something smart and scathing to say. Type those words. Decide that you may not have time or energy to get on an online argument. Delete what you already typed before you change your mind and actually post it – Est. time: 1-80 minutes. It depends on how fast you decide that this is not worth your time.
  6. See previous, do the exact same thing, except actually post your well thought-through arguments. Arguments continue. You are on edge for the rest of the day and excited to debate at the same time. – Est. time: could take 24 hours or more. You’ll have breaks in between but your mind will drift in and out of the online war zone
  7. Read an interesting article, see words you don’t understand or people you don’t know. Open new tab. Google those words and people. Read about all those too. – Est. time: 5 – 10000 minutes.
  8. Read an interesting article until the very end, get intrigued by the promoted articles with titles like “this will change the way you see your 4th grade teacher”. Click. Read until the end. Find another promoted article. – Est. Time: 5 – 10000 minutes
  9. Read a comment that either strongly resonates with your beliefs or strongly opposes your beliefs. Click on the profile of commenter. Check the public posts and photos. Make judgements. – Est. Time: this could take a while depends on how much you want to support your judgements with your so-called evidence taken from this person’s previous posts (like, is he / she a fan of “the Flat Earth Society”?)
  10. Do the same as previous. Repost with either a happy “SAME” or a super smart rebuttal that will honestly only convince (and comfort!) those who already resonate with you to begin with. – Est. Time: 5-15 mins to post, a few days of checking in every few minutes to check likes and comments
  11. Online shopping. You just need one item. You go on to an online marketplace, and find a really cute portable fan you don’t need. Add to cart. You see a cute neck pillow that you think you may need in the future. Add to cart. You decide that you don’t need all these after all. Remove from cart. Close tab. Realise that you still don’t have that one thing you need. Go back. Repeat. – Est. Time: 60 mins
  12. Go to Netflix to watch one movie / show. Scroll through endless possibilities. End up not watching anything or only watching the first few minutes of about 7 movies. Est. Time: depends on how many minutes you spend watching every movie, but the possibilities are endless!
  13. Think of the many reasons for your lapses in productivity. Write a blog about it. – Est. Time: 20 minutes – not bad!:)

So there you have it!:) lots of tips on how to not get anything done! haha I’m mostly poking fun at myself and my own lapses but if you can relate, well, at least you know you are not alone.

My productivity is often very high but when I get into these rabbit holes, it takes me a while to get out too. It happens. And it helps to recognize the triggers and the almost instinctive decisions that lead to lots of unproductive hours. I mean, I think most of these are okay in moderation! But having too much of these will feel like having too much junk food. You’ll feel bloated, but not nourished.

So for this 2019, as was the case for the past few years, I have learned to quickly identify my triggers towards these rabbit holes and avoid them before I fall in. This has helped a lot in keeping up with my resolutions and goals!

Another hack (a real productivity hack this time) that helps me is to program fresh starts every month instead of having just one fresh start a year. This helps me identify my gaps, reprogram small and concrete goals within a shorter timeline, and feel like I have a figurative new notebook that makes me excited to write again.

Happy 2019 and I wish you rest (the right kind that is truly nourishing), productivity, love, value-creation, good health, and prosperity (in many ways)!

Hello Robots!

NOTE: I wrote this last July of 2016! WOAH. I did not publish it then and was not able to find the right time to publish it because so many other urgent things were happening in the country and the world. But as I am re-reading all these now, I realised that this is more relevant now than before. 

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I always listen to cool podcasts while stuck in traffic and one of my favorites is Planet Money! If you have some time right now, like, if you are stuck in traffic too, you might want to listen to this. It talks about The Sewing Robot. But it is not just about one robot that could sew uniforms, this is about robots (in general) that will take over jobs in the future.

This is one of the big things that scare me about the future: the rise of incredibly smart and productive machines. Actually, scared is not the right word. I don’t know what the right word is so here are a few words: a-little-scared-challenged-and-thinking-of-ways-to-make-jobs-relevant-for-people.

See, we are in the business of providing high-value livelihood to artisans. And there are reasons why we have always been precious about building a brand that recognises & partners with artisans.

Reason number 1: Our theory is, if we always recognise our artisans and connect them to advocates, they get to be part of what makes R2R a brand that people can emotionally connect with and love. People do not just buy for price, necessity, quality, or novelty, they also buy for meaning and purpose. We want to continuously inform our advocates that our products have meaning, purpose, and amazing people behind them.

Reason number 2: Good brands live longer. We are not in R2R for short-term gains. We built R2R to be a sustainable business partner for artisans. Because of this, we realised that we can’t operate like a project or build just any manufacturing business. A project has an end date and manufacturing is a highly competitive industry that won’t necessarily let us play to our strengths. The lives, livelihood, and future of our artisans deserve long-term solutions.

The reality is, technology is super fast. Within the past few years (not even decades!), we have seen 3D printers, fast machines, smart machines, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and a lot of really cool and exciting things. They will be part of the new norm before we realise it. I’m personally excited for all of them! But at the same time, as these machines become smarter and more efficient, they will be replacing people. I could only imagine the millions of jobs that will no longer exist in a few years because machines will take over. Yes, yes, of course, new jobs will also emerge! But let’s also be honest here. Not a lot of us are preparing ourselves or our communities for these new jobs. I know, it sounds like a Sci-fi movie, but lots of seemingly far-out Sci-fi movies in the past don’t seem too crazy anymore today. The bar for what we think is impossible has gotten a lot higher than ever before.

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Did you know that we used to have knocker-uppers? Yes, their job was to wake people up early in the morning. Guess what machine made these jobs disappear?

I think about it all the time. If a software can design, say, a bag, and a 3D printer can manufacture it in minutes, how can an artisan compete in terms of go-to-market speed and cost?

So instead of stressing over the inevitable, I thought of just thinking of solutions that could help, not just our artisans, but people in general, to hone the right skills and talents to not just survive, but also thrive in the age of the Robots. Oh, and let’s change that name to: Age of highly skilled, adaptable, and creative human beings.

1.) Build brands – As I have mentioned in Reason number 2, Brands live longer! People identify with brands in an emotional way that goes deeper than just convenience or need. So, what if we can create brands that stand for real human connections and meaning? These brands can be inclusive in a sustainable way. Machines may be able to do the jobs of people better and faster, but they will find it incredibly challenging to replace the emotional connection that a brand creates. This means that really effective and inclusive brands have the potential to promote and protect the arts, crafts, and skills of actual people.

2.) Create art, not just products – Functional products are great! BUT. Purely functional products with no other value proposition other than being functional, will find it hard to stand out from a sea of other functional products. Products with purpose and meaning on the other hand, may stand a chance (or several chances).

For example, instead of just training artisans to make eco-bags (great start, but there are hundreds of thousands of eco-bag suppliers in the world), train artisans to share their stories through the products. They can make art pieces out of the ordinary through putting in their unique touches and stories. Maybe instead of just sewing the bags, they can also hand paint them with images of their community, family, hopes, and dreams.

There is a reason why art pieces have survived throughout history. They resonate with people, they represent ideas and artists, and they connect us to worlds and places in time that fascinate us and make us think, feel, and imagine.

3.) Train, not just for skills, but for the following: problem-solving, creativity, people management, systems thinking, empathy (the World Economic Forum came up with this really cool list of 10 skills you need thrive in the fourth industrial revolution), and other not-so-obvious but really important skills for the future!

4.) Create Great products with Inspiring stories (inspiring, not sad and destitute) – Inspiring stories behind products should come with great products. The inspiring stories and people behind them deserve nothing less. And when you get to create a great product (with a great brand, ideally), tell its story in an empowering way.

Major Emphasis on: Inspiring & Empowering

It is true that pity sells. It is easy to tug on the heartstrings of well-meaning people and compel them to buy something they won’t necessarily buy otherwise just because it’s for (pick one or more) charity, a good cause, livelihood, employment, education, water sanitation, and others. And don’t get me wrong, I love buying things for a cause too! But when the sole unique selling proposition of a product is its good cause, it won’t be selling long enough to create more positive impact.

The world is changing in an exciting and big way! So instead of resisting all these changes (and honestly, we can resist all we want but they are going to happen anyway), we have to learn to understand them, adapt to them, and more importantly, shape them.

 

How to do beauty when you are lazy

Let me start by saying that I am not a beauty expert or a beauty blogger. I am in fact, a makeup dweeb and probably the laziest person ever to apply moisturizer, make-up, or skin care products on a regular basis. 

So this article is not about specific make-up tricks or how-tos. I’ll only write about those when a) I already know what I’m talking about or b) halloween is near and I want to share tips on how to look like a socially awkward raccoon (true story, this is how I do make up on myself) for your next halloween party 

This article is about the super simple beauty stuff (uh, I can’t think of the general term) one can do when he/she is always on-the-go, in a hurry, lazy, or as unskilled as I am when it comes to make-up or skin care.

Disclaimer: while the rituals and products worked for me (and I have sensitive skin), they may not work for everyone. And I could not personally guarantee that the products are preggy-safe or breastfeeding-safe (if you are pregnant/breastfeeding of course) either, you still have to ask your doctor.:)

Presenting: Beauty rituals & products you can apply in 5 minutes or less


By the way, this is not a paid or sponsored post! Full disclosure though, I got some of the items as gifts but without any promises of reviews or posts on my end (Happy Skin, Burt’s Bees, Banila Co, Mustela). I do get a lot of beauty product samples that I have tried but some of them did not work for me.

1) Moisturise in the morning

My favorite product: Human Nature Day Moisturiser. I swear by Human Nature products not just because it is a social enterprise, but because their products are really really good. I have never been used to moisturisers and a lot of the commercial ones are too strong for me (I develop light rashes or get allergic to the strong smell), but from the first time I tried the Human Nature Day Moisturiser, I never looked back and always started the day with it! 

Minutes: less than 1 minute!

2) Moisturise! Yes, again. But this one is applicable to preggies or mommies who just gave birth. 

My favorite product/s:

Mustela – When I got pregnant, all I thought about was food. I would google every single meal to make sure it’s safe for baby (I don’t recommend doing that! You can ask your doctor or get one of those apps or books to guide you on what’s safe). Because I was so preoccupied with thinking about food, I did not really think about stretch marks. It’s a good thing my friends thought of them for me! haha so I got a LOT of Mustela Stretch Mark Prevention lotions as gifts! Thank you friends for thinking about my beach-ready bikini body (haha… maybe in 2 years). I am not 100% sure if Mustela is super effective but I don’t have stretch marks (yey!)!

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter – I got this on my 30th week and LOVED the really light and delicious scent. I loved how it felt on my skin. The only down side is that I get a little hungry every time I smell it! haha

So after my morning shower, I apply Mustela, and before I go to sleep, Mama Bee Belly Butter

Minutes: less than 1 minute. Seriously. But maybe that depends on how long you want to apply them, it could get addicting!

3) Quick “I woke up like this” make-up while on my way to work 

My favorite product/s: Happy Skin everything!

Zit Zapper Second Skin Cream – I have sensitive skin so I’m very careful with what I apply. While I rarely break out, my face gets itchy when I use products that are too strong. I have been using the Happy Skin Zit Zapper for a little less than a year now and really happy with the results! Every time I apply it, I feel light, even, and nourished! When I was younger, I thought make-up is bad for the skin so I never really learned how to apply any (hah! Excuses). Thank goodness Happy Skin makes you pretty not just for the short-term but for the long-term too.

Shut Up and Kiss Me, Honeymoon Glow (Moisturizing Lippie) – I love this colour! It matches my skin tone (yellow-ish. haha) and it feels really good on the lips too. It is easy to apply and lasts really long.

Shut Up and Kiss Me, The Morning After (Lip & Cheek Mousse) – funny back story about this. I met the Happy Skin founders Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez and Rissa Mananquil Trillo during a trip to Silicon Valley earlier this year (you can read about it here). Being the make-up dweeb that I was (still am), I was using matt lipstick that made my lips really dry and chapped (but I kept on using it anyway). When my lips finally hurt because of all the skin falling off from it (sorry, gross), Jacqe and Rissa gave me Shut Up and Kiss Me Lip & Cheek Mousse from their stash! The pigment (nuks, that’s what you call it right?) is great and the consistency is creamy and pleasant on the lips and cheeks! It is also so easy to apply! Someone like me could not go wrong with this product, so someone who is slightly better, will look like a gazillion bucks!

Don’t Get Mad, Get Even Powder Foundation – this is my quick fix for impromptu photo shoots in our office (and we have a lot because we model for our own bags all the time)! And now that I’m frequently sleepless, it is also my secret weapon to cover my most expensive bags; my eye bags.

Minutes: Less than 3 minutes in total!

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4) Water!!! – I’m not a water person. I ALWAYS forget to drink water. I don’t get thirsty easily and hardly sweat (which is perfect for photoshoots but bad for my health). I know that water is good for the health, but more importantly, it is good for the skin. I know, priorities right? So now, even if I hardly get thirsty, I try to drink as much and as often as I could, especially now that I’m breastfeeding too. 

My favorite product: An app that can help you track how much water you took for the day! The name of the app is Plant Nanny. The idea is to keep your “plant” alive so you have to water it (and get reminded to drink water too!). The plants are cute too!

Minutes: Okay, this kind of breaks the less-than-5-minutes rule for me because it takes me forever to drink one glass of water. Geez. But I’m sure this could be less than 5 minutes (per glass) for others!

5) Insect repellent

My favorite product: Zenutrients Eucalyptus & Lemongrass spray – I love this because it is not greasy/oily but still effective! It is DEET-free too so I was not worried about applying it when I was pregnant and now that I’m breastfeeding. Though I had to apply more often, I enjoyed every refreshing spray 

Minutes: Less than 1 minute

6.) Sanitiser for everything (my hands, the room, etc.) 

My favorite product (not in photo because I ran out already): Messy Bessy The Little Warrior (Chamomile) – I am no germaphobe but I love this so much that I may seem like one when you see me spraying away! I love the scent, all-purpose-ness, effectiveness of the product, uncomplicated ingredients, and the cause behind the company! Read about them here.

Minutes: Less than 1 minute

7) End of day: remove make up

My favorite product: Banila Co Clean It Zero Make Up Remover – it feels like luxurious paraffin wax and looks like sorbet, but melts so well as you apply it on your face! It effectively removes make-up too, even those really stubborn liquid eyeliners. I mean, I know, I just apply light make-up on most days, but during those days when we have full on shoots for magazines/TV that require heavier-than-usual-make-up, Banila Co Clean It Zero does the job pretty well. And I’m obsessive when it comes to removing make-up at the end of the day! 

Minutes: 2-5 minutes, depending on how much make-up you have on.

8) End of day: wash face

My favorite product: Human Nature Nourishing Facial Wash – I love this one! It does not leave the skin dry but you’ll still feel clean even without feeling squeaky. Oh, and I don’t mean to sound defensive (which makes me sound defensive), but I also wash my face in the morning, in case you are wondering/judging. haha 

Minutes: 2-4 minutes – only because I like to lather up a bit longer

9) End of day: night moisturizer

My favorite product: Human Nature Night Moisturizer – I brought this with me on a trip to the US (Philadelphia for the Forbes 30 Under 30 summit) late last year. The weather was quite cold and windy, which could freeze your face and make your skin super dry. I used this for both day and night and loved it! My face did not hurt, and my skin felt soft, supple, and moisturised the whole time. That felt extra good because I kind of know how it feels to have a frozen and dry face. 

Minutes: 1 minute! It does not take a lot of product to cover my face. A little bit goes a long way too!

So there! I hope that I was able to somehow save some of you some shopping and decision-making time. I was able to get to this stage of having an actual list of products I love because of the help of so many amazing friends (who recommended products they were using or gave me some because they pitied me) and entrepreneurs (who worked so hard to bring quality products to us).

Um… You probably won’t be reading a lot of beauty product reviews in my blog, so this could be it. haha I’m all tapped out. Unless of course, I stumble upon the next awesome product that fits my less-than-5-minutes-to-apply criteria. I did not call this entry “How to do beauty when you are lazy” for nothing.

2016, what is it with you?

Before I gave birth, I lined up about 5 blog entries that I wanted to publish every other week until I could find the time to write again. But for the past few weeks, none of those entries seemed appropriate for the time. In between breastfeeding and taking care of Miguel, I would re-read every article, thinking about which ones to post, but none of them felt right or relevant for the events of the past few weeks. So I wrote a new entry that really reflects how I feel these days. Actually, no, how I feel for/about 2016.

Because I’m mostly with my son these days, I decided to write this as a letter to Miguel. =)

—-

Hi my little Miguel! Here I am again, writing to you even if right now, you are just happily eating, pooping, and sleeping (repeat 100000x). Because one day soon, you’ll be a curious little boy who will be asking us a lot of questions! And this crazy 2016 just gave us more reasons to explain things better, teach you better values, and be better examples.

It has been a tough year so far with a few shining moments (these shining moments are mostly about you! – being pregnant with you and the day of your birth up to now). But the truth is, 2016 made us fearful, desperate, confused, frustrated, and still hopeful somehow. I am still hopeful because our country deserves it, you deserve it. We (the relatively older generation) still have you and the younger generation to love and inspire. It is not yet too late. It is never too late. =)

So here are the 5 things that I want to share with you in light of the events during your birth year, 2016. These are some of the lessons and insights your dad and I will share with you as you grow up.

1.) NEVER FORGET: Marcos is NOT a Hero (well, I knew this ever since I was young but I just never thought I would have to explicitly say it or remind others)

By the time you read this, past President (Dictator) Marcos may already be long buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. I hope by then they have changed the name or I hope somehow, this was reversed or did not happen at all. But in case Marcos is indeed buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani (LNMB), I want you to know that he is not a hero.

Yesterday, we failed our country and we failed you when the Supreme Court agreed that Marcos could be buried in the LNMB. But it is not too late to still fight for the truth, and we’ll definitely continue the fight.

Past President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was a dictator, thief, and human rights violator. He is no hero. The real heroes are the ones who fought for freedom from his dictatorship. One day, I’ll tell you more about them and their stories.

Remember these people as the real heroes. Remember Marcos, but only as a dictator, thief, and human rights violator. Never Forget.

2.) Say what you mean and mean what you say

When you read the news from 2016, you’ll probably be very confused. It may seem like people, leaders most especially, say things with reckless abandon. Then they (and the people around them) attempt to take back their words and make really strange excuses. My son, this is not the norm and not how things should be.

Your mom and dad will not say things with reckless abandon to you or to anyone. We will try our hardest to follow through with our promises, mean what we say and say what we mean, and not confuse and frustrate you. We will try our hardest to not let our emotions get the better of us and make us blurt out words that we don’t really mean or we haven’t thought about. Because good and compassionate people are considerate. Considerate people consider the consequences of their words and actions.

3.) Always choose kindness and compassion

You will be growing up in a very strange world. Or at least, it is strange for your mom and dad. See, there was a time when we thought we knew the world and what being “good” really means. But today, we are realising that there are lots of other people around our country and the world who have different views and priorities. They may be great fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, and friends, but somehow, their beliefs and values are very different from ours. It may be tempting to impose our beliefs on them or treat them differently, but I hope that you could always start with an effort to understand where they are coming from.

Maybe one day, we can all understand each other better and because of this we’ll be more compassionate towards one another. Or maybe not. But at least we can contribute to the better possibility, right?

No matter how hard it is, always choose the higher ground.

4.) Respect is underrated these days, but always choose to respect

Respect people, especially women, not because of who they are (or what they are wearing – please!) but because of who you are. We will try our very best to raise you to be self-aware, respectful, decent, kind, and compassionate. We will do our best to impart good values and be good examples, but we also know that you will be growing up in a world where there are leaders who are not setting good examples for you. So while this will be extra challenging for us, we are definitely not giving up.

Some leaders, through their words and actions, may make it seem okay to ogle at a woman’s legs just because her skirt is shorter than usual or make rape jokes because they are just jokes. These are never okay, son. Ever. These days, it may seem like respect is “open to interpretation”, but really, it is quite simple. Respecting others means that you recognize the dignity of each person and acknowledge this through your words and actions.

5.) Do not give up on our country

I don’t know if this advice is more for you or for me. Maybe it is for me. Okay, it is definitely for me too.

I used to find it easy to love our country. There was just so much to love, you know. We have awesome beaches, warm people, nation builders (and they are our friends too!) and a lot to hope for. These days, we still have those beaches, warm people, and nation builders who are tired but still persevering. And yes, we still have a lot to hope for.

But these days, we also have more killings, vengefulness, corruption, rape jokes, disrespect towards women and minorities, hatred, trolls, fear, condescension, a dictator who will be buried in the LNMB, and the dictator’s family continuing their power and plunder (and still getting support from a lot of Filipinos).  Maybe these were always present in our society, but these days, they are more pronounced, accepted, and even celebrated.

It is no longer that easy to love our country. And perhaps that means that we should love it even more. If love is only present when it is easy, it is just mere fondness and not love. So I hope you strengthen your love for country especially when it is hard to and when it needs it the most.

Haaay, we can do this anak.

 

Dear Miguel

(1)8rPF+DF Fernandez-Ruiz, Reese_4424

Dear Miguel,

I am so excited to meet you in a few weeks! I sometimes still could not believe that by Christmas, we’ll already have you with us and we can carry you around, play with you, and introduce you to our family and friends!

There are so many things I want to tell you and stories I want to share with you, so expect a lot of letters, emails, and messages from me that will keep you reading for a long time. And if these are not enough, we’ll also talk for hours!

For now, I want to share with you some things about you, me, your daddy, your Titos and Titas who already love you so much, and some bits and pieces about how life with us is going to be like.

1.) First of all, I want to let you know that we’ll be trying our best to be the best parents for you. We’ll fail once in a while (or a lot) and there may be days when we won’t be our best selves for ourselves or for you. But no matter what happens, we won’t give up on trying and we won’t give up on you. In this family, no one gets left behind or forgotten (you’ll get that reference soon enough)

2.) You have a really cool (and sometimes weird) family – your grandmas, grandpas, Titos, Titas, cousins, and more! You also have Titos and Titas who are friends and colleagues of your mommy and daddy. They are all very excited to meet you!

3.) I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack for maybe about 3 months straight. Those were our first 3 months together (with you in my tummy). So if you can rap Guns and Ships easily, you can thank me later. But no pressure son. haha

4.) You will grow up with friends from all walks of life and backgrounds. Sure, we will attend those big and fancy birthday parties too, but we’ll also go to different communities and celebrate with them in simple and meaningful ways! We’ll do the things we love with the people we love the most.

5.) We will speak to you in English, Tagalog, and Bisaya (and we wanted to add more languages except… we don’t know them, so) from the very beginning! You won’t be an English-speaking kid who can’t understand or speak Tagalog in your own country. It is really not hard to learn 3 languages at the same time. You can do it my love!

6.) We will teach you how to pay bills, ride public transportation (not in an “immersion” kind of way, but actually learn how to go places – but your mommy and daddy are clingy, so we’ll go with you), open your own bank account, cook your own food (shoot, that means I have to learn this too, but we can do it Anak), get your own water, wash the dishes, do the laundry, clean your room, clean some areas of the house, and all the possible life skills that you need to learn to survive! These things are fun too!

7.) We’ll definitely do our very best to teach you the right values from the very beginning, but we won’t do this in a vacuum. See, you are part of a bigger world! This world is a big one. We are all figuring things out in this world and your mommy and daddy are blessed to have good people in this journey. We will all hang out together! This community will teach you empathy, compassion, kindness, and openness (which means you’ll get to know people with very different beliefs and backgrounds too). They will also help you realise that discourse, disagreements, and differences are not causes for divisiveness.

8.) We will not make your assignments, projects, talk to your teachers to boost your grades, or badger everyone we know to “like” your projects on Facebook. You’ll do all these (and more) yourself, with our loving guidance and support. We will trust you to fight your own battles, hustle your way through life, go through your own disappointments, and rise up again and again from falling or failing.

9.) We are big believers in “I love yous”. Your daddy and I say I love you to each other all the time. We say it before ending a conversation, before going to sleep, upon waking up, and any and every chance we get. And we mean it every single time. Welcome to the I Love You Club, buddy!

10) We love you for who you are and we accept your journey. You won’t be an extension of ourselves or our dreams for ourselves. You are not here in this world to take care of us when we get older. You are here because of love and out of love. You are here in this world to love, make your own path, make your own difference, and search for your own meaning. We’ll challenge you and encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone, but we’ll be patient with your process and support you in that delicate balance of hustling and being patient with yourself too.

(1)8rPF+DF Fernandez-Ruiz, Reese_4416

 

Entrepreneurship 101: A Disorganised List of Lessons Learned in Entrepreneurship Part 1

I’m starting a new series here called “My Disorganised List of Lessons Learned in Entrepreneurship”. Because I have actual work to do and a baby to deliver soon, I don’t have a lot of time to write coherent articles. What I do have though are lots and lots of little lessons that I wrote down for myself for the past few years. These are the lessons I wish I knew before learning them the hard way. But oh well, the lessons learned with pain tend to stick. I’m sharing these with the hope that some of you may not need to go through them to learn from them and if you still go through them, you won’t feel alone.

So here they are in bullet points! Not all of them are applicable to all businesses though so you would have to decide which ones are applicable to you.

1.) Start somewhere! Don’t overthink the whole “starting” thing

I know it is easier said than done, but small steps could go a long way. The first step in starting a business is creating a product/service and validating it in the market. It does not matter if the product is imperfect, it is a good idea to test it out anyway but be very honest that it is a sample/prototype. I have heard people say “make your product good enough first because if you fail, you’ll never get another chance”, but I found that that is not necessarily true for everyone. We started R2R with a less than perfect website (oh, don’t get me started here) and products that needed a lot of development (like a lot), but we started anyway, learned from feedback, stuck to the vision, and improved one step at a time.

You can try something out, and if it makes you less nervous, try it out with family and trusted friends. You’ll learn a lot more from trying than thinking on your own.

2.) Money is not always a blessing.

Really. Having too much money or resources can make you do stupid things. When you have a problem in the company, don’t just throw money at it or solve the problem with money. For example, if you have a problem with getting your brand name more known, don’t just spend a lot of resources on ads or big events. Think about your target market, where they are, who they are, and what they could possibly want/need from you. For all you know, you’ll be able to already reach them through cost-effective ways like targeted Facebook ads or newsletter marketing.

Don’t get me wrong, money is important and it can definitely make things easier. But if you are a start-up with limited resources (even if they don’t seem limited in the beginning – trust me, money drains up fast), be diligent enough to think of ways outside of money to solve problems. At the very least, you’ll be able to stretch the resources that you have and spend on the things that matter for your business.

3.) Hustle for as long as you can – don’t act or spend like a big company when you are a start-up

When we were starting in R2R, there was a time when we got a lot of resources and one of the first things we did was “hire professionals”. This meant that overhead increased faster than our growth. In retrospect, we should have stayed lean and agile for a longer time. We should have used the resources to build our market and test products rather than hiring a lot of people right away. There are lots of businesses today that are thriving with only a few people (awesome, hardworking, and really smart people) behind them, and I think there is great value in maintaining a lean team. Hustling is not just about working with a leaner team though, it is also about a lot of other aspects of the business!

Hustling and keeping your business lean and agile means that you don’t immediately hire away your problems or build departments, layers, levels or red tape/bureaucracy that would (probably) fit a bigger company.

When your business is starting up and you are figuring out a lot of things (like your product, market, and business model), having some set-in-stone systems and a huge team to support may do more harm than good. Choose the systems and people you really need. Don’t overcomplicate your already complicated life. 🙂

4.) Listen to mentors and advisors BUT, don’t immediately implement every single suggestion

Mentors come from different experiences and chances are, they will give you inputs that come from their own experiences. Their experiences may or may not be applicable to you. And also, some of these inputs will be consistent, others will be in conflict with each other. So when everything is said and done, you’ll still decide on which way to go. Communicate with your mentors on why you are taking or not taking their advice. While it is important to listen to advice, it is also as important to stand up for what you believe in and own up to it.

5.) Prioritise! When you have really limited resources, don’t spend your last few thousands on mid-term needs or nice-to-haves

Leverage the little that you have to generate more cash/revenue so that you can reach the mid-term in the first place.

For example, if you only have, let’s say, 30,000 pesos left (and no immediate cash coming in), what would you prioritise among these 3 things that are important to you and your company? a.) Go out on a team outing because the team has been working so hard lately, b.) Purchase a new AC because summer is coming soon and the office needs to be a conducive place to work in, or c.) Join an upcoming well-reviewed bazaar.

While each of the options is quite important, remember that you only have 30K left. If you spend it on either a.) or b.), you won’t have enough cash to live long enough to enjoy them. If you choose c.), you might be able to double your 30K and generate more revenue. Eventually, you will be able to afford both a.) and b.), but you have to decide on leveraging what you have left. It is important to explain these decisions to your team and those who will be affected by the decisions. Being transparent is not easy, but if done right, the team will understand and together, you’ll survive! And yes, these times will happen when you are running a growing business.

6.) Don’t compare your entrepreneurship journey to others

Yeah, so I used to do this a LOT. I would look around and feel bad/sad about how our progress as a business was considerably harder and slower than others. I know it may not look that way from the outside, but the inside is a lot more complicated and unglamorous.

I would compare the number of years it took us to launch great products to the number of years it took someone else to. I would compare revenues, profitability, marketing strategy, leadership capabilities, and almost everything and anything I could think of. It was not healthy or helpful.

During these moments, I forgot that our journey is very different. We chose to be a social enterprise and start with building communities with our community artisans. We knew the short cuts but we chose the longer path with the conviction that it is the more sustainable one. Unlike others, we did not have celebrity power, huge capital, deep pockets, and connections. I mean, sure, we had a lot of celebrity support, but that is different from being celebrities ourselves. We had investors, but that is different from having our own money that we could draw from anytime and every time we need it. We were dealt a completely different set of cards from others and we chose a different path, so of course, our journey would look very different!

It is great to look at successful entrepreneurship stories, but if you get into the trap of comparing apples to oranges, you’ll just be disappointed. Spending energy on comparing your journey with others is not only disappointing, it is unproductive. Instead of comparing, draw inspiration from others. Look for the lessons you can learn from them and apply them to your situation.

For example, if you have been working on building your personal care brand for years and find yourself comparing your journey with Jessica Alba’s relatively quick rise to success (although she did work for years to get to her current celebrity status too), think instead about what connects her customers to her. Think about what connects you to your customers. Your currency may not be “celebrity power”, but you have your own unique currency that you can work on. Your personal care brand may not scale as fast as Jessica Alba’s, but your journey is unique and it is yours.

The Productivity Tool that has worked for me for the past 4 years

I juggle so many things, departments, thoughts, and personal errands. And because I wanted to organise my life and make sure that nothing falls through the cracks, I have tried EVERYTHING: apps (lots of apps!), notebooks, journaling techniques, and perhaps every to-do list technique out there. Name it, I have probably tried it. But none of them stuck or worked for me. Don’t get me wrong though, I think we all have different productivity tools that work for our learning and working styles. The other tools might be working for you right now and of course, stick to what works! But if you are still searching for your productivity tool, this article may help.

I’m sharing my Productivity Tool but it does not mean that this is THE ultimate productivity tool that could work for you too. No big promises here, just a simple sharing of the tool that worked for me! Here is the link to the Google Sheet template. Feel free to download and play!

So how would you know if this is for you?

  • You work with a computer/laptop everyday or frequent enough
  • You love organising every single aspect of your life but don’t know how (yet)
  • You have several projects going on at once
  • You want to see everything in one place and have the flexibility to move schedules without getting too confused or overwhelmed
  • Your to-do list keeps on piling up and some of the tasks are important but not (yet) urgent (but will one day be!)
  • You are comfortable with excel

Ready? Here it is!

Reese_ToDoExcelFile_Excel

It maaaay look overwhelming at first, but give it a go. It’s just an excel file and it’s free!

Okay, let’s break it down (cue the music)!

STEP 1: Identify your column names. This is a super important step as the columns organise your individual to-dos and give them meaning (really!) and details. The screenshot (above) of my excel to-do list shows the columns that I chose and why I use them.

STEP 2: Create new excel file, start populating your columns! For each column, determine if you want to  have a drop down menu or you want to freely input data. Also determine your lists (the list that will appear in your drop down menu).

Having a drop down menu is helpful when you eventually sort your tasks according to priority, category, etc. (if you are not super familiar with excel, there is a step-by-step tutorial here and here on how to create drop-down lists in excel. If you get a copy of my template, I already fixed this for you)

For my own To-do list, I have several drop down menus. The one below shows the “Priority” column and the list I can choose from, when I log my to-dos. This way, I can sort the Urgent-Important, Important, Not Critical/Nice to Have, Not Important, and Urgent. In case you are wondering why I have a “Not Important” option, I use this for random things I think of that I’m not too precious about (like: watch Stranger Things again) anyway. Your list really depends on you!

DropDown_Menu

STEP 3: Start populating your To-do list! You can start with a few to-dos to practice. And trust me, if and when you get the hang of this, your to-do list will grow but won’t feel too overwhelming (hopefully!).

STEP 4: Use your To-do list! I organise my To-Do excel through sorting the “Target Date” column in ascending order (A to Z). This way, I can see all the tasks that are for the same day and could also see the other upcoming tasks.

STEP 5: Save your To-do excel using the tool that you are most comfortable with! If you love google sheets, use that. If you use Dropbox, use that. I personally use Dropbox to store my To-do excel. I also back-up frequently. Yup, do that too!

Sort

On an unrelated note, find the penguin!

How to use and maintain:

  • How to populate regularly: when I have access to my computer, I populate the excel file directly and I back up and save the file frequently. If I’m outside the house/office or in traffic, I email myself with the details of the task and when I get access to my computer, I log the task in the excel file. After I do, I could (temporarily) forget about it until I need to get back to it again.
  • How it could work with a notebook: so this excel file is my master list! I used to just use a notebook for my to-dos but found it hard to track because some tasks are due in a few weeks or months or the to-do list piles up until it becomes unmanageable. But somehow, using paper is still so so satisfying. So this is what I do: I still log everything in my excel file but I write down the tasks that are due for the day on my notebook. I close the excel file and just monitor my progress through ticking off the boxes for the day’s tasks I wrote on my notebook (so satisfying!). By the end of the day, I open the file and update what was done and I reschedule the other tasks that were not done. I could then take my mind off the tasks, and call it a day!

Some tips and hacks:

  • Don’t feel bad if you don’t get the hang of it the first time. It happened to me too. I designed it for myself and yet I was inconsistently using it for several months before finally deciding to stick to it!
  • You can also use this tool to monitor emails that you need to send, emails you need to reply to, emails you sent that you have to follow up on. When I log the emails here, I mark the emails as “read” and I could get back to them on the date I scheduled for them. I have maintained a zero unread messages every end of the week because of this system! I need closure in a lot of aspects in my life, so “zero unread messages” by the end of the week makes me happy!
  • You can design your own based on what you need and what you feel is important!

So there you go! Do let me know if you have any questions or builds! I’m interested to know about the productivity tool that works for you too. And if ever this works for you, please do share stories of how you are able to build it and stick to it! Even if I’m already using this for about 4 years now, I’m still tweaking it and thinking of new ways to make it better. I have been talking to myself about it for years, so new thoughts and ideas from other people are certainly welcome!