Matt Lapid is Juan Great Leap’s official first hire. I first got in touch with him when I opened my email account and got to read his very convincing cover letter. It’s quite apt that the hire happens two days before JGL’s first year anniversary. I thought I found a kindred spirit talking with Matt during the interview process: his passion was very evident, he was a God-fearing person, he had this genuine desire to give back, he writes, and he took this great big leap of faith. Here’s Matt himself with his story. – Peter
Hi there! My name is Matt Lapid. I am a Fil-Am, born and raised in the States. I’ve decided to take one great leap by working with Juan Great Leap. Pretty direct approach, right?
So this is my story. I graduated from college in 2010 with a BA in English Lit from UCI. I took a life-changing trip to the Philippines right after I graduated. I only planned to stay a few months to learn Tagalog, but I ended up staying for a whole year to help with Gawad Kalinga’s Center for Social Innovation. Work with GK CSI changed me. It opened my eyes to a Philippines in which change could happen and was happening right before my eyes. It was a total immersion that was a challenging experience for a Fil-Am who was in search of his identity and struggling to integrate into the Philippines, but it made me.
After missing my mom’s 60th birthday and my cousin’s wedding, I finally returned to the States. These were the realities of being away, but in spite of all the things I missed, I came back unlike my former self. I felt changed and made for something else, and it was evident in my first full-time job in the US.
As absurd as it may sound, I ended up working as a personal banker for a financial institution. I felt that I could really help people with a very relevant problem crippling Americans: money. While I was working, I felt a void in my heart. During my seventh month with the organization, they gave me the opportunity to become a licensed banker, in which I’d receive training and a sizable bonus. However, if I were to take that offer I’d have to commit to work with the company for another year. It seemed like an eternity for me. I knew how much a year’s worth of work could do in terms of social impact, and I just couldn’t make a change if I stayed, so I put my two weeks and left.
I ended up doing consultancy work for Human Nature USA, the US arm for Human Nature, a social enterprise that offers natural personal care products to help poor farmers in the Philippines. It seemed like the perfect fit for me. I could live out my dream of helping the Philippines while staying in the US with my family. That sense of purpose drove me, but reality sunk in. I was in a position in which I couldn’t sustain myself, and the passion and purpose that drove me collided with the realities of life. As much as I wanted to make my work with the organization work, it unfortunately didn’t.
So I deeply discerned about what I really wanted and what God was calling me to do, and I realized that the mission never changed. The mission was, and is, to make an impact on the poor in the Philippines through entrepreneurship, and for me that change starts in the Philippines and with Filipinos, not abroad.
But after two failed endeavors in social entrepreneurship, I really questioned a lot of things. Was I really supposed to be a social entrepreneur? After all, I graduated in English. Perhaps, it just wasn’t for me. I was scared to move.
With a friend’s recommendation, I discovered Juan Great Leap. I was immediately mesmerized by the wisdom and spirit this Peter Cauton was illuminating. Reading JGL’s posts gave me a sense of validation in what I was doing and where I was being led.
In his blog, entitled, “The One True Risk I faced in taking the Startup Leap,” Peter notes, “If you have that itch, there is no sense stalling. Take that leap now.” It was plain and simple. I’ve had this crazy itch and I knew it would persist. I was so anxious to move, but I just couldn’t because I was over thinking. JGL’s simple words validated everything for me. The vision was clear and all I needed to do was take that Juan Great Leap.
After reading through JGL’s blog, I immediately sent Peter my application attached with a CV full of crazy conviction, a side of me that I don’t readily share due to fear of rejection. Yet something intuitively told me that I could spill out my heart and soul in this correspondence, and, indeed, Peter replied! After that correspondence, I met Peter via Skype for a couple of hours. We scheduled another followup interview via Skype for the following week, but I booked my ticket a couple of days after. Though the future was still uncertain, I took my first leap in flying to the Philippines without that crippling fear of the unknown.
And now I am here in Manila taking the leap to urgently move for myself and others. It’s a big move but it’s Juan Great Leap that I have to take!