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………

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?

What Define a True Visionary

Steve Jobs had the vision of “Computer for the rest of us” when he started Apple Computer. He sold his car, and put his future into creating Apple II computer, and later Machintosh. When he was ousted from Apple, again, living his vision, he started NeXT to create computer for everyone. And when he was back with Apple, he live and breathe to another of his passion: design.

Not only that. All other Apple product after his return, the design of Apple store, live and breathe his passion, his vision.

Tony Fernandez, once a Regional VP of Warner Music Group for Southeast Asia, has a comfortable paycheck and bonus to live lavishly. Yet, he quit his job, and bought AirAsia, a troubled company back then, with his own money, and by mortgaging his home. He then transformed AirAsia into the most respected low cost carrier in the region. He live and breathe his dream: to run an airlines.

So, what differentiate someone who is passionate, and someone who is visionary?

Quoting a friend of mine over lunch: A true visionary believe in his/her vision. Their vision is more than passion, it is their religion. If given between death and not achieving his/her vision, a true visionary will choose death. It is the only thing they believe, live and breathe for.

So, do you define yourself a true visionary?

Real Artist Ship

Here is a few things to ponder. If Leonardo Da Vinci never put the painting of Mona Lisa out in the public, do you think the painting will become “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world”?

If The Wachowski Brothers never put the film Matrix out for public view, do you think they will be as famous as they are today? If Mark Zuckerberg never open Facebook for public, do you think he will be as rich and famous as he is today?

You can plan forever, design for several iteration, do a build test, pilot run, and many more before your big launch. But, no matter how great your work is in whatever you are doing, a web designer designing a blog, an architect designing a house, a programmer writing a code for a games, a project manager doing transformation project, your work will never become an art until out into public. Unless you pack your final product and ship it out.

Putting your work out in the public means that making the connection between you, the artist, and the general public. It means that your product will influence and change the public in a way. It means, to be ready to be criticized by the public, and to fail. It also means to use the critics and lesson learn for the next iteration to make a better product.

Real Artist Ship. – Steve Jobs

Learn to Say No

Many people don’t realize that, in the professional world, it is OK to say NO. Steve Jobs put it nicely in Apple WWDC 1997, that it is OK to say NO. We are being bombarded with thousands of problem today, which need to be solved by a new way of thinking. Here is the quote from Steve Jobs:

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

Well, he is a CEO, some might say. When you are a CEO, you can say anything you want. The fact is that, Steve Jobs admit on the stage that it is not easy to say NO. Steve Jobs was fired before from the company, and just returned, so his position is not safe yet. And second, even if you are not a CEO, you can still say NO to many things. What you need to do is change the way you say it, adapting to the situation.

First, say NO with a reason. And the reason must make sense. It is OK to say NO if you are at the moment focusing to get a job done, or some other commitment that you need to fulfil. If you say NO because, for example, you simply feel overqualified, while the fact that you are not busy doing anything else, that would make no sense.

Second, work on alternative to solve the problem. When someone asked you to do something, for most of the time it is to solve one or more problem. Stay focused on the problem, on the person who ask you to do something. He can be your direct manager, or the CEO of the company, but if you focus on alternative to solve the problem, it will be easier to say no and for him/her to accept it.

The solution that both of you agree might be to ask someone else to take the task, or to defer the task on a later date. Whichever agreed, you will be able to stay focused on the task in hand that you are doing at the moment.