Jollibee’s Tan Caktiong’s recipe for success: ‘Dream big, work hard’

By James A. Loyola, Manila Bulletin, July 6, 2019

Billionaire Tony Tan Caktiong, the founder and chairman of fastfood giant Jollibee Foods Corporation, emphasized the need to set ambitious but clear goals when embarking on a new business as his secret to success.

“Dream big and whenever you achieve your dreams – dream even bigger. When Grace, my wife and I opened our first store, we already aspired to make Jollibee the largest restaurant company in the Philippines,” Tan said in his Asian Institute of Management Doctorate Conferment and Commencement speech.

Starting from that one store 40 years ago, Jollibee is now the largest in the Philippines and is one of the fastest growing Asian food companies in the world. The firm has already set its sights on being among the top five food companies in the world.

“For those of you who might remember – The original spelling of our brand Jollibee was with a ‘Y’, which we quickly changed to an ‘I’ because even if we were just starting out without any guarantee we would even succeed and ever set foot outside the Philippines one day, we already wanted to ensure the brand name can be registered globally,” Tan noted.

But he urged young entrepreneurs to dream big, he also cautioned against of dreaming too many.

“Dreams do come true, but one cannot have dozens or hundreds of dreams. If you choose too many, you’ll almost certainly achieve none of them. Choose 1 or 2 and give it your best,” he urged.

Aside from having a dream, Tan said it has to be paired with hard work. “Jollibee was not an overnight success. Our entire family had to work very hard – all my siblings included,” he said.

Another component to his success is not being afraid to fail because, “Failure, assuming you learn from them can be the best teacher. I can say firsthand that some of the greatest and most meaningful learnings come from failures. Needless to say, I continue to make them to this day.”

But he warned against committing the same mistake twice calling it “inexcusable”.

Tan’s insatiable thirst for success added his determination to hit his goals. He shared that “incessant thirst and love for learning” help businesses adapt to changes and not to become obsolete.

In addition, he credits his success to having the support of the right people.
“Choose and surround yourself with people whose capabilities are far greater than yours and who likewise share the same dream, passion, values and principles. I can assure you that you cannot do it alone,” he said.

“For me, I instantly won the jackpot by choosing Grace, the best partner I could ever have in life, and my family especially all my siblings, including my brothers and sisters in-law who have given their unwavering support in many ways,” Tan concluded.


This article is written by the Author in the by-line and was originally posted by Manila Bulletin in their website which can be accessed at

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