John Gokongwei, Jr. Turns 80; Learning from the Boy on a Bike

The Bible says: "Seventy years is all we have; eighty if we are strong..." And so, as Mr. John celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday, he still is going strong.

The 13-year old boy who started trading goods while riding his bike has come a long way. Did you see the newspaper supplement that JG Summit came out with yesterday? Interesting stories. I always enjoy reading about Mr. John's life as it always proves one thing -- success comes to those who have the vision, work hard to achieve that vision, are willing to take calculated risks, and have the resolve to start all over again.

While reading the write-ups about Mr. John yesterday, I was particularly struck by how much he reads and how much he enjoys travelling. "You cannot learn much by staying in one place." So all the trips that I've taken and intend to take -- I'm just "learning." =)

I had the opportunity to meet Mr. John at a gathering years ago. After being introduced to him, he stopped briefly and then asked me what I thought was an unexpected question: "Are you Chinese?" I had to search my brain cells for a quick (and obvious) reply and ended up saying: "No sir. I just look Chinese." It was off to the food table for me after that but I guess I will always remember that question and brief meeting for the rest of my life. I will always wonder too what the follow-up statement would have been if I turned out to be Chinese. Hmmm...

Anyway, let's see how Mr. John will continue to grow his businesses in the coming years. Just like the 13-year old on the bike ages ago, am sure balance, speed, and endurance will be key. As for all the individuals out there who admire Mr. John and wish to start their own business ventures sometime soon, choose an interesting appliance. By the time I'm 80, maybe someone will write about a mother and her mouse. =)

[By Angelica Viloria | Saturday, August 12, 2006]

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