Writers’ Commitment Renewal

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Last night I discovered someone’s Instagram handle. Out of curiosity, I clicked it and I was led to a feed full of heavily edited travel photos, urban landscapes and social gatherings.

Very typical, indeed.

But what caught my attention is the bio of the feed owner. It says: “travel writer”.

Wow!

As a linguist and bibliophile, I just cannot help myself admiring those who have a knack for and talent of writing.

Writers are always intelligently sexy to me. And that is irrespective of their physical shapes.

Travel writers in the glory days of leisure economy are known as a highly respected profession.

They travel for – well maybe – free.

They make money in the process.

They showcase such a leisure lifestyle that everyone envies.

They are on holiday all the time, it seems.

They enjoy being in the wilderness and still looking lively, sprightly, fashionable, photogenic and cool ice cream.

This is a to-die-for job for millenials of my age and generations that follow (Gen X, Y and Z).

But as I clicked, I found a webpage that is dry and deserted.

The most recent post was dated back on some day in 2016.

I compared to his Instagram feed which has quite a huge following for some unknown self-proclaimed travel writer (or it is I who do not know his level of popularity).

Well, I formed a conclusion that now one does not need to get certified by anyone else but himself to be called “travel writer”.

Though you may think I am as sinister buffoon as one can be, I take some lessons to learn for myself from this disappointing discovery.

And one of those is UPDATE YOUR BLOG MORE OFTEN THAN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FEED!

That is especially recommendable for someone who claims himself or herself a writer by profession. No matter what the field s/he is writing in.

Because if you don’t, you deceive the public.

Social media services has sucked up so much of our time and turning us from writers (read: content creators and producers) to readers (mere consumers of ideas, emotion and information).

So the next time some people think it is enough to become a travel writer by showing a heavily edited holiday photo with a short caption on Instagram, I would say: TRY HARDER. (*/)

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Slow Writing for Better Results

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(Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

NOW I’m confident enough to say that my slow typing habit is justified and defended by science.

I saw J.K. Rowling showcased an admirable typing speed in the documentary years ago. She punched that keyboard with the enthusiasm I’ve never seen.

I’ve never been and never will be a fast typist. And I once wanted to be a faster one when a friend saw me typing and commented,”Apparently, you do not type with all of your ten fingers. Strange though, because I can.” He continued, he was taught typing with ten fingers long ago while in high school. What kind of school was teaching typing skills, I wonder? It couldn’t be a secretary school because this friend is a guy.

But anyway, that friend tore my ego as a writer apart.

Should a writer be able to write and type faster than non-writers do?

The question haunted me so long until I saw this scientific finding from the researchers from the University of Waterloo.

They said whoever types slower writes better. That means, the quality of our writing enhances when we slow down, not speed up.

The scientists said it was because typing with one hand only seemed to affect one’s important skills in writing, such as how to select apt words for certain contexts. There is no further explanation as to how this is the case but I suppose this was made possible because someone had more time to make decisions regarding words to pick or remove from their compositions.

This is especially true when you aim to write to make impacts.

And maybe the case is so much different if we write only for fun, relief and self expression, or write to take notes for academic purposes in classes or for professional purposes during interviews with some sources or amid meetings with other colleagues or superiors.

I conclude that it’s NOT the speed of writing that can ruin one’s writing quality but it’s more because of the impulsiveness. When I write fast, I notice that I tend to rush (deadline is looming!) and make less accurate choice of words. What I want to achieve is to get the job done. Period.

I’ve heard that writing is basically rewriting for a numerous number of times. To improve writing quality, multiple revisions are not avoided but strongly required even.

Which is why I can totally get it when David Sedaris, one of my favorite living authors, said before he sent a piece to The New Yorker, he had rewritten his article for more than twenty times.

All in all, when writing for quality, just slow down. But writing for emotional and psychological relief, choose to be quick and less picky with vocabularies. (*/)

Light as Antidote of Writer’s Block

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WRITER’S block is always considered the culprit of every writer’s low productivity (I can imagine some of you nodding in agreement).

But regardless of the triggering cause(s) of writer’s block, what can we actually do about it aside from complaining at all times and blaming it on others?

Two Harvard scientists in 2004 told the world that getting rid of writer’s block is possible. How is it so?

By LIGHT.

So Alice Flaherty who works at Harvard Medical School as neurology instructor and Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson experimented with light to find out whether it can dispell writer’s block or not.

Why light in the first place?

In countries with four seasons, more people are seen to experience a decrease in productivity and originality. The two researchers likened this phenomenon to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is getting more common and widepsread when days are becoming darker and colder. SAD can actually make humans depressed and less creative, which also translates to writer’s block.

The disorder can be healed by getting ourselves exposed to light. In the experiment, subjects were treated by means of light boxes (no sunlight is available in long winter; hence the artificial light sources). They sat in front of the light boxes so they can enjoy the light as if it had been from the sun.

As for me, my takeaway from this research that I won’t have to get myself a pricey light box in front of which I must sit patiently. That’s because I have the most effective, natural, free light source for this therapy: the sunlight!

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Reference:

The brains behind writer’s block

One Sure Way to a Better Writing

1130px-Albert_Anker_Schreibendes_MC3A4dchen_1902RAISE your hand if you hate reading a book that frustrates more than entertains you.

Well, I’m no exception.

I’ve recently started reading Yuval Noah Hariri’s “Homo Deus”. And in spite of the buzz that this book is extremely cool (and thus reading this in public makes you look intelligent, critical and impressively updated), I still have to struggle to find enjoyment in reading it.

But then I realize that a book is supposed to be a main food for thought. And reading a good book is like feeding yourself a nutritious super food. It definitely makes you healthier and more alive than ever before.

So I came to the conclusion that a good book is also like a healthy food: it’s not as delicious as junk food but it offers numerous benefits in the ways we’ve never imagined.

The fact that I write for a living also pushes me to read not only good but great books. It’s more about enriching my vocabulary, strengthen my linguistic ‘muscles’ than keeping up with all the trends.

Yet, what happens now is that I – and a lot of us – am reading more online materials than great quality books. We read more trashy, clickbait articles that are produced or reproduced within minutes and fewer book that are very well thought and heavily edited and revised by experienced editors of major publishers.

And it’s no wonder that our linguistic skills including our writing skills just suck, getting rotten and rusty from day to day underuse.

If you’re a writer or copywriter or anyone working in the domain of language and creativity like me, chances are you’ll find your work or your sentences monotonous, boring and less enticing the more you consume ‘junk’ content every day.

It totally MAKES sense! If you read trash, you write trash as well!

Simply put, to write better, watch your reading materials. Make sure you consume good quality materials.

And science even justifies this!

A study by the University of Florida and published in International Journal of Business Administration revealed that people who read only online content (social media content and popular online news outlets with less quality) have the lowest score in their writing complexity than people who read journal articles or great quality fictional works such as novels written by critically acclaimed authors.

What is ‘writing complexity’ we are discussing here? There’re many factors that show someone’s ability to produce advanced and complex structures in writing. This complexity may encompasses lengths of sentences that one produces, how sophisticated someone’s choice of word (diction) is, and so forth.

Complexity of writing sometimes does NOT necessarily mean you have to write lengthy sentences that confuse readers. Making complex yet efficient sentences means we are able to tactfully organize more than one ideas in a sentence without being lengthy. We just have to make sure that every word is impactful enough to be there. Each word has its own reason to be in a sentence.

What is interesting to note is that this is irrespective of duration. That means it’s not about how many hours you spend, but more about the quality of reading materials you consume on daily basis. Those who have better writing skills admitted they only spent several hours a week reading quality materials instead of online stuff that is packed with listicles, clickbaits, or hoaxy and sensational news items.

And because writing is a type of communication, this rule also applies in speaking skills learning. Someone who wants to master better speaking skills must also try to listen to great quality oral materials.

I know that not all online content available is bad for our writing skills development. But if you’re a writer or someone who earns a living by writing, please take this piece of advice: “Read well-written things”. A co-author of the study mentioned some of the best online news outlets such as “The Economist” or “Wall Street Journal” or “New Yorker” magazine but in my opinion well-written and well-edited books, be it non-fiction or fiction, are still the best option.

And because I’m Indonesian, I can translate the advice to this: Read more “Majas Kreatif” or “Tempo” magazine and less Detik.com, IDNTimes.com, Brilio.co, Tempo.co (yes, the online channel of Tempo just displays cheesy and racy clickbaits), Viva.co.id, Merdeka.com, TribunNews.com, Suara.com, OkeZone.com, etc. (*/)

 

Will Writers Be Replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly intruding our civilization, everyone from every job sector seems to be frantic and anxious right now.

“Will I be replaced by a robot?”

“Will I lose my current job in the near future to a machine?”

“Will I be jobless because of all this AI trend in my industry?”

Regardless of your professions, these questions are haunting us.

As a writer myself, I also share the same worry with you all, people.

Wired.com took an optimistic view towards the issue by stating that “Narrative Science” is not going to replace journalists/ reporters with AI/ robots. Both can be hopefully complimenting each other if humans want to.

It says:

In 20 years, there will be no area in which Narrative Science doesn’t write stories.”

Still cited from Wired.com, we are also ensured that AI is actually useful for journalists but can never replace human journalists and editors for their more strategic decision making tasks.

But this technology seems to have taken over only some of the grunt work.

Undoubtedly, the development of AI in journalism and writing is intriguing and inevitable but only time can decide how it evolves in the next 10, 20, or 30 years from now.

But, here’s the thing. Imagine our news outlets are dominated by AI-generated content, which shows no empathy, no humane feelings, and to some extent, opinionated-ness. How dry is a piece of news written by a robot that has no past memories, beloved ones, or people they despise so much? You get my point.

So the good news for us writers is NOT ALL jobs will be replaced that easily by Artificial Intelligence. There’re four (4) types of occupation that are predicted to be impossible to be replaced by AI in the future.

Kai-Fu Lee – as quoted from his writeup in Times magazine this month – mentioned four types of irreplacable jobs in the modern history of humanity:

  1. Creative jobs: In creative processes, there’ll be no clear and rigid objectives.
  2. Complex, strategic jobs: You’ll see people like business executives, diplomats, economists here.
  3. Jobs created by AI and thus currently non-existent: Only God knows how this is going to be like.
  4. Empathetic and compassionate jobs: Good news for teachers, nannies, doctors! You all are indispensable workforce in the 21st century.

Fellow writers, we fall into the first category!

But don’t be too happy. If you’re a writer that only reports what you see (like what a conventional 20th century reporters did) or a churnalist (a pseudo journalist that merely rewrites other people’s work), you’re certainly going to be sacked sooner or later. And even if you can survive, you’ll be really suffering due to the crazily, inhumanely low salary and wage.

Don’t do the grunt work!

Don’t just compile facts!

Don’t just type and publish to get clicks or page views!

Be a creative writer that produces something worthwhile a robot, algorithm, application, software, or AI can never ever manage to create easily without humans’ assistance.

 

References:

https://www.wired.com/2012/04/can-an-algorithm-write-a-better-news-story-than-a-human-reporter/

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/robots-wrote-this-story/

This Is Why We Naturally Feel Happier After Taking Photos on Trips

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Taking photos while traveling is a common practice, even an addiction among travelers. But to what extent does taking photos benefit us in experiencing our golden life moments? (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Nils Öberg)

There’re moments when I’m traveling I would be so enthusiastic I forget taking pictures. As a yoga practitioner, I’m told that being so immersed in your positive experience means that you just have to forget taking pictures. Because taking pictures is deemed a distraction of my genuine experience. Also, I see some friends who are going somewhere just to take pictures for their Instagram feeds instead of experiencing things around them: nature and themselves. So why ruining our life moments with taking photos that are just shown for the sake of impressing other people?

That was what I used to think of taking pictures during travels. But finally our addiction of taking photographs while we’re on travel is justified by science.

Cited from American Psychological Association, scientists found that those who like taking photographs of their experiences usually enjoy the events more than people who don’t. A team of scientists from the University of Southern California, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania discovered how taking photos impacts our enjoyment of life experiences. Compared to those who don’t take photos, those who do feel heightened enjoyment of positive exxperiences.

So how could this happen?

The explanation is this: taking photos helps us boost engagement in our activities we’re doing. And I can see that some of those who are enthusiastically document their experiences in photos are more enthusiastic and engaged. They look more motivated and high in spirits.

However, it’s not all about good news. There’re times when taking photos just won’t be advantegous to us as it is dependent on types of activities we’re involved in. If the activity is more about arts and crafts, chances are we’d better avoid taking photos to be more engaged in the experience. This totally makes sense. How can you enjoy making, let’s say, a vase with your hands if you’re always taking photos?

What is interesting is also the size and practicaility of the equipment of photography. Cumbersome cameras will slow down us on a trip and definitely less easy to use on the go.

The final conclusion is our documenting should not just about taking pictures with cameras. We also need to get actively involved and decide selectively as to which moments are worth documenting and which are not.

The researchers also touched on the importance of taking ‘mental photographs’, meaning that we so actively participate in whatever we’re doing we cannot forget all of experiences in it. So, again this is not always about how many clicks of camera shutter in your hands but more about engagement and participation with your mind, body, and soul. (*/)

On Benefits of Writing Thoughtful, Sincere Handwritten ‘Thank You’ Notes

New year, new writing goals and exploration.

As of now, I have been a diarist for years. I have been blogging for 9 years I have also been working as a professional writer for 8 years. I have also published my work although it is still under a big publisher’s name instead of my own name.
So today I found this interesting scientific finding on sciencedaily.com. It read:’Writing a ‘thank you’ note is more powerful than we realize”.

I was startled.

I have no idea how significant a thank-you note’s impact can have on human beings.

But as I gave it a deeper thinking, I can make sense of this.

Let’s delve into the report first. The University of Texas at Austin published this finding on August 28, 2018. “New research proves writing letters of gratitude, like Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Thank You Notes,’ is a pro-social experience people should commit to more often. The gesture improves well-being for not only letter writers but recipients as well,” wrote the website.

Intriguing, indeed.

The subjects of experiment were told to write a letter of gratitude to someone who has done something good for him or her and then expect the reaction of the recipients. But if you’re an introverted person like I am, chances are you’ll find saying gratitude in person is a daunting task. Not to mention the growing anxiety of being misunderstood.

The researchers also pointed out these issues, too. They said anxiety about what to say or fear of their gesture being misunderstood causes many of us to avoid expression of genuine gratitude.

The takeaway of the study is that we should from now consider writing and sending people around us (whether they be family members, coworkers, etc) more thank-you notes.

What needs to be taken into consideration is that writing such a brief note, though, is not an easy feat for anyone. Even for those who proclaim themselves as prolific writers or professional writers, writing a heartfelt letter takes another type of skill and, of course, bravery to let our vulnerability known to another person or others. (*/)

After 9 Years of Blogging Tirelessly…

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Why do you keep blogging if you don’t make money of it at all? (Photo by Pexels.com)

I am still going strong!

The 27th of October has been always a special day on my calendar since forever. Besides the fact that it’s my birthday (cough!), it’s also National Blogger Day in Indonesia. Today also marked my ninth year of blogging. I’ve never thought I would’ve gone this far. Especially these days, when social media enjoyment has taken over the joy of hitting ‘publish’ button on your blog dashboard and get some likes and comments from readers of your blog(s). But this is definitely not the end of my blogging pursuit.

It’s true that I’d never planned to develop this blog to be a really professionally-managed one so that I can make some money of it. As you can see, this blog has some spots of Google Ads but to be brutally honest, it doesn’t generate even a single cent of income for the blogkeeper. That said, I get into thinking that I must soon take down all these useless ads and quit being the disgruntled ad publisher. It doesn’t add value for my readership anyway.

So why do I keep blogging if I don’t make money AT ALL? You may ask.

In my first amateurish blog (akhlispurnomo.blogspot.com), in the most confident and shameless way I picked a tagline, “Blogging, My Second Religion”. You can laugh at it now, but that’s somehow still the perfect description of my reason of writing this blog (and some others).

Very few of these write-ups on my blogs generated enough money to feed me, at the very least. Yet, I always long for the satisfaction that I can only feel when there are some readers who leave comments or silent readers who never leave comments but someday I ran into and told me they liked some of my articles a lot. Probably this is very self-centered. It’s a way to satiate my hungry ego, but once again why should I stop blogging when I can entertain and inform people around me or around the world with some bits of my thought and opinions?

I’ve got to admit that I almost completely abandoned this blog’s domain, which is like a hard-earned domain. I once had a domain of my full name but along the way I failed to renew it (blame it on the M@#$%^& credit card!) and it got bought by some opportunistic domain buyer who may have thought I would beg him or her to give me the domain at a much higher cost.

Just a month ago, before my domain expired, I came to a decision that I might just let this go. “It’s a hobby so why bother spending money for it?” I thought. I considered relying only on the free blog hosting service like WordPress.com and Blogger.com but then I reweighed it after a course of content marketing that I took. It said owning a domain that bears our name is a must if we aim to be a competent, competitive digital player. Well, I made up my mind and renewed it.

Each word in this blog (and some others) shows you my ups and downs; progress and regress; happiness and sorrow. It’s a long winding road of my life journey and self-development. I get almost completely intellectually naked in my blog write-ups, which I further think is quite scary and risky in the future. That’s why every time I write, I keep reminding myself of the risk of posting stuff on the web. No blogging allowed when I get angry and emotional!  Or else I’ll regret it. And even if I intended my write-ups to be less offensive and more helpful for some, I still find some others getting upset by what I write on this very blog.

Lesson to learn? We can never satisfy everyone.

Though I humbly admit that my blog is not an extremely popular one, I take pride of it. In this social media age, when Instagram caption or Facebook status or tweets is what you call ‘write-ups’, I can still find time and collect my intellectual energy for this seemingly pointless undertaking.

I guess this clearly defines what passion is really. Passion is something we still do even if we no longer (or never) can make money of it, or something we keep doing even if we have to make money from other jobs but we still stick to this one ‘useless’ thing.

So I can say after 9 years of tirelessly blogging, I hardly made money from this blog but the blog has made it POSSIBLE for me to land many jobs, ranging from a journalist, a copywriter, a translator, an editor, a book writer, a magazine writer and even a guest lecture, which never snapped on my mind. All these jobs are paying ones (forget about the image of a lonely, tortured, poverty-stricken writer). This would be different if I had spent my time for writing Facebook updates, producing tweets like crazy, or selecting the right diction for a caption on Instagram to impress followers.

Anyway, happy National Bloggers Day! Keep blogging no matter what! (*/)

 

 

 

 

Writing Can Cure Addiction, Can’t It?

WHILE I have seen so many people talking about writing and its positive effects at school or at home, never have I discovered people applying writing as an inseperable part of their therapy for serious mental illnesses such as addiction. With so much instant gratification available 24/7 around us, I suppose addiction cases number has never declined in these recent years. Let’s say drug addiction. It has been forever since humanity waged war against drugs but to date no signs show that there is any possibility that it will soon or later abate, drop or totally vanish.

In the documentary short movie “Internado” published on Aeon which you can view and play now, you might have never thought of the use of writing as a mega useful tool to help control one’s unbearable addiction. Here the prominent psychiatrist named Dr. Martin Nizama Valladolid who works for National Institute of Mental Health in Lima, Peru, proves that literature and grand-scale, rigorous and disciplined writing (as well as arts and humanity sciences) can be applied to control severe cases of addiction that some of the world’s population are suffering these days.

And these addictions are not only ones related to drugs but also alcohol, internet, virtual games, and so forth. These addicts are sedated (so treatments are never conducted at their own will) and taken to the institution at the request of heavily concerned family members who have signed agreements so that their beloved are taken and treated in the mental institution for at least 50 consecutive days. They are ‘grounded’ in such a way. They are separated from the society and most importantly, their sources of addiction. They are much like prisoners in that way. And it is even better that these addicts are not functional members of society, which means they are unemployed. They are likely to become a potential source of social problems in the society they are living in. So before it is too late, their family members take them to the mental institution to be corrected.

To cut the long story short, the initial treatment only lasts around 50 days but then they are sent back to their homes. But it does not mean freedom. They are under scrutiny. And parents or guardians or other family members have already cooperated with the institution to apply a rigid daily schedule to these ‘interns’. Their way of living are seriously controlled. Family members are also educated to be in line with the institution’s rules and code of conducts so outcomes later on will be satisfactory because unless they cooperate and support all processes, addicts are never healed.

It is not always about discipline though. Addicts as well as their family members are reimmersed in moral values, affection, love and the value of hard work and meaningful life by means of literature and arts. They are made to read hundreds of canons, high quality literary works which most of them have never enjoyed before. But now that their days are filled with total silence (yes, they are not allowed to communicate with other people even fellow interns especially in certain sessions), they are forced to retreat from lives full of pursuit of things they are so addicted with to ones filled with peace and calmness. Almost like a hermit living in a jungle. They are made to contemplate more about what they did, have done and thus to control what they are now doing because the future depends on the present. Gone are days full of violence, conflicts, shouts full of anger, vulgarity, obscenity, horrible bickerings and traumatic fights. It is like they have been racing throughout their life and now suddenly they are told to stop and be calm,  silent, still, and meditative like a Buddhist monk.

To let that overflowing negativity out of the system, expressive writing are used. Interns are required to write and draw every single day for a certain period of time. And the goal is so ambitious – almost impossible – for people who were not born and trained as writers or artists. They have to write in longhand 11,000-page ‘thesis’ which is autobiographical by nature. That way, they cannot copy and paste in a few clicks to accomplish the mission.  And it solely depends on Valladolid’s decision whether one is healed and entitled to freedom or has to undergo the next phase of treatment at the institution. Those interns who succeeded to write 11,000 pages are let go.

I am so impressed by the use of literature and writing here to occupy addicts’s troubled minds. Both are just the best tools to divert their energy and attention to a more beneficial and meaningful aspect of life so they are not overtaken again by triggers of addiction. Though I too think that writing 11,000 pages is totally impossible for someone with no extraordinary writing talent (because even my favorite novel “A Little Life” only spans 800-ish pages and it is already considered gargantuan) but considering the impact and costs of addiction on the society as a whole, this is worthwhile. So worthwhile. (*/)

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. (*/)