10 Key Takeaways on Being Human and an Entrepreneur from TEDxForbesPark

“Living life at a young age is like being a sponge thrust into the ocean. You absorb what’s around you. If you’re around people who are supportive and positive, that’s how you look at the world.”  – Freddie Prinze, Jr.

You may or may not fully agree with him, but what he said is true and definitely makes sense. The youth is like a sponge, trying to “absorb” everything around us: characteristics, values, beliefs, and ideas (and maybe food, but of course, that’s a different story haha).

May these things be positive or negative, that’s “who” we become.

As a young Filipino, I apply that as my mantra both personally and professionally, especially in the “highly- interesting” society that we live in. Despite my active schedule, I’m always on the lookout for other ways to learn beyond what I am accustomed to at the office, so I can continue being a “sponge”. Thankfully, there was TEDxForbesPark.

On March 25, delegates gathered in a forum at the Turf Room in Manila Polo Club for one of the pioneering TEDx events that purvey “ideas worth spreading” in the country. I was fortunate enough to have been able to be part of this TEDx event, my first. I definitely “absorbed” a lot of takeaways from TEDxForbesPark, which I have grouped into two: on being human, and on being an entrepreneur.



Finding your ‘ikigai‘.

The Japanese say that everyone has “ikigai”, “the reason for being” or “a reason to wake up each morning. Mr. Chatri Sityodtong, Founder and Chairman of ONE Championship encourages everyone to discover their own ikigai. He found his in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which instilled the values of the sport in him and provided him with a strong foundation to overcome all the obstacles in his life – from surviving on $4 a day to being recognized as the “Most Powerful Person in Asian MMA”.


How does one find ikigai? Check out the guide below.


Try to think of that one “thing” or area that ticks all of these things: what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs. If you can already think of one, then you might have already found your ikigai. If you have not found it yet, then keep on searching. We all live according to our own paces, and you will find it soon. Once you’ve found it, try to master it and absorb all the values it will give you; so that in times of the most tiring troubles, you can be your own hero, thanks to your strong foundation.


Be confident in being different.

I was reminded of this during Mr. Martin Tan’s session. His talk was not a ‘mind-boggling’ one; he simply told a personal story and that personal story hit a point home: to be confident in being different.  May it be from listening to Spice Girls as a young boy, dressing up as Darth Vader in an LRT full of “regular” people or being in love with someone who’s 10 years older than you – stand proud.

Also, rest easy knowing that there is always someone out there just like you. Martin realised this when met a kid who also listens to the Spice Girls just like he did when we was young. You too, will find that someone who’s as odd as you.


Using imagination as your ‘fuel’.

You could say that Mr. Paul Soriano found his ikigai as a director and producer, but the fuel he used to find success in it was his imagination. He used his vast imagination for his works of art (films, TVCs, and the like), and that same imagination took him to places he never thought he would be in. Of course, using your imagination to fulfil your dreams isn’t an easy task. Paul needed to apply some ‘principles’, too, for example.



First of all: for every imagination, expect challenges. For every film Paul imagined to make, he needed to overcome obstacles. Getting the necessary support, production budget, and everything that is needed to make the film a reality…. I bet it wasn’t a walk in the park. A part of his success in overcoming these obstacles can be attributed to him aligning his imaginations with the right people who could help him, which is the second principle.

Thirdly and lastly, imaginations should ‘scare’ – not in a crime suspense film kind of way, but in a way that will make you tremble. The key is to be persistent and not let one, six, or thirteen failures pull you down.


Practice “intellectual humility”.

Ms. Reinabelle Reyes discussed three points on how to achieve that, and the one that particularly stuck with me is the need to master intellectual humility.


Intellectual humility is “a virtue, a character trait that allows the intellectually humble person to think and reason well. It is plausibly related to open-mindedness, a sense of one’s own fallibility, and a healthy recognition of one’s intellectual debts to others” (via templeton.org).  Whether you’d like think like a data scientist or not, intellectual humility is a good virtue to practice.

Oftentimes, there are people who are so intelligent to the point that they close all doors for other ideas and oppositions. Although this characteristic can be attributed to the fact that human beings are seemingly predisposed to overestimate their intellectual strengths and underestimate their weaknesses, it’s not an excuse to not be humble or not to listen to more ideas and opinions.


Become a better customer (and better human being, overall).

Mr. Clinton Palanca, a renowned food writer, talked about the different factors he looks at whenever he writes about a restaurant: serviceability, the concept or “soul” of the restaurant, and the overall experience. He stressed that these are the aspects that restaurants should look into to assure that anyone who steps into their place leaves with a smile on their face.

Mr. Palanca did not forget to point out that those who step into those restaurants must also try to become “better customers”, either. How can you do that? By giving the right amount of tip, especially when it’s well deserved. Tell owners about an issue and don’t just keep mum about it. Practice throwing your used utensils and paper plates out when you can.

Bottomline is: it is not just the restaurants that need to improve; we need to, too. Furthermore, we can apply this to life in general. Let us just become better people, yes?