Innovation? Game‑changer? What’s that?

Cover art Samantha Gonzales with Freepik

Words by

Digital Reporter

Let’s talk buzzwords. We’ve talked about the meaning of startupunicornbitcoin and blockchains. Those words have definite, though expansive, definitions.

But not so much when it comes to the words “game‑changer” and “innovation.” Those words get used a lot lately, to the point where you might start wondering if the person who used it even knows what it meant. Perhaps you too wasted too many minutes staring at a bottle labelled “innovative drink” going “what?”

Two speakers from the Spark Series x Far Eastern University last January 26 did their best to define these words for us so that not only will we not misuse them, we can also inspire to be game‑changers and innovators now that what they know what they are.

Art Samantha Gonzales with Freepik

Francis Peña, the Business Lead for HATCH Campaigns under Voyager Innovations, Inc., turned to the dictionary for help during his talk on empowering future game‑changers. Quoting Merriam‑Webster, he said: “a game‑changer is a newly introduced element or a factor that changes an existing situation in a significant way.

He cited basketball player Michael Jordan as an example of a game‑changer in the field of sports, making the then unknown Chicago Bulls team a household name. (Also not to be mistaken with music legend Michael Jackson, though it could be argued that he too made a significant mark on the pop music scene.) Non‑human examples of game‑changers cited by Peña are email and smartphones. Can you imagine life without email? For all of your ‘90s nostalgia, do you really want to go back to the time when cell phones were the size and weight of aged box tortoises?

Now, what turns a person into a game‑changer? Peña gave us three P’s to live by: “palpak, pasaway and palaban.”

Palpak (failure) doesn’t mean that you should actively seek out failure. It means that you will naturally face failure in your life, but you shouldn’t give up because of it. “Failure will teach you more than success,”Peña said. “You have to look at failures as opportunities to learn, to grow and develop.”

Being a pasaway (non‑conformist), meanwhile, means that you won’t just settle with what you have right now. “Don’t settle for what’s in front of you; seek out and discover whether you can do to make things better,”said Peña, citing Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi and Pinoy upcycling artist Paco Pili as examples of pasaways who made it. This is also where younger millennials and the centennials might excel over the older millennials, Peña stated, since they are less bound to tradition. “Older millennials like me have a tendency to be traditional… it’s important to know traditions but don’t bind yourself to traditions. Traditions evolve as the population evolves.”

The final P is palaban (possessing a fighting spirit). “Have the fortitude and persistence to follow through in spite of the challenges,”said Peña, concluding his Three P’s.

Art Samantha Gonzales with Freepik

Now that we know what a game‑changer is, are you ready to know what innovation means so you can step up your game and become an innovative game‑changer? Tough luck, everyone has a different definition of innovation.

But Iggy Javellana, CEO of Pinoy video game company Muramasa Games, made sure that we’d get close to what innovation generally means through these words of wisdom: “Innovation isn’t just about creating something new. First you have to figure out what challenge you want to solve, then you have to execute your idea. But most importantly it has to add value to your brand and your customers.”

Got that? Being an innovator means not only having value but making others (your customers and stakeholders) see the value in you. They chose you for a reason. Be that reason.

And with that, see you in the next Spark Series! University of Santo Tomas get ready to get sparked up.