Demand from yourself a higher FEE

If you have been following us since the beginning, you would have realized by now that  our goal is to help other people reach their dreams while we pursue our own. So, for some time now, I have been thinking of the things that separate high achievers versus the non- or low- achievers.  My aha! moment, right before I totally fell asleep in the middle of an afternoon work, was that high-achievers have very high FEE.

That’s a bit idiotic right? Because, come on, of course they have higher FEE. What else would set them apart from the rest, right?

You may be right but not necessarily. I am referring to a different meaning of FEE.  I mean, Focus, Excellence, and EQ.

High achievers have very high level of FOCUS. In this crazy and overwhelming world, where work and life can no longer be separated, it is very easy to get distracted.  Before you know it, you’re already heading towards a different path, tired and exhausted to make a u-turn in your life or career.To become a high achiever, one needs to have a laser-sharp focus on his/her goals and the strategies that s/he has set to achieve it. Ignoring the noises around -the naysayers and prophets of doom and failure – these high-achievers just keep marching on, listening to the beat of their own drums.

With their focus set upon their goals, high-achievers rarely have time for self-pity and self-distraction when things go wrong; because they do not pursue perfection.  They pursue Excellence.  They know that failure is part of growing up and maturity.  Like some pile of dirty waste being used as composed to grow beautiful flowers and organic plants, failure serves as the bedrock of success for high-achievers. High achievers don’t pursue perfection because they know it is a waste of time and energy.  The pursuit of excellence – to better than every day and in everything they do – not only it is more achievable, it is less frustrating and less stressful as well.

As management, leadership, and personal and organizational development progresses, we are also seeing emotional intelligence or EQ playing the important role of bringing people and organizations to greater heights.  Academic excellence, technical knowledge, and strategic and tactical planning and execution skills all serves well to the high-achievers,  both as a person and as an organization.  But whether on a personal level or in an organization where there are complicated sets of rules, policies, procedures, etc., people alone run the show.  Structures and guidelines – in the office, at home, in the society – are established and run by human beings. Anyone with high level of self-awareness, self-control, situational awareness, and relationship skills usually delivers the best results and runs the best show.

In summary, those individuals who knows how to keep their focus on worthy goals, pursue excellence rather than perfection, and maintain high level of emotional intelligence usually get ahead of others and receive higher and greater fees. Simply because they demand higher FEE from themselves.-R










Let them Go; Let them Grow

I love spending time with my son. I look at him with so much adoration and love and care, while he just keep on cooing or humming or looking at his tiny lovable hands. As I look at him, I would often wonder of the things that may come as we both grow older. A thousand and one questions would swirl around my head, some of it bring smiles upon my lips, others, of fear and sadness. 

Will he grow up strong and healthy? What kind of person will he become? Will he be nice to other people? What if he won’t? Will he love going out or will he prefer to spend time in solitude? What will his hobbies be? Sports? Books? Art? Music? Will he love school? What if he gets bullied at the playground? What if he turns out to be the bully? Will he have many friends? What if he’s a loner? Will he get involve with girls early? What if he won’t? Will he find a woman like his Mama? What if she’s the opposite? How much regard will he have for the elders? Will he talk to me about his dreams, his passions, his mistakes, his achievements, his hearthaches, just about anything? Will he be an independent, loving, respectful, honest man of God? I guess what scares me the most is that he will turn out to be his own man and wouldn’t need me anymore.

But these things, and many others, are part of being human, part of growth, part of loving. Sometimes a portion of us has to “die” so that something more beautiful may live. Like the prunning of the trees, so that flowers may blossom and that it may bear fruit. Genuine love demands that we have to sacrifice so that the other person and our own self can grow spiritually. Most of the time we have to let go are the things that bring us comfort and security. But we have disturb our peace, so that we may continue to strive for more lasting happiness. 

I think it is part of being a parent to share our joys with our kids and to share in theirs too. Not only joy but also their pains and troubles. To make them feel that even if they have to fight their own battles, we will always be there cheering for them, watching from the sidelines, as they strive to become the persons they are destined to be.

In our professional life, there are also times when we look at the people working with us and often gets tempted to care for them too much. We are afraid of letting them go on their own, afraid that they might fail. But we are doing them a disservice and what we are doing is not genuine concern and love for them. If we want them to grow, we would have to let them go. Let them try things on their own. Give them independence. Give them the opportunity to learn things on their own as we continue to guide and cheer for them from the sideline, as we would for our own children. –R

What’s Wrong with Passive Income

Caution: Judge not until you’ve read the last part.

Time and again, we hear people talk about earning passive income. It’s all over the internet and it is taking social media like floods in Manila (when it rains for an hour).  The number of people posting about it in Facebook is too high, it dwarfs the number of passengers queuing for the MRT on a Monday.  But what is passive income? Simply stated, it is the income that you earn while doing nothing. On the other side of the spectrum is the active income, that is, the income you earn as a result of active labor or work.

But if passive income is that good, what’s wrong with that?

First, let us try to understand how passive income is earned. To help me with this, here’s how Investopedia explains passive income:

“There are three main categories of income: active income, passive income and portfolio income.

Passive income has been a relatively loosely used term in recent years. Colloquially, it’s been used to define money being earned regularly with little or no effort on the part of the person who’s receiving it. Proponents of earning passive income tend to be boosters of a work-from-home and be-your-own-boss professional lifestyle. The type of earnings people usually associate with this are gains on stocks, interest, retirement pay, lottery winnings, online work, and capital gains.

While these activities fit the popular definition of passive income, they don’t fit the technical definition as outlined by the IRS.” (But that’s a different topic.)

See, passive income is so good it requires little or minimal effort, or so it seems. Compare that to a  9-5 job that you have to do every day. Or to the 70-80 hours workweek in case of some professionals that I know of.

So what’s wrong with passive income? In its very sense, none, as long as it is legal. Nothing’s wrong with passive income. What’s wrong is how people carelessly use the term. They associate every income they earn from “non-traditional” jobs with passive income. Work-from-home, networking or multi-level-marketing, stock appreciation, rental income, dividends, interests, royalties, etc.  – even to the “invest xx amount of money and get it tripled in 30 days” schemes.  It creates a general appeal to the untrained and the less educated that you can get something in exchange for nothing. Because of this, many have become victims of unscrupulous individuals who targeted the innocents, the greedy and the many unfortunates who failed to study before they grabbed the “golden opportunities” laid before them. Hard-earned money being wasted because of scams and pyramid schemes, all because of a promise of “good returns – the most effective and the best source of passive income.”

But let us not just blame the victims and the scammers alone. We, who counted ourselves fortunate to be knowledgeable, what have we done (or are doing) to prevent or stop these schemes that day-in and day-out are committing atrocities to the poor (forget about the greedy)? We flaunt our so called ‘passive income’, ‘our earnings’, ‘our successes’ adding more injury to the afflicted, rubbing more salt to the wounds. Must we keep on bragging how much we earn doing nothing while many are suffering? Not only that they are victims of heartless individuals, they are also victims of the situation wherein they lack access to honest information.

“But what has that got to do with me telling the world that I earn money doing nothing?”, you may ask. What’s wrong with that indeed? Because you and I know very well that sometime in the distant past, you took the courage to pick yourself up, to learn, to try, to fail and to win. We both know that (unless you are talking about trust funds left to you by someone) your passive income is the result of many hours spent studying and learning, of monies invested in books, seminars and lectures, of monies wasted for ventures you’ve tried and failed – sometime in that distant past. Not to mention the efforts and the tears you’ve invested in.  You see, we create an impression that all is well and that everyone can achieve what we have achieved. But we fail to remind our selves to tell them that it takes courage, hard work, and patience (and often, lots of prayers) to get those passive income that we earn “doing nothing.”

What’s wrong with passive income is that we hide from the world the struggles we made and show only the successes that we have achieve. People are swayed by the rewards they see. The risks that they must undertake frightens them. But honesty is still the best policy. Can we sleep peacefully at night when we know that many are being misled by what we ‘chose’ for them to see?  For once, can we say that this is the amount of hours and the money I’ve spent, the number of books I’ve read, the number of seminars I’ve attended, the failures that I had, the number of years it took me to get here, and the many friends I’ve lost pursuing this dream of having a passive income? If we can have the gall to say to the world, “look this is how much I’ve earned as passive income” can we not have the courage to tell them how much we’ve put at stake to achieve it?

I know of a group or two whose passion is to educate the many Filipinos on how to take charge of their own finances. I salute them for their courage, their efforts and their willingness to help, while earning “passive income” at the same time. May their tribes continue to grow. – R

It’s Not About the Title

I’m not sure if the ones who think that being employed is not as glamorous as being a businessman or an investor or a freelancer would even dare to read past this line, but I do hope that those who are currently employed and/or considering employment in the future will give this a little thought.

Unless your company is totally flat, it is more likely that you are working under a structured organization with all the boxes and the heavy and dotted lines. To add to that already complex hierarchies and structures are the titles, ranks and/or positions that connects the men and women to the offices.  With all the intricacies of the structures and the numbers of positions and titles, which are often times confusing, there comes a time when people go to work to aim for the next complicated title rather than to do the task at hand – thinking that to be significant is to have one of those titles up the ladder.

So, are we saying that we should abolish the hierarchical structures within each organization?

Before we answer that, let’s take a look as to why a complex structure and the formalities within the organization are even needed. First, it creates order. Imagine if everyone is given the same level of authority and responsibility. Imagine that every person joining an organization is given equal rights and say to the things that matter. It would be chaos. No one is above anyone. There will be anarchy. Second, roles and responsibilities are defined. People would know what to do and who should do it.  In essence, it gets things done and accountability is emphasized. Third, it promotes mutual respect and strengthens an organized support system. Because people know that every single box in the chart has an important role to do,  people gets respected for the things that they do. Support system is easily identified – the people above and below you. Last, it gives career direction.  It gives a sense of direction to people who are willing to stay long enough to see where they are headed. There’s a carefully laid down path for each one to see and aspire for. It excites passion. It gives vision. It mobilizes people towards a certain direction.

But things are not always good even in an organization with clearly defined structures. In a highly complex and structured organization, bureaucracy  – more often than not – prevails.  Layers upon layers of red tapes and unnecessary formalities hinders the smooth progression of things. Efficiency suffers a great deal.  People are often demotivated because of their seemingly “heaven-and-earth” distance from the top. Positions and titles do not correspond to the job being done. Competence at work were often associated with the speed one climbs the ladder instead of the “actual” contribution to the achievement of the organization’s goal. There are some organizations that promote people because there are too many new entrants at the lower level or because one has been associated to a certain title or position way too long, regardless of the person’s true capabilities. Politics plays important roles and those who do not know how to deal with it usually suffers the most.  People also become more and more cunning – cutting corners here and there – because there is always someone to pass the blame: the negligent boss up or the lousy staff below. The race to the top becomes a competition; teamwork and cooperation are often sacrificed.

As earlier mentioned, hierarchical and structured organizations also creates a wrong impression that one’s significance and contribution is associated to his title or position. Therefore, man, whose highest needs are his self-esteem and self-worth, strive to have those needs fulfilled, sometimes looking too much at the next step and forgetting about the current one. Always looking at the “greener grass” on the other side of the fence and forgets to water his own garden. He may achieve those things that he aspires and get those positions, but in the end, what will be the marks that he will leave behind?

When people talk about their roles in an organization, they talk about their ranks and titles.  But what, really, are their roles? Beyond the titles and the positions, what do they really bring in to the table? What part do they act to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization?

When I was younger, whenever I joined an organization or even before that,  I always asked, ‘Who are the people at the top? What did it take them to get where they are? What must I do to get there?’  As I gained more experience, I change my questions to, ‘What can I contribute to where I am? What difference can I make here?’ Not that I no longer desire to move up, it is just that I enjoyed my stay more while I can. It gives me more peace and motivation to get up and work “every” day. 

So, can an organization function without much layers and structures? It has been done and there are many who are doing it. Jack Welch did it and the man became a legend. I once work under a structure where everyone individually contributes. Each one knows a little of something about the other members’ job but there are specializations. It was a collective effort from every member under the leadership of a competent leader.  Authority, rules, delegations and accountability, order, hierarchy, and structures exist, yet, there’s equality, motivation, teamwork and common goal.

But what if you are not in the position to change the system? Then start it with yourself. Be the change you want to see in the world, Gandhi once said. You are your own enterprise after all. You see, it’s actually about you, it’s not about the title. – R

STARting it Right

More than a year ago, a group of graduating business students asked me if I could deliver a talk about career planning.  It was in December of 2013.  The event was supposed to happen early part of 2014.  So I spent most of my Christmas break preparing for that event.   Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.  The event was rescheduled until there was a conflict with my own schedule.

Since I have the materials already prepared and I might as well be delivering it for free, I decided a long time ago to have it published here in LEAP!  However, I got pre-occupied with a lot of other things and so I almost totally forgot about it. Until I found it again this morning.  So here it is – the manuscript and the presentation.

This is my unsolicited advice to all the graduating students of 2015, the new members of the workforce, the “hunters” for job and for every LEAP! reader out there.

Read, Watch, Learn and Enjoy.  Feel free to share and comment.

P.S.  Sorry for the long post.  This was supposed to be a delivered talk.


STARting it Right!

Planning Your Career and Life

(BE EXCITED) Good morning everyone!  How many of you here have plans for today? can I see a raise of hands – going to the mall after this seminar, watch a movie, go for a date or how about planning you future?

You asked me to give you a talk about career planning.  I opt to give you a talk about “life planning.”  What career advice can I give you?  I am just starting out just like many of you.

Who among you here actually planned of being in this seminar? What?! Just me?  Did you know that I’ve been preparing for this talk for the past 20 days? Yes! But in my mind, I’ve been longing for this opportunity for years.

Now, let me give you another chance.  Who among you are excited to be here?  Who among you actually believe he or she is going to learn something new today?  Okay. The numbers seem good enough.  If you actually believe you are going to learn something new here, can I see a show of pen and papers?

Ok, here’s a tip.  When you leave this school few months from now, when you go out there in the real world, you would need to constantly equip yourself with new knowledge, new learning.  Your schooling won’t stop on your graduation day.  It is just the beginning of a life-long learning.  That’s why it is called “Commencement Exercise.” Commencement means beginning. And when you seek further learning, always bring pen and paper with you.  You will never know when you will be able to pick a statement that might just change your life.

Tell the person to your left, “Next time, dala ka ng ballpen.”  Now, tell the person to your right, “Pahinging papel.”

I was overjoyed the moment I was asked by Joanna if I can be one of your speakers.  I immediately asked for the date.  I looked it up and saw it’s a Friday.  You know I have a job. No work, no pay, you know.  But who cares.  This is something I was dreaming of for a long-time. I’ve been preparing for this even before I knew I would someday be asked to give a talk. I can’t say no.  So I would like to thank you all for being the instruments in making one of my dreams come true. Or as I would put it, “Gamitan lang yan.” (Smile). I hope that by the end of this day, I may be able to give a spark to your own dreams as well.

Let me tell you my own career plan.  That’s CPA. SGV. Partnership. Retirement. That simple.  That vague.  Didn’t make sense at all. I thought I had the best career plan then.  I thought it would be that easy.  Just 10, 12 years in the firm and I will be partner.  But to my disappointment, it was too far from the truth.

I can never over emphasize the importance of planning.  And I want to commend you all for taking that initiative to learn how to plan for your future. Why? Because you have taken the first step to have a great life ahead of you.  PlanningThose who never plan will be run-over by those who do.  One of my former many bosses once told me, “People with no goals will step aside for those who have.”

So how do we need to plan? Hope for the best but expect the worst.  So, ask your self, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Because by understanding the worst and preparing for it, you can take on anything that will come your way.  


Looking at the brighter side of things is always easy.  Makes us feel good and all excited.  But I am not here to tell you “only” the good stuff.  I am here to tell you about the reality of life.  The brutal facts.  So you may want to ask me now, “what are these brutal facts?” Come on, ask me.

  1. Job is not a career. Career is a way of life.
    You can have the best job in the world but you cannot say it is your career.  Career, is defined as “a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement, a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.” Job, is something that has to be done; a regular remunerative position…”

Career talks about progression.  It talks about achievements.  Job is about having something done and being paid for it.

Filing documents is the job of  a filing clerk, right?  Organizing, securing and making documents accessible to authorized persons in a systematic fashion is the career for a filing clerk.  And I tell you, no filing clerk who sees his career this way will remain as a filing clerk forever.   In one of my previous companies, a former housekeeping staff rose to become one of its vice-presidents.  Not because he focused on his job, but because he focused on his career.

Being the president of a company is a job.  Building people, meeting the needs of the society, and being an inspiration to others is a career for leaders.

You have to know the difference, or else, you may end up planning for a job instead of a career.  If you are looking forward to do something and be paid for it, you are looking for a job.  If you are looking for an opportunity where you can pursue and make progressive achievements and eventually make it your calling, then you are looking for a career.  So you may want to listen to this.

  1. You don’t have to love your job.
    When Confucius said, “Find a job that you love and you will never work for a day,” he didn’t say, “do not work until you find a job that you love.” But sadly, many young people get confused by Confucius.  They don’t want to work unless it is the job that they love.  Remember this, you still have to work even if you don’t love your current job.  Because you don’t have to love your job.  It won’t love you back, in the first place.If you end up cleaning toilets, you don’t say “I love my job.  I love cleaning toilets the whole day.” But you say, “I love the opportunity that I have a job which can support my temporary needs until I find the job that I love.”
  1. There is no job shortage.

You may have heard about the rumors that every year, there are lots of fresh graduates who couldn’t land a job.  People would tell you, there is a job shortage. But it’s ALL LIES.  How can there be a job shortage? If it is people who creates job, then it is simply logical that, at the very least, there will be a job for every one.
The truth is, there is shortage of people willing to get a job.  We are constantly being fooled by the terms, “unemployed” “under employed” “under qualified” “over qualified” “over worked, under paid” etc.

Let me tell you a short part of my journey.  Remember my career path?  CPA. SGV. After passing the CPA Board Exams, my mindset was, it’s SGV or nothing. I was hired right after passing the exams.  But before I was able to complete my on-boarding requirements, I felt this sudden fear of the world that’s before me. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it out there.  Besides, we’ve spent all our money during my six months of review. I got no money to start with.  Have I told you that I wasn’t able to attend my oath-taking ceremony because we cannot afford to pay for it?

To cut the story short, from October to February the following year, I was “unemployed.”  Not because there were no available jobs, but because I wasn’t willing to take any other job.  I had offers from different companies, but those were all in Manila.  Then I realized that I was becoming a burden to my parents.  A C.P.A. without a J.O.B.   Thinking that I could save a lot faster if my expenses would be lower, I decided to look for a job here in Baliuag.  With a pay half of what I could get had I worked in Manila, I accepted an offer and became a New Accounts clerk in a bank.  Now, that’s what you would call “under employed.”  And true enough, I was able to save faster. So after two months, I quit my job.  Again, I went unemployed, but this time I now have the courage to venture in the scary jungle of the big city. After two months, I finally got the job that I dreamed of.  I was again hired by SGV.  Now, that was the start of the phase of being overworked but underpaid.

  1. It’s a jungle out there.

The “employment world” is a terrible world.  It’s like a jungle. There are lions who always keep an eye on their prey.  Ever ready to devour the meek and the weak.  One sign of weakness and they will eat you alive.  They are the ones who love to powerplay.
Then there are the snakes, the cunning ones.  They will trick you to do every thing and takes the credit for it.  They constantly look for your vulnerabilities, your being naive, and then play you with their tricks.  Watch out for them for they make no sound even when they are very near.

Then there are the rabbits. Comforting, friendly, nice and cheerful.  They love to be with you and will make you feel appreciated in every single way.  But when the going gets tough, they will be the first to run and hide in their rabbit holes.

Oh, there are monkeys too.  They just hang around there, making others laugh with their antics and humor.   They are often the noisy and the loud ones.  But other than their tricks, they are just part of the big jungle craze.

Then there you are, a young eagle about to venture into the world.  This will be the first time you will step-out of your nest, your comfort zone.  How is it gonna be?  Will you let your self fall to the ground and be preyed upon by the mighty lions?  Will you be too naive to be tricked by the snakes?  Will you be too comfortable to be with the rabbits even if you know you will be left all alone when the going gets tough?  Or will you be fooled by the monkey to just wander through your days?

I know what you want.  I know you want to spread your wings and fly far and high.  I know you are willing to do whatever it takes to soar beyond the clouds – far from the reach of the predators, away from the tricks of the manipulative and fools. That’s why you are here. That’s why you want to learn how to plan your careers. That’s why you want to STARt it Right.

To be able to start it right, you have to be a STAR. Yes, a STAR!

S – SET your goals

T – TIME each accomplishment

A – ACT on it everyday

R – REVIEW and revise, if needed


  1. Set your goals

You may have heard this a thousand times before, but hearing without doing is a waste of time.  Set your goals that are anchored to who you are and what matters to you the most. 

Your goal should be your own goal.  Is it your own goal or is it someone else’s goal being imposed upon you?  A lot of people set their goals on to something other people wanted them to do or have.  “Anak mag doctor ka.  Anak mag abogado ka.  Anak mag teacher ka.  Anak mag accountant ka.”  Maybe it is because these people only wanted what’s best for us.  But is it really the best for us?

Or even worse, many of us let other people set goals for us, as if we don’t have a choice.  “Mag do-doktor ka sa ayaw at sa gusto mo.  Mag aabogado ka o mawawalan ka ng mana.” Now, that sounds like a telenovela but it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Ask yourselves.  Who among you took up his or her course because that is what you wanted?  Then good for you.  But do you know what waits for you on the other side? What’s there for you after you received your diplomas?

Many of us set goals this way: finish college, find a job, get married, have children, retire.  And in between, work, work, work.  If that is your goal, then change it.  Scrap that.  Because you failed miserably.  But it’s okay.  At least you have something to start with.

To set your goal, you have to find your purpose.  What’s your purpose in life?  Why are you here?  What is your heart telling you to do?  It may not be the most noble thing to do like to bring world peace, to end hunger, or to discover the fountain of youth.  Your purpose is the inner most desire of your heart that will keep on burning no matter how much you try to suppressed it.  Find your biggest “WHY.”  Why do you wan to succeed?  To help your family.  To support your aging parents.  To provide for your siblings schooling.  To provide a luxurious life for your future family.  Whatever it is, it’s got to be the fuel to your passion.

Your career is not your PURPOSE.  My ex-girlfriend, now my wife, taught me this: Your career is not your purpose in life.  It is just a mean to an end.  It is a path on which you will travel through life to meet your divine appointment. Who knows, your career might not even be to become an employee all your life.

I wonder why you even need me here.  You know how to set goals. SMART right?  Specific.  Measurable. Attainable.  Realistic. Time-bound.   I am here to tell you that being SMART isn’t enough.

  1. TIME each accomplishment.
    We all know that goals need to be time-bound.  But what time?  Look at this figure (slide).  You will see that it is a cycle.  That’s because career as we’ve mentioned earlier is a continuous pursuit of progressive achievements. It never ends.  People telling you it has an end, like, the “end of my career” “end of your career” “end of his or her career” is telling a lie.  What ends is his or her job.  But to a career person, it just never ends.  It simply shifts.

When you set your goal, set specific time for each accomplishments – for each phase – not just the ultimate end.

Question:  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right?  Same with your goal.  Chunk it into bite sizes. Piece by piece.  You cannot set a career goal with a 20-year timeline and then do the evaluation at the end of the 20th year.   It doesn’t make sense.  What if at the end of the 20th year you realized it doesn’t suit your purpose at all? What a waste of time.

Look at your college days.  You don’t take your exam at the end of your 4th year.  Four years are divided into eight semester, each semester is divided by four or three exams, each examination is even divided by several quizzes.  Imagine taking just a single exam for all your lessons in the past four years.  How many do you think would pass?


When you create your career plan, set specific time line for each phase.  How long will it take you to set it up?  What is your timeline until the next cut-off to evaluate your progress – six months, one year, two years?  When will you do the review and evaluation of your career plans? How long will it take you to revise it if necessary?

Give  your self at least two years in whatever you do, if you are not growing, change it.  Not necessarily your job, but whatever it is that you are doing. Because it is not helping.


  1. ACT on it everyday.

I know a lot of people who would say, “I want to be this or that.” Or “I want to have this or that.” But they never do anything about it.

You cannot go to the soil and say, give me flowers or give me fruits or give me grains. That’s not the way it is.  You have to bring a seed with you, dig the soil, place it there, water it, protect it from the weeds and the bugs and take care of it until it grows and bear fruits.

The same is true with your career.

You have to act on it single everyday.

Seek and Knock as well.

You know what, if you are desperate enough to get what you want, you will start believing everything that other people will tell you even if it doesn’t make sense.  There are people out there that will tell you how blessed you are and that all you need to do is ask and the universe will conspire to give anything you want.  They would even quote the Bible to fool you. They would say, “ask and you shall receive.”  Sad thing is, they deliberately drop the next line which says, “SeeK” and “Knock.” These are action words.  Seek and Knock tells us to Act not just ask.

Accumulate competence, not years.

I’ve met people who used to say, “oh, it will just took you two years to get promoted. You will get that promotion if you will just stay long enough.” And I believed them.  But life doesn’t work that way.  It is not the years that you accumulate, it is the skills and the competence.  And you don’t accumulate skills by sitting all day long wishing time would fly.  You accumulate skills by being better at what you do, every single day.  In short, I wasn’t promoted after two years.  (smile).

When you wake in the morning, ask yourself, how can I make my work better today? Because your career is your responsibility.  You will hear or even get hired by companies that provide constant trainings to their employees. But those training are not without a price.  You are expected to perform better after that so that these companies can recover what they’ve spent on you.  I know of people who cannot leave their current jobs because they have training bonds which they will have to pay if they leave before their agreement with the company expires.  But nonetheless, make use and take advantage of these trainings.

Career seldom exceeds personal development.  You have to keep on developing your skills and competence because it is not your company’s responsibility. It is your responsibility.  You should strive to increase your “employability” rather than your “employment mentality.” Employment mentality will tell you that you should be employed all your life.  Employability means you can be employed anywhere, anytime.  It means not being worried about being unemployed because you have the skill sets that every employer would want from their employees.

If you want to keep growing, invest in your self.  Read books, attend seminars, join in discussions and conferences, seek mentors.  You will never regret every centavo you will spend in harnessing your potential.  If you will just grow yourself 1% better everyday, you will be 30% better after a month.  Just let your efforts compound.

Soft skills are hard skills.  You may have heard of soft skills already, but not so many people, especially the ones who are in the workplace, are interested on it.  They think it is just a waste of time. But let me tell you this: you can easily solve for “x” in an algebraic expression, but you can never truly find the meaning of a handshake.


Soft skills matter.  You may be the editor-in-chief of the college newsletter but when you go into the workplace, how competent are you in delivering your presentation materials.  How good is your public speaking skills? You may be very good when it comes to oral recitation, but how good are you in making negotiations with other people.

You may be the most beautiful person in this room, but do you know how to dress appropriately for different corporate functions?  How’s the tone of your voice when you talk to your superiors, to your subordinates, to the janitors, to the guards…? These people matter in your organization, how do you deal with them? Never ignore the power of the unspoken words.


  1. REVIEW and revise, if needed.

What would you do if you cannot achieve that which you want?  Will you keep on doing things that don’t work or will you just change your goal?  The direction of the wind has nothing to do with the direction of the boat, it is all in the sail.

More often than not, when we seemed not to get what wanted, instead of evaluating our actions we just change our goals. Instead of pursuing our big dreams, we just shrink it to fit the image we created of ourselves.

When things don’t go the way they should, then it’s time to review what you’ve done.  Here is where good planning and execution would come in.  If you have carefully thought your actions and laid out your plans carefully, then it would be easy for you to determine which of your action steps are working and which are not.  Then you can revise if necessary.  Normally, it is the action step that needs to be revised and not the goal.

If you will keep on changing goals that you were not able to achieve, you will end up with nothing but empty basket of start-ups with zero accomplishments.

Use a journal to track your action steps.  Let me tell you something that I didn’t do when I started but wish that I did.  Buy and USE a planner.  It will be one of your best investments.  But of course, you have to use it everyday.  “What you cannot measure you cannot control.”  And “If it is not written, it is not done.”  These are the words the I’ve learned when I first did my audit field work.  I never thought it could be useful in life as well.

So, there you have it, STAR.

S – SET your goals

T – TIME each accomplishment

A – ACT on it everyday

R – REVIEW and revise, if needed

In any aspect of our lives, especially in achieving our dreams and goals, I always say, you have to follow the steps: BE. DO. HAVE.

First, you have to BE the best that you can ever be.  Then you need to DO the best that you can.  Only by being and doing the best, you will HAVE the best.  If you try to do it in reverse, you will end up in frustrations and disappointments.

Here’s a word of caution: If you fail to follow the BE – DO – HAVE approach.  You might end up with a very high expectation of the world but when you see the reality – your skill sets, your competence, your acquired knowledge, your inherent abilities –  you may end up being disappointed.  So before that happens, before you “Ask” to HAVE the Best. Be the best first, then Do your very best.

T – to Complete your START

Oh,  before I end, let me share with you this last slide.  If there’s something I would want to leave you with today, it is this.

You can be a STAR. You can have the best career plan there is, but without “T” how would your STAR even become a START?

In everything that you do, from identifying your purpose, to laying out your best plans, to evaluating and revising, you need to Trust GOD for the outcome.

We can only do so much.  It’s all for GOD to decide how it will turn-out to be.

“Trust in the LORD with all you heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. (Prov. 3:5-8)

God bless you! and See YOU at the TOP.

STARting it Right_LEAP101

Prayer and Hardwork

It is not even surprising when people tell you that their secret in achieving their goals and attaining success in life are prayers and hardwork.  This we shall again see in the story of one of our featured individual here at LEAP!

As I have mentioned before, I did a short-lived teaching stint in a local college in the province – Baliwag Polytechnic College.  It is a small state-owned college that provides a big amount of hope to the young ones.  It gives the youth and their parents a ray of hope that someday their dreams will come true.

Two of my former students successfully passed the CPA Exam last October 2014.  One of them – Sarah – was already featured in this site.  Now, I asked the same questions to Joana and let’s see what she has to share.

(But, before I continue, I would want to make things straight.  I only handled one subject for one semester, so that’s really a no big deal for the success of these students.  I am just happy that I had the opportunity to have met them while their still in college.)

As a student, there’s nothing so special about her (Sorry, I have to be honest here, Joana.).  She’s the typical shy probinsyana who prefers to keep silent all throughout.  She used to sit at the front row and one might just wonder what this girl might be thinking, almost not saying a word but just keeps listening and writing and flashing a few reserved smiles. “Does she even really understand the lesson?”, I sometimes wondered.  But wait ’til the lesson gets “tougher”.  “She’s the go to girl” of her class, I must say. Her friends and classmates knew what she could do and she almost never disappointed them.

But as she herself said, she has her own shares of disappointments in life especially when things don’t go the way she expected it.  She even has the tendency to be pessimistic at times and blames herself for expecting too much.

However, her pessimism doesn’t seem to affect her bright outlook in life. In 10 years time she said she wants to “have her own business and her own family.”  Probably with the little time she has now as she’s busy doing audit work for the largest audit firm in the Philippines, she missed adding more specifics to her dreams. Or, knowing how reserved she is, she might just want to keep it to herself for now. And, like what she always does, Joana might just soon surprise us again.

Everyone who took the CPA path knows that it is not a walk in the park kind of thing.  One must have  his or her own formula to succeed.  And for Joana, it’s prayer, hardwork and perseverance.  Here’s what she has to say:

PRAYER. Always say a little prayer in whatever we do. Ask for guidance and let things be done based on His will. Always acknowledge Him and be thankful for everything even if it’s your ups or downs.

HARDWORK. We must do our part. It’s not enough that we just pray for that thing to happen. Also, we must exert our effort to make things possible. ( Sabi nga nila Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.)

DON’T GIVE UP. There are times that we feel like giving up. We’re asking ourselves like: “Am I ready? “, “Is my preparation enough to pass the exam?” and “What if I postpone to take the board and take it when I feel like I’m ready?” . Whenever we feel we are not yet ready, always remember these saying “when you’re about to quit, think of the reasons why you held on so long” and “If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting the rest of your life”. Life is not perfect. We may fail sometimes but the most important thing is at least we tried and we finished the race. It’s really better to fail in doing something than to fail in doing nothing.”

People have their dreams and goals anchored into something special.  For Joana, her inspirations to be more, do more and give more, comes from her dreams for her family – a new house, a car – and for her,  to travel the world and see South Korea.

Many  students right now are probably wondering how they, too, could reach their dreams.  Here are some of Joana’s words:

“Always give your best.   When you’re doing something, do it by heart. Remember, you’re not doing it just because you have to but you love to.

Never give up on the things that you really want to achieve. If people say that you can’t do it, prove them that they’re wrong.

If you fail, never lose hope. Things would not always work the way we planned it. Just think that God has a better plan for you. Use that experience as your motivation not as an excuse to quit.

Hope for the best but expect for the worst. (masakit umasa kaya wag masyado mag expect.)

Don’t forget to pray.”

Life is hard.  No doubt about it.  So why make it even harder? Enjoy every moment of it. As most happy people used to say, “life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breaths away.” Or, as Joana Marie Flores, C.P.A., would say, “by every Korean songs” that she listens to that makes her feel even better.

9 Things to Know Before You Buy Your (first) Life Insurance Policy

Back in the old days, a man carrying a briefcase, walking around the neighborhood in a suit and tie and knocking on doors were assumed as an insurance agent.   Gone were those days.   You will see them, more often than not, inside the coffee shops, competing with the “networkers” for the coziest spot in the resto.  Before, when you receive some random calls, you would assume that it’s an insurance agent.  Not anymore, they are more likely credit card companies offering you pre-approved credit cards.

Business has changed for the insurance agents.  But people’s needs did not.  People need insurance then, they still do even now.  So, are you insured already?

To set things straight before we go further, I am not an insurance agent so you can go on and read this entire article because I won’t be selling you anything.  I am here just to share with you some things to think about as you buy your first insurance policy or add to your already existing one.

Now, if the concept of insurance is fairly new to you, go and check out our previous article here.

Insurance, since time long ago was known as protection. But protection from what?  Surely it cannot protect you from dying or getting sick.  It is a protection for great and sudden financial loss  because of unexpected death or illness.

There are people who consider insurance as investment.  Yes, there are insurance products that are bundled with investment components.  But neither of these two are free.  You are paying for both.  And if it is an investment, most probably it should be regulated and supervised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). But insurance, no matter how they call it and how they sell it, is regulated by the Insurance Commission.

So as you start your hunt for the best life insurance for you and your family, take some time to go over these things.

1. Decide that you must have an insurance.  Yes, in this life that we live in, particular in this place of the world, life insurance is sometimes considered as unnecessary. So the first that you must do it to be committed that you will get a life insurance.  It is a non-negotiable.

2. Know your goals for buying a life insurance.  Why do you want to buy a life insurance?  With so many life insurance products in the market today, you must clearly have a goal or purpose in getting one or else you will get confused with all the choices.  Is it for your retirement, for your child(ren)’s education, for a steady source of funds, or for pure protection?  There are insurance products that offers pure protection, there are those that provides annuities, and there are those that are coupled with investment which you can use during your retirement.  The choices are virtually limitless. So unless  you have a clear goal in mind, do not proceed yet with buying your first insurance.

3. Determine how much you can set aside for your insurance premium. Life insurance, because it comes in different types, it comes with different price range also.  How much can you set aside for your insurance premium?  Can you pay large sum one-time?  Do you intend to pay fixed amount for a limited time, say five, seven, 10, 15 or 20 years?  Are you willing to pay considerably small amount for the rest of your life?  Payment schemes and premium amounts varies, depending on the type of insurance that you are buying.  Consider your insurance premium as an unavoidable expense so you better be committed to the amount you will be paying.

4. Find a reputable and stable insurance company.  Now that you have a clear goal  of what you want and how much you are willing to shell-out, you need to know where to put your money.  The first thing that you should consider for a life insurance company is its reputation.  The internet is a very powerful tool to start your research.  In the Philippines, we have only about 30+ life insurance companies so you won’t have difficult time doing your research.  Also, this is the best time to use your network.  Ask around.  Ask your friends, your relatives, your office mates where they get their insurance policies.  Go to the company’s website and learn as much as you can – management team and board of directors’ experiences, products, news articles about the company, financial positions, etc.  There’s a wealth of information in each company’s website so don’t ignore it.

5. Talk to life insurance agents. After doing your research, by now you have a short list of the insurance companies that you are considering to get your life insurance.  The next step is to contact a life insurance agent.  If you know someone who knows an agent from the companies in your list, that’s a good starting point.  If you can’t find one, just call the customer service number of the insurance companies in your short list, they will be more than willing to provide you one.

The crucial thing about getting a life insurance agent is that we typically settled for the first one to cross our way.  This shouldn’t be the case.  Remember that these agents operates in a market. Like any other market setting, the buyer always has the option to go for the best seller that will meet the buyer’s needs.  So the key is, don’t settle for a single agent immediately.

6.  Be clear with what you want when you talk to the agents.  If you are a first time buyer, it is expected that you are not that savvy in terms of insurance products.  But because you have done your research, you would know, at least, what kind of insurance product you want and how much you are willing to pay for it.  As a buyer, it is your responsibility to know everything about the product you are buying.  So don’t settle for everything that the agent tells you.

7. Ask questions.  There may be words that are alien to you and confusing when the agent explains the product. It’s normal to get confused, especially if you’re a new life insurance buyer.  But the key to finding the perfect product is to ask.  Keep asking and asking and asking.  Everything that you don’t understand.  Do not think of yourself as annoying by asking too many questions at this point.  It is of paramount importance that you understand what you are getting into.  It will save you and your family a lot of trouble in the future.  If the agent refrain from discussing you the things that you ask about, you all have the reasons to doubt.  They work in the financial industry where honesty, integrity and transparency is the prime commodity, so they should be able to answer all questions about the products they offer.

8. Read the proposals very carefully.  When you buy anything from the market, except for the benefits that it will provide you, what else do you look for?  Hidden charges and damages.  After your meeting with the agent, ask for a proposal that you can take home with you and study.  Read that proposal very carefully.  Scrutinize it.  You don’t owe the agent an immediate purchase the moment you meet with him/her.  The good thing with having the proposals from different companies is that you will get the chance to evaluate and compare them side by side.

9. Read the fine prints.  Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.  This one reason why you should also ask for the proposal.  You cannot honestly understand everything that’s written in the proposal in just one meeting.  There are fine prints that are seldom neglected or never explained.  When you read the document, be sure to read the footnotes, the small letters, the sources of information/illustrations, etc. It will give you a fuller understanding of the products.  If you cannot understand it, ask the agent for an explanation. Make sure there are NO surprises in the future. 


Getting your first life insurance product may be a tedious process, but once you get used to it, the next time will just be a breeze.  The key is to always have a clear goal in  mind and always, always, always ask for explanation of the things you don’t understand.

That’s it for now.  Next time, I will share with you the things you need to know and understand when you are buying your life insurance product.