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.

 

Brotherhood at Work

If you ask any war veteran of what they missed from a war, I’m pretty certain that the answer will almost be uniform: Brotherhood. It is some kind of bond among the man and woman in the battlefield, with high level of trust and understanding. They might fight and scream to each other on once occasion. But at the end of the day, they all understand that in order to survive, they should watch each other back. You watch my back, I watch your back. And nobody get left behind.

Brotherhood

I might never seen a war, let a lone be in one. However, I got a chance to feel the brotherhood in my previous project. It was a 2 years project, where my boss, myself and the rest of the project team cover each other. We cover each other when someone need to go on leave, or absence, and lend a hand to bring a junior team member up to speed. We strive towards common goal, to finish the project and survive.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen such brotherhood in my new project. Everybody seems busy to cover their back, And as you may guess, no job gets done. Even worse, customer and competitors can sense this, and use it to their advantages.

I think it is our job as leaders to instill brotherhood in our environment. The whole team should protect each other instead of blaming each other. The team need to covers other who are not available, and help the weak to get on their feet. The team should strive towards common goals instead of killing each other.

So, as a leader, is your team kills each other, or help each other in a brotherhood?

Can This Elephant Dance?

The latest news on Ericsson reminds me of the greatest turn around of all time: IBM turn around in the hands of Lou Gerstner, which he wrote in his book: Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

Ericsson’s acting CEO, in the press release warns that the upcoming Q3 financial report will not be as rosy as what was promised. In fact, the report will be much worse: 14% sales decline, and 93% decline in operating profit. But it is still way better than IBM in the 1990s. Ericsson is still profitable, compared to IBM $8 Billion loss.

But the question is, can Ericsson dance better than IBM? And who will be the mastermind to make Ericsson dance?

9 Months Entrepreneur – 10 Lessons to Learn From

Few weeks ago, I just closed my first business, a food stall in an office building’s canteen. Actually, it wasn’t me who close it. While I’ve been thinking to close it due to lack of demand, the canteen management decide to close the whole canteen and re-negotiate their contract with the building management.

 

The food stall ran for 9 months. As I’m still working full time, the stall need to run as a business, meaning that it has to run even without me being there the whole time. This even add more challenges on the venture, and add valuable experience to set up another business in the future.

Below is what I learned in the last 9 months of setting up and running the business:

  1. Partnership is important, to share responsibility, to give advise, bounce some idea, or simply ear to listen in hard time. I set up my food stall in partnership with someone who has run few food stalls, and my wife who has run her own food stall. They provides a tremendous amount of help and advise during the past 9 months.
  2. Pay a close attention to finance, but don’t get yourself crazy. Track major payment of salary, rental, suppliers, or any other expenses, but don’t get to detailed on minor expenses. Do you really need to track that 2000 rupiah (0.18 cents) for parking?
  3. And don’t stress over daily ups and down of sales. That is another way to get crazy. Business run on cycle. Monday is the best day because people have some backlog over the weekend, and usually want a quick lunch at the basement. The day after paycheck also good, because people spends more on food. Focus on trends, short and long term trends.
  4. Set the right price, not the cheap price. While being the cheapest might be a sound strategy, the fact is that you can’t be always the cheapest forever. New technology, and new business are willing to invest more and will undercut your price. I always believe that delivering high, unique quality that resonate with your customer, and selling at the right price is the key to long term success
  5. Learn how to negotiate, and negotiate early on. Negotiate on everything. And keep in mind that almost everything can be negotiated
  6. Get help, and ask questions. Talk to other entrepreneur in similar area. Don’t be hesitant to pick up the phone, or hire someone to help.
  7. Delegate and trust. Remember that your job as business owner is to grow the business in a profitable way. Anything that doesn’t relate to that should be delegated. And once delegated, don’t micromanage. Find the right person to delegate and have trust.
  8. Build and grow your network. They might spread the words about your business, introduce to potential client, partner or supplier, or lead to another expansion opportunity
  9. Play long term. Business takes time to grow. Keep service customer with promised quality, and the words will spread. have grit during downturn if your business is solid.
  10. At the end of the day, it is just a business. It doesn’t worth your health or family or sanity. When it doesn’t work, know when to quit and move on to another business.

And don’t forget to have fun.