My father, John Gokongwei Jr., started out as an entrepreneur at age 13, after his father died. He sold friend peanuts cooked in garlic, and dreamt of one day having enough money to bring his brothers and sisters back to The Philippines. They had been sent to China after his father passed away.
When Dad was 15, he got on his bicycle every day to head to the marketplace to sell thread, soap, candles, and other things he felt people needed. He woke up earlier than anybody else and worked longer than anybody else. He dreamt of being the biggest salesman in the market place.
After saving up money from buying and selling these wares, Dad dreamt bigger, and bought passage on a small boat called a batel to head to Manila. He dreamt of becoming one of the biggest traders in Manila.
Today at age 90, Dad is still an entrepreneur, and heads one pf the largest and most diversified Filipino conglomerates. He still dreams of being an even bigger player in the global marketplace.
This book is a collection of the things I’ve learned from him throughout the years – lessons on life, love, family, work, and the courage and determination it takes to fulfil your dreams.
Reading the recent news of the passing of John Gokongwei Jr. It reminded me that I still needed to review this gem of a book. Written by his son Lance, Lessons from Dad is an eye opener when it comes to big business, and how it can be done right.
The family first came to my attention when Crissy, (formerly an employee of Gokongwei owned Cebu Pacific) bought me the book in order to help me immerse myself in Filipino culture, and it was a pleasure to discover a genuinely inspirational business story, where people are as important as the bottom line.
John Gokongwei Jr’s journey was one of guts and determination, an inspirational tale, and one of a man who remained grounded and was always looking to give back to society. A huge believer in education and pushing oneself to the limit, he spent plenty of money funding schools and scholarships, believing that education was the only way to make the Philippines more successful.
Split into segments providing plenty of advice and insight into how the family works together and also on their personal interactions this is a very personal look into a unique family. There is not only a good life philosophy but also their business philosophy is encouraging, it’s really refreshing when so many businesses are all about ruthless practises and hoarding money.
I was expecting to dip in and out of Lessons from Dad over time but once I started, it was an easy decision to read straight through to the end. It has that ‘just one more page’ quality about it and is over all to quickly but is one the reader will pick up again and again, especially when in need of inspiration.
Light, warm and humorous, the book is shot through with anecdotes yet always remains humble despite the varied enterprises, and successful portfolio on interests the family has.My favourite ‘life lesson’ is, Live simply, but spend on experiences which I strive to do, except when it comes too books, of course. This book was, and remains a wonderful tribute.