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.

The Connected Ambulance

Imagine this situation: Someone got a heart attack. An ambulance is coming to transport him to the hospital. But alas, a very bad traffic jam is preventing the ambulance to reach the hospital in time to save the patient.

Thankfully the patient live in a networked society. The ambulance that took him to the hospital is equipped with medical devices that are connected to the central computer in the hospital. As the ambulance races on the road, a set of physician and heart specialist is sitting in front of their monitor, reading real time patient’s telemetry and video sent from the ambulance.

For a moment, it is like NASA’s engineer sitting in mission control center in Houston reading telemetry from space shuttle. But instead of NASA engineer, it is doctors, and instead space shuttle telemetry, it is the patient’s telemetry.

The ambulance arrived 1 hour later. But thanks to the connected ambulance, the heart specialist are able to perform a remote catheter to open the blockage in the artery. The patient is now being observed closely and will make it.

About Passion, Purpose, and Success

“Follow your passion”

The advise has so many time given when someone talk about life, happiness, career or business advise. Doing what you love will make you happy, right? So, the advise should be right.

The fact is, I’ve found some proof that doing things that you are passionate might not always lead to happiness. I know someone who claimed that her passion is traveling. However, I saw a post on her Facebook, after three weeks of traveling, that she is glad to be back to work. On another post, this time from someone who is passionate about food, he lost the interest of certain food, and craving for another one.

Passion, I think, is like drugs. It is addicting. And just like other addictive, you will need more to satiate your happiness. Passion do give you energy, but it will be like someone who drive a car without any destination. Eventually, the car will run out of gas, and will need more to keep that energy burning.

The destination that is missing from driving analogy is purpose. It is more powerful when determining success. And the strongest of all is the purpose to survive.

A beggar at the side of the street will put every energy & creativity to get money to buy food. Aron Ralston, in his real life story in the film 127 hours, cut his own hand with blunt pocket knife, without anesthesia, and walk for miles to get help when he was trapped by a boulder.

That is also what makes first generation, self-made millionaire become a millionaire. They usually came from poor family, and want to have better life. They work hard, driven by purpose, and successful in making big business and a lot of money.

The problem with purpose? It alone rarely make you happy. A beggar always want a better life. Aron Ralston experienced pain in order to survive. There are a lot of stories around self-made millionaire who are far from happy, and always afraid to lose their money and business.

The compromise? I think I will be happy to work with the purpose of being able to do what I’m passionate with. The work, while providing the funds to do my passion, will also provides distraction so that I can enjoy my passion even more. Besides, for me, when earning money is involved, passion has become much less fun to do.

Zurich Pop-Up Farms Landscape

I seriously think that farming will have a promising future, just like Roman Gaus mentioned in his TEDx talk. Come to think about it, if you can only choose 1, do you choose food or oil? And this is one of the reason on why one day I would like to become a farmer. A modern time farmer. or even an Urban Farmer.

We are talking about transforming the landscape of a city, while feeding people. Roman Gaus was transforming a parking building into green Urban Farmers concept building. Not only it is much nicer to look. It also feed people. Roman Gaus even go another step by creating concept farm from 40ft container.

Watch Roman’s TEDx talk in the video below to grasp the idea. And finally, the big question, can we replicate the pop-up farm in another big cities? In Jakarta, my home town? There are 20 million people live and dwell here, and good amount of parking building that can definitely be improved to look nicer.

Maybe it will work, or at least, worth to give a try.