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In Business, is it better to be Juan Masipag or Juan Tamad?

Posted by on Feb 14, 2010 in Business, Personal growth | 33 comments

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.

Author box:

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:   markso@zerocapitalclub.com

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33 Comments

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  1. Rachel

    Thanks, Its a though the article was made for me. Thanks a lot, I had an insight ang broader understanding in the meaning of ‘hard work’.

    • markso

      You’re very welcome Rachel. Always better to learn this early on so that you don’t end up too tired. Sabi nga ni Tanging Ina, and batang masipag, pag laki, Pagod ha ha ha
      have a great day!

  2. saggi of travel journal

    Happy Birthday to your dear wife sir.

    I know how it feels to work hard. For many years, I have been working more than 24/7 for most days (literally). TV Production entails lots of hard work. Good Pay but lots of sacrifices…Now I’m having fun in the world of business and investing, less work, better results.

    I am always looking forward to your posts. And as usual, thanks for sharing this article with us.

  3. elmy

    thanks mark for the article! i am into bead creations and yes, its tiring if i do all the work. now i am informed!

    belated happy birthday to your lovely wife! God bless

  4. Felnor

    Belated Happy natal day to your wife! It appears that she’s one entrepreneur who thinks ahead of her time.

    If there’s a “workaholics club”, you would usually count me in. But lately, it has taken a toll on my health and I realized that it’s not all worth it. I perfectly agree with you that we can learn from Juan Tamad’s wisdom for “short cuts” as much as we can from Juan Masipag’s “diligence”. Yes, one can have fun while getting more results!

    God bless & more power!

    • Mark So

      Hi Felnor, thanks for the greeting. take care of your health, you are absolutely right working hard is not worth losing your health for. Have fun, relax and enjoy your profits

  5. Capt Ermer Magbanua

    That was awesome Mark. it is truly inspires me while reading your articles. More power to you. Hope I could pass by to attend in one of your Seminars.

  6. geribert

    Sir Mark,

    I know you wouldn’t mind, I published this article on my Facebook account.

    Thanks for this great article.

    Geribert

  7. grace

    hi sir mark!
    i want you to know that I’m an avid reader of your articles in the manila bulletin.. it helped me quite a lot in understanding on how to do business. i always thought that i will never be a good businesswoman because well, I’m not like my co-workers who will always come early and leave late at work. For them I don’t value my work because I am not “workaholic”. I will never doubt again to myself if i can do business or not. I will not have to work hard. I just have to work smart. :)

    • markso

      Grace, i’m very glad that you have learned a lot from my articles but at the same time remember you must not just work smart but also work hard it must be balanced 😉

  8. Rolando Go

    Thanks for your insights Mr. Mark. I had been a Juan Masipag for long time now, and started to apply the opposite. I hope I could apply both when I finally go home from my being an OFW to a business I am planning. Looking forward to meeting you in Manila soon. By the way, belated happy b-day to your better half.

    • markso

      Many thanks Rolando for your greetings. I’m very sure that your hard work combined with passion and short cut thinking will lead you to your success very soon. I look forward to meeting you too.

  9. Hanz Morris, Alien Ufo, Daniel Oris

    Dear Mr. Mark so,

    The idea that comes from Juan Masipag and Juan Tamad is nice and I have been doing that for the past 30 years of my life. That’s why I quite reach the goal from being poor up to middle class. But I don’t wanna reach the highest level ’cause I’m just a low profile in person. It’s just enough to feed my family.
    Any way, I have already have small business Amd has
    already retired from my employment.

    But keep up with your Business Coloumn many youth could get great idea from it. And belated happy natal
    day to your wife.

    Yours truly,

    Alien Ufo, Daniel Oris, Hanz Morris
    enhancer300ncr@yahoo.com:hotmail.com: enhancer2004ncr@gmail.com:excite.com:aol.com

  10. kriz hosena

    hi!..
    before anything else thank you for forwarding me your message. it was really inspiring :-)) … i believe with what you just said here that…. 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….right?…. keep inspiring others ok?…ang belated to your wife …:-)) god bless you and your biz!

    -kriz

  11. raul

    Thanks Mark for the article. First of all, I wish to greet ur wife a belated hapi bday. Re; ur article, tama po kayo. It is not enough to work hard but to work hard and smarter.

  12. tina

    hi mark,

    thanks for sending me a copy of your article. it is very inspiring. Keep up the good work! And belated happy birthday to your wife.

    tina

  13. Ver

    Thanks for the copy. I appreciate it. Belated Happy Birthday to your lovely Entrepreneur Guru wife, Jhoanna. More blessings to come, and please don’t get tired of sharing those blessings to us.

  14. she tan

    Hi Mark!

    I really love reading self-help articles, self-help/investment books. I’m indeed thankful to have read your article. It is truly a mind-opener to employees and would-be entrepreneurs.

    I’ve been working for multi-national companies for 7 years already, and I have always ingrained a “diligent” attitude. I feel that without it, I won’t be that successful in anything I do. In some way, that’s a good habit, however, in the long run it’s exhaustive. It’s exhaustive accomplishing everything from A-Z, whereinfact there is a much easier process in achieving a certain result.

    I’ve been exercising to work smart. I know this will spell a great difference. I thank you for inspiring us. I do hope I could sttend one of your seminars. I keep on browsing your seminar schedules but I always fail to participate. This time, I need to commit to myself to enroll and to sttend. I know for sure that I will learn a lot. I know it will greatly help me in my employment life. Compensation from employment is not enough especially, now that I have a family and a baby. Moreover, I’m thinking to venture into entrepreneurship soon.

    Thank you very much. Belated Happy Birthday to your wife. Hope to meet both of you in person. I am really very much interested to learn.

    God bless you!

    Shetan

    • markso

      Thanks Shetan! Always nice to hear from people like you who are looking to improve and get better.
      I together with Jhoanna look forward to meeting you soon.
      Keep reading, keep learning!

  15. Kelly

    Hi Sir Mark!

    Thanks for the insight you are sharing with us. I would like to share this story to my husband whose working so hard. He might slow down towards his work habit when he read this story.
    Belated happy b-day to your wife!

    Kelly

  16. Carlo Durian

    I always thought that people who are lazy are the most efficient people. Yes they cut corners at every chance but they are able to produce with the least amount of resources. You could call ‘environmentalists’ without really trying hard.

  17. Chonny

    Thanks for this Sir Mark…

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