Developing the Leader Within You

Posted on: June 13, 2012

Please join me in my upcoming workshop series entitled, “Developing the Leader Within You” to be held at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel.

For more information or inquiries about the event, please contact Inspire Leadership Consultancy and look for Binky Ocaya 687-2614 / 09193824382 or click to:

Thank you.



Between Big Shots and Big People

Posted on: April 22, 2012

There are times when I have to go to our domestic airports regularly.

There are so many out of town speaking engagements that bring me to the airport at early hours in the morning and as uncomfortable as this maybe it is now part of my life I have learned to live with.

Many things happen in airports.

Long lines, short lines, put your bags, remove your shoes, socks with holes socks without holes and some without socks… and for the life of me I cannot understand why people have to remove their slippers and sandals too and let it slide through the x-ray machine. They’re probably scanning for germs and bacteria. Part of the job I guess.

There are so many interesting people inside the airport.

There are so many interesting people inside the lounge.

And I say this without exaggeration, there has never been an airport experience of mine without running into someone I know or someone who happens to know me. A participant in my seminars, an audience in my talk or maybe somebody who would call my attention because they recognize me from this column. Overall, apart from the sleepiness and the predictable food inside the lounge my airport experiences have been pretty good.

And then I am always on the lookout for drama.

Drama that happens right before my eyes.

Big Shots, and  Big People they come in different sizes and shapes and characters.

Big Shots come with many body guards. One to carry his suitcase, another to pave the way so there won’t be traffic and delay, maybe one or two more whose only job is to look menacing. And may I say that they are quite good at what they are doing. I am sure security inside the airport is lacking and that is why they need to bring their personal guards with them.

Big Shots make a grand entrance.  Here the drama is about to unfold. What a sight to behold. Accompanied by airport officials I presume because they wear those huge ID’s on their chest. These Big Shots need not fall in line. They are public servants you know and as such they expect to be served. And then I turn around and my smile meets the smiles of other passengers who begin to shake their heads. Maybe our thoughts are on the same wave length. What a reflection of our country. The values we hold dear.

Perks and privileges of a democratic government is this it? I really don’t know.

Maybe the wise guy who said this was right:

  • An autocratic government is run by an autocrat.
  • An oligarchy is run by oligarchs.
  • A communist government is run by communists.
  • A monarchy is run by a monarch.
  • And a democratic government is run by demons….

Of course this is not true but when you see sights like these you tend to believe it is.

The irony is that there is no respect and admiration from those who watch the drama unfolding. They shake their heads, they mumble words I cannot hear and then they move on.

And then there are the Big People. I see them and I recognize them because they are known and they are famous. But they are inconspicuous and they try their best to stay that way. No fanfare no accompanying officials with huge ID on their chests and they do fall in line. Greet them and they greet you back. Move over and let them go first and they refuse with a smile, say a little “Thank you” and gain the admiration of people around them. These are not the Big Shots. These are the Big People.

There is a big difference between the Big Shots and the Big People. Humility is what differentiates them.

Maybe I am just tired and maybe having to wake up so early just to go to the airport to catch my morning flight has made me critical and cynical and I apologize for this. But would you blame me if I wish I could see more public figures displaying humility and serving because this is what they are called to do?

We still have a lot of growing up to do don’t we?

Borrowing a famous line from famous American comedienne Lily Tomlin and revising it a little for the local context: “”Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are

decent, hardworking, honest Filipinos. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.”

Everything rises and falls on leadership and I pray to God that He gives us good leaders.



Posted on: January 7, 2012

What do you do when people intentionally disobey rules and regulations? Get out the company manual, reinstate capital punishment and subject the violators to non-stop torture? I don’t think that would be the solution. Besides, pretty soon, you will have the Human Rights advocates banging on your doors. But you can deal with the problem if you use a little creativity and understand a little bit of employee empowerment, as the following story will clearly explain.


At a large private high school somewhere in the Midwest, a young girl created a mini-scandal when she made an impression on the bathroom mirror of her lips in bright red lipstick. The principal, a bright, well-educated woman with more than 20 years of experience in public school administration, was appalled. She immediately addressed the students over the school intercom:

“It has come to my attention that someone has been leaving an impression of their lips on the mirror in the second-floor girl’s bathroom with her lipstick. This behavior is considered vandalism and will not be tolerated. I hope that whoever is responsible for this will not do it again and will apologize for her inconsiderate actions. And I will warn you all that if this incident is repeated, all guilty parties will be suspended for a period of one week. I trust I won’t have to address this problem again.”

Naturally, the principal’s announcement had precisely the opposite effect. Despite the teacher’s best efforts, an epidemic of lipstick imprints galloped through the girl’s bathrooms. In desperation, the principal listened to an idea from the school janitor and allowed him to try it.

The janitor gathered together about five junior and senior girls who were the unofficial leaders of their classes and led them into one of the bathrooms with a bucket and a washrag in his hands. “I wanted to show you girls just how difficult it is to wash this lipstick off the mirrors,” he told them. The girls rolled their eyes, folded their arms, and otherwise signaled their utter indifference.

The janitor then proceeded into one of the stalls, dipped his washrag in the toilet, and swirled it around in the water. He went over to the lipstick on the mirror and wiped it off with the toilet-water-soaked-rag. Wide-eyed horror replaced the expressions of boredom as the janitor finished wiping down the mirrors.

The lipstick problem ended almost immediately.[1]


Talk about empowerment. The school janitor came out with the best solution in dealing with the problem, which teaches us a lesson as well. Empowerment simply means listening to the suggestions and recommendations of the people working under us. Our Ph.D.’s  and our business degrees do not necessarily mean we know all the right answer all the time. You might be surprised to know that very practical and logical solutions lie in the hands of those simple folks without fancy work titles and they’re simply waiting for us to give them a chance to show us what they’ve got.

Theories, books and high sounding words pertaining to “employee empowerment” abound everywhere. Just take a trip down your favorite bookstores and you’ll find titles upon titles that deal with the subject matter. Use your favorite search engine and look up the word empowerment and you’ll be surprised to find so many articles and materials written about it.


Well I’ve got news for you. Employee empowerment simply means we start with giving due respect and attention to those who are working for us. To accord them with the right degree of honor and respect. And to adopt a teachable mindset remind the self that there will always be something we can learn from others. Successful leaders understand this principle and that’s why he gets the most out of his people. And the bonus here is that his people like what’s happening. And they get motivated to do more.


The bible has something interesting to say: It says that those who want to lead must first learn how to serve and nothing beats serving those who work under us by giving them due attention, honor and respect.


So the next time you find a lipstick impression right in your mirror, before you being out the “Death sentence” Penalty, call your janitor for advice. Because this is good advice.


Note: 723









[1] Lipstick on the Mirror. Alex Lubertozzi, Perdido Magazine

Two Kinds of Questions

Posted on: November 8, 2011

Asking: “Who caused this to happen?” and asking: “How did I get myself into this situation?” are two different things. One fixes the blame the other one fixes the problem.
Some people are experts in blame-storming and this is why they never recover. Others learn from mistakes and this is why they succeed. The question you ask determines the outcome for your life.

Resistance to Change

Posted on: May 28, 2011

You and I know very well that resistance to change is always one of the inhibitors of progress. And this point is best illustrated by a historical event that happened in the field of basketball. From the Signs of the Times courtesy of Pacific Press comes this beautiful story.

Do you know that on the night of December 30, 1936, a crowd of more than 17,500 turned out at the old Madison Square Garden in New York City, to see Long Island University, the nation’s number-one basketball team with a 43-game winning streak, oppose Stanford, the defending Pacific Coast Conference champion. Stanford ended LIU’s winning streak with a 45­-11 victory, but something more important happened.

The crowd in fact had mostly come to see Hank Luisetti, Stanford’s 6 foot 2 inch, 185-pound sophomore. He was the only player known for shooting the ball with one hand while he hung in the air, in defiance of basketball style. Everyone else was shooting the old style: two-handed set shots or hook shots. The huge publicity celebrating Luisetti’s shooting style did not change that the goal was putting the ball into the basket, but it forever changed how the game was played. But not without stubborn resistance. The establishment felt it was not the right thing to do. “That’s not basketball,” Nat Holman, the fabled City College of New York coach, said at the time. “If my boys ever shot one-handed, I’d quit coaching.”

Luisetti was voted college player of the year in 1937 and 1938. He finished second to George Mikan in the Associated Press’s poll to select the best player of the first half of the twentieth century.

Hank Luisetti died on December 17, 2002, living plenty long enough to see his style perfected and embellished by the likes of Earl Monroe, Julius Erving, and, of course, Michael Jordan. Had somebody not had the courage to break convention, then basketball today would have remained static and boring.

Through out history you will see that resistance to change has always been there. Hindsight is 20-20 vision. Today as we look back we find it humorous. Take for instance this story:

In the late nineteenth century, a controversy erupted among educators about a new American invention. For decades, students had used lead pencils in doing their work. But in 1880, a technological breakthrough came. For the first time, they began attaching rubber erasers on the ends of pencils.

This had never been done before. And many educators opposed the use of this newfangled pencil on the ground that it encouraged students to make mistakes. “Let them avoid errors in the first place, and they won’t need an eraser.”

When calculators were introduced accounting and engineering professors were against the machine. The devices were prohibited entry into the classroom. One accounting professor proclaimed with passion and conviction that those who persist in using the calculator will become dumb. Of course today, if you are not using the calculator you are already dumb. When was the last time you ever see someone carrying the slide rule and algorithm to class? Hardly.

Be open to change. But stick firm to biblical values.

These are the only thing that should never change for it they do change then they are not considered values in the first place.

Make change your friend. People who soar and succeed are those who refuse to live in the past but whole eyes sparkle with the prospect of the future embracing change along the way.


Still Clinging To Your Job Title?

Posted on: April 1, 2011

Robert was so excited about his promotion to Vice President of the company he worked for and kept bragging about it to his wife for weeks on end. Finally she couldn’t take it any longer, and told him, “Listen, it means nothing, they even have a vice-president of peas at the grocery store!”"Really?” he said. Not sure if this was true or not, Tom decided to call the grocery store. A clerk answers and Tom says, “Can I please talk to the Vice President of peas?” The clerk replies, “Canned or frozen?”

Positions? Job titles?Does it mean much these days?  To some people they sure do.

Someone approached me during break time in our 2 day leadership workshop training and told me she plans to leave her company because she was not given the position she was promised. I looked at her and told her, “Listen. It could be that changes have taken place in your business organization such that the position promised you may not be in sync with what is expected from you in terms of deliverables so wouldn’t you put lesser emphasis on the position and concentrate more on your function?’

Are positions and job titles important these days? I’m sure they are but not in the way it used to. Consider this. I look at the mirror and I have to ask myself this question. Am I an entrepreneur? A public speaker? Am I a writer? A broadcaster or am I a columnist for this prestigious national daily? Let me go farther. Am I a corporate trainer? A Resource person? A professor or a marketer?  Maybe I’m a salesman or I am a combination of everything and I could go on and on. On any given day, I proba­bly have fifteen or twenty “occupations.” Not to mention the fact that at home, I am a researcher, a father and a husband to only one wife. Notice the emphasis on the numerical value? ONE?

The world is no longer the same. The days of “milk­man” and “soldier” are pretty much gone. Most of the people I know and work with would have had just as much trouble as I had with the occupation question (although I don’t think that any of them would have had a panic attack).

What are you?

Does clinging to an occupation make you better at it? Does it make it easier for you to identify the folks you’d like to work with, the people who can help you do your job-or does it just obfuscate things and drag you into meetings that you shouldn’t be in? While we’re at it, what is your job description? Is it a hopeful, optimistic, powerful document that gives you permission to explore new opportunities and to get something done? Or is it a defensive shield that makes it easy for you to identify what’s not your responsibility? Companies that don’t have any employees who have the phrase “in­crease our international presence” in their job description rarely take the time and risks necessary to develop an international presence.

Or­ganizations that provide their employees with carefully worded job descriptions are giving them permission to ignore excellent business opportunities, and, in doing so, are losing out every day.

This is the reason why Tom Peters says. “Burn your job descriptions…innovate or evaporate!”

I don’t know about you but I do not intend to be limited by my job descriptions. I want to explore new things and I want to try out new things. This way I learn more and this way I keep myself young. You and I are created for greatness as long as we do not limit ourselves.

Many people are lazy but they are busy. Lazy to try out new things and explore new ways to improve what they are doing and add to their repertoire of talents and skills; but they are too busy doing the same thing they have been doing for the past 200 years. And they never discover their full potential and use it for fullness living.

Famous former NBA superstar Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics has turned philosopher when he said: “A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.” And you know what? He is right!