I recently got invited back to my alma mater — Saint Jude Catholic School — to discuss my experiences in creating multiple businesses.

It’s been ages but it’s good to be back sharing my lessons to the next generation.

The event was called PAGSIBOL (which pretty much means growth) 2019 — organized by the school’s senior high school department. I was accompanied by fellow alumni also discussing their business adventures in their respective fields. Kathleen, who’s a good friend and Rumarocket CEO, led the squad by inaugurating the session with a brief history of her company, and how Rumarocket’s technology uses AI and aims to reshape the way we hire. You can read more about her and her case studies here.

Session speakers comprised of young hustlers on their way to building their empires, like Stanly ChanPrincess TanJann Skyler Teng of SkyLabsAvery Sifrom Mynt, and Lance Yeung of Wennovate, graced the stage with us, too.

Yes, I was the oldest of the bunch and mighty proud of it!

The students who attended were distributed into multiple breakout sessions. Students had to choose which breakout session they wanted to attend, and I can proudly say (according to my brother who I think is part of the organizing team; honestly have no idea if he rigged it LOL) that my session was the first one filled, with additional students wanting to force themselves into the room.

Hey, celebrate little victories right?

I started out elaborating my journey from Springboard’s alcohol-induced ideation, through constant bootstrapping, to the intoxicating feeling of expanding, to depressing failures, and everything in between.

For the ones who didn’t get into the session, here’s a rundown of what we basically talked about. I’ll narrow it down to the 3 key points, removing the jokes, segue stories in between (better luck next time)

University isn’t what it used to be; Grades aren’t all that, really.

Tiger moms would probably start taking back their praises of me after they read this, but no matter how you look at it, grades aren’t really all that.

I’ll put it in a way most Chinese moms (and dads) would relate to — Jack Ma told his son: “you don’t need to be in the top three in your class, being in the middle is fine, so long as your grades aren’t too bad”

The tycoon would proceed to elaborate that your skills for tests will most probably be irrelevant to real-life situations; it’ll only be good for exams.

I suggest you allocate time for other extra-curricular activities, build your network, learn relevant life skills that directly correlate to growth (don’t mistake growth for money, that’s easy to assume) Strike a balance in everything.

Majority of the people I see succeed are the ones who’re tremendously involved in impactful causes. Join university orgs that’ll bring you to the forefront of the situation where you can contribute.

Another recommendation I threw out to the students is to enroll (and to finish) online courses from MOOCs like UdemyCourseraedX. These platforms provide you free access* to courses ranging from humanities, engineering, programming, etc.

Universities will deliver a curriculum that’s outdated most of the time, but it teaches you the discipline to commit to it, that’s the least you’ll get out of it. Universities aren’t doing their jobs right anymore. It’s up to you to supplement this with your own learnings outside.

As would Paul Graham would say: “Universities are backing themselves into a dangerous corner by becoming more expensive at the same time they’re becoming less necessary.”

So be careful in investing a shit ton of time in university, getting straight As but feeling stuck or lost after you graduate. Also, I’ll leave you with this meme to ponder on:

Know where you’re headin’

Know what you want, know what your purpose in life is. It’s easy to say that, I know. Let me try to help you determine, at least, what you want to do for now.

For the guys who know, they know, but to those who don’t, it might be a little harder to connect the dots. Give it time. In the meantime, focus on your strengths, try to scout for areas of demand, and try to match the two. I know, confusing. Let me try to shed some light.

For example, I’ve always wanted to get into tech — I know there’s a shit ton of demand out there for technology, especially alternatively more affordable ones since the Philippines is one of the great outsourcing destinations in the world.

So you got the demand down. Next is to identify your strength.

As for my strength, it’s not tech — yes, I graduated from De La Salle Universitywith a computer science degree, but I felt it wasn’t really meant for me. I try so hard to love coding; it tries too hard to understand and make it easy for me, but it just wouldn’t work. But that didn’t stop me from getting into the tech industry.

I was confident with my connecting skills. Not speaking, I was the shiest person you’d meet back in HS, the most introverted guy you’ll ever meet, but I knew how to connect people, and I knew it in my heart that that was the skill I was really good at. It’s a massive plus if what you’re good at, is what you love to do too!

Image result for ikigai

Segue: I use a Japanese concept called Ikigai to help me draft ideas as a way to lay out everything and narrow down the one thing that helps me find purpose.

Now you’ve identified your strength, let’s build the bridge!

How do you think the demand for tech and love for connecting people can be married?

There are a lot of creative ways to connect them together but what I did is basically to find tech graduates who wanted to make an immediate impact and had the passion to build something relevant, and could potentially make a dent in the Philippine landscape to execute my ideas. I managed to hire diamonds in the rough, who might not know all the new coding routines, best practices, libraries, and project management techniques but who has the heart in the game, and knows what they want – build something that’ll last and be exposed to the consumers for actual use (from my experience, when I worked for a big corporation, most of my projects don’t see the day of light after I’ve submitted them to the client)

Now, with me and these young developers, we started developing a tool, which started off as a passion project, now a full-blown product that got a few interests already from potential investors. It’s called Workfit — a technology-focused job portal that would connect Filipino tech talent to worthy companies. The personal impact on their fellow developers, programmers, are immeasurable. The satisfaction you get out of it is incredible!

It’s currently by invite-only access. Should you want to participate, please send me an email to at jake@springboardph.com or contact me thru Whatsapp, and I’ll personally handle your request. If you want to intern for us and help us build the product faster, we’d love to work with you, too! Send your CVs to the same email listed above.

Failure’s overrated

You’ll read about blogs, books, hear about, both veteran and novice entrepreneurs talk about how you need failure to advance. My personal take on it: don’t listen to them.

I’m currently reading a book called Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. In a chapter, they mentioned about why failure isn’t as necessary as you might think. Most entrepreneurs, businessmen, startup gurus treat failure as a gatekeeper to success. Yes, you learn from the lessons of failure, and that fear of replicating that feeling would be your immediate instinct to fly out of the situation.

Looking at the glass half full though, what’s more important is replicating the feeling a small success and build from that. Banking on failure just provides you fear and potential paralysis of the situation that you’re in; if you bank on small success – even the tiniest ones – and replicate these, it snowballs and builds momentum for you to push harder, smarter.

Thank you!

I’d like to thank Saint Jude Catholic School for bringing me back. Would love to come back anytime! Everyone who came to listen to me blab about my business journeys, to the guys who asked questions, to my brother, and of course, you the reader!

Shameless Plug/s:

For local and international staffing needs, outsource software and web development solutions: Springboard Philippines. For digital advertising and marketing services: Lyve Communications. Our technology job portal: Workfit.Tech.

You can shoot me an email at jake@springboardph.com for questions, consulting inquiries, investment opportunities, partnerships, etc.

See you on the next! 🙂

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