From Grit To Great

Yesterday, I got the chance to meet one of my idols/inspirations in person. I did not have the chance to watch him on “The Apprentice Asia”, but I saw his book “Fast Forward” in a bookstore. I got interested with it (since it is a “career guide”) so I decided to buy it. Going back, I saw on Facebook that they will be having a workshop about “speaking confidently at work”. I decided to attend since I am really a “shy type” person and it is something that I really want to improve on myself (aside from I want him to sign my books and have a picture beside him).

My “fanboy moment” with Mr. Jonathan Yabut

I just bought his first book “From Grit To Great” previously and I really wanted to finish the book before I attended yesterday’s event. I know that for many, they can read the book in just one sitting. Admittedly, I am a slow reader that’s why it took me a week to finish the book. It was really a busy week though at work so I can forgive myself on that one!

As the cover of the book suggests, it is about Jonathan’s journey from his humble beginnings to winning The Apprentice Asia.

I might still be a little bit traditional as I had my “friendly Stabilo Boss” with me as I read the book so I can highlight my favorite parts of the book.

  • In today’s world, the successful ones work smart, not just hard. (Yeah, I have heard a lot about “work smart” in the office. Our VP even suggested to name one of the applications I created as “WorkSmart”.)
  • Here is a good definition of “working smart” – “It’s when you insist on using “old school” tricks when there are shorter, safer and faster ways of doing the same task that saves you more time and effort to enjoy the better things in life”.
  • Jonathan realized that life is so short that if you can grab the chance to spend it on things that matter more, then grab it and never let go. (True enough)
  • Efficiency is all about doing things at the least cost possible (Yes, I’ve been hearing “efficiency” a lot at work too. As your service fees go down, then the more we must make everyone and everything cost efficient.)
  • I love the title of one of the chapters in the book – “Don’t Miss the Forest For the Trees”. It is about seeing the bigger picture. At work, most people instantly dive into execution without looking at strategy. They got too engrossed about the details but fail to understand what’s above or beneath them. They’re too excited to zoom-in when the first step is to zoom-out.
  • In the corporate world, you need team members who want to work for you because they believe in you, more than those who are simple good with what they do. You may have the smartest people in your  team, but if they do not believe in you, or think that they should be the one sitting in your throne – then your leadership will be challenged. (I believe in this one. I got the chance to interview some applicants who can join our (small) team. I did not rely alone with their technical expertise. I also considered if we will jive well. I know that it would be difficult at first and that I will only know it once we start working together. Fortunately, I am happy now with my team mates!)
  • For muddy water to become clear, one must let it be still. All the mud will settle down and the water will clear up if you wait patiently. (I can relate on this one. I don’t know if it is a negative thing, but I would usually take a one day leave from work if I have a lot of things running in my mind which is causing me confusion and lost of focus in work. I know that I need to clear my mind first, away from work.)
  • So what is “grit”? It is “passion and perseverance for very long term goals and sticking with your future day-in and day-out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years and working really hard to make that future a reality. It is a non-intellectual trait of having that undeniable passion to pursue your dream and that not matter how many times you fall down, you get up and pursue it.” The beauty of it all is that the same thing goes with life: anyone can succeed as long as she/he has grit. Unfortunately, you don’t buy grit in the nearest convenient store nor inherit it from your parents – you have to discover and cultivate it as you grow.
  • The founder of IBM, Thomas Watson, once said “If you want to increase  your success rate, double your failure rate”. Indeed, the earlier you fail, the more you will learn – and hence, the faster you will succeed. But always remember, success takes time.
  • The key to success in the corporate world is to build, and not burn bridges. The world is such a small place and the people you work with today may be the same people you will work for, or who will work for you in the future.
  • In the corporate world, a leader may not have the highest IQ but she is expected to have the strongest EQ. She must be emotionally mature and secure who will thank what is the best for the company while many of her staff likely think about their own careers. She always steps back, and examines the bigger picture. She knows that it’s not about her – it’s about her people.
  • A great leader inspires, motivates and cheers his people. He develops their careers to become the next set of leaders. When a leader leads well, the rest will believe in him and follow.
  • You will learn more about the corporate world as you go along in your career. No textbook or TV show will teach  you all the ropes on how to make it big. Take every moment as an opportunity to learn and grow.

The rest of the book are some “hacks” for the corporate world.

I am glad (and feel proud of myself) that I am able to finish the book before the event yesterday. I got to know Jonathan more after reading the book. I love his “passion” for the things he is doing. I see in him a man of passion. It is very inspiring. I have also read in the book that he loves debating. No wonder it is one of the activities in yesterday’s workshop.

I would recommend the book “From Grit To Great” to everyone who wants to feel inspired and motivated on how to “make it big”. Not really in terms of financial, but about self fulfillment. I think that is really important that you are happy in what you do.

(For every purchase of “From Grit To Great”, a portion will be donated to help children in Southeast Asia access quality education)




My Giving Journal Story

As published in Brew Your Best Year website (07 July 2017)

Giving Journal Story: Rowell Cruz


It was the Christmas season of 2013 when I happened to drop by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and see the “Brew Your Best Year” journal. It was a time when I was planning to do something different for the next year. I believed that the journal could help me become a better version of myself so without hesitations, I decided to collect 12 stamps so I can get the journal.

I tried joining The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s first Brew Your Best Year event last 2014 where we were taught to do chalk lettering. I loved the arts, but I didn’t think I was a good artist. But what the Brew Your Best Year event taught me is to pursue my passions and so I started trying watercolor, calligraphy, and paper cutting.

I really feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to do the calligraphy for the month of November for the 2017 edition of the Giving Journal. I actually have always dreamt of seeing my work in any publication, and I never imagined that it would happen!

I believe that brewing my best year also means giving back to others, so I also joined their Caring Cup activities. Some of my favorites include granting the wishes of children through their event with Make-A-Wish and building solar lamps with Liter of Light. The Caring Cup activities made me more aware of the different organizations who help our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Also, they’ve made me realize the things that I had. I may not have everything, but I am still blessed.

The Giving Journal also paved the way for me to meet new interesting and nice people. I am a shy person and somehow, I overcame it by joining The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s different events.

Every time I enter any of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s stores, I feel at home. And the Giving Journal (and my every single Instagram or Facebook post about The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf) is a reminder of each wonderful memory I’ve made with the brand. I look forward to more of those wonderful memories!


#RowjielogyHashtagADay #Day14

It’s not like I try to be different, but every single person is unique, and every single person has special things to offer, and it’s about embracing it and not being afraid of the fact that maybe you’re different or quirky, but it’s okay to be different, and it can be a wonderful thing.

-Lindsey Sterling


#IAmDifferent is an anti-bullying campaign from Penshoppe. Embrace the difference that you see in yourself and others. Stop the cycle of shaming and trolling starting with every message you send out into the world. Make a positive statement.


Welcome to #Rowjielogy!

I’ve been on and off the blogging scene after social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) dominated the internet. But before that, blogging was a famous medium to express one’s self on the internet.

I started blogging in 2005 and it was in 2007 when I named my blog “Rowjielogy”. A decade after, I have seen how much social media changed the way we express ourselves with a click of a button.

This 2018, I thought of going back to something that I once love doing…