I started working when I was fourteen, and I have always worked since. My father, who used to be a manager in a major airline, taught me the importance of hard work and the value of money at an early age. He and my mother were my earliest career mentors.
Then when I was in the university, a friend and I were in the business of refurbishing houses. This experience allowed me to learn every aspect of the business — I managed to understand everything about our work, from the tiniest detail to the major concepts.
Also at the university, there were some professors who opened my mind and invited me to read the books that influenced the way I think. More recently, all my colleagues and partners here at IDC also taught me a lot, not just about managing a business, but also about taking different perspectives, and about Filipino culture and values.
All of these things contributed in shaping the kind of leader that I am today. Sharing with you below a few of the leadership lessons I learned through the years.
1. Master your business and focus on details. It is very important to understand all aspects of any business and to focus on details. Know your business inside and out, from planning to the execution of these plans. In between these two — planning an idea and executing it — there is a big gap where many things can happen. A good leader would focus on details to make sure that problems don’t happen — or are at least minimized — within this gap. Details can spell the difference between a good product or service and a bad one. It always pays to be hands-on, passionate and involved in many or all aspects of the work.
2. Have an apprentice’s mind. Having the mindset of an apprentice means that we are open to learning from everyone. This is another thing that my parents taught me — someone else may be right, someone else may have a better idea. I know I don’t have all the answers so I make it a point to encourage those around me to say what they think. It is healthy to promote open discussions in the workplace because you never know where a good idea can come from.
3. Aim for perfection. Even if some people around you don’t believe it is attainable, keep trying to reach perfection. In everything that I do — from design to construction, from conceptualization to implementation, etc. — I try to aim for perfection because I know that if I do that, I would always end up hitting either the target itself or at least somewhere close to it.
4. Go the extra mile. It is the same way with sports or business — if you work harder than your competitor, you have a higher chance of success. There are no shortcuts and the road is not straight. It’s best to know and understand this when you start the race.
My early experiences as far as work and career are concerned equipped me with the skills, mindset and behavior that helped me climb the proverbial career ladder. I have deep respect for people who contributed to the success of IDC — the employees and partners who never gave up, those people with integrity and values who never gave up.