By Rossana L. Llenado
I’m a believer in making schedules and lists. It’s one of the best ways to stay organized. If I didn’t have a schedule mapped out, I wouldn’t be able to keep track of all my appointments and obligations. That’s why I need my planner and why I write out the day, week, month, and year.
Every day, I wake up then head off to work within an hour. I spend the day in meetings, making business decisions, troubleshooting, making plans, and networking. By 6 p.m., I am wrapping up my day and I’m at home by 7 p.m. to spend time with my kids. When they’re off to bed, I’m back catching up on what I was unable to do during the day such as checking my e-mails and so forth. I’m asleep after midnight to be ready for the daily grind the following day. Weekends aren’t spared from a structured schedule. As much as I try to set aside time to spend with my kids, there are days when I still need to go to seminars or other events that require my presence.
Even as a young child, I’ve already set a schedule for myself, not only for my day to day activities, but for my life in general. Early on, I knew that I wanted to be successful and I dreamed up all the things that I wanted to achieve and the time it would take for me to get there.
In school, I set my classes in such a way that I would be able to work in the afternoon so I could make extra money. I had so many things going on, the only way I could keep my head above the water was to schedule and prioritize things. If I were any less organized, I would have turned cross-eyed by now.
For example, I determined that after graduating from college, I would have my own business. Back then, I really thought I would have my own restaurant! By the time I was 25, I planned that I would be married. Then I would have kids spaced two to three years apart.
Things didn’t necessarily turn out that way. I was off by a year getting married. I certainly wasn’t able to put up that restaurant. Instead, I ended up establishing an entirely different type of business. When I put up my business, I never thought it would grow into what it is today.
As much as you organize things, life still manages to wreck havoc on the best laid plans. There are just some things you can’t plan for such as death, accidents, surprises, and other tragedies. I never guessed that I would have four children, with twins to boot! And I certainly never imagined myself in the field of education. Having a tutorial and review business is certainly a big difference from having a restaurant to call my own.
There is only so much that I can schedule in my life. I can’t account for the weather, nor can I be responsible for other people’s reactions. I can try to prepare for things as much as I can, but in the end, you can’t always stick to a schedule.
I have found that sometimes, it is the unscheduled things in life that are the most rewarding. Surprises such as a sudden hug from my oldest child after a long day, or when my youngest turns to me to tell me she loves me, are things that cannot be written in. Getting a call or e-mail from a long lost friend, or having to clear my afternoon so I can attend my son’s awarding ceremony at school are other unexpected and unscheduled turns, although pleasant ones. Other major milestones such as getting your first kiss, falling in love or even out of it are events that you can’t plan for or chart.
Setting goals and realistic time lines are ways to keep track of endeavors and to make sure that a proper course is set. I may not always meet it but at least I know it’s something that I am working on. I have several projects that are already delayed, but I don’t let that stress me. I know that some things take longer than others, and there are just some things beyond my control.
By Rossana Llenado
The other week, we had an orientation talk for potential franchisees of AHEAD Tutorial & Review Center. When we started offering review programs in 1995, we immediately got franchise inquiries. Even then, a lot of people saw the viability of our business concept. However, we didn’t want to get into franchising until we were ready for it. We wanted to make sure that all our operating systems were working perfectly and that we were giving our students the best possible service before we even opened up ourselves to the idea of franchising.
Besides, I never thought of AHEAD as merely a business concept. I see AHEAD as a vehicle for young people to achieve personal and academic success. By helping our students do better in school, I had hoped that it would make them feel good about themselves and give them the confidence to go after their dreams.
When we meet with potential franchisees, we are not actually looking for investors per se. We are looking for partners who share the same vision as we do: to give young people the opportunity to reach their full potential. By franchising, we hope to reach out to even more students across the country.
I’ve always believed that your work must follow your passion. And so, for potential franchisees, I always look at whether they would take pleasure in the same kind of things that I enjoy while running AHEAD.
For me, managing AHEAD fulfills many of my needs.
Physically, the hours are less taxing. This is very important for a mother of four like me. Most review classes run during the summer vacation, and so on weekdays, I am home by the time my children arrive from school. Besides, there is something absolutely energizing about working with young people. Being around them keeps me young.
Mentally, AHEAD gives me the opportunity to exchange concepts and ideas with the smartest teachers in the country. And because we deal with bright and competitive students, I am encouraged to learn more myself. That’s why I make it a point to attend seminars and workshops regularly. The process of educating one’s self must never stop.
Socially, I am constantly in touch with a pool of students, parents, teachers, and school administrators—some of whom have become my friends. And so, on social engagements, I sometimes get to mix business with pleasure.
Psychologically, I am always thrilled when a student tells me about doing well in his Algebra class or when a parent says thank you for helping his child become number one in his class. Nothing beats the kind of fulfillment that comes from helping others.
In the same manner, it warms my heart that in some way, I am helping shape the lives of our future leaders and consequently, the future of our country.
These, I tell our potential franchisees, are the kinds of benefits that they would get when they sign up for an AHEAD Tutorial & Review Center franchise.
To top all that, an AHEAD Tutorial & Review Center is a business with minimum risk. AHEAD’s proven approach to supplementary educational services guarantees financial dividends for intelligent investors. Besides, we want our franchisees to succeed. That’s why we’ll be there to guide them every step of the way.
At the orientation, there was an applicant for a center in one of the cities in Metro Manila. Immediately, I discouraged her. I communicated to her my doubts about the viability of putting up a Center in that area. I didn’t think there was a big enough market for one. I didn’t want to put up a franchise just for the sake of putting up a Center. I want every Center to succeed. I want every partner to succeed.
But she was very persistent and proceeded to explain to us why it can be done. While she was talking, I saw her passion, her zeal, and her wisdom. I realized as well the other reason why we needed partners: to discover new and untapped markets, share our vision with even more students, and share the joy of working with a purpose.
We are fortunate to have found franchisees who share this same vision and who are as passionate as we are about our work. Why else would they give me and my staff gifts every so often? And it is not a one way thing, because I love our franchisees with all my heart. We are a family working happily together because we know that we are doing something good every day.
By Regina Abuyuan
Readers of this blog who are connected with me through Facebook have probably been keeping tabs on the latest adventure of my wonky life. With D and another friend, R, I recently opened a pub in Cubao X. It’s called Fred’s (after D’s grandfather, a drinking stalwart who was also into cigars; coincidentally, R’s and my maternal grandfathers were also named Fred, and both carried their drink and smokes more than well). It’s been weeks of very late nights (er, early mornings) for me, which had me behind the bar serving drinks, wiping down tables, and cleaning ashtrays. I have great respect for waitresses and barmaids now. Their job is exhausting and murder on the feet and legs.
For more than a week straight, I packed my kids off to my mom’s (God bless grandmas!), and prayed they wouldn’t be any trouble.
Well, at least my twins were. My daughter behaved as she always does—responsible, quiet, obedient. My absence had taken its toll on the twins. My mom and her househelp tell me they frequently fight, watch too much TV, and fall asleep with the TV on. One day, when I had nicked enough time to drive by and check on them, they exasperatedly said, in unison: “Finally!”
When I got ready to leave again, Mateo handed me the piece of origami he had made (he likes making me these things; my bedside table is littered with them). “I made this for you, Mommy.”
My heart almost broke with guilt.
Their teachers have told me their behavior has changed in school, as well. Mateo’s on the verge of being a bully; Marco is his usual cool self—but probably more cool than expected, which is also reason for alarm.
I swore I would never allow myself to feel this way again, to let any situation let me feel this way again. But the universe likes to play jokes on us sometimes, and just as we think we’re free, an opportunity comes where we have to give up something to attain something. I feel especially guilty because the twins have gotten the brunt of these choices; the first was when I was putting up a new magazine when they were only three years old, and now, this.
Is it worth it, you may ask? I don’t know yet. But at least now, being part-owner of something I created, I also have the power to choose how much time I put in our venture, and how much control I’m willing to take—or give up.
I’ve not had a late night in the pub since Friday, and I attended the twins’ emergency preparedness workshop on Saturday (another advocacy I’m involved in). I’m trying to regain what I lost over the past weeks: Balance. It’s what all mothers strive for. It’s the law of the universe; the law of Mother Nature herself, who knows just how and when to tip the scales this way and that.
Wish me luck!