Life hacks

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

The phrase “challenging year” may be a bit of an understatement if we are to describe 2021. The year that just ended tested every rule, every mindset, everything that we believed in. We try to live and appreciate and enjoy each day as if it were the last because it could be.

But for some – leaders of business and other organizations – the task is more daunting. These people have to lead companies, organizations and people amid and through these challenges, and have succeeded.

I asked some of our business and government leaders and personalities to share valuable lessons/insights on life and business that they have learned in 2021 and hope that in doing so, it will inspire others to face 2022 with a better mindset and with renewed confidence and hope that things are going to get better.

“The last two years have been marked with endless challenges. These started with the Taal Volcano eruption in January, and was immediately followed by the pandemic, and recently, extreme weather. While these times were difficult, these also presented opportunities for many. The online business flourished and so did digital platforms, like GCash. Countless lessons can be learned here. First, if big issues present themselves, hidden behind are opportunities to shine. One just has to be sensitive, creative, and persistent. It has been said: Never waste an opportunity presented by a crisis. Another lesson is that bad times don’t last, good times will surely follow. One just has to be ready and prepared to weather the storms. Also, always be ready to change in an instant, as many events happen without any warning. And one of my most valued lessons is on effective leadership. In good times or in bad, it is critical that good leaders remain visible, staying ahead of the lines, and actively inspiring their teams to deliver.” – Manny Aligada, president, Kia Philippines.

“The past two years, dealing with the pandemic, have taught us all so many things. For me, three valuable lessons stand out. First, we don’t need so much material things in order to be happy. It’s good to be comfortable in life, but the things that truly matter are non-material: family, true friends, and making a difference in the lives of others. Second, in business, vision is great, but good values are equally important. You may not impress or please everyone all the time, but you will always do right by everyone. Lastly, for us in San Miguel, we cannot be truly successful, until everyone is better off. The better we make peoples’ lives, the better off our businesses are.” – Ramon Ang, president and CEO, San Miguel Corp.

“2021 was an extension of 2020 when the pandemic started, and is a continuing saga of challenges. Our sector in the real estate industry did quite well as customers prioritized the purchase of hard assets like homes, versus spending for travel and consumables. Against all the challenges we faced, we are seeing opportunities to reboot our business platforms to new buyer profile, and buying preferences. We are cautiously confident about the future.” – Jose EB Antonio, chairman and CEO, Century Properties Group Inc.

“I’ve been telling our people at DDB Group that this pandemic is not a time to lose hope but to find or create opportunities, and that is only possible if all of us will work together as one. And this is exactly what we did. Working from home since last year, our teams have mastered virtual means to be able to work together to take care of our clients, create relevant campaigns, win new business, achieve growth targets, help communities, and keep each other safe. We have proven once again that change is not something to be afraid of; we just have to be agile as a business to constantly adapt to it by harnessing the group’s diverse perspective and expertise.” – Gil Chua, chairman and CEO, DDB Group Philippines

“Undoubtedly, we need to adjust to the new normal with all the challenges it brings. But the time-tested formula that consistently spells success has always been hard work + prayers + genuine concern for the people around you.” – Atty. Nilo Divina, founder and managing partner, DivinaLaw, and dean, UST Faculty of Civil Law.

“’Be the change you want to see in the world’. After two years of living through the pandemic, I have come to appreciate this quote attributed to Gandhi more than ever,” – Lance Gokongwei, president and CEO, JG Summit Holdings.

“Empathy to the customers’ needs is what drives a company’s transformation and diversification. At AirAsia, specially during the pandemic, we listened more to our customers, leveraged on our strong brand, and transformed digitally faster as a travel and lifestyle company, adding services like hotel, transport, shop, logistics … all in our fast-growing AirAsia Super App. AirAsia shall never stop dreaming big and shall continue to look for growth opportunities for the company and most specially for our people, whom we call “ALLSTARS” … as we are a guest-obsessed team.” – Ricky Isla, CEO, AirAsia Bhd Philippines.

“The Romans captured the feeling best: ‘pluck (or more popularly, seize) the day,’ and today is really where I have been residing during these COVID-19 months. Everyday has truly been a gift, and I have loved opening each one because they’ve come with surprises, big and small, heart-warming and soul-stirring. How could I forget the first time my first grandchild Talli lit up my morning with her cute gummy grin or that this year, we were able to launch our first line of Italian cheeses; gorgonzola, tuma, and carciotta. Ahh to live in the moment and to relish our little triumphs.” – Paco Magsaysay, CEO, Carmen’s Best.

“In every situation, we can always find the silver lining if we confront reality with equanimity, study conscientiously, and work tirelessly. Then we can acknowledge hard realities, find our best options, and keep our hopes alive.” – Antonio Moncupa, Jr., president and CEO, Eastwest Banking Corp.

“The COVID pandemic has made me realize that there’s a lot I can and should improve on – my health, heart, mind and soul in order to be of greater service to others, country, and God. This is the year to appreciate and be grateful for everything I have been given.” – Jeffrey Ng, president, Cathay Land.

“There can never be a sustainable economic recovery without containing the pandemic and strengthening our health care system. Our private and government sectors must collaborate and invest in the maintenance of biomedical and imaging equipment, ventilators and production of disposal and fast-moving medical items. We must also move from predominantly pharmaceutical repackaging into manufacturing through international licensing agreements. We must invest in biotechnology and produce our vaccines locally. By moving the maintenance and production of these necessities into local setting, we increase the number of jobs in the country. We will be able to make the country self sufficient and the people more.” – Raul Pagdanganan, president and CEO, Cardinal Santos Medical Center and member, UP Board of Regents.

“Adaptability and letting go of attachments are my two main learnings that have helped me personally and professionally. With so many variables, it makes more sense to consider a plan B or even a plan C rather than force a plan A. – Al Panlilio, president, PLDT and Smart Communications.

“This year’s Christmas is a lot better than last. We all survived because of our faith in God, hope in a better tomorrow, and charity to our people. Our people is the key to our success in good and bad times,” – Roman Felipe Reyes, chairman, Reyes Tacandong & Co.

“After hurdling the difficulties of 2020, this year brought its own set of challenges, such as new variants and typhoon Odette, that have delayed our tourism recovery efforts. But the help and support of partners, stakeholders, and loved ones have brought mobility and progress in all our endeavors for the tourism industry. It’s remarkable how we manage to find strength in the darkest of times – in ourselves and in others, and discovering that the well of empathy and compassion among our kababayans run very deep. Our bayanihan spirit is not a new insight but it’s one that I rediscover every year, and it’s because of this I have much faith in our capacity to rise again. – Berna Romulo-Puyat, Secretary, Department of Tourism.

“2021 had events which gave us trials and challenges to prove our immeasurable faith, hope and unending love for our countrymen, family and nation as a whole. The pandemic has shown the true colors of the faithful as well as the greedy ones. Towards the new normal, great opportunities for equalities and social justice can be attained through strong faith and human rights-based political will – inspired by the majority voices of the people.” – Atty Percida Rueda-Acosta, DSD, Chief Public Attorney

“After the initial shock of 2020, 2021 was when we realized that institutions, playbooks and formulas that were effective on past crises, are no longer adequate. We need to evolve because the stakes and the socio-economic consequences of not evolving are very high and very severe especially for the most vulnerable members of our society. For the first time, the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing. If we balance continuity and change better, get away from command and control and move more intentionally towards freedom and empowerment with accountability, build new mindsets and muscles of agility; then we can make the pain of the past two years pay off for future generations. It also helps more than ever, to strengthen our faith and build a closer relationship with God.” – Bienvenido ‘Rico’ Tantoco Jr., chairman, Rustan’s Commercial Corp.



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