My First TEDx Experience – Part 2

On 11 August 2017, I took 1 day off from office, and attended TEDx UniversitasPrasetyaMulyaJakarta. This is my first TEDx Experience. There were 7 speakers from various background and profession, sharing the stage and talking about common theme: “Forward”.

This is the 2nd part of my experience attending TEDx event. The first part is available in this link: My First TEDx Experience.

David Soong (Instagram: @awie)

People know him as the owner of AXIOO Wedding Photography. What most people don’t know is that David Soong as serial entrepreneur. He co-founded Boga Makmur, the owner of several big multinational food chain like Bakerzin, Shaburi, PepperLunch, and many more.

The notion “Follow your passion” that David brought on the stage sounds cheesy. However, many people leave out the continuation of that sentence: “Follow your passion, and do it so damn well that people are willing to pay for it.” David said.

The restaurants are David’s first passion: Food. AXIOO Wedding Photography is David’s 2nd passion: Photography. And now, David is now working to realize his 3rd passion: Travel. “Sweet Escape , will be the AirBnB for travel photography.” He said. After his session, the words “Follow your passion” is not so cheesy after all, as long as you remember to “Do it so damn good that people are willing to pay for it.”

Fredrik Rasali, CFA (Instagram: @frederik_rasali)

To be honest, I would expect the talk from a CFA to be boring. However, Fredrik Rasali talks about money in the language of physics, which is my area of interest.

Frederik compared money like energy stored in a battery. “It can be put in a flashlight, or mobile phone. The energy stored in battery is only useful if it is spent”, the analogy shared by Frederik.

Another analogy is fried rice, pretty bad analogy considering that Frederik’s session was the last one before lunch time. While everyone thinks of rice and eggs as the ingredients of fried rice, Frederik went one step back. “The rice is there because of farmers spent their energies to grow paddy. Same with eggs. And also, there are those who produced the stove, wok, and many more.” So, the chef who cook fried rice trade money for the energy from the farmers, and manufactures.

What does Frederik tried to convey here? Well, people buy battery not for collection, but to be used to power devices. So does money. “It is a tool, not the end goals. Money is only useful when you spend it”, said Frederik. And his statement also implied a message for us: “Don’t work so hard for money. Work for enough money to achieve your goal.”

Here is a question by Frederik Asali for us to ponder: “If you are stranded on a island, which one you choose to have? Money or food?”

Ditto and Ayudia (Instagram: @dittopercussion & @ayudiac)

Ditto and Ayudia is husband and wife, who has known and befriend each other since they are at junior high school. They wrote their love story in the book “Teman Tapi Menikah”, which also has been produced as cinema film. However, their talks about love was deeper than love between men and women, or husband and wife.

“When I was about to marry Ayudia, I was thinking to switch career as pilot. Imagine flying around the world, and better income compared to being a musician. And also being surrounded by pretty stewardess.” Ditto jokingly said, which earned a lovely punch from Ayudia.

Ayudia then pick up, “But I asked him, are you sure? Is it really what you love and want to do?” The reason she asked the question is, “Because, if you don’t love what you are doing, it will reflect in your family, when you come home, and when you are with your family.”

I have a personal experience on this matter, which I would like to share. In 2012, I was faced with decision to take a new job that I want, with brighter future, or staying in the job that I feel stagnant and didn’t want to do, but allowed me to have more time with my then-4-months son. I had a discussion with my wife Grace, and she pretty much said similar thing. I decided to take the new job, and 5 years later, I never regretted it.

Rian Ernest (Instagram: @rianernest)

As the Aide to Governor of DKI Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Rian witness first hand on how religion was played in politics during the Governor Election, creating polarization that the people of Jakarta and Indonesia still feel until today.

But, why Rian Ernest, a successful lawyer in Baker McKenzie law firm, decided to leave his career to become public service employee with less money to earn?

Taking analogy of someone who cut the queue in front of you, he explained his reason. “When someone cut your queue, you have 2 options. First, you can post a long complaint in social media. Or second, politely explain to those who cut your queue that people are queuing. Which one will bring changes?”

Rian asked all of us in Prasetya Mulya’s auditorium to act against corruption, instead of complaining in Social Media. How? By getting into the system. He leave his career to join the system because he believes that the current government is trying hard to eliminate corruption. And he is lending his hand for the change.

But government changes. What if in the next election, the new government take a different stance against corruption? “I have experience in private sector. I believe with that experience, I can move out of the system, open my own practice, or join another law firm, while waiting for the wind of change to blow into the right direction.”

My First TEDx Experience

Once in a while, I thought, it will be good to attend an event that open your mind, and make you think out of your box. And nothing more appropriate than attending TEDx, an independently organized TED-like event. So, when I was informed that there will be TEDxUniversitasPrasetyaMulyaJakarta on Friday 11 August 2017, I signed up for it, paid and applied for 1 day leave from my company.

Seven speakers will share the stage on common theme: “Forward”. They come from different background: painters, musician, book writer, financial analyst, serial entrepreneur, designer and public staff of former Governor of Jakarta. As they talk in front of students, I was guessing that it will be what they can do post graduation, also interesting topic for someone with small kid. So, I come with high expectation on the TEDx event.

I wasn’t disappointed. The whole 6 hours worth every penny and time spent on it. Here is some thought-provoking story that each speakers bring on the stage, that will make you have more thought on the word: FORWARD!

Dewi Candraningrum (Instagram: @dewicandraningrum)

Seventeen years ago, Dewi was blessed with a son. Seventeen years later, the baby that she breastfeed, and nursed with love, has never called her Mom. Her son is diagnosed with Autism.

As her son grow, Dewi noticed that her son held a pen strongly, different from kids at his age. Dewi then gave her son a piece of paper, where his son began to draw. He draw, and draw and draw on thousands of papers.

From papers, Dewi got his son paint and brush. The drawing media then changes from paper to canvas. And from the envy of seeing how much fun his son had from painting, Dewi started to paint herself. “I call my son as my first teacher”, Dewi said on stage.

Today, as single parent, Dewi regarded the time to paint as “Mother and Son moment”, where both of them can connect. Dewi’s paintings work around Ianfu, comfort women that was many in Java during Japan’s occupation, and also continuing during the New Order.

These days Dewi’s and her son’s work is made as scarf. The reason, Dewi said on stage: “We paint on scarfs so that it is hugged, and carried anywhere, not wasted like the Ianfu.”

Nikita Dompas (Instagram: @nikitadompas)

Probably not many people know that Nikita Dompas is the guitarist of famous music group: Potret. Nor maybe his contribution as Program Coordinator at Java Jazz Festival 2017. However, his vision for the music industry is very real. Learning from his own experience to start his music career, Nikita envisioned an incubator for aspiring musician.

“An incubator for musician, just like incubator for startups. Why not?” Nikita challenged the audience. “No more concern on having to rent expensive studios, or broadening their networks. An incubator will help aspiring musician on that aspect so they can focus on creating their music.” Nikita continues.

And if you are wondering, whatever Nikita Dompas said on stage is not very far in the future. “That is what we are doing in Shoemaker Music (Instagram: @shoemakermusic), providing Creative safe space for artists to develop their music”

Edwin J Tanga (LinkedIn: Edwin J Tanga)

“Who has heard about Steve Jobs? Elon Musk?” Edwin started his talk. I can see that all of the audience in Prasetya Mulya’s Auditorium raised a hand. “Do you think if Steve Jobs or Elon Musk will be successful if they did what they do in Indonesia?” This time nobody raised their hand.

Edwin’s talk, as he admitted on the stage, was a critics towards the society, who tried to copy what the people on the western world do. “It is OK to learn from the western world. But it is not OK to change Indonesia to become like western world.”

Edwin J Tanga membuka sesinya dengan sebuah pertanyaan: "siapa yg kenal dengan Steve Jobs atau Elon Musk?" Ketika semua orang yg di auditorium mengangkat tangan ke atas, dia pu melanjutkan: "Cara2 yg dilakukan Steve Jobs atau Elon Musk belum tentu sukses di Indonesia" Sesi Edwin J Tanga memang sebuah kritik sosial. "Meniru konsep negara barat boleh-boleh saja", kata Edwin. "Tapi menjadi barat tanpa melihat lingkungan dan permasalahan sekitar, itu menjadi masalah" Demikian pula dalam hal bisnis. Contoh yg diberikan Edwin adalah tukang sate di pinggir jalan yang sudah berjualan 10 tahun. "Itu adalah sebuah contoh entepreneurship yang sukses. Yang berkelanjutan. Bukan restoran sate yang megah tapi isinya sepi." So, pesan Edwin ke kita semua, cobalah lihat lingkungan sekitar. Mulai bicara dengan tukang sate pinggir jalan, sekuriti kantor, dll, supaya kita lebih peka dengan lingkungan kita. Niscaya dari sana, kita bisa memulai bisnis yg realistis yg sesuai dengan lingkungan sekitar . . . #tedx #tedxupmj #ted @tedxupmj @tedx_official

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According to Edwin: “Indonesia is Indonesia, with its unique problem, and ecosystem to support entrepreneurship.” He urge us to start talking to people around us, to the security guard who open the door for us, or to food seller on the street. “Learn from satay seller on the street that has been there for 10 years. It is an example of successful entrepreneurship, instead of from the big luxury satay restaurant with no patron”.

Side note: Talking about small scale entrepreneurship, I was reminded by Mbah Mo in Bantul, Yogyakarta. It is visited by so many medium-high class people, with car. Yet, it proudly write in a banner: “We have no branches.” They stick to small business model since 1986, for 31 years. The message: Success should not be measured by how many branches that a business has.

To be continued in part 2………

Share Your World – June 2017

A self-reflecting question is always an interesting way to explore yourself. This week, I decided to participate Cee’s Photography Share Your World Challenge.

What goals are you working on now?

Starting a business that makes the world a better place. To be specific, I’m working on creating hydroponic farm, to grow vegetables and fruits without the need to own a massive plot of land, and able to sell it within local market. I’m a big believer of urban farming and local food movement.

Harvest Time

What is one thing you’re glad you tried but would never do again?

Learn to surf. I love the ocean, do scuba diving, enjoy boating, and I thought, why not learn to surf? So, I took a surfing lesson in Bali, and kind of enjoying it during the lesson. I even manage to stand on the surf board for a couple of time

However, since I live quite far from beach where you can surf, it is only the year after that I have another chance to surf after my lesson. And it was a disaster. An old injury on my shoulder resurface when the wave toss me upside down. I don’t think I want to take another lesson, so I guess, I give up.

Did you choose your profession or did it choose you?

I think I choose my profession. Since I got my own computer, I have always been fascinated with it. However, I choose to take Electrical Engineering instead of Computer Science, simply because they taught computer in Electrical Engineering, but doesn’t teach Electronics in Computer Science.

My first job was as computer technician at a multinational bank and help them to safely pass the Year 2000, before I moved to Hewlett-Packard. Since then I choose consulting as the job that I want, and still doing it until 2014, when I decided that I need more free time. I still enjoy talking to people though, convey my ideas, and convincing them.

Have you ever gotten lost?

Having born and grow up in Jakarta, where city planning was non-existent and small alleys dominate the suburb, I definitely got lost once or twice (OK, more than twice, to be honest). However, the old ways of asking people for direction never fails me.

I kind of missing the old romance of asking direction, which somehow a bit lost these day. People seems to be able to find any place with Google Map.


The Relevance of Degree and Certification

A degree, or certificate, is given to someone who has pass a certain program. It certifies that the holder of the certificate has fulfilled the criteria stipulated in the degree or certification program. For example, a certificate of attendance given to someone who has attended a training, or seminar. A bachelor degree is given to someone who has passed a study, battery of test and final thesis. Other certification program require someone to take one or more tests, and meet passing grade before the certificate is awarded.

One thing that a degree or certificate don’t say is how the holder will do in the real world.

A PMP certified Project Manager knows how to deliver a project according to PMI Standard. However, it tells nothing if the Project Manager able to negotiate a change request for the benefit of the business, or able to handle a meeting where the CIO of the customer is enraged. Personally, I’ve seen a CIO making comment to a PMP-certified Project Manager: “I don’t understand what is in your slide, or what you are trying to say to me.”

A fresh graduated, certified medical doctor might have all the knowledge to cure people. However, does he/she has the skill to show empathy to terminally ill patient and family? Or understand the environment he/she operate at to understand whether a 3 different lab result of urine that showed different bacterial presence indicate an urinary tract infection, or contamination of the sample?

So, the question, is certification or degree still relevant in the business world? Is it still relevant to pay someone solely based on the certificate under which his/her name is written, or the degree that he/she hold?

I will give another example before answering the question: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, all never graduated from university. Yet, they are all successful to change people’s live, and in the process, earned a lot of fortune. I don’t think they have a certificate in Project Management, Cisco, Microsoft, or other major certificate that is highly sought after. This itself proves that the certification alone is not the the only factor in determining success in business.

Yet, there are also many people with university degree, has also become very successful. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started a successful company called Hewlett-Packard, which now become HP and HP Enterprise. Larry Page & Sergey Brin holds PhD and University Graduate. Both launched a very successful search engine called Google.

So, to answer my question, certificate or degree is no longer relevant in business world. It might be necessary, or might not be necessary, but it is no longer the only important factor, not even the most important factor.

And then, should we reward and promote someone solely based on the certificate or degree that he/she hold? Well, if certificate or degree is not relevant, why should it be the only factor?

My answer to the question: if you are running a university, then please go ahead and score people based on tests, exams, and certification.

But if I’m running a business, I would rather reward and promote people who bring more money, improve the cost structure, bring more customer and keep the customer happy, rather than rewarding and promoting people with long list of certification and degree.

What about you?