New Management Approach in Philippines (Filipino Leaders)

In philippines business by Michael Michelini4 Comments

Changing my Approach to Working With My Team in Philippines

It has been quite a ride in 2019 and we are half way through. One thing I am thinking about deeply is how I am managing the team.

Some people on the team (those brave enough maybe) have given me critical feedback I have been micro-managing. Maybe that is because everything has been drastically changing around me. And I am just making sure we re-align correctly.

The last week we added a few new people to the team (I know,, hiring too much, I just see so much ability in people I wish I could hire / give opportunity to everyone who wants to make a better life for themselves – the theme of this blog actually) but I have changed the way I approach them when they join the team.

I am working hard on aligning them to the long term benefit of the company / their department’s performance.

For example, we added an amazing entrepreneur to the team – Ara. She applied to our post on content writing and said she has been running her own Etsy and Shopify site since 2012 and has done basically every part of an ecommerce business herself. Now, that is awesome! Although at the same time I can honestly say to myself I’m nervous to hire someone who has their own business, as they may take the skills and resources they learned working in the company and apply it to their own business and later leave (my Chinese business friends are jumping up and down right now on some calls saying that is exactly what will happen) – but I’m taking a chance her. Instead of hiring her for the content writing post – I offered her to help me with the Amazon FBA Seller Central work. While she hasn’t done Amazon before, if she is really operating an Etsy and Shopify store for 7 years or so – then those skills can mostly be applied to Amazon. And she’s on a base compensation which she accepted without bargaining and I think is looking at the longer term opportunity – as I am t trying to make some KPI and concepts where she is receiving bonus / commission / even equity in the business instead of simply a fixed salary. In only the first week working here – I have been so impressed at her ability and independent work of finding gaps in the workflows, and smoothing things out, it is almost scary and hard for me to believe. Thank you Ara and if this is how it will work long term – amazing things will happen.

The other person joining the team is April. She also applied for the content writing job post, but I saw a different ability in her. She had experience in event management, and working closely with business “influencers” (that word still is strange for me to say) on sales and business development. We ahve the Cross Border Summit coming up now (in 4 months) and I told her while the job position is filled (will talk about the actual writer we did hire next) – I see her more suitable in a different job – well kind of created a job – as Business Development / Event Manager of Cross Border Summit and the other Global From Asia media department. Here’s the crazy thing – she has a goal to do business with China in products/ trading and wants to learn how to do it. WELL – that is like the best chance for her to learn it, right? I mean only a handful of other companies I can think of could give her the access / connections / exposure to China / Asia ecommerce and product trading. So – basically – April and I are both really excited about the opportunity. She’s on a base but more aligned as well on the success of the event and other GFA business.

I also sent her a Slack privately and said – if she really keeps up what she has been doing this week, this business will change and amazing things will happen. She didn’t reply to it but did the “reaction” of a double hands up. Guess that means she’s on board – I keep joking over the last few days of on boarding / training calls- if you’re still not quitting after the overload of information, then this is a positive sign.

And the third hire is the actual content writer for the job post I put up – Agnes. I see big potential in her – but right now on a per article basis. Considering more projects – maybe social media marketing. Still need to develop more talks with her.

Kind of ironic – the job post for writing articles and the big outcome is an ecommerce manager and business development manager for totally different departments.

My loving wife hears these stories at the dinner table and reminds me of my excitement I always have on new additions to the team. Keeping me “grounded” she says it is only the first week and I can’t get too excited. But I do have to say, I have been working with teams online for almost a decade now (well a mix of office and online) starting in 2009 with an online worker – and like anything in life – the more you do it, the better you get.

I do feel I am better at “reading people” in the resume / job application / and onboarding process. While I am trying not to get my hopes up too much – I do feel really excited.

I also wonder what is different?

I think it is me. I am letting go more. I am trying to empower and give access to all the information and the department. Plus I’m trying to be more clear on what the job is. What the expectations are. What the target is.

My real passion – connecting people, empowering people.

Those who have followed this blog over the decade plus of posts – I have said “I’m not a business man” and more an artist, creator, connector.

I had attempted at a scholarship fund in the Philippines. (unfortunately the first scholarship didn’t work out too well)

On Global From Asia we launched an ecommerce business where I tried to be the connector and brining together investors and entrepreneurs / operators (Ecommerce Gladiator series here)

Maybe I need to put all of that together.

I have had (generally) amazing experience working with Filipinos. During a training call with Ara and JM last week, both Filipinos, they said Filipinos are very loyal once a relationship and trust is established. I believe that too.

I’ve tried / I am trying / I am helping Filipinos by employing them, did attempt to give one a scholarship – but here is my newer idea (very very early stage) –

Invest in them.

In a way that is what I am doing with Ara and April. While they are on a employment relationship, I want to try to convert that into a business relationship.

Although I have even tried it in Philippines and it didn’t work out (the content writing department). I think the difference was the person I found online already had her own team of writers, and when I made a joint venture, structure with her, maybe it wasn’t fully clear / or sales weren’t enough and later she built out her own site and brand. No huge hard feelings, actually the job post for content writers was due to that JV falling through. So everything seems to work out for a reason.

The general summary from this post – I think in the year 2019 and the future – “outsourcing” isn’t the answer. People around the world can see everything, the prices of products, the prices of services offered online – and why can’t Filipinos, Indians, Chinese (well they’re already dominating Amazon FBA) just do it themselves.

The world is flat. So I will continue to evolve and try to make long term JV / investments / profit sharing with those on my team who are open for that. I think pure fixed salary is not going to be the future.

And the really cool goal is if I can take my network and community and use it as a platform to invest in people who have the will and drive. I think for Ecommerce Gladiator – I should have invested directly with an operator in Philippines. But I have a feeling this may be the future way it will be done, with investors and me.

Step by step. It is only the first week of the new style of team members. Which I want to call leaders.

Thanks for those on the team who woke me up to “micromanaging” -I think I just went really too far the other way – maybe it will offset and balance in the weeks to come.

JUST DO IT. Try new arrangements, keep an open mind don’t get discouraged when a deal doesn’t work out – as there are so many chances.

Related Posts


  1. Hi Mike – if the Chinese are dominating FBA, and you’re selling products that are easily sourced in China, how do you compete with them?

    1. Author

      fair question Wayne 🙂

      Well, a few points

      1) Costs in China rising – so many Chinese sellers asking me to help them build teams in Philippines /Southeast Asia as the talent pool in China is getting more and more difficult to find quality and affordable. But they also don’t know how to work with online teams well. So while the product is there I believe the real way to win is quality branding and marketing – not spamming fake reviews and other brutal things done in the past.

      Filipinos – as well as many others in Southeast Asia – are very creative, hard working people – more loyal – and labor is much less. Plus the English levels.

      I think by giving them more leadership abilities will help set them apart.

      I have been to the Chinese sellers offices in China – they hire everyone in house and have massive football field offices – that is getting more and more expensive.

      I see Chinese factories more and more desparate for customer with trade war – and they are willing to work with me.

      2) I am sourcing from some factories in Thailand and looking to other countries in Southeast Asia.

      3) Chinese sellers are not Chinese factories – while there are soe factories successful on Amazon – it is still a skill they need to grow on.

      So I think the combination of intelligent, good English speaking people who don’t have access to capital and a boss (well I hope to be more of a leader than boss) who empowers them – will create a new way to win in the market.

      thoughts / feedback welcome.

      Sure, many hire Filipino VAs – but most treat them like a robot and never really empower them.

      It is still early for me to say – but I would love to be more of an investor / connector than manager.

      1. good feedback Mike! you said the real way to win is quality marketing and branding, but how do you do that on Amazon? Most people on Amazon have no brand in mind and are already in a purchase state – they tend to be primarily motivated by number of product reviews and rank. I think branding is hard to do on Amazon — images are easily copied by competitors, and in our experience things like enhanced brand content and video do little to increase sales…it’s small incremental lifts at best, hardly anything breakthrough.

        like if someone searches “moka pot” (i assume an important keyword for you) and see a dozen other similar looking moka pots, some at lower prices with more reviews, how do you deal with that?

        1. Author

          fair point about branding – and we are getting into a mini Amazon / ecommerce branding course here haha

          While I have quite a bit more work cut out for me in the Sisitano brand – the idea is to use products with your brand in the product and packaging and very distinct. To cover a category across various products with a theme in the imagery and packaging so as people search they see this brand over and over.

          Already we have noticed people comment on our Amazon and Facebook that they like Sisitano – and while it isn’t an easy feat – I do believe – even in Amazon – you can stand out with a brand using packaging, distinct photos (we try to put our branding in as many images as pssible while following guidelines) and video.

          And we believe Amazon will continue to reward sellers who do work towards making a wholistic brand – with more tools and data like they have been doing with brand analytics, EBC, video ,etc

Leave a Comment