Monday, December 20, 2004


This speech was delivered during the commencement exercises of the
University of Philippines graduating class of 2003 by Mr. Butch
Jimenez, the youngest commencement speaker in the university's

He once dreamed of doing so, and it came true!

Students wished they had a pencil or paper to jot down notes during
the speech; some even wished they had a tape recorder. Some members of
the faculty found his speech practical, refreshing, and funny!

As college students, you're just about to set sail into the real
world. As you prepare for the battleground of life, you'll hear many
speeches, read tons of books and get miles of advice telling you to
work hard, dream big, go out and do something for yourself, and have a

Not bad advice, really. In fact, following these nuggets of truth may
just bring you to the top. But as I've lived my life over the years, I
have come to realize that it is great to dream big, have a vision,
make a name, and work hard. But guess what: There's something better
than that.

So my message today simply asks the question, what's better than...?
Let's start off with something really simple. What's better than a
long speech? No doubt, a short one. So, you guys are in luck because I
do intend to keep this short.

Now, let me take you through a very simple math exam. I'll rattle off
a couple of equations, and you tell me what you observe about them. Be
mindful of the instructions. You are to tell me what you observe about
the equations.

Here goes: 3+4=7, 9+2=11, 8+4=13, and 6+6=12. Tell me, what do you observe?
Every time I conduct this test, more than 90 percent of the
participants immediately say, 8+4 is NOT 13, it's 12!

That's true and they are correct. But they could have also observed
that the three other equations were right. That 3+4 is 7, that 9+2 is
11, and that 6+6 is 12.

What's my point? Many people immediately focus on the negative
instead of the positive. Most of us focus on what's wrong with other
people more than what's right about them. Examine those four
equations. Three were right and only one was wrong. But what is the
knee-jerk observation? The wrong equation.

If 10 people you didn't know were to walk through that door, most of
you would describe those people by what's negative about them. He's
fat. He's balding. Oh, the short one. Oh, the skinny girl. Ahhh, 'yung
pango. Etc.

Get the point? It's always the negative we focus on and not the positive.
You'll definitely experience this in the corporate world. You do a
hundred good things and one mistake-guess what? Chances are, your
attention will be called on that one mistake.

So what's better than focusing on the negative? Believe me, its
focusing on the positive. And if this world could learn to focus on
the positive more than the negative, it would be a much nicer place to
live in.

[Better than working hard]

We have always been told to work hard. Our parents say that, our
teachers say that, and our principal says that. But there's something
better than merely working hard. It's working SMART.

It's taking time to understand the situation, and coming out with an
effective and efficient solution to get more done with less time and
effort. As the Japanese say, "There's always a better way."

One of the most memorable case studies I came across with as I studied
Japanese management at Sophia University in Tokyo was the case of the
empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan's biggest cosmetics
companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer ha d
bought a box of soap that was empty. It immediately isolated the
problem to the assembly line, which transported all the packaged boxes
of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soap box went
through the assembly line empty.

Management tasked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste, the
engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution
monitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passed
through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they
worked hard and they worked fast.

But a rank-and-file employee that was posed the same problem came out
with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and
pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each
soap box passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the

Clearly, the engineers worked hard, but the rank-and-file employee
worked smart. So what's better than merely working hard?
It's working smart. Having said that, it is still important to work
hard. If you could combine both working hard and working smart, you
would possess a major factor toward success.

[Better than dreaming big]

I will bet my next month's salary that many have encouraged you to
dream big. Maybe even to reach for the stars and aim high.
I sure heard that about a million times right before I graduated from
this university.

So I did.

I did dream big. I did aim high. I did reach for the stars. No doubt,
it works. In fact, the saying is true: "If you aim for nothing, that's
exactly what you'll hit: nothing."

But there's something better than dreaming big. Believe me, I got
shocked myself. And I learned it from the biggest dreamer of all time,
Walt Disney.

When it comes to dreaming big, Walt is the man. No bigger dreams were
fulfilled than his. Every leadership book describes him as the
ultimate dreamer. In fact, the principle of dreaming and achieving is
the core message of the Disney hit song, "When You Wish Upon a Star".
"When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are; anything
your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream,
no request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do,"
as Jiminy Cricket sang.

But is that what he preached in the Disney Company?


Well, not exactly. Kinda, but not quite. The problem with dreaming is
if that's all you do, you'll really get nowhere. In fact, you may just
fall asleep and never wake up.

The secret to Disney's success is not just dreaming, it's
IMAGINEERING. You won't find this word in a dictionary. It's purely a
Disney word. Those who engage in Imagineering are called imaginers.
The word combines the words "imagination" and "engineering."
In the book "Imaginers," Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, claims that
"imaginers turn impossible dreams into real magic."

Walt Disney explained there is really no secret to their approach.

They just keep moving forward-opening new doors and doing new things,
because they are curious. And it is this curiosity that leads them
down new paths. They always dream, explore and experiment. In short,
Imagineering is the blending of creative imagination and technical

Eisner expounds on this thought by saying that "Not only are imaginers
curious, they are courageous, outrageous, and their creativity is

The big difference with imaginers is that they dream and then they DO!
So don't just be a dreamer, be an imaginer.

What's better than vision You must have all been given a lecture at
one time or another about the importance of having a vision.

Even leadership expert John Maxwell says that an indispensable quality
of a leader is to have a vision. The Bible also makes it very clear
that "Without vision, people perish." So no doubt about it, having a
vision is important to success.

But surprise! There's something more potent than a vision. It's a
CAUSE. If all you're doing is trying to reach your vision and you're
pitted against someone fighting for a cause, chances are you'll lose.
The Vietnam War is a classic example. Literally with sticks and
stones, the Viet Cong beat the heavily armed US Army to surrender,
primarily because the US had a vision to win the war, but the
Vietnamese were fighting for a cause.

In the realm of business, many leaders have visions of making their
company No.1, or grabbing market share, or forever increasing profits.
Nothing really wrong with that vision, but take the example of Sony
founder Akio Morita. He did not just have a vision to build the
biggest electronics company in the world. In his biography, "Made in
Japan," he reveals that the real reason he set up Sony was to help
rebuild his country, which had just been battered by war. He had a
cause he was fighting for. His vision to be an electronics giant was

What's the difference between a vision and a cause? Here's what sets
them apart... No one is willing to die for a vision. People will die
for a cause. You possess a vision. A cause possesses you. A vision
lies in your hands. A cause lies in your heart. A vision involves
sacrifice. A cause involves the ultimate sacrifice.

Just a word of caution. You must have the right vision, and you must
be fighting for the right cause. In the end, right will always win

It may take time, and it may take long. But if you have the right
vision and are fighting for the right cause, you will prevail. If not,
no matter how sincere you are, if you are not fighting for what is
right, you will ultimately fail. The Bible, which says, "To whom much
is given, much is required."

Having been given the opportunity to study in UP, no doubt, much has
been given to you in terms of an excellent education. Don't forget
that in return, much is now required of you to use that education not
just for yourself, but for others.

And as you move up and start reaching the pinnacle of success, even
more will be required of you to look at the welfare of others, of
society and of the country.

A final review:
* What's better than focusing on the negative? Focus on the positive.
* What's better than working hard? It's working smart.
* What's better than dreaming? Imagineering.
* What's better than doing something for you? Doing something for your country.
* What's better than a vision? A cause.
* What's better than a long speech? Definitely, a short one.

Thank you and congratulations, UP Diliman graduating class of 2003

"Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never


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