Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prep yourself to succeed


Business Times, p.B1

Saturday, November 29, 2008



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Prep yourself to succeed


This question could be answered two-ways. How does a person work towards his or her own success? How do others, especially a parent or a corporate leader, help their child or subordinate succeed?


Let's concentrate on the first answer. If talent and brain-food pills will not guarantee success, what could you do to become successful? Let's consider these best practices by successful people studied by Fortune Magazine senior editor at large Geoff Colvin.


• "The great performers isolate remarkably specific aspects of what they do and focus on just those things until they're improved; then it's on to the next aspect. Instead of doing what we're good at, we insistently seek out what we're not good at." Practice and practice deliberately. Do not just practice as in increasingly repeat what have always been doing. Remember what Albert Einstein once said that doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is insanity. Deliberate practice means continually setting higher standards from your current abilities and practicing them. When you think you are doing a good job, it is time for you to do something else. For example, when practicing, Tiger Woods would create certain difficult situations and practice overcoming them; he has been seen to drop golf balls into a sand trap and step on them, then practice shots from that near-impossible lie.


• "Repeating a specific activity over and over is what people usually mean by practice, yet it isn't especially effective. Two points distinguish deliberate practice from what most of us actually do. One is the choice of a properly demanding activity just beyond our current abilities. The other is the amount of repetition." Practice, practice, practice. When you are able to do 10, then go for 20 until you could do that activity with your eyes closed.


• Welcome feedback and don't shoot the messenger. "You may believe you played that bar of the Brahms violin concerto perfectly, but can you really trust your own judgment? In many important situations, a teacher, coach, or mentor is vital for providing crucial feedback." It is okay to look at the mirror, and judge our own reflection. However, there are aspects of ourselves that we don't see readily—our blind spot—and we could benefit from another person's point of view and standard of quality. For example, you can't tell if you have bad breath, others easily could.


• "Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it "deliberate," as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting of tennis balls that most people engage in. Practice with your fingers and you need all day. Practice with your mind and you will do as much in one and a half hours." If you want to succeed, treat everything that you do as a mental activity, not just physical. Tiger Woods don't just hit that ball, he thinks long and hard before he swings his club. He learns, acquires and practices new knowledge, skills and attitudes.


• "If the activities that lead to greatness were easy and fun, then everyone would do them and no one could distinguish the best from the rest. The reality that deliberate practice is hard can even be seen as good news. It means that most people won't do it. So your willingness to do it will distinguish you all the more." Success is hard work requiring mental preparedness, intellectual commitment, strategic focus, deep concentration, physical exertion, emotional involvement, long hours and continuous raising of the bar, among others. Working towards success is not for the weak and faint-hearted. If you are starting to enjoy your current job, it is time to move on to the next level.


• "In the research, the poorest performers don't set goals at all; they just slog through their work. Mediocre performers set goals that are general and are often focused on simply achieving a good outcome—win the order; get the new project proposal done. The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but rather about the process of reaching the outcome." And after setting your goal, the next steps are action planning and doing your plans. "Again, the best performers make the most specific, technique-oriented plans. They're thinking exactly, not vaguely, of how to get where they're going."



Saturday, November 22, 2008

TAlent is no guarantee for success


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, November 22, 2008



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Talent is no guarantee for success


Let us continue with our discussion of success, talent aside.


First, author Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers: Secret of Success, Tipping Point & Blink) wrote: "What separates the legendary CEO from the chronically dissatisfied cubicle dweller? It's not innate talent. Instead of thinking about talent as something that you acquire, talent should be thought of as something that you develop. Procter&Gamble is a great example of a company that does that and has prospered as a result. Look around Wall Street, or what's left of it today and you'll see lots and lots and lots of people from Goldman Sachs. That's not a coincidence. It's because they took their mission to invest in people seriously."


And I say, it is definitely not vitamin and mineral supplements. Ang matalinong bata ay hindi siguradong magtatagumpay.


In the article, "Why Talent is Overrated," senior editor at large Geoff Colvin writes: "It is mid-1978, and we are inside the giant Procter&-Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, looking into a cubicle shared by a pair of 22-year-old men, fresh out of college. Their assignment is to sell Duncan Hines brownie mix, but they spend a lot of their time just rewriting memos. They are clearly smart—one has just graduated from Harvard, the other from Dart-mouth—but that doesn't distinguish them from a slew of other new hires at P&G.


"What does distinguish them from many of the young go-getters the company takes on each year is that neither man is particularly filled with ambition. Neither has any kind of career plan. Every afternoon they play waste-bin basketball with wadded-up memos. One of them later recalls, "We were voted the two guys probably least likely to succeed."


"These two young men are of interest to us now for only one reason: They are Jeffrey Immelt and Steven Ballmer, who before age 50 would become CEOs of two of the world's most valuable corporations, General Electric and Microsoft. Contrary to what any reasonable person would have expected when they were new recruits, they reached the apex of corporate achievement.


"The obvious question is how. Was it talent? If so, it was a strange kind of talent that hadn't revealed itself in the first 22 years of their lives. Brains? The two were sharp but had shown no evidence of being sharper than thousands of classmates or colleagues. Was it mountains of hard work? Certainly not up to that point. And yet something carried them to the heights of the business world.


"A number of researchers now argue that talent means nothing like what we think it means, if indeed it means anything at all. A few contend that the very existence of talent is not, as they carefully put it, supported by evidence. In studies of accomplished individuals, researchers have found few signs of precocious achievement before the individuals started intensive training. Similar findings have turned up in studies of musicians, tennis players, artists, swimmers, mathematicians and others.


Such findings do not prove that talent doesn't exist. But they do suggest an intriguing possibility: that if it does, it may be irrelevant.


"The concept of specific talents is especially troublesome in business. We all tend to assume that business giants must possess some special gift for what they do, but the evidence turns out to be extremely elusive. In fact, the overwhelming impression that comes from examining the lives of business greats is just the opposite - that they didn't seem to give any early indication of what they would become.


"Jack Welch, named by Fortune as the 20th century's manager of the century, showed no particular inclination toward business, even into his mid-20s. With a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, approaching the real world at age 25, he still wasn't sure of his direction and interviewed for faculty jobs at Syracuse and West Virginia universities. He finally decided to accept an offer to work in a chemical development operation at General Electric.


"Bill Gates, the world's richest human, is a more promising candidate for those who want to explain success through talent. He became fascinated by computers as a kid and says he wrote his first piece of software at age 13; it was a program that played ticktacktoe. The problem is that nothing in his story suggests extraordinary abilities."


For leaders, at home and at work, the implication is that people need not be smart, they need trust, guidance and support every step of the way, and lots of opportunities.,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's NEVER the time for splurging


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, November 8, 2008



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

It's never that time for splurging


Christmas, birthdays, fiestas or any such occasions somehow gives us the permission to splurge, even to finish what we have been saving for the past many months for the "excuse" of celebrating. This is not only true for the moneyed but more so for the less fortunate who even incur debt just to celebrate.


 On the front pages of The Manila Times we read that next year will usher in harsh times for us as a result of the current world financial fallout. Even now, all around us there is hunger (we are the fifth hungriest country in the whole world).


 There is nothing wrong with celebrating of Christmas. In fact, I urge you to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas, which is unconditional giving, every day and not just in December. The important thing to remember is not to overdo, overindulge, gorge ourselves with anything and everything. Here are some suggestions from Johan Tell from his book, In his book, 100 Ways to Save the World (Gold Street Press, 2008). Local examples are mine.


• Use less. Using more make-up for example doesn't make you more beautiful; you might even look old and tired. Using more perfume will make you smell awful. Using more detergent and water will not make your laundry whiter and cleaner. When you cook for the holidays, don't prepare too much you have to throw food away or let it grow mold in the back of your ref or eat reheated food again and again. Instead, serve a smaller meal, eat more fruits and veggies and be healthier. Christ was born in a manger, remember?


• Buy quality. Shop for fewer, better quality products that will last longer. A good pair of shoes should last 10 years, a car twenty, a piece of furniture two—generations that is.


• Take the train. Rail travel is faster, cheaper and is an environmental winner over cars.


• I wish I could easily say, "Switch electric companies." Meralco thinks our community needs Christmas lights. Our electric supply goes on and off, on and off, on and off in a matter of seconds every now and then. My trusty ref and dryer have succumbed.


• Eat from the sea. You don't know where the feeds for the chicken, pigs and cows are coming from. If they are from China , they might have melamine. But remember that salmon, blue marlin and those big fish are not from our seas, they might have been caught far from the shore, frozen at sea, shipped to the USA, Canada or China, thawed, processed, re-frozen, then shipped here.


• Recycle. Use used. Do you really need to buy new shoes, dress, whatever just because it is Christmas? Will the church not allow you to enter because you are wearing old togs? Ask for refillable containers whenever you shop. Bring your own reusable bags.

• Protect your children. Remember that cloth diapers are still best for your baby, for the environment and for your budget. A recent study of personal care found that children are exposed to an average of 61 different chemical ingredients every day.


• Be anti-antibacterial. Not all bacteria are bad. We've always lived with bacterial all around us, and our immune system needs to be stimulated by some exposure to bacteria in order to be healthy enough to defend against those really aggressive ones that might make us sick. If you're not performing surgery, good old fashioned hygiene and simple soaps do just fine. When the label brags that a product kills 99.9 percent of bacteria, think about that .1 percent. They survive and reproduce, and they're turning into resistant strains that are causing new environmental hazards.


• Plan your shopping. O, di ba?


• Support responsible companies. Buy from companies who are good corporate citizens, they go beyond a compliance orientation—they pay taxes, they observe safety, environmental and other regulatory processes, they use "green" technology, they treat and pay their employees well, they help their communities and others.


• Change your hairstyle. A test of 38 different gels, sprays, dyes and mousse uncovered a lot of bad news for health and the environment.


• Change your grooming products. If you find a cream with 27 different chemicals that you can't pronounce, chances are some of them will be things that you and the environment can do without.


• Fix it. Try to see the virtue in making old things work instead of constantly buying new ones.,

Tech savvy Chinese entrepreneurs


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, October 18, 2008



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Tech savvy Chinese entrepreneurs


The world's leading economies are banging their head brainstorming for the best band-aids to their financial meltdown woes, unmindful of children still falling ill or even dying of contaminated food from China.


Never mind the melamine, formalin and who knows what other substances that seem to be staple ingredients in China-made products, oblivious of the hazards they bring to those who use them.


This financial problem is manmade, courtesy of greed, mismanagement, bad governance and speculations. News have it that the AIG top brass went on a $400,000 ($23,000 spent on spa services) out-of-town pow-wow immediately after they got wind of the $200-billion bailout they're getting from the government.


Yet, leading government managers, economists and financial experts seem hopeless not knowing the four Ws and one H of their problem and, therefore, unable to come up with the right solution. What about using their five senses or the Kepner-Tregoe Problem Solving Technique or the Blue Ocean Strategy?


While they are at it, China is quietly forging ahead and seemingly winning the tech race.


Author Rebecca Fannin (Silicon Dragon, McGraw-Hill, 2008) sat down with 12 top Chinese whiz kids and their investors and came up with a list of successful copycat enterprises, venture capitalists and innovators to watch.


She discovered that China has the world's largest number of mobile phone users (500 million), three times as many engineering students as the United States, a dozen billion-dollar tech firms then the USA and the fastest-growing venture capital market in the world. She realized that these new breed of entrepreneurs are leading China through a second Industrial Revolution using Google and Yahoo! as models of their techno-based companies.


Financial journalist Fannin identified these hot up-and-comers as: Baidu, China's boldest Internet startup. In a remarkable feat of reverse engineering and sheer chutzpah, the Chinese-born and westernized entrepreneur Robin Li took what he learned in Silicon Valley to beat Google in China by inventing a superior search engine in Mandarin.

Less than a decade later, he became a multimillionaire and tech superstar in China.


Alibaba, the wizardry of Jack Ma. Not even Harry Potter's author could come up with a tale as magical as Jack Ma's. He rose from the ashes of the Cultural Revolution to head China's best known Web business and created a template for running an American brand offshore. This is the story of a hometown boy who beat the global champions Yahoo! and eBay, with some accusations of dirty tricks mixed in along the way. Ma's biggest milestone came in 2007, when Alibaba went public., the Amazon-plus of China. Peggy Yuyu, a cofounder of the Chinese online bookseller, has shown how to copy and then outsmart in China. She's also created the largest Chinese online retailer. In the process, she's revolutionized the Chinese book market and probably is headed for an initial public offering., cruisin' with style. Car ownership in China is still exceedingly rare, but the dream is becoming a reality. China is destined to become the world's largest car market, with some 15 million newly middle-class Chinese poised to buy their first vehicles in the next three years.


Enter John Zhang, who has modernized the all-American AAA brand down to its name: Chinacars Club (CCC). Next, Zhang has his eye on the Nasdaq listing.


Oak Pacific Interactive, Web 2.0 on steroids. Imagine MySpace, FAcebook and Craigslist rolled into one company. That's China's Oak Pacific Interactive. Now imagine Rupert Murdoch and his wife, Wendi Deng, making a run for your business with MySpace China. That's the card Joe Chen is playing at his social networking consortium with a public listing in the offing., growing pains. China has an estimated 34 million bloggers, more than one-third of the world's total. Thanks to the free speech crusader Fang Xingdong, who coined the Chinese term for blogging and set up that nation's first blog-hosting service. But censorship, regulatory crackdown, poor management, and the lack of a clear business model are only the beginning of troubles for this fascinating startup.


We'll share with you the other exciting companies next column.



Friday, October 31, 2008

Personal branding for success

Learning & Innovation – November 1, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


Personal branding for success


On the furor over the $150,000 campaign wardrobe of US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, focus is on the disconnect between what Palin says who she is and what she does or wears.


And this brings us to the topic of brands.  Bo Seifert, CEO of Herrmann Scandinavia Ltd. informs:  Branding as means of communication has survived the last 5 millenniums. In 4000 BC stone cutters were already carving their own 'trade-marks' into

Egyptian temples and buildings. This served two purposes:  1) To establish and give credit to the craftsmen and also as "advertisements" for future work. And 2) To establish a type of guarantee.


If something happened to the building the persons responsible could be brought to justice, which in those days could mean death and therefore had an influence on the overall quality.  Your name also established you as a Brand, and it is only in the last 500 years that behaviour and preference has become more important than an individual's

name. Consequently, Mr. Andersson was the Son of Anders, and names often

described a person's trade, such as "Goldsmith" or "Taylor".  Today we consume Brands, drive branded cars, eat at branded restaurants, shop at branded stores, pay with branded credit cards and drink branded beer. In short we live Branded Lives.


Nowadays if your brand carries the label "Made in China," I doubt if you could sell anything, especially food items.


Now I know this beautiful, hardworking lady who could help you develop your personal brand.  If you want to look, say professional, you need to look, smell, taste, feel, sound professional.  Miselle Peñalosa-Bergonia trained in Hongkong at Image Work Asia with London Image Institute and heads her Icon Image Consulting (Tel 0918-9075383 or 02-7433691 or email


She used to be Business Development Manager of Shangri-la Hotels & Resorts where she proved that first impression and client relations spell the difference between success and mediocrity.


She says, "When you project good first impression, you are conceived to be credible and you can easily service client needs.  Also, Shangri-la is a brand that I needed, as an employee then, to authentically represent."


So now, Misel is helping professionals imbibe the image of their organizations or family; align their personal preferences to the image of their organization and create their unique brand while they carry their organization's brand.


Misel does this through customizing workshops on sense of self, proper grooming, power dressing, non-verbal communications, effective use of color and texture, personal hygiene and skin care, business etiquette, presentation skills to help develop personal style and represent the brand values of their organization or family.


"Your self image is a projection of what you will become in the future; it is an audition for your future career.  If you look lousy, your work is expected to be also lousy.  Conversely, if you look smart, your work is perceived to be well done.


More tips from Miselle:  You can make an ordinary shift dress look powerful by topping it with a trendy blazer.  Always come to work like you are meeting your boss for the first time.  In terms of color, if you are feeling gloomy, use bright colors and if you want to project intelligence, power and leadership, choose deeper and muted colors, like navy blue, blue-gray, maroon or burgundy.  Beiges are neutral and luckluster and must be perked up with occasion-relevant accessories.  Personal style doesn't mean that you should be following the trends of fashion, but it is finding pieces that you are most comfortable with and accessories that will add a statement to your outfit and reflect your personal values and personality.  What looks good on other people would not necessarily look good on you.  Always try on clothes, shoes, accessories before buying.  When you find your personal style, be consistent so this becomes your signature look and you would be remembered long after for this look.  However, every year try to update so that you don't become outdated and stuck to a certain era.,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Screen out potential "white collar" felons

Learning & Innovation – October 11, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


Screen out potential "white collar" felons


I believe that the recent cases of governments' bailout of the financial fallout in their country will not solve their problems.  But it could buy them time to come up with long-term solutions while taking care of their short-term needs and, hence, will refocus the minds of their constituents, investors and others into a problem-solving mode rather than a fault-finding one.  They need to be determined in their mission to rid their business sector of felons and, in the long run, develop real leaders to run their business, government, educational and spiritual institutions.


I also believe that decision-makers—government leaders and regulators, lawmakers, business board of directors, executive councils, management committees, individual executives and managers, and others—who  made all those horrendous speculative  decisions should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Or they will serve as role models for future felons.  They should get at the perpetrators of the blatant transgressions of the values of honesty, integrity and sincerity and the erosion of the very fiber of their humanity if they want a lasting solution. 


All of these government and business leaders started somewhere in the ranks or middle management level until they reached the top.  Likewise, the threat to workplace security comes almost always from within and the offenders seem like "average" persons.  


And that brings me back to the book Crisis Leadership Now by Laurence Barton.  Barton suggests that one place we could start in preventing crisis is at the time of screening and selecting a prospective employee.   He asserts that organizations need to be vigilant and committed to corporate security in all its dimensions, including physical detection of threats to the company's intellectual property,  Some unethical companies are notorious for hiring rogue contractors or employees to steal valuable information on sales leads, production numbers, pending patents, cash flow or others.


From the point of view of a people manager, every new employee is a probable company president.  You can never tell.  Given the inspiration, the opportunity and the proper nurturing any one can successfully climb the corporate ladder.  And they might have that streak of meanness in them from the very start and the "mission" (well thought out and planned) to commit crimes.


So what do we look for in a job applicant?  Barton writes that after you have interviewed a candidate several times and have a sense of how well their personality will mesh with your company's culture, one of the most prudent next steps is ensuring that they are who they say they are—simple identity verification is not sufficient.  He says that if you really want to gain a more complete picture of an individual, validate their true name, verify their credentials—educational background, employment history, etc.—and verify the any record that might hide a checkered financial past.  It is also prudent to verify any history of "white collar" fraud and crimes such as substance abuse, domestic violence, simple assault, child abuse or neglect, DUI and others.


To further secure your workplace from internal menace, Barton advises that you check if the applicant has a genuine physical address or is living in a temporary residence.  It will also help, he says, to check if he had lapses in employment.  The lapse could indicate that the person was caring for an aging parent, but it could also correlate to time spent in a correctional institution.  Ask your clinically trained specialist to observe for warning signs of depression, anger and hostility.


There is a need to push for high standards in the hiring process to screen out potential problem employees.  Smart hiring is a preventative crisis management.  As Barton writes, "worry less about credentials and look at life as a mosaic."  As proven again and again, one employee or one group of employees could easily bring down their entire organization and their country.;

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reacting or proacting to a world in turmoil

Learning & Innovation – October 4, 2008
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Reacting or proacting to a world in turmoil

I am not scaring you, I am making you focus since all these things have happened and are still happening. The whole world is reeling from different forms of natural and man-made crises, such as, but not limited to:
• Global economic meltdown?
• Earthquake measuring 8+ on the Richter scale
• Collapse of structurally-deficient buildings?
• Defective or contaminated products
• Bacteria, germs or virus from farm products and produce, e.g. SARS
• Stampede by over-excited crowds
• Massive leak from insensible processes, e.g. Chernobyl nuclear plant
• Damages to food sources
• Domestic and international terrorism
• Street crimes
• Sinking domestic passenger ships and ferries
• Shootings or bombings in crowded places
• Corruption and fraud in government and business
• Theft of credit card data
• Vehicle crash in busy streets
• Road rage
• Injury or death to employees due to engineering/systems defects
• Powerful typhoons, twisters
• Gangs clash
• Fire, flood and tsunami
• Management complicity in business scandals
• Massive heat or cold wave
• Sudden death of leading business or government leaders
• Cancer, AIDS, and other dreaded diseases
• Miners trapped
• Mental and nervous breakdowns
• Counterfeit products
• Currency devaluation
• Extended loss of electricity or water
• Workplace violence
• Employee sabotage
• Rape
• And many others.

Some or all of these have seriously affected our social, family, political, business and spiritual life.

In his book Crisis Leadership Now (McGraw-Hill, 2008), author Laurence Barton advises to keep in mind that most crises are defined by four basic questions. "These are the ones that haunt business leaders after a crisis has rocked their organizations: What did you know? When did you know it? What did you do about it? What are you going to do to ensure that it never happens again?" Barton lists, at least, 50 actual crises that have impacted whole communities of employees, shareholders, neighbors, and the media.

What about you? How do you manage crisis? How do you recognize and interpret the various signals that appear on your radar screen? What did you learn? Firstly, do you have a crisis management plan? A radar screen?

Barton includes a 40-page crisis management plan and suggests ten action steps: Make your enterprise an unattractive target. Revise employee screening processes. Validate business, community and government contacts. Assess business continuity plan. Train and educate your workforce. Equip your workforce. Review leases and contracts for risk exposure. Assess value-chain exposure to supply disruptions, Review insurance policies and conduct cost/benefit analysis. Communicate commitment.

To my happy surprise, Davao seems to be a very safe place to live and do business in. Crime rate is very low, construction is in full swing, the city seem to be active 24/7, there are new and modern facilities and infrastructure to support business, health and wellness, education, social and spiritual life. One negative is that there are not enough (or are there groups hiding them) baggage carts at the airport, but they suddenly appear when you hire a porter. Immediately you form a bad impression as you enter the city. Fortunately I spent enough time in Davao to appreciate the place and its people better. Thanks to my hosts, Ruth and Jojo Agullo and their children Sofia and Enrique.;

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tap discretionary effort for innovation and success

Learning & Innovation – September 27, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


Tap discretionary effort for innovation and success


It is often said that our people are our most important resource, our competitive edge.  At this critical time, it is our hardworking OFWs (again!) who are keeping our economy afloat.  In business, it is the ability of corporate leaders to tap discretionary efforts that spells success.


Author Casey Wilson (The Cornerstone of Engaging Leadership), describes the engaged individuals as leveraging their strengths and discretionary efforts to help themselves become high achievers.  "They proactively build relationships with others.  They demonstrate commitment to their own development and success, the success of others, and the success of their organization.  Engaged individuals have high aspirations and they work positively and proactively to better understand their assignments and excel in them.  When assignments are not available, they create work for themselves by volunteering for additional tasks.  They foster and facilitate conditions that contribute to their own success and that of others."


On the other hand, we have people who thrive on negativity—complaining and nagging.  Wilson say that these people give the minimum amount of effort possible because they perceive that nobody cares about them or what they do at work.   "They arrive each day, perform a little work—typically work of low quality—and promptly 'check out' of work .  Actively disengaged people are purposely contrary, often going against the grain.  They ignore feedback.  They let everyone knows about their unhappiness and some even try to perpetuate negativity in hopes of getting others to join them—sort of misery-loves-company perspective."


In between, we have the non-engaged individuals (puede na, sige lang, okay lang) who remain neutral whatever happens.  Wilson says that they do not invest much effort in going the extra mile for themselves nor for others.  "While they do not necessarily work against the organization, they do not proactively innovate or work to better it either.   Many just hang out, biding time day-in and day-out, simply riding the work wave.


"Looking at the percentages of people within a given workforce, there are a number of interesting points:

ü      Only about one-fourth of people are passionate, committed, and connected to their work.

ü      About one-fifth are working against their organizations through active disengagement.

ü      Over half of people are simply floating through their work days, not working against their organizations but also not feeling connected and committed.

ü      About here-fourths of people have some amount of discretionary effort they are not giving to their organization and leader.  Discretionary effort is the amount of energy kept in reserves that someone choose to use or not depending on how they feel about their work."


Every one of us has a reservoir of discretionary effort we can leverage deliberately, or not.  One thing amazing is that it is a renewable resource.  What we need are engaging leaders who can inspire our workforce to focus on goals and to achieve more.  Engaging leaders are those who build trust, understand unique personal motivations and differences, manage performance from a people-centric perspective and not simply task-oriented and create emotional connections between workforce and the work.


In Davao and here in Cebu, CD-R King is proving to be a big success.  You have to take a number and wait your turn to be served.  They even refused overflow customers,  "Sorry, we have no more number."  They used to sell only blank CDs and DVDs, now their tagline reads "your one-stop media provider."  They sell all sorts of camera and computer parts, accessories and supplies.  And their products carry their own brand name and logo.  They proudly attach their stickered logo to the packaging of other brands.  Ask any Cebuano or Davaoeno where to buy camera paraphernalia and they promptly lead you to CD-R King.  They must have teams of engaged workforce.  All of them seem to be enjoying their job and liking their customers.  


I must check them out when I get back to Manila next week.,




Thursday, September 18, 2008

Engaged and connection workforce and citizenry

Learning & Innovation – September 20, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Engaged and connected workforce and citizenry


Do you notice that a lot of us have become disengaged and self-centered (makasarili)?  We are thinking of I, me and myself most of the time.  We think that the world, the country (government), the general public, their employer, our family and friends owe us.


Worse is that we seem to think that we are not accountable for anything.


Last week the Rotary Club of Mandaluyong North led by President Jong Vina and the People Management Association of the Philippines' CSR Committee headed by Norilyn Fogata of Ever Bilena conducted a one-day career and employment planning program for graduating college students at the Rizal Technological University.   In all schools this program is given (for free), after all the discussions on life planning, career planning, entrepreneurship, preparing resumes and gearing up for job interviews and other topics, the one big question from the students is "How much is the pay?" 


Speakers and hard-working committee members Virgie Mendoza, Serely Alcazar, Barbie Atienza, Ernie Cecilia, Rex Ressurreccion and Merly Manaloto with Rotarians Lina Aseneta, Manny Sy-peng, Jack Sia, Bert Lomibao, Romy Jaranilla, Ronnie Almestas and Cesar Regala could only shake their heads and observe that the students don't ask about how best they could contribute, they are only interested in how much they could earn.


Very soon these students would join the multitude of individuals that just float through their jobs on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis, not feeling connected to their work or committed to their organization.


This is just one example of how much disengaged we have become.  Casey Wilson, author of "The Cornerstone of Engaging Leadership" defines engagement as having passion, connectedness, motivation, and a willingness to give your best in order to benefit yourself and your organization.  Engagement creates connections with and for others.  Engaging leaders actively and intentionally create an engaging environment by connecting people to their work in meaningful ways.


Thomas Alva Edison once said, "If we all did the things we were capable of, we could literally astound ourselves."


So how do we shift our focus from our personal and material gains to becoming engaging persons, engaging leaders? 


First, Ms. Wilson writes, we need engaged leaders who could raise expectations about the work, the meaning it creates for the workforce (everybody in the organization, at all levels), their sense of connection to it and the harmony it creates in their lives.   People will become engaged when they are rewarded with the ability to contribute and influence. 


Ms. Wilson continues,  "As part of the evolving landscape of leadership in the 21st century, it is important to realize that the traditional command-oriented style of leadership is not engaging today's workforce.  While in some organizations this style brings greater efficiency and consistency, it also marginalizes and shapes the contributions that individuals are willing to make.  People do not perceive this style of leadership as mutually beneficial.  Instead of inciting passion, innovation, creativity and excitement, this approach has leaders trying to mold and shape everyone to be the same, which results in a group of employees acting more like inefficient machines than passionate, involved individuals."


So we have leaders like President Gloria Arroyo who, instead of leading and inspiring our people, has reduced them to mendicancy with programs like Php500 dole-outs, free this and that (after you line up for hours under the punishing heat of the sun).  We have parents who, instead of spending quality time with their children, would rather just give them juicy allowances and pamper them with material things.  The business world is inundated with task-focused leaders, but are not held accountable for cynical, disengaged workers.


The prevailing world situation, that could turn dimmer in the near future, needs leaders who have vested interest in creating actively engaged individuals and teams who will provide the competitive advantage for our country and our business organizations. 


We'll have more next column.  Meanwhile, I am here in Davao enjoying its beauty and bounty.  Will tell you about that, too.,  


Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Seven Ages of the Leader by Warrne Bennis

Learning & Innovation – September 6, 2008 & September 13, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


The Seven ages of the Leader by Warren Bennis



is like attending one whole seminar on leadership with leading gurus as trainers.  It tells about Leadership—Warts and All, When Followers Become Toxic, Putting Leaders on the Couch:  A Conversation with Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Managers and Leaders:  Are They Different, What Makes a Leader?, Narcissistic Leaders:  The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons and Understanding Leadership.  And they were written by respected experts such as Barbara Kellerman, Lynn Offerman, Diane Coutu, Abraham Zalesznik, Daniel Goldman, Michael MacCoby and W.C.H. Prentice.  Get a copy and learn a lot about leadership.  What I am missing is some kind of self-assessment instrument.  Well, maybe in a real seminar.


Intriguing is The Seven Ages of the Leader by Warren Bennis.  In this intuitive article, Prof. Bennis, founding chairman of the University of Southern California's Leadership Institute, reflects on his own leadership journey from a young lieutenant in the infantry in World War II, as president of a university and as the mentor to a unique nursing student and also shares the experiences of his fellow leaders.


A leader's life has seven ages and they parallel those Shakespeare describes in "As You Like It."  To paraphrase, these stages can be described as infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, general, statesman, and sage.  One way to learn about leadership is to look at each of these developmental stages and consider the issues and crises that are typical of each.


Infant.  For the young man or woman on the brink of becoming a leader, the world that lies ahead is a mysterious, even frightening place.  The fortunate neophyte leader has a mentor.  The popular view of mentors is that they seek out younger people to encourage and champion, in fact the reverse is more often true.  The best mentors are usually recruited and one mark of a future leader is the ability to identify, woo, and win the mentors who will change his or her life. It may feel strange to seek a mentor even before you have the job, but it's a good habit to develop early on.  Recruit a team to back you up; you may feel lonely in your first top job, but you won't be totally unsupported.


The schoolboy, with a shining face.  The first leadership experience is an agonizing education.  It's like parenting, in that nothing else in life fully prepares you to be responsible, to a greater or lesser degree, for other people's well-being.  Worse, you have to learn how to do the job in public, subject to unsettling scrutiny of your every word and act, a situation that's profoundly unnerving and for all but minority of people who truly crave the spotlight.  Like it or not, as a new leader you are always onstage, and everything about you is fair game for comment, criticism, and interpretation (or misinterpretation).  Your dress, your spouse, your table manners, your diction, your wit, your friends, your children's table manners—all will be inspected, dissected and judged.  Your first acts will win people over or they will turn people against you, sometimes permanently.  And those initial acts may have a long-lasting effect on how the group performs.  It is, therefore, almost always best for the novice to make a low-key entry.


The Lover, with a woeful ballad.  Many leaders find themselves "sighing like furnace" as they struggle with the tsunami of problems every organization presents.  For the leader who has come up through the ranks, one of the toughest is how to relate to former peers who now report to you.  It is difficult to set boundaries and fine-tune your working relationships with former cronies. As a modern leader, you don't have the option of telling the person with whom you once shared a pod and lunchtime confidences that you know her not.  But relationships inevitably change when a person is promoted from within the ranks.  You may no longer be able to speak openly as you once did, and your friends may feel awkward around you or resent you.  They may perceive you as lording your position over them when you're just behaving as a leader should. Knowing what to pay attention to is just as important—and just as difficult.  The challenge for the newcomer is knowing who to listen to and who to trust.


The Bearded Soldier.  Over time, leaders grow comfortable with the role.  This comfort brings confidence and conviction, but it also snap the connection between leader and followers.  Two things can happen as a result:  leaders may forget the true impact of their words and actions, and they may assume that what they are hearing from followers is what needs to be heard.  The scrutiny never really ends.  Followers continue to pay close attention to event he most offhand remark, and the more effective the leader is the more careful he or she must be, because followers may implement an idea that was a little more than a passing thought.  Followers don't tell leaders everything.  A second challenge for leaders in their ascendancy is to nurture those people whose stars may shine as brightly as—even brighter than—the leaders' own.  In many ways, this is the real test of character for a leader.  Many people cannot resist using a leadership position to thwart competition.  Authentic leaders are generous.


The General, full of wise saws.  One of the greatest challenges a leader faces at the height of his or her career is not simply allowing people to speak the truth but actually being able to hear it.  A current example can be seen in Howell Raines, the deposed executive editor of the New York Times.  Among the many ways he blocked the flow of information upward was to limit he pool of people he championed and, thus the number of people he listened to.  Raines was notorious for having a small A-list of stars and a large B-list made up of everyone else.  The two-tier system was unwise and ultimately a career-ender for Raines.  His  attitude and of his managing editor was that their way was the only way.  He should have been a good enough newsman to be able to tell the difference between acceptance and angry silence on the part of those who worked for him.


The Statesman, with spectacles on nose.  Shakespeare's sixth age covers the years in which a leader's power begins to wane.  The leader in this stage is often hard at work preparing to pass on his or her wisdom in the interest of the organization.  The leader may also be called upon to play important interim roles, bolstered by the knowledge and perception that come with age and experience and without the sometimes distracting ambition that characterizes early career.  One of the gratifying roles that people in late career can play is the leadership equivalent of a pinch hitter.  A leader is able to perform an even better job because he or she brings a lifetime's worth of knowledge and experience but also he or she didn't have to waste time engaging in the political machinations often needed to advance a career.


The Sage, the second childishness.  "When you mentor, you know that what you have achieved will not be lost, that you are leaving a professional legacy for future generations.  The reciprocal benefits of such bonds are profound, amounting to much more than warm feelings on both sides.  Mentoring isn't a simple exchange of ideas.  Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky lived among wild baboons and found that alliances between old and young apes were an effective strategy for survival.  Older males that affiliated with younger males lived longer, healthier lives than their unallied peers.  Age is neither end nor oblivion.  Rather, it is the joyous rediscovery of childhood at its best.  It is waking up each morning ready to devour the world, full of hope and promise.  It lacks nothing but the tawdrier forms of ambition that make less sense as each day passes.


Indeed, there is a time for everything and a thing for particular times.  The important take away from this article is that leadership is a journey, not a destination.    Everything changes, in time.  As a true leader, we need to know when our time is up and how to exit graciously.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Together, let's pray that we host Olympics 2024

LEARNING & INNOVATION – August 30, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


Together, let's pray that we host Olympics 2024


Our Filipino Olympians did not get any medals. But they fought hard and long and even broke their personal best and Asean records.  Congratulations!


I was dismayed to hear four Solar Entertainment anchors talked about the impossibility of the Philippines ever hosting the Olympics.  And they went on with reasons (I don't know where they came from) such as is our lack of resources, blah, blah, blah, blah.


I don't know how much thought they put into their words.  You just don't go bashing your own country on television watched by millions of Filipinos and foreigners, most likely, because they were the only ones covering the Olympic Games.


Years ago, many would not even think that China will be able to put up, according to many media observers, one of the best Olympics in history—venue, opening and closing ceremonies, over-all management, and many other aspects of backroom activities.  Yet, they did it!  Remember that several venues were finished near the start of the Games.  Pollution was a big problem before and during the Games.  Yet, they did it against all criticisms, negative speculations, etc.


Whether they were happy with or harbor a gripe against their government and life situation, I could just imagine how the Chinese people rallied towards their dream Olympics.  So many volunteered to do particular tasks; there were even three Filipinos among the volunteers, who were taken because of their proficiency in English.  For sure, from observations of media personalities reporting from different parts of China, there were many untold unhappy stories.  For example, the uprooting of Beijing residents whose ancestral homes were demolished and land were appropriated by their government and used for the Olympics.  Beijing underwent revolutionary changes, not only face lift, just for the Olympics. 


They have all the political will to make things happen and went on with it.  As soon as they won the bid for hosting, they never looked back; they dreamed on and made their dream real.


Going back to those four country-bashing TV commentators, who do they think they are?  There are things such as political will, vision, mission, values, goals, objectives, and action-orientation as necessary ingredients to getting things done.  Every entrepreneur knows this.  Even workers should know this.  Otherwise, the business will perish soon and there will be no more jobs.


Tell me, what is the vision, mission and core values (VMV) of the Philippines and the Filipino people?


Instead of bashing our country, those four predictors of doom, could redo their script and start talking about the Philippines formulating our VMV and propagating these via their network.   Let's set basic directions where we could commit our important resources; the essential logic of our existence as a country and as a people.  Then we can talk about setting long-, medium- and short-term goals towards having an impact in the global community, continuous learning, development and nurturing of our people, development and acquisition of support technologies and whatever focus of success our national leaders would choose.


I briefly caught the final announcement of the new program of President Arroyo on radio—hearts or something.  That's a good start—having a focus.  I hope this sinks into the heart and mind of other national and local government officials who are tasked with further defining expectations and standards (both qualitative and quantitative) and eventual implementing such programs.  This will help avoid wasting time, effort, resources and disappointments.


I like to shout every time that woman comes on TV and thanks the president "sa pagtulong ninyo sa amin" (for helping us).  Look, they are not helping you, they are just doing their job; in fact, not a very good job.


For those four clowns (aka Games anchors) and for all of us, we need to "set the bar" as high as possible for government initiatives, for government officials (from the president down), for business people, for our own people.  We need to establish criteria for measuring tangibles, intangibles, levels of service and quality and other soft issues such as values, ethics, and culture.


As a people we need to raise the bar for our own expectations and aspirations.   I dream of the Philippines hosting the 2024 Olympics.  Let's dream together and make it happen.  Let us remember that everything that we think, say and do are prayers.  And as they say, be careful what you pray for, you just might get it.;