Never Stop Learning
There is nothing more exciting than going up the stage and receiving that symbolic diploma. For many, it signifies the end of a particular chapter in their lives—preparing for the real world. Unfortunately, when you get to the “real world” well, reality sets in. And that reality will tell you that learning should not stop once you call yourself a graduate.
I have heard a lot of young people exclaim a feeling of liberation: “Sa wakas wala ng exams, thesis, at recitations!” Only to find out that at work you need to write reports, be present during meetings, and answer questions from your superiors. Learning never ends. It should never cease.
Formal schooling is important. I spent my college and postgraduate years learning business administration from the University of the Philippines and I can honestly say that the foundational concepts I learned there continue to help me today.
But I also know that what you learned in school is not enough to allow you to navigate through the rest of your life. In my case, I had a lot of practical learning experience even before entering the UP campus as I helped my mother sell shrimps and fish in the market. Those practical learnings continued after school when I dabbled in corporate work and eventually started my own business from the ground up.
A diploma is important but it will not define you nor your future.
When people ask me what does it mean to be an entrepreneur, I always tell them that entrepreneurship is about problem-solving and creating wealth along the way. Before I built the first house I sold, I was interested in finding out if there was a better way for Filipinos to fulfill their life-long dream of owning a house. I studied current models, and came up with what turned out to be a successful formula.
As an entrepreneur, you look at providing solutions to problems. And you cannot do that with static knowledge. You need to constantly upgrade your learnings in order to catch up with an ever-changing environment. Even when you decide to stop learning, the world will continue to turn around you.
When I finished my last term as senator in 2013, I decided to go back to running our business. Despite my extensive experience as an entrepreneur, I had to catch up with some of the new developments in real estate as I was basically absent from the industry in the 21 years that I spent as public servant.
On top of that, as Vista Land began to expand, I had to study the retail aspect of our business like coffee, bakery, convenience stores, among others. It was an exciting time because I felt like a neophyte entrepreneur once again. I had to re-learn and learn new stuff.
I also realized that continuous learning is essential to sustaining your passion and ultimately the success of your business. Even up to now I continue to read up, learn from others and from our travels, and absorb new ideas.
You also learn from mistakes. When you start whatever course you decide to take, you will definitely commit mistakes or as I like to call it—opportunities to learn. Sometimes old ideas work, sometimes they don’t. And when they fail, you need to have the ability and the knowledge to adapt. Mistakes are not permanent. They can be stepladders to success if you learn from them.
That is why I have banished the word “retirement” from my vocabulary. I don’t think I can ever stop learning and doing the thing I love the most.