Thursday, August 1, 2013

Some words from and for my papa

My papa retired after 35+ years at Citigroup last week.  He is a classic rags to riches story - working his way up from the provinces of the Philippines to building out a function at this major bank.  I remember he once saw me reading 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' and he was like "what do you need that book for, that's my life" haha.

With papa and mama at my brother's graduation last year.  So proud the little bro got the university medal, whereas I hilariously never went to my graduation ceremony.  He let me try on his hat.
I wanted to sum up some of the wisdom he's passed me over the years, particularly around driving my own career.  My aunt read it out at his farewell at the office (she works there too - yes, the entire department is infiltrated with Filipinos :) - I'm glad I was able to be a part of the last day of an inspirational career.  The words I threw together are below.


I have never worked for or with my Papa directly, but as child who has been the face he’s come home to over many years, I wanted to share a few words of wisdom which he’s taken from his working life and imparted onto me.  There are countless pieces of advice I’ve collected over time, but I’ll share three particular learnings which have really helped me shape and drive my own career:

1. Your current situation is a choice, which you have control over.  
Papa and I were walking past his office one day and there was a homeless man on the street, begging for change.  As we passed him, Papa thoughtfully said “the only difference between him and I is that I realised the poverty is a choice.  Most people in that situation don’t realise that, and that is what keeps them there.”  I know that a big reason Papa has worked at Citi for so long is because he decided early on that he never wanted my brother and I to grow up in the same circumstances that he did.  For that, I am constantly grateful.  Moreover, whenever I’m thrown into a situation at work that I don’t like being in, I remember - this is a choice, and I choose to work hard to get myself back on track to where I want to be.  This has made all the difference in how I’ve driven my career.

2. The only person you’re competing with is yourself.
My first job in technology was working as a pre-sales person, answering phones when prospects called in - it was my responsibility to create sales pipeline, and I took pride in always being on top of the leader board.  One week I was having a tough start - no matter how many calls I made I just kept falling behind everyone else.  Feeling down, I went to meet Papa for lunch at Town Hall.  I was explaining why I was upset, when he interrupted me - shaking his head and waving his hands about, he said “the real problem is that you think that you are playing basketball and you keep looking around to see what other people are doing, but you are actually playing a game of golf; you’re just trying to improve your own score - forget about everyone else and just focus on beating your last performance.”  I recall this advice every time I get distracted with comparing myself to others, and it has served me well.

Finally, this last piece of advice I find harder to follow -

3. Don’t get too emotional when you’re in an argument - you’ll never win.
I’m still working on this one  :)  Papa is absolutely a great example of this - it’s not about not having emotion, it’s just knowing how to manage it.

On this note - I know seeing him at work, with his constantly serious face, it might not always be obvious how much he loves this place, but I know for the stories he would come home with and how reflective he has been this last week, that the family here at Citibank means so much to him, and he will miss the people here dearly.

Papa - thank you for being such a generous provider, model of a manager and constant shepherd for me in my own career!  For everyone here - I hope that some of this wisdom I’ve shared today will also be things you can take away as part of the Lito Diwa legacy.


Michelle C. said...

This is so beautiful. And what a great entry to start counting down to your parents' visit!

Kate said...

I love this. All of it. I am going to remember the basketball vs golf problem, too. Thanks for sharing, Lorna!

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