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How a Mindanaoan became a bestselling author in the US

A Mindanao-born marketing executive who studied in the Visayas and worked in Luzon is now a best-selling author and professor in the United States.

“I was not the smartest in my class, but I was a hardworking and diligent student and performed fairly well. The Philippine education system provided me with a solid foundation for my future career,” says Dr. J. Mark Muñoz, the chairman and chief executive of consulting firm Muñoz and Associates International, and now the most published Filipino-American business author.  Muñoz and Associates directs mergers and acquisitions, international marketing, business development and international finance projects worldwide.

Muñoz is also a multi-awarded professor of International Business at Millikin University in Illinois. As a writer, he authored, co-authored or edited 14 books such as  Land of My Birth, Winning Across Borders, In Transition, A Salesman in Asia, Handbook of Business Plan Creation, International Social Entrepreneurship, Contemporary Microenterprises: Concepts and Cases, Handbook on the Geopolitics of Business, Business Plan Essentials, Hispanic-Latino Entrepreneurship, Managerial Forensics, Strategies for University Management (Vol 1 and 2) and Advances in Geoeconomics. 

Filipino-American business author Dr. J. Mark Munoz
Muñoz grew up in Zamboanga City. “My father was an insurance executive. I had a traditional Filipino upbringing and embraced the country’s values growing up. I enjoyed the strong sense of family and community in the Philippines as well as the countless natural attractions it had to offer,” Muñoz says in an email interview.

“I had my high school at the University of the Philippines in Cebu. My college and post-graduate years were spent at West Visayas State University in Iloilo and University of San Jose Recoletos in Cebu,” he says. 

He graduated with a degree in Biological Science from WVSU in 1986, a Master’s in Business Management from University of San Jose Recoletos in 1992 and a Ph.D in Business Management from the same university in 1997.  He also attended post-graduate management programs at WHU (Germany), Peking University (China), Fudan University (China), Harvard University (US) and Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (China). He was an Asia Scholar at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in 2009 to 2010.

Muñoz recalls that as a young student, he dreamt of becoming a medical doctor to heal the sick.  “I turned out to be a doctor of Management instead and now ‘heals’ organizational and operational problems of companies and countries instead. As I child, and even during college and the early stages of my career, I never dreamed of being a US educator and author. I guess our destiny can take us to unusual directions,” he says.

His exposure to business books written by American authors, however, has altered his interests.  “I remember reading several business books written by influential American authors during my post-graduate years. I was very impressed with the knowledge the books imparted. It shaped my thinking and helped me grow as a person and as an executive. Never did I imagine that one day, I would end up following the footsteps of those authors and receiving international awards and recognition for the books I have written,” he says.

Education and business are in the DNA of the Muñoz family.  “Both my maternal and paternal grandparents were educators. My father was a successful insurance executive and my mom stayed at home and dabbled in business. They are both currently semi-retired in business and have remained active in religious and community activities in Cebu. I have a brother and two sisters. My brother runs his own business in the Philippines, and my two sisters have pursued their own careers in the US,” he says.

Muñoz’s tenure in a market research firm in Manila brought an opportunity to work overseas.  “I ended up in the States after getting hired to be account director for US and Asia-Pacific for an international market research firm. The role allowed me and my family to live in the States while I developed and marketed research products in Asia,” he says. 

“After this role, I transitioned into the US academia as a professor in a private university. I ended up studying in advanced management programs in China and Germany and directed educational programs across several countries,” he says.

Being a professor has opened more opportunities, especially in writing books.  “In 2009, I became a visiting fellow at Harvard University and furthered my education there while sharing what I know with the campus community. I enjoyed academic life in the US and decided to stay on. Aside from having the honor and privilege of educating young minds, my work schedule allowed me to travel the world and write books,” he says.

Muñoz has completed 14 books and is in the process of completing six more. His topics cover international sales and marketing, micro-enterprises, social entrepreneurship, geopolitics and geoeconomics. He is considered a pioneer in the field of Managerial Forensics –the notion of using evidences as a tool to analyze causes of corporate “ailments” or “malaise”. 

The books he is currently working on are in the areas of global business intelligence, globalization alternatives, arts and entrepreneurship and artificial intelligence in business. “I enjoy researching and writing about topics relating to globalization, global business, international management and strategy and international entrepreneurship,” says Muñoz.

Being a voracious learner, Muñoz says he has read too many books to list. “The authors that have shaped my business thinking to a large extent are management gurus such as Peter Drucker, Michael Porter, Stephen Covey, Spencer Johnson and Tom Peters,” he says.

Muñoz says achieving his dreams in the US can be attributed to three approaches—hard work, passion for learning and cross-cultural appreciation. “I give a 101 percent in everything I do. I give it my all and do even more. In my view, success is often achieved when you’ve done your best work, and did an extra mile,” he says.

Muñoz says the attributes well ingrained in Filipino culture are sound foundation for success anywhere in the world.  These attributes include good work ethic, friendly disposition and sense of community.  He thus advises aspiring Filipino authors to take advantage of these attributes, coupled with the proficiency in the use of English language and the advent of the Internet.

“My advice would be to leverage these abilities, along with some talent to an international audience. In my view, there are many talented individuals in the Philippines who can make a huge impact in the international scene. There are a lot of exciting possibilities for musicians, writers, filmmakers, fashion designers, IT professionals and educators. In my view, practically all professionals in the Philippines can find success overseas. The key would be to find creative avenues to tap into an international audience. The Internet and various supporting digital platforms have made this process much easier than in the past,” he says.

“Filipino authors are very talented. I have very high regard for all of them. I really wish Filipino authors, artists and professionals get to showcase their work to a broader international audience. For authors, I would suggest making an effort to reach out to international publishers. The hardest part is getting the first book published. It gets easier once you’ve built a name for yourself. It is not a bad idea for Filipino authors looking to get started in the international scene to partner with an established author as a way to start building their international reputation. Being a co-author, getting published in international journals or contributing in book chapters would be a great way to start,” he says.

Muñoz, however, says the path to success would not be easy.  “Contrary to what some might think, the path I’ve taken was not actually easy. Prior to getting my first international job, I was turned down numerous times. Before I got my first book published, my book proposal was rejected by several publishers. In fact, I got sick and tired of being rejected that I decided to complete the entire manuscript without having a committed publisher,” he says, referring to his first book titled ‘Land of My Birth’, a socio-political critique of the Philippines. 

Book reviewers called it the contemporary version of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. The book eventually got published and led to Muñoz receiving a literary award called the Calatagan Award from the Philippine American Artists and Writers Association in 2005. 

“I guess the message I want to share is that hard work, persistence, confidence and willingness to take risk can work out well especially when one is looking to break into the international scene,” he says.

Muñoz plans to wrap up the six book projects he is working on which are in various stages of completion and expects to have them published by 2018. He has been getting calls and invitations from major international publishers requesting for more book projects. 

“Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day. I juggle my time between family, teaching, writing and my international business consulting practice. My future plan is to stay on course and continue making an impact on the world through my teaching, books and consulting practice. Down the road, I would love to serve as coach and mentor to talented Filipinos and Filipinas and help them succeed internationally,” he says.

Muñoz shares his own quote and words of inspiration to Filipinos who dream of succeeding in the global stage. “Where you come from, what you’ve done, and where you’re at – provide little bearing on what you can become,” says Muñoz.

Topics: Dr. J. Mark Muñoz , Muñoz and Associates International , Filipino-American business author
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