Saturday, October 23, 2010

Intestinal Fortitude


Smiling through hard times

Cracking up in class while eating a donut

Bilbid Entrepreneurs 

Obligatory Class Photo

Having the opportunity to go to National Bilibid Prison through Rock Ed once a week is the greatest gift. This has now become the highlight of my week and the two times it got cancelled (because our permits didn't clear) I felt super bummed out.

Many business writers have documented that success really relies on EQ (Emotional Quotient) and AQ (Adversity Quotient) a lot more than it relies on the commonly accepted standard of IQ (Intelligence Quotient). How one is able to persevere through difficult times and how we control our emotions and work with others often spells the difference between a venture's success or failure. For any enterprise the problems will always come. It is just a matter of when and how big the waves will be when they arrive. Sometimes giant tsunamis attack totally unannounced.

When I see my inmate friends maintain a positive outlook after twenty years (for some) of incarceration it is absolutely and completely inspiring. Imagine being in the same place for so long and not going crazy. This level  of strength is inconceivable to me. We, in the outside world, are so comfortable. I go to Bilibid not really to help them but because I get so much out of it. Inside those walls lies armies of wisdom and tons of new ideas. I love Bilibid and hope to have the honor of continuing my trips there. The human spirit and its capacity to survive is really miraculous. I just would like to share the blessing of meeting these people with everyone.

Mastering one's self is really dependent on taking what life has to offer and making the most of it. Obviously this is much easier said than done. I like the words "Intestinal Fortitude". These words sound so serious - like our lives depends on it, as it sometimes does. In hard times may we find the Lemonade Maker in all of us.

Gaspar singing a happy tune (in Spanish!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Student Rocking the Fashion World

Preview, September 2010, featuring Stacy Rodriguez as One of the Ten Young Designers To Watch


Of all the things I do for work the thing which gives me the most pleasure is teaching. I love being able to help a young student reach his or her full potential. I am lucky that at The One School I have many extraordinary young people enrolled that have no choice but to listen to me, haha!

What I find so interesting is that when a student makes a commitment to become the best version of themselves possible, the change often happens very fast. Sometimes adults can be so stubborn and change very, very sloooooooooowly. We should all learn a thing or two from our younger counterparts.

One such student is Stacy Rodriguez. I am so proud because she was just named by the prestigious Preview Magazine as one of the Ten Designers to Watch in 2010. What is more amazing is that she wasn't even enrolled in our fashion school but in entrepreneurship.

The great thing about Stacy is that she is a true individual. Instead of following others and copying the styles of designers elsewhere she created something truly her own. In the beginning she began by tie-dyeing fabric and selling leggings using this material. When her brand Glasnost by Stacy Rodriguez came across its tagline - “Wear your freedom on your sleeve” - everything came together.

Stacy is now rocking the world and getting the recognition she deserves. From day one I knew she had it and it makes me so happy that I was somehow part of her journey. Keep creating Stace and as I've told you many, many times anything you dream is possible!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dealing with Adversity

Even in the darkest of times there is always a source of light

I've been going to National Bilibid Prison once a week and have learned so much while there. My friends inside have taught me a lot about true strength, faith in a higher power and intestinal fortitude. One of my buddies on the inside told me last Wednesday that they survive by “borrowing strength from each other”. He actually said it in Tagalog which is always more poignant - “Kapag hindi ko na kaya, humihiram lang ako ng lakas ng loob”. When one is down another brother pulls him up, even just a bit. 

Yesterday was difficult day for me at work. Without getting into too many details, a project I have been working on for about three years didn't yield the expected results. This, despite my giving it all of me - heart, body, time, money and soul. Strangely though I feel an inner peace, even if the road ahead will surely be more difficult. I think this partly comes from knowing in my heart of hearts that I gave it my 110% and left no stone unturned trying to make things work. More than that though what lifts me up is knowing that so many lives have been positively changed through the process.

So now I seek to actualize the wisdom of my brothers in Bilibid, who rely on those who love them to keep them strong.