05/04/2015 by Kristine

“The sin of the desert is knowing where the water is and not telling anyone” – Richard Paul Evans

newblog-hybe013It’s 10.20 a.m. and I am Manila-bound for a two-week holiday with my sons, Koby, age 17 and Stephen, age 13. The Emirates flight is packed as usual—and as expected with Easter upon us; and a multitude of parents (mostly fellow Filipinos obviously in this flight) who are eager and excited to see their spouses and kids for a much anticipated summer break (summer in the tropics happens now for those of you who enjoy it in July and August).

Feeling a bit run down and with only a few hours of sleep clocked, I was a bit grumpy and didn’t welcome the friendly chatter that is characteristic of “Philis”. I couldn’t wait to get settled on the plane, put my headphones on, pop an aspirin with a bottle of water, don my sleeping mask and stick the “DND” sticker by the head rest of my seat.

The plane is packed, and there are days like this when you appreciate the trappings of the good, old corporate days when you fly business class. Running your own business however, puts you in a different seat, literally.

As soon as I settled in, my animated seatmate started firing questions at me. “Hi, so you’re going to Manila? Me too. Do you work in Dubai? Me too. I work as a nanny for a family in the Springs. I am very excited to go home. I haven’t been home for 2 years. What do you do? Where do you work?” I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and counted to 10.

I earlier predicted this would happen and a smile turned up at the corners of my mouth. I opened my eyes and I gently, unexpectedly gently answered her. “Hi, my name is Kristine. Yep, I am going to Manila. I live and work in Dubai. I have my own digital marketing agency.” 

Her face registered disbelief. This does not surprise me though. I’ve lived in Dubai for over 10 years, and the city has been generous to me. It served as a catapult for my dreams. I surveyed my surroundings once more and a million thoughts ran through my mind, each in rapid succession.

The recent conversation with a guy from London at a wedding reception down at Pier Chic. Then another awkward thread of conversation–of questioning by a managing partner of an e-PR company at the recent Step Conference. All of which share the same thread.

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Back at Pier Chic, the man next to me turned and inquired, “You’re Filipino right?”  I said, “yes.”  “But you own an agency?”  I responded, this time with an amused “yes” again. “That’s really surprising, because most Filipinos, you know—they are, you know…” And I watch yet another person stumble through his words, not knowing how to phrase the next ones, caught between a burning curiosity and an awkward incompetence to rescue himself out of what he then perceived, and as most guests around the table also regarded as racist remarks.

Corey, who was sat next to me, bless his soul, rescued the poor guy as he continues to stumble. “She’s TEDx, this one.” And everyone eagerly nodded, just happy to get on and enjoy his or her lobster bisque and foie gras once more.

Fast forward to Step Conference’s opening night, Andrea–my head of technology and I made our way around the grounds, looking for people we know in the digital, design and marketing industry.  Predictably enough, he came across someone he knows. Andrea introduces me.

I shook his hand, said hello and then he asked.  “So you and Andrea work together?”  I said, “yes, we do.” He asked, “what do you do there?”  I said, “well, {long pause} I own it. I run it.”  He reeled back and immediately fired, “what do you mean you own it?”  I turned to Andrea and smiled, “Andrea, what does it mean that I own it?”  Unlike the quieter bloke from London at the wedding, this man was bent on quizzing me.

It wasn’t nice or palatable—but a long time ago, I made a decision that I would not let everything touch my soul. I quickly extricated Andrea and myself out of the situation by simply saying, “I woke up one day and decided I’ll start my own agency, and so I did—with individuals and a team that also shared the same vision.” I quickly thanked him for giving business card, wished him a good time at the conference and walked away.

“The water, the oasis is in every pursuit to satisfy my inquisitive nature, to learn more, and to know more. The pay-off is also not only in the mere application of what I’ve learned, but also in sharing what I’ve learned with people who would care enough to listen…”

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Pink Entropy just closed a very good Q1 2015. I sat down with my team leads yesterday and thanked everyone for their support. We looked at each other proudly, a year and half running and agreed that we want to do more cool things, awesome things we can all be even more proud of.

We all agreed we want to be the best leaders and mentors for our team. We all thought that moving from a 3,500 square feet office to a 10,000 square feet one next year is a happy goal. And then I asked them for more support as we continue to work on the agency’s ambition.

To grow from boutique to even more something formidable, but still boutique. We all nodded in agreement that we have awesome clients like BRP, United Arab Bank, Al Serkal and partners like Livingroom among others who make the daily grind extremely worthwhile. And we know that this is only the beginning.

Dubai has served as a beautiful backdrop not only for my dreams, but also for a lot of people who have championed their dreams and are living them. If you are a fireball, and you want to shoot up to the skies—Dubai is that catapult. But it requires hard work. Passion is one thing, but that daily dedication to get out of bed and be better than you were yesterday is a discipline. The Pink Entropy team collectively agrees, we are all a work in progress.

“The sin of the desert is knowing where the water is and not telling anyone.” I underlined these words as I wind down the book I am reading on the plane. I looked at Elena, my seat mate on this flight and I said, “I love to read, always have, since I was 4. I probably grew up in the same neighborhood as you did. It’s funny that you are asking me how I did it, how I managed to set up my own agency. 

I’ve been asked the same question three times now in the last week.” At first I thought, hard work. But then a lot of people work hard too. I thought then, ambition. It had always been my ambition. I’ve always seen myself as an entrepreneur. And while that also rings true, I realize that there is more. As I dog-eared the pages of the book I am reading, it dawned on me that I’ve found the water in the desert in every book I’ve read.

In every mentoring and coaching conversation I’ve had where I was mentored, I was coached. In every mistake I’ve made and in the exercise that follows when I take the time to revisit what I did wrong and understand what I needed to learn from it. In the daily inquiry of how I could move from better to best.

The water, the oasis is in every pursuit to satisfy my inquisitive nature, to learn more, and to know more. The pay-off is also not only in the mere application of what I’ve learned, but in sharing what I’ve learned with people who would care enough to listen, like Elena on EK Flight 334 today.

There is integrity, gratitude and abundance in sharing, in telling where the water is—as this quote, authored by Richard Paul Evans tells me. Elena smiled as I completed my narrative. I smiled back, donned my Dr. Dre’s pink headphones, listened to carrot top Ed Sheeran and continued on with my book.

I took the DND sticker from my seat and stuck it on the side of my laptop as a reminder of my decision to write in the only way I know how. Open, honest and raw. My digital performance director might not be too pleased with the lack of SEO content on this blog, but I hope he would see merit in what I shared. No Google points here, but it sure feels good to share where the big blue water is in the desert.

Kristine

About Kristine

Apparently good things come in small packages and Kristine certainly proves this to be true. She has more than 10 years of experience in integrated marketing, building and managing global brands, and has worked across a broad spectrum of sectors – including automotive, FMCG, hospitality, healthcare and everything in between spanning MENA and Europe. She is also a veritable foodie, fitness enthusiast and a sought after author (not only for her recipes!) and voice for the digital and performance marketing verticals in the region.

 

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