Blog Archives

Work Life: Age Limits

(Originally published on August 17,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

When you are young and free, your career possibilities are endless. Opportunities abound. You can experiment a bit and hopefully find a career that is best suited for you.

As you grow older, however, your choices begin to shape your career and you’ll find yourself in a set line of work. By the time you are in your late thirties, you’ve gained enough knowledge in your chosen field and you should ideally be moving upwards in your industry.

This is also the time when you would have already taken on more of life’s responsibilities. You may have gotten married and begun to have children. You may need to take care of ailing parents or other siblings. All of these are reasons why you want to work to provide well for your family.

But what if, all of a sudden, you find yourself longing for a change of career? Or what if life suddenly threw you a curveball and you find yourself out of work and in need of a new job?

You then open Manila Bulletin’s classified ads section. You look for job listings that are suitable for your knowledge and experience since you want to capitalize on what you’ve mastered in the last decade. You find a couple of job advertisements that suit you.

Good reputable company, check.

Good position, check.

Skills required, check.

Competitive compensation and benefits, check.

You’ve found your next job…but wait! It says in the job ad that the age requirement is from 25 to 35 years old. And you’ve just celebrated your 40th birthday. Bummer. You then look at other job ads and notice a similar pattern. There is an age limit specified in the job ads. You’re way above the age limit.  You then start wondering exactly what another reader questioned in this letter:

I’m an engineer by profession and I also finished EMBA. I currently work overseas for a power plant. The pay is good and knowledge advancement is great. However, I miss home and have been exploring the possibility of coming back for good. I’ve been looking at job advertisements, but I have noticed age limitations that are, well, limiting. We say that experience plays a big part in true learning, and you can acquire this through years of working as you also age. As I browsed job listings, I saw that I am qualified for most of the openings, but I always end up frustrated because of the age requirement. So I have a few questions regarding this issue: Is the age limit mandatory as a minimum requirement for all hiring companies? Does HR have an influence on this? Is this what we call “Equal Opportunity”? I hope you can enlighten me.—A Mature Engineer

My Response:

Before HR practitioners post job advertisements, they usually conduct a job analysis wherein they try to define the required skills, competencies and scope of work needed for the position. They also determine what age range and, sometimes, even the gender the manager in need of staffing prefers so that they will have a clear set of criteria for recruitment. As much as possible, HR confers with the manager on his or her preference since s/he will be the one working directly with the new hire.

Although age limitations and gender specification do not exactly reflect the ideals of  equal opportunity, which has been made into law by some first world countries, it is commonly practiced in our country for practical purposes.

From an employer’s point of view, younger employees are seen as less costly and tend to demand lower compensation because they do not have that many family obligations or medical health problems yet. They also have more years ahead, so investing in their training offers the chance for longer service time. On the other hand, some companies are also aware that older and veteran workers have more experience and knowledge. They have already been trained by their previous employers. They have first-hand practical experience and are usually more emotionally mature to handle work concerns and issues.

In the end, it really depends on the company’s culture, needs and financial capacity. Some companies have strict age requirements while others are more flexible. If they can afford to, they hire veterans for higher positions; if they cannot, they get consultants to help out and train their younger work force.

I understand how difficult it is for older people to find jobs. Usually, the older you become and the higher your position gets, the opportunities seem to get narrower. But older people still have a lot of options. You just have to go out of your comfort zone, think outside the box, and explore other ways to pursue your career.

Stay tuned for my next article to get ideas on how to conquer age limits. Meanwhile, you can read up on past articles at


Jhoanna O. Gan -So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, visit or You may also call (632)6874645 or e-mail your comments and questions to


(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)


‘Career Success: the 48 Cs’—the Little Book that Could

(Originally published on August 14,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

Confused about your career? This book may be the one you need to figure things out

By Irene V. Fernando

Whether you’re just starting to figure out what career best suits you or stuck in your work and clueless on what to do, the latest book by career coach Ed Pilapil Jr. can help you analyze your current state and inspire you to take the next step.

“Career Success: the 48 Cs” gives you 48 words that start with the letter C, all of which aim to help you make sense of your career. You might think that getting through all the 48 Cs is burdensome, but it might surprise you to find yourself turning to the last page in no time. Pilapil makes his discussions short enough to be easily read, yet packs them with insights to help you in your everyday reading.

The 48 characteristics of a successful career

The C-words are not high-fallutin terms. The first C-word he discusses, for example, is Career. Pilapil defines the difference between having a career and having a job. Most of us have a blurred definition of both terms or even have the wrong notion that either you can’t have a career different from the job you currently have or a career out of the job you have. Pilapil tells us that a career is the result of you taking that initiative to make things happen, not just because you are getting paid for it but because you want to excel in it.

Unlike some books on career that insists on following a pattern, this book gives you the prerogative to decide for yourself. It assures you that even if you have your weaknesses and limitations, you can still soar and succeed. The book doesn’t give you the step by step guide on making it big in your career; rather, it gives you the chance to evaluate yourself, your work and your life.

It’s never too late or too early

The book contains anecdotes that Pilapil sourced from his everyday readings and personal interactions. One thing that the book clearly tells us is that it’s never too early nor too late to begin mapping out one’s career. The challenge is to start now. Don’t wait for things to happen; instead, make them happen.

“Career Success: the 48 Cs” has exercises—some long, some short—posted at the end of each chapter. It’s lightweight enough to stash in your bag and take anywhere.

Don’t think that solving your career problems, though, is as easy as whipping this book out and doing the exercises. It is, after all, just a book. You still have to do your part in seeking out guidance from experts and learning from first-hand experiences.

So, take a pause and re-evaluate your life. Think about who you are and identify your passions. “You are the master of your ship,” goes that saying; yet you will need all the help you can get to sail through the waves. This book can be one of those tools.

“Career Success: the 48 Cs” by Ed Pilapil, Jr. is now available at Fully Booked and National Bookstore for Php198.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)


Business Coach: Work Hard and Get Noticed

(Originally published on Sunday, July 3, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

What is essential is invisible to the eye,” says the fox in the book, “The Little Prince,” written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Most of us know this is true, but in the business world what is unseen is considered nil. Unfortunately, many of us are white collar workers where output is mostly mental. In practice it is hard to put a value on something you cannot see, despite the best of intentions.

If you do not appear to be doing anything, expect to be penalized. Even if your manager is considerate, you cannot expect your boss to be a mind reader. The truth is that if your superior unconditionally allows behaviour that appears unproductive, then he/she will be in hot water for neglecting his duties. It may also be taken by his other subordinates as a signal that they, too, can be slackers.

You must realize that by appearing to do nothing, you will probably have a short career in the company. Not only will your boss be down your throat, but many of your co-workers will also think that you are just loafing. This problem is most acute in the case of graphic and layout designers because they often need some time to think of new concepts. This is also true in the case of marketing assistants, whose responsibilities include thinking of creative ways to promote the business.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating ways to make you look busy when you are just plain lazy. Although you can use some of my tips to cover-up your idleness, it will be just a matter of time before your lack of productivity catches up to you. But how do you avoid looking like a lazy good-for-nothing when you’re really hard at work thinking? Here are some practical tips:

• Look like you are thinking. When thinking, do not close your eyes. Even if you are deep in work-related thought, most people would think you are just sleeping. I have a friend who was very irritated to see her graphic artists close their eyes while dreaming up a concept.

• Use productivity tools whenever possible. Depending on your job, one of the best ways to see you are at work is to incorporate the use of a spread sheet or some other software tool in your routine. If your work deals with numbers, I suggest that you buy a book or take a short course on the MS Excel spread sheet. It does wonders for number crunching.

• Program your activities.  If possible, divide your tasks into separate groups and sandwich your thinking time between them. This way, you will not have a huge chunk of time wherein you appear to be doing nothing.

• Ask questions regarding your ideas. Not only will this technique let everybody know you are pondering a work-related concern, this will also bring fresh ideas and perspectives that you may not have considered. Another good effect of this is that you will have a better chance of getting support for your projects because of others’ contribution.

• Exceed standards by producing results. Brainstorming must bear abundant fruits. This is the only way that you can irrefutably proof that you are not running a scam. Take special care to document all the benefits that came from your efforts and make it the real score known to management.

Summing it up, the main idea here is to give better visibility to personal brainstorming activities that may be misconstrued as doing nothing. Realize that ignoring this is putting the blame on your boss for failing to notice what he cannot see. The worst thing is if you, the hard worker, is passed over for promotion by a crafty colleague who is in fact truly lazy!

Business and management consultant Ruben Anlacan, Jr. is the president of BusinessCoach, Inc. and a resource speaker for various business topics. He discusses overviews and tips for business from the point of view of a small- or medium-scale entrepreneur who has started several successful enterprises. Those who wish to ask questions or to make comments may visit or e-mail

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Business Coach: The Four Things Every Manager Wants to Hear from Employees

(Originally published on June 26,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

One of the most difficult problems a manager faces is not getting the truth about important matters. After all, one cannot make a good decision if he/she does not have an accurate picture of the situation. Unfortunately this is more the rule than the exception. This is a big problem among Filipinos, in particular, because most people fear offending their superiors or are just too shy to speak up.

What happens is that employees keep their silence or try to send signals in the hope that their managers will get the message. Unfortunately this approach tends to be a hit or miss. The busy manager may be too distracted to spot what you think are obvious hints. Using this tactic takes time, and by then it may be too late to change matters.

To discuss all the things managers need to hear from employees would take an entire book. Here are the things I consider the most common and vital.

1. Say what you want to do. Making your boss guess what you prefer to do is like expecting him/her to have ESP. Although the company is not paying you to do what you want to do, it is of mutual benefit if you are motivated to do the task. You may have certain abilities that your boss is not aware of. In discussing this, phrase it in a way that will show how you can better serve the company. After all, you will be able to do more if you like what you are doing.

2. Say what you dislike. This is not a problem when the task is obviously unpleasant and nobody would want to do it. In this case, your boss already knows that it is a sacrifice on your part. On the other hand, there are also functions people may think you like when in reality, reduce you to a nervous wreck or bores you to tears. Taking clients out may have been fun when you were younger, but if you already have a family, then too much of this may now be stressful especially if you have to stay out late at night. What was then a reward is now more of a punishment.

3. Disclose problems. This covers a lot of ground, from petty, easily resolvable problems to full-blown anomalies that threaten to bankrupt the company. This is the hardest thing to do. You may be branded as a bootlicker who wishes to please the boss to gain a personal advantage. In some situations, it may even cost you your life! It is difficult to make a categorical statement about this, because being a whistle blower is extremely dangerous and not everyone is cut out to be a hero. Just make sure you don’t get entangled with the culprits.

4. Ask for a raise before resigning. It so often happens that an employee enjoys his job and gets along fine with his boss, but despite all efforts he just cannot make ends meet with his current salary. However, he is afraid that asking for a raise will jeopardize his standing. Often an employee ends up dropping a bombshell with news of his resignation. This stuns the manager, who may be more than willing to give what the employee wants. There are, of course, times when the company’s salary structure prevents any further adjustment to wages, but do consider asking before resigning.

There are a limitless number of problems that may be nipped in the bud if only the employee had the courage to discuss the matter with the boss. However, there are still risks in being candid. A more subtle approach may be tried at first. But if your clues are still not picked up by your boss, it is usually best to state the matter directly. Remember: fortune favors the brave!

Business and management consultant Ruben Anlacan, Jr. is the president of  BusinessCoach, Inc. and a resource speaker for various business topics. He discusses overviews and tips for business from the point of view of a small- or medium-scale entrepreneur who has started several successful enterprises. Those who wish to ask questions or to make comments may visit or e-mail

 (All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Work Life: Dealing With a Medical Crisis

(Originally published on June 15,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

Illness can be devastating to the hardworking person. Medical bills can wipe out entire savings. If a disease is contagious or debilitating, you will be asked to stop working for a while, which means loss of income for a critical period in time. As the breadwinner of your family, imagine how much this will impact those who depend on you.

Let me share with you the experience of one reader, Kevin, and the issues he faced during his period of illness:

I was recently diagnosed with pneumonia. At first my company allowed me to take a break for a few weeks to recover, but when I got hospitalized it was discovered that I also contracted tuberculosis. My medical bills reached R95,000 and I did not have enough money to pay the hospital so I asked my employer for support. They provided financial aid as well as a salary loan, but it wasn’t enough to cover my hospital expenses. Our HR manager then suggested that we go for termination due to prolonged illness with an option to reapply to the company when I get better. She said this way, I can get a separation pay. I agreed to this, but now they are asking me to submit a medical report, as well as sign a quit claim before they release the money. I am under a lot of stress and can’t help but feel paranoid with all the paperwork they are letting me sign. Is this really necessary?

Honestly, I feel very depressed. I have spent years working hard to save up, but I’ll have to spend it all to pay for my medical bills. It’s so unfair. I’m sick, I can’t work, and I don’t have money. How can hardworking people like me move up in life? What can I do to improve my situation?

My response:

I am sorry to hear about your illness and I sincerely hope that you get well soon. It is normal to feel emotional distress when physically ill, especially with the pressure of being faced with a steep medical bill. But do know that this, too, will pass. Just hang in there.

Based on your letter I think your company is pretty decent, as they have provided you with medical assistance and a salary loan. They are also willing to give you separation pay as well as give you a job when you get better, so you can at least get some relief and not worry about job opportunities while you are recovering.

The paperwork is necessary. Legally, if a company is terminating an employee due to prolonged illness, a medical report must be submitted and this must be issued by a duly authorized public health officer. It is also prudent for companies to document all things related to termination. Efficient HR practitioners will normally ask you to sign a salary release, clearance, and quit claim form. So just read the documents properly and sign if everything is in order.

As an optimistic person, I don’t really enjoy talking about sickness, disability or even death. But I know that Illness can strike anyone regardless of race, educational attainment and economic status. So for my peace of mind, I’ve chosen to face these issues head on and find ways to protect my family and I from crisis. I urge everyone to do the same.

To protect yourself and your family from illness-related disasters, and to cushion the financial blow that comes with it, take the time and effort to do the following:

1. Invest in health. In the movie “Tanging Ina,” Ai Ai de las Alas says: “Ang batang masipag, paglaki…pagod (A kid who works hard, grows up…tired).” People who work hard do just that—work hard. In the midst of all the hard work, they forget to eat properly, rest well and exercise. They end up working hard for money, and then they get sick and lose their hard-earned money. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped.

The best way to prevent illness-related blows is to stay healthy. Eat when you have to eat. Take a break when you need to rest. Wash your hands often to avoid bacteria and viruses. If you get sick, stay home until you get better. Don’t ever act the martyr by forcing yourself to go to work when you are seriously ill, or worse, contagious. Other people might catch what you have and they will not be happy about it. Learn to work smarter, not harder. You will become healthier and happier in the long run.

2. Invest in affordable health insurance. Honestly today’s rising medical costs will give anyone a heart attack. Depending on the illness and treatment required, bills can run from thousands to millions. Your SSS and Philhealth membership will help a bit, so make sure your contributions are up to date. If your company provides healthcare or HMO, then good for you. It will help pay for hospitalization in case you get confined. But if your company does not provide this benefit, you can proactively research and look for an affordable plan for you and your family (or even get free healthcare, if you’re a Makati resident with that magic yellow card).

See, companies are not required by law to give healthcare benefits aside from SSS and Philhealth. They are not legally bound to cover your medical costs. Employers will pay you for your day’s work. They are responsible for providing good working conditions, but they are not accountable for your health. In other words, you are ultimately responsible for taking care of yourself.

It isn’t just about working hard anymore. More importantly, it’s about living smart. Take care of your health and finances now, because nobody else will do it for you.

Jhoanna O. Gan-So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, you may visit You may also call (632)6874645. E-mail your comments and questions to:


(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)



Biz Maker: How I Learned To Manage People

(Originally published on Sunday, July 18, 2010)


In my earlier years, I never really thought of myself as a manager of people; truth be told I never really understood how important managing people really was until I became an entrepreneur. And even when I embraced entrepreneurship full time, I made many, many mistakes in this field which taught me huge lessons not just in business but also in life.

You see, back in the day as an inexperienced entrepreneur, I thought that people management was simple: “If you want your business to succeed, you must hire people who have the background to run your business for you.” Little did I know that those thoughts were the most devastating thoughts ever to cross my mind. Why? Because no matter how good the people you hire, or how much money you offer them, the truth is, no one can ever run your business better than you.

I learned the hard way that being a business owner did not mean that you hired people to think for you and run the day to day operations for you; it meant that you needed to first know what you really want your business to become, and to do that, you need to be employee number 1. Because, remember Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it usually will. And if you are not there to steer the business clear of problems, you should never expect employee number 2, 3, or 4 to do it better than you.

The greatest mistake I made with my first business was to hire a general manager and her managers (employees 2, 3, and 4) to run the business. I was still working for a big multinational company back then and subscribed to the excuse, “I’m too busy to handle my own business.” So I relied on the salaries that I was paying my people to make them grow my business, solve problems, and make me rich.

Of course, reality is never that easy. Because people that you pay but do not manage usually result in these people taking their salaries and ending up making excuses for why things didn’t go as planned.

(To read more about my problems with my first business and how I solved them, go to my blog, and search for “Business and the start of a beautiful relationship, parts 1 to 3.”)

In hindsight, I realized that my biggest mistake was that I “abdicated” instead of “delegated.” Abdication is what happens when you are not there to guide people and as a result fail to fulfill your responsibility as the founder of the business. Delegation is when you slowly give some responsibility to the people you hire so that they can eventually do the work for you over time. Take note, the operative words here are “slowly” and “over time.”

So in my next business, I tried “delegating.” I was more hands-on in the business, but there were still big glaring problems. The biggest problem of all was my attitude. I was either too nice, or too strict, or too tyrannical, or all of the above. So as you can imagine, some of my people were complaining behind my back. I wasn’t consistent in my approach and my moods got the best of me, because—and this is not an excuse—as an entrepreneur you are faced with an extreme amount of stress on a daily basis.

So how did I learn to manage my people better? Well, three things.

First I had to learn to be better than the normal guy. As an entrepreneur, you will really face a lot of hard and stressful times but even during those times, I had to learn how to become more “presidential,” which meant I needed to stop being dramatic, and to learn to act from my head and not from my heart. It wasn’t easy, but I (with my wife) realized that the solution to achieving this was to slowly and painstakingly build a system to address the needs of our people. This is where my wife Jhoanna really excelled; she built our human resource system almost single-handedly. It did not just address the concerns of our people but also replaced impulsiveness and drama with solid procedures for addressing our people’s problems.

Second, and simultaneously, I had to weed out the bad apples in the bunch. You see I believe that the business owner has to do his/her part in becoming better at managing people, but the people themselves must be willing to be honed to become even better for the sake of the business. Unfortunately there are those who just do not have the right attitude and the only answer is to remove them from the equation.

Once I cleared the ranks, replacing them with better people was the next task, and to do this, we created criteria for hiring people, and these criteria were the most important of all as they helped us hire those who believed in what the business wanted to achieve. This unified belief is what bonded our people together to act as one with the business owners themselves. Without this bond, you can never really build a team with a common purpose.

Third, and finally, I realized that the first two things will not matter at all if I did not show them exactly what it was that the business wanted to achieve. So the last and final ingredient of how I learned how to manage people was to lead by example. I am employee number 1 and as such I must show the rest of the team how to do it the first time, the second time, the third time…until they can do it on their own. Today, I can honestly say that I have come a long way when it comes to managing people. Today I can honestly say that my wife and I are better managers of people.

About the Author: Mark So is a fervent businessman, forex trader, marketer, sales consultant, and educator. He is the chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy, a business, finance and corporate training center. He is also the Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Manila. Mr. So is slated to conduct his “7 Point Formula Seminar” on July 31, 2010. If you are interested in attending this seminar, email Mark directly at To read more of Mark’s interesting and life- enriching articles you can go to his blog at

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Mark So. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Work Life: Dealing with Workplace Bullies

(Originally published on Sunday, July 11, 2010)


Workplace bullies come in all shapes, forms and sizes. You’ve most likely encountered bullies at some point in your life, maybe at work or way back when you were still in school.

Remember the screaming boss that everyone in your office feared? Or the terror professor who gave everyone low grades when he had a bad day? What about the office gossip who spreads malicious rumors about co-workers. Then there’s that customer who curses. And let’s not forget that smooth-talking colleague of yours who acts friendly but continuously puts down people with well-camouflaged words that actually cut your heart into pieces.

These are just some of the typical bullies that walk among us. But because of the many types of personalities and situations we encounter at work, it’s not always easy to identify bullies. For instance, if your boss gets angry and raises his voice at you for an error you’ve committed repeatedly, is that considered bullying? If an irate customer screams out of exasperation for being passed around, can you say that the customer is a bully? No, not exactly.

So who are workplace bullies? And when can we say that a person is a bully?

Workplace bullies use direct and indirect methods to coerce, intimidate, and get their way. They repeatedly use subtle or overt manipulation tactics which give their victims feelings of powerlessness, stress, inferiority, and fear. Basically, bullies make you feel like a loser.

The Art of Dealing with Workplace Bullies

The truth is, almost everyone will experience being bullied, but not everyone will be bullied. Here are some practical ways to help you deal with bullies:

A Protector

Though I’m demure and all, my family actually prepared me well for handling bullies. Before I started school, I remember my mother specifically tell me, “Pag may manakit sa iyo o may nagtangka, sumbong mo sa titser (If someone hurts or threatens you, tell the teacher).”

True enough, on my first day at nursery school, a scary classmate of mine was playing “teacher”. She was ordering people around and lining them up. If someone broke the line, she put them in ‘jail’—a small table where some of my poor classmates already were. Well, I broke the line and so she wanted me to go under the jail-table. Flashback: I remembered what my mom said, then cried my heart out.  My real teacher came to the rescue. After consoling me, she scolded my scary classmate and released her victims. And the silly game ended.

This episode became a powerful lesson for me. It showed me the power of “telling the teacher” or finding a protector who will guard you against bullies. In the course of my schooling, career, and life, I find that I don’t get bullied much.  That’s because people know that I have someone backing me up: a boss, a teacher, a mentor, an influential person at the office, a courageous mother, or a strong husband who will fend off any perceived threat.

So your first line of defense against bullies is finding a protector. 


This is the technique I use for malicious office gossips. You pretty much know who the office gossips are. They will befriend you at first and bring you in the loop. They seem to know a lot about other people’s dirty little secrets. Unsuspectingly, you’ll enjoy the “information” they are feeding you and you begin to bond with them. Then things progress into backbiting and before you know it, it turns into people-bashing.

Whenever a gossip tells me other people’s dirty little secrets, my self-preservation instinct immediately steps in. I know they can easily turn against me. If they can do it to other people, who’s to say that they won’t do it to me?

So when faced with a bully who uses gossip to attack people, I just listen and keep quiet…and slowly, inch by inch, step away from that type of bully.

Protect yourself by avoiding these types of bullies.

Find the Bully’s Soft Spot

Bullies are often insecure people. They are obviously hurting inside, so they tend to take it out on other people. When I taught public speaking to a bunch of high school students during one summer, I noticed a boy who was acting in an obnoxious manner. He made his classmates feel bad with his snickering and side comments.

So what I did was get to know him. I found out that his OFW dad was settling permanently in the Philippines. Since they hadn’t bonded as father and son due to the years of distance, they were having difficulty adjusting and his father was quite harsh in correcting him. This made him feel bad, so he made others feel bad. To help him, I made him the leader for a class project where he needed to be responsible for his classmates. This simple act changed him instantly.  Instead of being a bully, he became a protector.

Bullies are tough on the outside but tender in the inside. Find out what their soft spots are and you’ll be able to help them change. If you befriend the bully, the bully may even become your protector.

Secret Power

But the most important lesson I have learned about dealing with bullies is best captured in the words of a very wise woman, Eleanor Roosevelt. She says, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Wow!  Read it again and again until you get it.

The real secret is finding the power within you. If you let this guide you in your everyday life, you will soon realize that you can become your own protector. If there are things that hurt or bother you at the office, you will know how to calmly speak up and assert your rights. You will know how to say “No” politely to bullies and people with other types of toxic behavior. You will not become a victim and you won’t allow yourself to act like a martyr…because you own your self worth.

About the Author: Jhoanna O. Gan-So is president of Businessmaker Academy and the managing director for HR Club Philippines.  Her company conducts seminars on Human Resource Management and Corporate Skills Development.  They have also recently launched the Instant HR Toolkit, a service that provides HR practitioners with over 100 ready-to-use downloadable, customizable and printable HR manuals, contract, letters forms and templates.  To know more about HR seminars that they offer, you may visit or call (632)6874645.  To know more about the Instant HR Toolkit, you may visit  You may email your comments and questions to:   mbworklife AT (replace the AT with @).

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Jhoanna Gan-So. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Tables 3 & 4: Checklists for Jobseekers

(Originally published on Sunday, June 20, 2010)


A Job Search Checklist

Job search coach Brian Bowman says, “The job search process involves a lot of planning and attention to detail, so it’s no wonder that many people quickly feel overwhelmed and even a bit out of control. The best way to avoid this is to organize your job search so that you have a clear strategy outline and a structured schedule to keep you moving forward.”

To help you get started, here are job search checklists for you:

Job Hunt Materials:

  • A notebook you can carry around
  • Pencils, ballpens, erasers, red markers, highlighters
  • An envelope where you can store advertisements/want ads you’re interested in
  • Scissors, paste
  • Printer; if no PC or printer at home, USB flash drive for storing resume, cover letters, and other vital documents
  • Current photo in office attire
  • Copies of my resume in a waterproof envelope

List of Job Search Strategies

  • Check the Manila Bulletin Classified Ads every day
  • Check job sites and company sites on the internet, and deposit resume in sites you like
  • Announce to family, friends, and connections on Facebook and other social networking sites that you’re looking for a job
  • Other:

Action Plan (Use one checklist per potential employer)

  • Resume
  • Cover letter tailored for company
    • Find out contact person
    • Submit resume and cover letter
    • Notes: (List here if they’ve called you, asked you for additional requirements, etc.)

My Daily Job Hunt Schedule


  • Touch base with a family member, friend, or other contact via SMS or the Internet to catch up with them and let them know I’m looking for a job
  • Check the Classifieds for free training sessions I can attend
  • Check the Classifieds for job openings I’m interested in
  • Do research on companies I’m interested in
  • Customize resume and cover letter for target companies
  • Other:

Target Company File (One page per company)

  • Name of company
  • Address
  • Contact number
  • Background data
  • Contact person/s
  • Job opening/s
  • Resume and cover sent?
  • Interview?
  • Additional notes

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C. F. Bobis. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

Biz Maker: The Tale of Two Salespersons (Part 3, Conclusion)

(Originally published on Sunday, June 20, 2010)


Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog for Part 1 and 2. For those of you who have not yet read those, please go to

In Part 2 of my blog, I wrote that 25% of the commenters were undecided as to whether they were Yin or Yang salespersons, and about 2% of this group (a very small number) felt that a great salesperson should be a balance of both. I totally agree: Yangs must learn from the Yins, and likewise, Yins must learn from Yangs but honestly, it is easier said than done.

Just learning skills from each other and developing these would be the obvious way to reach a balance, but I believe that having a deeper understanding of sales is the real answer.

So here I will explain that being a great salesperson is NOT just about developing a skill or transforming yourself from Yin to Yang or vice versa. Instead, evolving as a salesperson is simpler than you think.

Let’s begin. In my sales and marketing seminars, I ask my students what their motivation for selling is. Can you guess what their three main answers are? They were: 1. money; 2. recognition; and 3. more money.

To which I say, “That’s very honest of all of you, but you see, you don’t need to sell to get money and recognition. You can inherit wealth (money), or you can learn to Invest and grow your money. You can invent a new gadget or write an article for a newspaper for recognition. In other words, what you mention are motivations, but not really motivations to make you sell better.”

And the room gets very quiet. So I continue, “You see the best salespeople in the world, whether Yin or Yang, are motivated by only two things when they start selling. They are: 1. excited and motivated by the product itself; and 2. They absolutely care about the people that they sell to, their customers.”

You Can’t Sell What You Don’t Believe In

My wife Jhoanna is, as I mentioned earlier, a Super Yin; she absolutely gets freaked out when she needs to do the selling herself, but not when it comes to our seminars and our real estate properties.

Jhoanna absolutely believes in practical education; she has read self-help and how-to books all her life and has become a maven of information. The seminars we hold at Businessmaker Academy are the product of her beliefs (and mine, of course); she is very proud of them and is willing to sell them to anyone who inquires about them. When she is in the office and she answers a phone call inquiring about any of our seminars, her face lights up and she can sell very naturally and easily. (She closes 99% of them!)

The same goes for real estate; yes, she loves real estate. In fact, ever since she was seven years old, she would regularly encircle with a red marker the properties for rent or sale in the Classifieds section of the Manila Bulletin and ask her parents to call and inquire how much it was. She would even insist on going with her family every Sunday to see some of the properties they owned at that time. She was and still is obsessed with real estate, so when one of our condominium units was turned over to us, she was able to rent it out on the first day we opened the door (I am not exaggerating). This is the power of believing in your product.

You Should Not Sell If You Do Not Care For the People You Sell To

Notice that I said “should not,” and not “cannot” because you can sell to people you don’t care about, but your customers will know that you are not selling for their benefit but for yours only. This is the other must-have ingredient when it comes to selling very well. You must love your customers for you to be able to gain their trust and their loyalty. It is very hard to fake sincerity, and without sincerity, there can never be trust. If the customer trusts you, the customer will buy from you; it’s that simple.

I really care about my customers, and they know it. It is not about what I say; it is about what I do that makes my customers understand that my businesses and I are here for them. In my seminars I tell my students that I am sincerely excited to be here today to teach them, and indeed I am excited and thrilled. I always am, because at the end of the day, I love the feeling of being able to help, inspire, and provide a means for a better life for all of them.

After my seminars, they come up to me and say “thank you” and the next time they come over, I shake their hands and ask about their families or how their startup business is doing, I mention the details of our meeting several weeks ago and they are surprised that I remembered. These small things, these sincere things that I do over time, show my customers that I care.

But I go several steps further. I don’t just sell to my customers, I build businesses around them to provide them with what they need. And my customers gladly buy almost any product that I offer them because: one, I believe in and trust the product that I’m selling, and two, all my long-time customers know I am selling something that I believe can be used for their best interests.

I am not perfect, and neither is my wife, but in my examples above, Jhoanna and I, together with our growing businesses, continue to strive to be better salespeople using these two very simple truths in selling. I hope it will help you too in your quest to be even better as a salesperson now and in the future. Good luck and God bless!

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Mark So. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

Proof of Professional Qualifications

(Originally published on Sunday, June 13, 2010)

Tell employers you are the right candidate, with a certificate


Looking for a job and have finally decided where to apply? You’re probably getting ready for the interview. But remember that more important than being prepared for the interview is being prepared for the job itself.

Are you really qualified for the position you are applying for? How qualified are you? For a single position in the company, there could be tens or hundreds of applicants. How do you stand out from the crowd?

If you’re just applying for a job to have a job, then nothing you do will truly qualify you for the job, and that’s what will work against you. What really matters to employers when hiring people is that they find the right applicants – applicants who have, aside from the knowledge, the right skills to survive and succeed in the workplace. This has been a problem for many companies in the country – there is a need for a credible indicator of a person’s job skills.

Now, two organizations have partnered to solve the problem of providing people the credentials and certifications that are reliable indicators of their skills. Servicio Filipino, Inc. (SFI) CareerCenter, provider of innovative solutions aimed at enhancing the skills of the Filipino workforce, and ACT, an internationally recognized assessment and research company, launched recently the International Career Readiness Certificate (ICRC) program.

The main purpose of the ICRC is to create a common language for workforce development. This program serves as a common language that helps educators and employers communicate in terms of skills.

For jobseekers, this program helps them to know what exactly their skills are, what jobs they are qualified for, and how they can improve their own skills to qualify for better jobs.

For employers, this program is helpful in screening employees. This has also been proven to help increase a company’s efficiency in training – allowing the company to train people on more specific job-related tasks and not on foundational skills. Basically, this program helps the company increase the overall bottom line: helps improve overall productivity, reduce turnover, overtime, and waste, and reduce training time. This program can also help employers to assess their current employees’ skills – to determine what skills they have so far and what additional training they would need in the future.

For educators, the ICRC serves as a tool in better aligning curricula through increased and improved communication between the education and industry sectors, making each of the graduate fit for work anywhere in the world.

ICRC is a work-related skills credentials developed by ACT that complements traditional credentials such as the diploma. This certificate serves as a proof that a job candidate has the skills critical in the workplace and demonstrates the person’s level in each of those skills. This program is powered by WorkKeys Foundational Skills Assessments (or WorkKeys).

WorkKeys is a battery of ten skill assessments that are related to work. These ten skills that are associated with the WorkKeys test are Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics, Applied Technology, Locating Information, Listening, Observation, Writing, Business Writing, Workplace Observation, and Teamwork.

The ICRC is based on three WorkKeys skill assessments. According to ACT’s database of 17,000 jobs profiled in the US on key workplace skills, three workplace skills stood out as the most important, and therefore most required in jobs:

Reading for Information – This assessment measures a person’s ability to understand workplace documents in performing his or her job. These documents include memos, manuals, letters, notices, and bulletins. This skill is important regardless of profession because in any workplace, documents are a way of life, whether electronic or printed. Many critical errors stem from miscommunication. Mistakes cost companies, and the fewer made, the better.

Applied Mathematics – This measures a person’s mathematical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Employees need to go beyond basic mathematical operations and be able to analyze situations to create solutions when needed.

Locating Information – This test measures how well a person can work with workplace graphics. In an era of information overload, employees (and job applicants, for that matter) should have the ability to glean information and process it in a way that helps a company do its work better and more profitably.

ICRC certification tells employers that you have the necessary skills critical to workplace success. The certificate has four levels (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) which also help employers determine which jobs you are qualified for. For example, a Bronze certificate signifies that you scored at least level 3 in each of the three core areas and are qualified for 35% of the jobs in the ACT database. A Platinum certificate is the highest of its kind, given to highly skilled individuals who scored at least Level 6 in the three core areas and signifies that the holder is qualified for virtually all of the jobs in the ACT database.

For inquiries on the International Career Readiness Certificate, email

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Patrick Glenn Acorin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

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