How I Learn By Jovi Neri

THIS SERIES IS ABOUT PEOPLE I admire answering the question: “How Do You Learn?” According to the dictionary:  learn (verb) means to gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, experience, or being taught. I want, and hopefully my readers as well, to pick up lessons from individuals who are happy, socially responsible and uniquely successful. 
I started off by answering this question myself, and now it’s time to pass the baton to Jovi Neri. He is my fiancé and my biggest influencer. Other than being a lawyer, Jovi is the owner of REDGOLF, a golf store in Cebu, Philippines. 
Location: Cebu, Philippines 
Current Gig: Owner (REDGOLF), Lawyer at J. Neri Associates and Artist and Golfer

How I Learn By Jovi Neri

Jovi Neri: businessman, golfer, artist and lawyer.
What Inspires You?

I’m inspired by two F’s – fiancé and family.  First, my fiancee is 14 years younger than me and she is very healthy (and sexy!).  So this inspires me to live a long and productive life with her. The only way to achieve it is through good health of both the body and mind. I don’t want her to be taking care of bed-ridden me in my older age. I want to be going in adventures with her no matter what age I am.  So I try to live a healthy and active lifestyle so I can stay physically fit and mentally sharp. (Ed Note: Kilig. )

The second F is family and the values passed on to me from them – either from teaching or from simply observing. It’s something I want to live by and pass on to everyone I meet.  My parents are approaching their 40th anniversary.  My grandparents had a big 50th wedding anniversary, then a 51st wedding anniversary where their grandkids (us!) sang Broadway hits to them, and finally their 60th anniversary in a cruise.  I want to have a relationship with my wife and children to be like that. Strong family ties are a hallmark of the Garcia clan which I want to keep.  In the Neri side, there is this calmness in the face of pressure and conflict that I try to emulate.  I try to avoid rash or impulsive actions in the heat of the moment, and distance myself from the situation for a more objective grasp of the situation when face with pressure and problems. I want to be a loyal husband, a family man, and always seeking peace more than conflict.
Describe a typical day.
Wake up.  Coffee while playing with dogs, reading Flipboard.  Then I go to RedGolf and the Law Office, in no particular order and switch places or stay in one place.  In the late afternoon, I try to catch some exercise in the form of gym or jogging in Cebu Country Club.  At night I check and reply to personal emails, do the rounds on social media, switch on the TV if there are sporting events, and of course wait for Crystal’s call.
What Do You Check Or Read Everyday?

Jovi and his comic art collection

I read Flipboard, mostly sports news and some tech news.  I also check Facebook and Twitter everyday.  There are also forums I check: comic art, U2, golf equipment, and other interests.
Who And What Do You Follow?
I follow my friends on social media, and a few athletes and celebrities here and there.  Following my friends are more important though because I always want to know what is up with them in case they’ll need my help, or I’ll need theirs.
What Influences You The Most?
I am influenced most by the Jesuit and Ignatian slogan of “men and women for others.”  One of the best feelings in the world is when you can genuinely help others.  And it gets better when you see them doing the same good things to others what you have done to them.  The best example for me would be how I handled the junior golfers in Cebu Country Club. Even when they were young and annoying, I always showed a genuine care for their lives and games while other adults just brushed them aside.  Suddenly, when they become so good golfers, these adults who ignored them now want to play with them.  The junior golfers can see through that and know it’s not genuine.  But because of how I took care of them, I can see their genuine care for the new younger breed – reaching out to play with them and give them advice.  Now this warms my heart.

Kobe Bryant a drawing by Jovi

I also realize I have a God-given talent to draw. Unfortunately, it is not my profession and I don’t make money from it. But following the slogan of “man for others”, I keep drawing not for myself but to give to others.  That way, God will keep my talent sharp because I am using it and sharing it now.
My role models have gone out of their way to help others.  From U2 using their celebrity and music to fight poverty and AIDS, to basketball player Robert Jaworski who would never leave the arena until every fan got an autograph or picture because he always said they owe it to the fans, and many more examples like Pope Francis – it comes down to my Jesuit upbringing being my biggest influence in how I conduct myself.

When you help others, you give a part of yourself to them, and when you see yourself in them – you can truly find yourself and know who your really are – not by looking in the mirror but by looking at how you’ve touched their lives. That’s always how I’ve seen it.

What Is A Book Or Movie That Changed You?
What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey.

Who Would You Like To Learn From?

Jovi, President of Cebu Junior Golf for 8 years

First, I’d like to learn from the youth. There is a lure to me on the purity and innocence of youth as it is still filled with idealism, honesty, and integrity while not yet being corrupted and jaded. They also have this inner nature in detecting if people are genuine or not, and you can see it in how they react towards you or others. I know since I have been handling junior golf for 8 years. So as long as they understand and enjoy you, as opposed to just giving you respect out of fear and deferential treatment to authority – then you know you are still being genuine and acting from the heart. And when you approach them with an open mind, you’ll actually learn a lot of life lessons you won’t learn from an adult, or you’ll remember things from your own youth that adulthood made you forget.

Second, I’d like to learn from the older people.  Most of them have a tendency to keep on talking so much as they reminisce on their younger days.  But there is a lot of wisdom to learn from their words and experiences.  The key is to listen with an open mind.
The secret to learning which not many people follow is: listen to absorb and understand; and not listen to reply, comment, or scrutinize.  Many people nowadays just listen to you, having pre-planned in their minds what their reply will be, or are just waiting for you to end your sentence to they can give their opinions, instead of seeking the value in what you have to say.  I try to be so self-conscious about this and really listen to people when they are talking -especially if it is about their own personal experiences.
Do You Have A Sacred Daily Ritual?
Tucking in my shirt before I sleep at night.
What’s A Turning Point For You?
There is no single turning point.  It’s the unlikely bumps in life that could never be explained other than just “fate” that you later on realize you’d never be what you are if not for those things. Then it has a domino effect.
If I did not go to Cebu Country Club one summer in 1990 and notice the junior program in full force, I would never longed to play golf the following year.  If I did not play golf, what would I be? Some math whiz? Someone who pursued my art? Would basketball be my sport as an undersized benchwarmer?

Jovi and I in Santa Monica, CA 2012
After finishing law school, I wanted to teach law in the University of Cebu. I wasn’t allowed because I needed law experience to teach. So I focused my energies that longed to help others to Junior Golf instead.  If not for that, would I have even met my future wife?
What about open heart surgery? Or close-calls to major car accidents? There are just many different incidents that could be turning points because the pieces just fell into place so correctly that it could not just be mere coincidence.  Every day, I feel I have lived through so many turning points that this life has a purpose which I am always trying to find.

What Essential Things Do You Need To Do Good Work?
I need a peaceful and alert mind, and a healthy 
up-and-about body – all with no distractions.

What Do You Know For Sure?
The strongest weapon is love.
I’d love Bono To Answer These Questions (but I don’t think he ever will!).