Category Archives: Career Development

100 Moments of Happiness Project

Image Source: Google Images
Image Source: Google Images

Last week during my grammar and writing class, I invited a couple of my students, Fley and Jerome, to join me, the teachers, and other students in celebrating the birthday of Liz, one of the teachers of our school, the American Institute for English Proficiency. In normal Filipino fashion, Jerome first rejected the invitation with the typical Filipino excuse: he’s busy. Fley chimed in with the same reason: she’s busy too.

In reality, they didn’t mean that they were busy. What they really meant was that they had other plans already. Jerome had a date to go to Something Fishy, a buffet restaurant in Eastwood where I live, and he wanted to try the Php 199 breakfast buffet. Fley already planned a badminton game with her friends, and this would be their third week in a row, and she couldn’t miss it. Therefore, what they truly meant was that they had other priorities. I proceeded to teach them that being busy and having other priorities were completely two different terms.

I tried convincing them to prioritize Liz’s birthday, but I was unable to. I told Jerome that he could always go to the buffet anytime, and I told Fley that she could always play badminton on the weekends with her friends, but Liz’s birthday happens only once a year. I know that these two students are also dealing with confidence issues, so I told them coming out with us for the night would be a nice change, and it would definitely help boost their confidence. However, I could not manage to convince them.

In one final attempt, I told them that being happy was sometimes doing something out of one’s comfort zone. Sometimes, we have to do activities that we wouldn’t normally do to get us out of routine. I also mentioned to them that we always need to constantly challenge ourselves. I gave them examples of how I had been so comfortable with being a teacher and co-founder of the American Institute, but now, I was forming a youth empowerment group with four other Filipino entrepreneurs and community leaders. Still, I could not manage to convince them.

One great thing that came out of our conversation, though, is one writing assignment. As we started talking about being happy, I mentioned to them that I had seen on my Facebook news feed about the Happiness Project. As a part of the class, we would write, instead of 100 days of Happiness, 100 moments of happiness, to put our own take on it. We don’t need to write daily for 100 days; we just need to write about 100 moments. Why do this? One, it will help my students develop a writing habit. Two, it would help them be happier by focusing on the positive moments they encounter each time. To do this assignment, they simply need to write at least 300 words or more about the their happy moments, and they could include one to as many moments they want in a single blog post. Fley will be using her own blog, and Jerome will be writing his happy moments on the American Institute’s blog, The Five Elements.  Next, make sure to use the hashtag, #100MomentsofHappiness whenever posting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

We are hoping as well that others would follow suit.  If you would like to participate, you may simply do so by posting your name and your blog in the comment section below.  If you do not have a blog, you can get an account at The Five Elements.  Simply let me know in the comment section below.  You don’t have to blog about it as well; you can also just post on Facebook.

I have already started it on Facebook:



Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Don'tSweattheSmallStuffCarlsonIn our last Christmas party at my company, the American Institute for English Proficiency, I was in charge of buying the gifts for our games and giveaways.  As co-founder, general manager, and teacher, I prefer buying gifts that would inspire our students, and I therefore headed to the bookstore to buy books as our prizes for the winners of our Christmas games.  One book caught my eye in particular, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.  I bought several other books that have inspired me throughout the years, but I was more interested in this book by Carlson because I had never read it before, and it contained information that was very similar to what I was teaching in my classes.

We played the games during our Christmas party, and lo and behold, most of our students actually wanted this book as their prize.  However, I kept a copy for myself, and I have begun reading it.  I have only leafed through a few pages (since each chapter is about a page and half long only), and I must say, I am quite inspired already.  As the book suggests, it is a compilation of life advice and how we should stop letting the small things in our life from driving us crazy and thereby getting the best of us.  It is about letting go.  It is about acceptance.  It is about peace of mind.

In this first chapter, aptly entitled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” as well, I have learned that to keep everything in order, to achieve a zen-like lifestyle, that peace of mind we all so want, we need to remember two rules in life: 1) Don’t sweat the small stuff, and 2) Everything is all small stuff.

It doesn’t mean that we should stop taking life seriously.  What it simply tells us is that there are things in life that we sometimes blow out of proportion, when really, things are still under control.  Sometimes, we just over-analyze when we should just simplify, we get angry when should just forgive, we get stressed when we should just go with the flow.  As a result, we let life get the best of us, and we become easily distracted and discombobulated instead of getting a better perspective so that we can move on doing the things we should be focusing on.

I am going to take this mantra with me this 2015.  In fact, I have been instilling this in my mind for the past few days, and I must say, I am doing more “perceiving” than “reacting.”  This means that instead of quickly reacting with emotions, I am perceiving my situations more with a sense of order and a sense of peace.  I have hundreds more chapters to go, with each chapter relating to personal growth, business, and more.  I can’t wait to share the rest of the book to my friends, colleagues, and students.  It’s going to be a very different new year for me.  I embrace 2015.

The Three C’s in Practicing for Success

The Three C’s in Practicing for Success
by Christian Quadra

PracticeWhen do we feel like giving up on something we love to do just because we are not good at it?  Do we move on to the next one because we feel like it’s not meant for us?  There comes a time where we do something that we like and then eventually give up because we feel that we lack the talent to do it.  Whether it’s painting, dancing, and cooking, we can master these things through constant and deliberate practice.

For most of us, we can focus on one hobby and be great at it because we are motivated to practice. In my case, I have been playing the guitar since 2005, and a lot of my friends and relatives give me positive remarks about my playing, so I decided to keep on practicing and become great at playing the guitar, a new-found skill I used to serenade people.  There is a saying that goes, “If you fail to practice your art, it will soon disappear.”  It means that when we don’t practice our talents or passion, we forget how to do it, and we lose our progress and start to become bad at it.  When I stopped playing the guitar because of my studies, for example, I slowly forgot how to play it, but since I am practicing again, I am becoming great again.  Therefore, I’d like to share the three C’s in practice that would make us achieve our desired results.

1.  CONSISTENCY is when you are able to practice gradually and continually.  It is making sure that you follow through at the times you set aside to practice.  It is not practice when you have the time; you must make the time.  No excuses.  If you keep on practicing, you will eventually become one of the greatest.  A lot of successful persons are great at their job because they practiced consistently.  Michael Jordan, wasn’t always a great basketball player since he wasn’t even part of the high school varsity team and was not a top player in college, but through consistent practice, he eventually became one of the greatest basketball players ever.  The best athletes, doctors, lawyers, actors, and managers cannot be where they are without consistency in practice.

Practice2One of the things I have mastered is cooking Korean fried chicken, which can rival Bon Chon’s; it is a combination of sweet and tangy flavors, but with a dash of salty spice.  In every family social gathering, whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary, everyone always asks for my specialty.  It took me around 30 trials before I could perfect it, and it was my consistent trials or practice that led me to my own Korean fried chicken concoction.  I was so obsessed about mastering that I actually tried cooking at least twice a week, and before I knew it, I was serving it at the many big family events.

2. CONFIDENCE.  We look up to the people who are successful in their chosen career or hobby, but when it comes to ourselves, we move from hobby to hobby when we feel that we are not good at them.  We tend to lose confidence in ourselves when things get difficult, and it is easier to move on to something else.  Instead of giving up, we must do the opposite and become more confident than ever so that we can continue to gain improvement.  It is at the toughest moment where we need our confidence the most.  Lacking confidence would just make you quit practicing, and you eventually just quit altogether.

PracticeConfidenceI remember back in 2012, I was asked to perform at a birthday party with my band.  I was really nervous because I wasn’t comfortable yet playing in front of an audience, and all of the attention was directed to us.  It made me forget the chords, and I also forgot some of the lyrics.  It was so embarrassing that I almost wanted to stop performing in public, but my close friends heard me singing and encouraged me to sing for them.  Since I was confident about my singing, I didn’t mind performing for them.  I relied on this confidence to get me to practice again.  Instead of feeling down and quitting the band, I regained my confidence and continued to practice.

3.  CHALLENGE.  Practice doesn’t have to be constrained around hobbies and sports.  Practice can also be an important aspect of improving our  career and studies.  Ask yourselves, why do we fail at things that should be easy for us?   It is because we lack practice.  We never learn from our mistakes, and we never aim high.  We should always set to challenge ourselves, or aim for the the biggest prize.  Instead of settling for less, we should settle for the best.  There’s this quote that goes, ” Always aim for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  It means that when you challenge yourself with high expectations, even if you don’t reach it, you will still reach something high, like the stars.  It is when you challenge yourself that you will continue to practice until you accomplish that challenge.

PracticeChallengeMy dream is to become a lawyer, to finish law school with flying colors and with honors.  So how can I do that?  From learning through experience.  During my college years, I was always laid back, not studying, and never giving 100 % effort, but now that I have enrolled in law school, I challenged my self to improve my skills.  For example, I look for seminars that would improve my personality, and I enrolled at the American Institute For English Proficiency (AIEP) to improve my writing skills, critical writing, and public speaking. One of the challenges that my mentor gave me was to write more, since the more I write, the more I will have the chance to see my strengths and weaknesses as a writer.  Instead of complaining about the amount of writing I would have to do, I took it on as a challenge, which in turn, made me practice more and more.

In times where we feel rusty and demotivated because of our performance, always remember that constant and deliberate practice will get you out of that rut you’re in. Just because we know how to do something doesn’t mean we should stop.  Instead, keep sharpening your tools.  Remember the three C’s to improve your practice: consistency, confidence, and challenge.  There will be times when people doubt your skill, but because of practice, you can overcome these doubts and become confident in whatever you decide to do. We value character and personality, and it is the person who chooses to keep improving through practice who will ultimately become successful.  I recommend that when we feel powerless, and we feel like we don’t have the skill or God-given talent, do something about it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christian is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Quezon City.  He is on his way to becoming one of the best lawyers of the Philippines.

Finding Inspiration

Christian is a student at American Institute for English Proficiency, and he is planning to become an attorney.  Visit AIEP at
Christian is a student at American Institute for English Proficiency, and he is planning to become an attorney. Visit AIEP at

Finding Inspiration
by Christian Quadra and Chris Delacruz

When do you usually feel like life is so hard that all you want to do is just throw in the towel and give up?  Does it get harder when you don’t know what to do?  There comes a time in our life when things get so difficult that we lose our sense of direction.  Whether it’s because of work, family, relationship, or even money, as in most cases, we tend to lose sight of our goals, and all we have is the feeling of doubt and confusion.  For most of us, we can get out of a rut and continue to pursue our life-long dreams.  In my case, I have been looking for a job for the past six months, and they have all rejected me.  It has gotten to the point where I was no longer motivated, and all I wanted to do was stay at home.  There is a proverb that goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”  It means that when we have nothing to do, we become filled with negativity, and we continue to lose that inspiration.  Fortunately for me, I am starting to find my way back because I have seen signs of inspiration.  Now, I would like to share these signs of inspiration with you so that you can get back on track towards your dreams.

  1. Source: Google Images
    Source: Google Images

    We really do take nature for granted sometimes.  Those who live in the city are so busy living the corporate life in a concrete jungle that traffic, pollution, nice, and congestion have become the norm, and they have been desensitized to these things.  Once or twice a year, we remember to commune with nature because we have had it, and we were always busy.  Little did we know that nature can help inspire us in so many ways.  Nature is beauty.  And what is beautiful is inspiring.  Get out of the city as much as you can.For me, I love going to the beach, and Batangas is one of the closest place to go to.  If you can, go to Pagudpud, Palawan, Boracay, Cebu, or  Calaguas.  The more “virgin” the beach, the better.  When I am at the beach, I am in awe because of it’s beauty: the azure mountains in the backdrop, the white fine sand, the crystal clear water, and the clear blue sky.  The sunrise and the sunset are definitely my special moments because it is quiet, and I feel positive and peaceful.  When I get back to the city, I am inspired to go at it again.

  2. Source: Google Images
    Source: Google Images

    Sometimes, we lose inspiration because we are stuck with the old.  In Ilocos, where my English mentor is from, he told me that when he goes there, he would always ask everyone, “how’s  everything?”  They would always answer with, “Kastoy latta,” which means, “It’s the same.”  This kind of mentality that the people have makes it an uninspiring one because everything is always the same.  Nothing ever changes.  I would highly recommend that you find something new because when it’s new, there is a certain kind of excitement and enthusiasm that goes with it.  Have a new hobby, a new set of clothes, and new friends.  You can even have your mind and body renewed.In my case, I did something new, and it completely inspired me.  I got a new bike as a gift, and for the first time in my adult life, I felt like a kid again as I took my bike for a spin around the neighborhood.  When you feel like a kid, you get more energy, and this energy converts into excitement and enthusiasm, which are fuel for your inspiration.  I also took up a new class, where I am developing my English and communication skills.  Yes, I had these classes before, but this is new again for me because I am learning new things, such as advanced grammar, public speaking, and even critical thinking.  With new activities, I have reinvigorated my passion for learning and revived my child-like qualities, both of which give me a renewed energy for me to continue pursuing goals.  As for you, you may want to pick up a new hobby, go to the gym, or even meet new friends.

  3. youth-bible-studyAnd if you can’t do it alone, find someone who can help to inspire you.  Sometimes, our pride gets the best of us, and we would rather keep the problem to ourselves until we find our own ways of solving them.  This can be unhealthy or even dangerous to your progress because you are bottling things up until it explodes.  No man is an island, as they say, and so sharing your difficulty with others can be a great way to find solutions to your lack of inspiration or lack of motivation.  There are people out there who are willing to help out such as your friends and family.I had a support group.  Every Friday night, we would all gather and discuss the gospel and how it affects our lives.  We reflect on this, and we share our life stories so that the other members of the group can relate, and sometimes, even give the most creative solutions.  Every time I was with them, I felt so inspired, especially when Lani shared her story about her medical school plans.  To make a long story short, Lani struggled throughout her childhood and even into adulthood, but she managed to be a successful doctor.  Support groups, even like a bible study group, can truly inspire you with their stories of hardships and success.

When we lose hope, when the candle burns out, it is difficult to have that spark once again.  We begin to burn out ourselves, and we realize that it is so much harder to get back on track.  However, there are sources of inspiration where we can get back on track again.  Whether it’s nature, in new things, or in support group, there is always a way back.  The road to success isn’t an easy one, but it can surely be an amazing journey if we know how to find inspiration.  We value success, and it is only when we focus on our self, to improve, to strive, and to pursue that we can reach our dreams.  I recommend that when the going gets tough, relax because the inspirations could just be right in front of your eyes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christian is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency where he is focusing on critical writing, advanced grammar, and public speaking.

Job Interview Strategy: What is your Weakness?

Ralph is studying at The American Institute to practice his English and improve his communication skills to become a flight attendant.
Ralph is studying at The American Institute to practice his English and improve his communication skills to become a flight attendant.

Almost every job interviewer, regardless of industry, salary, or country asks the question, what is your weakness?  Yet, many recent graduates, and even seasoned professionals do not know how to answer this question.  Do you just tell them your weakness?  Of course not.  You don’t want the interviewer to know that you are weak.  You want them to know that you have strengths that would match the position they have to fill.

Here are some strategies on how to answer this question:

  1. Discuss non-essential skills or attributes.  For example, when you work in an airline industry, time management and customer service are very essential skills.  So, you do not want to tell the interviewer that these are your weaknesses.  Focus instead a skill that is not quite necessary in becoming a flight attendant, such as being funny.  You do not have to be a comedian to become a flight attendant.  You can tell the interviewer that you are only funny to your closes friends, but to strangers, you seem to be more on the serious side until they get to know you better.
  2. Discuss the skills you have improved.  For example, tell the interviewer that you once didn’t communicate very well in English.  Now, after taking courses at the American Institute for English Proficiency, talking to other professionals, and communicating with all kinds of individuals, you have not improved only your English, but also your communication skills in general.  The interviewer wants to know that even if you had a weakness, you challenged yourself and developed your skills.
  3. Another strategy is to turn the negative into positive.  For example, perhaps you can say that you were a perfectionist, which led you to spend too much time on a project.  However, you have learned to work faster, work harder, and work smarter so that you can get the task done correctly sooner than later.  Let the interviewer know that you are not a perfect person, but because you can now work more efficiently and more effectively, your task can be completed right away.  Give examples, like when you were a basketball player, you were such a perfectionist that sometimes, you went home late because you kept practicing.  Tell the interviewer that in order for you to meet your goal of being a starter, you took advice from and had skills practice with your coach and the team captain rather than practicing on your own over and over again.

As they say, practice makes perfect.  Now, I have to keep reading this over and over so that it becomes more natural when I say it.  Good luck to those who are also interviewing.  If you would like to improve your English and communication skills to prepare yourself for a certain career, like Ralph who wants to become a flight attendant, you may visit us at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Makati or Quezon City.