Editor's note: With March as Women’s International Month, The Business Mentor invited a young and successful woman entrepreneur.
Caren Kate Cu is a licensed engineer turned entrepreneur. She is currently the owner of The Purple Maiden, a weight management and spa center; Purchase Manager or NMCCC, their family business, a Business Development Executive for LG-S7S and a Speaker and Trainer for iLearn Philippines.
She founded The Happyness Project, a non-government Volunteer organization focusing on feeding malnourished children in the country. She is also a Board of Director of JCI International - Perlas Pasay, a community service and leadership organization and Toastmasters International - El Presidente, a public speaking and leadership organization.
Author and her mother Shirley Cu
MANILA, Philippines - When people ask me, how can a woman succeed in a world dominated by men? I ask them back, what world are you talking about? I would joke that I know nothing of such world and give a hearty laugh.
Honestly though, I feel so lucky to grow up surrounded by strong women and very supportive and responsible men. I believe that I became who I am because of their influence. You see in my eyes, it was never a man’s world, rather it is a world filled with possibilities for both men and women.
Through the years I have met and been moved by exceptional women who taught me a lot about business and life. I would love to share these life lessons with you.
When I was young, my grandmother would always tell me, a girl with a dream becomes a woman of vision and visionaries always end up changing the world. I don’t really know if I can change the world, but I know that I can choose to do something to change my life.
My grandmother was an inspiration as I believe every woman should be. She was a single parent who raised her 5 children alone. She did everything that she could by opening different businesses with sheer hard work and determination. It was not easy being both a mother and father to her children, but she pulled it off. Now at 91, she still is bubbling with energy, passion and zeal.
From her, I learned about choice. That we may not have control over what happens to us, but we can choose how to react from those circumstances.
I remember a famous quote from my favorite TV series Madam Secretary – “I have never met a situation where I don’t have a choice in the matter.” I agree.
Things can go down the drain, everything may not work out as we hope them to be, but life is all about second and third and many more chances.
In my first job interview fresh out of college in an engineering firm, I was not accepted because the engineering manager told me that women end up not going to work because they get distracted by their boyfriends or husbands or children. I chose that moment to push me to aim bigger and dream higher. I failed so many times in business, but I always choose to get back up, learn and move on.
So choose, choose the kind of life that you wanted to live. It ceases to be a man’s world if you choose it to be your world.
I am the eldest of four children, and the sickliest, if not the only one who was. My mother with her double degree accepted the challenge of staying at home and took care of us, of me. I was asthmatic, with severe arrhythmia and a weak heart.
My father Arnel, when I was born, was a jeepney driver without a college degree. She helped my dad make ends meet by selling insurances, Tupperware, juice drinks, empanadas and her delicious cooking. Through it all, my mom has been the cheerful person that she is – always singing, always dancing, always ready to serve her newest recipe.
When my dad started his businesses, my mom was the bright light encouraging everyone. She believes that no problem can ever stay with a cheerful heart. My mom taught me about faith, and with faith comes the belief that life will work out fine. If you don’t have a problem, you’re not alive anymore, she would always say. So each day, I am thankful.
If my clients say no, if my business deals don’t push through, if I reach rock bottom, I understand that all of this are just part of life, and I can still do something about it because I am still alive. While I was working as field operation engineer, people would say, can a woman do it?
When I started my business, people were doubting, but I didn’t. I believed. If life give you lemons, make lemonade. Enjoy it while it lasts. As the song goes, there’s a rainbow always after the rain. Cheer up. Life is an amazing experience if you focus on the good stuff instead of your problems. Don’t wait for the light at the end of the tunnel, be the light yourself.
I think that one of women’s greatest strength is compassion. My business and life mentors, Gina Paculaba reminds me every day to be a Force for Good. I am blessed of have her show me that success in life is all about having the heart to help people.
Gina used to be so shy that she can’t even talk to anyone let alone speak in front, but her heart to help moved her to go out of her comfort zone, succeed in business and help other people succeed. Now, she inspires thousands of people whenever she speaks here and abroad.
I remember a quote from Marie Forleo, “Never start a business just to make money, start a business to make a difference.”
When we founded The Happyness Project, it was because we wanted to help malnourished children.
When I joined JCI Perlas Pasay – a leadership and service community, it is because I wanted to create an impact to my community.
When I started my business, it was because I wanted to help people live quality lives so that they can spend more and longer times with the ones they love. Have the compassion to help, and you will realize your life’s purpose. Being in business taught me to care more, love more and give more.
My journey in becoming an entrepreneur was not always easy, but it was sure worth it. Whenever I encounter a downside, I would always remember these women who shaped me and is still helping me to become that kind of woman that my God would be proud of.
I don’t know what you dream of, but I do believe that one can never be successful without choosing and deciding to be successful. The path to your dreams may have challenges and failures and pain, but if you go through them cheerfully knowing in your heart that those things shall pass, it will be a worthwhile journey.
Lastly, aim to leave this world a better place by being a contribution. The world needs more women to shine their light in this world. One, ten or a hundred is not enough. We need more.
So to all the women out there, I would like to share this quote: “Define success on your own terms, achieve it with your own rules and build a life you’re proud to live.”
2015 is your year. Live it well. Dream high. Take action and see you in all the beaches of the world.
For questions and more information, you may contact Armando "Butz" Bartolome by email: [email protected] or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/philfranguru). His website is www.gmb.com.ph