In the Beginning

This is part of my New Leader series. I started this project to define clearly what a leader is for my team at Bridge but have gotten interest from others. 

One of the things I expect from Bridge Leaders is Creativity. How can I not? Any credible company already knows that they’re not in the business of “technology” but in constantly being the best at creating and innovating meaningful customer experiences. To do this seriously (and not just say it without achieving it), Creativity must be found at all departments and levels in our company. This includes traditionally uptight departments like finance, Human Resources, and operations. 

But first, let’s redefine what Creativity is. It’s more than being colourful or outlandish. It’s more than wearing weird clothes or just going against the grain. I find our caricatures of what a Creative is gets in the way of us actually developing this very necessary skill in today’s world, particularly, the business world. 

The Little Shitter

It’s amazing how the many different parts of our lives parallel each other. Anyone who has worked with me in our teams, or has been reading my blog posts, will know that many of my management insights have come from areas like art, physics, psychology, sports, religion, and nature, among other bodies of knowledge. It’s important to not just collect information in our heads but to be able to make connections and combinations with these pieces of information in order to come up with better applications. Having a posture that’s constantly curios, constantly inquiring, that is hopeful for answers, and does not settle for anything less than understanding will help a person in every area of their life.

An example of this truth, that we can pick-up lessons from one area of our life that are useful to the other areas, came to me after a discouraging week of work. I run a social impact tech startup called Bridge, that provides a range of human resource (HR) solutions to companies in the Philippines (including payroll and staffing) that is layered with our Fintech platform (Access) that allows us to refinance the expensive loans of employees and help them save what they used to pay in interest. Our goal is help employees work towards “security” not “stuff”. While our mission is noble (you’ll be shocked at how horrible the usury is in the Philippines), it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to face the growth pains of a startup, especially one that is disrupting both the HR and lending spaces at the same time. With thousands of users on our platforms, over ninety full-time employees, and big goals, every single day is full of action.

The Compounding Value of Time

From my private collection

“The most disgraceful kind of loss, however, is that due to carelessness.

Furthermore, if you will pay close heed to the problem, you will find that the largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose.

What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily?”
– Seneca

The Compounding Value of Time

We are all dying daily. Time is truly the most finite -and most valuable- of our resources. I won’t speak of those who don’t believe this. I am not one of them. For myself, I used to think that since time is running out, one must be as busy as possible. I know better now. I know that busyness does not equal valuable use of time. And busyness isn’t simply about work. 

One of the misconceptions we have today is that the more work we have the more busy we are. It is also possible to be busy with leisure, busy with hobbies, busy with social interactions, and busy with thoughts. Busy means being continually preoccupied. Work is not the only thing that can preoccupy us.

And busyness isn’t simply about work. 

So what must I do with my time? Do I pack it in? Do I keep it light? Do I seek balance? Do I seek activity? As for me, I seek to carefully select the activities that lead to compounding benefits on time spent. A minute with Yasmin and Elijah is a more valuable minute. A minute spent for them is valuable too. A minute waiting in line for today’s must-enjoy is very low on the value-compounding scale. A minute worrying, though it makes us feel concerned, is a minute wasted, when that minute can be used on removing obstacles. A minute on my goals, my life’s mission is precious.

Work is not the only thing that can preoccupy us.

The question isn’t so much whether what we are using our time on is “right” or “wrong”, but whether the moment, this moment, will grow in more value, at least to us, over time.

Will this moment grow in more value over time?


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