“Working” at 10

The Stimulant: My father, ever-efficient, taught me at a very young age that there were certain things about life that couldn’t be learned in school. At that time, I didn’t understand what he was training me for. I was only 10 years old. All I could think about was that he was disrupting my TV viewing schedule.

“Oh no,” he glared at me as I grumbled since I knew what was coming next. “You’re calling my members tonight.”

The members he was referring to were the Knights of Columbus of St. Therese Parish in Cebu City, Philippines, where he was a very active Grand Knight.

Thus, I never started with a fear of “cold calling” because Dad made it easy for me.

“Hello, Tito Fred. This is Lorna, Joe Lardizabal’s daughter. Dad asked me to remind you that you have a meeting after the 7 o’clock mass tomorrow. Can you make it? O.K., I’ll let Dad know you’re coming.” This was my telemarketing script as I checked off the 17 names on the list.

Today, I am an accomplished telesales consultant who knows how to coach business development specialists through the “sales by phone” process, doing the initial calls for them, helping them write their scripts, and guiding them as they navigate their way through the gatekeepers and decision makers.

The life I led as a 10-year old was filled with milestones of my first “work experiences.” Here I was, the oldest of 7 children, expected to boss my younger brothers and sisters around — which I never did. My mother had already volunteered the services of my sister Noemi and I a year before for her “shag rag” business. To this day, I don’t wonder why I have the patience to handle painstaking details that started its origins from sewing 6 strands of yarn into thick canvas cloth.

One day, they announced that they were going to open a home bakeshop. They were the first ones in Cebu to offer “chiffon cakes to-go” on supermarket shelves. My life changed at that point. Like any start-up business, Mom couldn’t afford to employ many people. During weekends, in between my TV viewing and novel reading activities, I stared helplessly at the mountains of chiffon cake pans piled up high by the sink waiting for some hand washing and elbow grease — with Lorna!

My mother, after a few months, asked me to assist her in the bookkeeping process. Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Net 30, and Net 60. These were all terms that floated around the house. After all, Dad was a certified public accountant.

I eventually graduated to becoming the “flour sifter” girl. In between my sneezing fits due to flour dust, Mom felt I was ready for the production area. This was where I learned how to slice cakes, use a rubber scraper to get rid of unsightly bubbles in chiffon cake batter, and bake cookies.

Today, as a strategic business consultant, I smile whenever clients ask me how many years of experience I’ve had dealing with the joys and challenges of a Filipino family-owned business.

Since my father was the president of the Cebu Jaycees that year, we, as his children, were not exempted from his volunteer activities. I learned the art of diplomacy and ventured into my first experiences in marketing and public relations. Dad insisted that we needed to learn how to talk with his special guests. Thus, I recall meeting Mrs. Luz Magsaysay, the widow of the late president of the Philippines, Ramon Magsaysay, at our home during the launching of a huge non-profit project — and not feeling intimidated at all.

I also have fond memories of my first creative, a young talented man named Rey Evangelista, who had designed our bakeshop’s logo and tagline. He was in charge of the Cebu Jaycees’ children’s art contest. I was awed by his artistry. Years later, Rey was the one who coined the name and tagline for my own doughnut line. I am searching for him right now. Is he still based in Brunei as an advertising executive?

Today, as a marketing and public relations practitioner, I can empathize with creatives, artists, and techno-artists who seek to understand the objectives of organizations whenever they are asked to create “spice and wit” to attract targeted audiences.

The Lesson: Looking back into your past means remembering what talents and skills you picked up along the way from parents and friends. Just say a quiet “thank you” to these persons who took the time to teach you some valuable life skills. You will never miss them because they will always be a part of you.

© Lorna Dietz, July 2003. Published by the Manila Bulletin-USA







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *