Press coverage for "EXTRAORDINARY" - Philippine Star

A Supreme point of view on MAP Book.

From the Philippine Star, 6 July 2008

THE GOOD GUYS by Tara FT Sering

Among the most stirring images of my TV-watching youth was when Lilet began to sing, “I am the future of the world, I am the hope of my nation…” in a Coke ad. And now, years later (I won’t say how many), comes the handbook on how to be just that.

I must admit: the first thing that caught my eye about this book was its cover. I’m of the belief that the quality of the reading experience is, to a large extent, dependent on the physical aspects of the reading material, and for sheer production value alone — matte cover with special embossed tiles, great non-blinding-white paper, nice type, clean illustrations by Marielle Nadal of Idea!s Creatives — I give this new volume on management, as people half my age would say, “major props”.

Behind the cover of “Extraordinary: Stories for Aspiring Leaders” (Anvil; available at major bookstores) is an exceedingly insightful book that culls priceless leadership wisdom from the varied and indeed extraordinary experiences of today’s best managers in the country. A project of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and the local office of Development Dimensions International (DDI), Extraordinary is a collection of easy-to-read essays by eleven writers based on interviews with 51 men and women who are shining beacons in their respective industries.

Although I keep management books on my shelf more as an exercise in visualization (someday I will imbibe their lesson points) than ready resource, I’m not about to give up the dream of one day making a significant contribution to the country; no one should, I think, even if daily headlines can be disheartening.
But thanks to the familiar setting (the Philippines) and a relatable context (our local culture), the range of personalities and the depth of the interviews, I read “Extraordinary” in half a day during which I don’t recall yawning. And because the emphasis lies in the character of those who triumph, and the manner in which they overcome there is an epic quality in the stories of these not-so-ordinary heroes that makes the book — how do say it? — unputdownable.

If you’re one of those who followed — with deep, wistful sighs — the bidding war for a lunch with Warren Buffet, take heart: possibly everything you need to know about what it takes to tread these uncertain times is in this 200-plus-page Book of Bigwigs.
Think of this book as lunch/seminar on leadership qualities with PLDT chairman Manny Pangilinan, or Ayala Corp. chair and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II, or Figaro Coffee Company CEO Chit Juan (those with a daily Figaro habit will likely bid for at least an afternoon coffee talking bean-and-brew business with her).
And during this lunch, you will most likely find out, as you will in this book, how all these leaders manage their companies or institutions in such turbulent and competitive times. A number of voices in this volume share, in the conversational tone of casual coffee, past experiences that have gone down the annals of local management history as legendary episodes of triumph over adversity.

Case in point: during the “Dark Ages” of recent Philippine history, when we would fan ourselves through nights of brownouts in the early 1990s, it was former Department of Energy Secretary Delfin Lazaro who lit the way back to normalcy. (For the full story, you know what to do).

You will also find out that despite differences in management styles, true leaders share a common DNA: they are almost uniformly of the incurably optimistic sort, the types who see the silver lining on clouds in the middle of a thunderstorm, those who can recognize hidden opportunities in the thick of chaos.

I’m no business insider but who hasn’t heard of Manny Pangilinan’s accomplishments? He’s one example of someone who, rather than see tides of doom swelling in the distance, will see it as an opportunity and relish the challenge.

A sneak peak, excerpted from Stephanie Dychiu’s chapter on “Managing in Uncertain Times” best illustrates the point: “It’s probably–what do you call it—masochistic,” says Pangilinan. “I feel good when I meet failures.” For him, it is important that a leader has the willingness to go into harm’s way. “What happens and how you perform will depend less on the fates, and more on your courage and character.”

What makes “Extraordinary” a remarkably feel-good and inspiring read is the knowledge that there are more than a few good men and women among us who still put “country above self”, such as Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto, who also appears in the book, and that from their generosity in sharing what they’ve learned, we can feel just as ennobled, and dare to truly lead.