Henry Sy’s Keys to Success


Who’s Henry Sy? Is he rich and successful? If so, why talk about him? Why not just relish on the successes of Donald Trump of The Apprentice or Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Nebraska?

Henry Sy has inspired millions of people from the Philippines and around the globe because of how he built his business empire; how he created the “malling phenomenon” and transformed the shopping experience in the Philippines.

Henry was born in China. Poor and desperate at age 12, his family migrated to the Philippines to seek greener pasture. Initially, he set up a small retail store as he aimed for a better life. After World War II, he opened a few shoe stores. Inspired by his early successes, he started Shoemart retail store in 1958 and later department stores.

Through perseverance and hard work, he gradually expanded his stores to malls to capture a bigger market. When he planned to build the first mall, many people including bankers and businesspeople thought that it wasn’t a good idea especially that Philippines was then going through crisis. But he followed his vision and his first mall was a huge success.

And now, Henry’s companies own major banks, a real estate business, and several huge malls in the Philippines and in China. In fact, three of his malls in Metro Manila belong to the top 10 largest malls in the world.

In 2008, Forbes Magazine named him as one of the world’s billionaires and the richest in the Philippines with $3.1 Billion net worth. Wow! Not bad for someone who started with almost nothing.

What are Henry’s secrets to success?

Teresita Sy-Coson, Henry’s eldest daughter who runs his many businesses, revealed his success formula. In one of her speeches (printed at Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sept. 2004), she stated Henry’s 14 success strategies: 1. Leadership 2. Integrity 3. Vision 4. Focus 5. Passion 6. Hard work 7. Perseverance 8. Optimism 9. Confidence 10. Discipline 11. Organization 12. Mission 13. Social responsibility and 14. Recognition of opportunity. Do you have Henry’s qualities?

Below, you’ll find questions on Henry’s success secrets. Read each of them carefully and provide your honest answers.

On Leadership

Are you willing to be different? Are you willing to establish a brand that represents who you are or that shows how unique your business is? Are you willing to make the necessary and yet painful decisions to help your business?

On Integrity

Can people trust you? Can you trust yourself? Do you mean what you say and say what you mean? Do you walk the talk? Do you keep your promises?

On Vision

Do you have a long-term plan? Do you see yourself or your business 15 years from now? Or 50 years from now? Have you weighed the necessary steps to achieve your goals?

On Focus

Are you fully focused in achieving your dreams? Do you make the effort to ignore distractions? Do you tactfully deal with people who waste your time?

On Passion

Do you have the burning desire to succeed? Do you like to savor success despite the hurts, frustrations, and losses? Are you passionate about what you’re doing?

On Hard work

Are you willing to give extra hours to pursue a sale or to create a better product or to improve your work? Do you give your best effort in advancing your business or your cause?

On Perseverance

Do you persevere against all odds? Do you stay the course despite the negativism in your community or problems in your family? Do you feel encouraged to do better by your losses and failures?

If you respond yes to all these questions, then you have what it takes to be a success like Henry Sy.


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