Failure equals education

Go search this name: Nick Vujicic. And be ready to be amazed.

Saw him last night, and I’m amazed at his positive outlook in life despite not having arms and legs. He was born this way and at 8 years old, he attempted suicide. He was bullied. Teased. Called names. And he was depressed at a young age. But what kept him going was this: love. His parents loved him, and they continued to pour love on him amid his unique condition.

His story is one for the books–actually, he has written several now. After hearing him narrate his gut-wrenching stories–some quite funny as he pokes fun at himself–I have no reason to complain about my life. This guy has went through everything–even a panic attack two years ago, which was caused by burn out and having been through a speaking circuit. Last year, he got married and admitted that he waited until he got married. Nick is perhaps the happiest person I’ve met in my life. He is genuinely happy. No buts. No ifs. Just that: happy for his life. Happy to be speaking in front of a 20,000 Filipino crowd at the Smart-Araneta center. Even actress and co-host Rica Paralejo was so impressed, she got to hug Nick several times, as he answered questions from the crowd.

It was no accident that I found myself listening to Nick last night. A friend and mentor “forced” me to watch his talk because he wanted company. And before the lights went out for Nick, another man appeared on stage: Chinkee Tan, a man I met that morning. I thought, “What a coincidence!” But I believe things happen for a reason, and there are no accidents in life. God works in mysterious ways.

So while I listened to Nick (we had no chair so we stood for more than an hour), I realized I was not taking notes! But I took mental notes of what he said. One that struck me the most is this: failure equals education. And perhaps these words hit me like a brick. Having gone through a lot of failures over the past 3 years and 9 months, I’ve picked up lessons. I’ve known myself more, and my limits. But also, I found real friends who stuck by you no matter if you’re up there, or down there. No one is perfect in this life. But I’ve always gunned for excellence–and I do it with dignity and honesty.

Chinkee talked about staying away from negative people to be able to live a positive life. Reality check. It’s hard. You’re surrounded by negative forces. It’s part of nature: the Yin and the Yang. The good cop and the bad cop. The protagonist and the antagonist. But the point is perhaps negative people can change your mindset–and that’s the point that Nick and Chinkee are both saying. We all want to be happy. But we also need to know the purpose of our lives. For Nick and Chinkee, they’re both good at speaking. They’re great storytellers. That’s where they thrive and that’s their God-given talent. And they’re using that to send out the message of love, happiness, and peace of mind.

Failure equals education. Why do we want to be challenged? Because we want to win. But nobody wins in a game without going through failures. Stories abound about people who have gone through failures but have managed to eventually win after trying again, and again.

In the end, Nick’s and Chinkee’s life lessons are nothing new. But hearing them again with 20,000 other people in Smart Araneta tells you that it’s okay to feel down when you don’t make it. It’s okay to feel alone. It’s okay to feel scared. Which is why you also need to surround yourself with people who love you –and never be afraid to appreciate someone who loves you back. Love them back. Because love is patient, is kind, is not jealous. You know the line.

Nick is coming back next year with his wife and kids. I hope to catch him again and be inspired–forever.

‘Mr. Nice Guy’

mrniceguyMr Nice GuyHave you often been told, “You’re too nice!”

It’s a curse.

Steve Jobs doesn’t fall under this category. If there’s anything I learned from reading Walter Isaacson’s biography about him, Steve was nothing but nice. But he was brilliant, and there’s no denying that.

Jobs founded Apple Computer, launched an “insanely great” product in 1984, was later kicked out of his own company, started another company that failed, and later went back to Apple to transform it into what it is now. He was young at that time and was aggressive. Not everyone liked him. In fact, very few can tolerate his behavior. People who stood up to him earned some respect. But not everyone survived him.

I’m halfway through this book and I still am fascinated by his “reality distortion field.” He was laser-focused on what he wanted, and he never let anyone stopped him from getting that–sometimes at a cost of losing friends, colleagues, even a co-founder.

At the onset, Steve understood that running a business like Apple required tough decisions, tough calls. Steve was a marketing genius. He was also the most-involved founder-CEO. He cared about the products he helped build. He never tolerated mediocre jobs. He populated his team with “A Team” players. He got rid of the “bozos,” especially when he returned as iCEO. He had a clear vision of what he wanted. And, he went after it.

I was once told culture trumps strategy. Apple’s success is tied to the culture that Steve created in Apple. This is the same culture that drove him to push Pixar to where it is now–producing the best animated movies, which changed animation as we know it.

When he came back after Apple decided to buy NeXT, Steve demurred a bit about being CEO again. But it was clear that he went back to start running the company again. It was no democracy. He pushed for reforms and after some painful years, he started turning the ship around–a metaphor that he hated.


I gravitate towards people’s stories. I read a lot of biographies of rock and roll icons, of fallen heroes, of geniuses who die young.

Steve was a square peg in a round hole. He wanted to be different, and so he thought different. That was his vision, and that set him apart from competition. His reality distortion field kept critics at bay as he wanted, as he put it, to “make a dent in the universe” of computing and our lives.

Just think about the Apple inventions that we use these days. This blog is being hacked on a beautiful Macbook Pro. Just a few feet away from me, my iPhone sits idly, but busy scanning the ether for e-mail from 3 web services. When I got my first iPod–that changed my lifestyle. It became a door to meeting people who enjoyed music. We had MP3 parties where we each brought iPods to plug into a speaker and listened. And there was the iPad, a tablet device that changed how we interacted with computing devices. Steve hated the stylus, which drove him to kill Apple’s Newton. He wanted the technology to be natural and simple. He wanted a technology that allowed us to use our God-given stylus–at least 10 of them.

Steve was no “Mr. Nice Guy.” But he was a visionary, the square peg, the a@#$%^ which drove people nuts. But he knew what he wanted–to some it sounded like a pipe dream. But he did it. He owned it: from vision to execution.




The brain cortex and the emotional signals

It’s funny that am starting this blog with a highfalutin title. But indulge me.

I’ve been watching this TV series called “Perception.” It’s a story about a professor who suffers from delusions and schizophrenia. His condition kept him from pursuing his “dreams.” But somehow, he ended up being one of the most brilliant forensic psychologist that is being tapped by his former student who has become a tough and smart FBI agent.

So what does this story have to do with what I’m about to reveal? Well, the mind is a complex thing. That grey matter that sits protected inside our skulls remain a mystery. Up until today, none have figured out how it all works. It has fascinated many. Among psychologists, it remains an obsession. Many want to unlock its secrets. In fact, the TV series I just mentioned is full of these fascinating observations and theories about our brains. How does it work? What triggers a certain behavior, a habit? An action, an emotion. Think about it: they all emanate from the brain–certain parts of it–we all know–are responsible. How they work. Well, that question has produced numerous books, stories, novels, and TV series.

One recent article, which I happen to stumble upon, talks about a certain “gene” that explains why some kids can handle pressure, while others cannot.

The article told of some recent research that linked a certain variation of gene called “COMT” to a certain predisposition of being a worrisome individual, while the other variation wired people to become warriors. So either you are a worrier or a warrior. It’s that simple. But through some form of “stress training,” worriers can become effective “warriors” and in fact handle stress better when they’re in stressful situations. Does that make sense?

This seems a long digression to my point. Some of us worry a lot. And that’s how we’re wired. Some would just dive in and fight it out. I now see which side I’m on. But I won’t reveal which side am on. Worriers apparently are more capable of complex planning. Warriors are wired to react quickly to “threatening situations.” So this maybe your level-headed guys who don’t choke easily. They just take the shot.

Understanding how we react to situations given to us everyday is hard. And not all will act the same way as the others. There may be some similarities in how we read situations, but the action that will follow will vary person to person. That’s how they’re wired.

Now, how do you stop yourself from making a poor decision when stress floods your prefrontal cortex with dopamine?


Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

Thanks Steve for an “insanely great” time!


Yahoo! livestreams June 30 inauguration

Check out Purple Thumb, Yahoo! Southeast Asia’s election website that will feature the live video stream of the June 30 inauguration of President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.