The Most Important 7 Years of Your Life

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I couldn’t agree more when they say:

You will regret things you don’t do than the things you did

You’re only young once so you have to try everything

The only thing that young people have is TIME

I have hit the quarter life crisis, in a good way, I believe. It took a lot of courage and focus to step back and look at what we have done — both good and bad — and how we’re going to spend the next 25 years.

I would say the most important 7 years — or the life defining years — are when you are 18 (entering uni) until you are 25. (I am biased, yes). I believe in these 7 years. You’re either going to be a boring person who went to classes, did all the assignments, went home and get a safe job.

OR you are going to fuck up with your life, party hard — way too hard, and jumping from one job to another because you don’t feel satisfied OR people just hate you because you can’t do your job properly.

OR you can maximize the resource you have which is time, and just basically learn all the sh*t you need, meet all the people you want to learn from, get all the experience you believe can be the foundation of your life ,and just absorb all of them.

Pretty much that’s what I did – I almost had to repeat a year when I’m in senior high school, but didn’t because something ‘clicked” in my brain when I was in this tutoring after-school program (called Rumah Belajar — SMAK 1 and SMAK 4 Penabur peeps should know them)

Went to Binus University basically because they are the only decent IT school. Aced my first 2 years and got bored, ended up with a job with East Ventures and Tech in Asia (both career defining jobs) went to hundreds of meetups, met with probably a thousand people through conferences and events and as they say the rest is history.

If I had to redo it all over again, I would do more, learn more, and meet more people. When you are 25, like I am right now, all you want to do in the weekends are sleeping in or just watch Netflix. You are more cynical to new ideas, you take less risk in your decision making, you don’t do roller-coaster anymore (thank God I did skydiving last year), you got sick after just 2 shots of tequila, you don’t go to meetups anymore because you can’t stand listening to wannabe founders telling you they are going to be the next Go-Jek or maybe not.

Basically: if you are younger than 20 and reading this, STOP SPENDING HOURS WATCHING INSTAGRAM STORIES AND SPEND THOSE HOURS TALKING TO PEOPLE, FIND MENTORS, AND READ BOOKS.

It’s 10pm and I can’t wait to go to bed (I used to laugh at my older friends back in uni saying that they are such a pussy for sleeping in so early while I was spending all nighters playing games or just watching movies — what a karma huh)

 

I Have (Not) Made It

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Nowadays, when I went to a wedding of a friend or high school/university gathering or a reunion. Most of the time I will hear something along the line of:

“Boss, how are you? Wow, you’re such a success now!”

“Talenta Boss! You’re growing so fast! Remember me when you succeed!”

And usually I just brush them off by saying “We’re just getting by” or “we’re fighting for survival” or just thanking them for their good wish.

I think I just want to reiterate, and probably if there’s a lot of people that read my post, announce — that I have NOT made it. There is still looooooooooong way to go. I’m barely surviving. Not that I’m cocky, but the exact opposite, I don’t want to get people’s expectation and perception too high.

I am not saying that we didn’t make progress or we didn’t achieve anything, it’s more of like reminding people that not all startups are going to end up like Go-Jek, Tokopedia, or Traveloka. In fact, 9 out of 10 — startups will die. The question is when?

We have passed 3 years so far, most of the time limping from one client to another, educating companies the importance of software especially in their HR. We have also raised more than $1m so far, and hopefully we can raise more soon.

Whether I will raise more money or close Talenta in the future — this post serve as a reminder that I have NOT made it, but yes I have made a progress over the past 3 years. I have learned a lot. It’s such a humbling experience. Thank You God :)

Defining Value Driven Life with Vision and Passion

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Over the past 5 years of my 20s – I get to learn tons of things and things seems to be moving pretty fast over that duration of time. Personally, I got to graduate and worked at some pretty interesting companies making huge network of connections and ended up building Talenta for the past 3 years now. At the same time the ecosystem that I’m in have resulted 3 companies with more than $1b in valuation (Tokopedia, Traveloka, Go-Jek). Even further, the tech ecosystem globally has gone from Uber for X (on demand marketplace) to Artificial Intellegence, AR/VR, and cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, and more)

Realizing this, I feel the need to define my values, my vision, and my passion — to be the anchor and north star of my life. Otherwise I’ll be just following the current and ended up in a rat race.

My vision: is to be/to create a scalable solution to a huge problem specifically in Indonesia and generally the world. Which is why I’m in tech as it is the only way to scale a solution beyond solving problems for small circles.

Values or things that I want to relate myself into:

Maker – creating things (whether it’s writing, shooting a video, drawing comics, music, or any things) are a basic human responsibility and needs. I want to continue my goal of making valuable things vs consuming and being passive.

Movement – I want to relate myself to positive and impactful movements that can create change

Minimalism: I got this value from watching this documentary basically less is more. You should be able to pack your belongings in 1-2 suitcases. Owning too many things doesn’t make you happy – in fact more choices can lead you to being unhappy.

Mindfulness: Being mindful in the age of distractions (read: technology and especially our smartphones) is super important. Mindful of what you think, you eat, you read, or even what you do and who are you friends with.

Mentorship: Experience matters despite the pace of change in the world that we live in. That is why I believe in giving back through mentorship and also receiving it from someone I admire/trust. We need mentorship whether in faith, in business, in life, in love.

Things that I am passionate about:

Software: Just around 6 years ago the term Software is eating the world is “announced” by Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz the famous Venture Capital. It couldn’t be more true, essentially software (or tech) is touching every single things in our life.

Subscription: While William Tanuwijaya of Tokopedia have famously said that “marketplace is the most awesome/beautiful business model in the world” – I beg to differ, I believe that subscription is the best. While the past decade or two, we’ve only been familiar with subscriptions through its connection with media (newspaper, cable tv, Internet Service Providers) and at its core it is still going to be the biggest use case, I believe it will expand to more things like subscribing to your favorite restaurants or businesses.

Sleep: Despite the lack of it, I am intrigued, and thus became curious, and at the end became excited about sleep. Whether the supporting industry (supplements, or even the mattress) or the act and the knowledge of sleep itself. I believe that we need enough sleep to excel and perform in our waking hours and the world needs to be educated more on this.

Savior: God, and in this case (and the only case for me), Jesus Christ have changed my life. And I’m passionate about learning about Him and celebrating Him. I want to be influential and spread the word of God. Especially to non-believers.

I hope I can look back to this day and thanking my past self to have created this. Amen.

Hillsong Conference

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This might be a boring post for non-believers but hopefully even this post can convince some of you to start looking. I have been a Christian since I was born since it is the law here to actually have a religion. My dad was legally Buddhist and my mom is a Christian.

I went to a Christian school and even have a Christian class and even a Christian exam (!). Ended up remembering all the books of bible (10s to look for any verse) and all the stories inside. And yet — just like any teenagers I fell into a deep shithole of sins especially when my parents were divorced. What kind of shithole is for another post but the key thing here is that I wasn’t a devoted Christian at all.

And so, with no other direction but up — I ended up trying to “restart” my faith and actually going to the church with both curiosity and an open heart. I ended up receiving baptism, and like how everyone said it: the rest is history.

Few years after my baptism, I graduated from my uni, was pretty much in a “jaded” phase and or “rut” — I know i need to go somewhere and yet I was stuck. Somehow, God sent me a chance of a religious trip. My good friend and life mentor, Ronald Ishak – wasn’t able to go to his Hillsong Conference trip because he had to go to the United States.

All I had to pay was my accomodation and foods while there – an offer too good to resist — not long after going there, Talenta was born.

Fast forward again another few years, 2017, I honestly felt that we have built something that people want and need, and yet I’m stuck in terms of growth. At the same time, I felt like despite all the achievements — I’ve also have built a stack of sins. Somehow, God answered this again with Hillsong Conference trip. God sent another friend to sponsor and actually went together with me for this trip. (Thank you Ko Jeffrey Gunawan!)

And this are several things I learned this trip:

1) We have to wait and pray in expectation to God. It doesn’t mean that God must do what you want or what you tell Him, but when you ask, God will give it to you.

2) This is just the start, not the endThis particular words resonated with me really deeply because I was feeling tired and hitting this wall I couldn’t go through. I thought that the blessing is ending, yet God said — I just got started :)

3) Don’t just SEE, but LISTEN. Sometimes, all we can focus on is what we see (currently). All we can see is the battle that we are losing (in our daily life) but when you close your eyes, and listen – Holy Spirit is saying that you are winning the WAR!

4) God is raising Kings and Queens in this world. We are our own influencer in our community. We are destined to become something big — and no matter how “small” we thought we are – God want to use us.

5) Holy Spirit isn’t (always) something that you watch or you see externally. Holy Spirit should be something internally, and feeling extraordinaryThe reason this is also part of the things I note is because recently churches started practicing “speaking in tongue” as if we can only have Holy Spirit if we do it. Meanwhile, God is reminding us it’s not about something exceptional that you should see but actually WE should be exceptional in our life.

6) Fastest way to kill something special is to compare. Comparison made you inferior or superior and neither are God. This is actually something that (again) resonated with me — especially in the era of social media where we just can’t seem to stop comparing ourselves to our friends or even a complete stranger.

7) Father in heaven waited for more than 20 years (CMIIW) to “announce” Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need an announcement — but what God wants to tell us is that you may be anointed but not announced, don’t wonder why you have to wait so long to be successful, to be blessed, to be rich, to be famous, to be smart. God has His own time.

I believe that God will (again) put something special into work for me and my life — and I can’t wait to share that with you. God bless you all :)

Time to Restart

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Whenever I said “time flew”, the next time I said it again, it will feel as if time move even faster than the last time. There is several reasoning. But I’m definitely feeling both excited and scared at the same time.

I turned 25 just over two months ago, despite all of my achievements, turning twenty five felt like I hit this invincible wall where I can’t see it unless I step back from the spot. I question every things that I did, I built, friends I have made and lost, relationship that was supposed to be good and the one that started and felt so good (I love you, Hyojeong)

Just like IU’s song — now that I’m 25, I know what I like and what I dislike. It feels okay now not going out on the weekend and just sleep in and or binge watch Netflix (Jessica Henwick — I can watch her all day).

Now, let’s talk beyond myself. This lebaran holiday (10 days) is such a perfect moment to sit back and restart things — review what we did for the past 6 months and answer what will we do in the next 6 months so it can be a great year.

One of the things that I kept breaking is to exercise at least once a week, to read a book at least one book per month, and to keep exercising my writing skills over this blog. This time I’m not going anywhere, this time I want to restart myself, resting mentally and physically and then run again with my team at Talenta.

How about you?

What You Need

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God gives you what you need not what you want.

I’m not even sure I’m quoting the right sentence but this is what I remember. It is so much easier to blame God of not getting what we want despite us getting what we need.

For the past few years — I’ve been exactly getting what I need, I won’t make this a long detailed post but just two very “random” acts of God:

1) There was a tech event where we can put in our namecard and at the end of the event the winners will get prizes. The #1 prize was an iPad which was still quite a rare product. I was wishing for that product yet I was #3 and what I got? A huge suitcase (and a smaller one inside) just in time for my years of travelling. I never owned/bought any suitcase before and I’m still using it even today.

(I believed it was held by Merah Putih – Pak Antonny Liem handed me my gift)

2) I’ve never really had a proper bag for work. What I had was combination of those trendy bags for uni students and half professional looking leather bag from Coach. When we entered Google Launchpad, we got this awesome backpack from Google where I can put my laptop, ipad, phones, pencils, and everything on its respected pockets. With someone who is as forgetful as me, this is really really handy and again —

God gives what we need. We should be more thankful :)

Living in Jakarta

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Posting this after 12 hours (SFO-ICN), 6 hours (ICN-SIN), 4 hours transit at Changi, and another one and a half hour flight to Jakarta. Despite all the glamour and what I posted here about living in the Valley. Plus an awesome public transportation and people in general. We should be thankful that we are living in Jakarta:

  • Most of the things are cheap. We can literally eat for as little as $1 and drink coffee for $3. Decent food in the Valley cost you at least $4-5, so does a cup of coffee.
  • Despite lack of public transportation – gas and parking are still generally cheap and definitely far cheaper than the US.
  • Human resources are also much cheaper, we can compare the minimum wage. Thus, allowing us to hire maids, drivers, baby-sitters, and so on.
  • THANK GOD FOR BIDET ON MOST PUBLIC TOILET IN JAKARTA!
  • There are so many problems to solve, so many opportunities.

I believe there are more things to be thankful of, but I’m definitely out of energy and need some sleep. Thank you for reading!

 

 

Blessing of Water

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Not a movie title.

Or even related to religion or anything. I’m just talking about how integral of water in our lives and yet how we (especially, me) are not thankful enough to have it. To quote this article:

Water plays such an important role in our lives no matter where we live. It’s a primary element of our planet’s ecosystem. It nourishes us. It quenches our thirst. It impacts our health. It’s critical to our survival. It’s the source of life.

Imagine people out there who can’t even drink water whenever they want, see this article about “The Right of Water” – I am really really thankful that I can live where I live right now where water is considered affordable or cheap enough even compared to our neighboring countries. Drinking water can be bought with 10 to 20 cents. We often see people take a long bath without ever thinking about the cost.

Which is why I’d like to remind how blessed we are that we should:

1. Drink water and be thankful. We need water intakes everyday, and thus please drink and feel thankful. Your body will too.

2. Shower and be thankful. Use the water properly. Feel how refreshed you are and again, feel thankful for it.

3. Donate and be thankful. Charity:water is one of the best non-profit to support a movement of clean water for the one who needs it. Any help will be a blessing.

Value of Experience (and Loyalty)

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In this generation of young, tech-savvy, yet want everything to be instant. The career path of someone graduating between the past 3-5 years to the next decade is gonna look like Mario jumping from one block to another. Job hopping is something that I see (and afraid of) is happening and becoming a trend. Yet that is not what I’m going to talk about.

This post is for those who are graduating, has already graduated recently, or had been in a workforce for a year or so. We are young, so YOLO, right? Yet, I still don’t get people who choose a boring corporate jobs over fast-paced, learning-a-ton, building-network job in a high growth startup. Okay, you might say: “Well, corporate jobs paid me 30 percent more or even twice! I need money to support my Starbucks morning, and weekends at clubs”

Too bad, you’re wrong. Not on the part where you will get paid well for corporate jobs, but on the part where you value money too early in your life. Unless you have to support your family (parents or young siblings) OR you are a young married couple with kids, then this post is not for you. BUT, if you are single (not married) and don’t have that much of a responsibility – explore things, do new experiences, work where you know you will learn tons of sh*t and grow your network by 10-20-100 times.

To give you an example of what I faced, I worked for East Ventures and Tech in Asia. Back then, I’d say I’m getting peanuts but to learn under Willson Cuaca and Willis Wee on a daily basis. That is priceless. I have grown my skills and network – both which are super duper useful in my life as a founder, building Talenta. In the middle of that, with my experience from TiA and EV I got to work for KakaoTalk, earning 10 times what I make at the previous companies – and able to lead the expansion and marketing for KakaoTalk in Indonesia.

Money is important. Peer pressure exists. But please, don’t value yourself over how much salary you got and comparing it to your friends. Make sacrifices for the next 1, 2, or 3 years and reap all the benefits after. This is a generation where we will see tons of changes for the good for Indonesia. Be part of the change, don’t just got stuck up in a corporate rat race.

(To add to this, I am totally biased as I have worked all my career so far in startups. I don’t have anything against corporate, but my post won’t hurt you guys. Any smart and bright talents that I can convince to join the startups movement can only be good for this country.)

And even after a few years in startups and you don’t feel like this is for you, the corporate job will still wait for you to take. Getting a job is easy. Getting the value of experience and being loyal to a company is a chance that you shouldn’t miss.

P.S. Talenta is hiring :)

Broken Family

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Before you read my post, do read this Medium post first: Be With Someone Who Came From a Broken Family. This is not a self-pity post or anything related to that, but in fact, I’d love to add to this topic. This is a sensitive issue and something that I haven’t brought up to anyone in my professional circle, only my close friends knew about this.

I came from a broken family. My parents were separated (can’t say divorced as they were never legally married) ever since I’m in elementary school, or around 10 years old. I would say it was actually good for all of us since they fought a lot. I can’t imagine going through puberty with all the fighting. I do believe that God helped me through it.

My dad has been a single parent ever since (love you dad) supporting me and two younger sisters. He has been like our very own best friend, he has supported my decision to start my own company as he is also an entrepreneur on his own. He has been my “punching bag” whenever I’m stressed or about to give up. (Being a founder isn’t an easy journey)

I’m going to point out some notes from that Medium post:

They are emotionally stronger. People from a broken family know how to handle different kind of emotions like abandonment, guilt, unhappiness, anger and well, happiness. Experiencing this roller-coaster-kind-of-life enhances them to become strong. They believe even the hardest point of their life won’t knock them down.

This is super true. There is almost nothing worse for kids to experience parents fighting all the time and in the end, growing up with a single parent, whether it’s with their dad or mom. We do have our own trust or commitment issues because of this, but we are stronger. I am stronger.

They are the most loyal and values trust more than anything. Being able to experience rejection and abandonment, they tend to shield themselves from getting hurt again. People see them as a person with a cold-heart and difficult to deal with but they act like one to spare themselves from dealing with the episodes of taken for granted. Loyalty matters to them and they give it to someone worth keeping.

Related to what I pointed out above, trust issues that we have – actually brought us into super loyal friend or lover since we know how it feels to be abandoned. Up until now I have more friends and colleagues than what I would’ve imagined ten years ago.

They are independent and motivated. Being in a broken home, the urge of getting away from crap is intense that they use the negativity to motivate themselves. They channel their disappointments and frustrations by giving their full potential to anything they are on. They compete with no one but themselves. They can rise up even with the absence of help from anyone because they know their success depends on them alone. They believe they can succeed with or without help.

This is what I can relate to the most. Although I won’t say I’m successful at this point, I’d say that every success that I got have been mostly from relying on myself (and God). I want to prove to the world that age is irrelevant and with whatever background that I have (local uni graduates, no hard skills at all, less to none capital) – I can succeed. Today, I’ve been running an online software company focusing on Human Resource called Talenta without any HR or programming skills/background before.

To sum it all, if you can relate to my post, believe me – no matter what you face in this world/life. Don’t give up. Fight.