Monday, 18 December 2017

Big hairy ambitious goals (BHAG) - an inspiration to dream, believe and survive

BHAG - this is big, hairy, ambitious goals and it could also be read as BIHAG in Pilipino which means captive or a prisoner.  I think I can consider myself both.  I am ambitious and also marked by complete attention to ambitions.  Don't get me wrong some people might think of this word as something negative, something that you will want to get, whatever it takes. It's all positive.  it could be about your career, your love life, your health goals, your showbiz dream, anything goes. Big, Hairy, ambitions and goals could also mean visions of what you will become in the future and at the time of the vision seemed impossible to reach.

When I was 10 years old,  I remember telling myself that someday when I will have children,  I will try my best for them not to experience what I'm experiencing.  At that time, potable water was a scarcity in our town and we had to fetch water from faraway places.  Being a small and thin girl, you could just imagine that my lean arms would be carrying 2 gallons of water and we had to walk kilometres to and from the source carrying those water containers.  It was improved 2 years later with a makeshift car (wooden cart) and I have to help push the cart carrying the water containers. At that time,  I had imagined myself in the future staring at a window while I fill up my glass with potable water from a faucet.  It was free to dream, right?  This was almost 40 years ago and I could just laugh and cry at the same time now because the vision has been fulfilled.  From farmlands in the Philippines to a City in Canada, that's a BHAG.

I am not ashamed of my past, I came from a poor family and just because my parents were industrious, faithful and ambitious, our lives improved.  The same as other families with OFW (overseas Filipino worker), we took the risk and sacrificed our being together as a family when my Dad had to leave to work in the Middle East starting when I was 12 years old until all of us (the 3 children) finished university degrees.   My young mind was exposed to drastic changes and great improvement initiated by big, hairy ambition.  It dawned on me that there is hope and everything is possible if you are focused and worked really hard to achieve your goals.  There were lots of sacrifices and out-of-comfort zone scenarios but they all paid off.  We were also faithful to God, we believed that He gives blessing to those who earnestly seek Him.  Do you remember my first Christmas prayer?

Now when I went to school, I didn't stop dreaming.  I graduated with honours in elementary but I was not a Valedictorian, not the top so that motivated me to dream bigger. I graduated as a little above average High School student (at least top 5% of class) because I enjoyed my youth and filled up my schedule with extra curricular activities, still not the top, more room to improve.
These activities (school paper, peer facilitating, Girl Scout, school librarian, leadership camps and lots of organization) in a university-like high school (6000 graduating class at that time) molded me and exposed me to becoming a leader at a young age.  It didn't stop me from envisioning my life to be better.  I was a working student in college, it was hard juggling school and work but the ambition was still there and it drove me to work harder and accomplish more.  My goal then was to be exempted for final exams and that meant getting good grades all throughout the term.  It was always a relief to find that despite not showing up in some classes because of work,  I still ended up exempted and getting good grades.

When I started working, I was blessed to have started my career in a service-oriented multinational company. The experience exposed and trained me to be quality-driven and taught me how to deal with foreigner bosses.  It also gave me a chance to travel and meet employees from same company in Asia.  My very first business trip was to attend a workshop in Singapore when I was only 24.  Would you believe that I was the youngest and I was the only female in that group?  At that young and ambitious age, I told myself that after Asia,  I dream to be sent to Americas then to Europe.  That dream was realized many years later when I went to the US (Texas and New York) with my American employer and now with another global company sending me to UK (to represent Toronto) and back again to the US (to represent Canada).

I have not stopped making my BHAGs, every time my goal will be realized,  I moved on to the next.  Of course, there are always bottlenecks, detractors, blockage - something or someone to prevent you from achieving your goals or grabbing the credit from you or making you fail or real failures.  But that should not stop me.  I could have given up a long time ago - when a coworker would prefer another person to be in your spot, or when a Manager didn't believe in you, when someone stole the limelight from you because you are just a support or "you are a woman in a man's world", when someone tells you that "people of colour or a different accent will not make it in the boardroom" BUT I didn't give up. I also received cold shoulder, snobbish looks, backbiting comments.  I would set up meetings and nobody will show up or you will receive last minute bail out. In meetings, I experienced being thrown off the bus or my ideas ditched and told to my face it won't work, or "maybe in Asia but not here".  I just cried silently it's the natural reaction, grieve but only for a while.  Don't let it drown you and you will lose focus. 

Here are the things I remember doing:
1. While I'm down, admitted that I can't do it on my own- anchoring and drawing my strength in God's words. Pray for guidance and comfort.
2.  If there are still thoughts of it coming back, all those negative thoughts - brush it all off.
3.  Research and contemplate on the word "resilient".
4.  People - Rely on your support system. I owe a lot too to my family and friends who are always there, who continued to cheer,  encourage and inspire.  There are people who reminded me that if a door closes, a window opens, so do not give up, continue to do good, look for opportunities and deliver brilliantly.
5. Forget the past, look to the future - One day, your day will come, your light will shine and you will get there.

I admit I'm not there yet,  I didn't say I don't have a dream to become a CEO someday,  I'm not even a Manager yet but who knows.  Maybe my goal is to just become a catalyst or change-driver or someone who is instrumental in making a huge change a success.  Or maybe my ambition is to just sit in a boardroom from a high floor with global counterparts, making a decision  or new process for the global companies to follow.  Maybe my dream has been realized, or about to, who knows?  I'm not particular with positions, but with connections and with impact and how I can contribute to making a change and making an ambition become a reality - whether it is a global ambition or personal, I'm all for it and I should not stop now. In the same way as I've learned before even with hardships or blockages, just continue to dream, believe and survive.

Have faith in God, He made us to be great, believe that you can do it, and do not stop learning and excelling.  Once you are there, move on to the next!

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed " Proverbs 16:3

I could just sing this forever - "My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord, He has done Great things to me."

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

4 steps to Managing People firmly and fairly

I highlighted on the title to focus on developing people.  That way, I will attract and keep the audience interested.  Some people will consider this applicable only to workplaces and those with direct reports but the tips are applicable to anyone or anywhere.  Whether at home or in an organization, or a team or just one person, if there are set goals and you want to achieve results, the pointers apply.
Now let’s do it, you might want to try using the words motivating people or empowering people, makes more sense, right?  Here are the steps:
  1. Clearly tell the task; what you expect them to do.
  2. Give them a reason to do it - “whys’” and make them want to do it - “rewards”
  3. Make the job doable; provide tools and resources.
  4. Give Feedback - positive or corrective to encourage and omit recurring mistakes
My guinea pigs for all the concepts that I’m learning and application are my kids.  Like organizations, we also have OGSM and one of them is Feed Your Body.  That means, they need to eat the right kind of food to get the right nutrition to be stronger, healthier and live longer.  Feed body with value and not just any food to fill them up.  To illustrate the pointers, I need to tell the kids what to eat and the reasons why they need to eat veggies and fruits aside from meat and eat less sweet food.  We have a weekly checklist on who finishes all the tasks assigned to them including finishing all the food in the lunch box and at the end of the week, we give them “rewards”. Because they are big boys now, money is our reward.  It could be saving for something big like a game add-on or something else. Visual tools really help.  We have a Poster of the Canada Food Guide in the kitchen so they will be reminded on how many servings of these nutritious food they are expected to finish each day. We also have recently bought different containers to use for their daily servings. Lito and I are now starting to use the Bentology containers to get the right portions.
It’s always hard to implement at first but we need to be consistent so we will achieve our goals.  I ask the kids what they like and don’t like about the food (of course, they will always say they don’t like) but asking for feedback helps.  We made a list of all the healthy food that they like and I’ll try to repeat what I know will mean empty lunchboxes from school.
Be creative. If we fail the first time, we try again and get better at it. I just want to mention that I found out about cauliflower rice and made the kids eat the fried rice without knowing it’s not rice. Research and find more ways to get the person understand more so that he will change the mindset and do it.  Once you let him experience the rewards, he will do it on his own. Do not give up on encouraging.  Good luck and I hope we achieve our goals in no time.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Success Factors - did you really win?

Last hurrah in winter. We found ourselves checking in a Niagara hotel while Rhea and Michael are catching up on their short-lived honeymoon.  To avail the package, we walked to the Clifton Hill area and spent the hours in a place where the kids liked - a game arcade.  This was in March break - mid-March but it was still cold and 2 nights before, there was a blizzard in Niagara. We walked for about 3 blocks in snow but when we were near the Pirate's Cove, my kids got excited.  We started off with a game called Cannon Blasters.  This game is to be played in teams and the goal is hit the other teams target areas when the laser lights turned on.  The rule is to aim the cannon blaster and shoot, when the ball hits the target the team gets a point.

This is a popular game and we waited in line and we watched how the previous teams played the game.  The one before us is a family of 6, I think they were all siblings or cousins.  They were all grown ups.  There were six players and also six blasters but one of the cannon blasters didn't work.  The time already started and the teenager in the busted blaster started throwing the balls at the target areas instead of shooting it using the blasters.  The other kids followed suit and soon all of them were just throwing balls at each other and not anymore at the target areas just to keep them from scoring. Some of the team mates just punched the target areas on the opponent side to increase their score.  Of course the team who would hit the most wins. When the alarm sounded, they stopped playing and they were all laughing from getting even or getting high scores without following the rules.  I heard one of them said, "we won anyway, highest scores decide who won the game".  I know they were just having fun and I knew I was being a kill joy because I did not like the way they played the game and my kids witnessed it.  Actually I was angry, so before we were given the signal to go and take places, I told my kids to play the game the way it should be and I don't care who wins, just follow the rules.   The real winner is not a cheater.  I said it loud enough for those "cheaters" and other teams waiting in line to hear.

It's the same in life -whether it's a game, sports, career - climbing a corporate ladder, holding a public office or doing business, the success factors should not only be about winning, money, fame, status.  It should be about how you played the game, how you deal with people, how you followed the rules.  The right way of how to determine success is the peace of mind and heart.  Did you really win?  Did you really achieve the goals or scores by hard work? Did you get to where you are now because of doing it "ethically"?  Are you humble enough to say that the outcome is a result of hard work, prayers  and the favour that made you become successful is from God?

I am so amazed at how some popular athletes today give reverence to whom their strength and success come from.  Before each game, they would give a sign or even pray with the teammates.  God blessed them continually because He is acknowledged.  His promise is real and eternal.

Proverbs 3:1-4 says:
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success[a]
    in the sight of God and man.

My kids and I played to our hearts desire and we enjoyed hitting or missing the targets, everybody wins, it was how we played the game.  We left the arcade with happy hearts.   I believe we are competitive in most aspects of life and that game previous to ours is a perfect opportunity to make them remember that there is another set of rules in every game we play. That is God's rules and how he sees us and our reactions to defeat, how we are ethical in our actions.  I admit I am sometimes disappointed or frustrated because after I did my best, I still did not achieve my goal or I lost in a game or was not successful in something but deep in my heart I have peace and a trusting heart that allows God to intervene.  For me, that is my success factor.  What about you?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

People Development Skills

My title was just recently changed from Training and Documentation Specialist to People Development Specialist.  I believe it is more impactful now and I'm scared that I'm not able to fulfill the role in the truest sense of the title.  What if People will not develop?  That is the challenge - to keep the employees engaged, aligned to the business goals, and have the desire to develop themselves.

Now do I want to worry about other people?  I will just think about what I need to develop in myself first and we'll figure out if that will be applicable to others.  Let us consider these soft skills that can be learned and applied early on.

Here are some of the essential skills that I can share based on the learnings in my leadership course at U of T and my training in UK last year:

Time and Cost are 2 of the 3 constraints of a project and definitely managing these 2 are your top priorities in order for you to become successful in whatever project or career you are developing.

1. Money Management - knowing how to create budget, living within means and not accruing credit card debt is crucial.  In the past, financial literacy was rarely discussed except for those interested with studying commerce and business. Today, no matter where your income is coming from, you need to become good in your bookkeeping and balancing the debit and credit.  If you are good with managing your own money, then you'll be good at doing it for your organization.  Companies are now focusing on projects and initiatives that save money.  This skill is a must.

2. Time Management - With so many social media apps and other distractions, we sometimes lose focus on important things.  We don't want to miss an appointment, or be late in a meeting or submitting a school work or perform a task.  The skill to balance time is as equally important as in balancing the books.  There are so many things to do now - household chores, getting physically fit, meeting friends, attending class, aside from spending the bulk of your time at work.  The key is to learn how to balance the time, identify which are priority, which can be done at the same time with another (multi-tasking) without decreasing the value of the outcome or which can be transferred or shared with another. Learning how to self-manage your stress-level and your time is an indispensable skill that everyone needs to be confident with.  Success is based on you and you alone.

3. Conflict Resolution - Employers are now adding this as a skill that they will look for in a candidate. Being in L&D, I have opportunities to attend free training. I have attended numerous sessions about personality traits, finding out your temperaments and handling difficult people.  The  sessions on influencing and conflict management are my favorites.  All these are good sessions except that the success depends on the application and experience. I hope that we will have opportunities to handle situations that call for preventing or resolving conflicts.  I only remember WIN -WIN as my keywords and it meant to always choose the positive outcome and whatever is best for everyone.

4. The Ability to Stay Positive - Have you watched or listened to the news lately?  All you see is violence, terrorism, war, poverty, people losing jobs - all negative.  Maintaining a healthy outlook on life has been a skill that many people encourage.  Today, since the workplace is stressful, it is essential.  Having the inner resource of being able to see things in a realistic way can help with anxiety, nervous tension and constant worry.  If you haven't figure it out yet, the Divine intervention is foundational. You can't do it on your own. God is your inner strength. For example, understanding that a negative feedback from your direct manager is never going to make or break you.  No one needs to be perfect to succeed.  It is the person with the ability to accept constructive criticism and the maturity to accept imperfection, that truly succeed.

5. Emotional Intelligence - EQ is better than IQ.  Employers are increasingly focused on how well employees fit in with their company culture.  Thus, people with more highly developed emotional intelligence will have a greater chance of making it.  Possessing technical and social media skills is not enough.  Being  able to build business relationships in person using emotional intelligence and cultural awareness is more vital.

If you are a new graduate  or just starting out in your career, or seeking a new career or niche in the field,  you need to do a self-assessment first to check where you are in these skill sets.   If you want to develop into something, you have to remember that times are changing and you need to adapt to the emerging trends in the workplace.  School might help in developing these in you.  If you expose yourself in activities where you can exercise these and learn from other people, then you have the chance to improve and apply these skills in your career.  If not, you have to start somewhere, read, learn from others.  Find a mentor or someone you can trust to help you. Keep an open mind and open your eyes to these opportunities. Good luck!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Are you goal-oriented?

My friend Annabel reminded me that we both shared the same criteria in choosing friends and much more - our lifetime partner.  Goal-oriented, Results-oriented, someone with personality, can deal with all kinds of people and most of all God-fearing.  I know it was not right when we couldn't help laughing at some of her suitors who had the face (and body) but didn't have goals in life. Can you imagine?

First of all, we need to define a goal. Goal is something you want to achieve, work on and get better at.  There are long-term and short-term goals. A normal person will have dreams and ambitions but not everyone will have goals who are close to planning on achieving them.  The latter is our ideal person.

Before I took my Project Management course at University of Toronto, I've already known the concept of SMART goals.  In order for our goal to be smart, it needs to conform to the following criteria:



  • Well defined
  • Clear to anyone that has a basic knowledge of the project


  • Know if the goal is obtainable and how far away completion is
  • Find out when you have achieved your goal

Agreed Upon

  • Agreement with all the stakeholders (family, spouse) what the goals should be


  • Within the availability of resources, knowledge and time


  • Enough time to achieve the goal
  • Not too much time, which can affect project performance
Because this is just the start of the year, this is a perfect time to set a goal and plan on how to achieve it.  The Smart guideline above will help in setting these goals.

The following are the different types of personal goals that you may want to consider:

1.  Financial Goal - example: Save 50 dollars a week for the whole year to attain the $2,600 goal
2.  Fitness Goal - example:  Exercise for 30 minutes everyday, eat vegetable everyday, Run for 5K
3.  Travel Goal - example: Japan and Manila Trip by 2019
4.  Career Goal - example: Enroll in a class to learn or improve skills; Get certification
5.  Spiritual Growth Goal - example: Join a Ministry or bible-study cell group
6.  Relationship Goal - example: Level up or Propose marriage to GF or break up with a married partner

I mentioned about friends sharing the same goals or having goal-oriented traits that we ourselves possess.  It's important that you share the same goals with those who are close to you to inspire you and help you achieve your goals.  I admit that these people are the same ones who poke you and remind you to get going in case your motivation is slowly diminishing.  If the friend is not aligned with you, you will slowly lose the interest so choose your company well.  They are there either to support you or watch you fail.

Please keep in mind that the outcome of your goal is not because of other people, do not blame it on them.  It is not about them, it is you, only you who is accountable and responsible about achieving your goals.  Start right, act now and sustain it. Remember, time is passing by and your age is not getting any younger, maybe for some of our goals, the age or physical strength will prevent us from achieving it.

I hope you have a change of mind if you are not yet a GOAL-ORIENTED person.  Don't you want to achieve something remarkable this year?

See this blog post too - TRAC and BHAG/BHAP

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Types of Friends: let's see if you are one

Friends are treasures, but they are rare or you need to invest time and effort to find them.

I have this notion that all those who are friendly to me are my friends. With that, I am thinking that I have lots of friends even online. I have lots of followers but there are only a few that I am confident will show up at my funeral because they are your true friends. Are you one of them?

I'd like to share my notes from our Pastor who helped me understand the levels of friendship and how they are different from each other:

Level 1. Acquaintance - these are the people that we have met one time or we are around with everyday, we share small talk with them. They can be our not-so-close relatives (remember those family reunions you had and you were introduced to one or two), they can be your classmates (you have become group mates in one of the projects in school), they can be our co-workers, sports team member or opponent from another school, our Sunday school classmate or a friend of our friends, or our neighbors, or the lady at the Library whom we shared some book reviews with. It could be anyone that we know, smiled at and met casually.

Level 2. Friend - the next level is when that acquaintance become more present in your day to day activities either physically or online. You have become closer because you shared personal stuff, you both know what your likes and dislikes are and most likely, you have the same feathers or fall in the same group.  The conversations you have tend to focus in knowing the other person more and how you relate to his or her opinions, beliefs and character.  You will want to find out more about that person and everyone that surrounds her like family, spouse, work, school and sports activities. I consider this the "dating phase".

Now it gets deeper when emotions are shared. When this person is happy, you share and celebrate it together, you are also happy for the person, not jealous.  When your friend is in trouble or in sad moments, you comfort him and being there for him counts a lot.  You are not a friend when you are only there for happy moments and you leave when trouble comes. If you are in the dating phase and you want to find out if this person only wants to be with you because you are popular, or rich, or smart to help him in school, you will discover his intentions when the going gets tough - when you are no longer popular, or smart, or rich.  The fake friends are easily known because they get lost as soon as the perks are lost so be vigilant.

When you are in the older age, it's easier to find friends because you know who have stood by you and are still friends with you even if you married, moved, either home or work or country. 

Level 3. Close Friend - you will be considered a close friend if talking to each other is regular or catching up is imperative. I have my sister as my closest friend because we talk every chance we get but apart from a relative, you may have 3 or 4 persons who are really close to you who are the same as level as you but the relationship is more personal. This person is someone you can confide anything with.  You know the saying - anything under the sun.  You share feelings, you can pour out problems, frustrations and plans that you will hesitate to share with any other friend because you trust and respect this one special person and vice versa.  This stage is sometimes tricky because most of the time when you thought that you can share with a person, you will end up finding out that whatever you shared is also shared with  one of her friends. You can't trust that person anymore right?  Betrayal.

One thing that I consider a factor in making the Friend stage move up to the next level is when I am able to challenge my friend or I can also accept the challenge from him. We have come to a point that we can tell each other even the wrong things to correct them.  A true friend will accept criticisms and also give constructive ones.  The next level is reached because you will realize that the friend really cares for you to give you warnings - Iron sharpens iron.  This is the best level to consider if that close friend is also qualified to move up and become your partner in life.  The best marriages start with good and very close friendships.

We can have many close friends too but there are only a few who are Good, Godly and have been there Praying for you.  Christ even on his last night at the Garden of Gethsemane only chose 3 of his disciples to wait for him while he is praying. 

It is true that in these times, it is very hard to find a Good, Godly close friend so here are the tips I took from Pastor Billy from Church on the Queensway based on God's words:

1. Pray for that friend.
2. Choose well. Proverbs 22:24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person. Do not associate with one easily angered.
3. Be careful.  Proverbs 12:26 The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
4. Test the friendship - with time, distance or confidence
5. Caution in communication - talks should be pleasing to God. 
Proverbs 16:28 A perverse person stirs up conflict and gossip separates close friends.
6. Create Depth - society and media is robbing  us of true friendship.

Proverbs 18:24 says "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

To accomplish this we need to consider the L's of friendship:
Love - to move from acquaintance, you need to add love
Loyalty - you can't change friends in the same way as your clothes
Learn - knowledge about the friend is a leverage
Listen - give and take, you can confide
Lean - you can count on a friend
Laugh together - cry and laugh.  The close friend will help you laugh when you are crying.

  • Take time.
  • Let the Holy Spirit guide you.
  • God wants you to have a Close friend.
  • Be a Good and Godly Friend yourself first

I wanted to put this in my blog so that one day, I will be reminded that I was blessed with good and Godly friends until now and I'm sure they will show up in my funeral. But most of all, I am blessed to have found Jesus as my very best friend.  He is there in my ups and downs, 24/7 and I'm forever grateful.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Kyle's 11th Birthday at East Side Mario's

Today is Kyle's 11th Birthday. I am amazed and thankful how time flies and I just realized that my kids are all grown. Here we are in our Birthday Lunch celebration at East Side Mario's.  The kid ordered pizza and we ordered pasta.  It was not as how I expected it to be, nothing special.  I am pretty sure my kids loved my pasta more. Anyway, we just wanted to spend the birthdays differently now so we hold it at a restaurant.  BTW, Alexus enjoyed the bubble gum milkshake so that is something that I would definitely recommend for kids and kids at heart.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

2017 - a year to look ahead

Happy New Year! A new year is always a good time for a fresh start. Start the year with a bang, with plans and activities laid out for the coming months.  I know some of my plans last year didn't materialize but I hope and pray that this year would be the year that some of the items in my checklist will be marked as completed or achieved.

I will not list everything but I still want to write those that I really need to accomplish this year:

1.  Take and pass the G2 Drivers License.
2.  Write the CAPM designation exam.
3.  Finish a project and be a certified Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt.
4.  One or two Big Family trips this year, down south (WDW) and east.

I just trust God and I rely upon His mercies and provisions. So please help me Lord.

Proverbs 19:21 says - Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

My prayer is that this year will be a year of blessing and spiritual growth as my family follow God.  No matter where He leads us or what situations await us in the coming year, He is always with us, guiding and guarding our way.