Geared Up for Success: How Athlete-entrepreneur Kiel Cabasal Plays Hard and Works Harder

March 27, 2024 – Alike Editorial

After gaining experience across industries and job descriptions, Kiel Cabasal, a little over 25, is ready to take on a leadership position as CEO of startup realty and construction firm DMC Realty and Development.

Cabasal is also a competitive racecar driver who’s won championships (2023 Philippine Endurance Racing Class 2 Overall Champion) while also doing so in football (RIFA Aspirants Champion, Corporate Football League Division 1 - 3rd Place 2019), mixed martial arts (Flyweight, Forza 2017), and boxing.

Given how life today moves at a breakneck speed with commitments in 360 degrees, 24/7/365, Cabasal owes his balancing act to flexibility, a personal reward system tempered by discipline and good old habits. There really is no magical pill to success, but a daily practice of showing up even on bad days.

And thus, he doesn’t simply “finish the job” but finishes well.

Setting the Foundations

Cabasal graduated magna cum laude in Ateneo de Manila University, his dream school, despite failing four Ateneo entrance tests: Grade school, the first and second years of high school, and even the college entrance exam.

Undeterred, Cabasal worked hard during his last semesters of high school and the effort was noticed by Ateneo and the institution took a chance with him after a formal appeal process. From then on, Cabasal vowed to make the most of the trust granted to him, thus finishing college with perfect attendance.

These days, with a plethora of young people casually claiming the mantle of CEO on social media and even on LinkedIn, Cabasal earned his stripes starting with scut work.

He first worked in Rockwell Land between finals season and college graduation handling property sales. He finished his second job as a senior sales manager after starting as a sales executive in fintech solutions company AQWIRE, whose main clients are real estate developers.

When he co-founded Thigh Joint, a burger restaurant in Quezon City that’s since become one of the highest-rated on FoodPanda and Grab Food, his position didn’t stop him from scrubbing off grease from floors and pans.

His time working as a human resources manager at Crane Cat Trading and Services also left a lasting impression as it was a field quite new to him.

Of this time, he recalls “a deeper type of fulfillment, a different layer to my life perspective. Instead of directly contributing to company numbers like I’m used to in sales and business development, this time, I indirectly contribute to such by handling those who do.”
“This includes managing behavior, training, talent development and more. I got the opportunity to genuinely connect with people. I learned to promote fairness, compassion, and understanding in every decision I make including the hard ones, such as in handing out disciplinary action.”

As such, founding and leading DMC Realty and Development wasn’t so much a leap of faith but a homecoming very much earned.
Cabasal expounds: “The main condition that I set before taking up a leadership role was that I should be immersed in crucial departments. This doesn’t necessarily mean being well-versed in each. I prefer knowing a little of everything, sales, human resources, business development, than knowing everything about one thing, regardless of my personal preference and forte.”

Work to Live

What spurs his actions and commitment? His work-life balance? For one, it could be his approach to life as he wittily likens time management to “a plate in a buffet. No matter how hard you try or force it, you can’t fit all the food you want in one go. But, if you go round-by-round, section-by-section with spacing, you can get the most value out of all the offerings.”

“I always receive questions such as how do you do all of these or do you even sleep?” Cabasal smiles with self-possessed confidence, continuing, “in my case, proper time management is all about context-based prioritization. In choosing or ranking what activity – Work? Sport? Socials? – to focus on at a given time, I look at urgency, need, value or reward, and schedule.”

Sometimes, chipping away at a major presentation takes top priority, but after such an event, family time or even a beer with friends or a long drive alone is what’s needed. That’s the flexibility being referred to. Cabasal notes how taking time for oneself positively impacts productive time, also confirming how training for one sport can condition oneself for another sport.

This in turn influences his reward system, as he shares “I started to realize that “work” and “life” feed one another. On one hand, some of the things that make life enjoyable require financial stability, thus, the need for work. On the other hand, you can’t always perform efficiently at work if you don’t give time for life.”

Nonetheless, flexibility and work-life balance can tip precariously as “your reward system can spiral out of control if you don’t have discipline. You can’t practice proper and context-based time management if you don’t have the habits of adhering to your schedule and working hard.”

“Thus,” he emphasizes, “during my worst days, when I’m on my knees uninspired, heartbroken, injured or all these all at once, I’ll still be present to get the work done. And this doesn’t necessarily mean exerting 100% effort all the time because as long as I show up even if I’m only at 1%, I’ll still consider this as a win compared to just giving up.”

He acknowledges that “I wasn’t born with a good physique, intellect, luck, or natural skills. All my achievements come from habits that are formed and sustained by discipline.”

A Dream Coming True Brick by Brick

Coming from his background exploring jobs within realty, Cabasal established DMC Realty and Development with the money earned from his past work and enterprises, all with the long-term vision of offering dignified housing at low cost as a real estate developer and property management company.

The group aims to offer to low- and middle-income buyers the luxuries otherwise found in more exclusive developments. To do this, Cabasal and co. intend to utilize alternative and new materials present in the construction market to create “well-designed and excellently planned units without disregarding functionality, longevity, sustainability of materials, and affordability.”

Aside from residential and leisure projects, DMC is also open to industrial and commercial developments. Presently, DMC is finishing a townhouse in Antipolo and a resort in La Union. Past and existing works include residential and commercial apartments, houses, lots, and third-party condominium units (bought from other developers) for rent or lease in Metro Manila and provinces like Batangas. The company is also acquiring lots for future developments.

Cabasal expounds on his company philosophy: “there are ways to add amenities to a development or make an exquisite design without spending too much. For me, dignity is not just about the bare minimum. People deserve more regardless of their position. And I want my company to be the bridge that makes the best in life accessible to people.”


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