The fear of failure is something we can all relate to. It is the one thing that can stop us from succeeding in life.  Everyone, at some point in his or her career, has experienced it. I, for one, have had my fears.

I experienced a career high with 12 years in a male-dominated, high profile, competitive automotive industry. I served in various capacities with the last one being COO of Nissan’s Universal Motors Corporation.

During my term, sales for both my company and the industry were surpassed each year. I was the first female to be elected as president in the history of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Phils. (CAMPI). I was elected for seven consecutive years with peers hailing from different countries and backgrounds, representing the top global automotive brands.  

As a group, we at CAMPI launched successful campaigns against the most daunting adversaries on the issue of rampant smuggling. Most notably, winning a Supreme Court decision that rendered illegal the importation of used cars that turned our country into a dumping site.

 

I was recognized as one of Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service, an honor given by the highest official of the land, the president of the Philippines.

A few years later, I was offered to join the current administration as commissioner of the Bureau of Customs—with a clear mandate to stamp out smuggling. That opportunity would make me the first woman commissioner.

At around the same time, I was invited to be an equity partner for a European automotive brand and was offered CEO position in three other competing auto companies. I even had another joint venture in the offing.

It seemed that I was presented with the best career opportunities and it felt like I was at an all-time high. But it was also a stressful time.

I faced a huge fork in the road and decisions were not to be made lightly. Each offer carried its own opportunities and challenges. Each would lead me to a different direction.

 

Do I choose the path that’s familiar, one that gives more security and even better compensation? Or do I choose the road not taken, one that offers more challenges?

 

In the months that followed, the restful contemplation I hoped for became restlessness. Coming from what I thought was a career high brought about a real fear of failure. I thought I had to do something that would exceed what I’ve accomplished, in terms of pay, prestige, size, and magnitude. I was afraid of not living up to my expectations. I was asking questions like “What if I can’t do that again?”

 

It is said that a rising tide lifts all ships. But a changing tide tests the strength of your anchor. And I realized that the anchor is purpose. I’ve found that successful people can withstand challenges, quell their fears, and ride out the storm because they are anchored on their purpose. The purpose that most likely helped others succeed in one way or another.

According to Napoleon Hill’s book, Think And Grow Rich, “No man can become rich without himself enriching others.” His definition of success was significance—making a difference in other people’s lives. Choosing the work that matters.

 

I learned that what stresses us is not the presence of work but the absence of purpose. The turn of events in my life became a blessing in disguise. It gave me an opportunity to start with a clean slate. And it made me choose the path that was uncertain. The path I believe can make a difference in other people’s lives.

 

Someone once said there are two great days in one’s life—the day you are born and
the day you discover why. I learned that the deepest longing of the soul is purpose. I remember that I was happiest in my career when I did something that helped change another person’s life.

 

During my stint with Nissan, my mom and I came up with an innovative and pioneering program that directly tied vehicle sales with poverty alleviation. 

We created a paradigm shift using a vehicle as a self-liquidating business venture to help supplement one’s income. And for each vehicle sold, we donated a percentage to a Christian foundation’s micro-finance arm that provides seed money to help underprivileged micro-entrepreneurs start their businesses.

 

With God’s grace, expected success came at an unexpected degree. Sales more than doubled for the company consistently for five years after the program’s inception. We helped more than 7,400 families and made entrepreneurs out of janitors and street dwellers and helped other underprivileged micro-entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Graduates from our school ranged from teenagers to grandmothers. We helped the poorest of the poor reach their potential. And seeing how what we did changed lives, changed my perspective.

 

In this light, our new company, EMotors, Inc., was born. It is a social enterprise with a main goal to uplift people’s lives with the use of the products we carry, our circle of influence, and the business we’re in.

 

Our aim is to help a larger group of Filipino entrepreneurs and help provide a solution to larger problems. We want to use the lessons I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve gained to serve a larger need.

 

Our goal is not to make money but to meet needs. We create and offer a product that doesn’t compete with others but completes others. Our success depends not on staying ahead of others but on serving others. Our purpose is to glorify God.

 

So, what do we do at EMotors? We build innovative and affordable means of transport that are used as a self-liquidating business venture. The transport helps save people money while at the same time help reduce our impact on the environment.

 

We are the first and only manufacturer of three-wheel electric vehicles registered with the country’s Board of Investments’ Motor Vehicle Development Program (MVDP EO156). Our electric tricycles are proudly built by Filipinos, for Filipinos.

My mission is to electrify everything that moves. I want to make an impact on poverty alleviation, employment, and job creation, as well as on climate change mitigation.

 

We all have a personal stake in this green movement. We know that a bad environment creates more poverty. And as the poor become poorer, it costs our government more money, which in turn costs us taxpayers more money.

I believe we are all responsible for the future we create. Hence, we have to be intentional and take action.

 

There are 3.5 million tricycles nationwide and counting. Add to that the cars and trucks we use daily, either for personal and business use. There’s a lot to be done about pollution, not only in our country but globally as well.

Global vehicle manufacturers understand the need and are doing their part. As consumers, we must also do our part. We have to realize that there is no “Plan B” for Mother Earth. The good news is we can make a clear choice now and make an impact with those choices.

 

My dream is: (1) to have as many companies shift to electric vehicles for operations; (2) to help as many local government units make their cities green; and (3) to make as many entrepreneurs using our EVs as a profitable means of livelihood and to encourage as many entrepreneurs to thrive.

 

I am happy to share that a number of companies have already taken the lead to protect our environment using our ZüM electric vehicles as part of their daily operations, from industries such as hotels and resorts, malls, logistics and distribution, beverage, garments, and food, to name a few.

 

The path I chose is a stark contrast from what I used to do. I went from selling cars with emission to zero-emission; from cars worth upwards of P6,000,000 to electric tricycles that cost as low as P190,000. I went from dealing with CEOs, who were the main staple of clients, to SMEs and tricycle drivers who are trying to eke out a living everyday.

It is not easy getting into the business of manufacturing, especially since it is still a male-dominated industry. Plus, it’s more difficult getting into a new industry that is yet to be established. The fear of failure in this new venture is real. But I learned a valuable lesson from the book of Proverbs saying, “To fear is to fail.”

 

It is said, that the greater the dream, the greater the obstacles. The greater the obstacles, once overcome, the greater the success. How successful my new venture ends up to be remains to be seen. But I know for sure that the future is not a place we’re going to. It’s a place we get to create. It’s not the pay, nor the prestige, nor the size that matters.

I am happy to put my energies in what matters to me and to others and that I tried to make a difference in what I believe needs to get done.

Pursue things that matter to you. Do things that inspire you. Remember that everything was impossible until someone did it. If you own a company, use it as a force for good. If you work for a company, use your influence and be a force for good.

Everyone can make a difference. No one can stop you from choosing to be exceptional. In so doing, you would go from asking “How can I possibly do this?” to “How can I possibly not?!”

To God be the Glory!

About The Author

Beth Lee is one of the most recognizable faces in the automotive industry. She has chalked up a formidable record as Universal Motors Corporation’s (UMC-Nissan) COO, serving the company for 12 years and as the youngest and first female president serving the longest term (seven years) as president of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI). Today she has shifted to being a social entrepreneur with EMotors, Inc. She is the president and co-founder of the e-mobility company, makers of ZüM electric vehicles and founded to help poverty alleviation, job creation, and climate change mitigation. She is an awardee of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS), and serves as an officer in more than half a dozen chambers, associations, and organizations. Beth also has her own TV show, BIZNEWSTV on PTV4.