Quit early and often – a career advice


Prof. Deepak Malhotra had this interesting advice to MBA graduates of the Harvard Business School in 2012:
“Learn to quit early and often”.
Looking back now to my own life, this is what I have done when I was in my 20s and 30s. And even during college before that.
I was a freshman student at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas when badminton became more attractive to me than scholarly activities. I got 5s in math and sciences for two semesters in a row (with high grades in English and social sciences hehehe).
I simply quit UP and went home to Roxas city to pursue a commerce degree at the Colegio de la Purisima Concepcion.
Right after graduation, I got hired in the Development Bank of the Philippines and rose quickly to the position of credit investigator. But then it was the 1980s — the glory years of Philippine journalism — and I became attracted to newspaper work.
Even while I was working for DBP in Iloilo City, I wrote for Asiaweek, Business Day and Agence France Presse. I became unhappy in the bank despite its stability as a job and dove into the shark-infested waters of media work.
That decision horrified a lot of people in my family.
We founded The Daily Times along with Mark Villalon, Limuel Celebria, Sanny Rico, Pert Toga in 1988. Those were exciting times. The late Ivan P. Suansing was to join the paper as our top reporter. The honeymoon ended in 1991 when disagreements with management made work unpleasant. So I quit as editor in chief and went into radio. I was one of the original broadcasters of DYOK 720 (now known as@aksyonradyoiloilo). I also put up a weekly newspaper along with Arturo Jimenez and Ben Palma and the late Florendo Besana (who were columnists of The Daily Times).
Although it was my first time on radio, I quickly established a niche in the local radio audience and DYOK gave Bombo Iloilo Dyfm a run for its money. That work was short-lived, however. The broadcast personnel of the station clashed with management, and I didn’t like what was happening. I quit.
I spent two years in the U.S. working with an American newspaper. When I came back in 1997, the election fever was building up, and I got recruited to work for Boboy Syjuco. Syjuco won in the May 1998 polls and made me his chief of staff. Our relationship, however, turned sour towards the end of his first term because of the corruption he had started to embrace. In June 2001, a month after he won his re-election, I quit yet again.
I never realized this kind of career pattern would be consistent with the ideas of a Harvard Professor on how to rise the ladder quickly. True enough, by the time I was 42 years old, I was already Provincial Administrator of Iloilo.
But it’s not just about quitting, Professor Malhotra emphasized.
“You don’t quit because what you are doing is difficult,” he said. “You quit because your work sucks.” In short, he encourages young professionals to ponder upon the kind of work they are doing. Are they happy in their work? Are they finding fulfillment in what they are doing?
Right now, I am most happy with the work I’m doing. I write a lot. I read a lot. I study a lot. I exercise regularly. I can devote more time to helping the community. I am better equipped to pursue a journalistic career to expose corruption.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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