So today, I wanted to share another important lesson in entrepreneurship. It is a lesson rooted deeply in our Filipino culture valuing hard work above everything else, which I believe is correct, but incomplete.
I say this because I once thought that working hard, sacrificing and putting in the effort was the key to success, the harder I worked, the more successful I become. While I do believe in working hard, I believe that it must be combined with working smart.
I often talk to my wife about the great Filipino folk tale of Juan Masipag (the industrious Filipino) and Juan Tamad (the lazy Filipino). When I was a child, my teachers would often tell us that we should emulate Juan Masipag because his trait of being industrious, diligent and hard working will guarantee your success in the future. Then they would say never be like Juan Tamad who would lie down all day long beneath a tree with a fruit hanging over head with his mouth open to catch it when and if it drops. So naturally during my formative years, I would often place more value on diligence, being industrious, and above all, working hard. It was so ingrained in me in fact that I became a “Worka-Maniac” (a workaholic on steroids).
I remember my first job in the early 90’s, I would come to work every single work day at 7AM and not leave the office until 12 Midnight! I had developed a reputation in the company of “Out-working” everyone in sight. My over time pay was through the roof. Hands down, I thought that I was the hardest working man in the company (probably in the Philippines) I had done it, I was the embodiment of Juan Masipag (although slightly more handsome) and I felt that I was accomplishing something found only in myth…until one night. After my usual hard day’s work I go to the 5th floor of the building where I punch out my time card, it was 12 Midnight and I bump into Steve, one of the managers of the company. What he asked me that night was one of the most memorable turning points of my life, he asked: “Mark, you are always here until midnight, I just have to ask, is that dedication, or incompetence?” I was of course stunned because I thought he was going to say: “Mark, you are always here until midnight, I admire you.” After a moment of silence I just said in my gregarious, goofy way: “…Dedication of course!”
Although that was more than 15 years ago, that question of Steve had always stayed with me and to some extent molded me to who I am today. It made me think that working hard may be what we were taught, but too much of it could mean that we are not doing it right.
Now that I’m a little older and wiser I would tell my wife this: “You know, I have to admit that although I’ve always aspired to be like Juan Masipag, I do truly admire Juan Tamad’s cleverness in using the principle of gravity to do the work for him.” And my wife, being the entrepreneur that she is would look at me with a smile and say: “Welcome to entrepreneurship my dear husband, it’s about time you joined me in thinking the same way.”
You see my wife on the other hand is all about getting results without exerting too much effort. Although she is a workaholic herself, she loves finding “short cuts” to tasks so that she needs to only do minimal work.
For example back in college she had a group project of producing and selling caps. All her team mates wanted to sew it themselves, market it themselves, experience it all from A to Z. Her point of view back then: Why? Why do we need to produce it ourselves? Let’s just outsource the producing to real sewers, and then just concentrate on selling the finished goods. (This was at a time when outsourcing was thought of as cheating – my wife was always ahead of her time) After much debate, the team initially agreed to try sewing everything themselves just to abide by the rules but towards the end of the project they got a big order and couldn’t serve it if they had to sew everything themselves, so they decided to outsource the job rather than lose the business, her group mates reluctantly took the “Juan Tamad” way and made not just high grades but better quality products at cheaper costs and good money for that particular order and with very little effort. Years later, some of her team mates upon looking back at that incident admitted that my wife was right. And not just that, now the school itself has changed the rules and have allowed outsourcing for similar projects like these.
This to me is what entrepreneurs should aspire to be and what they should always be doing. An entrepreneur should work hard yes but the entrepreneur should not be focused on just working hard, the entrepreneur should be focused on getting results regardless if you work hard for it or not. Because and remember this, when you become an entrepreneur it is results that put food on the table, not efforts. It is results that get you to the next level, not efforts. It is results that make you successful, not efforts.
And results can be achieved through lots of hard work and diligence, or it can be achieved by thinking of short cuts. If I had a choice back then when I was working hard all the time, if I only knew that there was an easier way to success without having to work very hard, I would have taken it in a heart beat.
And so in business, the realization here is this. You may WORK DILIGENTLY Like Juan Masipag But if that is all you are doing, your path to success will take longer, if you want to become successful sooner, (and less tired doing so), learn to THINK SHORT CUT like Juan Tamad.
Side bar: I’d like to wish my lovely wife a most beautiful Birthday this February 16. It is because of her that I am and continue to strive to be a better man. To greet her, please leave a comment on this post, I’m sure like me, she will appreciate it.
Mark So is a fervent businessman, forex trader and educator. He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center. He is also the Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Manila. Together with his wife Jhoanna, they have created a “Short-Cut” to creating a full Human Resources Operations Manual called the Instant HR toolkit. To know more about that, please visit www.hrclubphilippines.com or call (632)6874645. You may email your comments and questions to: email@example.com