Wednesday, May 6, 2015

#TBT - September 2011 speech on networking

Honorable Sponsors, Friends and Fellow Alumni of USC:

I like to say "It's a Good Day to be a Trojan." TODAY I'd like to use a slightly different phrase, "It's a GREAT day to be a Trojan."

Today we are here because of the Trojan Family Network. 

What is networking? 

The term networking, in a social context, is defined as " An extended group of people with similar interests or concerns who interact and remain in informal contact for mutual assistance or support."

When joining a network, many people begin by asking, "what's in it for me?"

Having a network is like having talent, it is useless if you don't use it. Herein lies the paradox. Using a network in fact, does not begin with the "what's in it for me?" question. To be an effective part of a network, its members have to start with the question "what can I bring to this network? In what ways am I willing to contribute?"

Once we start with a commitment to partake in a network, the next natural step is to learn and observe. And in this regards, I am a grateful student of the USC alumni network.

AUSCI was founded in 1996 by Dr. Anugerah Pekerti, and I learned a lot from this patriarch of ours. Dr. Pekerti is a very low key, yet highly dedicated professional in everything that he does. And from him I learned the importance of staying grounded.

Another teacher is Pak Kenny Wirya, who shared with me the importance of social entrepreneurship. Two months ago, Kenny invited me to have lunch with Dr. Kim Tan, a billionaire biophysicist, who really really went out of his way to help develop social entrepreneurial projects in forgotten areas of Africa, Cambodia, and India, to name a few. This billionaire likes to travel, but he doesn't go to vacations in France or Bali, but he spends time, for example, to develop a game/hunting park in an African country, where over 50% of the population is infected with AIDS.

There's no shortage of teachers in the USC alumni network in Indonesia. As Indonesia was fretting about our national soccer team losing to Bahrain earlier this month, there was an Indonesian Trojan, Rory Hidayat or Rory Hie, who ensured merah putih was flying high on the very same day, by winning a 200k professional golf tournament in China. Rory, who went to USC on a golf scholarship, is the first Indonesian to win an international golf event. I was fortunate to have a round of golf with Rory last year, and from him I learned a lot about perseverance.

Another teacher is Robby Budiman, someone who is very gracious and generous. Robby taught me the importance of being active. Just last week, he asked me if I want to join him in Adidas King of The Road 10km running event, which happened this past Sunday. I asked Robby, "did you say I have to run 10km?" When he said yes, my response was "maybe I will join you next year, when either my legs are bigger or my body is smaller."

Being in a network, we can learn directly and indirectly from each other. For example, our most senior panelist today, Pak Edwin Soeryadjaja, is the 2010 Ernst & Young Indonesia Entrepreneur of The Year. In his interview upon winning the award, Pak Edwin cited choosing the right partner as one of the critical success factors in business. And my guess is it'd be easier to find the right partner if we were in the right network.

All I can say is, I am humbled, and I am thankful that the AUSCI network has allowed me to learn and develop, as part of the network.

Today is one of the climaxes of being in the Trojan Family Network. An event of this magnitude is not an easy event to implement, and let's thank all the committee, sponsors and partners who made today possible. Please, a big round of applause for them.

I would like to close by mentioning the topic of magic. The AUSCI network has in fact allowed all Trojans, and friends who are willing, to be magicians. How so? It is through the AUSCI network that we were able to establish ties with BNI, our sponsor for today's event. I've had the pleasure of working with Pak Dodit, the PIC for all BNI Credit Cards, who had the vision and the belief that this partnership with the AUSCI foundation will be mutually beneficial. Thank you Pak Dodit for the vote of confidence, and of course to Pak Gatot, Bu Felia and the entire management team of BNI.

The culmination of our meetings with BNI is this event, and, a very special card that no other alumni of foreign university in Indonesia have = The AUSCI BNI Visa Platinum card. It must be noted that yayasan AUSCI the foundation is a separate legal entity from our alma mater. This is the first and only card for an alumni association of a foreign university in Indonesia. BNI has been aggresive with promotions, so there are lots of discounts. Yet, for me, the best feature of this card is that for each charge that we make, a commission goes to primary school children of Indonesia. By that I mean, for every charge that we make, a percentage goes to AUSCI's library building program, at NO extra cost to users.

I am asking you to be fellow magicians with me. With this card, you can help build libraries, just by using it as a normal credit card, which I am sure 99.9% of us already do everyday. No extra cost or effort, yet you are building libraries just by using this card. And you get reserved parking at Plaza Indonesia on weekends too, courtesy of BNI.

As we are all business practitioners, most things come down to the numbers. Building a simple library costs 40-50 million Rupiahs. At 0.03% fee per transaction set aside for the libraries, it would take a cumulative spending of 15 billion Rupiahs to make one library. Fifteen billion seems like a lot, but if the 400-500 of us in this room were using the card, it would take 3jt usage per month, to build one library per year. Imagine if each of us spend 10 million per month. Three libraries out of nowhere. Wow. Magical, isn't it?

BNI showed their confidence in the AUSCI network. Fellow Trojans, let's show them our appreciation by using this magic card!

This card is bigger than AUSCI, and it's open to all. In fact, we even accept UCLA applicants.

Before we move on to our last panel discussion, I would like to mention one last great teacher, someone that all of you know, Pak Husodo. Husodo had the courage to envision an AUSCI that will exist permanently.

And how do you go about establishing something that will exist forever? You have to establish an endowment fund. So we calculated the necessary principal, and the figure came to over 3 billion rupiah. Husodo's first step is to donate a significant amount himself, and next was calling on his network of Trojans to pitch in as well. Today, AUSCI has over 2 billion rupiahs in the bank, and we are very close to reaching our target. My lesson learnt from Pak Husodo is this: think big and long term, and commit yourself when doing something, it doesn't have to be money, but the commitment is most important.

In the nice neighborhood of Los Angeles where USC is located, the phrase is "if you wanna talk the walk, you gotta walk the talk." So Pak Husodo, thank you for this lesson.

That's it from me. Let's use our network, whatever they may be, and start contributing in each of them.

And now, let's take a moment to recognize today's Trojan panelists, as well as the donors of the AUSCI Husodo Endowment Fund.

Thank you.

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PS: the "libraries for rural primary schools" CerdasBang (mencerdaskan bangsa) campaign went from 2011-2014, with a total of 58 libraries built in the corresponding number of SD Negeri (state primary schools) in Sidoarjo, Padang, and Sleman, more than a couple of which were the direct result of the AUSCI Visa BNI cooperation mentioned above.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LKY

I grew up admiring how safe I feel when I am visiting Singapore. How clean the city is. How organized things are.

Back home in Jakarta, everything seems comparatively haphazard. For the record, Indonesia is my home and my heart is here.

The passing of LKY makes me ponder though, what kind of Indonesia would we be in, today, had we been led by someone like LKY. I am NOT talking about race. I am talking about character, implementation of ideas, and everything else.

Sure enough, managing an island state like Singapore is NOT the same as managing the 4th most populous country in the world. Add 15,000 more islands, plus over 200,000,000 people, and you may be in the same ballpark.

LKY was not without faults. He was authoritarian and perceived as uncompromising to others getting in his way. To this day, there seems to be no real opposition to the ruling party in the lion city.

They say, though, the proof is in the pudding. LKY stepped down as PM of Singapore in 1990. Twenty five years later, the Singapore of today has proven resilient. It went through two bouts of global financial crises relatively unscathed. That is a quarter-century of proven pudding, or legacy if you will.

I doubt that LKY would have approved the Marina BS (pun intended) had he been the PM in his prime.

Going forward, I fear Singapore's much vaunted gambling dens will bring more harm than good to the island state, but that is a topic for another day.

As a foreigner, I am somewhat amused that the city symbol of Singapore may be slowly shifting, perception wise, from one M (the Merlion) to the other M (the Marina BS).

Back home, gambling is just one of the topics that we are concerned about. There is the half-built and fully-abandoned Monorail structures in the major streets of our Capital. There's the seemingly concerted effort to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission. And then there's the growing drug problem, perhaps the biggest threat to Indonesia's next generation.

Indonesia recently made regional headlines with our stance against drugs, by announcing the planned execution of convicted drug traffickers. As Indonesia's noted journalist Desi Anwar stated in her aptly titled article, this is "like cheering the shooting of a couple of burglars while forgetting that the entire house is already run by thieves." 


So, "what kind of Indonesia would we be in, today, had we been led by someone like LKY?" 

We will never know.

What we (or most of us) know, a true giant passed today. 

Let us all carry on, warts and all.

Rest In Peace LKY.