Lessons from Dad, John Gokongwei Jr. – Lance Gokongwei/Yvette Fernandez

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.Save

17 Replies to “Lessons from Dad, John Gokongwei Jr. – Lance Gokongwei/Yvette Fernandez”

    1. Absolutely! I loved the insight into the family, how they interacted with each other and how they also value the community, not just the people who work for them, but Filipinos in general. It makes me want to set up a bookshop again, a dream that I’ve always wistfully had.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Sounds like a good book for working your way into the culture, and also readable and entertaining. I like stories about entrepreneurs, and have read a few, with more on the TBR …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a good one to add to the list, although short, its positive, inspiring, and helped me to learn about the Philippines. I’ve since flown with Cebu Pacific and been to the offices once as well. To get there I had to cross eight lanes of traffic which made getting to safety feel like a real achievement.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I still have so many Filipino books to review, it’s an exciting time to be a book reviewer. My to do list just keeps piling up. If only blogging paid well it would be my full time job.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a fair point. If I hadn’t have had the reading and blogging experiences, I wouldn’t have lead my mildly interesting, and occassionally exciting life to date.


    1. I’m all about bringing the lesser known and unexpected books to the public eye, that and all those familiar authors I read too. I do love a good mix to my posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for giving this book a shot! I am really grateful to Sir John for giving a lot of Filipinos opportunities. It is one of the shortest books I have read but it has a long lasting impact on me.

    Liked by 1 person

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