Can You Bounce Back After A Setback?

This story originally appeared in Philippine Panorama

United States President Barack Obama’s biggest inspiration is Abraham Lincoln who, as we all know, lost his election races as congressman, senator and vice-president – but still became one of history’s most significant leaders and America’s greatest Presidents. 

Career setbacks will come because “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we may,” as Hamlet tells Horatio. 

Here are ways to cope from Andrew J. DuBrin’s Bouncing Back (McGraw-Hill), with stories from various issues of Entrepreneur Philippines.

1) Take advantage of the change. Zenaida Gutierrez had to stop her backyard piggery when they moved into the family compound in Nueva Ecija, so she instead set up Manzen Supply and sold feeds in San Leonardo town in 2002. Then pork prices fell in 2004, so she diversified, selling also groceries, and her businesses today are all thriving.

2) Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Johnny Sy believes that gospel music can reach the mainstream, but he was too ahead of his time. With help from the Christian org Maranatha, he started selling CDs on tables outside churches and concerts, but it took him 8 years to start House of Praise Inc. in 1980. He gladly endured sufferings in the name of Christ: bankruptcy, zero airplay and skepticism from parishioners with denomination-mentality. But today, Praise is both on solid ground and flying high, and all because of Sy’s secret of success: Faith.

3) Never surrender. Joy Abaquin was doing her postgraduate studies in Boston when she realized the potential of Dr. Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory. But back in Manila, she was almost overwhelmed by the red-tape that comes with registering, of all things, a pre-school. Her biggest obstacle was yet to come: Parents who are suspicious of new ideas. Joyfully, however, her persistence has built Child’s Place in 1996 at Loyola Heights, soon followed by the Multiple Intelligence International School – and both are going strong while quietly revolutionizing Philippine education.

4) Learn to adapt. Antonio Gomez was all ready to launch a wood-based export venture when his expected business partner backed out, so he put up the Cedarwood Corp. in Antipolo in the ’80s alone. He hit the jackpot with a U.S. buyer of chopping boards. Then the buyer stopped. Then came the logging ban in 1992. Then came the destruction of his wood source in Ipil, Zamboanga with the Abu Sayyaf attacks in 1995. Then his Chinese competitors underpriced and his sales slumped. Adapting to these reversals, Gomez’s luck turned and SM Megamall gave space to his Home & Lifestyle Casual Furniture in 2005. Since then, his export orders – and international network – have been steadily expanding.

5) See things in the right perspective. Enrico Roque lost his job as operations manager but he saw it as a chance to be a full-time businessman. He set up a store in his hometown Sta. Maria, Bulacan selling household items, and while some people thought it was a tiangge, a flea market stall, he boldly named it Bodega Ng Bayan (Warehouse of the Town). Some proprietors don’t hire undergrads but Roque did, knowing that character and work ethic are more important than qualifications. It is because of his maturity – and canny business acumen – that Bodega Ng Bayan has grown to become the most popular appliance chain in the country today.

 Sir Laurence Olivier as Hamlet photo courtesy of Concentric.  Your comments and links are welcome


Today I moved the photo of Laurence Olivier to the left, also separated the paragraphs. The original post looked like a brick on the wall