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What has the chore of patching broken ceilings have to do with branding and marketing? In today’s rapidly changing media landscape, a lot.

I have a bit of a confession to make. Running a small business has become a microscope for me into human nature, quite different from when I worked for multinational corporations such as some of the largest banking, manufacturing or consulting companies.

In a small space, the people we work with become utterly transparent, because the close proximity provides colleagues to see if someone is truly contributing at work, is collaborative, is learning, and so on. The proximity also allows us to see if people might be shirking responsibilities, from the most mundane tasks to more executive responsibilities.

So, when I worked with people in my operation, I have seen those who take on responsibilities gladly and earnestly, seeing each task as an exciting new summit to conquer, and each chore as mere footsteps to walk every day. I have also seen those who hide from necessary tasks and responsibilities with feigned ignorance or apathy.

It is with the same spirit, driven by many years of suffering in my early adult years, that I learned that being able to learn to do things by myself, is not mere independence, but a strength and empowerment for my own journey. I learned to do many things, even if not quite peaking with the top professionals, but sufficiently well to be self-reliant.

So, when the pressures of work mounted this year, I could not find time and energy to tend to the broken ceiling in the toilets. It is nothing earth-shaking, but sufficiently unsightly that I was constantly reminded of every day I step into the toilet.

Just before the weekend, I managed to find something to waterproof the ceiling. After breakfast, I climbed close to the ceiling on the ladder, and scrapped off the loose ceiling paint of the toilet, and with powdery flakes of the ceiling paint all over my hair and singlet, I applied the waterproofing solution on the ceiling and allowed it to dry. It was not much to look at, but on the next morning, I applied the second layer, and the once terribly peeling and broken ceiling regained some of its previous look.

In our journey as communicators helping to build brands, it has also become paramount to empower ourselves to be able to do many more things than ever before. Just a decade before the emergence of social media and the rapid decline of mainstream media, we are practitioners would entrust and empower the media as our proxy to the rest of the stakeholders, and especially the public. It was a perfectly healthy and symbiotic relationship that bore beautiful fruit for everyone.

Unfortunately, much of that beauty has eroded away, by the incredible speed at which new generation audiences has moved away from reading printed materials, or even listen to broadcasting content on radio and television, but to embrace online video and interactive games of various genres.

Communication is no longer the same, and those mainstream media that braved the storms had to change drastically too, even encroaching on some of the same playing fields of their previous communication partners. Even end-user clients have embraced new media to empower their own information and social outreach. It is now a much more dynamic and yet fearsome media environment where self-empowerment, whether by the audiences, the media, the agency practitioners, or brand owners, becomes the key to survival.

Just as a simple chore of patching up a broken ceiling as easily be relegated to someone else, and just as easily can be done by ourselves, if we plant our feet firmly down and brave on, the building of a brand depends on every stakeholder to put their feet down and get their hands soiled by the responsible labors that will undoubtedly bear fruit.