Today is National Heroes Day. Here is a entrepreneur rock star that we can all emulate — Edgar Sia II.
Forbes recently released the 2016 list of billionaires in the Philippines. At number 17 and joining as the youngest member is 39-year old Edgar ‘Injap’ Sia II, Chairman of Double Dragon Properties, worth US$1.2 billion in net asset. With so much success, I asked Injap, winner of the 2008 Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards (YMMA) what his life purpose is, and he replied ‘In a nutshell … my purpose in life is allowing myself to be an instrument in creating real long lasting positive impact both directly and indirectly to the lives of as many people as I can, in an area where I am most passionate about, which is through my business endeavors. I always try to keep myself aligned and grounded in that purpose.’
I had the privilege of interviewing him last year after we both judged in the Bank of Philippine Island Sinag Competition. His Q&A with me on Competitive Advantage can be viewed here (https://josiahgo.com/qa-with-double-dragon-chairman-edgar-sia-ii-on-competitive-advantage/)
Below is an inspiring graduation speech he delivered in 2012 at the
University of San Agustin in his home town Iloilo which he has generously shared and gave permission for me to post. While the 10 lessons below were shared when he founded Mang Inasal, the only grilled chicken restaurant among the top 5 in fast food, which he has sold to the Jollibee Group for a total of P5 billion, Injap reiterated that he still follows these 10 ethos in his Double Dragon venture, where he promotes more home grown brands like City Mall and Hotel 101.
‘Maayong Hapon sa Tanan!
If you all think, that getting here to finally graduate was hard,
I tell you, Its even harder for me. Why?
Because It took us 3 generations to finally get this diploma!
My grandfather tried to get educated, but did not make it because he had to work.
My father tried to finish college, but also did not make it because he had to start working.
And I also tried, but because my mind was focused in my business plans,
I too was not able to finish college.
I dont know if its genetic, I hope not!
Because my children are here, and they might think its alright for them not to finish college too.
Sorry kids, I just broke the rule.
Because I have my Diploma now, and you have no more excuse!
You may be curious, Did I expect this?
Not really, but Yes I have dreamed of this.
In fact, for about 14 years since I dropped out of this school,
this has been my secret dream that I have to work really hard.
So that one day, I will finally get my College Diploma, in a Big way!
So when the school Fr. President informed me about this, I cant believe that my secret dream became a reality!
Actually, I was very happy not really for myself, but for my parents.
Because I know that it is any parents’ dream,
to have all their children finish college.
In a few graduations that I have attended before, I always get touched,
in seeing the smiles, and the happiness that a proud parent exudes,
during the graduation of their son or daughter.
And that is the very reason, why our family recently built and donated our City’s first public city community college of Iloilo, because we wanted to see thousands more of that proud smile every year!
So Class 2012,
Let us all give our parents a big big hand, as this is their moment!
Now let me share with you some valuable lessons I have learned along the journey, en route to this Doctorate Degree.
Number 1. WHEN YOU DREAM, DREAM BIG, its Free to Dream anyway!
You know weeks before we opened the very first branch,
My goal then was already to expand Mang Inasal nationwide.
In fact I can recall in one of our lunch at home over 8 years ago,
I passionately told my wife and my younger sister,
that one day they will see a Mang Inasal everywhere they go in the philippines!
But they just smiled at me, they thought I was just day dreaming!
They didnt know I was dead serious to make it happen!
Number 2.THROW YOUR BIG DREAM!
Throw it forward, and make it your finish line, then leave it there,
dont waste your time on always tinkering on your Big Dream,
rather spend your time on finding ways how to equip yourself,
with what is needed to reach that goal, as soon as possible.
When I was starting out, I have noticed that some people have a very good plan, but they are quite busy just thinking of it, talking about it, and perfecting it, but they dont act on it fast, so eventually someone else is ahead of them already.
Number 3.SET YOUR CONTENTMENT LEVEL LOW.
Despite setting your dream big,
one must keep his personal contentment level low,
so that you may reach it far earlier than your big dream.
Because contentment translates to inner happiness.
Some people make the mistake of aligning their Big Dreams with their personal contentment, thus ending up disappointed.
In my case, I can recall, even a year before the acquisition of Mang Inasal,
I have already reached my personal contentment,
but I continued to work, no longer for personal reasons,
but because I wanted to continue to create positive impact to the lives of others.
Number 4. BE STUBBORN,
wear an imaginary telescope,
that is pernmanently zeroed-in to that Big Dream you have set out.
You know along the way,
you will be bombarded with too many distractions from all angles,
but you have to maintain your discipline, to stay on track.
Spend a lot of time in the planning stage, dissecting the nuts and bolts of the specific industry that you plan to conquer, then quietly also spend time in fine tuning and calibrating your plans, then once it is set and you made your own internal acid test, go ahead and passionately execute your well planned strategy.
I can remember when I was starting out, after I got the space of the first Mang Inasal in the Carpark building of Robinsons Iloilo,
people were already telling me, that it is a lousy location!
Then, when we started to announce that we will grow Mang Inasal to 100 stores in 5 years, people were telling me, ah that its impossible!
But we indeed opened the 100th store on our 5th year!
I listen to the inputs, I consider some, and apply in,
but since I am wearing my imaginary telescope,
I was always still on track to my Big Dream, I dont get distracted.
Number 5. KNOW THE TERRAIN,
in whatever field you wanted to pursue, you must know the terrain,
because familiarity of the subject builds up your confidence.
In my case, since I have decided to expand Mang Inasal nationwide,
starting on our 3rd year of operations,
I personally travelled the whole philippines by myself,
at one point, for a few years, I traveled to 4 to 5 cities every week,
just to be familiar with the philippine market terrain.
Number 6. WORK VERY HARD,
this one I may say really has no substitute,
for you to excel you really have to work very hard.
You have to work more than anybody else around you.
In our first few years, while other people are sipping coffee somewhere else,
I was somewhere around the country working hard doing several things altogether to maximize my time.
Because in todays’ very mature business landscape,
in the first few years of business penetration,
you cant just stay in your office and attend series of meetings to buid up the network,
but you need to be in the battlefield yourself.
Its like years of campaign period.
Then once you have already layed out the foundations around,
then you can start hiring professionals to fertilize the network,
for the business to move up to the next level.
Number 7. VALUE YOUR FAMILY,
when you are so focused on your work,
some people take the short cut of just neglecting their family,
yes It will make everything else more difficult, But it can be done.
In my case, especially during our first 5 years,
when I was extremely busy building the business foundation around the country,
I was still with my family every sunday 99% of the time,
no matter how busy I was that time.
So when some people say excuses,
that they cant work hard because of their family,
that you either have to just choose between being sucessfull with work or family,
That is not true, you can succeed in both if you manage it properly.
So let me take this oppurtunity,
to Thank my Parents, my wife, my kids, and my siblings, who have always been there to support all my endeavors in whatever way they can.
Number 8. TREAT YOUR MONEY LIKE YOUR BLOOD,
you know, money is like human blood, it is best when shared continually. Medical studies have proven,
that it is healthy to donate a certain quantity of your blood every year,
so that your system can create new one.
Exactly the same as money,
you should not wait until you become very rich,
for you to start helping others.
And same as blood, you can only give a certain quantity,
depending on your capacity.
And just like blood, sharing your blessings wisely is important,
you must be a responsible giver.
I strongly believe in the saying,
Give a man a Fish and he eats for 1 Day,
Teach a man how to Fish and he eats for the rest of his life.
Let me share with you examples of how a business can start helping from day1. When we opened the first Mang Inasal over 8 years ago,
from the very start, I have already decided to give our employees,
the correct compensation that the law requires,
complete with all the mandatory benefits,
which is quite rare in the local provincial start ups then.
Another example is, if you go to any Mang Inasal store,
the Drop lights that you can see in all stores nationwide,
is made from handmade paper and handmade frame, that is manufactured by members of a church in Leganes Iloilo on weekdays,
and on weekends the workplace becomes their place of worship.
To date since 2003, the Mang Inasal system have already purchased over 9,000 handmade droplights from them.
So everybody, the next time you go to any Mang Inasal branch,
I hope you will start noticing that hadmade droplights,
and remember the story behind it.
Number 9. IF YOU DONT KNOW, ASK.
Dont pretend that you know it even if you dont.
When I started to do business in Makati, talking to investment executives, underwriters, corporate lawyers, financial advisors, etc,
I can not understand so many things, their business language is more complicated.
So I tell them point blank, that I am from the province,
i grew up in the province, educated in the province,
so and I dont understand this and that,
then I ask, then I put things together, so I could understand.
If you dont know and you just keep quiet,
then you are already pretending as if you know it. And you will never know.
And I have proven, that once we mix together the corporate complexity,
with common sense that we learned from the streets, we can achieve a lot better!
Number 10. DONT BE AFRAID IF PEOPLE THINK YOUR IDEA IS CRAZY,
Because that is where great things come from.
In fact, if majority of the people think that your idea is good,
that means there is nothing extraordinary in your idea!
To give you some examples,
When Mr. Tony Tony Tancaktiong
in early 1980s ,
decided to compete with the international fastfood chain Head-on,
People then may say it was a crazy idea.
Jollibee is one of the largest food company in Asia!
When Mr. Henry Sy Sr. in 1985,
decided to build SM city north edsa,
at the height of political and economic crisis,
People then may say it was a crazy idea.
SM north edsa remains to be one of the top malls in the country!
When Mr Carlos Chan in 1993
decided to venture in China,
when China was still dark over 20 years ago,
People then may say its a crazy idea.
Oishi has 14 factories all over China!
When Mr.John Gokongwei
built sun cellular,
and offered unli text and unli calls,
People then said it was a crazy idea,
sun cellular was just recently acquired for a whooping 74billion pesos!
And theres a lot more.
But the common denominator is,
All great extraordinary success stories today,
is at one point a crazy idea!
So again, if you have an idea or plan,
and if everyone around you seems to agree with you,
then its time for you to scrap that plan.
You have to innovate, you have to think out of the box.
But be sure you have to thoroughly study each and every aspect of both your business
model and the specific industry you want to conquer.
In Closing, remember, not everyone is meant to be a businessman like me,
But each of us has its own mission in this world,
what is important, is that once you finally found it….
Do your very Best, Have a Sharp Focus, Surgical Curiosity, Hard Discipline, Deep Grit, and be Intensely Passionate.
Think differently, be ready to sacrifice, and always be on track with your Mission in life!
Congratulations and Thank you very much!’