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Mentor Interview: Tito Zamalloa

Tito Zamalloa, Upnotch Mentor, is a Marketing Executive with over 20 years of experience in the industry. He has an MBA in Business and Management, has managed a number of top brands during his career, and currently owns his own marketing consulting group.

What is your superpower & why?

Flexibility. You have to be able to be cognizant of the changes in the marketplace. Especially as a marketer. Things change and evolve all the time, so flexibility is key. The second one is being pragmatic or having practical strategies. That is, putting in place a strategy that makes sense for a product or service, or both in a way that can address the maximum efficiency of its resources, while at the same time maximizing its reach to the target customer

Have you ever had a mentor?

Yes, I have been on both sides of the spectrum. I have been a mentor and I have been mentored.

Tell me a little bit about your mentors - who they are or what topics do you like to cover with them?

I have a couple of mentors. One is on an executive leadership development path, more from professional development, team management, and pragmatic leadership approach. I also have a mentor in my trade that is in marketing as a management consultant. That mentor empowers me with information regarding the best way to look at frameworks and business models.

When did a mentor help you accomplish a very specific goal?

I was offered a promotion at a company I worked for previously - a top company, in the consumer packaged goods industry. My mentor gave me the perspective to be able to assess both the good and the challenges regarding this promotion that I had been offered. He helped me address the portions of my development that I would be able to address within this new position, as well as perhaps some of the challenges based on the group and department dynamics. He gave me a very good heads up so I was able to be a little bit more objective in order to take the best possible approach for my next career step.

Can you describe a time when a mentor pushed you further than you thought was possible?

It was when I was in the food business. My mentor, who I thought the world of and who became actually a good family friend, pushed me because I was very shy. He told me, “Be uncomfortable, be ready and practice like crazy.” He helped me be a better speaker and a better person. He was able to push me and as a result, I got better at talking in front of an audience.

What advice has your mentor given that you can share with us today?

The first one is: Never be satisfied, push yourself for more, go to the next step.

The second one is: Be patient.

It was a bit of both, it was a kind of a contrasting approach because he will tell you to push yourself, never be satisfied, go for the next step of the next promotion, go for the next level of improvement, but also be patient, be able to be at a pause when that promotion may skip over you. So push yourself while also being patient.

Looking back, have you ever gotten some terrible advice that made you think twice?

I took on a new role in the company and did not last very long. There was a level of challenge with the new executive vice president that I was reporting to - there was friction. My mentor gave me that advice, to push myself through the process. I was being less than patient, a bit aggressive, and not satisfied with a post that I had. I should have stepped back. I should have passed on that opportunity in order to have much more longevity in the company.

What's the weirdest or strangest thing that you've asked your mentor?

Over the past couple of years, I have seriously considered getting a PhD to pursue a much broader career path in either academia, publishing, or even research. My mentor told me not to do it. He told me, “You're smart, you already have an MBA. You don’t need that, it’s not worth the sacrifice, the money, time, and energy.” He said that it was not the right path for me at this stage of my life, so I didn’t do it. It's still in the back of my mind but I think that he might have prevented me from committing a big mistake in my professional life.

How would you express praise or gratitude towards those who have helped you? If your mentor was listening right now, what would you say?

I would tell him that the time was appreciated, the words and care were kindly accepted and the results are measurable and reciprocated.

I also get to mentor some great people, the new generation of business leaders. I’d say thank you for their time, involvement and actually advice that made me a better executive.

What makes a great mentee in your opinion?

Someone who leaves their ego at the door, with a willingness to hear what you may not want to hear, and a daring spirit to try things. Someone with a courageous and brave approach to experiment with skills that they felt couldn't have developed further.

Why do you mentor?

I find it fulfilling. It makes a difference in the mentee's life as well as in my own. It gives me spiritual and personal dividends. Their level of gratitude, the written letter or note card left on my desk, the email or the recognition on social media - it's all incredibly fulfilling. It touches my heart and it makes it worth it.

I'll give you a personal example. I am a teacher and sometimes it can be hard, grading all those papers, but that one note from that one student makes it all worth it.

Describe a time you've had a breakdown that has led to a success or breakthrough.

The loss of funding for my startup resulted in the closing of the company. It was tough but I came out of that as a better entrepreneur. I was better the second time around, with a broader approach to funding, and a more focused strategy. I learned from my mistakes.

What is the secret behind your success?

I believe the secret is to seek balance in the best possible way. Success at least in the professional world with your teams relies on three things: hiring the best, giving them the best resources and tools, and being demanding. The better game will be played by the top players in the industry.


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