Friday, December 15, 2006

Cold Knocking

From a post on"

Tap your "network" Mom, Dad, cousin, classmates etc.

We live in a country that's it's who you know and not what you know anyway. *sigh*
End Quote

I beg to disagree with the above statement, so I wrote this and posted it on the same thread.

Cold Knocking:

That may be true for some people you will meet, but many you can meet through a process called "Cold Knocking."

Before graduating from college, I sold encyclopedias. We were told NOT to call on relatives or friends but to do "cold knocking" which meant going door to door, knocking on the doors of people we did not know.

When John and I started, we did not know anybody. Although he's Chinese, he was not connected with the Chinese community. Because I went to U.P. and did not join any sororities, I did not have a "network" of college friends. So I did what I had learned before - I did some "Cold Knocking." I picked up the Yellow Pages and started calling ad agencies. I told them that we were interested to do advertising photography and may I present our portfolio to them?

I prepared a portfolio. We did not really have an advertising portfolio (a simple clearbook with black cartolina inserts) but lakasan lang ng loob (what's the English translation? -* "we had guts"*). Most of the items in the portfolio were shots that were obviously amateurish. I included an article on John called "The Magic Eye of John Chua" that Asia Magazine (now extinct) had published.

John would always say that whether you approach a big agency or a small agency, the effort is the same, so I approached one of the biggest ad agencies - J. Walter Thompson. (Sabi ko na, lakasan lang yan ng loob!). Since all we had was a 35mm camera, one of our first projects was for an audiovisual presentation. Mostly, repros. But we got our break.

We also approached Nation Ad - former partner of Grey Advertising (now partnered with Campaigns), plus a few others that have now already disappeared from the advertising scene.

We were getting all minor assignments, but we made sure that our clients were happy with our work. With money saved, we bought a 120mm camera. The brand was "Kowa" and it was a Hasselblad wannabe. (One established photographer asked me what John's medium format camera was, and I said "Kowa." "Kowa-wa naman kayo" was his reply). *Translation: kowa-wa, take off from "kawawa" which means pitiful.*

I continued to do cold knocking. Tiyaga lang *I persevered*. I cold-knocked on the doors of Ace Comption, now Ace Saatchi and Saatchi. The AD asked me what lights we used. I said "available lights." He asked me how John would control highlights and shadows and I said "magaling siya *he's good* with available lights." I called every now and then but did not get an assignment from them until 7 years later.

When I was selling encyclopedias, I learned to persevere. We were told that maybe in the beginning, the number of rejections compared to acceptance would be higher. Maybe in the beginning, we would have to knock on a hundred doors before we got in. If we quit on the 99th, we would never meet our first customer.

We were told to work hard to improve the ratio - to bring down the number of rejections, but to accept that rejections were part of the game - that every rejection brought us closer to the sale. I also learned this from Tom Hopkins (Official Guide to Success) who welcomed every rejection because they brought him closer to his success. 1, 2, 3, ...96, 97, 98, 99.. hurray! here comes the 100th. Finally, a sale!

33 years later, and I am still asking our people to do cold knocking.

There are a lot of clients waiting to meet you. If you don't call them, how would they know where to find you? Buti nga ngayon may internet. *it's a good thing that now we have internet* but that is not enough.

Sure, go ahead, check out your friends and relatives but do pick up the phone book, buy trade directories, join online fora, print your business cards and give them away.

Zig Ziglar (author of various books on selling) said he would give himself a quota of 20 cards a day to give away. At the end of one particular day, he was about to go home. He loaded gas and saw two cards still in his wallet. So he handed them to the gasoline attendant and requested him to give his cards to two customers of the gasoline station who look like they needed new cars. The following week, he got a call from someone who said he received Ziglar's card from the gas boy. He made a sale.

Once I tried doing that. I was at the Enterprise and saw one food stall that looked like they could use better photos. I bought my lunch there and offered my card to the cashier, and said, "if you need good photos of your food, please ask the owner to give us a call." She said, "Mam, si boss po ang nagshoot nito." *Mam, my boss did the photos."* When I was no longer within hearing distance, I gave out a sigh, and told myself, "you can't win them all" and counted "no. 99."

Good luck. Sorry for the long post. I just wanted to help inspire you to just keep on knocking.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Learning to spell and do math

Learning to Spell

When you are having fun, learning becomes easy. When Kathy was in first grade and learning to spell, she had a hard time. It was a frustrating experience for her. To help her out, we taught her a fun trick – which was to imagine each letter as a person. An “O” would be a rotund person, letter “I” would be a thin person, letter “T” has his feet together but arms outstretched at shoulder-height, letter “A” is standing with legs apart, letter “X” has his feet far apart and his arms outstretched above his head, etc.

As she spelled each word, she imagined the letters marching out one by one joining the others in the right sequence. We started her with short words, but pretty soon, she was spelling long words. Sometimes, she would laugh, imagining how awkwardly certain letters would walk to their position in the word.

Just recently, my husband was trying to write something but couldn’t get right the spelling of a certain word. He kept asking Kathy to repeat the spelling. Getting tired of doing so, Kathy, who is now 26, said, “papa, just imagine people as letters and they are marching one by one. Now, what do you see in your head? Who comes after E?”

Learning Math

Whether doing additions or subtractions, mental arithmetic is not much fun for a 5 year old. When Ching was in prep, she had math homework to do, but she was not in the mood to do them. I asked her to bring out her math worksheets, and we struggled with the first one. She was not paying any attention at all to what we were doing, and counting on our fingers did not do the trick, since our fingers, hers and mine together, only reached up to 20. (I wish I had heard of “Finger Math” then). I was really challenged to make math fun for her to do. I looked around the house for things that she could count, but there were hardly any that reached 21 to 99, until I happened to glance at a jar full of coins (to save money, I throw all my coins into the jar at the end of each day). I gave her some coins in different denomination, and we pretended to be buying and giving change to each other. Sometimes, when she did not have the exact change, she learned to combine different coins to reach the required amount. It was fun, and it took us only a few minutes to finish several pages of homework.

To add variety to things for us to count, I bought multi-colored popsicle sticks and beads, and we often laid them out on the entire floor of the children's room so we could see how much space a thousand sticks occupied when grouped in 5’s, 10’s, or 100’s. I think it helped in understanding math that we were touching them as we were counting. Math was real and physical, not just abstract and mental.

Kathy, on the other hand, learned math the easy way because her school had interdisciplinary programs – meaning, they did activities such as going to the zoo, cooking or doing stage productions, and through these activities, they learned math, writing and other subjects. At the zoo, for example, they helped in preparing food for the animals – and they learned fractions – mix 1-½ cups of chopped carrots with ¾ cup of sliced beans. For theater production, they learned the height, width and depth of props to take onstage, or length and width of costumes to sew.

One of the best-loved books in our family library is Mathemagic, part of a series of books called Childcraft. One of Ching’s early questions as a child was “Is there a number smaller than zero?” I told her yes, but I was befuddled as to how to explain the concept of negative numbers until I read Mathemagic. In one chapter, the book explained negative numbers in a way that a child could understand, by instructing the child:
a. Draw a line and step on it – that’s zero.
b. Take a step forward, that’s one.
c. Take another step forward, that’s two
d. Now, return to zero.
e. Take one step back, that’s minus one.
f. Take another step back, that’s minus two.

When third and final daughter Sacha came along, it was easy. We still had the coins, beads and popsicle sticks. She was playing and counting them even before she went to school. We had Mathemagic, and that was one of the first books she herself read.

Math is easy when it is fun.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Overcoming Childhood Fears

Some childhood fears persevere into adulthood. Mine did, but I wanted to save my children from “inheriting” those fears.

The house where I grew up in was just a couple of houses away from the river, and three or four blocks away from the sea. Since my own mother did not know how to swim, she always worried that we might drown, so we were never allowed to play in or near the river or sea. We also lived along the town’s only avenue, so biking was out of the question. My mother's voice, though not loud, was clear - "Keep off the street. No biking."

Now, fast forward to the time more than 20 years later: At one point, my husband, John, tried to teach me how to ride a bike, but I was afraid that it was something I was to old to learn. I was afraid of falling or of hurting myself, and I could almost hear my mother’s voice in my head warning me that a bus or jeepney might hit me.

It was at that time that I learned that I was pregnant for the first time, and I found a convenient excuse not to continue with the biking lessons. After the baby was born, he would ask again from time to time, but I would make up all sorts of excuses and after some time, he gave up asking.

When our eldest daughter, Ching Ching, was 5, John taught her how to ride a bicycle. She learned quickly and John and she would ride together and leave me with my younger daughter, Kathy, then 1-1/2. When Kathy was five, she also learned how to ride a proper bicycle. A third daughter, Sacha, was born, and following tradition, learned to ride a bike at 5 (Ching Ching was then 12, while Kathy was 8-1/2). So it came to be that all three daughters and their dad would ride their bikes to go as far as Fort Santiago and leave me behind at the Cultural Center Complex to watch over their bags of food, water and towels.

Even with a book to keep me company, it was getting lonely and boring being alone while they biked around town the whole morning. They would return with exciting stories about what happened to them or what they saw and I felt bad that I was not there to share the experience first hand with my children.

It was then that I resolved that I would learn how to bike. I told myself that anyone can learn how to bike – why, I even see chimpanzees ride bicycles in circuses. If a chimpanzee can do it, hmmm, so can I.

There I was, in my early 40’s and my goal was to ride a bike (of course, without trainer-wheels) ; ) . I told my husband about my intention and he was very encouraging. I was determined to learn and went practically every day at the Cultural Center Complex where I could rent a bike. As I mount the bike, I would see that there would be at least 5 others – between the ages of 5 and 10, learning how to ride bicycles. Some were even younger, but their bikes had trainer wheels.

One of the bike-rental stall owners assigned a young boy to teach me. As to be expected, I fell a few, no, many times, but each time I fell, I would get up again and again and ride my bicycle, determined to outgrow my childhood fear. Eventually, I did learn. John taught me how to do figure 8’s, and was very patient in encouraging me to venture a little beyond the square where bikes were being rented out.

I was proud of myself, but still afraid to try biking on the main street. To this day, I still cannot get myself to ride a bike and compete for street space among buses, jeepneys and pedestrians. I may never fully outgrow my childhood fears, but I am grateful that my children- who ride bicycles confidently - have done better than I.