My Year in Review: 2015

This post is basically a regular review of my life, lessons learned from what went wrong and what went right in the past year.

Backpacking mode - in front of Duomo di Milano (2015)

Intermezzo: For much better year-in-review contents, just watch the following videos and skip the remaining stories of this post ;)

Young ICT Leaders' Forum 2015

On 9-11 December 2015, Busan Metropolitan City jointly with the Korea National Information Society Agency and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) organized the Young ICT Leaders' Forum 2015. The goal of this forum was to present a community to youth from around the world whereby they could share ideas and innovative concepts for the advancement of future IoT industry. It was also aimed to offer a strong networking opportunity between participants and the industry, so that it created potential positive social contribution to the local community.

International Participants of Young ICT Leaders' Forum 2015

The forum was for invitation-only, where the participants were between 18-30 years old, from government sector, private sector, academia or R&D organizations, and have work responsibilities related with modern ICT convergences. The committee selected the participants based on submitted CV and application forms. Thank God, I was selected as one of 50 international participants invited by ITU ;)

Young ICT Leader's Forum 2015 at Busan

On the first day of the conference, we learned about how serious Korean government improving their nation-wide economic performance through ICT. The government has an initiative called "Creative Economy Vitamin Project" which seek to promote the integration of information technology with conventional industries such as agriculture, livestock, fisheries, food, culture, tourism, healthcare, etc.

We also learned the development progress of ICT convergences in various sectors, such as fisheries, maritime, automotive, electricity, home appliances, healthcare, and manufacturing.

Komunitas Inspirasi Jelajah Pulau (KIJP)

"It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness." – I still remember that quote mentioned by Pak Anies Baswedan on the briefing day of the first Kelas Inspirasi three years ago. Everybody in Indonesia knows that the quality of our national education is not that good. However, many people are doing nothing about it or even just complaining, while some others are trying to contribute a bit for a better situation. This time I and my fellows from KIJP chose to be the latter one.

Sharing about "Software Engineer" at KIJP – photo credit: Josef Wattimena

KIJP - stands for Komunitas Inspirasi Jelajah Pulau (Inspiration Community of Island Hoppers) - is a movement of groups of professionals who care about education in Kepulauan Seribu, Jakarta. This movement is derived from Kelas Inspirasi, where professionals joined to share about their professions to elementary students from low-income families. In addition, KIJP also try to contribute in the environment and society where the students live through educational campaign activities.

Sunday morning, October 11th, 2015, 194 volunteers of KIJP batch 4 gathered in Dermaga Ancol to go to the island they were assigned to. We spread to 13 elementary schools in 9 different islands in Kepulauan Seribu: Tidung, Payung, Untung Jawa, Pari, Lancang, Panggang, Pramuka, Kelapa, and Harapan. We brought our own tools and materials to motivate and teach the students about our professions. Some groups also brought several boxes of books for the school libraries.

Just before noon, my group arrived at Panggang island where we spent two days to volunteer. Panggang is the densest island in Kepulauan Seribu, around 400 people/hectare. The infrastructure  was not as good as in the other island, such as Pramuka or Tidung, because Panggang is not a tourism destination so the local goverment care less about it. There are only two elementary schools there: SDN Panggang 01 & 03, with total 434 students in both schools. My group is the second batch of KIJP who volunteer there. The kids are always cute, although some of them are very naughty – they might have more energy to express due to the limited open space for them to play at. The characters of most kids are quite tough because of the way their parents educate them at home. That makes one of the biggest challenges for the volunteers to teach at school.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Ben Horowitz co-founded Opsware in 1999, which Hewlett-Packard acquired for $1.6 billion in cash in July 2007. Later, he and Marc Andreessen co-founded a venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, which invests in several tech companies. While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz offers advice on building and running a startup through his book. This post is about my favorite parts from his book.

@bhorowitz's Tweet in May 2014 – best book party ever

The hard thing.
The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed. The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.

I will survive.
If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble.

When things fall apart.
People always ask me, “What’s the secret to being a successful CEO?” Sadly, there is no secret, but if there is one skill that stands out, it’s the ability to focus and make the best move when there are no good moves. It’s the moments where you feel most like hiding or dying that you can make the biggest difference as a CEO.

Life is struggle.
Every great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg went through the Struggle and struggle they did, so you are not alone. But that does not mean that you will make it. You may not make it. That is why it is the Struggle. The Struggle is where greatness comes from.

Zero To One

Peter Thiel is the co-founder of PayPal, early investor of Facebook, and co-founder of Founders Fund, which invests in several startups, including Palantir, SpaceX, Airbnb, and Spotify. In spring 2012 Peter taught Stanford class CS 183: Startup. Notes essays for the course, taken by student Blake Masters, led to a book titled Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, published in September 2014. This post is my favorite parts from the book – it could be a kind of summary.

The PayPal Mafia – Silicon Valley's richest group of men

The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.

Today’s “best practices” lead to dead ends; the best paths are new and untried.

The Challenge of the Future
That is what a startup has to do: question received ideas and rethink business from scratch.

Party Like It's 1999
The entrepreneurs who stuck with Silicon Valley learned four big lessons from the dot-com crash that still guide business thinking today:
  1. Make incremental advances.
  2. Stay lean and flexible.
  3. Improve on the competition.
  4. Focus on product, not sales.

And yet the opposite principles are probably more correct:
  1. It is better to risk boldness than triviality.
  2. A bad plan is better than no plan.
  3. Competitive markets destroy profits.
  4. Sales matters just as much as product.

How much of what you know about business is shaped by mistaken reactions to past mistakes? The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.

The Expert

Can I ask one more question, please? When you inflate the balloon, could you do it in the form of a kitten?

Of course I can! I can do anything, I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!

"There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else." – Sam Walton, founder of Walmart