Returning to Student Life

Nowadays, I’m constantly seen as a coach and as a studio director. And to tell you guys the truth, that is also the biggest part of my life that I have chosen to publicly share, day in and day out. ย Recently however, alongside the birth of this blog, I’ve been feeling more ready to share about other things that I do in the hopes that you guys can learn from my experiences too.

And so today I’m going to share about my student life. Yes, I’m back to school and I’ve been hitting the books since October of 2016. When I started my Masters in Entrepreneurship over at the Asian Institute of Management, I must admit that the leap has been challenging. However, good news is, there is not one day that I have regretted going back. I’m like that giddy kid who can’t wait to go to school every single time (truth!).

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The day I officially enrolled! Glad I did it! ๐Ÿ™‚

A little background – unlike some of my batch mates who had opportunities for further studies after college, I had to go straight to work to try and fully support myself financially. I spent 9 years in a corporate job for one of the biggest food companies in the world and for a while that had been my life. I built a career in sales and marketing and was lucky enough to have handled pretty big brands. And so yup, I thought I knew it all! ๐Ÿ˜‚ But entrepreneurship is a a whole different ballgame…

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My past life! 9 years guys! hehe! I’ll always be grateful for all the learnings and opportunities I got from my career in Nestle. ๐Ÿ™‚

After a few successful tries at small bazaar businesses (at one point I was selling over 2,000 pairs of locally made shoes I designed myself!), I officially caught the entrepreneurship bug and quit my corporate job around 4 years ago. That’s when I put up my little studio, ONELIFE, and never looked back. The last 4 years had been a rollercoaster to say the least, and yes, the fact that I started out thinking I knew it all was very arrogant of me! ๐Ÿ˜‚

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My first real business. This was my SOLE SISTER shoe shop in Ayala Trinoma back in 2012 I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

To cut the story short, while the first few months doing something I truly loved and passionate about was pure bliss (it never felt like work!), the passion started to run out (surprise!). I started flailing in all aspects of my life – business, relationships, family, and health. After a failed attempt to branch out my business in 2015, that’s when I hit rock bottom – I lost a lot of my confidence in myself and my capacity to run my business. I felt hurt and disappointed by a lot of people whom I thought shared my vision. It came to a point that I just wanted to close shop and seriously considered going back to a 9 to 5 job (after all, my entire career was built on that so far!). It was around this time when I realised how tough the world of entrepreneurship really was and how there’s really nobody (or at least very few people) to turn to for support (its true – leading an organisation can get quite lonely!).

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That’s my old studio in Makati! But watch out guys, my baby is making a comeback this time in Legaspi Village – September 2017!

Luckily, I have the most amazing husband (and bestest friend), Ferds, who never stopped believing in me. At this low point he was finishing up his Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) program in AIM and he really pushed me to consider the idea of going back to school. Ferds has always been my number 1 cheerleader and he never fails to remind me that I am capable of doing amazing things. After convincing me to come and attend one of the info sessions on the entrepreneurship program at AIM, the rest was history. If it wasn’t for Ferds and how he pushed me to go for it, I would not have had the courage to sign-up (love you babe!).

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My amazing husband folks! Trivia: We met in Ateneo and for a few months, became schoolmates again in AIM ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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My hubby brought me along to his exchange program in YALE. I got to sit in a few of his classes and yup, that definitely helped convinced me to go back to school!

So I bet you guys are curious how school’s been for me so far? Here’s a short list of how it has changed me as an entrepreneur to date!

  1. Now I know that I don’t know everything.
    Haha, yes! I think most entrepreneurs start off with (a bit of) arrogance. After all, if you didn’t have a strong belief that you can do it, it will be hard to take the leap into business, right? But yup, after the first few classes at school, the first thing they repeatedly teach us is that we don’t know everything. The most successful entrepreneurs constantly invest in learning (formally and informally) and that’s because they consciously make an effort to keep the curiosity alive (and to that, humility comes first!).
  2. I am not alone in this!
    Leading a business and a team can be a very lonely job. There are a lot of things that I have to keep to myself (problems, emotional struggles, etc) because these things will not necessarily add value to the people I lead. And so most of the time, I find myself overwhelmed with stress and feeling like I’m about to blow up. With school, I have found 40+ new friends that I could trade stories with and the wonderful thing is that they could all relate! School has been a wonderful new network of people who I could turn to for business advise and just overall, support.

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    So happy to be in the company of real life girl bosses! To my left is the head honcho of ZENZEST, Michelle! I’ve been looking up to her ever since I read her story in one of the first Entrepreneur magazines I picked up when I was just toying with the idea of putting up my own business. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My program director, Ms. Maya Herrera, has been so amazing too! She is one of the top finance consultants in Manila (maybe Asia too!) and I’m so grateful for her generosity when it comes to really spending time with me and my classmates just really helping us figure out our business issues and how we are coping with our personal challenges as entrepreneurs. If there’s anything I have to say about the AIM team, its that they are incredibly generous with their knowledge and guidance. Imagine being mentored by the best minds in Manila. That’s priceless and have been so valuable to me to date.

  3. Time to get disciplined!
    As an entrepreneur, the biggest difference between being in a corporate job is that I am completely in control of my time. While that sounds amazing, IRL, that’s quite hard to do. With plenty of distractions around and a lot of the day-to-day tasks of running a business, its really a challenge to buckle down and plan for business strategy and other long term things. The amazing thing about the program I’m enrolled in is that it uses my business as the “live” case for all major projects and assignments. That forces me to sit-down and work on important things that will secure the future of my business moving forward. Now, I do feel pressured because of the deadlines and the workload but overall, if you learn the discipline of prioritising better, (which I think I’m getting a hang of at this point), everything’s pretty doable. My productivity has skyrocketed again thanks to school!

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    That’s me doing my thing in school! Hehe. School is like fitness. You have to stay committed. Eyes on the prize!
  4. Nothing worth having comes easy!
    School has reminded me that nothing worth having comes easy! You can’t expect to become a longterm success if you just have little bursts of high quality effort and everything else is just a so-so attempt. Being around my classmates who are super successful, industrious, and passionate, and seeing them make it work – this has inspired me beyond words. School has been a place where I never felt envy or comparison. Instead, I felt a genuine desire to become better simply because I’m surrounded by achievers and people that continue to hustle on.

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    That’s Mr. Robert Kuan, the big boss of St. Luke’s Hospital! Did you know he started out Chowking too? So lucky I got to meet him!

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    Oh you know, just lunching with THE JO MAGSAYSAY of Potato Corner and THE MICHELLE FONTELERA of Zenzest Asia!
  5. Passion is not enough!
    Yes, guys, its an essential ingredient to becoming an entrepreneur but it is not enough to become successful in the long run. I’ve said it before, passion is like a candle and yes, the light dies from time to time. School has reminded me though that having the right tools will help get me through those times of “darkness”. Sometimes the toughest problems can be solved easier if you look at them more systematically. School has given me some new tools to attack problems and issues I’ve been having in business and I’m pleasantly surprised how little emotion it required to arrive at the answers that feel right. Not everything is about passion. Passion gets you started, but smarts and discipline gets you going until the very end. ๐Ÿ™‚
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This is me now! Happily getting closer to my Girlboss goals! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m still a few months away from finishing the course and I’m still so excited for the learnings ahead. To be honest, I’ve really become a whole new different entrepreneur because of school and I’ve become more and more confident (not overconfident! haha!) as a leader. I’ve been surrounded by such good energy and I’m a big believer that energy translates throughout all the parts of your life (case in point: my dream team over at the studio!). If you’ve been considering going back to school, I would say go for it. It has been such a positive journey for me and I think, for those of you who would keep an open mind, it’ll be an amazing experience too.

If you know any entreps who’ve been thinking about studying, I hope you can share this post! If you loved it, hope you can share it! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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