4 Things You Can Learn about Success from Two Taxi Drivers

Over the weekend I read a heart warming story in Rappler about a taxi driver name Mr. Doroteo “Jhun” Ochavo Jr. The piece was written by Katerina Francisco and it chronicled a trip she took with Mr. Ochavo from Manila to Oritgas.

In the article, she proclaimed that Mr. Ochavo is the “most honest” taxi driver in Metro Manila. He spoke fluent English, promoted safety within his vehicle, and had a country-wide reputation for returning lost items found in his cab. He felt thankful for a life of good fortune and gave back by being the best taxi driver he could possibly be.

As a result, “the care he extends to his passengers’ welfare comes back to him tenfold, allowing him to send his children to school”. (read the whole article here: A Ride with Metro Manila’s ‘Most Honest’ Taxi Driver)

After I finished the article, I thought to myself …

What traits did this man have that enabled him to not only be a success in his profession but also in life?

Kuya Jhun Ochavo

Mr. Doroteo “Jhun” Ochavo Jr. (Photo by Katerina Francisco/Rappler)

Many years ago, back in 1981 …

The story of Mr. Ochavo reminded me of an episode from the TV comedy series Taxi. Taxi was a popular TV show that ran in the late 1970s / early 1980s. It centered around the lives of a bunch of New York City taxi drivers within their workplace. The story of Mr. Ochavo reminded me of the 1981 episode called Zen and the Art of Cab Driving.

In the episode, one of the drivers, Jim Ignatowski (played by Christopher Lloyd), decided to be the best cab driver he can be in order to reach his lifelong goal of owning a wall of television sets (remember this is a comedy). He made a conscious effort to not only do everything right as a driver, but also provide the “extras” not normally found in a typical ride in a New York City taxi.

Jim’s taxi was spotless: polished on the outside and squeaky clean on the inside. He provided a history of the city to his tourist passengers as they drove around town. And on cold evenings, he served free cups of coffee and hot chocolate, and distributed warm wool blankets to his shivering customers.

Jim became a superstar taxi driver. And as a result, Jim broke the company’s trip sheet records and amassed enough wealth to purchase all the televisions needed to create his wall.

Taxi's Jim Ignatowski

Reverend Jim “Iggy” Ignatowski

Now, I’m not advocating everyone quit their jobs and get a hack license, but there is something to learn from these two taxi drivers.

1. Set a goal

Mr. Ochavo’s goal was to take care and support his family and send his children to school. For comedic effect and aligned with his goofy character, Jim Ignatowski’s goal was to purchase a lot of TV sets.

Their respective goals defined their purpose and their focus. Without a goal they would not know what they were working for nor would they know what to do with themselves.

2. Plan out the route

While both goals were very different, both Mr. Ochavo and Jim Ignatowski had a similar plan: be honest, be courteous, be informative, and provide exemplary service to all their passengers.

Their plan was their guide.

3. Nothing gets accomplished without effort

However, a plan without action was meaningless. Everyday, as they drove their taxis around Metro Manila and New York City, they were exerting 110% effort into what they did.

Politeness, cleanliness, smooth driving and making a passenger feel safe and secure took a lot of hard work.

4. Respect the job and those who excel at it

For many, the job of driving a taxi does not command the same respect as a banker or a doctor or a lawyer. But anyone who works hard and excels in their job deserves much respect.

Both Mr. Ochavo and Jim get my respect for their passion for their job and their ability to execute their plan and achieve their goals.

And along with this earned respect, we can all learn from them. In fact, we can always learn from people who are the best at what they do, no matter what the job is.


Feel free to share this article with your friends and family. And if you have a questions or comments, you can contact me directly at jonathan.chua@beamandgo.com.