Businessman Christopher Quimbo has been catching up on so much work since his grand wedding with “Queen of Cosplay” Alodia Gosiengfiao on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.
It’s been more hectic than usual in the past few days, but he doesn’t mind. After all, just like anyone who loves their job, the entrepreneur said he doesn’t have an on-and-off switch when it comes to work. “It’s always on,” he told PhilSTAR L!fe.
Christopher has been working as the president and general manager of Calabria Company Limited since 2013. It’s the private firm behind Novellino Wines, which was launched by his dad back in 1999. “My title was really COO, but I was so tired of the joke that ‘COO’ stands for ‘Child of Owner.’ I’ve heard it a thousand times,” he said with a laugh.
In their family business, he’s responsible for “basically everything”—from finance to production, to sales and marketing, and beyond. With such a big role, it’s a given that he has to work even on his Off Days. This is where the importance of having purpose at work and in life comes in. “It should matter. If you work hard for something you don’t care about, you get stressed. But if you work hard for something you care about, then it’s called passion,” he said.
It's interesting to note that for Christopher, doing business is not just about making money—in fact, he thinks of it as the “smallest reason for existing as an organization.” At the end of the day, he believes it’s about being able to promote the local industry, providing employment opportunities, and making the lives of other people better.
With mentors like the Sys, Gokongweis, and Villars as well as accolades like the ASEAN Business Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the Philippines (2015) under his belt, how does this wise entrepreneur spend his weekends? He talks about that and more in our conversation below.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s very difficult to ask an entrepreneur, “What do you do on a daily basis?” because it really depends on what the needs are of the business, especially at the highest position. So, of course, I have to do the basic things—I have to check my emails and keep the core business going, but I think what really moves the business are the 90-day projects we assign to each and every individual. It really depends on what me and my team identify are those projects for the business and then we should be working on those and giving updates on a weekly basis every time we meet with them.
Do you wake up early?
No matter what, I wake up really early. I naturally wake up really early no matter what time I go to bed. I’m always up at 6 or 7. You can ask Alodia, she gets annoyed because I’m already reading the news or watching the news. You know Alodia, it’s so ironic. We’re watching an action-packed movie, super loud bass, she falls asleep within the first 30 minutes. But God forbid, I wake up at 6 a.m. and watch the news on my phone at the lowest volume setting possible, and then I just hear these moans of complaints. It’s too noisy for her.
Do you jump into work right away?
I don’t think you should jump into work right away. I read the news first, have quiet time, I think that’s really important. I meditate. For me, it’s more of just like setting an objective for the day. What’s my plan for the day? What do I want to achieve? I also start with gratefulness that I have another day on this planet. I know that sounds really cheesy and preachy, but it’s nice to smell the roses once in a while.
Tell us about your days off. What do you do on weekends, and when do they start and end?
Same as most people, Friday night. I try not to work on Saturdays, but the production team is working on Saturdays and there are times I have to go in on Saturdays. I don’t think I have days off. If I do have days off, the problem is it means I’d have more catching up to do.
I don’t really identify whether I’m working or not working because even when I’m out doing something I love that is completely unrelated to the business, there’s probably some valuable lesson in that, which I can maybe apply to my vision to the business or to my values, for what I believe the company should be. On and off, it’s really not. I think it’s always on and I think it’s important to really be efficient with time by working smart.
That makes sense, but that could lead to burnout, too. Have you ever experienced that?
Yeah, you absolutely can burn out because let’s be honest: Sometimes, even mundane tasks that are necessary can really build up. I always say every time I’ve gotten close to feeling like burning out, I make it a point to take a step back and then take some time for myself and do other things that I love—golf, boxing, hiking, adventures. I shut the world out. Sometimes, you won’t get the highest output and the quality of work you do if you’re not in the right place psychologically, mentally, even spiritually. I think it’s important for one, if they’re feeling that way, to step back and gain a better perspective because it matters, the perspective you have. It’s important for you to have a certain purpose in what you’re doing. It should matter. If you work hard for something you don’t care about, you get stressed. But if you work hard for something you care about, then it’s called passion. In both cases, you’re working hard. But if you’re working hard doing something you love, it wouldn’t be that bad.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment as a businessman so far?
Every year, we’re always setting targets for what we want to achieve for the company. We have a clear vision for where we want to be 10 years from now. Just the fact that we’re able to be on track year after year makes me happy. But the biggest accolade of all is just more so that we’re fulfilling our purpose as a company which is to help Filipinos celebrate and fulfill aspirations. I shouldn’t be attached to one person or me, I’m just really proud of what my team and the company have done.
It's really important to find your “why” and to keep going back to it, and that “why” should not just be about the money.
If people’s objective of a business is to make money, then they’re really not going to succeed. Not sure if you’re familiar with Simon Sinek, but I saw something recently that really resonated with me. He said that money is like fuel and the business is like a vehicle. The purpose of a vehicle is not to buy more fuel. If your purpose is just to buy more fuel, then your business isn’t actually gonna go anywhere. The purpose of a business is to take you to a destination. I think that making money is the smallest reason for existing as an organization.
What’s your advice for those who want to start a business someday?
If you have a really good idea, you’re willing to work extremely hard on that—because it’s not gonna be easy work—and you don’t see results right away, you have to have the idea of delayed gratification. It might take years for you to see the actual upside of what you’re creating. I think a lot of people will quit too early when things are not going their way. I think that to be successful in business, you have to be relentlessly persistent and keep pushing and keep pushing even when things are difficult in the short term. This means you also have to sacrifice a lot when you won’t be having the comforts of what you think you deserve for how good an idea you have. If you have to sleep on the floor of the office, you sleep on the floor of the office, but you work hard because you believe in the purpose of your company. I think it’s grit and then that idea of delayed gratification.