Archive of ‘Business & Finance’ category

Sell With Integrity


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In the world of sales, its not uncommon to try to twist the truth or bend the rules a little to close a sale. As a real estate broker, I know how tempting it can be to compromise your standards when a closed deal is within site. But the question is, are you willing to sacrifice your integrity for the sake of closing a deal?

Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Take an honest look at yourself. Do you have integrity?

When I started working as a real estate broker, I got exposed to different brokers and salespersons. Each had his own selling style. But what I noticed was that some were more willing to bend the truth a little to close a deal.

For example, not all developers are alike. Some construct good quality houses. And others don’t. And how do I know? I ask people who were able to buy units from these developers. There’s nothing like actually living in a house to test its quality. Now brokers often know which developers build good quality houses and which don’t. And yet some agents would promote a certain project which they know isn’t of very good quality and even tell their clients its a good project just because of the commission plus tons of incentives. I admit that I wasn’t as discerning with what I’d sell to clients as I used to think all project were alike. But as i got to know the developers more, I realized each company is different. Now, I’m more careful as to which projects to sell. I focus on endorsing good quality projects to my clients. And if my clients still choose otherwise then, it’s their choice and I respect that. At least I’ve already told them the truth as it is.

You see, I see myself not only as a real estate broker but as a friend to my clients. An adviser, if you will. Whenever I’m with a client, I imagine that he or she is my best friend or a close relative. This way, I am more mindful in only recommending a product that I know will benefit them. I help guide my clients in making the choice that is best for them.

When you sell with integrity, you may not always close the deal. But you’ll always have your clients trust. And when they trust you, they’ll come back to you once they’re ready to invest because they know that you have their best interests at heart. Whenever you sell with integrity, you don’t just focus on todays sale but also on future sales.

How do you sell with integrity?

I believe that there are 3 ways to sell with integrity.

First, prepare. Know your product. Whenever you go on site visits with clients, prepare as best as you can. When you take the time to prepare you’ll be better able to answer your clients questions and lead them to a decision that is good for them.

Second, be honest. The temptation in sales is to say a project is a good deal when in fact, we don’t really know. Just because a developer says a project is good doesn’t mean it actually is. So as brokers, how can we tell? If it were any other product, I would test it out myself. But in real estate, it just isn’t feasible to go and buy one unit in all the projects you’re selling. So the next best thing is to interview the people who have bought the product. Ask them what their experience was living in their new home. How is the quality? Did they have to redo the whole house before moving in or did they only do minor retouches? Gather this information and then share this to your clients. Be honest. Be transparent with your clients. They’ll appreciate you for it. 

Third, lead your clients. People don’t want to be managed. But we like to be lead. As a broker, you’re the expert so act like one. Don’t wait passively for your client to make a decision. Once you’ve provided him with all the information he needs to make a decision, lead him to making a decision. Clients often love to procrastinate. Even after numerous site visits and explanations, they’ll still say “I’ll think about it.” As the broker, it is your job to help your clients overcome this tendency.

The real estate industry is a great industry to be in. With the booming market,there have been a lot of developers coming in and there is a lot of inventory to sell. However, it also has its challenges. When you commit to sell with integrity, you can overcome many of these challenges and really rise above the competition.

Go live a Truly Wealthy life.


The Power of Clarity


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One thing that successful people have in common is clarity. They are very specific about the goals that they want to achieve.

It makes sense. How can you get what you want if you don’t know (or are not very clear) about what you want? Goal setting has always been an effective way for me to reach my goals. I would sit down, and write down what I want.

One of the things I learned in nursing was that you had to set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

A friend of mine said, “My goal is to be happy.” That’s a reasonable goal. I, too, want to be happy. I mean, who wants to be miserable? To be happy is a good goal. But it’s not very SMART. How do you define happiness? Is it having a happy family? Traveling the world? Being successful in your career? A vague goal is hard to achieve. So it’s important to be as specific as possible.

Or let’s say your goal is to be “financially independent.” How do you define financial independence? Is it an income of P50,000 a month? P500,000 month? Or 1 million a month? Also, set a realistic deadline. If you earn P20,000 a month now, saying that you would like to have a million pesos next month isn’t very realistic. Maybe you can start with P50,000, then P100,000 and so on. Once you’ve set a specific and realistic goal, put a deadline. When would you like to achieve your goal of financial independence? This year, next year, or in five years?

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

-Napoleon Hill

We first have to be clear about our goals. When our goals are clear, then we will be able to come up with how we can achieve them. The “what” comes first. The “how” comes after.

Whatever you want, write them down. Draw pictures. Pinterest your goals. Seeing them clearly will motivate you to work towards achieving them. We humans are intrinsically teleological creatures. The word teleology comes from the greek word telos which means meaning or purpose. This means that we are very goal-oriented. We function better when we know what the purpose for our labor is. What the end goal is.

Humans are capable of intentionally pursuing goals that they consciously set for themselves, and thus a different order of teleology applies to them, one which places them in the domain of ethics and politics.

– Monte Ransome Johnson

When I was in high school, I dreamt of being the CEO of my own company. I wanted to run my own business and have the time of my life doing it. Fast forward 13 years later and that dream has come true.

I don’t believe that I’m better than anyone. In fact, there are tons of people that I can think of who are way better than I am. But it’s not about having a high IQ, it’s about setting SMART goals and working on them.

Matthew 7:7-8

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

We all have goals we want to achieve. The question is, have you taken the time to actually write them down?

If you haven’t perhaps you can take the time to do them today.

Go live a Truly Wealthy life.


How Alibaba founder Jack Ma opened sesame


Billionaire Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, speaks at the Asian Leadership Conference in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Wasu Media Holding Co., the Chinese media company backed by Jack Ma, has held talks with Netflix Inc. as the broadcaster of "House of Cards" seeks to enter China's $5.9 billion online video market. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Jack Ma

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In life, a lot of things don’t make sense. Just like the way an English teacher at a local university in China who earned $12 per month went on to becoming a multi-billionaire in just 7 years. When his company Alibaba went public in 2014, it was the largest IPO in history raising about 25 Billion dollars and valued now over 200 Billion. Alibaba was not only the leading ecommerce website in China, it was also wildly successful on a global scale with it’s entire value exceeding Amazon and eBay combined. On the eve of it’s IPO Jack Ma, a regular Chinese school teacher who knew nothing about coding, catapulted to being a multi-Billionaire. From it’s humble beginnings in his small apartment, Alibaba is no longer a David. It’s now a Goliath.

But first, what is Alibaba? In his book Alibaba’s World, Porter Erisman, former Vice-President of Alibaba describes it as a vast e-commerce conglomerate that connects buyers and sellers and allows them to do transactions across a wide range of products and services. It’s basically an online portal where you can either buy or sell. It connects buyers and sellers in more than 240 countries and 80% of online retail sales in China happen in – a company under the Alibaba Group.

One thing is for sure, this English teacher managed to “open sesame” and bring China and the rest of the world (or most of it) along with him.

But how did he do it? Was he just lucky? Was Jack Ma merely at the right place, at time?  Erisman writes that Jack Ma was the right person, at the right place, at the right time.

After teaching for 5 years, Jack Ma decided that it was time to test the waters and start a business. So he opened his first venture – Hangzhou Hope Translation Agency. He started the Agency to cater to the increasing number of local businesses engaged with foreign trade. Then one day, one client who was a local government official, asked him to fly to America to sort out a business transaction with a US partner. When he arrived in Los Angeles, instead of a warm welcome, he got flashed with gun and robbed by his supposed host. Eventually he was able to go to Seattle where he asked for help from his American friends. It was there that Jack got introduced to the internet. He discovered that the internet was an amazing tool were you could type a word or two and get information for free. But when he typed China, nothing came out. That was when he had the idea to connect Chinese businessmen (and there were a lot of them) to the rest of the world.

Jack flew back to China and set up China’s first internet company – China Pages. It had some success but in the end didn’t work out. Next, Jack tried working with the government of Beijing to promote ecommerce. But he felt too stifled by all the red tape. So he left to start another venture, where he hired 17 of his old students and made them founders – Alibaba.


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Alibaba was not always the successful business model it is today. When it first started, it was a free service. The company struggled for years to find a way to be profitable. In the first few years, it was bleeding money. It finally became profitable when, after 2 years, sellers started asking for a paid option to promote their products and be seen above their competitors. The rest is history. Alibaba went on to become the world’s largest ecommerce website and Jack Ma became a multi-billionaire.

If you don’t imagine it will happen, it will never happen.

-Jack Ma

What did I learn from Jack Ma?

One, dream big. Like Steve Jobs, Jack Ma was a visionary. He looked at the market, at what the users wanted and produced a product that could fulfill that. was launched in a time when so little of China, due to government censorship, was online. But he saw the future of China and it’s businessmen and that future included doing business online. Ecommerce was on the rise. Most of the world was already online and China would be sure to catch up. Jack Ma would often set wildly high projections for Alibaba – double or triple the projections of his managers. And they often surpassed it. His vision has always been to connect buyers and sellers and make online transaction easy – on a global scale. He was not only a big dreamer but highly optimistic as well. Even when the company looked like it would topple down at any moment, he kept the faith and guided his team thru those tough times.

 A lot of young people don’t have dreams anymore. And we want to tell them, you have to keep your dreams.

-Jack Ma

Second, act on it. There are 1.3 Billion people in China. I’m sure a few other million had the same idea as Jack. The only difference was they didn’t do anything about it. When you have a great idea, act on it. If you don’t, you can be sure that someone else will. As Jack Ma said, “You can begin on nothing but an idea.” He certainly did.

Third, focus on the customer. Jack Ma was a salesman who focused on what the customer wanted. He didn’t know how to code and had no patience for algorithm talk but he knew how to sell. His focus was entirely on user experience. Whenever a new application or website tool was developed, he first tried it out. If he couldn’t understand it, that meant their customers probably wouldn’t either.

I’ve learned a lot from Jack Ma and how he took Alibaba from being a start up company to being the largest ecommerce website in the world. And if he tells me to keep my dreams, well, who am I to argue? Who knows, maybe Truly Wealthy Realty can also be an Alibaba someday.

Go live a Truly Wealthy life.



Habits of the Wealthiest People


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I came across this infographic “Habits of the Wealthiest People” a few years ago and it was a major eye opener for me. It encouraged me to continue some habits I’ve formed (reading and exercising) and to start new ones (eating less junk food and sleeping and waking up early).


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         Habits of the Wealthiest People

  • Have a To Do list (81%)
  • Wake up 3 hours before work (44%)
  • Listen to audio books during commute (63%)
  • Network 5+ hours per month (79%)
  • Read 30+ minutes per day (88%)
  • Love to read (86%)
  • Teach good daily success habits to their children (74%)
  • Make their children volunteer 10+ hours per month (70%)
  • Encourage their children to read 2+ non-fiction books per month (63%)
  • Exercise 4x a week (76%)
  • Write down goals (67%)
  • Focus on accomplishing a specific goal (80%)
  • Believe in lifelong educational self-improvement (86%)
  • Believe good habits create opportunity (84%)

Looking at this infographic, it struck me that there really is no huge difference between rich and poor people. If you read the biographies of successful people like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan or Henry Ford, you’ll see that they are ordinary men who achieved extraordinary things. They weren’t born rich or with exceptional skills. What skills they had, they developed through persistence and training. Perseverance and Discipline are what set them apart.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

-Hebrews 12:11

According to Sean Covey, we become what we repeatedly do. The main difference between rich and poor people is HABIT.

A habit is defined as “a regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”

Wealthy people have wealth forming habits. Poor people don’t. It’s as simple as that. When you have the discipline to form good habits and the persistence to follow through, then you’ll eventually succeed. It’s only a matter of time.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
-Jim Ryun

Habits are hard to break. So if we’re going to be at the mercy of our habits, we might as well start forming good habits that will help us succeed.

What about you?

What good habits do you need to start? It may be exercising daily, eating healthy, saving 20% of your income each month or being encouraging to others.

They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Whether you like it or not, this time is going to pass anyway. So why not use it to form 1 new good habit. There are 12 months in 1 year. If we form just 1 good habit per month, that’s already 12 good habits in a year!

You may not become a success overnight, but there is really no such thing as “overnight success”. It’s paved through years of hard work and good habits.

So what are you waiting for?

Start forming a good habit today and be the successful person that you are meant to be.

Go live a Truly Wealthy life.



Blaze 28 Soft Opening at SM CDO

blaze 28 .

Last August 28, I was invited to the Soft Opening of Blaze 28 at SM City Mall. In time with CDO’s fiesta – Blaze 28 opened it’s doors to the public with a fashion show right inside the boutique. The models strutted their stuff on the runway while we scrutinised the clothes the newest boutique in Cdo City had to offer.

blaze 28 soft opening + alex zeta

Blaze 28  is the newest fashion boutique located on the 2nd floor of SM City Mall. It’s owned by cousins, Johna Elgie and Marky Apilan. The clothes are hip and stylish and are ideal for young professionals and students. Although, according to the owner Marky Apilan, they also have selections for moms and grandmoms as well. Blaze 28 aims to cater to all market segments.





alex zeta + marky apilanAlex Zeta & Marky Apilan (left to right)

After the fashion show, the guests got to roam around to check out their selection of clothes.



Bring out the story in your style with Blaze 28. Visit their store in SM City CDO (2nd floor). See it for yourself.

Go live a Truly Wealthy Life!


Interview with Blaze 28 Owner – Marky Apilan

I’ve always loved good stories. Whenever I hear one, it makes me want to share it to the world. I feel that good stories deserve to be told. And this is one such story.

blaze 28 .

Marky Apilan is a 26-year-old entrepreneur that has achieved great success despite all odds. He is also a good friend of mine. He started working as a sampaguita vendor in grade school, working his way up until high school. After high school, he immediately started working as a salesman at one of the biggest clothing brands here in Cdo City. Now he, together with his cousin, Johna Elgie are the proud owners of Haze Restobar. They have also just opened a fashion boutique at SM City Mall last August 28, 2015 – Blaze 28.

marky apilan blaze 28Marky Apilan – Blaze 28 Co-owner

Alex: Hi Marky! Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you. It’s not everyday I get to meet with a young and successful entrepreneur. You mentioned before that you started working while you were still in grade school. Can you expound on that?

Marky: You’re welcome Alex. It’s a pleasure to see you as well. Regarding that, I started my first real job right after high school, at the age of seventeen. But I actually started working when I was still in grade school, selling sampaguitas, so I would have allowance. I didn’t have a comfortable life growing up so I was taught at a young age, the value of hard work. 

Alex: What were you like as a kid?

Marky: I’ve always been a dreamer. I love fairy tales. When I would do my chores, I would dream about my future life and what it would be like. We come from a modest family – we just had enough to get by. At the time I didn’t really believe my dreams could come true.

Alex: From sampaguitas to clothes. Quite a leap. What inspired you to put up a clothing line?

Marky: I’ve always been interested in fashion. When I was in high school I passed by this boutique that had beautiful clothes and shoes featured on the display window and it made me stop and look inside. I promised myself that someday, I would have something like this.

Alex: So after high school, why didn’t you proceed to college?

Marky: We didn’t have enough money for college so I had to start working right after high school. I worked as a salesman in a boutique here in Cdo. It was where I improved my skill in selling clothes and dealing with people.

marky apilan 3 blaze 28

Alex: How do you keep the clients coming back?

Marky: I build good relationships with them. I ask them about their life, their family, their hobbies. Every client is different. That’s why I’m very careful with what I say because words are something that you cant take back.

Alex: How was your experience as a salesman?

Marky: I enjoyed it. I’m not afraid to share my life with my clients, with other people, because I’m not ashamed of where I came from. I worked hard to be where I am today. I always think about what I can learn from what I’m doing. I was only able to graduate high school. I don’t have a diploma. One of the reasons why I worked so hard was because unlike others, they can easily resign and apply for another job. I don’t have that luxury. In a way, I was afraid that I wouldn’t have another opportunity like this. So I drew strength from that fear. That motivated me to do my job well.

If you love your job, your job will love you back.

-Marky Apilan

Alex: What did you learn as an employee?

Marky: I learned that everything that you give out will come back to you full circle. That’s just how life is. So you just need to do your best and be patient. I never expected all the promotions I’ve been given before. The other managers where Ateneo graduates, Cum Laudes and had various awards. There were times when I would feel small compared to them. But in a way, this became my strength. Because I had no degree to rest on, I did my best with every opportunity that I was given. I wanted to prove to the company that they did the right thing in promoting me.

 Alex: What are the values that you live by?

Marky: I believe in being true to myself. You should always be yourself. What people loved about you, maintain that. If you must change, change for the better. Continue being humble. Be genuine. Share who you truly are.

Alex: What values have your parents taught you?

Marky: My parents would always tell me to never step on anyone to succeed.

Alex: What is your compass? When making a decision, what do you look to as a guide?

Marky: My compass is Faith. There are times when I feel down, when I feel like nothing is going right. In times like this, it’s my faith in God that keeps me strong. I can hold on to His promise that this too shall pass.

There was a time in my life when I made this decision and I felt that everyone was against me. That was one of my lowest points. I only wanted to follow my dreams, to really do what I was passionate about. Was that so wrong? If someone gave you an opportunity to do that, wouldn’t you grab it?

johna elgie + blaze 28

Alex: Are you talking about your cousin Johna Elgie – your partner in Haze Restobar and Blaze 28?

Marky: Yes. I owe a lot to my cousin. She gave me the chance to go after my dreams. She’s really the one who offered to finance the business and have me as the industrial partner. At that time, I had a great job which I loved. But I was also ready to pursue other things, to take the next step, to find a new challenge.

Alex: So you wanted something more?

Marky:Yes. Something more…A bigger challenge.

Alex: Well as they say, if you wont go after your dreams. Someone will hire you to fulfill theirs. And it’s really fulfilling to run your own business.

Marky: Yes, the fulfillment is really different. It’s tiring but it’s worth it.

Alex: So how does your partnership with your cousin work?

Marky: I come up with the concept, with the ideas then I present it to her. Then she adds to it or comes up with other suggestions. Actually my cousin is very encouraging and supportive. She’s very open-minded and appreciative of my ideas. That’s what I like about her and it encourages me to come up with more ideas.

Alex: Who are your role models or people that you look up to?

Marky: I look up to my cousin – Johna Elgie. She also came from humble beginnings like me, but look where she is now. She owns and runs two real estate companies in Phoenix, Arizona. She also owns two home care centers and one skin care clinic. She was awarded as a top entrepreneur in Phoenix and she was on the cover of a Filipino-American magazine.

Alex: Is she married?

Marky: Yes, she actually got married to her boss and they had twins. Now they handle the business together. The business grew a lot when she started managing it. But despite her success she has remained humble.

johna elgie + blaze 28.

Alex: I think that’s the true test of character – to remain humble despite your success. Because that’s hard to do. Success can go to your head if you allow it to and that will be the start of your downfall. It reminds me of the story of Job and how everything was taken away from him in an instant. So that can also happen to us. The Lord gives and the Lord can take away. That’s why it’s best to remain humble in all circumstances.

Alex: What is your main motivation to succeed?

Marky: God and my family are my main motivation and strength. Nothing is impossible with God – as long as you are willing to do your part. Hard work is also important. 

Alex: Having a bible study group is very helpful too in making the right choices. Aside from prayer, having a Dgroup is a huge blessing. They help guide me in making the right choices.

Marky: I hope you invite me, I would like that too.

Alex: Sure, I’ll invite you to our Sunday service at CCF. We have a 9am, 11am and 5pm service.

Marky: I would love to go.

 Alex: What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?

Marky: Commitment and hard work are very important. Once you decide on something, you really need to work hard. Commit to seeing it through till the end. Finish what you started. You must also know your passion. Do what you love to do. Don’t engage in business for the money. Follow your passion.

blaze 28 cdo + be truly wealthy 5

Alex: Let’s talk about your boutique. What’s the concept behind Blaze 28?

Marky: My cousin and I wanted to have a clothing line that can cater to people from different segments from all walks of like – from teens, to moms, to lolas. We have basic wear for daily use, corporate chic for young professionals and glam for evening wear. We want our clothes to be fashionable yet comfortable.

Alex: What’s your price range?

Marky: For the blouses we have 400-800 php price range. And for the skirts, 500php and up.

Alex: What were your main challenges in starting Blaze 28?

Marky: Choosing the clothes was very challenging. I really chose the inventory personally with my cousin. The selection process took us months.

blaze 28 cdo + be truly wealthy 4

Alex: Why did you name your boutique Blaze?

Marky: I choose Blaze 28 because it’s easy to remember and catchy at the same time. It also stands for fire, passion. When you wear a Blaze outfit, you’ll be able to bring out the fire inside you and bring confidence in your life.

blaze 28 cdo + be truly wealthy

Alex: Thank you so much for your time Marky. Your story is indeed inspiring. I hope it will encourage other people to also go after their dreams, give it all they’ve got and trust God with the rest. I’m excited for the grand launch!

Marky: You’re welcome. Thank you for giving me the chance to share my story as well.

alex and marky

 Marky Apilan & Alex Zeta (left to right)

The Generosity Generation


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“Generosity is love in action. It can involve offering thoughts, talk, talent, treasure, team, teaching, or time to aid someone in need.” – Michael Maher

I just finished reading The Seven Levels of Communication: Go from Relationships to Referrals by Michael Maher. From someone who reads a lot, and I mean a LOT, I can say that this is one of the best books about selling. (Thanks again for the book Coen Tan!) A must read for those who are in sales.

The world of sales is one of the most challenging fields to succeed in. And because of this, we need all the help we can get. But Michael Maher has a different take on this. He believes you can do it with 0 advertising.

How does he do it? Relationships.

By capitalizing on the relationships you have with other people, you can set up a powerful network that can generate leads through referrals.

It’s basically about taking care of other people, putting their needs before your own. When you go out of your way to help others, the numbers will take care of themselves.

magills bistro cdo

Photo from Magills Bistro

Just yesterday, I was in Magills Bistro – a small restaurant in Uptown Cdo. Since I just finished getting a new listing in Portico, Gran Europa, I decided to work there instead of going back to the office. While I was busily typing away on my mac, I overheard two other diners talking about how they couldn’t connect to the wifi in the restaurant. I ended up going over to their table to help then and we started talking about the real estate market in Cdo. It turns out that one of them had a house in Gran Europa that she wanted to sell. The other diner was the owner of Magills and she also referred to me 2 clients.

According to Michael Maher, the Generosity Generation is a movement wherein we each do our best to help other people achieve their goals. It’s not about you anymore. It’s about others. I offered my help to the 2 ladies on the next table because I just really wanted to help them. As a result I (unexpectedly) got 3 new clients and gained two new friends!

Whatever business or career field you may be in – following the Generosity Principle can benefit not only yourself but others around you as well.

Selling today is no longer just about selling. It’s about sharing of yourself to others. It’s about creating genuine relationships and memorable experiences. Refer people. Look out for ways to help. Reach out.

Be part of the Generosity Generation.

Go live a Truly Wealthy life.



For those who enjoy working in coffee shops, Magills Bistro is a great place to hang out in. They have good food, great ambiance, fast wifi plus unlimited coffee for only 100php! :)

Where Does Your Money Go?

money jars

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In this day and age of consumerism, money can so easily slip through our fingers like water. And if we are not careful, our hard-earned money can disappear in what seems like an instant. Commercials, magazine ads, the internet, billboards…they all tempt us with the promise of instant gratification.

Buy this, and you will be happy. Buy this and you’ll become more beautiful, or smarter or healthier. It’s only too easy to slip into the habit of spending all our money and then some. This is why, I’ve decided to be intentional in the way I manage my finances.

Most people use this formula in spending their money:

Income – Expenses = Savings 

Then I came upon this formula while reading the book Think Rich Yuppies by one of my good friends (who happens to be an amazing author and speaker), Sha Nacino.

This is her formula:

Income – Savings = Expenses

If you spend first and save what’s left, there won’t be much left to save. So instead, save first. And then spend what’s left. This is called paying yourself first. To some, this maybe a new idea. How can one “pay” himself? The answer is, through saving.

Investing starts with saving.

You can’t invest if you don’t have any money saved up.

Think about it. When you receive your salary, you pay Rustans (when you go grocery shopping), you pay Globe, Jollibee, the tuition, electricity bills….the list is endless. But what about you? The one who earned this money? Don’t you deserve to be paid for your efforts as well?

Saving money is hard mainly because we feel like we never have enough to begin with. But it’s something we all need to do. My mom instilled in me the discipline of saving in grade school. Whenever I received my allowance for the week, I would immediately set aside a portion of it to be deposited in my bank account (yes, I had my own bank account in grade school).

Today, as a real estate broker (of Truly Wealthy Realty), I receive income in bulk. So I have to really discipline myself not to splurge and spend everything at once (no matter how tempting it may be). As I don’t have a regular salary, I need to find ways to make my money last.

Here is what I do with my money:

  • 10% tithe
  • 10% tax
  • 20% stock market
  • 20% forced savings (when this accumulates, I then invest the money elsewhere)
  • 10% education fund
  • 5% giving account (gifts, treats for my family)

I basically live on 25% of my income. Now if you are not accustomed to saving, you can start on saving 10% of your income every month. Then you can increase it to 20% later on. According to studies, to achieve financial freedom, you need to invest AT LEAST 20% of your income. That’s the minimum. So that when you are 60 years old and can no longer work for a living, you won’t have to rely on other people (like your kids or relatives) to support you in your old age. If you save 20% of your income and invest it in the stock market, bonds, mutual funds or other investment vehicles, you will have 10 million by age 60. You will have money to buy gifts for your grand children, medicine for yourself, maybe go on a cruise once a year… Now this is the life! But you can only have this life if you discipline yourself to start saving NOW.

Most of the yuppies I know look at me like I’m crazy when I say “I’m saving and investing for my retirement.” They go, “You are too young to even think about retiring!”

But the best time to invest for your retirement is NOW. Not in some far off future, not tomorrow, but today. Time can pass by swiftly. It’s better to prepare as early as possible so we can have the future that we want. Let’s practice delayed gratification. Let’s start paying ourselves first.

What about you?

Are you investing for your future now? There is no time like the present to start doing so.

Go live a Truly Wealthy life!


Interview with Young Entrepreneur Chingkee Te (Part 2)

…Continued from Interview with Young Entrepreneur Chingkee Te (Part 1)

chingkee tea interview + young entrepreneur 2

Chingkee: Chingkee Tea finally opened on March 2012.

Alex: How did you chose your location?

Chingkee: I just wanted a place near Xavier University. This place (referring to the first Chingkee Tea branch near Corrales St.), was a big risk for us because it’s very hidden. But then it worked out. In all this, I could really see the hand of God moving. If not for His grace, I don’t know where Chingkee Tea would be. I mean, the location is very hidden, but it’s almost always full. Everything else just fit together.


Alex: How did you market Chingkee Tea?

Chingkee: Mainly online. I didn’t know a lot of people in Cdo – only my high school friends. I made a facebook page and created online posters. It became trending because we were the first shabby chic café and a lot of people were curious. Social media was my main marketing tool – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and also word of mouth.

Alex: How was opening day?

chingkee tea interviewChingkee: The first week of opening was really great. I didn’t expect to have to many customers on the first week. What I’d like to share is my testimony about tithing. It was my dad who really encouraged me to tithe and who reminded me about how important it is to give the first fruits of your labor to God. So on the first Sunday of our opening day, I gave all my sales to God. The following week, our sales doubled. It was really amazing.

Alex: Wow! That’s a great testimony!

Chingkee: I know. God is really amazing.

Alex: How have your parents been through the whole process?

Chingkee: Oh, very very supportive. My parents would come here almost everyday, especially my mom. She would work as the cashier before. And even my brother, Richmond would come to help out. I love it when my brother comes over because he has a lot of fans so my sales really go up. Haha.

chingkee te family 2

Alex: Wow, really?

Chingkee: Yeah. A lot of people say he looks like Xian Lim.

Alex: Oh, so your brother is your main marketing tool!

Chingkee: Haha. Yes! I would so love to keep him here. But he has to go back to Manila.

Alex: How has being a business owner changed you?

Chingkee: It made me more mature. I’m still very childish – my staff knows this. But I think, I’ve grown up a little. I’m a Marketing graduate but I think you’re better at it! (laughs)

Alex: But you have a really likeable personality. Everyone seems to like you immediately.

Chingkee: I’m a bit awkward around people I don’t know, actually. Chingkee Tea really forced me to come out of my shell.

chingkee tea cagayan de oro

Alex: How do you handle your staff?

Chingkee: I’m actually pretty lenient with them which is both a weakness and a strength. Many of my staff are the children of the workers we had before in our old family business. I’ve grown up with most of them because we all live in one compound. Most of my workers are related to each other. I’ve been very blessed with my staff. Without them, there would be no Chingkee Tea. That’s why we close early compared to other cafés. I don’t want my staff to go home so late. So on Mondays – Thursdays we close at 8PM. On Fridays and Saturdays, we close at 10PM.

Alex: What are your plans for Chingkee Tea? Are you planning to expand?

Chingkee: Yes, I am. A lot of people want to franchise Chingkee Tea but I’m still weighing the pros and cons, because it can be a headache. Right now Chingkee Tea has 2 branches: One near Corrales St. and one in Grand Central.

Alex: What’s your advice for people who want to start their own business?

Chingkee: First, find your purpose in life and then do it. I believe this business was given to me by God so I can help enhance the lives of other people, like my staff and my customers. I’ve heard many stories about people coming to Chingkee Tea, sad and lonely and their coming in here made them feel better. Some of my customers met and became friends here in Chingkee Tea. So it gives me a sense of fulfillment. Chingkee Tea is a testimony of God’s grace and how He has helped me find my life’s purpose.

Second, be passionate about what you are doing. If I weren’t passionate about this, I’d have given up long ago. Running a business is a huge headache and there’s always so much to do.

Third, surround yourself with the right people. I call them my pillars. God, family, friends and mentors.

alex zeta + chingkee te interview

 Chingkee Te & Alex Zeta (left to right)

Alex: Thank you Chingkee! I’ve learned so much from you today. Thank you for the time. Merry Christmas!

Chingkee: Thanks also Alex. It was my pleasure. Merry Christmas!

Interview with Young Entrepreneur Chingkee Te (Part 1)

cdo milk tea chingkee tea

This is Part 1 of a 2-part interview: Read on to Part 2 of Interview with Young Entrepreneur Chingkee Te HERE

It’s not everyday we get to meet a young, successful entrepreneur. At 24 years old, Chingkee Te is an inspiration to many (and to me too!). Fresh out of college, she established her first business at the age of twenty-one. And now, she is the proud owner of one of the most successful, homegrown, milk-tea brands in Cagayan de Oro City – Chingkee Tea.

I met Chingkee at Atlantis Gym a year ago. We became fast friends and would often indulge in long conservations in between Crossfit and lifting weights. It’s amazing how many friends I’ve made at the gym – and Chingkee is one of them. I’ve always liked to interview people about how they’ve “made it” and what their journey was like. So last December 13, 2014 (that’s right, this was done more than a year ago. Hehe), I scheduled an interview with my good friend Chingkee right here at Chingkee Tea.

Alex: Hi Chingkee! Thank you so much for agreeing to do an interview with me. I really appreciate it. Chingkee Tea is one of my favorite milk tea brands here in Cdo. It’s amazing how you now have a thriving business at such a young age. How did you get started?

chingkee teChingkee: Thank you Alex! It’s my pleasure. Regarding how I started, I didn’t really plan on being in business. But I couldn’t see myself as an employee either. So on the night after my graduation I felt a little nervous of what was to come. So I prayed about it. I asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” I couldn’t see myself working in a 9-5 job. I wanted to work at my own pace. So being an employee was out of the question. I just wanted to have a job that I was passionate about and where I could have time freedom. As I was praying, I felt God was telling me to open a business where I could display my love for art. So I first thought, I can open a café! But then I don’t drink coffee and there are already so many coffee shops around Manila.

Alex: So you were based in Manila then?

Chingkee:Yes. I was a fresh grad from De La Salle University where I took up Marketing. That was back in year 2011. I guess that’s the usual question of new graduates. Like, what am I going to do with my life?chingkee te + cdo milk tea

Alex: What did you think of opening next, if not a coffee shop?

Chingkee: I then considered opening a milk tea shop. But then, there were also so many milk tea shops in Manila already. At that time I had no plans of settling down in Cagayan de Oro because I was planning to be based in Manila.

Alex: Why Manila?

Chingkee: I studied there and my siblings are there. It just made sense at the time. Anyway after that, I thought about putting up a milk tea shop in Cagayan. At the time, there were no milk tea shops yet in Cdo. So I called my mom and told her, “I know what I want as my graduation gift…a business.”

Alex: What was your mom’s reaction to that?

Chingkee: My mom was really happy about it. At least with a business, I’d have something to do after graduation.

Alex: How many siblings do you have?

Chingkee: Three. I have an older brother and sister. My sister is 30-she’s happily married to a pastor with 3 kids. My brother is 25 and still single. They’re both based in Manila.

chingkee te family

Alex: So back to your graduation gift.

Chingkee: Yes, at first I thought that maybe my mom wasn’t serious about it. But I still did my research. At that time, I didn’t know anything about milk tea except that I liked drinking it. Then there was this one supplier from Taiwan who approached me. He sent me an email and offered to train me in Taiwan.

Alex: Where did you get that supplier?

Chingkee: I made a lot of inquiries online. So when the supplier emailed me, I thought about it long and hard. Because of course, it was a big investment. And the fee didn’t include yet my fare and accommodation. Just the training itself was already expensive. So I prayed again and told God, “Lord, if my dad is ok with this then perhaps it’s really your will.” Amazingly, my dad was willing to support me all the way. So in September, a few months after I graduated, I flew to Taiwan.

Alex: You’re so blessed to have a supportive family.

Chingkee: Yes I do. But it still wasn’t that easy. When I got back from Taiwan, I thought, I could start immediately. But it turned out that what I learned from college was very different from the real world. I was ready to begin but I didn’t know what to do. I had no experience on starting a business. I started to read books on how to start a business, but actually doing it was different.

chingkee tea milk tea 3

Photo from

Alex: Yes, I can relate. Making tea is easy once you’ve got the training. But running a business, that’s the hard part.

Chingkee: Exactly. Plus we had invested a lot of money already. The loan I got from my dad was getting bigger and bigger. Also around October 2011, two milk tea shops opened in Cdo – Kenko Naicha and Datsa. So I got a bit stressed because I really wanted to be the first to open. The thing was, there was still so much to do so we couldn’t open yet. Then I started to have doubts whether I should even push through with it. It’s a good thing my family and friends were very encouraging and supportive. My goal was to open before 2011 ended. But then came Sendong. So the opening had to be rescheduled again. This time we picked Feb 2012 – in time for Valentines. But then again, we got delayed because of construction. We got delayed lots of times before we finally got to open…

Want to know when Chingkee Tea opened? Read on at Interview with Young Entrepreneur Chingkee Te (Part 2)


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