Thursday, February 23, 2006

Innovation, candor and leadership

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, February 23, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovation, candor and leadership

One important enabler of Innovation and candor is leadership.

I am happy to find this book, Wisdom of a Young CEO, at Book Sale, written two years ago by 17-year-old Douglas Barry who aspires to be a chief executive officer of a major corporation. As he set started his journey toward his enormous goal, he sought the advice of men and women who have reached the peak of the corporate mountain. He sent letters to top executives of more than 150 major corporations, asking them the basic question: What does it take to become a CEO?

Barry said the respondents are those whose names we read about in newspapers every day and were themselves just kids once with big dreams. “Most of them were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. All of them faced great adversity and achieved even greater accomplishments in their own unique ways.” And here are some lessons he learned from today’s titans of industry.

“I always had the impression that ‘the boss’ was someone to be respected and feared, because if you get ‘the boss’ upset, you’ll lose your job.

“Respect, I believed, was mostly reserved for and given to the person in charge. I also thought respect in the workplace was a one-way street, with all of it going in the boss’s direction and none coming back toward the employees. But I have learned through these letters that, to get people motivated to reach for individual goals and to share in an overall vision, the leader has to respect others to receive it back from them. Only by being conscious of employees’ needs and challenges, and serving them, will the leader in turn earn their people’s respect.

“Also, as these letters echo again and again, it’s clear that it is the average workers and not the higher-up executives that make an organization prosper or fail. The leader who does not recognize this fact is in for a tough time.

“Mr. Jack Greenberg offered an interesting spin on the leadership position that resonated with me. He used an interesting metaphor to explain how a leader’s visible accomplishments are only possible with the behind-the-scenes support of his or her team. And he made it clear that these ‘invisible’ team heroics can only be expected when the leader is well respected. As successful CEO’s will tell you, a well-respected leader becomes such in only one way; by earning it. In other words, if you respect and treat people as individuals and get them to respect you, they will do amazing things for you, and for themselves.”

The problem with some leaders is that they consider all contrary opinions as an attack to their person and an insult to their position. They command, without giving, respect.

Well, such leaders will never learn and will never benefit from the fruits of the diverse talents, temperaments, persuasions, inclinations, preferences, methods, background and dreams of their peers and subordinates. They will always be busy answering perceived “accusations” and campaigning for sympathies.

Congratulations to the new officers of the Philippine Society of Fellows in Personnel Management: President Barbie Atienza, Secretary Lulu Fernando, Treasurer Danny Pancho, PRO EG Ong and IPP Lucy Tarriela. I am vice president.

PSOF is the association of accredited personnel and human resource management practitioners and whose level of professional competence are certified by the accreditation council and recognized through professional titles FPM and DPM.

The Board of Accreditation is led by Chairman Met Ganuelas and Vice Chair Lourdes Orosa, with members Oscar Contreras, Ernesto Espinosa, Salvacion Estrada, Ramon Medina, Virginia Mendoza, Luz Co-Lagitao and Rogelio Flor Tarriela. In 25 years, PSOF has recognized about 140 Fellows. All HR practitioners are enjoined to apply for accreditation and recognition.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. Her e-mail addy is

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Teachers can make or break our future

Business Times B3
Thursday, February 16, 2006

For new readers of this column, we conduct an Accelerated Learning Workshop for public elementary and high-school teachers gratis et amore—free registration, books, meals and snacks, materials and supplies. We are on our third workshop and a very exciting one at that.

From our accounts of the first two days, we gathered a lot of reactions and here’s one from Dr. Cid Terosa: “I read your article on the workshop for teachers, and I must say that the behavior of the public-school teachers shocked me. I think teachers should be the most eager to learn; they should be paragons of learning, respect and discipline.”

So we continue with Days 3 and 4: 92 out of 108 teachers came back on Day 3 and a few more on Day 4 with a promise to make up in other workshops of their unattended days.

The teachers realized that attending the program is for their own good. They are in a blessed position to help children build a good foundation for a better tomorrow. They are in an enviable position of forming a formidable value system that makes for a better person, a loving member of a family, a contributing member of society and an upright peace-loving, patriotic citizen. They are in an influential position to guide the attitudes of the young and recast a positive worldview. They are key players in stimulating the keen interest of youngsters in lifelong learning, improvement and growth. They are in a critical position of developing leaders who will eventually run our government, academe, business and society, in general. They are in a desirable position of demonstrating that caring for others builds self and others’ esteem. They are in a fortunate position to promote the worth of diversity, innovation, creativity and candor. They are in a significant position of helping our youth create their future and equip them with the necessary competencies to carry on their plans towards a dream, transcend their humble beginning and the status quo. Teachers are in a vantage position to show children a world of possibilities.

Teachers are held by students in awe; they are placed in a pedestal of honor. Their every move and word is revered and imitated and held sacred. Unfortunately, some teachers choose to pursue a political agenda instead.

Well, all’s well that ends well. One volunteer trainer said: “Why don’t you have your program accredited by the Department of Education, so that teachers will be compelled to attend without complaints.” But my principle is that I want teachers to attend on their own volition. We have a relevant, useful, well-designed and fantastically delivered program with substantial content, handbook and materials; we couldn’t lose. We need teachers to attend the program because they want to improve their competency and not because they are gearing up for promotion or citations. So far, some 300 teachers have attended faithfully, participated actively and fulfilled the requirements of the program.

We want to keep everything at that and keep volunteerism alive. If teachers will not help themselves, who will help them? Our topnotch trainers (Egay Franco, Mau Alcazar, Butch Nayona, Mar Cuevas, Jenny Javier, Gods Lanuza, Rio Ordillano, Shirley Hombrebueno, Rene Mayol, Nikko Bantayan, Robin Rubina, Ces Munoz, Marge Lamberte and others. We need more volunteer trainers, please.) teach from the bottom of their heart (read, no fee). Our friends (Bert Tato and Roger Recoco,) give their heart, time, effort and pocket for our teachers. UPS Foundation and kind-hearted Samaritans who voluntarily sponsor teachers at P2,500 each (E.g. Daisy and Cocoy Alvior).

Or maybe we should start charging them registration fee.

With great teachers, our business world will be assured of well-educated, positive minded, creative and innovative, passionate about excellence and other-centric business partners in the future who would not be working solely for personal citations, honor and glory, but for the good of others.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. She awaits your feedback at

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Teachers need to learn, too

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, February 09, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Teachers need to learn, too

THIS is a continuation of what happened to the 4-day Accelerated Learning Workshop D3780 Rotarians are doing for public elementary and high-school teachers. Registration, books, meals, snacks and all materials are free; teachers need only to voluntarily attend, participate and learn.

Day 2. Again as early as 7 a.m., facilitators and Rotarians were already at the venue. Again, classes started only at 9:30 a.m. Several teachers mumbled in Tagalog, “We are already attending, you are still requiring us to come on time and participate.” “We will come here at the time we want.” “It is a Saturday and we should be with our family.”

Our facilitator started with an activity to group the teachers. Some blatantly violated instructions. They refused to budge from where they sat with their “group.” They refused to mix and were making many snide remarks about everything. After a while, a few groups started to present their group report written on Manila paper. Then one teacher stood up and grabbed the mike, “I just arrived. I don’t need to write down my thoughts. I will just tell you.” Her discourse was off-tangent.

The facilitator, summoning all patience, finished the morning session. In the afternoon, we tried to do an energizer. Half of the class refused to go to the designated place and heckled those who participated. Again, we had an activity to form new groups for them to get acquainted and work with other teachers and hear other points of view. Again, some mocked instructions.

I asked those who do not want to practice proper behavior to leave. About five teachers left.

One teacher stood up and angrily shouted on the mike: “We are already being pressured at work; we are being pressured here, too! Another teacher kept shouting, “I am the teacher here and I will say what I want to say! I will sit where I want to sit! I will talk when I want to talk!” I was told that one male teacher was about to approach me to physically express his anger, but was held by fellow teachers.

These prompted several comments from my fellow Rotarians and trainors: “These teachers lack self-discipline and good manners.” “Why are they heckling their fellow teachers?” “Can you imagine these teachers back in their school and classroom?” “Why are they bringing their political issues to this workshop?” “What is so insulting about reminding them about their attendance and punctuality?” “What is so demeaning with doing these learning activities?” “I am not a morning person, but as a Rotarian I am here as early as 7 a.m.; I contribute my own [and my family’s] money for this project; I am here instead of being with my own family; I contribute a lot of time and effort before and during this workshop preparing materials, coordinating schedules, etc. What are these teachers complaining about?” “I give my services as a facilitator for free. What kind of teachers are they?”

I read to the teachers the commitments they set at the start of the workshop: Maximum participation. Cooperation and support. Time. Effort. Knowledge. Experiences. Presence. Initiative. Willingness.

They continue to be defiant and verbally abusive. I dismissed the class. Some left while many others lingered. Those who left heckled and even forcibly dragged the others to also leave. They sent text messages prompting others to get out.

One principal-participant appealed to those who want to stay to stay and learn. She implored us to continue with the workshop for about 40 (out of 108) remaining teachers.

We reminded them about their commitments and continued with the workshop. We had a wonderful afternoon of sharing and learning among teachers who are genuinely interested in their own development. The class environment was clear of toxic attitude and political agenda.

We told them to tell those who were forced to leave that they are welcome back with no questions asked.

Day 3. Fifty-two teachers came back. We now have 92 participants out of 108. Tell you more next Thursday.

PERSONAL: Happy birthday to my mom, Nanay Ning, on her 80th birthday today!

Moje is president of the Rotary Club of Quezon City North, the major sponsor of the Accelerated Learning Workshop for Teachers. Her -email addy is

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Helping teachers learn

Business Times p.B2
Thursday, February 2, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Helping teachers learn

SO far, some 200 public elementary-school teachers have passed the requirements of and participated actively in our Accelerated Learning Workshop for Teachers. This four-day workshop (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), facilitated by topnotch trainers, is offered free of charge. Teachers are given books, materials, meals and snacks. One company offers the same course for P17,000 per pax. Rotarians are also there to inspire and show they care.

We choose to focus on teachers because children spend more “time” with their teachers (and classmates) than any other persons in their lives, outside their homes. Teachers are the ones from whom they learn how to read, write, add, subtract, multiply and divide. Teachers share their values with their students explicitly by telling and implicitly by their actions and demeanor.

Therefore, teachers play a very vital role in preparing our youth for leadership of our business, academe, government and others.

Now let me tell you about what happened to our recent workshop:

Day 1. RC Diliman president Bert Tato was at the printing shop at 6a.m. to pick up the books. At 7 and before 8, all facilitators and Rotarians were present and eager to do the workshop. The teachers started to trickle in. As they come, they completed the registration, made chicka-chika and got their books and materials (notebook, pen, pencil, sharpener, eraser, crayons, whistle). We finally started the class at 9:30a.m.

The teachers set their expectations of the workshop and their commitment to make the workshop successful. There was working morning break. The facilitator almost forgot about lunch because the class was so engaged in the topics. At 5:10 p.m. nobody seemed to mind the time, everybody was rooted to their chairs, no one dared to blink. We covered a lot of grounds, undertook many big and small group discussions, did some exercises and had a good laugh every now and then.

Some teachers gave us appreciative pats in the back every now and then. They said they are learning.

There were a few kinks. Some had to wait for their lunch because the number of participants was not immediately anticipated by the canteen. One teacher, red in the face and with eyes burning, rose at one point to ask the question, “Are you blaming us for what’s happening to children nowadays?” This was after the facilitator said something like “teachers are responsible for the students. That is why children nowadays have become what they are.” One Rotarian commented, “Our teachers don’t seem to know how to discuss their issues and ask questions. Why does he seem so defensive? Why is he so angry”

Another teacher passionately raised some of their issues against the Department of Education. The facilitator said they have no answer to the question because, they are Rotarians and not from the DepEd and that the only thing they could do is to help the teachers write a letter to let the DepEd know about their concerns.

One or two teachers brought their children with them who merrily roamed around the training room, poked at the training equipment and materials and scooped the candies meant to provide adrenaline boost to the teachers in the early afternoon sessions. Ni hindi man lang sinaway.

Day 2. The workshop was prematurely terminated. Many left, some implored the Rota­rians to continue. We’ll tell you more about this next Thursday.

Meanwhile, congratulations to RC Cubao, led by president Rick Palanca, for conducting a Math and Science quiz bee for high-school students in QC Region 2. We do have very math and science savvy students. Thanks to their teachers who coached and inspired them. Likewise for RC Roosevelt with president Rennee Isidro.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and RC Quezon City North. Her e-mail address is at