Archive for February, 2008

An Honor to be Honored

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

About two weeks ago, I was advised by EDSA People Power Commissioner Angie Barrera that Go Negosyo has been unanimously nominated to be a recipient of an award of recognition by the EDSA People Power Commission for its efforts in living up to the spirit of EDSA. I was a bit reluctant to receive the award since I felt there is still much to do and achieve (and the awarding ceremony was so early in the morning). Kidding aside, I decided to receive the award on behalf of all the entrepreneurs who have joined this cause to inspire people and who have shared in the same vision I have for this country in creating an entrepreneurial revolution.

While preparing to get dressed for the event, my brother Bernie sent me the statement of Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas. Villegas is a protégé of Sin, the driving force behind the two EDSA revolts in 1986 and 2001. In his statement, Bishop Villegas said that while this government may be riddled with corruption, “we below are guilty as well”. He said that the government is but a reflection of the people and even if the leaders in government get replaced, the same problems will arise as long as we do not “repent of our personal sins as dishonest and uncaring ordinary citizens”. The Bishop also said that while he agrees that “the President must change or will be changed”, the senators and congressmen should also resign. The people had not gone to the streets since they have realized that this is not the solution and that the solution comes from a real change within us as Filipinos.

Together with other awardees like Dylan Wilk of Gawad Kalinga, Los Baños Mayor Cesar Perez, the women who climbed Mount Everest and Alay sa Kawal Foundation, I was asked to give the response and basically told the crowd that there is no perfect government and that we cannot keep having a people power revolution. The revolution that we had twenty two years ago in the streets has to move forward. The true spirit of EDSA has to continue to live on by not having more People Power movements. The revolution of change starts from the mind. The real change should happen within ourselves. We must take control of our own destiny. The biggest problem we have is poverty and for us to get rid of this, we must have the right attitude and mindset. We must continue to give hope that we indeed can have a great nation. Go Negosyo together with other organizations like Gawad Kalinga are working to inspire many Filipino people that this country indeed has a very bright future.

This award actually goes to the over 300 entrepreneurs who have joined this advocacy and have spent time to help inspire this nation. And now we have the celebrity entrepreneurs joining this cause to inspire this nation to be enterprising. We are featuring them in our new book Go Negosyo – Celebrity Edition. The book hopes to inspire a person to set up a business, to be entrepreneurial and innovative, and be more successful, that will employ from one to thousands of people. This is part of the advocacy of Filipino entrepreneurs to inspire people to Go Negosyo, and this is our answer to poverty.

This Sunday, March 2 at 4pm at the Music Hall, SM Mall of Asia, please join us as we launch that book Go Negosyo’s 50 Inspiring Stories of Entrepreneurs (Celebrity Edition) and get your book signed by the artistas and other entrepreneurs featured, even those in the first book.

Next week’s column will talk about the need to move towards a parliamentary form of government, and how we can do it properly. I am not a lawyer but in principle, we can elect the members of the constitutional convention by 2010 together with the new President. The form and structure of government that will be adopted can be put to a vote and if the Parliamentary form will be the one accepted by the people, the incumbent President at that time will see through the transition process leading to the shift to Parliamentary by 2016. It is a long process but it is better to be slow but sure. This to me will bring down the cost of running for the leadership post, and will make changes in leadership constitutionally possible, simply with a vote of no confidence. No need to resort to indiscriminate use of people power, as many proponents have put it. Those who want to comment about this, please email your comments.

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Tomorrow we shall also launch the Nokia Mobile Entrepreneur Awards, which is a nationwide search for the innovative and progressive entrepreneurs that use mobile services extensively in their business operations. In partnership with Nokia, Go Negosyo aims to recognize Filipino entrepreneurs that utilize mobile technology and discover new and interesting business models out there and select the best ones, based on criteria we set. Deadline of submission will be on March 31. Please log on to the Nokia website for details.

Moving On

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Last Sunday, I read the column of fellow Philstar columnist Babes Romualdez. I don’t normally comment on what people write or say but what he wrote really made a lot of sense. Babes mentioned that what we need is a change in our political structure. What I guess he was referring to was a move to a Parliamentary form of government. The current system that we have is clearly not working well as I have reiterated in many of my previous columns.

As we can see, most stable and progressive countries in the world follow a parliamentary form of government. These include Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and also neighboring Asian countries such as Japan, India, Singapore, and Malaysia. At present, the Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia with a presidential bicameral form of government. Isn’t that already saying something? Presidential form of government may work well in more politically mature countries. Since a vote of confidence is important in our society, I would prefer a parliamentary form where the Prime Minister can be removed due to loss of confidence.

I also agree with Babes that the only way we can stop or lessen corruption is to make it less expensive to run for office. Spending hundreds of millions to run as a Senator and billions to run as President is a waste of money even if it comes from private individual donations. Not to mention that nowadays, it requires big budget and longer period to pass good laws given the two chambers we have.

We hope we can see the conclusion soon on this controversy so we can move on as a nation. We also hope that in these investigations, more weight can be given to evidences since even in private corporations, one needs evidence of corruption before taking out the person. Hearsay while it may be material, cannot be used in getting a person fired. I am glad Senator Jamby Madrigal filed the case in court as this is the proper venue for issues like these. If they are found guilty, then let the full force of the law take its course on them. That’s the way a civil society should work, by the rule of law, not the rule of a mob.

We hope this Senate inquiry can lead to laws that will minimize corruption. Bidding procedures should be more transparent, maybe we should start by mandating the clergy to be part of bidding above a certain amount. All bidding of mega projects can also be publicized using a tri-media coverage which shows bid documents being opened at the same time.

Let us focus more on solving poverty which is our country’s biggest problem. Organizations like Gawad Kalinga continue to do their part in helping solve poverty and the various foundations created by large corporations. Go Negosyo in its small way thru the advocacy wants to help create more enterprising Filipinos. Surely more negosyantes will want to see us move away from this reality show because letting the issue linger without concrete action would clearly be a waste of everyone’s time.

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Amidst the clouds of controversies dominating the news nowadays, it is very encouraging to witness inspiring moments that took place two weeks ago when the Ernst and Young SGV held their awards night for the Entrepreneur of the Year (Philippines) 2007. The gathering was filled with the country’s leading entrepreneurs, including the previous years’ awardees led by Go Negosyo Trustee Nanay Coring Ramos, our mentor Senen Bacani and my good friend Lance Gokongwei.

This annual activity was organized by SGV Foundation led by Chairman Dave Balangue, and attended by Former President FVR, Secretaries Peter Favila of DTI and Arthur Yap of DA, RCBC Chair Cesar Virata and several Go Negosyo advocates Johnlu Koa of French Baker, Henry Lim Bon Liong of Sterling, Cecilio Pedro of Lamoiyan, Myrna Yao of Richwell and now NCRFW Chair, Gaita Fores of Cibo (who is a finalist, and who eventually won the Woman Entrepreneur award, Willy Tan of Hausland (who was our Pampanga Go Negosyo awardee and who eventually won the Realty and Construction Entrepreneur award) and Dr. Cecilia del Castillo of Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (another Gonegosyo Bacolod awardee and a finalist in this award). We congratulate them and the other entrep awardees- Rajo Laurel for Small Business Entrepreneur, Abelardo Tolentino of Aidea Phil. for Innovation, Angela Villalba of Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Fdn. for Social Entrepreneur, and Fred Uytengsu for Master Entrepreneur, and the overall Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines award.

Recognizing these tough entrepreneurs always bring to fore the ideal role models for the Filipinos. Most of them have emphasized the importance of hardwork and discipline, and having the right entrepreneurial mindset that banked on innovative products and services and continuous search for what is needed by their markets. Humbling remarks were even heard from Fred who instead recognized the entrepreneur in the family, his father, who started Alaska. He further credited the other entrepreneurs in the crowd who have started their businesses from scratch. But I believe everyone would agree that Fred was responsible to taking the growth of their company to higher levels and to where it is now. Fred to me is an example of someone with strong entrepreneurial mindset inside a corporation or what we also call as an intrapreneur.

I must mention the equally inspiring finalists such as Joey Antonio of Century Properties Group, Exi Robles of Sta. Lucia Realty, Rajo Laurel, Edward Lee of Citisec Online, Roy Rivera of RD Realty, Jose Cervantes of Portion Fillers, Chester Cokaliong of Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Sebastian Tamayo of Far East Hotel Management, and Evelyn Lao-Yap of Benby Enterprises.

We can glean from the awardees their unique and impressive businesses, but all with strong passion and determination to succeed. Our big congratulations to the well-deserving winners and finalists.

Go Negosyo, the Bestseller

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Yes, the Go Negosyo Book of 50 Inspiring Entrepreneurial Stories is the number one bestseller for the non-fiction category in National Bookstore. This book is a compilation of 50 inspiring stories of the country’s top entrepreneurs. We launched this book last February 2007 and it has indeed inspired so many people to think of putting their own business. As I travel to other countries, I do meet people who have purchased and read the book. Many people ask me why I decided to come out with this book. I think it is because I wanted to counter-act the crab mentality of many Filipinos. It would be nice to feel good for people who have done well and get them to share their stories and hopefully inspire more Filipinos.

In a way, the Philippines seems to be in a cycle of misery. How many good years do we have before we again face the downside? Over the past 20 years, the good years were quite short. Now that we have started to see the good years come, we see the problems of sub prime affecting many of the big nations of the world and the fear of recession that may creep into the Asian economies.

And now we have another reality show unfolding, the Lozada story. While this issue remains a question, what is important is to remain focused on the economy of the country. We should continue to hope for the kind of growth we experience in 2007 to happen in 2008. Our answer to the biggest problem of the country which is poverty lies in a growing economy. We should focus on having investors and tourists coming to the Philippines to invest and to enjoy the country and spend their dollars here. Our entrepreneurs should continue to expand their business therefore creating more jobs and creating more entrepreneurs so more jobs can be created. I am still confident that things will improve towards the end of the year and hopefully in 2010 we will have one of the most exciting Presidential elections ever.

This is why I felt after coming out with a bestseller, I had to come out with another book. I thought that since many Filipinos idolize celebrities, the best way to encourage Filipinos to think negosyo is to show them that these celebrities are into businesses themselves. Hopefully thru this, they will be encouraged to think negosyo and embark on it that will create more employment opportunities for Filipinos.

Let me share with you excerpts of the foreword of the book on Go Negosyo, Joey Concepcion’s Inspiring Stories of Celebrity Entrepreneurs:

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Go Negosyo–Sagot sa Kahirapan.

I have always believed that adopting an optimistic and entrepreneurial mindset will drive this nation away from poverty. It is not just the aptitude and skills, but more importantly the right kind of attitude which will help Filipinos move up in life…

This book is part of Go Negosyo’s nationwide communication campaign to promote an optimistic and entrepreneurial spirit among Filipinos. As with the previous Go Negosyo book, it hopes to inspire Filipinos to develop an entrepreneurial mindset as the way out of poverty and to succeed in life. With the right kind of attitude and proper mentoring, they too can be the next Henry Sy of SM, Dr. Roland Hortaleza of Splash, Johnlu Koa of French Baker, Nanay Coring of National Bookstore, Ben Chan of Bench, Cecilio Pedro of Hapee, Ronald Pineda of Folded and Hung, Richard Lee of Hyundai, Ricardo Po of Century Canning or Vicky Belo of Belo Medical Clinic.

While the entrepreneurs in the first book are stars in their own right, I decided to feature a different set of individuals who I think is closer to the hearts of many Filipinos – the celebrities. Pinoys consider these celebrities their idols and feel a close affinity towards them as these celebrities hold constant presence in the people’s everyday lives. They are seen everywhere whether in print, TV, radio, billboards and the big screen. Who does not know Dingdong Dantes as the dashing Sergio in Marimar, or Judy Ann Santos in Ysabella? They are indeed a part of every Filipino household. If we really want to capture the hearts and minds of the Filipinos, then we must get the help of these celebrities.

Initially, we wanted to produce a communication campaign with a series of print advertisements leading into a book compilation of featured celebrity entrepreneurs. We also wanted to invite them to join our Go Negosyo caravans as their presence will truly inspire the thousands of attendees in each of our caravans. So in working on this book project, I asked Jun de Leon to help us with the photography, as this book had to project very inspiring situations showing the celebrities with their negosyos so as to motivate the reader. As we made the list of celebrities who have a negosyo, we were amazed to see that quite a number of them had one. Aside from the celebrities of the entertainment industry, we also decided to include a couple of popular entrepreneurs in the fashion industry who are also considered celebrities in their respective fields. It was interesting to know that many celebrities nowadays have a high level of maturity in terms of handling their finances. They are wiser now as to where they should invest their money. They are fully aware of the large turn-over rate of the industry they belong to, which pushes them to become more pro-active in building a more secure future for themselves and their family.

Upon hearing their stories, I was surprised to know that some of these celebrities also came from very humble beginnings. As breadwinners of their families, they entered the glamorous world of show business not just with the dream of becoming famous someday but also to provide a steady source of income for their family. Just like the stories of other entrepreneurs, they used their God-given talents and maintained a good attitude to overcome obstacles and succeed in life…

This book carries some similarities from our previous Go Negosyo book which features the country’s top entrepreneurial icons. It veers away from the typical stories of how business empires are made but instead focuses on the human aspect of the story which in my opinion is what makes it inspiring. I also asked Entrepreneurs School of Asia founder Vivienne Tan to do this time the Lessons Learned. In the first book, it was entrep guru Andy Ferreria, but this time I wanted something different. Vivienne is the daughter of Lucio Tan, but she decided to start her own business rather than join her father’s empire. As co-founder of the school, she talks from an entrepreneur’s viewpoint for example, what values make quite a number of Filipino Chinese families successful.

While the entrepreneurs featured in this book have become known for the roles they played in show business or related industries, they certainly have proven that they have the passion and creativity to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. They have taken a new and more challenging role as negosyantes which have led them to the road to success…

I hope those who will read this book will get inspired by the stories of these celebrity entrepreneurs whom everyone had come to know and love. May you be inspired to reach for your star, become masters of your own destiny and fulfill your entrepreneurial dreams. Even if you decide not to become an entrepreneur, I do hope you develop an optimistic and entrepreneurial attitude and use it as a leverage to move up in life.

Let’s Go Negosyo!

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Again, I would like to thank everyone who made this book possible especially to the celebrity entrepreneurs who took time out of their busy schedules to participate in this project: Marvin Agustin, Ogie Alcasid, Drew Arellano, Stylists: Millet Arzaga, Noel Manapat, Chechel Joson and Luis Espiritu, Paolo Bediones, Joey Benin, Tintin Bersola, Sara Black, Pilita Corales, Dingdong Dantes, Abigail De Leon, Tweetie De Leon, Monsour Del Rosario, Michael De Mesa, Ces Drilon, Cristalle Henares and Vicki Belo, Directors: Quark Henares, JA and Ning Tadena, Jenny and Jessie Pastor and Lia Martinez, Jeffrey Hidalgo, Arnel Ignacio, Joyce Jimenez, Rajo Laurel, Maricel Laxa and Anthony Pangilinan, Kuh Ledesma, Angel Locsin, Jolina Magdangal, Albert Martinez, Eric Matti, Aubrey Miles, Ara Mina, Cesar Montano, DonDon Monteverde, Vina Morales, Aga Muhlach, Tina Maristela Ocampo, Happy Ongpauco and Allana Montelibano, Diether Ocampo, Dominic Ochoa, Keren Pascual, Patrice Ramos –Diaz, Jericho Rosales, Fanny Serrano, Judy Ann Santos, Lorna Tolentino, Regine Tolentino, Joel Torre, Bea Valdes, Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Gary Valenciano, Sari Yap and Tim Yap.

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[This new book will be available in all leading bookstores by next week.]

Dream. Believe. Achieve.

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Kung hei fat choi! Happy New Year to all the Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs. While I may not be a Filipino-Chinese, we are always mistaken to be one because my grandfather looked like Chinese. My dad says we are more Vietnamese. Whatever it is, I love Chinese food and I do listen to a number of Feng Shui consultants. It can be confusing at times when you listen to so many experts on how to become prosperous this year. One must remember that their advice is not a replacement for hardwork, passion and creativity which are the qualities needed to be a successful entrepreneur.

The year of the rat seems to be a good year for the Philippines and the rest of Asia according to Feng Shui expert Charlie Chao. There are two Charlie Chao’s, the one of Mandarin and the other one I know. They don’t have the same advice and differ in some points. During a dinner hosted by Tessa at her home last week, she had free Feng Shui advice from this lady protégé of Lilian Too and again the advice was different. Whatever their predictions are, this is not the cure to problems and cannot alter a person’s destiny.

The title of this column is Dream Believe Achieve. This is basically the slogan we adopted for the Concepcion Industries Shareholders planning session in Mactan Cebu, something we do annually in different parts of the country. Let me share with you the experience that we had, not to boast about the success of our corporation, but maybe to share something that will inspire other families especially in the light of so many family fights.

My grandfather Jose Concepcion Sr. started Concepcion Industries when he was in his late 60’s. Just like many Filipinos, he was a professional, working for Edward J. Nell Corporation for so many years until he became the first Filipino President of that multinational firm. My Tito Ronnie (Raul Concepcion) was quite instrumental in setting up and growing the business with my grandfather and was able to get the capital by being a flour dealer of RFM Corporation during the early years. This story was being told to us during the first evening session entitled Mga Kuwento ng 2G para sa 4G (2G refers to second generation, who are my Dad, uncle and auntie and 4G are the apo’s). It was a heartwarming session we had with our parents and uncles/aunties, to share how they started helping in the business, how they managed through some difficult years, and some funny stories along the way. In the end, we wanted them to share the values and legacy they want to leave behind to the succeeding generations. While my lolo was the professional, my lola was more the entrepreneur. She was in trading, selling goodies like cosmetic and beauty parlor supplies and she also set up National Business school, which also included courses on typing and short-hand. My father Joecon told us he was supposed to be a priest but he was not able to last long in the seminary. God probably had a different purpose for him.

As the second generation was recounting the hardships they went thru, you could feel their emotions. Both my dad and Tito Ronnie are now in their 70s, 76 to be exact , I am sure they wont like me mentioning their age. My Tita Mely is 75 and her husband Tito Paeng will turn 80 this year. Their touching stories captivated us the 3rd generation and the 4th generation, our kids. Looking at our clan today, we are now over 100 and we believe it is very important that thru sessions like this, we are able to share with the younger generations the values and principles of hard-work, integrity, and the more important things in life that should go beyond material things, and that is being God-centered and the love for family and other people, and these are what we want the younger generations in the family to have.

To be able to keep the participants interest in the conference high, we had videos done in almost every segment, which started with a video on our respective Dreams. Funny on how one of my cousins who is on the heavy side mentioned her dream which is to wear a size 6. One of the kids of my sister Liza mentioned that he wanted to be a billionaire, but one said he wanted to be a driver, so I guess they can just average out. While every child and grandchild has a dream that was attainable, what was key there was for everyone to really state what their dream is and if we look at most successful entrepreneurs, they start with a dream in their hearts, no matter how difficult it may be to attain.

One of my dreams before was to beat the big competitors we had when we bought Cosmos and Selecta. Our competitor in the end had to buy Cosmos as it became a very strong player especially in the sari- sari stores. Also today, Selecta has reached an unprecedented market leadership in the ice cream category with over 50 percent market share, from about 1 percent when we bought it in 1989. I credit the marketing savvy and untiring passion of my brother John, who propelled Selecta to where it is today. On the other side, Concepcion Industries is known for its Carrier and Condura Aircons, which also has managed to maintain a dominant market share of close to 70 percent for many years, led by my hardworking Tito Ronnie and my cousins Jojo and Raffy. The recent great turnaround story however came from Condura refrigerators with the very creative minds of cousins Ton Concepcion and Renna Hechanova-Angeles. It was suffering from big losses, but it has now become a profitable and fast growing division.

Concepcion Industries is controlled by 3 families today. My uncle Rene, who died a few years ago, sold his share in the business to grow in other businesses. He was a real entrepreneur at heart. He was the youngest of the siblings, and was close to his children.

During the session, we encouraged all members of the family to participate, from 7 year-old kids and up. We asked them to be active in the sessions and open forums and we made it interesting for them. The goal which I mentioned to my cousins is that since not everyone in the family can join in the corporation, it is very important to nurture the entrepreneurial mindset and empower them as they pursue their dreams and strike out on their own, and for those working in the company, to reignite the same entrepreneurial passion to help grow the businesses further. Thus, for the first time in our annual gathering, we set up an entrepreneurship forum and we invited some Go Negosyo partners who have entrepreneurship advocacy in their hearts. We are very thankful for the unselfish sharing of stories and advice from Justin Uy of Philippine brand mangoes, Bernie and Alice Liu of Penshoppe, Oxygen, ForMe and Memo, Vicky Belo of Belo medical clinics and Belo Essentials and of course our good friend Jay Aldeguer of Island Souvenirs. All of them gave very good advice, and shared openly their stories and struggles which captivated the interest of the clan, especially the 4th generation. Vicky Belo was emotional that she even got teary eyed when my Aunt asked her a question and she remembered how her mother helped her set up her business and built her confidence. Many thanks to our entrepreneurship advocates and to the vibrant Dean Pax Lapid of the Entrepreneurs School of Asia who was very kind enough to help handle the entrep forum.

I hope the readers won’t misunderstand this sharing as we see many families fight and break-up because of money and other petty issues. We are happy to see the big Concepcion family being able to reach this point and still united. It has taken us a lot of years to get to this level of relationship, not to say it is a perfect family relationship. It is natural to have the petty relationship problems but I guess in the end it is the solid bonding that will keep everyone together and within reach. As we say, what is all the wealth when you have a family that is destroyed, and for a family to continue to grow its business, you must have peace and understanding, a clear vision and roles and transparency. I know we are not the only family trying to achieve this. We see and admire the Ayala’s, the Aboitiz’s and many more, who how have lasted for so many generations, and it is our dream to have the same experience.

As our parents grow older, the real measure of their success is how they have lived their lives, what are the legacy and values they are leaving behind to the next generations that hopefully will also be able to build on it and pass on to the next generations, and in the end serve as catalysts for helping create a better negosyo climate for the Filipinos.

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My condolences to the family of Larry Cruz, owner of the LJC group of restaurants. He was a great entrepreneur with an inspiring story which we featured in the first Go Negosyo book.