January 3rd, 2011
The Road to Blogging – Where I’m Coming From
The Formative Years
I was born in post-revolutionary Cuba. Gratefully, my parents were able to leave legally via Cubana de Aviación (as opposed to the “Adiós Amigos” raft). After six months in Mexico City and another six months in Little Havana, we finally settled in sunny San Juan. Although I was only three years old by the time we got to Puerto Rico, I was always a minority on the Island. During those years, Cubans were seen as the opportunity grabbers, the job stealers, the unwelcome immigrants – you name it. Believe me, I can easily identify with the Irish and the Italians of the past and the Mexicans of today.
Still, I was a happy kid. My mother and grandmother raised me, assisted by a much older sister (eight years older, though she will never admit it). I built character very early in my life. Who wouldn’t, when at the tender age of eight, they would send me to the deli to buy them sanitary napkins. I still cringe when I hear the word Kotex.
Regardless, during 12 years of Catholic education, I focused on learning and developing into the interesting guy I am today. By the time I got into high school, I was a 4.0 student and held elected offices in The National Honor Society, Junior Achievement of P.R. and Forensics Club. I had a short-lived Drama Club experience, and turned down nominations to the Student Council (never liked politics) and invitations to join the Chess Club (wouldn’t admit there is a geek in me).
I knew that I wanted to expand my horizons and move to the States for college. I also knew that I wanted to study business. My success in Junior Achievement taught me that I had a knack for successfully marketing a product made by teens for $4.99. But wait! There’s more! You don’t get a second one free …
The College Years
I still remember that mid-February day that I got my acceptance letter to Cornell University. I celebrated for a week until reality settled in. How would we pay for it? After submitting many applications, I achieved an acceptable financial aid package and started packing for Ithaca, a place high above Cayuga’s waters. Still can’t believe that I survived the snow and the strict academic standards, all the while working my way up from short-order cook (freshman year) to residence life program director with a full room, board and tuition scholarship (senior year). What memories!!!!
With senior year upon me, it was time to make new decisions. Work or grad school? Fortunately, the decision was easy when I was accepted to the University of Michigan’s MBA program with a full scholarship. I had to turn down an offer from Procter & Gamble, but they assured me that a job would be waiting for me upon graduation from Wolverine headquarters. I met amazing friends in Michigan, most of whom ended up in finance. My goals remained in marketing, where I excelled in the strategy courses. I was definitely prepared to face the world.
The Working Years
Imagine my surprise when my first brand assignment was Always sanitary napkins. I take it as proof that everything happens for a reason. Starting my career at P&G was a perfect choice. Its proven processes successfully categorized all I had learned in college and offered a strategic recipe to ensure successful execution and measurement.
But, I missed New York, so I moved to Lehn & Fink (now part of Reckitt Benckiser). The Lysol company was even better for me. I started in the Lysol franchise and transitioned to Resolve, garnering great learning opportunities along the way. Since it was a smaller company, I had greater responsibility and closer access to all the great teams that make a CPG company run. It was with Reckitt that I got to travel the world and build a franchise (Resolve) from single digits to close to a billion dollars worldwide.
The technology bug bit me in 1999 – right before the burst. Like many others, I tried my luck in the .com world and successfully worked in multimedia Internet projects that required an army of resources and coding back then, versus a click of a button today. While it was a great shaping experience, we ran out of funding and I did the next best thing: moved to IBM to work on corporate strategy to identify “The next big thing.”
My experience at IBM provided me with the credentials to not only write this blog authoritatively, but also to craft my elevator pitch: I have the best combination of classical marketing expertise and technological savvy to truly understand technology’s business implications.
Currently, as a consultant, I am actively learning and testing social media to truly understand its capabilities. I help my clients channel their efforts toward real performance and away from the fads and hoopla.
This blog represents learnings and opinions as the market develops and as my fellow marketers help shape this new world.
Trust me, the four Ps are still alive and well.
You can contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn:http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana
Entry Filed under: About the Author