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Q&A with Jonathan Yabut on Understanding Millennials

Q&A with Jonathan Yabut on Understanding Millennials

Q1: You have won the Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards in 2012. You have also won the 1st Apprentice Asia in 2013. Now your book ‘From Grit to Great,’ is another first. Congratulations! Tell us about Jonathan Yabut the millennial and how different or similar are you with other millennials.

A: I’m pretty much similar to any typical millennial who’s been exposed more about the world (vs. my parents’ generation) thanks to social media. I am very purpose-driven which means I see my job not just as a means to pay the bills but to also find ways of “giving back”. I can also be impatient and emotional at times to the point that I can be impulsive to make decisions that only consider my own welfare and not others’ (albeit without the deliberate intention of hurting anyone). Many Gen X folks label this as being self-centered, but I prefer to call it as being “self-appreciative”. Thanks to mentorship of Tony Fernandes for the past 2 years, I feel blessed that I have less of these traits todays.

Also, I’ve been to 3 jobs now in 3 different industries in just a decade and that’s because I’m constantly in search of new things to learn about. I get easily bored of the same thing happens everyday. I think that’s a very classic feature of a millenial.

If there’s anything that’s obviously different about me, I’m everyday grateful for being given the opportunity to showcase what I love doing in front of TV through The Apprentice Asia and use that as a means to inspire fellow millennials.

Q2: You gave tips and tactics for success to millennials in your book, share us three of the more important tips or tactics.

A: I’ve got loads! And the book discusses these for every page that you turn. Here are the 3 most practical ones I can think of right now:

1. Finding a career / life purpose that’s right for you is naturally difficult. We all struggle with it. But I believe that the only way to discover it is to expose yourself to many things as much as you can, including those you may have dismissed and never gave a try. So travel outside the country, read the book with the ugly cover, befriend the people you don’t like, eat the food you thought deserves a thumbs down. We only appreciate the things that we like, after experiencing the things that we don’t like.

2. Great bosses will take good care of your career as long as you deliver. But not everyone is good boss and most bosses are too busy for your own sake. Hence, if you want something for your career (ex, get promoted, get a salary raise, be rotated to a different department), make sure you vocalize it. Make sure he or she knows it. Demand accountability from your boss to develop you. It’s his job. People only get what they want when they tell the universe about it.

3. You don’t get promoted by sending the fastest e-mail response, getting to work earliest, or presenting the most animated powerpoint deck. Sure, everyone will praise you for your good work. But climbing the corporate ladder from being a staff member to a manager and finally to a CEO isn’t about excelling individually. It’s about knowing how to manage and lead people. It’s about influencing people to get things done, even if they don’t like their job or they don’t like you.

Q3: Why do you think the best practices in school won’t work in the corporate world? What are schools missing?

A: School taught us to appreciate ourselves a lot because our teachers were trained to always praise us based on individual merits. We get ranked one by one, and we were trained to measure up versus everyone in class through traditional “honor rolls”. Sure, we were assigned group works too but teachers don’t really care what happened in between. Many of these cases have a group leader who ends up doing all the work because he doesn’t trust his groupmates. Unfortunately many students bring this attitude to the workplace, and fail miserably. In the corporate world, what matters more is teamwork because you don’t finish things alone. If you’re used to dominating group reports in school and doing things all on your own, you’re better off as an entrepreneur working for yourself and not for a company. For this reason, schools don’t teach us well how to wear a “corporate hat” when pursuing a corporate career. It’s a soft skill that’s critical for success.

Q4: Nice of you to have a beneficiary for your book. Tell us about it.

A: I am a scholar myself who truly appreciates the feeling of having a big dream but lack the financial resources to support it. For every book that you purchase, we donate a portion of the proceeds to four educational NGOs in Southeast Asia, namely: Teach for Malaysia, Indonesia Bright Foundation, Vietnam Student Development Fund, and UP School of Economics Alumni Association. I got inspired to do this with my book after reading Blake Mycoskie’s “Start Something That Matters” (the founder of Toms shoes and proponent of the One for One Business Model) which donated proceeds for every book that he sold.

Q5: Where can people buy your book and how much is it?

A: It is available today in all leading bookstores in Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand will have it by March 2016. You may also download an e-book at ! And after you’ve read a book, please don’t forget to rate it at! For corporate and bulk order inquiries, you may e-mail

Q6: You seem to be very active in the speaking circuit these days. What got you into doing motivational talks?

A: I didn’t expect to make a career about it until the UK-based London Speaker Bureau (my current talent agent in Asia) in 2013 contacted me to do speaking engagements for Fortune 500 companies. There is a big industry for this as many employers are looking to inspire and motivate their workers through life stories of other people. I’m fortunate to share painful and joyful stories about my life and The Apprentice Asia since then. Today, I do motivational talks every week around Southeast Asia and it’s the best part-time job in the world I must say!

Q7: I understand that you are very active on social media sharing career tips with millennials? For those hearing about you for the first time, how can they reach you?

A: Yes, I am! Posting career advice, tips, and stories are my de-stress activities from work. You may reach me through my official fanpage, you can follow me on twitter and instagram via @jonathanyabut. You may also e-mail me at

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Josiah Go

About Josiah Go

Record-breaking, bestselling author Josiah Go is the Chairman of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines), and Chairman of Waters Philippines (the market leader in the direct selling of premium home water purifiers in the Philippines). He is Chairman / Vice Chairman / Director of over a dozen companies.

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