On Power, Spiritual Leaders, Achieving the Impossible, and Other Random Motivational Thoughts

This is my third attempt at writing a blogpost today.

Currently, I’m experiencing that same feeling that I get when I’m being moved to write. The experience in which the spirit takes over and I am provoked to let go of inhibition because I’m being called to send a message.


I’m not sure what I’m being called to say, but here it goes:

  • Money will not give you power. Respect and humility in your work will go a long way
  • Leaders are spiritual. Something greater than their idea of self is at work. If we accept the call, then we must lead unafraid of what the world thinks
  • If we are trying to change things in the world, something in it apparently isn’t working
  • Never let the world define you
  • If you are truly passionate about a cause, people will join you
  • Don’t ever be afraid to take help from someone that you trust
  • Don’t ever be afraid to lend a hand when you are called to do
  • Logic and sense will only take you so far, but the spirit will carry you through
  • Trust in the Lord
  • The impossible can be accomplished if you fully open your mind and surrender your self
  • A courageous heart will move you to do things only ever dreamed of
  • Stay grounded

Embracing The Fear Monster

embrace fear

I remember asking myself a lot of questions before I was able to push “publish” and publicly launch the very first entry in Juan Great Leap.

What would they say?

What if they say, “Sino ba itong feeling na ito!?”

What if they laugh at me? 

What if they ignore me? 

It took me a couple of weeks in between finishing my first post and  actually publishing it.

You know how I did it?

After a long day at work, the thought of publishing it crossed my mind. Before giving myself any chance to over-analyze, I forced myself to just push publish. And that was that. After that, I then started wrestling with the fear of posting it on my social media sites. (“Bahala na” works wonders, by the way.)

You’d think that after over 200 posts, I’d be completely comfortable with pushing publish.

The truth is, is that it varies.

publishWhen I put up announcements, for example, there is no hesitation. Publish.

But when I share some personal things about myself, or when I want to explain something I feel truly passionate about, or when I have a very strong opinion on something – I still get those jitters. I hesitate. I begin to question myself, very frequently going through those italicized statements at the beginning of this post.

In other words, it is when I am posting something I have put my soul into that I feel fear.

I realize that this blogging experience of mine mirrors the entrepreneurial experience as well.

Startups, I find, are very personal affairs. It is someone’s original idea. Someone’s effort. Someone’s very personal work.

Then you throw them out into the world, where they are vulnerable, tender, and open to criticism.

What are some of the first things I feel when I’d launch a startup?

What would they say?

What if they say, “Sino ba itong feeling na ito!?”

What if they laugh at me? 

What if they ignore me? 

Conquering Vs Embracing

You know, before I always felt that the key to it all was conquering fear. It was a leap after all, and I thought that what I had to do was to eradicate the fear.  I figured, to succeed, I had to stop feeling this fear.

But this blogging experience of mine taught me something very interesting: it was when I felt fear that I knew that I was posting something worthwhile. When I don’t feel fear, then I might not be pushing the envelope as far as I could. When I don’t feel fear, then perhaps I didn’t put as much of my soul in it as I could. When I don’t feel fear, I realize I am being safe. 

Corollary: when I feel this fear – I realize I am closer to following the road I had wanted for myself. This is true when I write posts for this blog, and this is also true with the type of projects I choose to do.

For example, by early March, Matt and I will be arranging something for JGL that’s never been pulled off before. It’s a new thing, so I have no idea if it will end up being a totally awesome project or a complete bomb. Yes, this uncertainty leads to a certain fear:

What would they say? 

What if they say, “Sino ba itong feeling na ito!?”

What if they laugh at me? 

What if they ignore me? 

But I realize now that it is unwise to try to conquer this type of fear.

It is the same fear I felt when I professed my love to my eventual wife. The same fear I felt when I took my great startup leap. The same fear I feel when posting a truly meaningful blogpost. The same fear I feel when I share something I have poured my soul into.

If so, then I do not want it to go away. This fear will always be there whenever I do something truly worth my while. A signal of sorts, that I am onto something good.

Sales Tips: How to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection

I’m not a salesman, but I’ve sold many things.

At the age of 11, I sold cellphones at my uncle’s telecom store in Makati. When I worked for GK CSI, I sold everything from kamoteng kahoy, talong, and chicharon (no relation to Lapid’s 🙂 ).

Me purchasing kamoteng kahoy from Ate Maricel at GK Enchanted Farm
Me purchasing kamoteng kahoy from Ate Maricel at GK Enchanted Farm

For my first full-time job in the States, I sold consumer banking products. I was exposed to the world of cold calls and sales scripts. My personality wasn’t cut out for a “sales” job. Back then, pitching  for me was like pulling teeth.

However, a job in sales taught me many things. It taught me how to use assumptive language, and never to make assumptions about a person based on his/her appearance.

I also learned how to pitch the sale to ALL customers who met the basic criteria. In my banking stint, one of the most successful salesmen in the region was selling credit cards. He never failed to ask every customer that he encountered about applying for a credit card. He wasn’t scared to ask, and most importantly, he wasn’t scared to hear:


That fear of hearing no, the fear of rejection, is what cripples people. It’s that fear of rejection that bogged me down. That fear which made me tiptoe instead of pushing me to run. I cared so much about preserving my image that it hindered me from reaching my full potential as a salesman. Sure, there were days when I overcame this fear, but it wasn’t consistent. I lacked a strong sense of purpose in my work and it made it even harder for me to overcome my fear.

I’ve since learned that communicating with a sense of purpose in my work and life is a powerful tool. It enables  me to overcome my fears and move forward without dwelling on my past failures.

sales_trading_to_investment_bankingMy mission nowadays is clear – to contribute to national building in the Philippines by starting up a Philippine enterprise  to help myself while helping others. My sense of purpose gives me peace, and it can drive me to achieve highly improbable things, if I let it. While I still carry that fear and anxiety at times, my greater mission trumps the fear.

What are my sales tips, after all of these sales experiences and life realizations?

  • Embrace the power and significance of sales in your business. Without generating any sales, you’re not a business. As a result, it is very urgent that you sell.
  • Don’t feel guilty about selling. Selling is not a dirty thing. It’s a part of business. Remember, you are sharing value with your customer when you offer your product/service through a sale.
  • If you are confident in your mission, then continue to take that leap of faith everyday. In the end, we’re all flawed humans. If you compromise your mission and work because you’re trying to get everyone’s approval, it won’t happen.
  • If you possess a higher purpose that provokes you to think outside of yourself, then allow it to take over. You will speak with more confidence and move with conviction. The right people will gravitate towards that spirit that you exude.
  • Do not give in to the need to conform to the status quo. As an entrepreneur, you are a leader. As an innovator, you must distort the norm.

6 Crucial Lessons From The Rise Of THE Startup Nation, Part 3 of 3

(This is the third of a 3-part post which talks about the tremendous lessons we can apply from closely looking at how the preeminent Startup Nation – Israel – attained tremendous economic success through the deliberate development of startups. Previous posts: part 1, part 2)

5) We Need To Just Ship It, Ship It Good


In 2006, in the height of the Lebanon War, missiles began to rain down on northern Israel. Understandably, the world’s most famous investor, Warren Buffet, was worried. The first company he ever bought outside the US – Iscar – had its plant and R&D labs in the north of the country and was a primary target. Eitan Wertheimer, the chairman of Iscar, called his boss and explained:

“Our sole concern was for the welfare of our people, since wrecked machines and shattered windows can be replaced. But I am not sure you understand our mindset. We’re going to carry on with half the workforce, but we will ensure that all the customers get their orders on time or even better.”

Afterwards, Wertheimer further reasoned:

“It took us a brief time to adjust, but we didn’t miss a single shipment. For our customers around the world, there was no war.”

Now, I don’t know about you – but that is amazing!

Sure, for some it might be carrying it a bit too far, but this best illustrates Israel’s commitment and mindset towards keeping its promises – especially to its global clientele.

Buffet, the Dumbledore of investments, obviously calculated this risk when he bought 80% of Iscar just 2 months before the bombing started. He knew the facilities could get destroyed in such an event – but he also knew that the value of Iscar lay far beyond the physical. More than anything, he was investing in Iscar’s people – their ingenuity and ability to keep promises. He was investing in their ability to ship.

Even in times of war.

In local news, I remember feeling quite shocked and scandalized during the recent Habagat episode when there were some BPO’s who were asking their employees to go to work despite the rains.

Looking at it from this perspective has forced me to at least reconsider that feeling a bit.

If we cannot keep our contractual promises, then how can we be trusted as a global partner? We just need to find ways to get it done.

People, if you have a startup, or are planning to put one up -remember this mantra: just ship. I can’t tell you how important this is for a burgeoning startup.

No excuses.

Just ship.

6) We Need To Adapt A Migrant Mentality

innovationIsrael is a nation of migrants. Foreign-born citizens of Israel currently account for over one-third of the nation’s population (think about that for a bit). Israel is now called home by more than seventy different nationalities.

Now why is this significant?

Simply put, a community of immigrants is almost always a community of entrepreneurs. A great number of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs are first or second generation migrants, living in a foreign land.


Israeli venture capitalist Erel Margalit explains in the book:

“A lot of it has to do with immigrant societies. In France, if you are from a very established family, and you work in an established pharmaceutical company, for example, and you have a big office and perks and a secretary and all that, would you get up and leave and risk everything to create something new? You wouldn’t. You’re too comfortable. But if you’re an immigrant in a new place, and you’re poor,” Margalit continued, “or you were once rich and your family was stripped of its wealth – then you have drive. You don’t see what you’ve got to lose; you see what you could win. That’s the attitude we have here – across the entire population.”

Now, obviously, we cannot artificially create an environment where suddenly migrants would come to Philippine shores by the millions to ignite entrepreneurship.

But knowing what the fruits are of the migrant paradigm, I can’t help but think – perhaps we can re-channel and use our own local context into a the type of desperation which breeds innovation. Perhaps we can draw from something else.

Our underdog mentality – the one we Filipinos seem to love so much? Instead of automatically thinking ourselves as inferior (which I write a bit about here), perhaps we can re-channel this into a chip on the shoulder which can fuel our drive to create something great.

Perhaps we can use the poverty our people are experiencing as added motivation to do a startup which can make a difference.

We need to feel that wall against our backs. True, circumstances dictate this. But attitude is also a key ingredient. We can DECIDE to feel a sense of urgency.

Bonus: We Need To Work For One Startup

flagAnd that of course, is our country.

In working with HR departments, I’ve come across a behavioral phrase that has been used a bit extensively in performance feedback forms of managers:

“Prioritizes the welfare of the company versus the welfare of his team.”

This is one thing the Israelis have learned to do.

It is certainly difficult. As a startup, it is very easy to adopt the mindset of “me versus the world.”

But perhaps the effort to incorporate a slight tweak can work wonders.

It’s us versus the world.

(Kindly share to those you think will find this useful!)

Filipino Migrants, Give Back By Backing a Pinoy Startup!

Over the last 2 months, I have had an inordinate amount of conversations with friends who have migrated to other countries, very typically to get their MBA’s and then ending up working there.

The conversation invariably turns into “what’s the best way to help?”

In one of these talks, I was with my ex-boss and good friend, Elmer Velasquez. We managed to find time to grab breakfast during his weeklong visit here. Elmer finished his MBA in Columbia and now works in the executive search industry in the US. In his spare time, he runs Global Acumen, a social enterprise with the objective of doing knowledge transfer BACK to the Philippines.

He gave me a memorable line:

We have to stop looking at it as brain drain and start looking at it as the development of offshore resources. 

The people who go are some of our best guys, right? Of the most capable people in your high school or college batch, what percentage left the country to pursue degrees and careers elsewhere?

You know what? I think a number of these people DO want to help out. Living in another country actually might spur even more felt patriotism in some people. Absence DOES make the heart fonder after all.

How can you help, you say?

What about supporting homegrown startup initiatives?

Okay, I might be biased, but I think this is THE best way to give back. We already know we’ve got an english-speaking, innovative, and tech-savvy workforce. We’ve got some of the best programmers, the best designers in the world. That’s a potential startup goldmine.

Perhaps you can help us in making Great Startup Leaps for Juan.

You want to invest in a startup? Lend your skills and expertise as a board member? Give meaningful advice? Well, we’ve got startups which need your help. Email me at peter@juangreatleap.com or simply hit reply! Let’s talk about it. Endless possibilities!

Also, don’t forget to SHARE this post to someone you know wants to help out. Let’s kill apathy!

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