On June 6, 2004, with nothing but a phone and a dream, Callbox opened in a dark corner of an internet cafe in La Paz, Iloilo — a thriving city in the Philippines — with one employee and no clients.
Ten years later, with over 500 employees serving over 1,000 international clients from five offices, persistence, ingenuity, and hard work, have now put Callbox on par with the industry name brands, and put Iloilo on the map as a global business hub alternative to Manila and Cebu City.
Wanting to learn the secrets behind the success of the company, I’ve caught up with Rom Agustin, CEO of the B2B multi-channel marketing firm. He has shared his advice on the importance of focusing on the business possibilities as well as believing in yourself.
Can you tell us a bit about how you started your career? What are some of your best moments in your professional life?
I started out as an oil and gas engineer and stayed in that industry for 10 years. Engineering is all about process; working in that environment kind of prepared me for my business career. It has shaped the way I think, the way I organize my problems and how I would approach them.
After that I tried to engage in different business ventures – from ISP to consulting; Callbox is my fourth business.
This year, we’ve celebrated our 10th anniversary and I can probably say that it’s the highlight of my career. It was the culmination of 10 years of hard work, a great moment of celebration and I’m glad everybody had a good time.
If you could advise your 20-year-old-self today, what would tell him?
I was lucky enough to have gone through a very fruitful career path; I worked for big companies and I’ve earned enough experience to get out and build my own. I really wouldn’t mind going through the same things, but if there’s some advice I could give to him, it would be to have fun, always go for an adventure. Don’t stress yourself too much with the little things. Travel more. And oh, invest in a lot of Apple stock – I think that would be an excellent advice, yes?
What has been the most valuable advice you’ve ever gotten when you were facing challenges in your career?
Somebody once told me not to focus too much on accumulating material things. They wear you down and take your mind off the more important things like taking care of yourself and your family. I tried to keep that in mind for the most of my life, and I’m proud to say I was able to live by it.
Also, I was told that in life, especially career-wise, everything is a learning process. So don’t ever stop learning.
What would you advise the millennial just starting with their career or aiming to take their careers to the next level?
My advice is to believe that anything is possible, and that you need to set a high goal. Assume that you’re better than everybody else; don’t be too humble.
Most millennials tend to think they’re not good enough and that they’re limited by their surroundings. With that kind of mentality, challenges can and will crush them to the ground.
Me, I didn’t come from much, and I think the reason I got very far is because right off the bat I believed that I could accomplish anything. That there’s nothing I couldn’t do. I could be the President of the United States if I wanted to.
Millennials should not muse on the things that hold them back. Nothing good will come out of brooding over what’s stopping them from doing what they’re supposed to do; rather, they should focus on the possibilities. A little bit of faith in yourself goes a long way.