5 Ways to go from Grit to Great, from the 1st Apprentice Asia Winner

 5 Ways to go from Grit to Great, from the 1st Apprentice Asia Winner 

When in Manila, a lot of people talk about the latest TV shows. In one such conversation with my friend about reality TV, she said, “If there’s one reality TV show really worth watching—something you could learn from—it’s The Apprentice Asia.”
Of course, it was extra fun to watch it while rooting for a fellow Filipino! During the show, Jonathan Yabut demonstrated how well he related to people. He also exemplified diskarte, which ultimately got him through the toughest job interview ever
From Grit to Great
More than a year has passed since Jonathan Yabut won The Apprentice Asia. Apart from his work as the Chief of Staff of AirAsia, he engages in motivational talks about youth, leadership and entrepreneurship across Southeast Asia and is represented by the London Speaker Bureau. 
Since that fateful day when he was hired and chosen to be The Apprentice Asia‘s first winner, he has repeatedly proven that winning was only the beginning—both for him and for those who have followed his inspiring journey. Through his social media accounts, his weekly column in Yahoo!, and his website, he continues to serve as an inspiration and a source of learning for many others, even after the show. 
That’s why I consider it a huge privilege to interview him. Some of his answers surprised me, and my personal favorite (and the most practical and patama lesson I learned from him) is #4. 🙂 (Do comment below what your favorite is!)
So without further ado, here are the 5 things I learned from Jonathan Yabut, The Apprentice Asia‘s 1st Winner. Hopefully, it helps us go from grit to great!

1.) Be passionate about learning, AND sharing what you learn. 

This is what pushed him to write a book,  From Grit to Great. As I’ve been passionate about sharing my learnings in life and in The Apprentice with many Asians, I wanted to collect all those blogs and stories into one book.”
From Grit to Great has been dubbed as ‘the book where business meets wit.’ “The book is a partly autobiography, and partly self-help about the corporate world. It covers my struggles from humble beginnings to succeeding in the corporate world, and finally winning the reality TV show dubbed as the “world’s toughest interview”. 


It’s  a compilation of his personally written articles and blogs during his one-year apprenticeship featuring: 

Fuelling success from grit:  What is grit? How do you develop grit? Jonathan explains that you don’t need to be an Einstein, a Richie Rich, nor a royalty to succeed in life—what you need is grit. 
Behind the scenes spilled:  From bedroom to boardroom, Jon reveals juicy secrets and life lessons he learned from Mr. Tony Fernandes and fellow candidates. 
Hack the corporate world:  From working smart (and not hard) to applying the 80/20 rule, get practical daily tips on how to climb the corporate ladder faster!
Be the next Apprentice: Got plans to join Season 2 of The Apprentice Asia? Learn tips and tactics in making it to the Final 12 from the winner himself!” 
From Grit to Great
I assumed it must have been really busy to have a job like his, so it was quite a wonder how he got to squeeze in time for writing a whole book. I asked him about the process of coming up with this book, and he said, “I love writing and reading! You can see how I love playing with words and thoughts with the way I write. As I’m busy with my real work, the book came in installment for six months. I wrote when I could—when I’m riding the plane, at the beach during a holiday, or during lunch time when I needed to get out from work. This book is done the way an entrepreneur would—my friend designed the book cover, another friend helped in creating the marketing plan—all those things! I’m so proud of the team!”

2.) Pay it forward. 

Jonathan went through kindergarten up to university through scholarships, and now, he wants to pay it forward. “The book’s cause is not just to share my journey of winning the TV show to thousands of youth and corporate audiences, but also to support a social cause in which 10% of the book sales shall be turned over to 4 chosen organizations whose thrust is on education.”
“I choose this advocacy to give back as I myself have been schooled through scholarship all the way from kindergarten down to university. Our goal is to increase awareness and consciousness among the privileged youth and corporate folks to give back, and to volunteer in helping out the less fortunate students as much as they can, from a Southeast Asian perspective considering the nearing 2015 integration.”
While interviewing him, he kept on emphasizing how he really wanted to raise funds for the scholarship. He partnered with four organizations to forward this advocacy:  Indonesia Bright Foundation, Teach for Malaysia, Vietnam Student Development Fund, and The University of the Philippines School of Economics Alumni Association.

3.) Value people. 

During the interview, I noticed how he kept on mentioning his teammates–how proud he was of them, how it was a collaborative effort among them. When I asked him, “If you could go back to when you were a college student, what advice would you give to yourself?” He said,  “I’d be more active with my co-curricular activities in college! I was such a geek in the university and I was stuck with my books. The corporate world is all about networking and making impression with people. I should have joined more clubs that helped me how to manage events, execute fundraising activities, or improve my leadership skills. Soft skills are not taught in the university!”

He talked about how he wanted to raise funds for the scholarship, more than any other topic I brought up. 

4.) Pause and unplug. 

A few weeks ago, he posted this quote on his Facebook page: “Pause if you must. But don’t stop.” It was interesting for me, because I know unplugging and pausing are both absolutely important, although there are days when I fail to do so. In a productivity-obssessed world, a lot of people struggle to do this. So I asked him,  “How do you find time to unplug and pause, and how important do you think is it? Any time management tips?”
He was very straightforward and practical with his response:  “I look down on people who cannot find time to unplug and pause. Most likely they work slow, and they need so much time to finish a task. If you want to pause, you will always find a way. Work-life balance is not a mystery in today’s time, it’s a choice. And work should not define your life, its the other way around!”
 From Grit to Great
“My morning ritual is to always identify the top 3 out of the 10 tasks you need for the day and postpone the rest to another day. I don’t instantly check my e-mail nor my phone. I whip out my notebook and set the priorities of the day.”

5.) Never be complacent. 

He has spent a year being Mr. Tony Fernandes’s apprentice, travelled to different countries for his work and for his duties as a speaker, and now, he has written a book. What could his next move be?
“Over the past few months I’ve been serving as an adviser and consultant for many companies who approached me for help on marketing. I decided to take that to the next level so I am launching my consultancy group this October (The JY Ventures and Consultancy Group). It’s a business consultancy firm which offers marketing and branding consultation to companies, especially  start-ups who may not be equipped yet on how to market their product, or scale up their growth. It will cater to clients in Southeast Asia as I’m based here in KL.”

How to Pre-order

I’m definitely going to pre-order his book. I enjoyed following Jon online, I enjoyed learning from him in this interview, and with his wit and wisdom, I’m surely going to enjoy learning from his book.

Pre-order From Grit to Great from August until September by visiting www.jonathanyabut.com. The book comes in both eBook and paperback formats. All books pre-ordered online will come in limited edition paperbacks with personally signed dedication from Jonathan. The paperback will be available in leading bookstores in Southeast Asia beginning October 2014.  Jonathan’s website also offers a sneak peek into selected chapters of the book.

Jonathan Yabut

Wesbite: www.jonathanyabut.com
London Speakers Bureau: www.londonspeakerbureau.com/my/speakers/jonathan_allen_yabut
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAJonathanYabut
Twitter: @jonathanyabut
Instagram: @jonathanyabut

5 Ways to go from Grit to Great, from the 1st Apprentice Asia Winner


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