Sometimes, failure is just what we need to succeed, and that is what this story is all about:
Like many entrepreneurs before me, I’ve gone through a succession of failed business attempts; some of which could have ended up devastating me. It wasn’t until I overheard a network marketer, giving a presentation to a couple at the table behind me in a Jolibee restaurant, say “You have to do what you are passionate about,” did I realize what I had to do. And no, I didn’t get into network marketing.
What I did, however, was to ask myself what I was passionate about. As I thought about it, I realized that the reason I gave up so easily in my other attempts at business was because I was not passionate about any of them. Those businesses were simply “jobs” to me; ways to make money. Now I like money just like the next person; but since money was all I was after, it sort of felt empty for me. When doing business became too difficult, I simply gave up.
Then it hit me! I suddenly knew what I wanted to do. I loved public speaking, training, and giving advice; and this is what I had always wanted to do. Now, all I needed was to figure out how to turn this into a business.
The first thing I did was to find out where I could go to hone my public speaking skills. The answer? Toastmasters! It was one of the best decisions I had ever made; but it wasn’t without its challenges.
I started my Toastmasters journey by joining The Filipino Club Toastmasters in the Kingdom of Bahrain and, when I got back to the Philippines, continued my journey in Butter N Toast Toastmasters Club in Makati. I’m still an active member in Butter N Toast today.
My journey didn’t begin smoothly, though. My passion for public speaking would be challenged in a big way and many times over. I thought that I was already a good speaker; but after my first Toastmasters meeting in Bahrain, I knew I was in trouble.
My first challenge was the part of the meeting Toastmasters call “Table Topics”, where you are given a topic at random and you have to speak about it for two minutes. Sounds simple, right? Wrong! I don’t even remember what the topic was; but I remember that I had stood in front of a room full of people and kept silent for what seemed like an eternity; then sat down. I would later find out that I had stood there for a mere eleven seconds.
I continued to strive at Table Topics; and just when I thought that I had finally mastered it, I got shot down again. In Bahrain, when one gives a speech, the Sergeant-at-arms locks the door to keep anyone from disturbing your speech. During my first Table Topics speech in the Philippines, however, people kept coming and going in the middle of my speech. I was so thrown off by this; and thought I had completed my speech, my performance left a lot to be desired.
But Table Topics was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I struggled with a lot of aspects of public speaking. I struggled with the timing device because I had a tendency to speak too long. I struggled with my nervous movements, which made me look like I was dancing the jig in the middle of a speech. I struggled with my humor points! The first time I attempted a humorous speech, not one single person laughed.
With each failure, however, I continued to get better.
I thought that if failure made me better, I might as well push the envelope. So, I joined speech contests. And, as if on cue, I again failed big time! I remember that, after giving my first contest speech, my mentor, Ed Ebreo, said that it sucked! That comment hurt; but instead of discouraging me, it ignited a bigger fire in me. Since I was passionate about what I was doing, quitting never crossed my mind.
I would eventually start to win contests; even making it to the nationals in 2009. I thought, at that moment, that, since I had improved a lot, I was now ready to start my consulting, training and public speaking career. Again, as luck would have it, it was much harder than I had expected; and failure had again stared me in the eye.
I couldn’t get any bookings back then and when I did get speaking engagements, I often had to speak for free. When I did get paid engagements, a lot of them didn’t invite me back. The fact that I had quit my regular job to pursue this career only added to the pressure. It looked like I had bitten off more than I could chew.
The only thing that kept me going was passion. I loved what I was doing and people were beginning to notice.
Eventually, I got better at my trade and got booked more and more by big organizations. Ironically, my failures, especially those in my past business ventures, became my most valuable assets. I could always count on those “bad” experiences to make my audience laugh, cry and applaud. More importantly, however, those experiences made my message credible. Strangely, my failures had become directly responsible for whatever success I am experiencing now.
is the Managing Director of Our-Knowledge Asia and a Business Consultant for Local and Foreign Start-ups, SMEs and Organizations based in the Philippines.