Achievers are admirable for being successful in their chosen professions. When I was younger, I looked up to influential people and wished I could be like them. Today, I know better. Instead of looking up, the best thing to do is to learn from them. So let’s find out what we can learn from Sonnie Santos.

Who is Sonnie Santos?

I came to know Sonnie Santos from the blogging community in the Philippines. His multi-awarded blog, ASKSonnie, is one of the most informative blogs I have come across.

Here is a brief video introduction of Sonnie Santos.

Getting featured is not new for Sonnie Santos. He has appeared on TV and other mass media outlets. Let’s add one more. Here.

Coffee Table Talk with Sonnie Santos

Welcome to the Amazing Life Daily, Sonnie. It is my honor and privilege to have you here with us.

Part 1

Let’s talk about your blog and the things you do. What’s in the name of your blog, ASKSonnie? ASK is an acronym, isn’t it? Furthermore, could you tell us more about it?

“Yes, it stands for a team of – ADVOCATES, STRATEGISTS, and KEYNOTERS (conference speakers and learning facilitators.)”

“ASKSonnie used to be a personal blog (well it still contains personal posts since 2005). But I have since crowdsourced articles from experts. It now serves as a resource page for Human Resource Management, Cyber Wellness (positive use of the internet and social media) and Social Business, which includes blogging, digital public relations and marketing, and SEO.”

“ASKSonnie is the fusion of my different blogs since 2005. I decided to reboot the brand to make the brand consistent on different platforms. ASKSonnie is our handle on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, among many others.”

Part 2

From my experience and observation, I have this impression. Most parents and students choose college courses based on passion and perception. In as far as the people I have spoken with, none chose a college course after a careful consideration of:

  • Long term career path
  • Income potential

The average salary in the country is low. For many Filipinos, a decent living is a challenge, financial security is non-existent.

Perhaps that is the reason why underemployment is high. After graduation, they pursue their profession. But the need for higher income forces them to abandon their original career path for jobs that pay higher.

Could this somehow have a correlation to how employees behave and perform?

“Partly yes. If they have an asshole boss or company, the nonvalue-adding behavior becomes obvious for blue collar jobs. Absenteeism and tardiness increases. It could be because of lack of enthusiasm. It could also be because they are attending to other means to earn. They could be vocal about a salary increase and form a union.”

“For white-collar positions, they are more engaged in office politics. They try to outwit each other to get the attention and favor of those who can recommend or approve salary adjustments or promotions.”

Part 3

Some people eventually figure out and lay a clear career path with specific goals. But there are others who seem to drift along.

“It’s because others were empowered to make choices of their own. Those who drift are the ones who followed the wishes of someone else (parents or benefactors).”

Part 4

Could you tell us more about your educational background and early employment days?

“My first job is Training Officer of a well-known skin clinic and manufacturer of beauty products.”

“After 2 years, I moved to a large firm which is into property management, banking, and retail. I started as Training Officer and left the company after 10 years, as Senior HR Manager.”

“A car distributorship pirated me and I moved in as Assistant Vice President for Human Resources. Two years after, I pursued entrepreneurship.”

“Since 2010, I’m into workplace learning facilitation, conference talks and consulting of Employer Branding, HR 3.0, Social Business and Strategic Leadership.”

Part 5

Sonnie, what were the reasons you decided to be an entrepreneur? Also, how did you prepare for that?

“Why I decided to be an entrepreneur? It’s a concoction of a lot of things: (1) A realization that the more you move up, your time is owned by another person or group. (2) Exposure to situations that conflicts with my personal values. (3) The long time desire to accomplish something for me. (4) Love for a challenge. (5) A realization of limitless barrier in terms of professional and financial growth.”

“My preparations: (1) Acknowledgment of my purpose in life. (2) 20 years of corporate exposure. (3) Strong online presence and online reputation. (4) 6 months worth salary in the bank. (5) Digital strategy.”

Part 6

Some two years ago, I listened to motivational speaker Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan. On balancing life, she said that the first thing we need to do is to find our purpose.

Would you share how you found your purpose?

“I was once a skinny boy with super low self-esteem. Because our family was at the receiving end of social injustice, I hated the system. I didn’t want to speak in front of people so I took up Engineering and got affiliated with a leftist movement. We fought social injustice and thought street parliamentary was the way to effect change.”

“But in 1998, I experienced what Catholics called renewal and Christians called the born again experience. My approach to changing the system changed. Instead of street parliamentary, I realized there is an alternative approach. I could touch people and influence them with a message of hope and the Christian faith. Add to this, is the desire to become a public speaker one day, whose intention is not to make people feel good, but to make them think hard of their situation, and desire for a better alternative.”

“With the new found purpose, came enabling. I began to believe in my self-worth and was inspired to speak in front of the crowd. That’s the start of my journey to becoming a speaker and workplace learning facilitator.”

Part 7

Once you found your purpose, how did that lead to entrepreneurship?

“While still in college, I discovered my purpose and became one of the student leaders on our campus. I formed a college student body that is geared to youth development. My exposure to spiritual development and pastoral care came when I took up biblical studies and pursued my internship in the Christian church.”

“After my stint in pastoral care, the first and second corporate job I got into is in learning and development. It got sidetracked for 10 years when I became a Senior HR Manager. It was also during this time, that I started blogging. My motivation is to just continue adding value to people through writing. Eventually, this blog became my ticket to Assistant Vice President position.”

“On 2010, when I ventured into solopreneurship and returned to my first love and purpose in life.”

Part 8

Successful & Influential: Sonnie Santos

A single case of suicide due to cyber bullying a decade ago would have made the world news a decade ago. But I feel that the shock effect of reading about cyberbullying in its many forms is gone. To rephrase it, cyber bullying seems to be the norm today.

Sonnie, one of your advocacies is cyber wellness. What can netizens to about cyber bullying?

“I guess we can gauge how rampant cyberbullying was during the elections season. What was previously under the radar was noticed as netizens bash each other because they disagreed with each other’s opinion. Cyberbullying in a corporate setting, on the other hand, is much more subtle to avoid getting in trouble.”

“Readers can help by doing any of the following: (1) Being civil themselves when they engage other netizens. (2) Confirming information before they share a link. (3) Do not dismiss or tolerate cyber bullying, stand up with a person when they are being cyberbullied.”

“For more help, they can read this article: What to Do When Cyber Bullied

Part 9

How do you continue to grow yourself so that you could be a better advocate, strategist, and keynoter?

“My formula from the beginning has not changed, and these are: (1) Visualizing myself achieving my goals. (2) Benchmarking all my initiatives and skills to that of the best in the marketplace, learning and adapting to change. (3) Consistency doing what I’m doing even though it’s not popular or not trending. (4) Doing what I enjoy doing even though it’s for FREE as it helps in enhancing my skill. (5) Reading. (6) Learning from others. (7) Attending, participating or organizing learning events. (8) Helping people and communities.”

“I also embraced this mantra, ‘Ride on someone else’s wave or create my own wave,’ or, ‘Be a rock star of someone else’s Kingdom, or be the king of my own villa,’ to guide me.”

Part 10

Most of the people reading this blog have a long way to go. Disregarding the geographic, cultural, socio-economic differences and professions, what advice can you give them?

“I don’t want to think I am way ahead of others. Probably in professional experience and to the number of years in blogging, but it does not mean I’m better than others. Each one of us has something unique to offer if we’ll break out of the herd mentality and find time to discover our purpose.”

“Likewise, a true sense of fulfillment can only be achieved when a person is operating or living out his life purpose. Another way to put this is ‘to make sure before a person climbs the ladder of success, the ladder is leaning on the right wall’.”

“For the readers to appreciate our discussion about purpose in life, they can read my 2005 blog entry: What Is Life Purpose?”

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

“It should be our top priority to find time to connect with our Creator and hear from Him our purpose in life.”

“Finally, whatever we do, our end in mind should be ‘to add value’.”

Part 11

Sonnie, are there books that you could recommend and why?

“I don’t want to sound religious, but I recommend the Bible. It’s a great resource for self-development, leadership and management, entrepreneurship, family and marriage, and practical wisdom. And there’s always something new to learn.”

Final Thoughts

Do you know why I feel privileged to be able to have this conversation with Sonnie Santos? Because I learned.

Learning is one thing, though. Being able to take the essence of his message and apply it in our profession is another thing. I love being in the company of people who are successful in their own rights, yielding positive influence and picking their brains.

For sure, I myself would keep coming back to this post to re-read. His messages are not merely words, but an accumulation of years and years of experience and wisdom.

Sonnie Santos, thank you very much for the opportunity to have you here. Even with a short conversation, I learned so many invaluable lessons.