Team of Rivals

(photo from Sec. Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Office)

I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book the Team of Rivals a few years back. And it popped back into my head after I saw this photo. I have been an avid supporter of then Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte in the past because of what he has done and accomplished in Davao City. I knew him to be an action man but I didn’t really know anything about the inner workings of City Hall more than was written in the press.

The book Team of Rivals details Goodwin’s research and analysis of how former US President Abraham Lincoln was able to provide great leadership during his time and how we was able to recruit his main rivals for the presidency to join his cabinet. It is a rare thing in politics when a leader goes out of his way to accommodate his intellectual “foes” and works with them for the common good. While both Lincoln and Duterte have major weaknesses, there’s a lot that can be said for leaders who try to bring everyone to the table. Lincoln paved the way for slavery to end in North America.

What Goodwin said about Lincoln (in this HBR interview) holds true for Duterte for me as well:

Interviewer: More books have been written on Lincoln than on any other American president. What does Lincoln’s magic as a leader really come down to?

Goodwin: Well, it wasn’t anything so immediately felt as charisma. In fact, it took the country some time to warm to Lincoln; his popularity almost came from the inside out. His cabinet was the first to see something unusual about him.

Take William Seward, who originally was a rival. Some eight weeks after becoming secretary of state, Seward wrote to his wife that Lincoln was unlike anyone he’d ever known. Other members of the cabinet came to think so, too. One after another, they came to power thinking Lincoln was rather unexceptional and ended up believing that he was as near a perfect man as anyone they’d ever met.

What Lincoln had, it seems to me, was an extraordinary amount of emotional intelligence. He was able to acknowledge his errors and learn from his mistakes to a remarkable degree. He was careful to put past hurts behind him and never allowed wounds to fester. The rare example I could find of Lincoln’s being unable to forgive someone was his father. Lincoln never visited his father when he was dying, which suggests that he could not let go of the anger he felt toward the man who considered the future president’s fierce desire to learn a sign of laziness.”

Duterte’s legacy as presidency remains to be seen.

E stands for Empowering others

Hope is about inspiration.  It is like a ‘fire’ that awakens the body, the mind and quite possibly, the soul.

The concept of hope first came about in ancient Greek mythology with the story of Zeus and Prometheus. The story goes that Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and then shared it with men.  This infuriated Zeus.  In turn, Zeus created a box that contained all manners of evil and gave it as a wedding gift to Prometheus and Pandora.  Pandora opened the box after being warned not to, and all kinds of evil were released into the world.  Hope, which lay at the bottom of the box, remained.

That started the tale of hope.  It is the fire of life.

And it continues to be the only thing left inside each of us when we face trials, adversities or challenges in life.  Give it to the Greeks to come up with such a fascinating and truly mysterious tale.

To be a HOPE builder is to be a leader.  And to be a leader is to be able to create more leaders.  Hope brings out the best in leaders.

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.

And that is also true for HOPE.

Becoming a HOPE builder doesn’t end after you have found your passion in life (after you have harnessed your potential), after you have opened your mind and heart, and after you have perspired or taken action – the cycle repeats itself because after you’ve mastered the art of what it is that you love doing, you have to empower others.

You have to share what you know and teach it so others may follow in your foot steps and improve what you have achieved – allow other people to build upon what you have learned or achieved.

Hope must continue to inspire others.  It must continue to empower others, that they too have the opportunity to take on challenges and dreams that seem impossible to achieve.

In this 5-part series, I discuss the 4 elements of HOPE in greater detail:

H stands for Harnessing your potential and H stands for Harnessing your potential (Part 2)

O stands for Opening your mind and your heart

P stands for Perspiration

E stands for Empowering others

P stands for Perspiration

P in HOPE is the most important part – it’s all about EXECUTION!

No matter how good you are at finding your passion in life and opening yourself up to these possibilities and to your potential – nothing gets done until you get it done.

Perspiration (or maybe the better term is persistence) is the single most important part of HOPE and of success in life.

You cannot help people without getting your hands dirty.

When you want to help people, you should act on it.

Only in doing so can you gain insights into how your efforts can be better.

Perspiration is very good for the body and the soul too, as it cleanses our system. Personally, I have become thinner as a result of my involvement in the Yellow Boat Project.

One of the best corporate slogans out there comes from Nike and it simply states: “Just do it.”

I can’t recall who said it but the biggest opportunity in the world is for more people to actually go out there and pursue their dreams.  Too many of us, myself included, love to plan out our future or to come up with annual goals and objectives but more often than not, we fail to execute those plans for a variety of excuses.

Sometimes you just have to go out there and do stuff.  I’ve learned that sometimes just the act of going out there and trying to execute your plans creates the momentum you need in order to continue doing it.

This is the stage where you are testing your skills and strengths – whether your idea is truly workable or not.  This is a period mostly of tension because this is the part where the most action happens and you test out new ideas.  This is also the period that you commit a lot of mistakes and quite possibly fail as well.

This is also the period where you are slowly getting the hang of it and you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.

William Feather, the American publisher and author, said that “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

And indeed, in my experience, success can be summarized as persistence even in the face of adversity.

Before you can become a true HOPE builder – you must be able to harness your potential, open your mind and your heart, and perspire or take action.  Those dreams will remain dreams if you do not act on it.

On my last post in this series, I will be discussing the next crucial step for HOPE builders, the one that sets true leaders from the rest – Empowering others.

In this 5-part series, I discuss the 4 elements of HOPE in greater detail:

H stands for Harnessing your potential and H stands for Harnessing your potential (Part 2)

O stands for Opening your mind and your heart

P stands for Perspiration

E stands for Empowering others

How To Climb Mountains

I would like to share with you one of the best guides on ‘climbing mountains’ out there. This was written by Paulo Coelho and I believe it captures how we should communicate the things we do in life, especially the big projects we take on, and how we should (I actually believe its our collective responsibility) share the lessons we have learned while climbing our own mountains so that others may benefit from our experiences and possibly not repeat the same mistakes but more importantly, so that they become inspired to take on big challenges as well.

This is the makeshift school in Isla Mababoy, Masbate that we have been blessed to have helped build.

How to Climb Mountains

by Paulo Coelho

Choose the mountain you want to climb

Don’t be influenced by what other people say: ‘that one’s prettier’ or ‘that one looks easier.’ You are going to put a lot of energy and enthusiasm into achieving your objective, and you are the only person responsible for your choice, so be quite sure about what you are doing.

Find out how to reach the mountain

Often you can see the mountain in the distance – beautiful, interesting, full of challenges. However, when you try to reach it, what happens? It’s surrounded by roads; forests lie between you and your objective; and what seems clear on the map is far more complicated in reality. So you must try all the paths and tracks until, one day, you find yourself before the peak you intend to climb.

Learn from someone who has been there before

However unique you may think you are, there is always someone who has had the same dream before, and who will have left signs behind that will make the climb less arduous: the best place to attach a rope, trodden paths, branches broken off to make it easier to pass. It is your climb and it is your responsibility too, but never forget that other people’s experiences are always helpful.

 Dangers, seen from close to, are controllable

When you start to climb the mountain of your dreams, pay attention to what is around you. There are, of course, precipices. There are almost imperceptible cracks. There are stones polished so smooth by rain and wind that they have become as slippery as ice. But if you know where you are putting your foot, you will see any traps and be able to avoid them.

 The landscape changes, so make the most of it

You must, naturally, always keep in mind your objective – reaching the top. However, as you climb, the view changes, and there is nothing wrong with stopping now and then to enjoy the vista. With each metre you climb, you can see a little further, so take time to discover things you have never noticed before.

Respect your body

You will only manage to climb a mountain if you give your body the care it deserves. You have all the time that life gives you, so do not demand too much from your body. If you walk too quickly, you will grow tired and give up halfway. If you walk too slowly, night might fall and you will get lost. Enjoy the landscape, drink the cool spring water, and eat the fruit that Nature so generously offers you, but keep walking.

Respect your soul

Don’t keep repeating, “I’m going to do it.” Your soul knows this already. What it needs to do is to use this long walk in order to grow, to reach out as far as the horizon, to touch the sky. Obsession will not help you in the search for your goal, and will end up spoiling the pleasure of the climb. On the other hand, don’t keep repeating ‘It’s harder than I thought,’ because that will sap your inner strength.

Be prepared to go the extra mile

The distance to the top of the mountain is always greater than you think. There is bound to come a moment when what seemed close is still very far away. But since you are prepared to go still further, this should not be a problem.

Be joyful when you reach the top

Cry, clap your hands, shout out loud that you made it; let the wind (because it is always windy up there) purify your mind, cool your hot, weary feet, open your eyes, blow the dust out of your heart. What was once only a dream, a distant vision, is now part of your life. You made it, and that is good.

Make a promise

Now that you have discovered a strength you did not even know you had, tell yourself that you will use it for the rest of your days; promise yourself, too, to discover another mountain and set off on a new adventure.

Tell your story

Yes, tell your story. Be an example to others. Tell everyone that it’s possible, and then others will find the courage to climb their own mountains.

So there you have it from the man himself who has written so many books and has touched millions of lives. Now, if you’re still wondering what the next step is, I’m quoting from Nike: Just do it!

Success without succession is a failure

I recently read the document that Acumen Fund released entitled “10 Things We’ve Learned About Tackling Global Poverty,” and the one thing that really struck me to be very important was Lesson #4:

We won’t succeed in the long term without cultivating local leaders, local money, and strong local communities.

The biggest challenge that any organization faces is sustainability. And for me (esp. for the nonprofit world), what particularly drive sustainability are three things: leadership, resources, and community involvement. Leadership not only provides the direction but also the inspiration so that members and volunteers can deliver on goals, objectives and can raise enough funds and resources to get things done.

Leadership is also about reproduction of future leaders and this is where most organizations fail – for me, the real test of sustainability is when organizations are able to attract potential leaders who can take on future challenges and also when they are able to cultivate local leaders.

In our example, a bulk of our fundraising comes from Manila, which is miles away from Zamboanga and Masbate so it is very important that there are local teams in these areas as well who can raise enough resources on their own.

Lastly, when we were starting out at the last part of 2010 and early part of 2011, Anton Lim, our Chief Dreamer, introduced the concept of sweat equity in Layag-Layag wherein he made sure that the local community we are about to help and support will also do their share in the project.  He talked to our key partners and the community leaders on the ground that the boat (and any other future boats) needs to be maintained by the community as a whole.

We also made sure that they begin helping themselves by bringing in experts who can help them improve their livelihood, access to government agencies who can help them in their healthcare needs and their access to social services, and also volunteers from other organizations who can teach them about how to clean and take care of the environment and other basic stuff.

What this lesson didn’t mention though is the important presence of both passion and patience in an organization’s leaders and members.  Passion is the difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when it is convenient. When you are committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.

To end, I agree with known venture capital guru, Randy Komisar that “only passion will get you through the tough times. It’s the romance, not the finance that makes business worth pursuing.”

And so for the rest of 2012, I wish that you find your passion in life and remember sharing success creates more of it.

An Amazing True Story

This is the most amazing ‘amazing’ story I’ve read.  All our actions truly create ripples.

(I do not know the author, if you know him/her, please comment here. Thanks.)


This is a true story that had happened in 1892 at Stanford University . It’s moral is still relevant today.

A young, 18 year old student was struggling to pay his fees. He was an orphan, and not knowing where to turn for money, he came up with a bright idea. A friend and he decided to host a musical concert on campus to raise money for their education.

They reached out to the great pianist Ignacy J. Paderewski. His manager demanded a guaranteed fee of $2,000 for the piano recital. A deal was struck. And the boys began to work to make the concert a success.


The big day arrived. Paderewski performed at Stanford. But unfortunately, they had not managed to sell enough tickets. The total collection was only $1,600. Disappointed, they went to Paderewski and explained their plight. They gave him the entire $1,600, plus a cheque for the balance of $400. They promised to honour the cheque soonest possible.

“No.” said Paderewski. “This is not acceptable,” he tore up the cheque, returned the $1,600 and told the boys “Here’s the $1,600. Please deduct whatever expenses you have incurred. Keep the money you need for your fees. And just give me whatever is left.” The boys were surprised, and thanked him profusely.

It was a small act of kindness. But it clearly marked out Paderewski as a great human being. Why should he help two people he did not even know? We all come across situations like these in our lives. And most of us only think “If I help them, what would happen to me?”

The truly great people think, “If I don’t help them, what will happen to them?” They don’t do it expecting something in return. They do it because they feel it’s the right thing to do.

Paderewski later went on to become the Prime Minister of Poland. He was a great leader, but unfortunately when the World War began, Poland was ravaged. There were over 1.5 million people starving in his country, and no money to feed them.

Paderewski did not know where to turn for help. He reached out to the US Food and Relief Administration for help.


The head was a man called Herbert Hoover – who later went on to become the US President. Hoover agreed to help and quickly shipped tons of food grains to feed the starving Polish people. A calamity was averted.

Paderewski was relieved. He decided to go across to meet Hoover and personally thank him. When Paderewski began to thank Hoover for his noble gesture, Hoover quickly interjected and said, “You shouldn’t be thanking me, Mr. Prime Minister. You may not remember this, but several years ago, you helped two young students go through college in the US . I was one of them.”

The world is a wonderful place. What goes around usually comes around.