Behind each and every story of success are lessons learned from untold failures.
This is the truth: nothing good is easy to get. This is the reality: the bigger the dream, the larger the sacrifice.
This, however, is not a sad story. Neither is this about the details on how stumbling blocks were turned into stepping stones each and every step of the way. This is about the core values that one company draws its inspiration from, takes its motivation from, and gets its dedication from.
In a chance interview, although it was more like a casual conversation while we were patiently waiting for our delayed plane to arrive at the departure area of the domestic airport, Wilbert Lee surprisingly accommodated questions upon questions upon questions.
Now this guy is not my friend. Neither is he my colleague. I have never met him in person before this fortunate encounter and have only seen his name and face in newspapers and magazines. I am, like him, a young businessman, but unlike him, I am still at the foot of the hill, so to speak, while he is already up there on top of the mountain, albeit relatively unknown probably because he has chosen not only to be simple but also to be silent. It did help, though, that we hail from the same province of Sorsogon. At least we had something in common, although not at that level where I can call him Wilbert only. He is, for me, still Wilbert Lee.
Anyway, I approached him for tips; on how to hit two birds with one stone, on how to hit two pigs with one bird, on how to grow wings and fly, and even how to do magic. What a revelation his secrets were. He told me that life, or business, was not about shortcuts. He explained to me that steps, no matter how small, were still steps, so the point was to just keep on looking forward and moving onward. He emphasized to me that there was no wrong way, for the experience of each and every mistake was necessary for me to hurdle each and every journey before I reach my final destination.
My most important takeaway, however, was when he passionately shared with me the core values of his company, and when he assured me that if I steadfastly stick to the core values of my own company, no matter how difficult it might be sometimes or most of the time, I would know what to do, and I could fly even without wings.
Commitment. Cooperation. Loyalty. Empathy. Legacy. These are the five core values of the LKY Group of Companies, the conglomerate headed by Wilbert Lee, that has now grown by unimaginable proportions since its humble beginnings of one small store. Presently, the fast-growing portfolio of the LKY Group includes real estate, construction, food, transport terminals, and hotels and resorts, among many others.
“The LKY Group of Companies is committed to create a comfortable life for every Filipino by providing nothing less than excellent and dedicated service. This is our primary covenant to the community that we have pledged to serve,” said Wilbert Lee.
“You may still succeed in business without this commitment, but you will never feel the satisfaction that comes with serving.”
According to Wilbert Lee, “If it is not comfortable, it cannot be called life. It can only be called existence. If it is not excellent and dedicated, it is not service. Its only aim is profit. You may still succeed in business without this commitment, but you will never feel the satisfaction that comes with serving.”
These first few words from Wilbert Lee woke me up even without coffee. I had to ask myself if this man was for real. Maybe he is. Perhaps he is not. But I felt how serious and how sincere Wilbert Lee was. He had to be real.
“The LKY Group of Companies believes in cooperation over competition as the way to accomplish the things that matter most in life. This is the principle behind the cooperative business paradigm that we practice towards our partners and other stakeholders in the sectors that we are involved in,” said Wilbert Lee.
“You may still succeed in business without this cooperation, but you will never have a good night’s sleep for fear of the proverbial thief in the night.”
According to Wilbert Lee, “There is absolutely no need to pull somebody down in order to push yourself up. The idea is to draw strength from each other so together you are both stronger. You may still succeed in business without this cooperation, but you will never have a good night’s sleep for fear of the proverbial thief in the night.”
This got me confused a bit. I assumed that Wilbert Lee had to burn a lot of bridges to cross to the other side. I discovered, on the contrary, that he built a lot of bridges not only for him to cross to the other side but, more importantly, so nobody gets left behind.
“The LKY Group of Companies values loyalty as the way to prove our gratitude and devotion. This is our way of giving thanks to our employees, creditors, suppliers, and all other co-workers to whom we shall ever be supportive of their concerns, endeavors and undertakings,” said Wilbert Lee.
“You may still succeed in business without this loyalty, but without happiness in the workplace and out of it, it will always be a lonely, empty, and meaningless success.”
According to Wilbert Lee, “A happy worker is a productive worker. A happy partner is a proactive partner. We would never have reached the heights that we have scaled, improbable as they were when we started down and small, without the indispensable contributions of all our employees, creditors, suppliers, and everybody else. We owe them something that can never be repaid, except maybe with gratitude, except perhaps with devotion, by making them happy. You may still succeed in business without this loyalty, but without happiness in the workplace and out of it, it will always be a lonely, empty, and meaningless success.”
At this point, I had to force myself to refrain from instantly applying for a job in the company of Wilbert Lee, whatever company among his many companies, just so I could work for him and with him.
“The LKY Group of Companies takes inspiration from our humble roots to give us a deeper understanding of the needs of all customers, our co-workers, and the community. This is what we will never forget: we started with good luck, and through hard work and meaningful relationships with all customers, our co-workers, and the community, we have evolved into the fast-growing conglomerate that we are today,” said Wilbert Lee.
“You may still succeed in business without this empathy, but you will be like a big ship in the wide ocean without a reliable anchor to make youstable and secure and without a dependable lighthouse to show you the way back home.”
According to Wilbert Lee, “We started with one small store. That one small store taught us to be sensitive and responsive to the needs and wants of our customers. That one small store taught us to be kind and generous to our co-workers composed of our employees, our creditors, and our suppliers. That one small store taught us to always find a way to give back to the community, to help those who are in need, and to spread the love every chance we get. You may still succeed in business without this empathy, but you will be like a big ship in the wide ocean without a reliable anchor to make you stable and secure and without a dependable lighthouse to show you the way back home.”
I do not have a store because my company is not in the retail sector. I am in the service sector, also called the tertiary sector. But I love this story about, and lessons learned from, the one small store. I also like the analogy of Wilbert Lee using the big ship, the anchor, and the lighthouse. I am just a small boat, but I hope to find stability and security, and I wish to find my way back home because, unfortunately, sometimes I get lost.
“The LKY Group of Companies aspires to preserve and promote a legacy of love for future generations. This is our family heirloom: love. We truly believe that love is the key to your better world,” said Wilbert Lee.
“You may still succeed in business without this legacy, but when a business does not leave a legacy, it can never be truly called successful.”
According to Wilbert Lee, “To love means to care. To care means to share. To share means to help. To help means to empower. To empower means to make a better world. Therefore, love is the key to your better world. This is what the LKY Group of Companies is all about. You may still succeed in business without this legacy, but when a business does not leave a legacy, it can never be truly called successful.”
Wow! This was all I was able to utter after Wilbert Lee opened his heart to let me see what was inside it. Now I no longer believe in magic, although I still believe in good luck. After all, this one small store called Good Luck Trading, now simply called Good Luck Commercial, was where the LKY Group of Companies began. Love wins, for sure.