What's better than…?

The following is the speech of Menardo “Butch” Jimenez, the head of PLDT’s media and strategic communications, delivered at the commencement exercises of the University of the Philippines Diliman in 2003.  I’ve seen this speech on the net and in the papers so many times in the past, but had not gotten the chance to really go through it.

It is often said that when students graduate from college, they go out into the “real world” with idealism, but only to be jaded by realities of the corporate world — the limitations, corruption, lack of opportunities, etc.

So here is to fulfilling not just one’s vision — but one’s cause.


As graduates, you are just about to set sail into the real world. As you prepare for the battleground of life, you will hear many speeches, read tons of books, and get miles of advice telling you to work hard, dream big, go out and do something for yourself, and have a vision.

Not bad advice, really. In fact, following those nuggets of truth may just bring you to the top. But over the years, I have come to realize that it is great to dream big, have a vision, make a name, and work hard. But, guess what, THERE’S SOMETHING BETTER THAN THAT.

So my message today simply asks the question, What’s better than…?

Let us start off with something real simple. What’s better than a long speech? No doubt, a short one. So, you guys are in luck because I do intend to keep this short.

Now, let me take you through a very simple math exam. I will rattle off a couple of equations, and you tell me what you observe about them. Be mindful of the instructions. You are to tell me what you OBSERVE about the equations. Here goes:

3+4=7, 9+2=11, 8+4=13, and 6+6=12. Tell me, what do you observe.

Every time I conduct this test, more than 90 percent of the participants immediately say 8+4 is not 13 it is 12!

That is true and they are correct. But they could have also observed that the 3 other equations are right. That 3+4 is 7, that 9+2 is 11, and that 6+6 is 12.

What is my point? Many people immediately focus on the negative instead of the positive. Most of us focus on what is wrong with people more than what is right about them. Examine those 4 equations. 3 are right and only one is wrong. But what is the knee jerk observation? The wrong equation.

If people you did not know were to walk through that door, most of you would describe these people by what is negative about them. He’s fat. He’s balding. Oh, the short one. Oh the skinny girl. Ahhh, yung pango. Etc, etc, etc. Get the point?

You will definitely experience this in the corporate world. You do a hundred good things and make one mistake. Guess what, chances are, your attention will be called on that one mistake.

So what is better than focusing on the negative? Believe me, it is focusing on the positive more than the negative. You do that, and this world would be a much nicer place to live in.

What’s Better than Working Hard?
We have always been told to work hard. Our parents say that, our teachers say that, and our principal says that. But there is something better than merely working hard. It is working smart. It is taking time to understand the situation, and coming out with an effective and efficient solution to get more done with less time and effort. As the Japanese say, “There’s always a better way.”

What’s Better than Dreaming Big
I will bet my next month’s salary that many have encouraged you to DREAM BIG. Maybe even to reach for the stars and aim high. I sure heard that about a million times right before I graduated from this university. So I did. I did dream big. I did aim high. I did reach for the stars. There is no doubt it works. In fact, the saying is true: “If you aim for nothing, that is exactly what you will hit…nothing.”

But there’s something better than dreaming big. Believe me, I was shocked myself. And I learned it from the biggest dreamer of all time, Walt Disney.

When it comes to dreaming big, Walt is the man. No bigger dreams were fulfilled than his. Every leadership book describes him as the ultimate dreamer. In fact, the principle of dreaming and achieving is the core message of the Disney hit song, “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are; anything your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do.” – Jiminy Cricket.

But is that what he preached in the Disney Company? Dream? Well, not exactly. Kinda, but not quite. The problem with dreaming is if that is all you do, you get nowhere. In fact you may just fall asleep and never wake up.

The secret to Disney’s success is not just dreaming, it is IMAGINEERING.

You will not find this word in a dictionary. It is purely Disney word. Those that engage in imagineering are called imagineers. The word combines the word imagination with engineering.

In the book, “Imagineers”, Disney’s CEO, Michael Eisner claims that “Imagineers turn impossible dreams into real magic.” Walt Disney explains that there is really no secret to their approach. They just keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because they are curious. And it is this curiosity that leads them down new paths. They always dream, explore, and experiment. In short, IMAGINEERING is the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how.

Eisner expounds on this thought by saying that “not only are imagineers curious, they are courageous, outrageous, and their creativity is contagious.”

The difference with imagineers is that they dream and then they DO! So do not just be a dreamer, be an imagineer.

What’s Better than a Vision?
You must all have been given a lecture at one time or another about the importance of having a vision. Even leadership expert, John Maxwell, says that an indispensable quality of a leader is to have a vision. The Bible also makes it very clear: “Without vision, people perish.” So, no doubt about it, having a vision is important to success.

But surprise! There’s something more potent that a vision… it is a CAUSE. If all you are doing is trying to reach your vision and you are pitted against someone fighting for a cause, chances are you will lose.

The Vietnam War is a classic example. Literally with sticks and stones, the Viet Cong beat the heavily armed US Army, primarily because the US had a vision to win the war but the Vietnamese were fighting for a cause.

Jesus had a rag tag “army” of 12 disciples against the pagan gods of the mighty Roman Empire. But they were able to turn the world around towards Christianity. How? They just did not have a vision to spread their faith; they were truly fighting for a cause.

In the realm of business, Sony founder Akio Morita did not just have a vision to build the biggest electronics company in the world. Read his biography, “Made in Japan.” He was fighting for a cause, and his cause was to help rebuild his country battered by a war. His vision to be an electronics giant was secondary.

So what’s the difference between a vision and a cause? The following

No one is willing to die for a vision People will die for a cause
You posses a vision A cause possesses you
A vision lies in your hands A cause lies in your heart
A vision involves sacrifice A cause involves the ultimate sacrifice

A Final Review
• What’s better than focusing on the negative? Focus on the positive.
• What’s better than working hard? It is working smart.
• What’s better than dreaming? Imagineering.
• What’s better than a vision? A cause.
• What’s better than a long speech? Definitely, a short one.

2 final points:

– “To whom much is given, much is required.”
– “There is no destination beyond the reach of one who talks with God.”

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