You guys are in the unique position of not only being young people but also young bosses. In your opinion, what makes a good boss, a good leader?
Aloy: What makes a good boss would be a willingness to humble yourself and really put everyone and everything else before you. So being a boss is like being a parent, and these are your kids, and if you really, genuinely love your kids, you’ll do anything for them. You’ll put their interests ahead of your own. Siyempre along with that comes discipline, self-control. And third is having a vision. So you know where you wanna bring these people. A captain cannot be a captain if they don’t have a destination in mind.
Janine: I think when you run a company, or when you deal with a lot of people, to be a good boss, you have to hear from them first. Like, what do you value, what do you want out of this? As you run the company, you already have an idea about what the goals of the people you work with are. And also I guess to be a good boss, you have to learn to accept that you can’t do everything. There are people better than you, and it’s actually good to have people better than you in your company, because they keep you grounded.
“Everyone should understand what that is and everyone should be committed in achieving that vision. Everyone should be in one place, or should move together, towards that particular vision.”
Ruel: In my team, well right now, I’m the youngest. I’m handling about ten people. it’s actually challenging kasi it’s a constant proving yourself, that you should be the one leading this organization. But anyway, there are three qualities that I believe are very crucial. One is a clear vision. Everyone should understand what that is and everyone should be committed in achieving that vision. Everyone should be in one place, or should move together, towards that particular vision. Then the next one is being an example. In everything that you want them to be, you should be like that. Values that you want your company or your employees to embody, you should have it. The third one is committing with your word. So once you say something to your employee, make sure that you do it. Once you say something to any of your stakeholders, make sure you do it.
Erika: Super same. One two three. Really, it’s like an echo in my head. I guess I’d just like to add the fourth would be finding a balance… kasi since we’re running social enterprises, we really put a big value on people. So a lot of my committee partners are actually younger than me. And I don’t let them call me as a boss. May gap. I don’t like having the gap. I like it more informal.
What do you wish you knew about the working world before you entered it?
Janine: At the start, you’ll get really excited about the prestige. I remember, our first ever opportunity to get interviewed, that was for Shop Talk in ANC, I was so excited. You’re really after, “Wow, you made it,” but it’s not really that. You’ll always say things on TV, on paper, but at the end of the day are you really being genuine about the growth of your company? Something I wish I knew I guess is, to be better equipped in really running a business. It’s easy to dive into it but to sustain it is more of the challenge.
Aloy: Ako two things lang. The first is not that business related but… as I said earlier, I left college with zero savings, which really stunted my being able to grow my business career. I wish I had been more financially literate before I graduated. Financial literacy is important in everything. Second thing siguro, the importance of marketing and brand perception, with the public.
Erika: I did not know how to handle my salary. Before I started my social enterprise, there are so many regrets on my end because I ended up using a huge chunk of my savings, just to “destress.” I would just randomly splurge on a spa trip or shopping spree, spend 12,000 pesos in just one store.
Everyone: [audible gasp]
Erika: And go on like, various trips all over the Philippines and even abroad just to destress myself. So doon napunta yung pera ko. I had really few savings, sabi ko “Sayang, ano bang ginawa ko sa buhay ko?”
Erika: There’s no guideline naman kasi, if you’re a yuppie. Fresh out of college, you were just saving your allowances. So by the time you start receiving a huge amount of money, okay, what to do with it? You don’t know. Where do you invest it? Do you buy a condominium? And then eventually rent it out? Not sure. I guess before graduation, that would’ve been great, to have been equipped with the life skills in terms of financial literacy. I wish I could’ve learned how to deal with government bureaucracy.
Everyone: [audible sigh]
Aloy: The worst.
“Find something to be passionate, find something that bothers you and do something about it.”
Erika: It’s very different talaga in the Philippines compared to other countries. In other countries, it’s like a one stop shop and then you pay for everything. All the permits in one go. Or maybe taxes, one office lang. So yun lang, yung hope ko until now. Sana there’s gonna be an ease in terms of how do you all of these things small processes that ends up taking a lot of your time.
Everyone: And money.
Aloy: And energies and emotions.
Ruel: And queuing time, and parking spaces.
Ruel: I would agree on everything on government. For me, I think something that I [wish I] would have known before I started a business is the concept of birth pains. Sinasabi nila lagi na during your first year, it’s the hardest time. ‘Cause it’s the time for setting things up. But for me, every time you do something new in your business, expect that it won’t perfect. Expect that there will be a lot of challenges before that particular concept you have in mind to be achieved. For me, it’s that setting expectations sa feeling. Things will be bad at first. Expect it.
What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?
Ruel: You need people to help you along the way to build whatever vision you have. Having a set of mentors in place or good peers who could assist you and guide you along the way would accelerate the process of learning. The next one is, be courageous. It can be overwhelming. Pero once you overcome one challenge, pag na-meet mo yung next challenge, you can just look back.
Erika: I guess be very clear with why you want to put up a social enterprise. At the end of the day, if you basically just want to earn, and then PR mo lang yung social enterprise, I don’t think it’s gonna work, and you won’t last in this field. The life of an entrepreneur is up and down. If you feel like you’re at the pit, but if you have a clear answer to why you started in the first place, it’s gonna catapult you.
Aloy: Surround yourself with a good team who can really count on and trust, and vice versa. And surround yourself with like-minded people who you can turn to for mentorship, for insights, for fellowship.
Janine: Find something that bothers you. Find something that irritates you where you are, and then find a solution for it in the business you put up. It has to start with something that will convict. As a volunteer helping children in urban poor communities — that was my org back in college — I got bothered by the environment they were in. That’s why I made it my goal that eventually if I have my business, I’ll do something regarding poverty. It’s about that. Find something to be passionate, find something that bothers you and do something about it.