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Heroes and role models

It’s no secret that, as a child, I once wanted to become Batman. I think I’ve mentioned this many times in my public speaking engagements and got a chuckle here and there as people try to imagine me, the head of one of the country’s largest corporations and a public figure, in a black mask and cape, wearing a utility belt and driving around in the Batmobile.

Of course, my role models and aspirations have changed a lot since then. I look up to different kinds of heroes these days as I strive to do good deeds for our country and its entrepreneurs.

But since it’s Christmas, I suppose it’s time for everyone to become as children again and celebrate the season with childlike wonder and excitement. For me, that would be musing about Batman.

I never examined why Batman was my favorite. I suppose it was because he was the most popular comic book character during my childhood. But as I grew older and more versions of Batman came about, it would seem that there was a reason Batman was my favorite. I’ve been told that an aspect that resonates with fans of Batman is his fundamental humanity.

In stark contrast to, say, Superman, who possesses extraordinary superhuman abilities (and comes from another planet), Batman is firmly grounded in his mortal existence. This makes him more relatable, even to children, as he relies solely on his intellect, physical prowess and cutting-edge technology to combat the bad guys who seem to regularly plague Gotham City.

By shunning supernatural powers and instead harnessing human ingenuity and resourcefulness, Batman symbolizes the spirit that resides within ordinary humans, inspiring children to believe that they, too, can make a difference in the world through sheer determination.

This becomes more impressive once you consider that Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter-ego, was a man of means and could very well live his days in comfort and luxury, and yet he chose to do something more with his life and his resources.

In the realm of entrepreneurship, Batman also serves as an inspiration. His character teaches aspiring business owners a valuable lesson: one doesn’t need to possess flawless qualities or be perfect to achieve remarkable things in the world of business.

Similar to Batman, entrepreneurs can often find themselves burdened with self-doubt, questioning whether they possess the ideal traits or skills to launch a successful venture.

However, Batman’s story reminds us that imperfections and vulnerabilities can actually be catalysts for greatness.

Just as Bruce Wayne transformed his personal struggles and emotional wounds into a force for good, entrepreneurs can embrace their unique experiences and use them as a source of motivation and innovation. We’ve seen this in OFWs who want to come home and become entrepreneurs so they don’t have to leave their families and work overseas again. We’ve talked to mothers who built successful businesses out of their kitchens because their husbands’ take-home pay wasn’t enough to send the children to school.

Batman’s journey highlights the importance of resourcefulness and resilience in the face of challenges. He lacks superhuman abilities so he relies instead on his intellect and determination. Similarly, entrepreneurs must recognize that they don’t need to possess every skill or attribute imaginable to succeed. They can leverage their existing strengths, seek out support from others (Batman had his trusty butler Alfred, his sidekick Robin and Lucius Fox) and continually learn and adapt along the way. I would go so far as to say that his relationship with Commissioner Gordon was an early example of an effective Public-Private Partnership.

Batman is flawed and he showed vulnerability; this resonates with audiences on a deep level. Entrepreneurs can draw inspiration from this aspect by embracing their own authentic selves and being transparent about their journey. By sharing their vulnerability and stories of perseverance, they can connect with customers, employees and stakeholders on a more meaningful level. This is so true in the age of social media, when authenticity is a key to gaining a loyal following.

And Batman isn’t brave because he can defeat any enemy. He’s brave because he confronts his fears. As a child, he fell into a well filled with bats and yet he becomes like a bat when he dons his superhero persona. His true strength lies in his capacity to confront and conquer his fears.

This sets him apart and resonates deeply with audiences, as it showcases the triumph of resilience and personal growth over adversity.

During the pandemic, I had to give interviews left and right, and I had to do some in Tagalog. I am not very well-versed in Tagalog and I have hit a few snags in trying to express my opinion in Tagalog. Today I would say I can converse in it better than I did three years ago and make fewer mistakes in my choice of [Tagalog] words. People can grow, and sometimes it takes adversity to prompt this growth.

So do I still want to become Batman? I can say I can appreciate him on a different level now. I am grateful that I had him and many, many people who became my heroes and role models.

Foremost would be my father, Joecon, who, along with his twin brother Raul, will turn 92 this Dec. 29. When I was young, our house in Pasay provided food and shelter to victims of fire and flood.

Later on, he founded the elections watchdog NAMFREL and advocated for good government throughout his time in government and civil society. He taught me that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. It is he who I now try to emulate in my 18 years of work with MSMEs, trying to ease poverty in the best way I can.

Thankfully, I have been allowed to do so under several administrations, regardless of political color, starting with PGMA and now with PBBM, who I believe can make a huge difference as we strive for a more inclusive Philippines, helping MSMEs scale up with the help of big brothers in business.

Christmas is a time when we count the blessings bestowed upon us and express our gratitude for the gifts we have been given. As we do so, let us also remember the importance of generosity and compassion, and extend a helping hand to those in need and empower them to realize their dreams and aspirations so they, too, can pay it forward and make others’ dreams come true.

Source: Go Negosyo -


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