What I Learned from 5th Graders About Success

My 5th grader nephew's drawing

My 5th grader nephew’s drawing

All they need is a box of crayons.

They do not have standards. They will doodle anytime they want. And when they have finished something they will proudly and excitedly show it.

If you criticize their work they will defend it and while crying they will earnestly look for justifications on why the peacock looks like a dog or why the cat can fly.

When you feel stuck go grab a box of crayons and be with a fifth grader.

And you will realize that success is about acting on what is in your mind and making it visible for others to see and to improve.

The untold story of my Uncle Cesar: Lessons on Taking Risk

shipOne does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. – Andre Gide

The year was 1961. At age 17, he left home without informing his parents. Weeks after, his parents were informed that he had taken a ship going to Palawan. Without any means of checking his whereabouts, his parents accepted the fact that he was gone forever.

Five years after, to his parents surprise, he returned home to their poor community in Navotas. He narrated his adventures to his parents and to his younger brother. He also game them a huge sum of money and took his family on a trip to an island in Palawan where had had spent the last 59 years of his life.

Upon reaching the island, his parents and younger brother were surprised to learn that he owned valuable properties including ten fish pens, one motorized boat (the only motorized boat at that time in that island), and big hectares of land planted with a variety of fruit trees and crops.

Take Risk

That boy was my Uncle Cesar, my father’s older brother. Upon leaving home, my Uncle settled in the exotic island of Taytay in Palawan, fell in love and married a beautiful and industrious Kuyunin woman. It was a widely accepted practice back then that those who could clear and develop a piece of land could own that land. Industrious and hardworking, the couple cleared hectares of land in the island which they planted with various crops and fruit bearing trees and became owners of those lands.

My Uncle took a very strange route in pursuit of his zeal in life. He took the risk of leaving home at an early age, armed only with his passion to be his own man and his brawn and brain to achieve his dream. I am sure he did not know where his feet would lead him. He just let it be. He trusted his guts.

In our lives, we sometime we must allow a situation to control us rather than us trying to control the situation all the time. The universe is so vast, we should not be afraid to try to do something differently.

Take strange routes., be your own person, follow your heart, but embrace hard work. You will be delighted where you will find yourself in.

An unsolicited advice for the new graduates (from someone who graduated a decade ago)


 It was year 2003, when I graduated from the university. Like you, it was the moment that my parents and I have waited to happen. Indeed, it was a moment of euphoria – but at the same time a moment of anxiety.

I understand if you feel anxious when the graduation fun had ended and went home for sleep. You are anxious because, like what your terror professors have always said “tomorrow you will experience the real world”. Those words reverberated on your mind – and you end up wide awake until dawn.

What the hell does “real world” means? What’s in there that makes you nervous?

Here are my unsolicited advice – from someone who graduated a decade ago. Since I graduated, the world has dramatically changed. During my ten years of journey in the so called real world, I was able to collect some worthwhile lessons that might guide you as you start your own outside the walls of your university.

  1. Dream big but learn to appreciate the small blessings. Forget what your arrogant professor has told you that you must not accept a job offer that will not pay you a huge sum of money (yabang niya lang ‘yun). No employer will pay you a six-digit salary as a new graduate whose learning came from textbooks. Aim for the experience first and do not go after the external rewards – yet. Learn from these experiences as much as you can. Know your colleagues – interact and learn from them. Remember, you are just in the first few steps of your long worthwhile journey. Appreciating small blessings doesn’t mean abandoning your big dreams.
  2. Grow and nurture your network. As you continue in your first job, start expanding and nurturing your network. Be likeable in your workplace. However, do not limit your networking within your office. Go out and attend various activities that interest you – whether it is related to your job or about your hobbies or personal interests. Introduce yourself to strangers in those events. Get their mobile numbers, email addresses or anything that may reconnect you with them. Maintain your communication with those individuals that fascinated you. Breakout opportunities usually come to those who are visible, believable and likeable!
  3. Read. Keep learning new things every day. Don’t abandon your reading habits. Read newly published books related to your job or to your interests. This time you have all the freedom to choose what books you want to read and when to finish them. By reading, you will encounter new ideas that might trigger you to think and new concepts that might excite you. If your interest is to start up a business, you may explore Richard Branson, Chris Guillebeau and Guy Kawasaki.
  4. “Self” Review. Oops! Don’t worry there is no exam. By this, I mean is to always find time to reflect. After 1 year or so on your first job, try to ask yourself the following questions: “am I still learning?”, “am I still excited to go to the office?”, “Would I still want to spend my next two years or so in this company or job?”, “What do I want to do after I resign?”, “What new learning did I acquire?”, “What are the new things that make me excited?”. If you don’t reflect, you just merely exist. You are not living.
  5. If career is a road, then the “wrong way” sign is not applicable and “swerving” is highly advisable. I am a Secondary School Teacher by profession; however, I have spent 7 years of my life in the mining industry in the area of stakeholder relations. Subsequently, I resigned from my job and started my own training & consultancy firm (http://grupposocial.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/meet-our-team-at-grupposocial/). Others thought of me as crazy for leaving from my relatively high-paying job.  Find what will make you happy. Take risks. “If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary.” (Jim Rohn). As you gain more experience; a wider network and a new set of skills, you don’t already deserve the ordinary.

I believe the “real world” is exciting and full of opportunities -contrary to what your professors have said. There is nothing scary in your world now! Find your niche in this “real world” and move.

You are lucky that you graduated in this period where many of the tools that you can use to succeed and serve others are coming to you for free; that you can connect easily to a lot of useful materials; that you can explore the ideas of different individuals around the globe that can inspire you to create your own.

Congratulations! The real world is excited about you!

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Leave Behind a Good Reputation for Others to Talk About

snail with the slime climbing vertical

Snails leave behind slime as they This slime is a powerful form of suction which enables them to move upside down, around corners, and assume comical positions.

Like the Snail, Leave Behind a Good “Slime”

Moving is inherent in our lives. We move when we resign from our current job,  transfer to another company, occupy a new house, bid goodbye to colleagues or friends after a group travel, graduate from high school or college, transfer to another school, leave  a community after project completion, and so forth. As we move, we humans are also leaving something behind us, like the snail.

Have you realized that whenever you are new to a place or to your work, your new colleagues would always tell you something about your predecessor or about the people who had left or had resigned from the company that hired you?

I think this is natural. You cannot blame or stop your colleagues from sharing stories, good or bad, about those people who were with the company before you. This is not an act of gossip. This is an act of informal post social evaluation.

The reality is that we are evaluated, more often than not, after we have moved out of a place or work.

I know you would say, “So what? I don’t care about what that they would say about me. I would not see them anymore anyway.” These are normal reactions by many of us. However, once we reflected on the implications of what our former colleagues would say about us after we left a job, we would start to care about what we should leave behind every time we move. Why? Because that general opinion of others about us especially after we have left an organization or a company is our reputation.

Reputation is commonly defined as an opinion about an entity. It is typically the result of some social evaluation on a set of criteria. It may be considered as a component of our identity as defined by others.

I believe, and I think you would agree, that a good reputation is one of our best assets. For Dr. Alex Lickerman, the founder of happinessinthisworld.com, our reputation is a tool for practical navigation through daily life.

Rob Brown, one of the world’s leading authorities on personal marketing, networking, executive presence, referrals, and reputations has this food for thought on reputation:

 “A strong personal reputation means people come to you first, above and beyond any of their other choices.”

For those who would want to explore the topic further, I suggest you get a copy of Rob Brown’s bestseller book “How to Build Your Reputation.”

Get Hunted by the Head Hunters

Last year, I met two “head hunters” on different occasions. They both presented me with job opportunities in recognized mining companies. Though I was not looking for a job at that time, I accepted each of their invitations for a meeting. After discussing their company profiles, they informed me that my former colleagues referred me to them. I would have felt I was the luckiest man in the world at that time if I were desperately looking for job at that very moment.

Two key lessons could be drawn from this experience. One, the hiring strategy of big companies had changed drastically over the course of time. The use of head hunters is now popular among companies. These head hunters’ task is to find the right people for a job. To facilitate their search, head hunters look for people who could refer or recommend potential candidates, instead of advertising the jobs and screening tons of resumes.  Second, since the “referral system” is now the rule, would it be nice to think that we should have references everywhere?

When we leave a good reputation every time we move, companies will look for us, instead of us looking for them. Colleagues and clients who had pleasant experiences working with us would be very generous with their words about us. That is why it is important for us to do our best at each step of our career. One good thing surely leads to another.

Leaving behind an excellent reputation is tantamount to expanding our world, and thus, widening our opportunities. If we left our job but have a good reputation, we have a 99% chance that another good job offer will come knocking right at our door steps. We need not look hard and long.

Beware of Six Degrees of Separation

If you think that those persons you have worked with before will have no relationship with you in the future once you cut your ties with them, you should think again.

There is a reality in our lives which is known as “six degrees of separation.” This refers to the idea that everyone is, on average, approximately six steps away from us by way of introduction from any other person on Earth. Because of this, a chain of “a friend of a friend” statement can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer.

We will never really know if the third person next to us in the office or cubicle is a sister or a friend or a wife or a daughter of anyone of those we have worked with before. If we knew, we wish we had done them well. And we would be careful as to what we were leaving behind.

Like the snail, the slime in our life is our reputation. Once we are able to establish a good reputation, we can move upside down and around corners, and the best things in life will always follow. So, always be careful to leave something good behind.


This is part of my eBook entitled  “It’s The Snail, John! Five Down-To-Earth Lessons About Life & Success At Work”

My eBook is now published and available via Smashwords.com https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/287917 a

Live Outside the Box: Be Visible To Attract Opportunities

Download for free Live Outside The Box_Be Visible To Attract Opportunities


  • Play it safe!
  • Don’t tell to anybody what you know – they may copy it!
  • Stay in your room!
  • Compete-don’t share!
  • Don’t do something crazy-people may laugh at you!

Following these dogmas made you live inside a box –


And you don’t deserve that!


  • To show yourself;
  • To share your talents and skills;
  • To try something you have never tried doing.

You have to live outside the box –

  • Create;
  • Give;
  • Explore;
  • Take risks;
  • Connect;
  • Help.

To live is to be visible – and to be visible is to attract opportunities!



  • Start your blog
  • Publish an eBook
  • Sign-up on Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ etc
  • Have your website
  • Participate in different events – or better start organizing your own


Your visibility can attract opportunities –

  • Job offer
  • Funding
  • New projects
  • Networks
  • Income
  • Freelancing







But, you have to be visible first for them to connect with you & show you opportunities you never expect you will get!


Start living outside of your box – and opportunities will come to you!