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Lance Gokongwei, president and CEO of JG Summit Holdings Inc., may be one of the most successful business tycoons in the country, but he will be the first to tell you that he didn’t have an easy path to the top. His father, John Gokongwei Jr.,the founder and chairman of JG Summit Holdings Inc., believed that his children had to start from the bottom and get their hands dirty if they wanted to be successful in their chosen industries.
On April 30, 2019, the younger Gokongwei delivered a commencement address to more than 600 graduates from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela (PLV) and shared the inspiring success story of his father, as well as the values that the chairman instilled in his children.
“Rarely do tales that begin with hardship and tragedy come with happy endings, but my father refused to let adversity determine the outcome of his life and lives of his family,” Gokongwei told the students. “He had no choice but to make the most of the hand he was dealt because he learned early on that we, his children, would later learn ourselves: if you don’t work, you don’t eat… That work ethic, more than anything, was the foundation of his success — and it was the same work ethic he would try to pass on to myself and to my siblings.”
We always talk about resilience and grit on SmartParenting.com.ph, two traits that kids need to learn if they want to be successful in life, according to experts. Gokongwei talks about these and more in his speech, and it can serve as important lessons to your children.
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1. “I may have been the son of the boss, but I worked harder than anybody else to prove that I wasn’t just the son of the boss.”
Though he graduated from a prestigious university — the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania — Gokongwei started as a management trainee in their food division. He was paid Php2,000 a month selling their snacks to supermarkets, groceries and sari-sari stores. His surname didn’t matter — at the end of the day, it was his hard work that led him to where he is now.
2. “There are no insignificant jobs — just inconsequential workers.”
Gokongwei took the time to share how his father imbued all his children with “the dignity and the appreciation of the value of perseverance, hard work, and labor,” because he believes these are the values that will set the graduating class of PLV apart from the rest of the students graduating this year. In fact, these are the values that any person striving for success should have — to be committed to doing their job the best way they can.
“And in standing up, in rising up, you have already succeeded and that the odds are you will accomplish what it is you wish to accomplish." —Lance Gokongwei
3. “Hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.”
This quote, originally said by basketball coach Tim Notke and made famous by NBA superstar Kevin Durant, is a reflection of what their conglomerate values as much as talent and aptitude: a person’s attitude. “It doesn’t really matter what school you graduate from, it only matters where you want to go — and it is easy to spot those who are motivated and driven to excel,” Gokongwei shares.
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4. The road to success is littered with failures.
The ideal scenario is that if you work hard, your work will immediately be recognized and rewarded. But Gokongwei admits that’s not always the case. Life is not always fair. Failure is inevitable “especially when you dream big.”
“Remember, however, that ultimately, you will be remembered for what you have accomplished, not for what you have failed to achieve,” he says. “For it is not how many times you stumbled or failed but rather how many times you have stood up and attempted to try.”
Read Lance Gokongwei’s speech in full here and in Filipino here.