Amazing true-to-life success stories
HIGH GROUND By William M. Esposo 2006-07-17
Books on how to get rich have always been timeless best sellers but books about divinely inspired and guided success stories never fail to uplift the human spirit beyond the realm of the material quest.

I was inspired to write about this when I chanced upon a recent interview of Steven K. Scott by CNN’s Larry King on his daily show. Steven Scott shared with Larry King and his world audience insights from his much talked about book “The richest man who ever lived” which depicted how the Bible had inspired and transformed his career path from loser to winner.

Scott lost nine jobs in six years—a loser you’d be inclined to say. At the lowest point of his career, his friend Gary Smalley suggested that Scott re-gear his direction by reading a chapter of the Book of Proverbs every day and develop his business strategy along the lessons that he will learn from that part of the Holy Bible. Scott drew inspiration from The Book of Proverbs which depicted the wisdom of King Solomon who was promised by the Lord to become the richest man who ever lived.

Scott has discovered that indeed there are very relevant lessons to be learned from the wise ruler of yore as it applied to diligence, relationships, work, marriage, strategy, finances and so forth. Among the most important lessons Scott claims he received from the Book of Proverbs were the following:

•master life’s most important skill
•achieve extraordinary success in business, finance, and marriage
•resolve and win any conflict
•overcome the most destructive force in relationships
•prevent the single greatest cause of financial loss

After two years, Scott started to use the strategies he learned from King Solomon. He ventured into a new, small business with a partner and from losing 9 jobs in 6 years Scott started to reap over a million dollars a week within six months! He then went on to found other businesses that made multi-million dollars and he was also able to repair his marriage that went on the rocks along with his failed career.

The Go family guidance

I have personally witnessed how a similar approach of trusting Divine Guidance has saved the lives and made successful careers of the family of the late Go Puan Seng, whose daughter Betty Go-Belmonte founded the Philippine STAR.

During World War II, the Go family was being persecuted by the Japanese and they were forced to seek refuge in the jungles of Bulacan together with some friends. When General Tomoyuki Yamashita (of treasure fame) was relocating his forces towards the Northern Luzon mountains and there to make his last stand against the advancing US forces, the Go family refuge was right in the path of the retreating Japanese. Go Puan Seng sought guidance from his daily Bible reading on how to proceed and avoid contact with the Japanese forces.

Go Puan Seng read “Go ye westward into the coast” which was opposite where some of their friends wanted to go. Go Puan Seng trusted his guidance and went towards the direction of the South China Sea. Nine of their friends followed their instincts and went the opposite direction where they encountered the retreating Japanese. They were never seen nor heard from again.

In 1986, after a major disagreement with her partner, Eugenia “Eggie” Apostol, on how to structure the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Betty Go-Belmonte decided to get her guidance from her daily Bible reading. She prayed the night before for guidance on how to proceed with her involvement in the Inquirer, just as her father sought guidance during the war. She read this the next morning: “Go you out from among them.”

No matter how hard it was to remove one’s person from a partnership that resulted in the making of the new number 1 English language newspaper—Betty followed her guidance and left the Inquirer. She then went on to establish the Philippine STAR, becoming the number 23rd daily to mushroom after the dismantling of the Marcos dictatorship.

As it turned out, both the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine STAR had their respective successful places in the Philippine media scene to fill.

Bucking the world trend of diminishing returns for newspapers owing to the advent of the second, third and the fourth screens (television, internet, cell phones) as popular news sources, Betty’s legacy—the Philippine STAR—paid this year double the annual dividends that it paid its stockholders for the last four years. From paying P400,000 annually for every 1% stock ownership during the last four years, the Philippine STAR paid cash dividends of P800,000 for every 1% stock ownership this year (for year 2005 performance) or a total of P80,000,000 for all its stockholders.

Betty’s younger sister, Gracie Glory Go, tried her luck in Toronto during the late 1970s and was already well-established there, making over $42,000 a year, when Betty asked her to come home and run the marketing of the STAR in 1987. Still in its struggling years, the STAR hardly offered Gracie any attraction and the thought of starting all over again pressured her tremendously to beg off from the invitation to come home.

But Gracie is her father’s daughter and she too sought guidance and she read: “Go home to your own land.” Against all logic and against her own feelings, Gracie went home, became a major hub of the STAR success story and never regretted her decision to follow her guidance. Gracie was recently awarded by the French government with the prestigious Legion d’Honneur, only the fifth Filipina (12 Filipinos also won it) to win the distinction given to persons who live exemplary lives (Cory Aquino was one of the five Filipinas who won it).

The Divine Hidden Partner

Adherents to the new economic paradigm, the Economy of Communion or EoC, likewise “employ” a Divine hidden partner. Businessmen who practice the guiding principles of the EoC follow two important Commandments of Jesus Christ which are as follows:
1. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and everything else will be given you.”
2. “Whatsoever you do to the least of your brethren, you do unto me.”

Husband and wife team, Francis and Tess Ganzon, led their Bangko Kabayan Rural Bank to become the biggest rural bank in their region and the sixth most profitable in the country—by servicing the little people who otherwise are unable to get loans from the other banks. Others may opt to make money from the rich and later on give to the poor. Francis and Tess empowered the poor by financing their little business ventures and even taught them (by making it part of the bank’s requirements) to develop a savings habit.

“While we have been trying to live the Gospel in our individual lives, it had not occurred to us that our businesses could be a part of this divine adventure. Up till then, we had tried to always be fair with our employees, be of service to our clients and actively pursue community development—all as a means of being coherent with our Christian values as individuals.” Tess Ganzon said.

“All of a sudden, something more was being added—the dimension that the reason for existence of a business is to directly help the poor! We were being challenged to likewise 'grow the business' beyond the confines of our own satisfaction because it no longer existed just for us, or for the other stakeholders, or the families of the employees—but had a much larger group of people to help support through its profits.” Tess added.

“It is quite an exciting discovery that the Gospel actually contains valuable and powerful tools for success in the workplace,” enthuses Tess. "For example, ‘Be perfect as the Father is perfect’ actually exhorts everyone to strive for excellence, not to be content with mediocrity in performance of one's job.” Tess added.

With their family business, the Ganzons were able to improve the lives of so many of their needy province mates. Imagine what it could do for the country if the Top 1,000 Corporations adopted EoC!

You may email William M. Esposo at:

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