Twenty years ago, my partners and I opened EON in the midst of an Asian financial crisis. Not coming from a business background, we genuinely believed that if we just followed our vision, things would work out.
Little did we imagine the difficulties that the market was experiencing at that time — and it went on for about five years!
So what I did was to knock on doors. Literally.
In those days, you would never see me behind my desk because there’s no money to be made if I stayed in the office. So I went out and knocked on doors in order to aggressively expand our network. My faith had to be bigger than my fear. There were times when I’d promise a service then wonder how we could actually pull it off! And because we tried to keep a tight rein on costs, we had to do everything by ourselves — even if we only had three employees, including me.
WHERE CAUTIOUS MEETS AUDACIOUS
Growing a company constantly involves leadership decisions that are astute as they are daring. When EON was starting out, we strategically reinforced our modest assets with unrelenting hard work, conservation of resources, and finding the right people and organizations to partner with. Once we arrived at the critical mass of means and connections, we cautiously but deliberately expanded our services according to what we perceived to be the immediate and the imminent demands of the market.
Being the best in class requires an acute sensitivity to changes in the communication landscape and the audacity to anticipate our stakeholders’ needs.
Even today, we make it a habit to look at the trends that are happening in the market and put every effort to be ahead of that trend. We are keen observers of life and this is a skill that the company wants all our people to develop, so we regularly send them to training programs and events, both within and outside the country, because that’s where they will learn how to spot the latest movements and innovations in the industry.
Although I’ve relinquished most of my executive duties to the younger managers, I continue to read all the news monitoring reports that our teams produce every single day because I want to be kept updated on everything that’s going on — whether it’s news coming out of our clients or our competitors. At the same time, I make sure I’m up-to-date with what is happening in the industries where our clients are, and with relevant news about the country, the region, and even the entire planet because we also care about the changes in our natural environment.
From all of these data, you have to extract and distill valuable insights that will enable you to make informed and strategic business decisions. As they say, knowledge is power. And with that power comes the confidence and fearlessness to aspire for greater heights.
THE HEART OF LEADERSHIP
Whenever I am asked about my management style, I always refer to Robert K. Greenleaf’s concept of “servant leadership” which begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first, then makes a conscious choice and aspiration to lead. For a servant-leader, championing the greater good is the highest priority and the ultimate goal is to create a ripple effect that would encourage those who have been served to follow suit.
All of EON’s founders trace their roots back to government service, which is founded on service to the people. We brought that same philosophy with us when we launched the company two decades ago — that we are here to serve.
We are here to serve our clients through our professional expertise and by upholding sound business ethics. We are here to serve our employees by providing career opportunities in a nurturing environment where they can refine and enhance their abilities. We also serve the communities where we operate through the various advocacy programs we are involved in. And as a result of all these, we ultimately serve our country.
This has been our guiding principle from the onset of our operations and it has been quite successful in propelling us to where we are today.
This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the MAP.
Junie del Mundo is the chair of the MAP CEO Conference Committee and the chair and CEO of The EON Group, a fully-integrated communications agency.