If you've been watching television for the past decade, chances are, you have stumbled upon Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss, a fourth-generation Italian-American baker from Hoboken who has built his financial empire almost literally from cake and icing. During his visit to the Philippines for the TLC Festival 2017, Buddy shared some tidbits about his phenomenal success. “I’m a visionary and I dream things up,” laughs Buddy, “I’m almost like this cartoon character that has a vision or a dream about a cake and I have to turn it into reality by really thinking hard and pushing myself to the limits to make it happen.”
Buddy shares that this particular skillset was honed by experience and history, where an individual's response to catastrophes is a clear indicator of their inner grit. “Everybody’s got their inner switch that turns on,” shares Buddy, “When my dad died, the circumstances pushed me into a certain role. It was hard because my mind was in too many different places. Some people would go off the far end. But, I knew that I needed to focus. I learned how to harness it and use it into my advantage.”
It is this kind of mental prowess that elevates Buddy into a league of his own: a certain way of looking at the world that helped him clarify the direction that he wanted to take for his business. It started from recognizing the neccessity of differentiating himself from the competition. “It’s very simple. It wasn’t the cakes; it was in the designs,” reveals Buddy, “I would make cakes that were bigger, better, and crazier than any other, cakes that really pushed the limits. That’s what makes me the boss, that what separates me from the others.”
Clocking in the time to develop other industry specific skills are also essential to his success. “Some people, they want to learn how to run before they learn how to walk,” laments Buddy. “I learned how to walk so good, that I can do it blindfolded, literally. When I pick up a piping bag or a rolling pin it’s an extension of my body; it’s like me breathing or walking. This is something that only comes from years and years and years of practice.”
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It also helps that Buddy's personal traits are perfect for his chosen industry. “As a person, I see things a certain way and that’s what makes me who I am,” confesses Buddy, “The way I look at the world is that I look at it as I would see it translated on a cake. Everything becomes my inspiration.” This hyperattention to details allows him to multitask brilliantly. “I can be in a room having a full conversation with you and listen to 10 different things going on,” admits Buddy, “If I’m in a decorating room I can manage 50 people at the same time by my eyes, my ears, my intuition about what's going on.”
Buddy, however, is quick to share the credit with his employees. “I cannot be the baker that I am without my team and I’d be the first one to admit it,” says Buddy. “I got multiple bakeries, I got restaurants, production companies. I employ almost 2 thousand people. I basically run an empire. But, I am humble; I never forgot where I came from.” He takes a very hands-on approach with managing his empire, cultivating an environment that is more akin to a family rather than a corporation, taking the time to get to know his employees and their families. “One of the guys who cleans the factory came into my office the other day because they need something,” shares Buddy, “Most CEOs in my position aren’t gonna talk to that guy but I did because I know his family; he worked with me for 15 years.” This also includes being intimately familiar with his team members' strengths and weaknesses. “I try to find the best attribute in every person,” Buddy relates, “I’m about efficiencies. You have to put the right people in the right position, put people in a job where they’re gonna excel and succeed.”
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Despite his massive success, Buddy chooses to remain grounded, honoring the values his parents instilled in him. “Whenever my dad sees someone homeless or hungry, he would always give them money. Always,” reveals Buddy, adding this made such an impact on him that he would do the same thing, now that he was an adult. “Every time, I don’t do it because I’m looking for PR. I do it for my heart, because its the right thing to do,” relates Buddy, “How do I know that someday it’s not gonna be me asking? Or my kids? You don’t know what life’s gonna bring. If you do good things, good things come back.”
TLC Festival 2017 wrapped up with a whopping 130,000 festival goers getting their Filipino pride on. The festival, made possible with 16 key sponsors including Go Daddy, BPI, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Golden Fiesta, Sunburst, and Arla, saw 30% more footfall and 50% more pre-registrations (vs 2016) who were star struck and mobbed the stellar celebrity line-up featuring Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and celebrity chef Luke Nguyen. Themed "Go Lokal," the festival celebrated all things Filipino! Featuring social media host and local influencer Kryz Uy, the festival welcomed special guests from Discovery Channel's You Have Been Warned Asia (Ramon Bautista, Angel Rivero, Jun Sabayton, Ra Rivera, Lourd De Veyra) and KC and Troy Montero from Worst Vacation Ever. The festival reached a digital audience of nearly 12 million and generated 250K in digital engagement. Follow TLC Southeast Asia on Facebook and Instagram to catch all the festival highlights.
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Photos from the TLC Festival 2017, Instagram.com/carlosbakery, and Instagram.com/buddyvalastro