World Water Day: The patience you need for safe drinking water in Pakistan

Re-posting my blog post on Acumen’s website and the reason why I’m currently in Pakistan.

WORLD WATER DAY: THE PATIENCE YOU NEED FOR SAFE DRINKING WATER IN PAKISTAN

MARCH 22, 2013 BY  IN FELLOWSON THE GROUND,SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP

In the last 2 years since I helped start the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation and in the six months I’ve been a Global Fellow at Acumen, I learned a great deal about patience.

As a part of my fellowship with Acumen, I moved to Lahore, Pakistan to work with Pharmagen Healthcare Limited, the social enterprise behind Pharmagen Water, which aims to provide clean, safe and affordable drinking water to low-income communities through a system of water shops around densely populated areas.  This service is vital in Pakistan as millions of the urban and rural poor still rely on outdated water systems or poorly-maintained water facilities.

In Pakistan, 40-60% of diseases are caused by drinking unsafe water, and according to the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, 100% of tested water sources in Lahore contained unacceptable levels of arsenic contamination and half had unsafe levels of bacteriological contamination.  The health implications of this are grave and are a major reason why Pharmagen is working to improve public health by providing safe drinking water at the lowest possible price: around $0.45 for a 20-liter container, which is enough for a family of six for two days.

Paying to ensure your family has clean water may seem like necessity, but adoption among the poor can be difficult and slow. They have been using free water from public taps for years and are often unaware of the health risks associated with these unsafe water sources. Part of the difficulty in driving adoption is demonstrating that an investment in preventive healthcare actually saves money in the long-run by reducing medical costs.  This is especially true for children—clean water is an investment for proper nutrition and healthy human development.

My main job at Pharmagen Water is to convince potential customers of this truth.  Designing marketing campaigns is a challenge, not only because I still can’t speak Urdu proficiently, but more importantly, social enterprises face a different set of problems than traditional business.

One of Pharmagen’s street kiosk demonstrations in Lahore.

In a way, we’re competing against the mindsets of both our employees and target market as the social enterprise model is new to them.  Some employees have a hard time understanding why we sell a high-quality product at such a low price. Our target market is not accustomed to paying for water at all.

To say the least, building a successful social business is hard work.

Here are 3 things I’ve found to be critical:

  1. Focus on Social Impact – Patient capital is exactly that – an investor that is patiently waiting for the organization to get the business model right because the focus is on maximizing social impact. The challenges inherent in a social enterprise are almost completely different from a for-profit and a nonprofit so it’s important that the “capital” is willing to wait for a longer period of time before the organization is able to scale. The risk of failure is also an integral part of the learning process and in getting it right.
  2. Adaptive Leadership – Leadership without purpose is meaningless. Social enterprises are born out of a need to address a social problem.  Most of the time, the social enterprise’s management has to chart their own path – find a spot in the field and patiently grow what was planted. Pharmagen Healthcare Limited is probably the only organization of its kind in the whole of Pakistan – it takes tremendous amount of courage, persistence and patience to build something like this.
  3. Collaboration – We’re moving away from a world view that values competition as the only source of healthy growth – for social enterprises, nothing is more important than building linkages and relationships with the communities where they operate. That means building trust, not only with customers, but also with employees that are taking a bet on a new approach.

Social enterprises and social entrepreneurs are a different breed—they see a social problem in dire need of a solution and they go in not fully knowing the pitfalls but are ready to face what comes.

You need to have the strength, resilience, humility and the patience to see things through.

And sometimes to truly understand your customer, you must have three cups of chai tea with them – and, though it takes patience, it’s worth the wait.

Pharmagen Healthcare Limited supplies safe, clean and affordable drinking water to low-income residents of Lahore, Pakistan through an existing chain of open water shops. With Acumen Fund’s investment, Pharmagen is opening 32 new water shops. They currently supply more than 100,000 liters of safe water to customers each day, impacting the lives of over one million people in Pakistan.

How to Change the World in 2013

Last year, I shared how to change the world in this post.

I focused on three items for 2012.

Our #1 priority was to officially register what was then called the Philippine Funds for Little Kids with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission).  And last May 23, 2012, my Co-Founder, Dr. Anton Mari Lim of Zamboanga City, was able to secure our papers in Zamboanga City.  We were officially registered as the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation.  We did this because there were already a number of other nonprofit organizations that started their name with the word “Philippine” so we chose the Yellow Boat since most people already referred to us in that name and also no other organization sounds like it.

Our #2 priority was to share our story to as many individuals and organizations as possible.

Collaboration is so much better than competition. We believe that leadership needs to be shared – because at the end of the day, we are all leaders of our own destinies. It is our individual and collective responsibility to help make the world better especially for children.

We believe that leadership is about sharing powerful stories that will empower and inspire even more leaders.

We believe that leadership has two key responsibilities: one of inspiration and another of reproduction. For leadership to be truly shared, a leader must empower others – empower them to do something about the things they are passionate about.

We believe that for leadership to last, a leader must cultivate more leaders and not just followers.

Over the last 12 months, I have been able to share our story to thousands of individuals and around 50 different seminars, workshops, events and conferences.  I have also shared our story in France, Spain, Italy, the United States, Singapore, India, and of course all around the Philippines.

Our #3 priority was to help empower more change makers in the Philippines and even beyond our borders.  We have partnered with 8 distinct individuals and organizations around the Philippines and started local chapters of the Yellow Boat in their localities.  We have also received support from friends, partners and donors from Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Canada, France, the Middle East and the United States.

The Yellow Boat has become my life mission.  

I know we are just getting started so early last year I also applied to the Global Fellows Program of Acumen Fund.  It is a one-year training program on social entrepreneurship and that is the reason why I am currently in Lahore, Pakistan working with Pharmagen Water – a social enterprise delivering affordable, clean and safe drinking water to the underprivileged here.

In the next 8 months, I will be working with the management team of Pharmagen Water to help them market the service they are providing better.  After which, I will be flying back to New York then hopefully back to the Philippines around November 2013.

I have learned a lot from my 2 months in New York last year and also learning a lot from Pakistan and Pharmagen Water.

So for 2013, this is how I hope to change the world:

1) Continue to share the story of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation (I will be sharing it in TEDxKinnaird next month)

2) Help build the Marketing team of Pharmagen Water

Since I will be in Pakistan for the next 8 months, I believe its best to limit my focus on these two projects.

I am fortunate that social media allows me to connect back with my Co-Founders in the Philippines.

That’s it for now, Happy New Year! And assalamu ‘alaikum 2013!

Let’s spread more HOPE!

The lens we use

There are 2 main ways to look at the world and at people.

The first one with suspicion and so you never get to build a bridge with them.

And the second one to see them as who they truly are, another you, trying to make sense of the world.

The first one leads you nowhere.

The second one (that builds bridges or boats) leads you to the ends of the world.

Take your pick.

New York 2012

It has taken me more than 2 months to write about my recent experience in New York – September-November 2012. As many of you already know, I was chosen as one of the 10 Global Fellows for 2013 by Acumen Fund last May 2012 and I’m currently in Lahore, Pakistan working with Pharmagen Water as part of the 12-month program.

New York

Arriving in New York last September was truly exciting. It was my second trip to both the United States and New York City. I was in the US last May 2011 as well along with Alex Lacson, Tony Meloto, Efren Penaflorida and many others for the WeAreOneFilipino (WAOF) event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I didn’t really know what to expect upon arriving in New York. I guess every child dreams of one day coming to New York City. Given the dominance of Western influences in Asia, more so in the Philippines, I have always dreamed while I was growing up in Cotabato City to one day visit places like New York City, Los Angeles, Rome and Paris.  And today, I have visited all four. Up until four years ago, I never really thought I would be here one day.

All this changed when I boarded the yellow boat of hope more than 2 years ago.

It has been an amazing ride ever since and it brought me to New York City last September 2012.

Acumen

The Global Fellows Program includes a 2-month training in New York followed by a 9-month placement in one of Acumen’s investees (the reason I’m in Pakistan) and then the fellowship culminates with a mini-graduation in New York (for me that’s around September 2013). I’m excited about this since my birthday falls on September 13, 2013 (9/13/13).

The goal of the program is to develop emerging leaders so that they see this new way of tackling global poverty. Acumen is driving change in the fields of both philanthropy and impact investing by calling for new innovative approaches at tackling poverty where aid and markets have failed. For me, this is an exciting time to be in the social sector. Indeed, given the challenges that the US itself is facing along with Europe, Japan and the rest of the Western world, it is time to re-imagine a new way of doing business.

Back to Acumen

The 2 months of training in New York was nothing short of extraordinary. In a span of 60 days, I have met a NASA astronaut, popular book authors, Muhammud Yunus, met with Filipinos working in the United Nations, and of course I met the amazing 9 other fellows and most importantly, the people working with Acumen. It has been many years since I started following the work by Acumen and it is only after being able to co-found the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation that I felt compelled to become “part” of it. I wanted to learn more about this new field called social entrepreneurship and I wanted to learn more about how they do it and most importantly, why they do it.

Part of the challenges we are facing in the Yellow Boat is how to ensure our support to these communities is sustainable and empowering.

And that is what I set out to learn with Acumen and the investee that I was assigned to (more on that later).

Some of the highlights of the 2 months:

Meeting the team behind LitWorld (on my birthday, September 13)
First day at Acumen Fund’s office with Shahd AlShehail and Michael Craig (September 17)
2012 Fellows graduation night with Junko Tashiro and Jacqueline Novogratz (September 19)
NASA astronaut Ron Garan in Acumen (September 20)
Meeting Muhammad Yunus at the Social Good Summit (September 23)
Leadership retreat at the Berkshires (September 24-28)
The whole gang in Yellow Boat Tshirts before we left the Berkshires (September 28)
Meeting Batman (September 29)
Venture capitalist Jim Hornthal at Acumen (October 5)
Learning Human Centered Design at IDEO (October 13)
Good Society discussions with Jacqueline at Wallkill, New York (October 15-18)
Gangnam style in Yellow Boat Tshirts at Wallkill, New York (October 18)
Manhattan from Williamsburg, Brooklyn (October 20)
Storytelling workshop with The Ariel Group before the Investors’ Gathering (November 7)
Visiting the United Nations (November 12)

New York 2012 was a blast and I look forward to coming back again in September 2013. On November 15, I flew to Lahore, Pakistan, where I am going to spend my next 8 months.

Reflections on Money, Love and Life

It’s never easy to pursue your dreams in life. (I’m telling you believe me, it’s never easy!)

It’s quite easy to settle.  To just be contented where you are.  To wake up every morning, go to work, go back home then sleep.  The next day the cycle begins again.

It’s never easy to write about pursuing your dreams in life.  It’s quite hard because some of the things you’re going to share are about your failures.

A few times you succeed but most of the time you fail.

But you keep going… because you believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  (Don’t believe me yet but I can sense there’s really a light out there.)

The coming days are frightening me enough (since I’m leaving the Philippines soon, read it here) that I decided I’m going to share some things I’ve learned over the last year.  Life is never easy.

Life is short but it is never easy.

It’s as if life was designed to be a test.  A test of what, I do not know for sure yet.

But challenges and trials are what separates men from the boys as the popular cliche goes.

The Yellow Boat

Over the last 2 years, I have been part of an amazing journey called the Yellow Boat Project.  It has been one hell of a ride.

It started with a single Facebook status that pooled resources to build a yellow school boat for children who used to swim to school.  What then started as a fundraising campaign online to help one community spread to another and then to another and so on and so forth…

To date, we are present in 8 communities around the Philippines and exploring many more.

I feel so blessed to have been a party to the creation of the Yellow Boat of Hope.  As our boats came to symbolize a source of new hope to the communities we are helping.

Since I was a kid, I always dreamed of being able to start my own thing – whether it be a business, a charity, an organization, anything that I can be proud of.

And the Yellow Boat of Hope means that much to me, it is both a childhood and “adulthood” dream.  It has allowed me and my co-founders to build a brand – the Yellow Boat as a symbol of HOPE.

The Yellow Boat of Hope is no longer just an advocacy for me.  It is my life – a personal journey.

On Money

Probably the most common question to me these days is how are you earning?

Leaving my corporate job to join the presidential and senatorial campaign of 2010 was crazy enough but leaving my job at the presidential palace was even crazier.  Having a job there meant one had power or so they say.

Almost everyone I knew was against the idea but I felt like I was serving two masters.  And so I resigned.

I truly enjoyed my “work” in the Yellow Boat Project.  Every night I stayed up so late wondering about the possibilities and every morning I wake up excited to execute those ideas.

My “work” on board the Yellow Boat of Hope is like my way of making a dent in the Universe (ala Steve Jobs).

I had doubts as to my decision but I plunged anyway – encouraged by one donor who told me when God sends you on a mission, he sends provision.

The Yellow Boat of Hope truly feels like a mission.  It is a mission to help children who are struggling to get to school.  And it is helping in one way or another the country to fulfill one of our commitments to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which is to have universal primary education for all by 2015.

So how am I earning?

The simple answer is I’m not.

No single staff or volunteer of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation is being paid or compensated including me.  We are all doing this on top of our regular jobs.  And so it puts a lot of pressures on our capabilities to execute our plans but we do it anyway because we believe that education is a right and getting these kids to school should be our priority.

And though it’s hard, I truly believe in this mission.  

I earn from my speaking engagements from time to time and that has partly been responsible for keeping me debt-free.

Also, I have saved some money during my 5 years in the corporate world and I have been dipping into it for the last 12 months.

Having said this, I cannot complain.

Because of the project, I have been to the US, Singapore, France, Italy, Spain, and India to share our story.

I have traveled in more cities and in more continents in the last 12 months than all my previous 29 years combined.

I have also met so many wonderful and amazing people along this journey.  Filipinos who make me proud to be one.  And people who inspire me that we can truly build a world beyond poverty.

And so I believe it’s only a matter of time before I’m going to figure out how to keep myself sustainable as the foundation is slowly reaching its own sustainability too through the help of my co-founders and friends.

I am reminded by a famous quote from Randy Komisar when he said “Only passion will get you through the tough times… It is the romance, not the finance, that makes business worth pursuing.”

So it’s very important to find work that you love because that’s the only way you can truly do great work (ala Steve Jobs again).

Which brings me to the topic of love…

On Love

This is probably the most difficult aspect in nation-building or advocacy work.  People like me don’t have regular weekends.  We work on Saturdays, on Sundays, and even at 2, 3 or 4AM and sometimes just get by with barely an hour of sleep.

At one point, I was out on the road for a consecutive 3 weeks.  It’s really tiring and keeping relationships is always a problem especially when the people close to you don’t understand what you’re doing.

Our parents might also not understand what we do.  They can’t understand why we can’t be just like them.  Things were simple before.  You go to school.  You graduate.  You work.  You start a family.  You work everyday for the rest of your life.  And then you die.

Our friends might also be thinking we’re just going through a phase in life.  And it’s also hard to go out with them since you’re always on the road and sometimes you’re too tired to go out at night.

This is for me the toughest challenge because FOCUS is one important success factor in any thing we do in life and it’s increasingly hard to focus on the person you love when your focus is on getting kids to school.

Balance is key but it is also a delicate balancing act.  I don’t know if that makes sense but there are certainly trade-offs.

I also believe that timing is everything.  Right now, my focus is on helping build the model that will sustain the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation and then also building the right model for myself to sustain my efforts and still be able to start my own family.

I am hoping though that one day I will find her on board the Yellow Boat of Hope.

On Life

In my presentations and talks, I always start it with my favorite quote from the movie “Kung Fu Panda” where Master Oogway (the turtle kung fu master) repeats it three times:

“There are no accidents in life.”

And it is my belief that it is not an accident either that we were able to build the Yellow Boat of Hope.  I don’t like to sound biblical but there are many similarities between our yellow boat and Noah’s ark especially at a time when floods are threatening our way of life and that the sea level is rising.

Boats have always been our primary mode of transportation and up to this day, it is estimated that there are more boats in the Philippines than there are cars or jeepneys.  Just imagine that there are 7,107 islands and the primary mode of transportation between these islands are really boats or ferries.

What I’m simply saying is that I am amazed at how the Yellow Boat of Hope has touched the lives of so many children and families and I never imagined when I was growing up in Cotabato City in Mindanao that I would one day be a part of something like this.

Life may hand us lemons but we can surely make lemonades or even lemonade stands out of it.

Enjoy life!

Training at Acumen Fund

Yesterday, July 13, 2012, the US Embassy in Manila approved my application for a J1 Exchange Visitor visa to the United States.  A J1 visa is required for an individual who is joining a training program in a US-based organization.

Some of you may remember that last May 3, 2012, Acumen Fund, announced its 2013 Global Fellows and I am honored to be one of them and the first Filipino to be chosen at that.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to be part of these diverse and inspiring group of individuals who are making such a remarkable impact on poverty in their own respective countries and communities.

Becoming a Global Fellow involves being part of a one-year training program that combines two months of multi-disciplinary leadership training in New York City with a 10-month field placement in India, Pakistan, East Africa or West Africa where each Fellow provides on-the-ground management support to one of Acumen Fund’s investee companies on the front lines of tackling global poverty.

Acumen Fund is a global leader in venture philanthropy with extensive experience in Africa and Asia.

US Department of State Secretary Clinton called Acumen Fund one of the most innovative foundations “combining philanthropy and capitalism” in her January 6, 2011 remarks on development in the 21st Century and Forbes Magazine featured Acumen Fund in a cover article last December 2011.

Here’s my signed copy which I asked Jacqueline Novogratz, Acumen’s founder, to sign during our final interview in Mumbai, India last January 2012.

I am so lucky that my co-founders and partners in the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Inc. (aka Yellow Boat Project) have allowed me to participate in this training program and that I hope to learn more about global best practices in the nonprofit and social sectors.  And to apply these learnings when I get back after the program to make our organization better.

Acumen Fund’s vision is that one day every human being will have access to the critical goods and services they need – including affordable health, water, housing, energy, agricultural inputs and services – so that they can make decisions and choices for themselves and unleash their full human potential. This is where dignity starts – not just for the poor but for everyone on earth. 

And one of my personal reasons why I chose to help in the education sector as well is to be able to help children in the Philippines unlock and unleash their full potential because that is what our youth needs today – to learn about life, about history, about culture and the need to understand the world around them in order to succeed in life.

It’s important we give hope to these children because that is what will make them dream to help us build a better future.

The program will start this September and I will be flying to New York then to join my soon-to-be new friends – Mustapha, Abbas, Shahd, Michael, Natalie, Nicole, Mohammed, Christina and Junko as we embark on this transformational journey.

We would be sharing our experience and insights on Acumen Fund’s blog so please take note of the site now: http://blog.acumenfund.org.

Again, I want to thank everyone who have been and are still part of our Yellow Boat Journey and hopefully you will continue to support us at the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation (and me as we try to take ourselves into the next level in our fight to end poverty).

A year out of government

I left my government work last June 2011 when the Yellow Boat Project (officially known as the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Inc.) became an almost full-time work.  It was a hard decision as serving the President was also something you get excited about.

But the Yellow Boat Project required me to travel a lot and to share the story to places in and outside the country, and I just felt that I needed to focus on it for us to be able to really make an impact in the communities we are trying to help.  I was also fortunate to have met remarkable people along this journey who have supported me along the way.

If there was one thing that I knew I wanted to do then, it was creating my own dream job, which being the Chief Storyteller of the Yellow Boat Project is like.

Over the last 12 months since I left government, here are some of things I’ve learned:

Unilab Ideas Positive social marketing bootcamp

1. There are no accidents in life. For those who have seen me give a presentation, this is quite familiar as I always open my presentations with this quote. It came from the movie Kung Fu Panda where Master Oogway (the turtle kung fu master) repeated it thrice. I truly believe that we all come into this world for a reason and one of our goals in life is not necessarily to find that mission but to decide what it is. Believe in your dreams and pursue them. Life is about being open to what’s possible but it also means grabbing an opportunity when it presents itself.

 

Bagong Pag-asa 1

2. HOPE is real. Prior to becoming a Fire Starter – short for someone who has started something, I never really thought much about hope. I thought it was just a vague idea that we all believe in – something that makes us cope with life better. But because of the Yellow Boat Project, I learned that HOPE can be very real. When we were deciding what to name the first Yellow Boat that we were to turn-over to our community in Layag-Layag in Zamboanga City, we asked them what the boat stands for them and one of the community leaders answered that it meant a sort of new hope, that finally someone has finally noticed them and helping them. And so we christened the first Yellow Boat – Bagong Pag-asa (New Hope) and all succeeding boats bear the same name.

 

Yellow Boat Tshirts available for ordering (email us at captain@yellowboat.org)

3. Make meaning. The “Yellow Boat” didn’t really mean anything before the project came along. Each day we should strive to create and make meaning. It took the many efforts of many individuals and organizations to create something out of the common boat. From the start, we tried our best to bring out the best in everyone and also to make sure that what we are building can be sustainable. The Yellow Boat has now become a bit iconic and it symbolizes hope as much as the heart symbol symbolizes love. It’s hard to make meaning but it is the most fulfilling endeavor in the world. (as you can see we now have these yellow boat tshirts)

 

The power of one

4. Any simple act can make a difference. In my case, it was a simple Facebook status. The boat we turned over was christened ‘Bagong Pag-asa’ (New Hope) – it is a symbol of change and hope for the communities we are helping. It has become a symbol of people power in action. People helping other people solve their problems. Nation-building is truly about ordinary people helping other ordinary people. Anyone can be part of the solution – YOU can be part of the solution. I believe it is time we extend the meaning of People Power, one that not only changes governments and leaders, but one that also truly empowers our people – a people power that calls on every Filipino to become an active nation-builder. One single Facebook status led to the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation Inc. with over 150 yellow boats in one year.

Imagine how much more we can achieve if more people take up the task of nation-building?

School children in Layag-Layag (Zamboanga City) use their yellow boat to school

5. Leadership is a platform. Leadership in this day and age should function more like a platform – leaders must become enablers for both personal and professional growth. The ultimate goals of leadership are two-pronged: influence and reproduction. Success without succession is a failure. Success without inspiring others to do the same is also a failure. For me, it’s very important that leaders today not only train but see to it that the people they are leading are empowered and trained to succeed them. Leaders should also know when their time is up and allow younger leaders to take the helm. The Yellow Boat is like a figurative “boat” that ferries people from one place to a better place – leadership is a lot like that too.

6. The only reason why poverty continues to exist is because we expect it to. I came to believe that one of the biggest obstacles to poverty eradication is that most people assume it’s a fact of everyday life and so many of us including those government give up hope that we can create a world beyond poverty. It takes moral imagination to pursue a world beyond poverty but it’s possible.

HOPE Theory

7. Lastly, because of my experience, I came up with my theory of HOPE.

H stands for Harnessing your potential, it’s important that you find your passion in life. O stands for Opening your mind and your heart, it’s important that you are open to new lessons and also failures. A lot of times, O stands for Opening your wallet too.

P stands for Perspiring, it’s important for you to go out there and make things happen. Don’t forget Nike: Just do it! E stands for Empowering others, and it’s equally important that you share your experiences and the lessons you gained so that others may learn from it.

Personally, I have become thinner and younger because of the project, as the photo below illustrates:

One year difference (April 2011 vs June 2012)

Though I got darker because of the travels, I have never felt healthier in my life.

Apparently, it’s good to do good.

What do you think of my 12-month experience?

 

Open Invitations

I invite everyone who have the time and the means to attend the following events where I will be sharing the story of the Yellow Boat Project and the lessons on social media and leadership that I have learned over the last 20 months.

JULY 17: Leadership and Entrepreneurship Conference (Pasig City)

Together with Alex Lacson, author the bestselling book, 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do  To Help Our Country, we will be in Pasig on July 17, 2012 (Tuesday).  I will be speaking from 10:00AM to 12 noon.

You can find more information here.

 AUGUST 1: LOG-ON (Cagayan de Oro City)

On August 1, 2012, I am honored to share the stage with my Co-Founder Anton Mari H. Lim (from Zamboanga City) and our country’s foremost marketing guru, Josiah Go, as we share our experience in Advocacy Marketing, Grassroots Implementation and Using Social Media in Creating Awareness in SM City Cagayan de Oro.

I am truly grateful to our local partner, Happy Soles: CDO Funds for Little Kids, for bringing us in one forum to share the story of the Yellow Boat Project.

AUGUST 4: Winning Disciplines for Success (Cebu City)

Together with the country’s top motivational speaker, Francis Kong, and WeAreSoleSisters’ Founder Lois Yasay, we will be bringing the highly successful 2012 Winning Disciplines for Success seminar of OneAwesomeCompany to Cebu City.

Thank you for reading and hope you can join us in one of these events.  For details, please read the fine print in the posters. 🙂

Or reach out to me on Twitter – @jayjaboneta.

The Starfish Story

This is something I came across many years ago but the lesson is always worth re-visiting.

One of the girls in Layag-Layag (Photo courtesy of Skip Bronkie)

The Starfish Story

Adapted from The Star Thrower of Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

(End of The Starfish Story)