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.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: 3 Things We Can Do Everyday

Jackie Robinson once said, “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”

When I was growing up, my parents gave me and my sisters a lot of leeway. They never said that we needed to be a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant (although both of my sisters eventually became accountants). Nor did they recommend who we should marry or what kind of friends we should have. But they were adamant about one thing: show respect to everyone.

Little JEC

I am not a fan of corporal punishment, but it worked on me.

My dad was never shy in giving me the belt if I showed any disrespect to anyone, no matter what the circumstances and no matter where we were at.

And my mom always said, “If someone disrespects you, that is their problem. You ALWAYS show respect to others.”

When I started my company, I wanted to be crystal clear that showing respect was of the utmost importance. Respect would be the cornerstone of the firm and be embodied by all the employees from the newbie all the way to the CEO.

What I did was write up a to-do / to-be list of respectful things we can do everyday at work, at play, at home; and with our colleagues, with our friends, and with our family. This became the basis of our company credo.

In our company credo, we have over 30 items. In this post, I’ll share with you the top 3 …

1. Be tolerant of others and like everybody.

I don’t have to tell you that 99% of the problems we have in our world is because of our intolerance to each others differences. Drives me crazy when I see, read or hear about people hurting others based purely on the differences of their skin color or religion or gender. CRAZY!

So don’t discriminate based on race, gender, religion sexual orientation or favorite basketball team.

“Now, red, white, black, tan, yellow, or brown / It really doesn’t matter, we can all get down.” – Digital Underground’s Doowutchyalike

Also try to listen to others with an open mind. I know we are human, so we will have pre-conceived notions and certain prejudices, but try. You might be surprised by what you hear. And if you don’t agree or don’t like it, that’s cool, at least you tried.

Nice Darth

2. Open doors for others and smile.

It’s not just an act of helping another through the door but the act exemplifies courteousness and a regard for others. It shows that you care for your fellow person – something we need more of these days.

Plus it’s really easy to do: extend your arm and pull or push (depending on which side of the door you are on).

Real success is not on the stage, but off the stage as a human being, and how you get along with your fellow man.” – Sammy Davis Jr.

Other things I advocate are …

Say “thank you” to show gratitude;

Say “excuse me” to be polite;

Be a gracious loser; and

A humble winner.

And speaking of winning …


3. Get healthy, stay fit and win.

Showing respect for yourself is just as important as respect for others. Getting and staying healthy is one of the best things you can do for yourself – respect for your body and mind.

In 2008, I went for a checkup and received a scary medical report: my blood pressure was up, my bad cholesterol was also up, and my heart and stamina were down. Not good. This was the result of no exercise and an indulgence in fatty foods. The checkup woke me up; realized I was disrespecting myself by not taking care of my body.

Decided to turn it around and started to swim, bike and run. As I entered my 40s, I started to compete in triathlons and ran 10K and half marathon races. I’ve always loved sports and the races and competition motivated me to continue a healthy lifestyle. And I did get healthier. And I stopped falling sick. I slept better and my general mood became brighter.

And I believe that respecting myself by getting in shape enabled me to be more respectful to others.

Also do not neglect the mind. Read more; pay attention to world events; take a class; learn from others; appreciate art; write a blog.

And some other basic do’s and don’ts …

Be on time. Maintain your composure. Be patient. Be encouraging. Be positive. And keep your promises.

Don’t be rude. Don’t lose your temper (“grace used pressure”). Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal.

Like most things that are worthwhile, it will take effort. My mom (and Audrey Hepburn) used to always tell me, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible’.

If you like this article, please share with your loved ones and friends. And if you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact me at jonathan.chua@beamandgo.com. I’d love to hear from you.

If you haven’t heard, the Pope was in town.

Late last week, I was working in Manila, which coincided with the Pope’s visit. Now, I have been in cities when dignitaries visited: Nelson Mandela’s first UN visit in 1994; George Bush’s post 9/11 World Trade Center site visit; and Bill Clinton’s visit to Singapore in 2005. But I have never seen anything resembling what I saw when the Pope visited Manila.

En route

Millions of Filipinos lined the streets to see the Pope as he moved between appearances at Malacañang Palace, Mall of Asia, Manila Cathedral and Rizal Park. Major roads were shut down. Flights cancelled. Airport terminals were closed. Commemorative t-shirts, handbags, beer mugs and adult diapers were made and hawked. And for the length of his visit, the government declared a public holiday in Manila.

It was an enormous spectacle of biblical proportions.

But through all the hoopla and pageantry, the Pope kept it real and dispensed with insightful advice and outlined his view on what ails people in the Philippines and all over the world. To list everything he said would be too long for this blog entry. In my opinion, these are the top 3:

The Pope greets the people“Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste.’ If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal … In this way people are thrown aside as if they were trash.”

I am guilty of this.

We live in a world of “stuff” and the attainment of that “stuff” consumes our lives. As a result we lose track of humanity, our family, and our friends. And not only are we fostering a “culture of waste” but also a “disposable society“.

Keep things in perspective and caring for others should be the top priority.

Smiling Pope“The perfect family doesn’t exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let’s not talk about the perfect mother-in-law! It’s just us sinners. A healthy family life requires frequent use of three phrases: ‘May I? Thank you, and I’m sorry’ and never, never, never end the day without making peace.”

Not much else needs to be said about this.

Making a family strong and sustainable takes hard work, commitment and suppression of ego. Like most things: what you get out of your family is in proportion to what you put in.

Can't we all get along“Modern society should be respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given dignity and rights.”

Basically, this is a plea for all of us to get along.

People are hurting other people for no apparent reason other then the differences in skin color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. We are all human beings; respect that; and we will be able to create better communities and better societies.

The Pope’s messages and insights need to be repeated and repeated often. And it doesn’t matter if you are red, yellow, white, black or brown: these messages are universal.

For some, the Pope’s Manila visit was an inconvenience and distraction but I think the positives far outweighed the negatives. It is priceless when a world leader inspires all of us to be better people; to be better fathers, mothers, sons and daughters; and to create a better world.

If you like this article, please share it with your loved ones and friends. Also, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at jonathan.chua@beamandgo.com.