Monday, March 3, 2008
THE HUMBLE BEE THAT IS TONY TAN
"Sir Tony! Could we have a picture with you?"
Our Franchisees' Convention program had just finished but Chowking franchisees,Managing directors and even Chowking officers stayed behind asking to have their picture taken with S' Tony Tancaktiong, Jollibee's founder and Chairman.
Several feet away,other franchisees were having their photo taken with singer-entertainer Ogie Alcasid,who was our guest speaker. Eventually,this group thinned out when Ogie left the session hall but the cluster of people surrounding S' Tony didn't. They wanted to have their picture with Mr. Jollibee himself, and S' Tony,ever the kind person he is, obliged.
Since it had been quite a while since I had my own picture taken with TTC, I snuck up beside him when I had the chance, and my wife, Jaja, took one of us for posterity.
Anyone who has read about Jollibee's success and Tony Tan's ever growing dynasty of food chains can have the impression that he is probably unreachable,as other so-called taipans seem to be.
But S' Tony is none of that.
For me, he is an example of a person who knows where he came from,and who has not been spoiled by success. I admire him for his humble when in fact he owns bragging rights for having built a Filipino brand.
One of Jollibee's core values is "Humility to Listen and Learn." There is no better embodiment of this than S' Tony himself.
It's interesting to note that "Humility" was not listed among Jollibee's core values when in 1996, Jollibee's top management went through a review and re-defining of its core mission and values. It was one of the Tan brothers, William Tanuntiong, who insisted that "Humility" be included.
He cited an example from his own Real Estate division,where some of his people chided one of their colleagues for being arrogant. "That behavior does not belong here," they had told the erring manager,"that belongs to McDo."(referring to McDonald's)
Then his clinching argument...he said that in the first place S' Tony, the President, was modelled humility by his own behavior.
Nobody questioned that.
In fact, when I conducted the series of orientation sessions on The Jollibee Way (a Jollibee corporate culture workshop,)whenever we talked about the value of humility,someone always had a story to tell about S' Tony's humble ways.
A favorite of mine came from one of the Area Managers,Rachel Bracamonte. She told the story of how she, during one of our Franchisees conventions,had lost one of her earrings somewhere at the lobby of the hotel where we held the event. A search ensued,and she was surprised to see S' Tony on his knees helping out in looking for the missing earrings!
Others would tell of how S' Tony,when he was at a Jollibee store, would pick up litter and throw this himself into the trash bin. He also did not expect preferential treatment when he visited Jollibee stores,always queueing up with customers at the counter lines when he could very well have been served at the tables.
He did not pull rank as President when it came to management decisions. I saw this myself when I had the opportunity to sit in at Mancom sessions in 1996,when my boss, Atty. Buddy Demaisip, would be absent. When he saw merit in a VP's position he acknowledged it and was willing to change his own.
During a recent Leadership learning session here at Jollibee where he was the featured speaker,he somehow explained the reason for the humility he was so known for. He said that he believed that he did not know everything and that he can always learn from someone else.
I can't help but recall one of the beatitudes which goes: "Blessed are the meek for they shall possess the land."
It's no wonder that S' Tony's Jollibee dynasty has now expanded beyond Philippine soil to the Asia Pacific region and to the USA.