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Reflections of a Social Entrepreneur: The Rules of A Boss

One of the biggest things about starting your own Social Enterprise (or any business for that matter) is that you get to be your own boss. You will be able to control the time you wake up, the number of hours you sleep, the amount of work you put in. Often times, the amount and quality of the work you devote during the crucial early stages of the business will make or break you. Once you’ve settled into a rhythm and allow your business to reach a certain level of stability in its operations, you get to finally lay down more rules, establish more systems and processes to grow your business even further.

This is where a number of bosses can get lost. I realized that in this crucial tipping point, the rules that you set will define how your business will grow and more importantly, influence the kind of culture that it will have and values that your entire organization will uphold.

So as early as now, as my own boss, and as a “boss” to those whom I currently work with and those who will be working with us in the future, I will lay down 10 simple rules to live by.

Rule # 1: Respect Personal Time.

– This is one most violated rules especially as we live in this hyper-connected environment where Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, BBM and other Messaging services can professionally bind you to your co-workers and your employers. So to those I work with and will work with in the future, I tell you this – Set boundaries on your work hours and tell me. I will respect you and promise to do my best to not disturb you nor ask for deliverables when I know that doing so will violate your personal time.

This leads me to…

Rule # 2: Balance, Balance, Balance, Balance, Balance, Balance!

– Make sure that you will always have time to do the things you love, the things that make you happy and more importantly, spend quality time with the people who matter – Your family, your best friends, your significant others (or even your pets). Work should never come in the way of the things and people that are important to you. But do remember that in all things, there must be the right amount of balance.

Rule # 3: “Lunch Break” means Lunch Break

– In relation to rule # 1, work time is for work, meeting time is for meetings, lunch time is for eating and other things, and so on and so forth.

Rule # 4: If you’re not having fun, you’re in the wrong position! (So tell me)

– If you enjoy and love what you are doing, then you are in the right position. If going to work is a drag and you just resent me and the company with every passing day, then I have failed you by putting you in a position where you will not grow and have fun.

Rule # 5: You’ve got a friend in me. 🙂

– Therefore nothing should stop you from telling me if something is bothering you, if you’re unhappy, if you have an idea, if you feel sick, if you see something that needs to be improved, or if I violated your personal time or any of the rules set herein, etc, etc. You get the picture.

Rule # 6: Your idea is as good as mine. At times, even better.

– The reason why you are where you are is because I have bestowed upon you a certain level of trust and confidence that you will not hold back your talents, ideas and knowledge. In fact, I expect that you will share them with me to help the company grow.

Rule # 7: Always be creative. If you can find it in the internet, then it’s not original. 🙂

– Being in the business of making camps, programs and creating modules from scratch, we need to set ourselves apart from the rest. Do your homework, research what you can from books, Youtube, Wikipedia, Google, Facebook. Find what you can – then innovate. Add your own twist, add your own challenge, combine activities.

Rule # 8: When you stumble and fall, pick yourself up and smile. We’ll smile with you.

– Just let the world know that nothing can break you because you have a whole team right here supporting you every step of the way. (In work, in love and in life) We’ll all fall down some time, but if we keep getting back up and maintain that positive attitude, then we’ll never fail.

Rule # 9: Keep your feet on the ground. Give the glory to a Greater Being.

– For each success we’ll remain grounded and humble. For each milestone and success we’ll remain ever thankful.

Rule # 10: Remember our purpose. As long as there’s a street kid knocking on your window and begging for alms, our mission isn’t over.

– We’re all working for something much bigger than ourselves. So long as there are people who starve and people with no place to live, our business and our company and its people will continue to work. We have a world to change. 🙂

——————————————————————————————–

To end, allow me to add one last rule:

Rule # 11: If people say “It can’t be done”, look them in the eye and say “Watch us.”

🙂

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Reflections of a Social Entrepreneur: Redefining “Success”

“A Million Millionaires.”

For some reason the idea got stuck and the words repeated themselves over and over in my brain. I wouldn’t dare think of this idea a few years back – when the acquisition of personal wealth was the name of the game.

“A Million Millionaires.”

I spent my previous 24 years of life wanting to get my hands on my first million. (I have the piggy bank to prove it)

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I had this since I was 6.

It took that much time for me to realize that I was chasing the wrong thing, the selfish thing.

After a year of learning and unlearning, one of the biggest paradigm shifts that I underwent was when I had to redefine what “Success” meant to me personally.

When before success was all too personal, today it has evolved to be more social. Whereas wealth accumulation, cars, cash, luxury items were once held with the highest regard and altogether symbolize one’s successes, today those things have been redefined to the extent that it’s no longer how many million Pesos you make but how many People whose lives you change.

From a game of Pesos, it has evolved to become a game of People. From something very personal, it has turned into something more inclusive – At least for me and the people who believe in the same vision.

Before, getting my first million meant everything to me.

Today, getting my first million while those who work with me earn much less and there are still those who live without food for their next meal would mean absolutely nothing.

My success will no longer be measured by getting my first million but rather by the number of people whom I help get theirs. I know I can get my first million – don’t get me wrong for I know it will be hard. It’s just so much more challenging and ultimately more fulfilling if I take people with me.

“A Million Millionaires. – better than just having 20 billionaires”

My side of caution tells me that there is a chance that I will fail. The dreamer in me tells me that I’ve seen too many miracles happen in this world that it will be stupid to not believe in this one.

“A Million Millionaires.”

I keep repeating this to remind me that there’s something bigger than myself to work for.

“A Million Millionaires.”

I won’t be responsible for all 1 million of them, but I know I’ll do my part.

Reflections of A Social Entrepreneur: The Bottomline

March 8, 2012 1 comment

Most of us have probably heard of the Triple Bottom Line business approach. (Well if not, a quick Google search will be useful)

Basically, the Triple Bottom Line is a business approach that social entrepreneurs have come to embrace as we build our businesses from the ground up. The TBL or 3BL approach highlights the importance of 3 main things when building your business – PEOPLE, PLANET and PROFIT.

To put it simply, we are being called to start businesses that earn PROFIT (as all businesses should) but at the same time ensure that no damage is done to the PLANET (by ensuring sustainable environmental impact) and realizing fair and just work and profit for the PEOPLE.

The end goal of this approach is to make the business as sustainable as possible in terms of human capital, environmental practices and economic value.

However as I reflect on my own experiences, I felt the need for a Fourth Bottom Line – One that would sustain the Entrepreneur especially in the early stages of the business where they are expected to face all sorts of obstacles and challenges that can break even the strongest of men and women. It will also be a significant driving force in scaling up the business in the long run.

PASSION.

While the promise of profit and fulfillment hold much value, Passion is what will sustain the entrepreneur once the initial excitement of starting a social business dies down and the challenges come pouring out from the sky and the doubters and naysayers come knocking on your door. Equally important as sustaining your business is sustaining yourself and your drive to succeed regardless of challenges, mindless of reward and despite people telling you that it can’t be done.

(From personal experience, the temptation of having an 8-5 job with a guaranteed salary tempted me more than once in the year that I spent trying to build my own business. Just a month and a half ago, I almost gave in. ALMOST. As fate would have it, things started to pick up. As faith would have it, my days spent in prayer during trying times seemed to have finally reached the ears of a Higher Being. At this point, I am 100% sure that I will push through with this and venture into more social businesses later on.)

I have seen entrepreneurs who buckled down from the challenges that they encountered and some budding entrepreneurs who lost steam and left their businesses unfinished mainly because they did not have passion for what they started.

It taught me that while Inspiration allows you to hit the ground running, it will be Passion that will allow you to keep running until you get to the finish line.

Build a business with PEOPLE – because with them you have limitless potential to grow.

Build a business for the PLANET – because with it you have unlimited resources to develop

Build a business for PROFIT – because you’ll need it to take care of your people, your planet and yourself.

Build a business with PASSION – because when you’ve taken one too many falls and tumbles, it will keep you going.

“And that’s the bottomline! Because Stone Cold says so!”\

or as another bald guy says… “That’s the Bottomline!”

Reflections of A Social Entrepreneur: Conyo Problems

“Is my BMW worth much more than the lives of countless Filipinos?” – Dylan Wilk (Founder of Human Nature)

This time last year, I just purchased a new cellphone and a new camera (I’m not rich enough to buy BMW’s). That was pretty much how my life revolved for the first 23 years of my life. I had conyo problems.

My dreams revolved around the acquisition of commodities such as cellphones, laptops, cars and the accumulation of money by the most “logical” career path possible – Corporate Managerial work.

Within a year after graduation (March 2010 to March 2011), I changed laptops twice, phones at least 5 times, had 3 cameras, a number of shoes and jackets and some amount of money in the bank.

While my pockets filled, my heart emptied. I thought I’d be happy with the purchase of a Blackberry – only to find myself wanting a new model a few weeks later. It just didn’t feel right.

It took a trip to the fields of Bulacan (upon which the GK Enchanted Farm rose from the sand and stone) and a conversation with the founder of Gawad Kalinga – Mr. Tony Meloto for my bubble to burst and my ivory tower come crashing down.

I realized that I was nothing more than just a spoiled brat, used to getting everything I wanted, made even more competent at accumulating things because of the education and training I received.

So for a year, I decided to leave the corporate world and start a business of my own – one that operates closer to the people who have long been shunned by society but are starting to get back up on their feet.

Let me tell you that it was the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to experience. My pockets and bank accounts were emptied, my phones and laptops downgraded. BUT I’VE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER.

Now that business is starting to really pick up, only God will know how happy and fulfilled I’ll be.

The “real world” which our parents and universities speak of cannot be found in the office cubicles nor behind the gates of the biggest homes and subdivisions. The real world is out here with the lost and forgotten people who only need the opportunity to rise up from the slums.

I’ve had 24 years of conyo problems, my 25th year and every year that comes hereafter will be dedicated to helping solve problems of those who have less. The task is daunting but I know that I have the best people beside me and a Higher Being to guide me.

If only we were more SOCIAL than SOSYAL, then our country would be in a much better condition. Someday, I am hopeful that it will be “SOSYAL to be SOCIAL.”

🙂

Reflections of A Social Entrepreneur: The Start

March 5, 2012 1 comment

It took a year for me to fully comprehend what I was doing. It took hours of developing camps for students and participants and hours of meetings and trips to the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan to give me the confidence to tell people that I’m running a training and development business I started with my friends.

It took one camp – with my being a participant instead of a Facilitator – for me to gain the confidence and pride in what I am doing as a SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR.

Inasmuch as I know that I have barely scratched the surface of what we are about to embark on, barely able to grasp the immensity of the vision and dream of ending poverty, I feel that last weekend, I reached my own tipping point – that singular step from which there can be no stopping me nor my team anymore.

My blog hiatus came from the apparent confusion that I went through the past couple of months with regard to finding out my own true purpose and vision for myself. I didn’t want to blog needless things just for the sake of blogging – I wanted to write with purpose just in the same way that I want to live with one.

My purpose in writing is clear and simple: To Promote and Educate – To promote what we are doing and at the same time educate the people who have misinformed notions and thoughts about Social Entrepreneurship.

Only when we understand what brought us here in the first place; only when we realize that our gifts and talents were set for things beyond profit and wealth and only when we find value in the people that our country has long forgotten and neglected will we be able to truly make a difference.

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