Today marks a very auspicious day as it brings back fond memories from seven (7) years ago of the initial public offering (IPO) of the Double Dragon Property Corporation. This is a tale of two (2) dragons worth emulating.
In my mind, this tale of two (2) dragons speaks about the inspiring stories of two entrepreneurs who both have in common the same lunar sign – the dragon – in the Chinese astrology calendar. The first dragon is a very unassuming person, Edgar Injap Sia, who started his own business at the tender age of 26 in Iloilo City; and, became the youngest billionaire in the Philippines at the age of 33. The second dragon is likewise a remarkable entrepreneur, Tony Tan Caktiong, who founded the Jollibee Food Corporation, which started as an ice cream parlor and eventually became the undisputed leader in the fast-food industry in the Philippines.
A Fire Dragon Tale: Mang Inasal
Unfazed by competition from established giants in the fast food sector, the young Injap pursued his dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Using capital borrowed from his father, Injap ventured into the chicken barbecue business and called it “Mang Inasal” chicken.
Through sheer hard work and perseverance,the young Injap was able to grow the business and expand his food outlets nationwide. Being quite observant, he would notice that his customers would predominantly come from middle income families. Furthermore, he would observe that, as a family group, it would be normal to see them sharing the food order amongst themselves. To grow his sales, Injap adopted a simple promo – unlimited rice: eat all you can. This stroke of genius catapulted the Mang Inasal brand to the top of the chicken barbeque category.
A Water Dragon Tale: Jollibee
As the mentor of Injap, this self-made billionaire, Tony Tan Caktiong, came from humble beginnings when he started his business at age 22 by putting up an ice cream parlor. Through hands-on experience, Tony learned the game and broadened his menu of food for his customers. After two years, he re-branded his business as “Jollibee” – connoting two traits: service and cheerfulness.
Interestingly, despite the entry of the US fast food giant, MacDonald’s, Tony didn’t flinch because of his affinity with the Filipino taste. This enabled Jollibee to remain unscathed. Through the organic growth of the Jollibee brand coupled with acquisitions of other food brands, Chow King, Greenwich Pizza, Red Ribbon and Mang Inasal, he was able to transform Jollibee into the largest fast food firm in the Philippines. Today, it has attained it’s status as an Asian Multinational Corporation, which may be attributed to Tony’s vision of expanding internationally.
A Look at Chinese Culture: Tale of Two Dragons
In Chinese culture, the dragon sign enjoys a very high reputation; and, it represents auspiciousness and imperial power since ancient times. It is the token of authority, dignity, honor, success, luck and capacity.
In terms of personality, most people from the year of the Dragon are full of fighting spirit and strength. They are charismatic, attracting a lot of followers. Their talented leadership skills naturally convince every subordinate. The Dragons may look indifferent, however, they are chivalrous and always think of others.
Mark of a Leader
A look at the life stories of the two Dragons reveals a commonality in the leadership qualities of Injap and Tony, that is, selflessness and humility. In essence, they exude the virtue of magnanimity, which means being great of mind and heart.
By way of example, I chose to narrate a tale of two dragons to drive home the point of St. Josemaria Escriva in point no. 32 of his classic book, The Way, which reads, as follows:
“You’ll never be a leader if you see others only as stepping-stones to get ahead. You’ll be a leader if you are ambitious for the salvation of all souls.
You can’t live with your back turned on everyone; you have to be eager to make others happy.”St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #32
Finally, in closing, I leave you with a thought-provoking question: Do you think that Injap and Tony would have reached their leadership status had they been selfish and insensitive to the needs of others?