Our first event of the year for Brew Your Best Year was filled with discovery and learnings! Joined by four inspirational, successful individuals in their respective fields, everyone went home motivated to live life in pursuit of their own passions.
Because we’re all about sharing and inspiring each other here at Brew Your Best Year, we took the time to write this article so that we could share with all of you the insights we gathered from the event– insights brought about by our invited speakers’ years and years of learning and experience.
We hope you feel inspired at the end of this article, and if you end up feeling like you want to join us for one of our events– please do. We’ll certainly be happy to have you!
Keep trying until you succeed
The first speaker for the day was Dean Alfar, playwright, novelist and writer of speculative fiction who has won literary awards including ten Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, including the Grand Prize for his novel for Salamanca. It’s not new to hear the words “You won’t know what you’re capable of unless you try” and in fact, this statement has been used over and over, but when you hear it from someone who fully believes in it, someone who has gained significant milestones and prestige because he was actually one of those who tried and succeeded, the old adage suddenly doesn’t seem too old. Suddenly, something hits you and inspires you even more to act.
Often, what limits our capabilities to succeed are not found in the situations we are in, or the external factors around us, but are all made up or conceived from within us. Insecurities, doubts, and fears tend to cripple us, hindering us from going out of our comfort zones to maximize our potentials. Staying inside this protective shell leaves no room for growth, and this is what Dean encourages us to break away from. At the start of his writing career, he could have been easily swayed to pursue his passion because of the fact that there were many others more established than him in the industry. But he didn’t let that stop him from giving writing a try. Sure, he was just starting. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t have anything good to offer. That didn’t mean he didn’t have the same talent like the others.
With only a week to write a novel to submit to the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, Dean poured his heart into writing his novel and found himself winning the Grand Prize– a living proof that the possibilities are endless for those who give it a try.
There will be risks involved, and you will be finding yourself facing situations in which you have to make smart decisions to prosper, and that’s why Dean also shares that we must not only take risks, but we must take calculated ones. Unless you are J.K. Rowling or one of the luckier novelists of the century, then you can find yourself earning millions and millions from writing. But this isn’t the case for many writers, and the reality is that writers do not have the highest-paying jobs. Writers are writers because they love to write and because they are passionate about it, but most of them do not do it because they want to make a living out of it. Dean accepted this reality when he got into writing. He had a family to feed and support, which he always had to consider when making plans. That’s why, Dean also pursued a corporate job while he was pursuing his writing career. Eventually, he managed to set up his own company and make a name for himself out of that, too.
So take risks, try, believe in yourself and see your life brimming with opportunities.
Opportunity to serve is all around us
At Brew Your Best Year, we’re all about helping each person in their journey towards becoming their best selves so that they can give back to others from the overflows in their life. This is why for our event, we also invited a social entrepreneur to inspire our Community and encourage them to play their part in giving back to those in need.
JC Soriano, at the young age of 24, is the CEO of MagisSolutions and co-founder of HowYouCanHelp, an organization that aims to make a society of helpers by bringing more opportunities to help more people. When asked what inspired him to establish his company, he shared with us his realizations during his daily commutes inside a jeep. “The jeep is a microcosm of the different individuals in society,” JC shares. People from all walks of life, of different genders and careers, are found inside a jeep, with about 20-30 of them cramped up in that tiny space for minutes (or even hours) at a time. While inside a jeep, he would observe the shifting landscapes, and what struck him the most was seeing the private cars passing by, with a few individuals seated inside comfortably, while there they were, all fighting for space or air to breathe within the jeep. That was the lightbulb moment for him.
During his talk, he compared humans to beasts. We humans are greater than all animals- we have the highest forms of intellect, we can talk and interact with others, we are equipped to do laborious work, and so on- but sometimes, we act worse than beasts. Sometimes, we don’t take advantage of the skills that we have been so blessed with. And this is JC’s challenge for us- that we may rise above this and maximize our full potential as human beings in a way that contributes to society and creates an impact in the lives of others.
When asked how one could know the best way to give back to others given what they have, he shared a simple formula:
Look at the needs in the community + Look at your personal talents and skills. This is where you will find the sweet spot.
With a simple vision in mind, JC desires to make NGOs, foundations, and social enterprises the center of society. In short, for the Development Sector, (those who serve the marginalized), to be the center of society. We can all contribute to this vision by finding our own sweet spot. The opportunity to serve is all around us, we just have to keep our eyes open.
Service, before success
Health is always wealth, and health always contributes to a person’s overall well-being. Which is why Bok Santos, a certified Fitness trainer who is trusted by majority of the celebrities in Philippine industry, exudes a radiant and youthful ‘glow’, coupled with a very positive and vibrant energy.
When you become known as a Celebrity Fitness Trainer, there is the common perception that you must be really good at what you are doing for celebrities to get you. Their job, though not formally included in their J.D.s, is to look good and have toned bodies, after all. And this is a fact for Bok- he is, indeed, good at what he is doing. But to him, being good at what you’re doing is not the only ingredient for succeeding at what you’re doing. Those are two different things. And what particularly hit me with what Bok said (which I completely agree with), is that you need to serve others first before you can even succeed. In his words “Service muna, bago success”
Bok did not just wake up one day being called on by celebrities left and right for his training services. It was part of a long journey that entailed many sacrifices, which started that day when he was laid off from the company he was working for. With no other available options but a messenger position to transfer to, and a life that he needed to sustain, he found himself being the go-to for deliveries via motorbike. He shares that through this job, just like JC Soriano inside a jeep, he encountered various people from all walks of life. All these interactions taught him the interpersonal skills that brought him to where he is today. The kind of ingredient that, when married with talent, becomes the recipe for success.
The very first client Bok had as a trainer was a woman he saw at Fitness First who, at that time, was doing some exercises wrong. According to Bok, trainers have a tendency to cherry-pick clients, discriminating from among the bunch who was sporting an all-Nike ensemble and who wasn’t. And so this woman, who wasn’t in branded attire and looked like someone ordinary, wasn’t being attended to by the other trainers. She wasn’t top on their priority list of gym-goers that they wanted to get as a client. But Bok wasn’t there to train a person based on his Fitness brand of choice or his current stature, he was there to help whoever needed help. After offering help freely to the woman, simply because he wanted to help her and not for any other intention, the woman came up to Bok the next day asking if he could be her personal trainer. And when it was time to input her contact details into the gym’s system, Bok was taken aback by the name she gave. The woman was a high-profile individual who belonged to a family that owned one of the biggest retail companies in the Philippines. That was the start of it all.
Aside from allowing the attendees to ask an unlimited number of questions that day on health and fitness (such as, what is the difference between exercising in the morning and at night and what is the better option?), Bok imparted lessons that all of us must remember as we go through this journey called life, and for me the biggest lesson is this: never discriminate– reach out to all, and serve all.
Last to speak (but not the least), was Vanessa Valdez, an award-winning Filipino scriptwriter who has written, or co-written, some of the more memorable Filipino romantic movies of the recent years, such as the crowd-favorite One More Chance. Crowd-favorite might be an understatement as this Filipino movie is the movie of this generation, and even after all these years Filipinos still gather what they call “#hugot lines” from this movie.
Apart from being a romantic movie that revolves around the love story of Popoy and Basya, Vanessa shares that the movie is about discovery and finding one’s self. Basya, the female character, had to leave Popoy, not because she did not love him anymore, but because she had to ‘find herself first’– a common reason for break-ups between couples in a romantic relationship. While those who find themselves being left by their significant other because of this sole reason might find it unreasonable and absurd, we have to remember that we all have different ways of coping. And sometimes, the way for a person to cope with major life events (such as identity crisis or figuring out what they really want to be, among others)– is just by being by himself.
But this doesn’t have to be the same for others. The lesson I gathered was not that we have to be alone in this life. It’s that we need to discover first what it is that makes us tick, what we are truly passionate about, what gives us true joy, what our calling is, before we can be happy and content with our own lives. And because discovery doesn’t happen overnight, it’s always about reinventing yourself along the way.
A line that Vanessa said particularly struck me, and it’s this: “Discovery consists of knowing not just the good in you, but also the worst.” We humans are more inclined to see the good in ourselves, to believe that we are already the way we need to be or that we are perfectly fine the way we are. But since we are in the process of constantly reinventing ourselves, we need to keep looking within us to see if there are things we need to change and make better so that we too, could be better.
For self and for others
If there is any key takeaway from our first Brew Your Best Year event this 2015, it’s that we should get to know ourselves intimately- our capabilities, our talents, our strengths, our weaknesses- and discover what we can offer the world, so that we can be persons of value. Becoming your best self is not about having bragging rights to call yourself worthy. It’s about overflowing and being given the opportunity to give back, serve, and be a blessing to others.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”- Pablo Picasso