Michael A. Olguin, President, FORMULATIN
Being Hispanic? Does it have any Influence on your business?
Yes, my Hispanic heritage was the driving force behind creating FORMULATIN, which is a division within my general market public relations agency. My knowledge of the Hispanic public relations market, along with my understanding of what it is like to be deep-roots consumer (how we define a Hispanic who was generationally raised in the U.S., as an American, with deep Hispanic roots) allowed me to recognize the opportunity to develop a practice area completely focused on Hispanic PR. In addition, my heritage also gives me excellent relevance when it comes to doing business with brands interested in marketing to the Hispanic market.
In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
Given that marketing is not brain surgery, I never really look at the adversity I face as being life and death. Clients hire FORMULATIN because of our knowledge, experience, creativity and understanding of the Hispanic marketplace. When we face a challenge, we combine all of those aspects to provide a solution that will resonate with our target consumer. These marketing challenges are what fuel me on a daily basis.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
My biggest challenge is getting brands and chief marketing officers to recognize that the Hispanic marketplace is not only a large consumer base, but also one that has discretionary budget to spend, is educated, brand loyal and, most importantly, worth spending against. Too many Fortune 500 brands are still making half-hearted attempts to reach this consumer base and build lasting relationships. Hispanics are a very loyal target audience; if you market to them consistently, they will reward that commitment by supporting your brand.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I wish that my bilingual parents would have forced me and my seven brothers and sisters to speak Spanish, and that I would have been more diligent in my efforts to learn the language. Unfortunately, I grew up at a time when my parents thought speaking Spanish would not be as advantageous as solely speaking English. As a result, I have both of my kids studying Spanish since they were very young, as well as attending Spanish immersion classes during the summer months.
What was your childhood ambition?
I think like most young athletes, I wanted to play basketball professionally. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that the likelihood of that happening is very slim. I figured I would be a high school basketball coach—if you can’t do, then you teach!
Tell us about three people that you admire?
My parents were an inspiration to me and to all of my brothers and sisters because they had very little, yet they lived their lives like they had everything. They recognized the importance of family; they placed a huge importance on education; they really loved each other; and, most importantly, they were very proud of their heritage, which ultimately is the reason why my brothers and sisters are so close.
I also really admire my younger brother, John, who is not only one of the smartest people I’ve ever been around, but also my go-to resource when I need a gut-check on a major decision I need to make that is either personal or regarding business. He is also in PR, so he really can provide insight that is accurate, thoughtful and contrarian.
The third person I admire is my brother-in-law, Dave, who is a business consultant to me. He provides me with excellent business advice and insight, in particular when it comes to identifying what is necessary to make the difficult decisions.
For meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
I’m really a morning person, so I would say I prefer to conduct meetings over breakfast; it’s when I’m most fresh and haven’t had any of the day’s activities start to weigh on my mind.
What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
When you run a business you sacrifice family time, because in many cases your business is like your baby. In order to be a national player within the public relations landscape, I made the decision long ago to only work with national clients. As a result, I travel extensively and work long hours. The upside is that this commitment has also yielded the kind of business success to provide more opportunities for me to spend time with my family.
What is your favorite quote?
“Plan your life like you’ll live forever and live your life like today is your last day.” – Author unknown
Is it difficult to be unconventional?
Being unconventional for the sake of being unconventional is foolish in business; you have to have a reason for it, like for the purpose of creating a competitive advantage. If you are only doing being unconventional in order to be different, then you are risking success for reasons that don’t make sound business sense.
Biggest mistake made?
Waiting too long to make the philosophical and financial commitment to open a New York office. This decision, though later than expected, has paid off handsomely by adding outstanding talent and clients to our roster.
Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Absolutely. There are many programs within Formula/FORMULATIN that are very differentiated within in the PR industry. We have an outstanding measurement tool, a unique internal awards program and a variety of new ways at looking at PR. Our company-wide attitude is based upon doing things better than we’ve ever done before.