Mission possible: Be a blessing to others
To change mindsets and change lives for the better by becoming a blessing to others.
Such is the mission of Carl Dy through his property portfolio management company Spectrum Investments, which he put up after he himself went through a series of life-changing experiences—starting with his previous 10-year stint in Ayala Land, where he started working as property consultant.
“This was a turning point in my life; it changed my perspective. I would meet with my bosses in the morning, and in the afternoon I would serve the high net worth clients,” says the Architecture graduate of the University of Santo Tomas. “I would always have interaction with the rich people, and I’d always end up asking them, ‘What’s your success story? What advice could you give to me?’ So imagine the treasure of information and guidance I got.”
One lesson he learned from such people that struck Dy was that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing; what’s important is that one tries.
“Slowly, I adopted this mindset, and I realized that life is much more enjoyable if you take risks. When you want something in life, you just ask, what’s the worst that can happen? If I fail, who gets hurt? If nobody gets hurt, just me … and what is it you might lose? Is it [just] money?” he says.
Growing up in a working-class family with modest financial means, such realization was a particular eye-opener for Dy, the eldest of four siblings, who was taught during his childhood to simply work hard and follow rules to achieve success.
He admits to having difficulty, however, in following rules, and says that studying was quite the struggle for him.
“I almost failed first year high school. I did not like to study,” he recalls.
His chose Architecture as a college course simply because he believed Architecture required less studying and more drawing—and also because as a young boy, he worked as a delivery boy for a hardware store, which exposed him to the construction supply industry.
“But I almost flunked first year college, too. In school I got judged because I did not get high grades, so back then there was already this assessment that I would not become successful,” says Dy. “Studying was really a struggle for me because I like to challenge the norm. And when you’re in an institutional environment, you are rewarded for following rules, and I had to struggle with that. When I wanted to do something creative, something that would question the current scenario, my teachers would say, ‘Carl, that’s wrong.’”
While hardly the model student, Dy’s talent shone when he entered the workforce. After his first job as librarian in architect and urban planner Jun Palafox’s company, plus a series of other posts in other lesser known developers, Dy was hired, in 2002, by Ayala Land. From property consultant, Dy became the company’s youngest sales manager at 24. By 30, he was sales director.
While grateful for all the mentorship he received in the company—something which prompted him to publish his own book “Creating Wealth Through Property: 42 Inspiring Stories on Real State,” a compilation of both success and failure stories by some of the countries’ most prominent people—Dy says he eventually hit a roadblock in his corporate career.
“I’m the type of person who takes whatever comes. I believe it’s God who is planning your day, your life. Ten years into my job in Ayala, out of nowhere, I had this uncomfortable feeling. An idea started to form [in my head] that I needed to start my own business,” Dy says. “The marketplace needed someone to give [property] advice. I wanted to be the guy to explain to people the pros and cons of buying real estate, and the only way was to put up my own company. My sister, who also worked for Ayala for seven years, and I decided to do it. She also had that uncomfortable feeling. We prayed about it, because it wasn’t easy to leave. I was also about to have my new Bonifacio Global City corner office, with a nice view of High Street. But God kind of nudged me and said, go.”
Thus Spectrum Investments was born.
The company serves two kinds of clients, says Dy: Both the high net worth ones, and the regular Filipinos in need of advice on how to properly invest in real estate.
Through articles and talks, Dy reaches out to Filipinos both here and abroad and shares with them his expert opinion when it comes to property investment.
“My life motto is to be wealthy, so that I can give back and be a blessing toward others,” says Dy, who, despite struggling with school during his younger days, recently graduated from Harvard Business School’s Real Estate Management program.
Dy’s shift from employee to entrepreneur was also influenced by his family.
The father of three girls says he and his wife—“my first girlfriend and college sweetheart,” Dy describes her—had difficulty conceiving, and had to go through five miscarriages during the start of their marriage.
“With one, you’re okay; two, a bit worried; three, it becomes scary. When you go through this kind of emotional challenge, it changes you,” says Dy, who was still working in the corporate world at the time.
It was only when, after exhausting all medical means, they decided to finally give up that the couple were blessed with their “miracle baby,” who is now 9 years old.
Then, three months later, Dy says they were again blessed with a second child.
“It was not planned. So we enjoyed the first two, and after five years, we had another child,” he says. “That really changed my priorities. Before, I was a typical guy: Work, work, work; I’m the husband, you’re the wife. Now I’m more hands-on with my kids,” he says.
He adds: “When I was in corporate as sales director, I wanted to set a good example. I was the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave. But then I felt God nudge me again, saying, hey, you’ve got two kids—where are you? Still at the office? At first, [my lack of time with family] didn’t feel like my reason for leaving corporate—I just felt uncomfortable. But then, slowly, I started to realize that I couldn’t remember the first five years of my miracle babies.”
As a man who places his faith strongly in his Creator, Dy’s mission to advise and help other extends beyond his real-estate expertise. Because of his and his wife’s struggles, the couple also makes it a point to speak at church to other couples going through what they experienced before.
“During that time [when my wife miscarried], I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t as supportive as I wanted to be; I wasn’t morally encouraging,” he says. “Now, my goal is to help other husbands be more supportive of their wives.”
As a father, Dy is also quite the enabler: With his children, he doesn’t discourage mistakes per se, so long as these were made because they were trying something new or exploring their curiosity. It fits in perfectly, after all, with Dy’s philosophy when it comes to risk: That failure is simply an opportunity to try again.
And to those who are still hesitating to take their own risks in life, Dy shares his life motto, adapted from one of his mentors: “To be better than before, be better than others—and be better than expected.”
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