The Rotary Club of Mandaluyong North recently conducted a career Orientation Program for some 900 senior students at Neptali Gonzales High School. President Roddy Peñalosa gave a talk on how to get into the college or university of their choice. Past Presidents Jack Sia, Bert Lomibao, Cesar Regala, President-Elect Jong Viña and Past President Rick Santos' spouse Vilma facilitated the breakout sessions. I was lead facilitator and resource person.
Instead of the usual professionals talking about their profession and schools selling their various programs, what we did was to get into the very core of the students and made them respond to pointed questions of what they want to be, their favorite skills, the types of people they want to mingle with, the career environment and geographic location they will be comfortable and productively living and working in, their support system, and others related to their dreams and the future they want for themselves. After the session, the students said they gained valuable self knowledge.
Not surprisingly, only one student want to be a priest, a big number want to go into showbiz and related artistic endeavors, a lot want to be employed in popular organizations, and a dismal number want to be entrepreneurs. Almost all want to work abroad.
What are we teaching our young Filipinos?
I am not only referring to the classroom environment, remember that we learn from all around us, e.g. parents, siblings, relatives, TV and other mass media, books, and community, government, business and church leaders and many others.
I remember when I was in high school and college that the emphasis was on getting employed right out of school. My mom is an entrepreneur, but she also encouraged me to join the working multitude. In fact she got me employed in government for security of tenure it offers and was devastated when I resigned.
I've witnessed many career orientations conducted by civic and professional organizations and the emphasis is on getting a job in perceived prestigious organizations. Nobody talks about being an entrepreneur.
And so, during times of plenty, robust economy, uncertain economy, economic layoffs and downsizing, double digit inflation, the concern is level of employment or unemployment. Government is concerned about whether people have jobs or none. Very small enterprises such as the itinerant vendors of mani, prutas, gulay, mais, and others are generally ignored. These are non-jobs and non-business. No incentives for them. No assistance. They are even at the mercy of policemen and MMDA personnel. Their net income generally exempts them from paying taxes. Many times, this business is passed on to the next generation.
What should we do?
It is not a matter of teaching our youth the skills of entrepreneurship. The important thing, for parents and teachers especially, is to mould their personality into an enterprising one.
Bill Wagner, author of The Entrepreneur Next Door, and his research team at Accord Management Systems surveyed members of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (USA) under the age of 40 and a net worth of $3.4 million. Their findings showed that these successful entrepreneurs have very strong entrepreneurial personalities, and more importantly, they are enjoying opportunities that were very well suited to who they are.
Mr. Wagner says, "Simply put, we're able to measure one's personality and predict success for a given role. The world's best bookkeeper has a great bookkeeper personality, a great salesperson has a great salesperson's personality, and a successful entrepreneur has a great entrepreneur's personality. But the bookkeeper will rarely become a great financial controller or a CFO.
"It is personality that has the greatest impact on our behavior and our choices. In fact, the entrepreneurs we studied, more than 80 percent have very similar personality traits. To experience the greatest level of success and fulfillment, entrepreneurs should choose business ventures that are in sync with their true personality. Those who choose well tend to prosper. Those who don't find a fit for their personalities make great material for TV dramas and sitcoms."
Next column, we'll detail this entrepreneurial personality. Or you can read in advance and buy the book by McGraw-Hill Publishing.