Better than being negative
Butch Jimenez, head of PLDT’s media and strategic communications
department, delivered this speech at the UP Diliman Class 2003
AS college students, you’re just about to set sail into the real world. As you prepare for the battleground of life, you’ll hear many speeches, read tons of books and get miles of advice telling you to work hard, dream big, go out and do something for yourself, and have a vision.
Not bad advice, really. In fact, following these nuggets of truth may just bring you to the top. But as I’ve lived my life over the years, I have come to realize that it is great to dream big, have a vision, make a name, and work hard. But guess what: There’s something better than that.
So my message today simply asks the question, What’s better than…?
Let’s start off with something really simple. What’s better than a long
speech? No doubt, a short one. So, you guys are in luck because I do
intend to keep this short.
Now, let me take you through a very simple math exam. I’ll rattle off a
couple of equations, and you tell me what you observe about them. Be
mindful of the instructions. You are to tell me what you observe about
the equations. Here goes:
3+4=7, 9+2=1 1, 8+4=13, and 6+6=12. Tell me, what do you observe?
Every time I conduct this test, more than 90 percent of the participants
immediately say, 8+4 is NOT 13, it’s 12!
That’s true and they are correct. But they could have also observed that
the three other equations were right. That 3+4 is 7, that 9+2 is 11, and
that 6+6 is 12.
What’s my point? Many people immediately focus on the negative instead
of the positive. Most of us focus on what’s wrong with other people more
than what’s right about them.
Examine those four equations. Three were right and only one was wrong.
But what is the knee-jerk observation? The wrong equation.
If 10 people you didn’t know were to walk through that door, most of you
would describe those people by what’s negative about them. He’s fat.
He’s balding. Oh, the short one. Oh, the skinny girl . Ahhh, ‘yung pango.
Get the point? It’s always the negative we focus on and not the
You’ll definitely experience this in the corporate world. You do a
hundred good things and one mistake-guess what? Chances are, your
attention will be called on that one mistake.
So what’s better than focusing on the negative? Believe me, its focusing
on the positive. And if this world could learn to focus on the positive
more than the negative, it would be a much nicer place to live in.
Better than working hard
We have always been told to work hard. Our parents say that, our
teachers say that, and our principal says that. But there’s something
better than merely working hard. It’s working SMART.
It’s taking time to understand the situation, and coming out with an
effective and efficient solution to get more done with less time and
effort. As the Japanese say, “There’s always a better way.”
One of the most memorable case studies I came across with as I studied
Japanese management at Sophia University in Tokyo was the case of the
empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan’s biggest cosmetics
The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a box of
soap that was empty. It immediately isolated the problem to the assembly
line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery
department. For some reason, one soap box went through the assembly line
Management tasked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste, the
engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution
monitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passed
through the line to m ake sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast.
But a rank-and-file employee that was posed the same problem came out
with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and
pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each
soap box passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.
Clearly, the engineers worked hard, but the rank-and-file employee
So what’s better than merely working hard? It’s working smart.
Having said that, it is still important to work hard. If you could
combine both working hard and working smart, you would possess a major
factor toward success.
Better than dreaming big
I will bet my next month’s salary that many have encouraged you to dream
big. Maybe even to reach for the sta rs and aim high.
I sure heard that about a million times right before I graduated from
this university. So I did. I did dream big. I did aim high. I did reach
for the stars. No doubt, it works. In fact, the saying is true: “If you
aim for nothing, that’s exactly what you’ll hit: nothing.”
But there’s something better than dreaming big. Believe me, I got
shocked myself. And I learned it from the biggest dreamer of all time,
When it comes to dreaming big, Walt is the man. No bigger dreams were
fulfilled than his. Every leadership book describes him as the ultimate
dreamer. In fact, the principle of dreaming and achieving is the core
message of the Disney hit song, “When You Wish Upon a Star”.
“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are; anything
your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream, no
request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do,” as
Jiminy Cricket sang.
But is that what he preached in the Disney company? Dream?
Well, not exactly. Kinda, but not quite. The problem with dreaming is if
that’s all you do, you’ll really get nowhere. In fact, you may just fall
asleep and never wake up.
The secret to Disney’s success is not just dreaming, it’s IMAGINEERING.
You won’t find this word in a dictionary. It’s purely a Disney word.
Those who engage in imagineering are called imagineers. The word
combines the words “imagination” and “engineering.”
In the book “Imagineers,” Disney’s CEO, Michael Eisner, claims that
“imagineers turn impossible dreams into real magic.”
Walt Disney explained there is really no secret to their approach. They
just keep moving forward-opening new doors and doing new things, because
they are curious. And it is this curiosity that leads them down new
paths. They always dream, explore and experiment. In short, imagineering
is the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how.
Eisner expounds on this thought by saying that “Not only are imagineers
curious, they are courageous, outrageous, and their creativity is
The big difference with imagineers is that they dream and then they DO!
So don’t just be a dreamer, be an imagineer.
You must have all been given a lecture at one time or another about the
importance of having a vision. Even leadership expert John Maxwell says
that an indispensable quality of a leader is to have a vision. The Bible
also makes it very clear that “Without vision, people perish.” So no
doubt about it, having a vision is important to success.
But surprise! There’s something more potent than a vision. It’s a CAUSE.
If all you’re doing is trying to reach your vision and you’re pitted
against someone fighting for a cause, chances are you’ll lose.
The Vietnam War is a classic example. Literally with sticks and stones,
the Viet Cong beat the heavily armed US Army to surrender, primarily
because the US had a vision to win the war, but the Vietnamese were
fighting for a cause.
In the realm of business, many leaders have visions of making their
company No. 1, or grabbing market share, or forever increasing profits.
Nothing really wrong with that vision, but take the example of Sony
founder Akio Morita. He did not just have a vision to build the biggest
electronics company in the world. In his biography, “Made in Japan,” h e
reveals that the real reason he set up Sony was to help rebuild his
country, which had just been battered by war. He had a cause he was
fighting for. His vision to be an electronics giant was secondary.
What’s the difference between a vision and a cause? Here’s what sets
No one is willing to die for a vision. People will die for a cause.
You posses a vision. A cause possesses you.
A vision lies in your hands. A cause lies in your heart.
A vision involves sacrifice. A cause involves the ultimate sacrifice.
Just a word of caution. You must have the right vision, and you must be
fighting for the right cause. In the end, right will always win out.
It may take time, and it may take long. But if you have the right vision
and are fighting for the right cause, you will prevail. If not, no
matter how sincere you are, if you are not fighting for what is right,
you will ultimately fail.
Two final quotes
Allow me to end with two quotes that I have lived by ever since I
stepped out of UP.
The first comes from the Bible, which says, “To whom much is given, much
Having been given the opportunity to study in UP, no doubt, much has
been given to you in terms of an excellent education. Don’t forget that
in return, much is now required of you to use that education not just
for yourself, but for others.
And as you move up and start reaching the pinnacle of success, even more
will be required of you to look at the welfare of others, of society and
of the country.
Though I have often dreamed of addressing any graduating class of UP
Diliman, I never really thought it would happen. Thi s brings me to the
second quote I have held close to my heart as I traverse the destiny God
has laid out for me.
“There is no destination beyond reach of one who walks with God.” My
standing in front of you today, as the youngest commencement speaker of
this esteemed university in 92 years, is proof of how true that quote
A final review:
* What’s better than focusing on the negative? Focus on the positive.
* What’s better than working hard? It’s working smart.
* What’s better than dreaming? Imagineering.
* What’s better than doing something for yourself? Doing something for
* What’s better than a vision? A cause.
* What’s better than a long speech? Definitely, a short one.
Thank you and congratulations, UP Diliman graduating class of 2003.
***Sa lahat ng Graduating Class…CONGRATULATIONS & GOOD LUCK!!!