14 Lessons I learned About Father and Son Working Together

(clockwise: Rico Santos, Ral Santos, Tessa Gayanes and Josiah Go)

Last April 8, 2021, I welcomed the opportunity to co-facilitate a Q&A session with father-and-son team Rico and Ral Santos from the IT company Agilis Enterprise Solutions. I was excited because it was my first time to do a live Q&A on the topic, alongside co-facilitating with a bright young leader, White Space Club VP Tessa Gayanes (a Magna Cum Laude at UP Diliman). 

Agilis is a leading provider of affordable and fully integrated business automation tools for MSME owners and entrepreneurs in the Philippines. It was founded by serial entrepreneur Rico Santos, a senior leader of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP), a lay organization of Catholic businessmen and professionals whose vision and mission is to bring Christ to the marketplace. Rico’s business experience includes construction, online job-fit matching, eLearning services, and IT solutions. His son, second generation Ral Santos, on the other hand, worked in sales and training & development in the BPO and ESL industries before joining the family business in 2017.

It is the second time the duo have worked together. Rico and Ral’s working relationship did not pan out well the first time around. I would like to share some lessons I learned about this father and son working together. I believe these lessons can also be applicable to parents and children, and even married couples working together.

Tips from Rico Santos

  • Establish boundaries so time and conversation at home is different from at the office.
  • Find reasons to work together despite differences.
  • Differences between parents and children can be complementary and even advantageous.
  • Train for good habits and values.
  • Avoid spoon feeding adults. They learn better by watching and learning, but allow them to ask questions regularly.
  • Communicate adult to adult, not parent to child.
  • Be fair to all but never undermine your own successor, most especially a family member. Talk to them in private.

Tips from Ral Santos

  • Have the maturity to think like and act as a regular employee rather than feeling automatic entitlement.
  • Have the humility to listen and learn first to earn the trust and respect of everyone.
  • Learn different functions of the company in planned phases, starting with what you are strong at.
  • Being opposites can give different perspectives that can benefit a business.
  • Give feedback upward as well so older generations can better understand.
  • Repetition of lessons can reinforce what’s really important.
  • Never fight fire with fire; fight fire with water.

I would like to thank Rico and Ral for their time and insight. It was a good break for me from the typical business opportunity and strategy seeking questions asked in Day 8 Business Academy’s entrepreneurship courses. Learning from each other’s working dynamic and style and adapting the best parts of your colleagues is just as important to professional development as any course or seminar.

For more lessons, Day 8 (day8.org) has over 90 business videos available at P1,688 subscription fee for a year. Meanwhile, Agilis (agilis.com.ph) is pioneering a FREE plug-and-play ERP APP to address and relieve SMEs’ biggest and most urgent business pain point. Visit each website to learn more about these offers.

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Josiah Go features the movers and shakers of the business world and writes about marketing, strategy, innovation, execution and entrepreneurship


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