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Heroes and Intentions

Please don’t get me wrong. My purpose is not to defame any hero we have and with the National Heroes Day coming up, it would be absolutely stupid of me to even try. With this auspicious day coming up, I would like us to think about heroism in general. What is it? Can anybody be a hero? Do the heros we recognize measure up to what heros should be?

What is the definition of heroism? The dictionary defines it as the show of qualities and attributes of a hero. Hero is defined as a person of distinguished courage or ability and admired for his brave and noble deeds.

Each and every one of us has our own set of heroes whose virtues we try to emulate in our lives. These heroes could be those who are known or unsung heroes the world may never know about. Let me ask you now, what really defines heroes? Is it the extraordinary feats that they perform? Is it their courage and bravery? Strength?

Before I give you my answer to that, have you ever heard of Jebediah Springfield? He is the founder and local hero of a fictional town called Springfield. Sound familiar? It’s where the Simpsons live!

In Season 6, Episode 17 of The Simpsons, Lisa uncovers the truth behind their revered hero. He was once a murderous pirate (named Hans Sprungfeld) who tried to kill George Washington. She did her best to reveal this truth to everyone in town but later decided not to because the myth of Jebediah was important in maintaining the happiness and patriotism in their town.

Do you see where I am getting at? I strongly believe that TRUE HEROISM LIES IN INTENTION! What do I mean by that? It means that no matterhow great or courageous a person’s act may be, I believe that the intentions behind the act should be the main factor in considering a person to be hero.

Example: I see a person drowning, if my intention to save the person is that I don’t want to see that person die then I am a hero but if my intention was to save the person to impress someone else or gain fame then I highly doubt it can be considered a heroic deed.

So if this was the basis for determining heroism then it may mean that some of our heroes are not heros at all. Many historians question whether Andres Bonifacio should be considered the First President of the Philippines instead of Emilio Aguinaldo. Serious allegations also surface that Aguinaldo ordered the execution of Bonifacio. If this is true then should people like Aguinaldo be considered a hero?  

This is interesting! Heros offing each other!

None of us was around during those times to judge our so-called heroes. None of us will ever know the intentions of these people and we can only speculate what they had in mind when they joined the fight to free our land.

However, I assert that intentions are important in determining true heroism which is far different from historical or paper heroism. If our leaders acted less in self interest and more on selflessness then I imagine our country would be a better place. Unfortunately, many of us would agree that the intentions for people who are competing for positions of power are motivated by self interest and gain.

These intentions not only are unscrupulous but put to waste the sacrifice of our true heroes in laying down their lives for our freedom! 

I think the important thing we need to come to terms with is that sometimes we ask for too much. We can go around pointing fingers at our officials and say that they are the source of our misery but Mother Theresa once said; “If everyone were to clean their own doorstep, the whole world would be clean”.

Going back to my question, can anybody be a hero? My answer is yes and everybody should strive to be one! Even people like Efren Peñaflorida have shown us that a little deed like teaching street children how to read is true heroism in itself! I am sure his intention was not to brag to the world that he spends most of his time pushing a small cart around town to reach out to street kids. His intention was to give street kids a chance at education.

It’s all about intentions people! Intentions define the hero and each and everyone of us has the potential to display heroism in our own way. It’s not about starting a revolution and ousting invaders but about alleviating the suffering of our fellow man and standing up for what is right. No matter how big or small, any act with the intention of helping another without any promise or expectation of personal gain is true heroism!

If each and everyone of us decided to become true heros, then this world would definitely be a better place to live!

BBQ Genius

Let me start this with an introduction taken from Wikipedia about Mang Inasal:

Mang Inasal (Ilonggo for Mr. Barbecue) is a common fast food chain in the Philippines.

Edgar Sia II engaged in business at twenty years of age. He opened the first branch in December 2003 at the Robinson’s Mall Carpark-Iloilo.

In 2003, he opened Mang Inasal. The restaurant was instantly successful that it spread throughout most of the Visayas, to Mindanao and then Metro Manila. It applied for franchise a couple of years later.

By 2009, Mang Inasal opened one hundred stores.

In October of 2010, 70% of Mang Inasal was acquired by Jollibee Foods Corporation for P3 billion ($68.8 million).

It has been more than a year ago when I had my first dining experience at Mang Inasal and honestly it has been a stomach-filling one.  Imagine being able to eat all the rice you can eat. I really am not a rice fanatic; chalk it up to me having grown up outside of the Philippines. However, at Mang Inasal, I ate 3 cups of rice (unusual for me since I only eat less than a cup at every meal)!

I left Mang Inasal (barely able to walk) feeling satisfied and looking forward to my next meal there.

Frankly speaking, their chicken and pork barbecue is not the best I’ve tasted and it tastes far from what Ilonggo inasal tastes like (I should know since I am half Ilonggo). Restaurants like Chicken Bacolod have, more or less, captured what Ilonggo BBQ Chicken should taste like.

What makes Mang Inasal a phenomenon worth 3 Billion pesos?

Is it the unlimited rice? Maybe.

Is it the wonderful tangy sinigang soup that is free with every meal? Highly likely.

I believe the secret is the whole package you can get in a meal for less than 100 pesos (less than 2 US Dollars!). Any business that caters to everyone including the lower income bracket is sure to flourish in any country. I have eaten in countries like Singapore where 2 Dollars only buys you a drink or an appetizer! Here you get the BBQ, unlimited rice and soup for less than that.

Another factor I noticed is the dining ambiance. Eating at most Mang Inasal joints doesn’t make you feel like eating at a cheap street food shop. It has excellent furniture, clean surroundings and air-conditioning (go figure!). Not bad for a 2 dollar meal!

One may argue that Mcdonald’s could also offer good meals for less than 2 dollars. True! But I think many of us are aware of the perils of frequently stuffing ourselves with fast food. If you aren’t aware, just search the net and you will find thousands of people warning you about the perils of fast food.

Mang Inasal serves meals pretty fast but I would not classify them as fast food and the home-cooked taste of their food is enough to convince anyone that it is far from fast food.

The last thing I can say about Mang Inasal is it maintains a good level of customer service. Many Filipinos may not notice that but being a customer service professional I take full notice and appreciate good service when I see it.
Their restaurant staff are usually polite and are vigilant in serving you more rice than you can eat (not sure if this is a good thing). Some branches do need to put their customer service in check but overall I am very happy with the level of service Mag Inasal staff give.
So kudos to Edgar Sia II, the genius behind Mang Inasal and I hope that many people become inspired to do what he did. He revolutionized low cost dining by taking it to the next level.
If I had money to franchise Mang Inasal, I definitely would! Its a good business that could give even greater returns. If you see how jam-packed Mang Inasal branches are at Lunch time you would know what I am talking about.
Believe it or not, another blogger by the name of Josh Weinstein also has appreciated Mang Inasal. You may read his write up here:
Till next time. Ciao and Mabuhay!

Pathetic Time Wasters

I recently am in the market for a new job with the hope that the next job I get pays better than my last. The other day, I received a call from a company called AM**T*X  for a vacant training manager post. Although, I have worked in Operations for almost 3 years now, I began my career in training so I felt this position would be more of a homecoming one for me.

In very high spirits, I updated my resume and printed it out and dressed smartly for my scheduled interview. I arrived on time and was asked to fill out a form which included a section where I had to draw a map from my house to that company’s office. Honestly, that alone was a sheer waste of time but beggars can’t be choosers so I did it.

After filling out that same form which asked for the very same information on my resume (another timer waster), I was asked to wait in the lobby to be called for my interview.  After 10 minutes, a lady named Jenny (not her real name) called me and introduced herself as a recruitment officer for the company. Cordially, she invited me into her office and the interview began.

To make a long story short, after asking me less than 10 questions, she said that I was not qualified for the job and that they were looking for a hard-core training manager who had 10 years experience. I was flabbergasted! If that was what they were looking for, why call me in for the interview in the first place??? Just reading my resume alone would have been enough to tell her how many years of experience I had. I did not have to waste my own time in driving an hour to that interview to find out that I was not qualified.

Well, Jenny did offer me a position that was a non-management one which further added insult to injury. Call it pride but I frankly told her that I was not interested in a position lower than my last job. I promptly stood up, thanked her for her time and went on my way feeling very offended. The nerve of her offering me a lower job when I have just come back from 2 speaking engagements in Singapore where I shared my expertise to the top leaders of the BPO industry!!!

She definitely did not take the time to read my resume carefully which would have told her what I am capable of. Instead, she thought it would be nice to burden me by coming to her office only to find out she felt I was not qualified! This is actually the second time this happened to me. The first was almost a year ago in a company called A*S. They did exactly the same thing and I left feeling pissed off at the money and time I had invested in a futile venture!

If I had it my way, I would wish that the Tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan would have hit these companies instead. How I wish I could make voodoo dolls and transmit excruciating pain to these callous recruitment officers!!!

If you are a recruitment officer reading this, please do the right thing and don’t waste the time of the people applying to the positions in your company. Money is not easy to come by (especially if you are unemployed and supporting kids) and time is precious for job hunting. Read resumes carefully and determine whether a candidate has met your minimum requirements before calling him or her to an interview.

The last thing I will say is that this incident is a reflection on the competence and professionalism of the said companies. No wonder they are not even close to the larger and more renowned call center firms. If you are an HR Manager reading this, perhaps it’s time to check if your staff are really living up to the image your company is trying to portray.

As for Jenny of AM**T*X and the other company A*S (which happens to be located at the Mall of Asia, by the way) I detest and despise you and your hiring practices.  You are all pathetic time wasters who I feel doesn’t have the faintest idea of the type of people that will bring value to your companies. Your company will suffer in the long run because of your incompetence!

Success breeds Failure

It has been a while since I last posted something here however I hope this post would be worth your while. I’d like to talk about customer service. As a customer service professional, I would admit that this was something I have taken for granted for the longest time.

I would like to focus on the fact that customer service is essential to the survival of any business. Businesses that reply heavily on consumer presence need to take this into consideration.  It is unfortunate that too many companies take this fact for granted and have become adept at delivering mediocre service.

One company I know started off their business with a bang. They would greet their customers and made sure that all requests were fulfilled no matter how bizarre or tedious they were. Two years later, I went back to that same company and was surprised to find the same people there but somehow, they had lost their luster. They never greeted their customers and seemed irritated at doing difficult tasks.

I was dismayed at what I had seen and knew that if a competitor were to step in and offer the same products at better prices and with splendid service, this company was sure to be doomed. It is a fact that once companies have built a substantial client base, they become complacent and begin to take their customers for granted. Hence the title of this post “Success Breeds Failure”.

I would like to call out to companies every where to please maintain the level of customer care that has defined your success. If your people are the problem, then look into hiring people who are not just looking for jobs but to serve customers. I have said this before that “if you want to serve customers without any reservations then customer service careers are for you but if not please find something else to do with your life”!

Never-ending Issues

Issues, issues, issues! It seems that every company I enter will always have their own set of issues. Work-related issues are easier to tackle than personal ones however it is the personal issues that seem to have the most devastating effect.

As a manager, I have had my share of being caught up in the personal issues of my reports. Sometimes they seem mild at first but the more you ignore it, the more it escalates into a battle and then war! As one famous actress here in the Philippines said “you want war, I’ll give you war!” that seems to be the mentality of most employees nowadays.

I have never been the type of person who enjoys conflict although, by nature, I am very competitive. I always strive to remain harmonious with everyone. However, there are times that people can just be so blatantly obstinate that no matter how you try to make peace, they still keep trying your patience again and again.

Unfortunately, as long as there are people working in companies and organizations, issues will never disappear! Just as breathing is natural for human beings, so is conflict. For some reason we are no better than animals when it comes to conflict. Nothing is stronger than human angst and the more we deny this to ourselves the more we become susceptible to issues that creep up out of the blue.

As a leader of people all I can say to you is; go with the flow. If you are not the center of the issue, just try your best to stay out of it. If you are unfortunate enough to be at the center of the issue then that’s where your problem starts.

You have to affirm to yourself what your objectives at the office are. Are you there to socialize or to work? Just answering that question alone will do wonders for you because if you are in the office just to work then you shouldn’t be concerned about anything else.

This doesn’t mean that you let people step all over you every time they get a chance to. It just means that you have the right to assert yourself when people pull you into issues; especially if it’s starting to affect your work.

If you just want to socialize then, by all means, go ahead and involve yourself in every possible issue. Be the “Peacemaker” or “Troublemaker”! There is no limit to how you wish to involve yourself in these issues.

Regardless of what you want to do, issues will always be around and it represents the imperfection of our existence as human beings. You can never truly get rid of it but you have the choice on how you wish to deal with it.

Hopefully, this advice will help your office life and issues become a bit easier to handle.

The Incredible Repeating Question

Nicole (again, not her real name) has another fascinating story of recruitment mishaps to share. While applying at Call Center S, another well known and major player in the BPO industry, she was unlucky enough to meet a recruitment officer named Jan (not her real name too).

Jan, in the interest of saving time, decided to go with a panel interview where Nicole and another applicant were interviewed simultaneously.  This is a common practice in the BPO industry however it’s not one that I agree with. But that’s not where the ridiculous problem started.

After asking a whole bunch of canned and obvious interview questions (another practice I hate) Jan then asked Nicole “So, how did you find out about our company?”

Nicole politely answered the question and waited for the next one. Jan went on to ask another question (which Nicole competently answered) before asking “So, how did you find out about our company?” again. Nicole and her co-applicant looked at each other in shock but she still answered the question politely adhering to her original answer to the same question before.

Jan went on to ask another question and then did it again. “So, how did you find out about our company?” Nicole shook her head in disbelief and dismay (remember Nicole had been a recruitment officer at one time). For the third time, Nicole smiled and politely answered the incredible repeating question; consistently sticking to her answer to the first time it was asked.

Jan ended the interview and after a few minutes she called Nicole into a private room. She handed Nicole a “love letter” (more like hate letter) stating that she did not pass her interview. This infuriated Nicole as she knew she had properly answered all questions including the incredible repeating question.  She was so furious that she could not help but be verbal about her feelings which eventually caught the attention of the HR manager.

“Why the need to repeat the same question, three times?”

As he promptly intervened, Nicole did not hesitate to tell him that she felt that she had been unfairly assessed and she did not leave out the part where Jan asked the same question three times.

The HR Manager quickly apologized to Nicole and assured her that Jan would be coached to prevent her from repeating the same mistake. He also invited Nicole back for another interview and pleaded with her not to tell anyone about this incident. He knew that Word of Mouth would definitely destroy the credibility of his recruitment team.

Nicole decided not to return for the offered interview and reassessment but, true to her word, she did not disclose what had happened there (well, except of me of course and that’s why I am writing this). This folly, coming from a call center that has an advertised slogan that says “We don’t just congratulate you. We cheer you on” or something like that, leads me to question the credibility of Call Center S.

Argue with me all you want but I believe that recruitment officers are the representatives of the company. How well (or badly) they behave in front of applicants reflects heavily on the culture of the said company.  In this case, I cannot comprehend what went through Jan’s mind when she kept repeating the same question thrice in one interview.

Was it really a mistake or a case of ignorance? Was Jan really attentive to Nicole’s answers or was she just being an annoying bitch hoping to pass the time in the hope that the interview will come to an end.

Either way, Call Center S lost the chance to hire an employee who could have made a tremendous contribution to the success of their company. This is just another case of unprofessionalism which may be an isolated case but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has experienced a similar situation elsewhere.

This is not the way recruitment professionals should be behaving. Unknown to many but the Human Resources department is the most important one in any company. If companies continue to neglect this vital aspect of their organization, it won’t be long before the spirit of unprofessionalism becomes rampant; like a virulent disease that will eat away the very existence of the company itself.

If interviewers can’t take the time to listen to an applicant’s answer or carry themselves in a professional manner, as expected of them, they should consider another career. To people like Jan, I hope this serves as an eye opener because you are in a position where your company trusts you to find the best candidates for them based on objective decision-making.

By persisting to act this way, you are effectively diminishing your company’s chances of finding the best employees.

You were hired to do this job; so please do it properly!

Tale of the Broken Promise

Let me tell you about the tale of Nicole (not her real name) and the broken promises recruitment officers have given her. Nicole, herself, used to work as a BPO recruitment officer but due to unforeseen circumstances, she lost her job. For months, Nicole spent her days moping and mourning the loss of her promising career.  Finally, she made a resolve to stop crying over spilt milk and pick up the pieces of her shattered career even if it meant starting again as a call center agent.

Nicole then set out to get back on her feet and start working again. She soon mustered the courage to go to Call Center P; one of the largest and most reputable BPO companies in the city. Center P had been known to be an equal opportunity employer and Nicole was confident that she would get the job there.

After a series of interviews, Nicole was shortlisted for a position in the Human Resources Department and this excited her. After her final interview, the HR Manager said that the company would call her within 48 hours. Nicole frantically asked for feedback there and then so that if she didn’t make it, she could then apply elsewhere. The HR Manager assured her that they would call and he advised her not to pursue application elsewhere for the meantime.

48 hours seemed like forever to Nicole as she waited by her mobile phone hoping that she would receive that coveted call. However, as 48 hours passed, no call from Center P was received. For more than a week, Nicole still held on to the hope that she would still be called but it was obvious that there would be no call to wait for.

In another center, Nicole got a different version of the broken promise; “We will email or text you”. Again, they never did! For months, Nicole endured a whole string of broken promises from the centers she applied for until finally, one center had the decency to offer her a job upfront.

Sound familiar?

If you can relate to this story, you are probably one of the thousands of applicants (me included) who got suckered by this “we will call you” line from recruitment officers. Believe it or not, I actually got that line from an HR Director in one company and a Country Manager in another!

In my honest opinion this practice of shrugging off applicants by making false promises is both foul and unprofessional!  Why can’t recruitment officers be honest enough to just give feedback and call when they say they will? This line is effectively a lie and a very professional sounding one at that!

Someone actually told me that HR people say that line so as to not break an applicant’s confidence in themselves. What a bunch of bullshit! Who are you kidding?? We weren’t born yesterday! Nothing breaks an applicant’s heart more than broken promises and false hopes! Forgive me for saying this but I find this to be the MOST undesirable practice of HR professionals in many industries.

I am sure you would appreciate it if the decision not to hire you was broken to you gently instead of this dumb silence and string of lies that they continue to dole out day in and day out. I believe it is unfair to the applicant who has the right to know whether he or she didn’t pass the application process. So, in a way, this practice actually steps on a person’s rights!

You may ask me; what would you do in that situation? In my present company, one of my mandates is to recruit and hire my staff. For every online advertisement posted, I usually get a minimum of 300 applicants so I pre-screen these resumes carefully and invite the people I feel have the qualifications needed to be successful in my center.

Once interviewed, I am quick to make my decision and if ever I need time to carefully assess my decision, I would honestly tell the applicant that I need time to study the decision to hire them carefully.  I am very specific as to the time frame in my decision-making process; whether it is 24 or 48 hours. When I tell them that I will “call them back”, I ALWAYS DO! Even if the applicant wasn’t what I was looking for, I call them to honestly tell them that they didn’t make it.

Heartbreaking as it may sound but it is a reality that not every shortlisted candidate will be hired. Cruel as it may seem, I believe it is the right thing to do. I usually give them feedback on what they should improve on and give them advice on how to succeed if ever they do decide to try applying to my company again.  Many of them actually use the advice I give when applying to other companies and I am glad that many of them have been successful in securing much needed employment.

Let me ask you now, which would you prefer? Broken promises or brutal frankness?

The HR Chronicles

As a manager, I have had my fair share of conducting interviews and during a recent job hunt I’ve had more interviews than I care to bargain for. I personally enjoy interviews as it gives me a chance to express myself and to “sell” my skills to prospective employers. As always, it is recruitment/human resources that gets the first (and last) shot at me. It is funny as almost every interviewer I came across had the same questions to ask me. From company to company, the questions were so strikingly similar that I mastered answering some of them. My own experiences and those of others I know led me to begin writing what I like to call the “HR Chronicles”.

Join me (or others in my stories) in a series of adventures and misadventures when dealing with recruitment officers. Honestly, everyone needs a job and sometimes we have this feeling that recruitment officers hold our destinies in their hands. I want to believe that they are all objective but having heard and experienced some the recruitment follies I will write about, I can boldly say that the decision to hire a person is NOT an objective process; no matter how many recruiters claim that it is!

Come on recruiters! Get real! I am working in a management position that has a great role in the decision-making process in the hiring and firing of people and I know that one “yes” from me gets people hired and a “no” seals their fate.  Isn’t that subjectivity? If I like a person I hire them and if I don’t; I honestly tell them that I am not hiring them. I don’t make false promises to call them or send them an email.

Part 1, coming next, is the Tale of Broken Promises. If ever a recruiter tells you that they will call you, you’ll soon see that they very rarely do. If they really were interested in you, they would actually set a job offer in front of you; so why the need to call you back? Well, you’ll soon know what I am talking about.

What Passing Paradigms is all about.

Passing Paradigms is all about my thoughts as a leader, manager, doctor, writer, citizen, employee, son, parent, partner and all the other roles I play in my life. We put on many hats while we live out each and every day and many thoughts pass through our minds that may benefit others.

That is my sole purpose in writing this blog; it’s to share my thoughts about certain issues (whether it be pressing or trivial) with the hope that it somehow enlightens you.

Conversely, I encourage you to share your opinions with me (by commenting) which may enlighten me in return. I hope we could have a fruitful conversation about issues which may or may not have a direct impact on us.

Some of my posts may contain strong emotions but my aim is just to get my opinion out into the open. My opinions are not meant to defame or insult specific individuals but to point out what I feel may be right or wrong.

Thank you for visiting this blog and I hope to be sharing more with you soon.

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