19 January 2016

A Discussion With. Mike Advincula

Interview by Sara Martinez & photos by Marvin Conanan

In this day and age, more people work to make a living out of doing a variety of things, rather than specializing in just one. Gone are the days when you would hear, “I’m a blank” or “I work for blank,” nowadays it would go like, “I’m a blank slash blank slash blank” – Enter the era of slashers, who take on multiple roles and responsibilities, and spread their careers across multiple areas. As admirable as that may sound, not all become experts in their chosen field as some slashers end up being a “jack of all trades, master of none,” while only a chosen few can be considered as renaissance men and women. 

A renaissance man, by definition, is a person whose skillfulness spans a wide range of fields. He is proficient and knowledgeable about many things, and excels in many areas of expertise. While his interests branch to a number of different things, his curiosity is aroused by many topics, which lead him to explore more and go deeper into his own progress. A financial consultant, an art dealer, a swim coach, and an entrepreneur – Mike Advincula is a modern-day renaissance man. Mike is a man with many talents and skills, and not only is he adept academically, but athletically and socially, as well. “A man that can do all things if he will,” as they say, so Mike aims to do more and be more as he plans for his future endeavors. Know more about Mike, and how he constantly improves himself and the world around him through our conversation below.

Can you share with us what it is that you do?
For starters, everything I do now is something that I’m passionate about. First would be financial consulting; I really admire people who take care of their finances, and I want to help those that do not know how. Second would be art; I more or less deal, sell, and trade art pieces. This is because of family influence. I grew up with uncles and aunts who collect art, and I also have friends who are artists. Third would be swim coaching; I was part of the varsity team back in college, and represented the Philippines for water polo. I want to help students improve their swim technique and over-all fitness. Last and not the least would be business, specifically start-up businesses.

None of what you are doing is of the same field, how is it like to work four different occupations?
It's definitely not a boring. I'm the type of person that gets bored easily. So it’s good, but it requires a lot of time management – I dedicate a certain time of the day for a specific task. Lunch and dinnertime is high time for financial consulting, while early morning and afternoon is for swim coaching. Art comes late at night, then whenever I have free time, that’s when I take care of the businesses. Everything that I do compliment each other. It all relies on a huge network. I get to meet different people with the things I do, so with that I build and expand my network.

Why did you choose to go towards this direction, instead of going corporate and just specializing in one field?
Definitely the quarter-life crisis. I had a really great time in college, I really enjoyed my college life. Aside from studying, meeting people and going out, I actually had the flexibility to choose my schedule. Now that was lost once I started working corporate -- there's a given schedule, at the same time in that schedule, I'm only doing one thing. So imagine if that was the case back in college, you're given an 8-hour class with a one-hour lunch break, and all that for one subject. I was losing my mind. After one year, I couldn't do it anymore. I had to mix it up. I had to relive my college days where everything was so fun, everything was so active. And at the same time, once you hold your time, you can do other things aside from work.

What led you to pursue this kind of career?
To start with, I don't like idle time. I have to be productive every hour of the day. Once I feel that I'm idle, that's already opportunity loss. I used to do corporate finance for PAL, now I left PAL because in the 8 hours that I work in a day, no matter how hard I work, the return will always be the same at the end of each month – This is not only in terms of salary, but in recognition as well. Now, with whatever I do, it reflects my hard work, and I see the return first hand.

Would you recommend this kind of set-up to other people?
Well, first and foremost, you have to know that getting into this is a huge risk. We were raised to think that after we graduate, we work for a company where there’s instant security and you're set for life. Now, shying away from that way of thinking is a huge risk; there is no assurance that everything you do, no matter how much you love it and how passionate you are, would get you money out of doing it. But once you do this, I think that's where you get your self-worth, at the same time a sense of accomplishment. I highly recommend this type of lifestyle to people who are really passionate about what they want to do, at the same time, who are really willing to work hard because as I've said in terms of business, every hour lost is money lost. You might miss an opportunity to land a big deal, to meet an important person, and you might miss an opportunity to actually make something out of your business. So, you always have to be active.

What tip would you give to those who are exploring the idea of pursuing this type of career?
The tip I want to give to whoever wants to pursue this type of career is, yes you have control over your schedule, but here's the thing when it comes to very flexible schedule, you need to have a lot of discipline. That is the problem with people who have an abundance of time. So in my case, once I make my schedule for the week, I stick to it and once something shifts, I really have to adjust everything in order for me to meet the demands for the week.

Can you say that this is a better option to go about one's career?
It’s really hard for me to say. I consider myself lucky because all of the things that I’m doing are growing. On the other side of the spectrum, who knows, maybe if I did stick with corporate, I could have been promoted. But I don’t like to compare myself to other people, it’s really hard to tell, because in the end it really depends where you’re happy. I have friends who have been in corporate since after college, and they seem happier than me. So I really can’t compare, to each his own. All I can say is, with everything I’m doing, I’m happy.

Is it better now that there’s a choice as compared to before when you automatically go corporate? Opportunities are now presenting themselves here and there, can you say that it is better to live and work in the now?
Given that statement, it is actually easier now to do whatever I’m doing. And I think this is because of technology. Before if you wanted a product out there in the world, you have to stick to the more traditional marketing tools. Unlike now where there is social media that could definitely help you out – You have Facebook to connect you to people, Instagram to post pictures of whatever you’re doing to attract attention. So yes, if ever you’re going to pursue a passion project, the best time is definitely now.

You mentioned earlier that you have more time for other things, how has your lifestyle changed since you shifted from corporate to being this modern-day renaissance man?
Definitely my lifestyle improved. I managed to allocate more time for everything, unlike before when the boss says overtime, you have to pass on other things. But now that I have control over my schedule, I have full control over my life. Yes, I do a lot but just as long as you discipline yourself and stick to your own schedule, your lifestyle would definitely improve.

With everything you’re doing, what do you want to achieve?
I see it by year. For me, in 2013 and 2014, that was planning out what I wanted to achieve. 2014 was planting the seeds, and 2015 was growing the seeds. Now 2016 onwards is when I want to reap the fruits of my hard work. With all of the businesses I’m taking care of, I just want to see the returns this year. Then honestly, I feel that I still have room for more businesses, so I can plant another seed something else.

So, that is your plan for the future – to plant more seeds?
Yes, that is my plan for the future. I plan to open up more businesses that would, just like now, compliment each other.

What inspires you to pursue all those things?
In the end, well it’s pretty ironic, but my family inspires me to do all these things. Ironic, why? Because at first, they didn’t like my decision to leave corporate. They really could not understand why I had to leave that security, why I had to leave my position in corporate, but what I tried to explain to them is the things I’m going to do are all for them. When it comes to business, the harder you work, the higher the return. I want to provide them with everything that I could provide – be it time, financial help, emotional help. I get to spend more time with them, I get higher returns, and I get to do what I love while being able to provide for them.

How do you see yourself 3, 5 or even 10 years from now?
If I do things correctly, in 3-5 years from now, The Office Project would branch out, Streamline would have a bigger clientele, and in terms of financial consulting, I plan to put up my own financial consulting office with the help of other financial experts.

What is your end goal?
With whatever I do, I always tell my friends because I want them to be as happy as I am. So, whenever I have a friend that has a new business venture, I give full support. In the end, my goal really is to be a good teacher by leading by example and practicing what I preach.


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