From “Global Sprint 2018” at Mozilla Indonesia

“Global sprint” may sound too foreign to most people. It in fact refers to a global online event run in many countries by Mozilla. In Indonesia, Mozilla Community held it today (May 10, 2018). It aims to spur people’s contribution to many Mozilla’s nonprofit beneficial projects.

One of its open source and nonprofit projects is Common Voice, whose goal is to teach machines how humans speak. Another product that may share similar functions is Google Voice. But Common Voice is different in that the data gathered here is NOT intended for commercial, forprofit purpose.

Here we contributed by collecting a huge amount of written texts in a certain language. In my case, my team was working on Common Voice in Bahasa Indonesia [Bahasais the improper way to refer to the language, for your information] or Indonesian.

Why does our contribution matter?

Because we all know that Internet is dominated by English-speaking, Anglosaxon-cultured audience. How about other Internet users who don’t speak or write the language? Did we notice that English content on the web is so easily found but in Indonesian less content can be found?

Mozilla is focusing on how to include these marginalized people while still giving control of their data. And because it is nonprofit by nature, they rely on volunteers.

Speaking of Indonesian representation in Common Voice, there is hardly data stored there. To fix the situation, Mozilla allows anyone to contribute by donating their sentences to the database.

“Wait, why should I do this?” you may ask yourself.

So here is the advantage. You may not help yourself directly but if you contribute, the database may help those who plan to do research on a limited budget for educational, nonprofit purposes (such as for their academic final project, thesis or dissertation research) to make their dream come true.

We read some texts and later our voice can be changed into texts by means of STT (speech to text) feature. The more sources provide texts and feedbacks, machines would distiguish voices better and more accurately. If there is any error, it is correctable.

In this Global Sprint 2018, contributors present in Jakarta’s Mozilla Community Space were sitting together to store as many sentences as possible on the database of Common Voice to improve the machines’ performance in recognizing various human voices.

Below are important and informative links you can click in case you need more resources on this Global Sprint:

  • about Mozilla Global Sprint: https://mzl.la/global-sprint
  • about Mozilla Common Voice Project: https://voice.mozilla.org/id
  • about Mozilla Community Voice Sprint: https://voice-sprint.mozilla.community/contributing/
  • Where to upload your sentences: https://voice-sprint.mozilla.community/upload/

Perjuangan yang Padam

Cita-citaku bukan menjadi sopir sebenarnya. Aku mau menjadi sutradara panggung seperti ketoprak, wayang orang, ludruk dan sejenisnya. Sayangnya kuliahku di Institut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ) putus di tengah jalan setelah aku menghamili anak gadis orang.

Masa kecilku bahagia. Aku menikmati banyak hiburan dari televisi. Saat aku kecil sudah ada sebagian orang yang memiliki pesawat televisi hitam putih. Setelah aki habis, kami mesti sabar menunggu tiga hari lagi. Kami mesti mengisi daya lagi peswat televisi itu di tempat khusus yang jarang dimiliki orang. Paling satu atau dua tempat pengisi daya ini bisa ditemukan di sebuah kecamatan. Cuma mandor atau orang-orang berada yang memiliki pesawat televisi mahal itu.

Acara-acara TVRI menjadi kesukaan kami. Misalnya Ria Jenaka. Selain itu, kami juga banyak menyaksikan acara-acara serial televisi Barat yang berkualitas. Sebelum aki habis, biasanya gambar televisi menjadi bergoyang tanpa peringatan sebelumnya. Hal ini membuatku jengkel karena kadang membuat kami ketinggalan jalam cerita.

Begini -begini saya bangga menjadi salah satu saksi sejarah reformasi tahun 1998. Saat tanggal 12-13 Mei saya turut turun ke sumber kerusuhan. Kami para aktivis mahasiswa dibidik menjadi sasaran empuk para penembak jitu (snipers) yang sudah bersiap siaga di jembatan Semanggi. Aku ikut berkonvoi bersama ribuan orang mahasiswa lainnya.

Kami pikir penembak jitu itu hanya memakai peluru karet yang tidak akan membuat kami sekarat atau terluka. Nyatanya, kami ditembaki dengan peluru tajam seperti hewan buruan di hutan-hutan pedalaman Kalimantan. Beberapa teman kami terluka dan bahkan tewas. Kalian tentu tahu nama Elang yang legendaris itu. Ia salah satu korbannya.

Mulanya kampus kami itu damai. Kampus yang bernuansa seni kental tidak perlu memusingkan pergolakan politik dan pergantian tampuk pemerintahan di luar sana. Begitu keyakinan kami para calon seniman andal negeri ini. Sebagai calon pemimpin negeri ini, kami memang buta politik. Kami tidak pernah diberikan pendidikan politik yang memadai. Murni seni. Hanya seni yang kami yakini dengan sepenuh hati.

Tanpa diduga, kami dikirimi oleh Himpunan Mahasiswa Jakatrta dan Himpunan Mahasiswa Indonesia bra dan celana dalam wanita. Kami mendapatinya dalam paket yang dikirim dalam sebuah paket yang tertuju pada sebuah kantor BEM dan kami buka ramai-ramai. Kami dikatai banci, itu pesan yang kami tangkap dari paket itu. Kami pun terpaksa turun ke jalan dan menganggapnya sebagai perjuangan.

Setelah pak Harto lengser justru muncul pro kontra di kalangan mahasiswa sendiri. Mereka menanyakan pada diri sendiri:”Mengapa yang kita perjuangkan ini malah menceraiberaikan Indonesia?”. Di sini, para mahasiswa mulai pecah dan ditunggangi.

Aku sendiri ikut berunjuk rasa turun ke jalan karena aku anak kos yang semata-mata tergiur oleh suplai makanan gratis. Pasokan makanan seolah tanpa henti dan menjadi bagian dari sponsor. Merek-merek makanan berbau Barat mendominasi pasokan makanan kami yang turun ke jalan-jalan di Jakarta dan membanjiri gedung MPR/ DPR di Senayan. Mereka seperti diperintahkan untuk memberikan kami ‘bahan bakar’ agar terus bisa berunjuk rasa mengkudeta status quo. Siang datang ambil makanan lalu ikut demontrasi ala kadarnya dan malamnya berpesta pora. Sayangnya pesta pora ini tak sampai berlangsung tujuh hari tujuh malam. Kami hanya bisa mengecap makanan enak saat tanggal 12-13 Mei 1998 saja. Setelah tuntutan kami dipenuhi agar Soeharto lengser, kami pun tidak lagi mendapati makanan gratis yang menerbitkan air liur itu.

Amien Rais bukan orang yang ditakdirkan menjadi presiden. Terbukti seberapa kerasnya ia berjuang menjadi orang nomor satu di negeri ini, kursi presiden itu tidak kunjung bisa ia duduki. Berkali-kali mencalonkan diri dalam pemilihan presiden di Indonesia membuatnya sadar bahwa ia tidak memiliki takdir sebagai pemimpin nomor wahid Indonesia. Bahkan ia mendirikan Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN) sebagai partai yang dipenuhi orang-orang cerdik cendekia sepertinya. Tetap saja ia tidak terpilih kan? Akhirnya ia menyerah dan memilih untuk duduk di belakang saja.

Gus Dur membuktikan kehebatannya dengan bisa merangsek ke jajaran elit dan bisa menunjukkan bahwa dirinya tetap bisa memerintah walaupun secara fisik ia tidak bisa dikatakan bugar atau sehat.

On Writing Diaries, Privacy and Rubbish

I have held a huge fascination of writing diaries. I had started writing it since my younger days but then I quit.

It was not because I hated it. I yearned it for so long even. But the people around me did not allow me to keep a diary. They do not respect my privacy, which was quite a disappointment. And these are my immediate family members. The one I remembered most was my father, who read my diary. I burned my diaries ever since and kept everything in my head. That is how my father ‘killed’ the budding writer in me years ago, cruelly saying. I really wish he had not read anything or at the very least he did not show me he had read whatever I wrote in it. Devastating, indeed. Perhaps that is why I later on never trust anyone.

Later on, I managed time to keep a diary again. I realized my tendency to keep a diary is perhaps hereditary. My paternal grandfather used to keep one until the day he untimely passed away. My father claimed he was murdered. But how true his claim was, I have no idea. I lack evidence and courage to prove his hypothesis.

But now that I started to live on my own, I have more freedom to do anything, including writing a diary that anyone else can never read. I have lost so many memories. They go undocumented for like 17 years of my early teenage years and adulthood. I blame it partly on my father, for sure. I still remember one day he read a composition I wrote for Indonesian examination. I was proud at first but when he read it, I felt nauseated. That sensation of disgust came back,   saying he had no rights whatsoever to read it though in fact another voice in my head said it was okay because it is for public consumption. “You’ve written that for an exam so it’s different from diaries,” a voice in my head reasoned. But that privacy violation trauma is getting stronger day by day. It sits somewhere in my soul and gets agitated whenever my father read my works. So it makes sense that I show my pieces to my father no matter how proud I feel of a work.

So to maintain the ultimate level of privacy, to writing a physical diary like David Sedaris I prefer writing a digital diary. This way, no one can access whatever I write in the digital diary. It comes with a password that – I assume – only I know and memorize.

I agree with David Sedaris in that writing a diary every single day in my life is ot a waste of time and energy, especially if you pursuit a writing career. Writing a diary regularly hones your writing skills regardless of your current level or proficiency.

“It’s not a discipline. It’s a compulsion.” – David Sedaris on keeping a diary

I can relate to this quote of his so much because I feel I have the necessity to write about things that ultimately do not matter AT ALL. They are rubbish. But these are rubbish that enrich our life experience, rubbish that can make one’s day, rubbish that brings a smile to a dull face, and so on.

And Sedaris also explains why writers need doing yoga. It somehow explains why I like yoga.

“Well, because I spend so much time living in the past or the future. I think most people do, really. And the moments when you’re really present in your life can be pretty rare, really.” – David Sedaris

We writers dwell in the past or focus our imagination on the future but find it hard to engage with  whatever we are doing now. That is why writers must also write about their feelings in their diary. (*/)

“Night at the Museum”: An Attempt to Revamp the Image of National Museum of Indonesia

[Photo credit: MuseumNasional.or.id]
National Museum of Indonesia (Museum Nasional) that night was unusually hectic and bright, when it was supposed to be silent and dark. Some crowd consisting of youths was spotted, scattered throughout the museum. They seemed to have fun as night set in.

I was part of the party as well.

I never fancied to visit the museum at night. A friend said it gets too eerie and she is not a fan of being in the complete darkness and shocked by sudden scream of an unknown creature, for example.

I used to visit the museum once a couple of years ago. Alone, during daylight though. And what I visited was the original museum site, known as Gedung A or Building A.  It was built around 240 years ago.

If you have no idea how this museum was founded, I will let you know here. For your information, it is way older than the republic itself. The museum was initially founded, officiated and named Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen [Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences] on April 24, 1778, by the Dutch Government. At the time Batavia [Old Jakarta] was occupied and governed by VOC or East Indies Trade Company. The first building of the museum  located in jalan Kali Besar was a house donated by J. C. M. Radermacher [we shall touch more on this in the next paragraph] served as the headquarters of Dutch renowned thinkers living in East India [later known as Indonesia]. It was built thanks to the advent of the Age of Enlightenment in Europe. Dutch top thinkers had previously built their own association in Haarlem, the Netherlands, called De Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen. Upon seeing this, a number of Dutch intellectuals who lived in East India were also motivated to build and foster the same intellectual community far away from their homeland.

We were at the museum that very night to commemorate that day, when the Dutch thinkers gathered and launched their intellectual and scientific pursuit and mission in the country which their country annexed. The co-founder, Jacob Cornelis Matthieu Radermacher, was known as a public and historical figure contributing much to promoting the East India arts and sciences. Born in the Hague in 1741, Radermacher was a young VOC official. He was also a founder of the first Freemason order  in Batavia. He proposed the establishment of Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences, especially  physics, biology, literature, ethnology and history and published research findings. The association later transformed into Museum Nasional.

His contribution was enormous, ranging from donating hiw own mansion in Kali Besar [an area in Old Jakarta, located in the northern part]. He donated his highly valuable collections, such as archeological artefacts, musical instruments, books and six filing cabinets loaded with documents pertaining to the association.

As a botanist, Radermacher made flora and fauna catalogs of Java and Sumatera island throughout his tenure in Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen. On his voyage back to the Netherlands, he was tragically murdered in 1783 after a bloody onboard mutiny.

And I was there to be one of the participants, looking for rare experience And it turned out GREAT.

Around 7 pm, participants were divided into several groups as they would be led on a brief tour. It only lasted for 30 minutes so we in no way could enjoy the proper, serious and detailed museum tour and asked some questions.

I have previously roamed some spots in the museum especially in Building B (Building B, the newly built one with modern yet dry and identity-less architecture and Greek-style pillars which to me are so out of Indonesian cultural context).

The tour leaders guided all participants in three spots which represent the past and present of the museum. The first to visit is the awkwardly named art installation, “Ku Yakin Sampai di Sana” [roughly translated, “I Believe I’ll Be There”], skillfully crafted by Balinese artist I Nyoman Nuarta. Having bronze and brass as materials and the gigantic size, the artwork catches visitors’ eyes very easily. To myself, the artwork looks like a blackhole sucking people into infinity.

The second spot was Taman Sanken (The Sunken Garden). This is located between Building A [the 240-old building] and Building B [the modern one]. Still under construction, the garden was not properly lit. It is one part of the expansion of the museum [read on here to find what is in the grand plans]. But I am more than sure that after the completion, this will be an Instagrammable corner for everyone to take pictures at.

The third was probably the most familiar spot. That is the elephant statue, gifted from the Crown Prince of Thai Kingdom, Chulalongkorn. The statue is the reason why the museum is widely known by the locals as “Museum Gajah” [the Elephant Museum].

The best was yet to come. The last to visit was the most precious collections of the museum on the fourth floor. We participants were not allowed to take any photos in the exhibition room and displays for whatever reason as there are risks people will misuse photos of these artefacts to make fake items and sell them while claiming they are original.

In this place, there are a few horrid stories the leader presented us. First, the story of mandau [a saber of Dayaknese men] and mengayau tradition [beheading enemies]. As if beheading humans were not traumatic enough to even imagine, we were told that Dayaknese tribes also used to keep these bodiless heads of their slain enemies at their homes. These were even treated as trophies. The more enemy heads a Dayaknese man had, the more respect he would have from people around him in his tribe. And it was believed that the more heads a Dayaknese man had, the more power they possessed, making him to become unbeatable. And one of the ways to amass this power was to sleep on one of these enemy heads every single night. An expression of terror immediately followed the explanation.

I myself still believe that to some extent this seemingly inhumane tradition still exists in Borneo as I was told sometime ago by a friend residing in Singkawang that he witnessed  Dayaknese men collected heads around town when an ethnic riot broke in Sambas, West Kalimantan. He said the horrendous scene left him a permanent psychological scar.

As I observed, the museum management seemed so eager to revamp its image as “Museum Gajah” to “National Museum” which deserves its national status.

And I safely say this is one of the best, most creative efforts made to attract both local and global visitors, as well as to let them know that Museum Nasional Indonesia is trying to be more innovative in any possible fashion so more young people learn history without too much boredom and frustration. Visiting museums can be awesome and cool, just like malls, with which urban Indonesians are now increasingly  familiar .

To stay up-to-date with the museum’s upcoming events, never hesitate to follow its Instagram account @museum_nasional_indonesia and visit its official website MuseumNasional.or.id. (*/)

 

P.S.: As quoted from the museum management representative, actually the first building of this museum was NOT Building A on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat, Central Jakarta, just the opposite of Monumen Nasional (Monas). It was a house donated by J. C. M. Radermacher, its co-founder.

Menelisik Fitartistik: Pentingnya Imagery

Imagery dalam senam, bergunakah? [Sumber foto:Wikimedia Commons]
SAYA masih menghadapi mental block yang besar dalam melakukan back handspring seperti yang sudah diajarkan coach saya di kelas Fitartistic, Jonathan Sianturi, dalam beberapa pertemuan terakhir.

Sebenarnya saya sudah tidak ada masalah berarti saat mengeksekusi gerakan ini dengan matras tinggi di belakang saya. Tapi begitu matras setinggi lutut itu disingkirkan, otak saya seolah memberitahukan kecemasan akan ancaman potensial. Seolah-olah saya tidak mempercayai kekuatan kedua telapak tangan saya dalam menopang tubuh agar kepala ini tidak terbentur lantai. Konsekuensinya, saya bisa melenting dengan percaya diri saat masih ada matras setinggi lutut itu. Begitu matras itu tidak ada, keberanian dan kepercayaan diri saya juga sirna seketika.

Padahal secara esensi, gerakannya sama saja. Hanya saja saya harus membangun kepercayaan diri itu dengan imagery, demikian kata coach Jonathan.

Saya mencoba meresepi kata-katanya itu. Pertama-tama saya tentu heran. “Apa hubungannya imagery dengan senam?” protes saya dalam hati. Rasa-rasanya kedua bidang ini sama sekali tidak berkaitan, batin saya terus memberontak.

Sebagai mantan mahasiswa sastra, saya tahu apa itu imagery. Menurut Collins Dictionary, imagery merujuk pada bayangan yang kita ciptakan dalam benak/ otak kita berdasarkan pada kata-kata yang biasanya ada dalam karya sastra seperti syair, bait lagu, atau puisi.

Lama-kelamaan saya paham dengan saran coach Jonathan untuk menggunakan imagery dalam berlatih gerakan-gerakan yang menantang.

“Kadang dalam melakukan gerakan-gerakan senam, Anda harus menggunakan imagery karena apa yang Anda pikirkan itu mempengaruhi realitas,” tegasnya.

Dengan kata lain, pikiran memiliki pengaruh pada apa yang terjadi dalam kenyataan. Jika Anda hanya berpikir,”Duh, saya akan gagal pasti habis ini” atau “Gerakan ini susah. Pasti saya jatuh deh!”, vibrasi pikiran itu seolah akan mengirimkan sebuah sinyal ke alam semesta bahwa Anda memang pantas untuk jatuh. Maka, saran coach Jonathan, bangunlah mentalitas positif melalui imagery yang positif juga.

Dan inilah tantangan mengajarkan pada orang yang sudah dewasa, selain tubuh yang sudah lebih kaku dan terbiasa dengan rutinitas lainnya, mental mereka juga lebih sulit dibentuk.

Kenapa? Karena kita sebagai orang dewasa sudah memiliki kemampuan untuk membentuk pendapat dan pemikiran sendiri. Dan kita lebih asertif dan defensif dalam memegang opini itu dibandingkan anak-anak.

Karena itu, saya memiliki pekerjana rumah yang sangat besar di aspek ini. Bila saya sudah menaklukkan mental block satu ini, saya akan bisa menaklukkan yang lain juga. (*/)

Is Vegetarianism Too Hard? Try Semi Vegetarianism

I have a friend who stealthily urges me to turn vegetarian. He sent me once in a while some videos on why eating meat is like crime. His idea is basically like this: you kill living creatures that deserve to live if you eat meat. You allow yourself to be a walking cemetery. Under no circumstance, leave meat.

His message is clear and sound. There is no reason why I can neglect or misunderstand it.

But if he does it because he believes that it is part of his faith, I also have my own reason. I have my faith which does not seem to allow me to go completely vegan. As a moslem, I have Idul Adha. Though I can skip eating meat, there must be a meaning behind the celebration of Idul Adha. And according to my interpretation, God allows us to enjoy meat once in a while as our body needs nutritions in it. No matter how nutritious plant-based diets can be, there must be some elements that you miss from avoiding meat altogether. It is a self denial to say, “We do not need meat at all”.

Though we can eat meat, it does not necessarily mean we must consume it every day, every time we wish. That is another extreme end of spectrum.

I need the balance. And I discover that in SEMI VEGANISM. We definitely still can eat any meat, only with less frequency and in a restricted amount.

Meat, if consumed without control, gives us health issues. It causes addiction as well.

Now that people live in an era when meat is cheaper and almost everywhere, they can eat meat every time they have meal.

But this brings health impacts as well on our overall quality of life. People start suffering from gout, diabetes, coronary diseases, etc because of this horrible meat-loaded diet.

We need to transform our foods of choice. We must transform the way we think of foods.

Meat should be consumed less frequently in a fewer amount. Eat meat only once a week to stay  healthy and fit.

And moslems in the epoch of Muhammad PBUH were semi vegetarians. They ate date and water on daily basis. But meat? That is just on rare occasion. It is not part of daily meal. Meat is eaten as a mark of important celebration.

So eating healthy, fresh [instead of processed] foods is in fact not only good in terms of your health maintenance. It also shows that you observe your religious teachings.  God tells us to eat what is halal and thayyib, which means our food must be sourced in a halal way and  all substances in it is halal and proves to be beneficial for the body. (*/photo: WIkimedia Commons)

Sayonara, Facebook and Twitter! Welcome, Sebangsa!

I remember writing about Sebangsa four years ago [read on: New Indonesian-Flavored Social Media Sebangsa.com Tries to Gain Traction]. It was a new service still and not many people knew its existence. Sebangsa was later on supported by ATSI (Asosiasi Penyelenggara Telekomunikasi Seluruh Indonesia/ Indonesia’s National Telecommunication Service Providers Association), which enables it to survive to its very second.

In 2014, the service launched after Enda Nasution and Indira B. Widjonarko made it. It was far from popularity. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were still widely used. In terms of functions, it had a lot in common with the first two social media services aforementioned. It presented a timeline with multimedia content.

One thing the service has tried to facilitate is the spirit of ‘gotong royong’ or communal solidarity. It accomodated Indonesian migrant workers so its content was uniquely ‘Indonesia’. Group is its best feature. Linguistically, it was also designed to provide more ease of communication among Indonesians. So you’ll find bahasa gaul or Indonesian slang there.

Fast forward four years later, I still know Sebangsa but I am hardly on it. I have been too engrossed with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And thank God, it still exists.

After the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook shameful scandal, I came back to it once again. I gained my access to my already existing Sebangsa account (which is by now 4 years old). As of today I start to be on it more especially after I deleted my Facebook and Twitter private account.

The app cofounder Enda said [as cited by maxmanroe.com] that their strategy was never about getting head-to-head against the giants [read: Facebook and Twitter]. “We are here not to drag netizens out of Twitter or Facebook. It doesn’t matter if they are still on both social media services as our features are different from theirs.”

But if I had been Enda, I would have been more assertive in stating my ambition and proactively acquiring more users in the Indonesian market. Especially in the time of Indonesian public disgust over the scandal involving Facebook. We Indonesians now know more that trusting our data to foreign entities costs us a lot more than mere privacy leak and damage of trust.

It costs us our sovereignty and freedom to determine our own fate [through supposedly intervention-free democracy processes].

Now I know the reason why Facebook and Twitter are strictly banned in China and the country only approves of local social media networks.

If there is a perfect time for Indonesia to reclaim its digital sovereignty in this 21st century [read on: The Indonesian Government Threatens to Ban Facebook in Indonesia] then NOW IS THE TIME FOR SEBANGSA TO SHOW UP.

Leaving Facebook and using Sebangsa sounds more feasible to me because I hate to say that I hate it when people say proudly:”Indonesia is one the biggest Facebook users number in the world.” Indonesians should not feel proud of it because it shows the nation dependency on another nation’s products. And to me, that is a flaw to fix, instead of an achievement to show off. (*/)

My Life After Leaving Facebook

Odd at first, natural later on. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

It is so weird to hear a friend mentioned folks on Facebook have been in abuzz about the next general election last night. She seemed to have no idea about my opting out of Facebook. Which is of course understandable because I never want to announce it. I just quit. Just like that.

Why?

My first and foremost reason to leave or use Facebook significantly less than before is because I have no time to keep my wall updated. And every time I am on Facebook, what I see is MOSTLY DIGITAL TRASH. These are things I do not need to digest, things that are totally useless for the betterment of my life and career and everything.  I just killed time by getting on Facebook.

I have deactiveated my Facebook private account surely but I have to admit I still keep a separate account.

Again, why?

Well, before you accuse me of being untrustworthy and unreliable with my statement and view on Facebook, let me tell you I am an administrator of a community which requires me to be on Facebook. This is the last reason why I am once in a week log in Facebook and update the feed.

I have no reason to stop.

And then it came to think of it: why not delegating the task?

And then came another excuse. I have a blog. This very blog. It has a following on Facebook page I founded years ago. As silly as it may seem, I must say Facebook is quite useful to encourage people to visit my blog. Because again Instagram does not allow me to post clickable URLs on my captions. Which sucks a lot. But I really turn to Instagram right now simply because I see much less political content there. It’s mostly about yoga and health and no political views shown liberally by its users and my friends.

I have been on LinkedIn more often lately but it is too silly to post every and each blog post I just publish on my profile because not every piece is related to work. Some are very casual by nature. Far from serious topics and definitely written for sheer fun. Because writing to me is a way to destress as well.

So by ‘leaving Facebook’, I mean I am no longer updating my personal feed ever again. And I do not have any urge to do so. I have much less energy to rant on my Facebook. It is still an awesome platform for sure but it is over for me now. It is no longer cool. It is no longer awesome as it was in 2009 when the first time I logged in and told the world I had my own stances in every thing there is.

But then again, for professional and social purposes I may still be using it. I still want to reach people with Facebook simply because most of them are on it.

It is not about the glamorous side of getting social. It is just the norm. It is a task to accomplish. It is an assignment to be done. Not more. Not less. (*/)

 

5 Most Valuable Life Lessons from Top CEOs

The experience of writing CEO profiles is a humbling one. (Photo credit: Mine)

EXHAUSTED but relieved and elated.  That’s what I really feel right now. It’s perhaps similar to what a mother or father feels after a newly born baby finally in their arms. A gruelling nine months have passed and now it’s time to unwind a bit and celebrate.

With hindsight, I can sense a great deal of passion spilled into the book. My passion, too.

The project was a blast and came to me without any warning. I was recruited as one of the writers because interviewing and writing [and rewriting, if needed] profiles of more than 30 CEOs in several months with tight deadlines was too overwhelming for one or two writers.

Anyway, here is five hugely valuable life lessons  learned from a number of CEOs I interviewed in person.

Courage to move and start anew

It’s a lesson I discovered when I interviewed Mindaugas Trumpaitis, CEO of PT HM Sampoerna Tbk. He admitted that his success is thanks to his family. His parents allowed him to leave their politically turbulent country, Lithuania, for working overseas. He had roamed Latvia, Switzerland, Finland, Mexico and Ecuador and Peru. Now he also explores Indonesia, making a history with the company he is leading.

Reinvention for improvement

Sometimes we have to let go our current career and be daring enough to take risks and ‘jump to another boat’. That’s what Trumpaitis taught me. He worked as a lecturer at Klapeida University for a decade before he made up his mind to enrich his knowledge and insights and reinvent himself as a businessman. Imagine that, from an academician to a business executive. Quite a move, isn’t it?

Making the most of what you have

Another example of this lesson is Rino Donoseputro’s career journey. The leader of Standard Chartered Bank Indonesia said bluntly he never wanted or dreamed of – even the slightest – that he would someday take the helm as a business leader at a bank. What he wished for was a career as a diplomat, traveling from a country to another. A career of banker, therefore, never crossed his mind. But then destiny led him to another path somehow.  He even described himself as a reluctant to passionate banker.

So if you think your dream is unreachable, think again. What you have now is probably what will eventually make you successful. You just have to find a way to be passionate about it. Don’t do the job just because you need the money [though it really matters in fact] or because you want the pride and prestige of being a part of a cool company or workplace.

In Rino’s case, he managed to show his best and impress his then global CEO Mervin Davis in a taxi trip to the international airport one day in 2002. That’s when he knew his life would never be the same again. He was offered by the CEO to move to London, where the bank’s headquarters was located and worked there as a staffer directly working for the global CEO. So never compromise your quality performance even if you think your job is not the best in the world. Strive for the excellence no matter what. Because that’s how you’ll get noticed by the universe.

Integrity

Paulus Sutisna of DBS Bank Indonesia learned a lot about this when the crisis hit his former workplace, Citibank, in 1997-1998. As a banker, he knew and experienced firsthand the bitterness of Asian financial crisis. That was the right time to learn people’s real characters. Some are deceitful, he discovered. They showed no intention to cooperate with his bank and then got away with the loans. “Some looked very rich but after the crisis, they refused to pay and even avoided us,” he recalled the darkest days in his career. However,  very few still had their last shred of dignity, trying to negotiate their loans with him and his bank, and maintaining good relationships even they could escape and disappear if they wanted to. Then he learned his clients’ characters and that proves to be useful later on.

I see this as a good point. Regardless of the industry we work in, integrity is so important and should never be compromised. It’s the last quality that has the greatest significance other than competence and many others. If one has integrity, anything else in him would be appreciated. But once integrity is fading away, any other factors would fail to be taken into account.

Organization

Get involved in an organization so that you can learn a lot about leadership and humans and how to manage them. All these skills are always useful even if you’re living as a hermit in the middle of a jungle.

Iqbal Latanro of Taspen taught me this. He has always wanted to be actively involved in any organizations since his days at elementary school because he knew that way his leadership and communication skills would grow rapidly.

You may find the more complete narrative of these CEOs’ thoughts inside “Indonesia Most Admirable CEOs 2017”. It is now sold at Periplus, Gramedia and Book and Beyond outlets in Indonesia. (*/)

Fitartistik: Tanpa Batas, Lebih Asyik

HUMAN flag adalah salah satu gerakan yang tidak terbayangkan bisa saya lakukan. Gerakannya disebut demikian karena posisi tubuh meniru bendera yang tengah tertiup angin kencang, sampai benar-benar tegak lurus dengan tiang.

Tapi hari ini saya mencoba dan ternyata bisa juga!

Fitartistik inilah yang menurut saya adalah latihan dengan hanya menggunaka  berat tubuh (body weight workout) yang tanpa menargetkan harus menguasai ini itu tetapi secara lambat namun pasti membangun kekuatan dan kelenturan tubuh sehingga kita pada suatu saat tiba juga pada titik yang diinginkan. Tentu jika syarat-syaratnya terpenuhi: latihan dengan disiplin dan konsisten.

Coach Jonathan Sianturi sendiri memberikan sedikit nasihat pada saya yang memiliki tipe tubuh ectomorph ini agar memperbanyak latihan fisik jenis muscle-up agar kekuatan lebih terbangun secara alami. Ia menyarankan makan lebih banyak protein alami seperti putih telur dan ikan.

Jadwal latihan juga perlu diatur. Bisa dengan dua hari berturut-turut latihan sampai lelah baru dua hari berikutnya benar-benar istirahat. Ini yang dinamai recovery period. Kemudian bisa juga selanjutnya satu hari latihan dan diikuti satu hari istirahat. Ini yang dinamakan mini break. Demikian saran Jonathan.