Do you have the grit for success?

Apprentice Asia winner Jonathan Yabut gives tips for success – not just in career, but in life

Isabel Salvosa

Published: 4:52 PM July 17, 2017

Updated: 5:29 PM July 17, 2017

Photo from @jonathanyabut on Twitter

MANILA, Philippines – Would you, from five years ago, be happy with where you are now?

Jonathan Yabut posed this question last May 24, during Sun Life Financial’s Live Brighter Session. These sessions aim to gather aspiring financial advisors and those looking to succeed in career and life.

“Life is all about living it brighter and better despite difficulties,” said Jonathan, who hails from a family originally based in Aklan.

His mom was determined to give her children the best education. The whole family moved to Manila, and Jonathan was enrolled in a private all-boys school.

He got in on a scholarship and was, for his entire academic career, financially pressured to succeed. “Anak, you’ll get kicked out if you’re not number 1,” his mom would say.

This was when he began to yearn for a better life.

Sometime after he entered college, Jonathan noticed a lump on his right chest. He didn’t think much of it until he found out he was a candidate for breast cancer, several months later.

He realized if he wanted success, he couldn’t afford to wait. “You have to strike while the iron is hot. You’ll never know if the clock will stop ticking for you,” he said.

While working for a multinational company – and nursing a heartache – Jonathan saw a commercial urging viewers to try out for Apprentice Asia, a show where contestants compete to be business mogul Tony Fernandes’ protégé.

Here’s what he learned during his stint on the show.

Success is when preparation meets opportunity

Jonathan had never heard of Tony Fernandes prior to joining the show. Before it began, he watched 34 interviews of him on YouTube, even going so far as to list key words in each.

“I won not because I was the smartest, but because I prepared for this man,” he said.

Jonathan emphasized the importance of timing. If you fail to do what you need to do at the right time, you lose and someone else wins.

Know why and when to say no

Each day, we decide to filter out things so we can focus on priorities – be they e-mails, people, even goals.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. Know what you’re good at, and focus on improving your skills in that area.

“Even if you wanna do so many things, you still have the power to say I can’t be everything,” said Jonathan.

To stand out, stand back

When they were down to three, another finalist in the show told Jonathan he wasn’t worthy of winning since he didn’t volunteer as project manager as much.

Jonathan explained that leaders should make more leaders out of others. “When someone else in our team in that episode was better, more passionate, I took a step back and I let that other person shine.”

Work smart, not hard

Going overtime isn’t always productive.

“There is nothing as useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not have been done at all,” said Jonathan, quoting Peter Drucker.

Before starting on something, zoom out and ask yourself: Is this the best and most efficient strategy?

What it all boils down to is having thirst for learning and grit to succeed; the passion to persevere and make all long-term goals a reality.

Find your purpose

Sun Life Financial advisor JP Cruz added that success shouldn’t just be about getting paper and climbing up the corporate ladder.

JP derives more than personal satisfaction from his career. He loves being able to share his success, provide for those dependent on him, and give back to his parents.

It’s also important to have a higher purpose, something that drives you. Upon graduating, JP’s dream was to be a stock broker. But after becoming a financial advisor, he found purpose in helping others achieve security in life.

“It’s my job to encourage them, make their financial goals attainable. It’s my responsibility to the people I recruit, to make them achieve the dreams they set for themselves,” he said.

With Sun Life, JP is able to realize his social duty of campaigning for financial literacy – to educate the public that preparing for retirement, children’s education, and estate planning are all possible.

Watch out for the Sun Life Financial’s next Live Brighter Sessions, to be held in Cebu and Davao! –