13 Months in the Philippines – Lesson 11 – March 2013 – Missed Opportunities

420Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

March was lined up to be a very big month. We had 4 different training on the calendar as we continued to diversify our offering to get access to different types of clients and trainees. I continued to do media events and speaking engagements to push the brand. On paper the month should have led us to a very prosperous outcome and we would be well on our way to a healthy business model.

However, I underestimated a couple of things and overestimated our capabilities. This is exactly where so many small business efforts fail. Trying to do too much to soon. We did four different types of training; recruitment analytics, English for call center jobs, sales and marketing analytics and analytics for business leaders. If everything would have filled up I would have made over 100,000 PHP. But in the end I lost money on all four after costs of staff and venue were factored in. It’s the last time I did trainings without the help of a dedicated marketing partner.

I also overestimated my staff. One of my biggest weaknesses as a leader is that I tend to over trust and over challenge. I tend to treat employees as I wanted to be treated myself, but I forget they do not have the same level of experience and depth of passion I have. It sets them up for failure. And we failed miserably in our marketing, our recruiting, the quality of our product and our execution of strategy. I just got too excited and lost my discipline.

I also continued to do media events, but wasn’t capitalizing on them. Promoting myself is not easy. I can talk all day, but I forget the little things. Trinkets for the host, Shout outs to key business partners, mixing in a little Tagalog, staying on script. All valuable things that I can see now in hindsight I should have done better.

I really had uncovered a niche for training that I want to focus more on in the future. Recruitment Analytics training is something I am good at and something there is a dire need for in the Philippines.

Analytics Tool > Bullhorn > http://www.bullhorn.com

Analytics Concept > Recruitment Analytics > http://www.recruiter.com/recruitment-metrics.html

YouTube Resource > http://youtu.be/blx8IuHsmCA

Analytics in the Philippines – The Philippines is at the center of the action when it comes to solutions to the global need for analytics. Blessed with a solid foundation of young, educated and English speaking workforce, companies around the world are look for Filipino analytics talent to fill analytics positions. DMAIPH was set up to facilitate these solutions and bring the talent and the business together. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can help you take advantage of this unique global opportunity.

Advertisements

Lesson 10 – February 2013 – The Future is Bright

What Analytics Can Do!

Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines
In February, for the first time in ten months I made a profit. You hear that the typical new business takes a year or more to make a profit. I had been a very flexible and nimble business leader and let my business evolve as opportunities came up. It seemed like all the hard work, sacrifice and money spent has been worth it. To take a quote from my all time favorite book, The Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of time.” It was all a matter of perspective.

I was encouraged by several things. We had our most successful training event in February making a nice profit on my first public training geared towards young professionals and entrepreneurs. We also turned a profit with my first training focused on recruitment analytics, which was my first attempt to do something besides the basic analytics intro class. We had a couple of lucrative consulting gigs in the works. I was set for several media appearances and there was a lot of buzz building on our social media sites. I had a couple of speaking engagements lined up as schools to help set up more trainings down the road. The people I had hired earlier started to get into the swing of things and for the first time I thought we had enough people to fine tune our story and tell it to the world. Basically I was executing every aspect of the business plan I had set forth back in November.

As an analyst I felt pretty good about the ROI on our trainings, we had young and hungry staff willing to work for cheap to get the experience, my revenue was diversified and we were meeting our training head count expectations. I took on another trainee to work with a client’s marketing efforts and I was doing all this without the overhead of an office. We started getting into infographics. A fairly new trend in analytics and data visualization. I found a free info graphics tool and went crazy! A picture is worth a thousand words and a good infogrpahic is worth a thousand rows of data! Hehe!

Analytics Tool > Info Graphics > http://www.infographicsarchive.com/create-infographics-and-data-visualization/

Analytics Concept > Data Visualization > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_visualization

YouTube Resource > http://www.youtube.com/user/Piktochart

My Analytics Story – My passion is solving problems by bringing together the best talent, cutting edge technology and tried and true methodologies. DMAIPH is all about empowering people towards better Decision-Making through the use Analytics and business Intelligence. This is what I do best. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly for a free consultation about getting more analytics into your career and your business.

Lesson 9 – January 2013 – New Beginnings

139Ortigas, Metro Manila, Philippines

January 2013 got off to a great start. I set up a training, had a partnership with an events management company set up one in February, I filmed my first promotional video, and we had an official kick off party launch. I looked back at all the lessons I had learned in 2012 and focused in on two key ones; better marketing partnerships and charging more for the trainings.

There are so many important elements to a good marketing campaign. I learned a lot during my time with Wells, but hadn’t done a great job of them up till now. One thing was we needed a video. Something with me talking about analytics in away that gave people a chance to both better understand the topic and walk way feeling that I’m the best person to teach them about it. After some miscues we finally got it right. Another lesson is to have another voice be the one talking me up. We partnered with an events management company to get me in the media and put some polish on things. I guested on a number of TV and Radio shows and we started to sponsor more high profile events.

The next thing to do was reload the staff. At the end of 2012, I was down to one staff and no trainees. I decided to go all in with hiring more staff to help with the marketing and get our message out much broader then before. And with the media exposure we had content, we just needed to get it in front of as many people as possible. Based on the data available, I knew that our best bet was to train young professionals who could pay 3000 PHP for the training and then refer friends and co-workers. So that was the heart of our plan.

At the end of the month I was exactly where I wanted to be, the business had every sign of taking off and reaching the heights I had in mind.

Analytics Tool > KD Nuggets > http://www.kdnuggets.com/

Analytics Concept > Cost Benefit Analysis > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost%E2%80%93benefit_analysis

YouTube Resource > http://youtu.be/A0rFj0WVqDQ

My Analytics Story – My passion is solving problems by bringing together the best talent, cutting edge technology and tried and true methodologies. DMAIPH is all about empowering people towards better Decision-Making through the use Analytics and business Intelligence. This is what I do best. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly for a free consultation about getting more analytics into your career and your business.

13 Months in the Philippines – Lesson 8 – December 2012 – Holidays in the Philippines

IMG_1114 Kalookan, Metro Manila, Philippines

As 2012 came to a close, things really started to slow down. I took full advantage of this to prepare of a big launch of DMAI in January. We didn’t go home for the holidays, and ended up just staying in Makati to enjoy Christmas and New Years. And boy was it memorable.

The Winter Holidays in the US start with Thanksgiving. That’s when the malls have huge sales and you start seeing Christmas lights and hearing Christmas music in the malls. However in the Philippines that starts in September. So, but December I was pretty fatigued from hearing and seeing the Christmas cheer and looking forward to finally seeing the day come and pass.

There were a couple of additional interesting lessons I learned. From the period between Christmas and just after New Years, all movies show in Manila are Filipino made films. No Hollywood blockbusters or international films. It’s both good and bad, it allows Filipinos to relish in their own productions and guarantees viewing for films that might otherwise be missed. However, they are of course all in Tagalog. I went to one and got some of it, its was a romantic comedy so most of the jokes don’t need translation, but boy wouldn’t it be nice if they had subtitles.

The other one that really stands out is the fireworks. In the US we do fireworks in a big way on July 4th. There are also some on New Years or Veterans Day or Memorial in places, but fireworks really cant be enjoyed when its cold so for the most is just Independence Day. In the Philippines in Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Years Day. Staying on the 10th floor of a corner condo in Makati I could see fireworks all around from Pasay to Manila to Makati. Big and Small. It was amazing. And after the smoke was so thick it was like fog. It was truly amazing.

From an analytics standpoint I took away a couple of things. Know your holidays. For example, if you are an American company doing business in the Philippines know the holidays so you can keep your people happy. The second is that someone needs to do some analysis on the lost revenue of just showing Filipino films. They still make good money, but it has to be tough on the cinemas to sacrifice profit for art over a two-week period where everyone is at the malls.

Analytics Tool > Enchantment > http://www.guykawasaki.com/enchantment/

Analytics Concept > Business Partnership > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_partnership

YouTube Resource > http://youtu.be/f66naHGTsFU

My Analytics Story – My passion is solving problems by bringing together the best talent, cutting edge technology and tried and true methodologies. DMAIPH is all about empowering people towards better Decision-Making through the use Analytics and business Intelligence. This is what I do best. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly for a free consultation about getting more analytics into your career and your business. 

13 Months in the Philippines – Lesson 7 – November 2012 – Flying Solo

Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila, Philippines

When I got back from the U.S. in early November, things were very different. And that’s and understatement. They weren’t just different everything was starting to fundamentally change. My partners and I split ways. The project in Clark ended. I no longer had an office to go to. My right hand girl left to get married and have a baby. My trainees all found jobs. Professionally I was flying solo for the first time and it was exhilarating. I decided to take what I had learned from BPO Elite’s short coming and apply the lessons to a new company that would become DMAI.

SAM_4385

However, I also knew that even though I was charting my own course, I would need lots of help from people to be successful. I ratcheted up my networking and took on a new consulting gig with a medical transcription company. I started looking for marketing partners who can help me get my message to a broader audience and I started looking for better short term ROIs on my projects.

By the end of the month it was paying off. I was starting to make decent money and had a master plan to launch the new company in January.

From an analytics perspective, I dove deep into the needs of my new client. I did a lot of research on healthcare outsourcing to learn the players, the trends and the sweet spots. Gathering data and fashioning it into a marketing strategy was priority one. Determine which products would give the company the best ROI, updating the marketing message and focusing in on key markets was the plan. It was a well polished business strategy that was deeply grounded in my analysis. The sky is the limit!

Analytics Tool > Microsoft Access > http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/

Analytics Concept > Needs Assessment > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Needs_assessment

YouTube Resource > http://youtu.be/AiAHlZVgXjk

My Analytics Story – My passion is solving problems by bringing together the best talent, cutting edge technology and tried and true methodologies. DMAIPH is all about empowering people towards better Decision-Making through the use Analytics and business Intelligence. This is what I do best. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly for a free consultation about getting more analytics into your career and your business. 

The Only 4 Dimensions That Matter!

052107dhttp://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130723131517-758147-the-only-4-dimensions-that-matter-in-hiring-why-you-re-probably-evaluating-them-wrong?trk=tod-home-art-medium_0

Reposting this great article by the CEO of oDesk. Its seems that just about every interview process I’ve been thru recently is only focusing on the last (and least important) two. Just because someone does have the exact skills sets and knowledge bases you think you need to have right now, don’t undervalued their motivation and their and character. Its way to tactical!

=====================================================

Does this sound familiar? You interview a candidate who has deep knowledge of your industry and checks off every box in the ‘skills’ section of the job description. They assure you that they are the perfect fit for the position, able to hit the ground running on day one. They look great on paper and seem to be excited about the job. You make an offer, the employee starts working, and soon you are inundated with red flags and problems coming at you from all sides.

What went wrong? You didn’t assess the two most important criteria for any new hire: personal characteristics and motivation.

There are four key hiring dimensions: #1 personal characteristics, #2 motivation, #3 skills and #4 knowledge. In the above scenario, the focus was on just skills and knowledge. And while these are still critical to predicting the success of a potential hire, they should take a backseat to personal characteristics and motivation.

For the most comprehensive picture of a potential candidate, you have to look at all four dimensions, in this order of importance:

1. Personal characteristics are just that—core to one’s personal character. They are what make a person who they are, so for all practical purposes they are unchangeable (or at least too difficult to realistically change in a business context). After all, you can teach a chicken to climb a tree, but you’re better off getting a squirrel in the first place.

When I’m evaluating personal characteristics, I focus on:

Integrity
Intelligence
Judgment
Passion
Strong communicator
Initiative
Energy
These characteristics, at least for me, are deal-breakers. It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to the most experienced, most talented web developer in the Northern Hemisphere; if she isn’t a strong communicator, or he doesn’t have good judgment, nothing else matters. How do you assess these behaviors? That’s another fascinating topic for another post.

2. Motivation is next on the list. As with personal characteristics, this is often deeply embedded and therefore difficult to change. Motivation is often the best determinant of whether the person is a good fit for the role (and vice versa). Because preferences about work environments, stress levels, challenges and team dynamics can vary greatly, misalignment in this area is one of the primary causes of job dissatisfaction and under performance.

For oDesk, this means finding people who get excited about our mission, who like challenges, and who want to make an impact on the company and the world. Some people are energized by this environment; those are the ones we look for. For some, targeting impact and facing challenges drains energy, leading to unhappiness on both sides.

One of the reasons motivation is so important is that people who are a great fit with the role and environment will find much more personal growth as they rise to the challenge of a job they enjoy.

3. Skills—which sit on the secondary tier of dimensions—can’t be overlooked entirely, but they do require some reframing.

Most people think of skills in terms of job-specific expertise (graphic design, programming languages, etc.). While those job-specific skills do matter, they are much easier to learn once in a role than the more foundational skills you should be evaluating first: skills like communication, project management, organization, the ability to handle rapid context switches, etc.

As long as those foundational skills are present—and the position is flexible enough to support learning additional skills along the way—the skills dimension can often be considered met (of course there are some exceptions — you won’t be training any surgeons on the job).

4. Knowledge is the least important dimension—not because it doesn’t matter, but because it is the most easily changed (and is very likely to change anyway).

As a result, when evaluating this dimension, what’s most important is not the knowledge that the candidate already has. Instead, assess their foundation and framework for gaining new knowledge, as well as how able and willing they are to do so.

As with skills, those who don’t currently possess all the knowledge needed to be successful in a given role can still be great candidates, as long as they have that foundation and the position provides the opportunity to gain knowledge as they go.

In my experience, placing too much emphasis on knowledge (at the expense of the other three dimensions) causes the majority of hiring mistakes. Remember, just because a candidate knows their domain inside and out doesn’t mean they are a good team player or that they won’t jump ship as soon as the tide turns.

At the end of the day…

… to determine whether a particular red flag or concern really matters in predicting a candidate’s success, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: can it be changed or learned? If the answer is no to both of those, spare yourself a hiring disaster and move on.

What’s your experience with these hiring dimensions? Which are most important to you?

Want more from Gary? Follow him on LinkedIn and @garyswart.

Featured on:Recruiting & Hiring
Posted by:Gary SwartGary Swart

13 Months in the Philippines – Lesson 6 – October 2012 – You Can’t Go Home Again

004Alabang, Metro Manila, Philippines

October was a crazy month. Started out with an office in Taugig. Then spent most of the month in Clark. End the month back in California for vacation. Each story could be its own blog post, but for the sake of moving the narrative along, I’ll just briefly touch on each.

We found this great office space in Taugig. It wasn’t the best location, but good enough. It wasn’t the perfect size, but more than enough for our first year or so. And it was very reasonable as far as price and lease terms. The problem was we weren’t making enough money to cover the cost and my partners felt it to risky to keep the office with the hope that we eventually start making positive revenue. It would have made a great home. I’m still convinced that was a huge mistake because with a dedicated space I could have been running all kinds of trainings and seminars there. Anyway, it’s another simple analytics exercise. Basic accounting is always a foundation of any analytics exercise. Are you brining in enough money to pay the bills?

Going to Clark was a pretty cool experience. I got used to taking the MRT from Makati to QC everyday, I like the drive on the NLEX, and I felt at home in Clark. Being an old American Air Force base in the middle of one of the most beautiful parts of the Philippines, it felt like I was in Florida. Having grown up in a military family and spending most of my childhood summers in Florida… its was like being home again. Getting out into the provinces on a regular basis reaffirmed my belief that the future of the BPO industry is not in Manila. Things didn’t work our with your client, but I made a lot of connections in Clark that will always be worth the lost time on the failed project. One of the key lessons here, understand the amount of effort it takes your workforce, clients and/or customers to travel to get to you. A lot of companies don’t really analyze the market they are set up in, especially when it comes to recruiting talent.

At the end of October we came back to the US for a mini vacation and it was well-timed. BPO Elite was dying, the family needed some comfort time back home and it was just in time to catch the Giants winning the World Series. However, after spending six of the most amazing months of my life in the Philippines, it really didn’t feel like home. Its a lesson I’ve known since I spent a semester of high school in Japan, but home really is where the heart is. And for so many reasons for me that’s no longer the US. It’s the Philippines. You cant go home again, because where ever you are passionate and feeling alive… that’s where home is. And its the hardest part of analytics to understand… because there are no number or datapoints involved.

Analytics Tool > Microsoft Power Point > http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint/

Analytics Concept > Process Improvement > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_improvement

YouTube Resource > http://youtu.be/Q89qAbAAR3Q

My Analytics Story – My passion is solving problems by bringing together the best talent, cutting edge technology and tried and true methodologies. DMAIPH is all about empowering people towards better Decision-Making through the use Analytics and business Intelligence. This is what I do best. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly for a free consultation about getting more analytics into your career and your business. 

13 Month in the Philippines – Lesson 5 – September 2012 – Cracks in the Pavement

IMG_0994 Clark, Pampanga, Philippines

In September we stated working for a client that at first seemed to be a wonderful opportunity. They asked us to help them set up a manpower staffing business in Clark, Pampanga. It was a very interesting proposition. We would go out and sell the business and get a 50% commission on any business we brought in the door. We were given an office space, internet access, business cards, a business proposal and we found a list of potential clients to market too. We started doing a multi channel sales campaign with an e-mail blitz, phone call and in-person meetings. We also did some deep dive competitor research including mystery shopping. And we networked with the government agency in charge of the Clark Freeport Trade Zone. But we made a lot of assumptions and mistakes and after about three weeks of travelling from Makati to Clark (about 2 hours each way), things hadn’t worked out the way we had hoped for. Let’s look at a couple of the issues and analyze them.

1. We decided to set up shop in an area we were not at all familiar with. To mitigate this we hired a local with manpower experience.
2. We had to spend a lot of time travelling, so we had a small window for meetings. So we made sure all appointments where confirmed the day before.
3. We wanted to get to know the way things worked. So I networked with several key people via LinkedIn and in person appointments.
4. We didn’t have any upfront revenue. We got our client to pay most of the upfront costs for marketing and promotions.
5. We need to get our name out there. We sponsored a job fair and I got a speaking engagement at the event.
6. We had to assess the market opportunity. I had a couple of trainees build a prospective client database and map out locations.

So all things looked good. We had a great opportunity, I had applied a lot of analysis and we were ready to go.

But there were crack in the foundation and they had nothing to do with my analysis or our strategy. They had to do with people.

Even the best laid plans don’t work our if you cant count on the people to execute the plans. Partners got distracted, staff had to deal with personal challenges and personal life started to suffer from professional stresses. By the end of September there were more cracks in the pavement then I had cement to fill them with.

But it was still so much fun, so much adventure, so much excitement I just rolled with the blows and kept pushing forward!

Analytics Tool > Tableau Public > http://www.tableausoftware.com/public/

Analytics Concept > Competitor Landscape > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_intelligence

YouTube Resource > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj1q4zunuN0&feature=share&list=PL8D46F50D27222FD4

My Analytics Story – My passion is solving problems by bringing together the best talent, cutting edge technology and tried and true methodologies. DMAIPH is all about empowering people towards better Decision-Making through the use Analytics and business Intelligence. This is what I do best. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly for a free consultation about getting more analytics into your career and your business. 

13 Months in the Philippines- Lesson 4 – August 2012 – Mother Nature Strikes

IMG_1011Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

In late July, 2012, the Philippines was pounded by several typhoons and monsoon rains. There was one period where it rained hard for four days straight non-stop. Before the storms, I was in full swing… setting up speaking engagements, attending job fairs, conducting trainings, and shopping for clients, but then the storms came and everything ground to a halt. At the time, after three months of non-stop working, it seemed like a nice respite.

For those of you who have never been in Manila during a flood, its pretty hard to describe with out it sounding dramatic. In short, the city floods almost every year for a number of reasons. The people are just used to it. Walking in water up to your waste and dealing with school and business closures… its now big thing to most residents of Manila. But for me it was a pretty overwhelming experience. After coming back from a field trip on the 3rd day of the heavy rains, my son was stranded at his school. And I was powerless to do much. We walked a couple of miles from Makati to Manila in heavy downpours to get to his school. There were no taxis or public transit, so we had quite an adventure getting back from Manila to Makati.

Anyway, because of the floods, I did have to cancel once training class. It was a full class of 15 and had a lot of people with call center experience. It would have been a very fun class.

After the floods, things changed pretty significantly and pretty rapidly. More on that in the next blog post. But August was kind of a lost month. I didn’t conduct any other trainings that month due to scheduling issues and for the first time I started to wonder if my plans were going to work.

As an analyst, this is where I had to do a better job looking at and listening to the data. We weren’t making a lot of money on the public trainings and we had only placed 3 of our initial 30+ trainees directly. The business model was not working as it was intended to. Our ROI was not good for job fairs, we were not getting clients to sign up with us directly and I hadn’t quite figured out the marketing yet. So based on all the info, a change in course had to be made. So by the end of August BPO Elite moved in an entirely new direction.

Analytics Tool > SuveryMonkey > http://www.surveymonkey.com

Analytics Concept > Customer Insights > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_insight

YouTube Video > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS_IkObdTc0&feature=share&list=PL7EC252B253873D5D

My Analytics Story – My passion is solving problems by bringing together the best talent, cutting edge technology and tried and true methodologies. DMAIPH is all about empowering people towards better Decision-Making through the use Analytics and business Intelligence. This is what I do best. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly for a free consultation about getting more analytics into your career and your business. 

13 Months in the Philippines – Lesson 3 – July 2012 – Growing the Business


Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

So after two months of putting the pieces together, it was time to start aggressively growing the business. With an office in Fort Bonafacio, two hard working employees, some amazing trainees and a clear plan of attack we set out to train and place as many analysts as possible. Based on the trainings we had done in May and June, the Intro to Analytics class was rock solid. We were attracting more and more candidates for the class, we had some clients offering us ad-hoc analytics work and we places three analysts with our first key business partner. SO how did we get there?

420

When I talk to people about business strategy, the first thing I ask is what kind of data are they using? How are the accessing it and how do they refresh and measure it? You need to know the competition, you need to know the demographics of your clients and your market and you have to have customer insight data. Here is who we got it.

Who trains people to be analysts? Not really anyone externally to their own company. To date, I still believe we were the first analytics training program in Manila. So we were competing with other training programs and hiring processes. So we went to job fairs and we published online. We tracked recruiting expenses and determined ROI. A couple of our trainees did some in-depth competitor analysis to know who was hiring analysts, what their duties where and how much they were getting paid.

We also got really good at understanding the best candidates for our program. IT and CompSci grads from the mid-tier college and universities. We started targeting them directly via LinkedIn and at job fairs. We put together a candidate database and started using Bullhorn’s free tool.

And we gather a lot of client satisfaction data. We surveyed our trainees using Survey Monkey, we asked them to write LinkedIn testimonials and we set up a Facebook group to network. We asked our clients for feedback and posted highlights on the web site, the Facebook page and the LinkedIn.

We were rocking and rolling! And than Mother Nature started being a problem.

Analytics Tool > Wikipedia > http://www.wikipedia.org

Analytics Concept > Demographic Profile > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_profile

YouTube Resource > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aHtHl-jcAs&feature=share&list=PL7EC252B253873D5D

My Analytics Story – My passion is solving problems by bringing together the best talent, cutting edge technology and tried and true methodologies. DMAIPH is all about empowering people towards better Decision-Making through the use Analytics and business Intelligence. This is what I do best. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly for a free consultation about getting more analytics into your career and your business.