Inspiring “Pay-It-Forward” Ideas

It was just a few days after I posted an article about kindness in which the idea came from my disappointment about justice system in my country, Indonesia. Talking about that alone surely can take over my entire day and require endless words; so I will try to summarize it into one sentence: Our beloved former governor of DKI Jakarta, Mr. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) was sentenced to 2-years-in-prison for an accused blasphemy case against Islam despite all of his hard-work and sacrifices while serving people in Jakarta (including creating numerous programs like building mosques and sending people who worked for mosque to go to Makkah – which actually supported Moslem). He’s known to be a double-minority (a Christian, and comes from Chinese family) – which led to a very depressing fact: that no matter how honest and hard-working you are as a person, with a passion to deliver best service to society around you, you are never good enough in Indonesia if: 1) you have different religion than the majority of the people and 2) you are not pribumi – the term that some bigots use to identify “pure Indonesian”.

Right about when I was trying to move on from this heart-breaking truth, I heard the news about suicide bomb attack in Ariana Grande concert venue in Manchester, England, which killed more than 20 young people

IT. DIDN’T. STOP. THERE.

When I was writing this piece, suddenly there was another terror attack in my capital city, Jakarta. The world is just getting crazier and crazier each day.

Therefore, I’d like to write more about compassion – to show the world that good people are still exist!

Here I cover fringe, miraculous “pay-it-forward” ideas that have been implemented by some companies and organizations to make this world a better place.

In case you don’t know, the phrase “pay-it-forward” was first introduced by a Greek dramatist, Menander, in his comedy work called Dyskolos in 317 BC.  I personally recognized this terminology from one American drama-romance movie which was released in 2000 with the title “Pay It Forward”. The movie was about a young elementary school student who was assigned a school project: performing actions that contribute positively to the society. Then, he came up with an idea called “pay-it-forward” – doing a favor for three random people, and telling them to do the same to other three strangers.

Rosa’s Fresh Pizza

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With the motto “The Freshest Slice in Philly”, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza established a program for customers to pre-purchase a slice of pizza for $1. Those slices are served for free to homeless people every day at 11 p.m. In return, the customers who donate will get a piece of sticky note and they can write something nice for those people without shelters. The noble idea itself came from one customer who asked the owner of the restaurant, if it’s possible to buy pizzas for those in needs. Till now, this pizza store which located in Philadelphia, USA has delivered more than ten thousands slices of fresh pizza and successfully made homeless people feel loved. Even more than that, there are heart-touching stories from the regular homeless customers who are no longer showing up because they’re already working!

The Street Store

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Homelessness is inevitable; it’s everywhere. Especially in countries with huge gap between the rich and the poor, we can practically see those without homes while we are walking towards school or running errands. Just because it is common to see them, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay to do nothing about this. The Street Store, which originally created in Cape Town, South Africa, was designed to bridge the economical gap. Their mission statement is as simple as their slogan “hang up, help out”: to make it easier to donate and more dignified to receive. The  Haven Night Shelter – a non-profit organization focused on homelessness in South Africa – was the initiator of this project. The Street Store provides interesting posters that you can hang in the corner of the street, spreading the news and informing people to donate clothes, shoes, and accessories that they no longer want to wear. After that, the homeless people can help themselves by choosing what they want to keep for free. What’s really cool about this project is: everybody in this world can host their own “The Street Store” program in the city they live in just by going to their website. They will send you all necessary files (posters, guidebook, presentation), and soon after you have a permit from the authorities, you can set up your own pop-up store. The first Street Store took place in 2014, and since then, more than 450 stores has been hosted globally, for example in Brussel, Mumbai, Auckland, and Georgia.

TOMS  

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Since the beginning of its operations, Toms Shoes (abbreviation from Tomorrow Shoes) has been inspired by social awareness. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of this company, produced canvas shoes after seeing alpargatas – traditional shoes with simple design that worn by Argentine farmers in 2006. He also recognized the fact that there were so many poor children in Argentine who couldn’t afford to buy shoes. At that time, there was help from social organization. However, the number of shoes was totally unstable, relying fully on donations, and there were mismatches between the donations and the recipient’s feet size. Therefore, Mycoskie wanted to do something more. He came up with “shoes for tomorrow project”. For each pair of shoes that are sold to customers, TOMS would give another pair to children in needs. In 2011, this American company expanded its product to glasses, with the same “one-for-one” concept. Now, we can purchase shoes, eyewear, coffee, and bags from TOMS and the gift of shoes, sight, water, safe birth, and kindness are going to be delivered to people in need. TOMS has reached more than 70 million people across six continents.

Ellen DeGeneres: Promoting Kindness through Her Show

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I have been watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show probably since 2013 and that show has never failed in making me laugh. The real main talent behind this show is the host itself, Ellen DeGeneres.

In The Ellen DeGeneres Show, you can mainly watch how Ellen invites numerous names of public figures to sit down and have a great time talking to her and to the live audience. Not only celebrities, she also loves to invite regular people with particular talent (from 3 year old kid who can memorize and explain everything which are included in a periodic table, 6 year old kid who masters the geography of the world, or adorable girl who sings together with her father) and people who happened to be famous even without talent but somehow went viral (this cute guy called Alex who worked at Target). There are also varieties of games, Ellen’s funny monologue, giveaways, and many other segments in that 1 hour long show.

However, it is not an instant success. In 2001, she was trying to create a television sitcom starring herself and other characters under the name The Ellen Show, but it resulted in poor ratings, so it was no longer played after 13 episodes. Ellen revealed it was mainly because she decided to come out as gay through her character in that series, Ellen Richmond.  It was a difficult time for her career-wise; she was completely turned down from the entertainment industry for 3 years.

In 2003 she finally got an offer to run a talk show – which became a huge success till now. The Ellen DeGeneres Show has obtained several “Emmy Awards” in categories such as “Outstanding Talk Show”, and “Outstanding Talk Show Host”. During the period 2004 to 2014, Ellen has won 25 Emmy Awards. Ellen was also included in the list made by Forbes, 50 most powerful women in the world, in 2015. Winning 20 People’s Choice Award was also one of her achievement that nobody else could compete with.  Honestly, I’ve never seen any other person who is so comfortable and so happy doing their job. She’s completely herself in that show.

It is so difficult to find a celebrity that can be a good role-model, but Ellen is different. I really love how she consistently applies her mantra “being kind to one another” in her daily show. By applying, it doesn’t mean only by saying that quote in the end of her show. It means practicing what she says in random act of kindness. Anyway, it is so smart and nice of her to use her talk show, an established platform, to show to millions viewers out there that it’s possible to make this world a better place. She can easily reach people that might need her help. She can invite them to talk on the show and give nice things to them. And at the same times, two things are done: 1) doing good things to other people and 2) increase even more ratings to her show which enable her to do even greater things to more people.

She often makes other people’s dream come true –  such as meeting their favorite singer or delivering their skills in national television so that other people can know them better. One time she rewarded ten-thousand dollars to a 19 year old teenager who donated his bone marrow to a complete stranger. Other time she helped an English-teacher to sell her school project through Ellen’s website and paid off her student debts with the help of sponsored bank! What Ellen and all these amazing people do also reminds me that you do not need to be so wealthy to help people – in one episode, she had a talk with a waitress who decided to give a free lunch to two customers who complained about their decreasing wages. The story went viral and, as it turned out, in The Ellen deGeneres Show, she paid back what the waitress has done by giving her ten-thousand-dollars.

Watching her show makes me realize of so many good things that happen in this world and there are still so many people with big heart who are willing to help others. Especially in this recent time, there are a huge amount of negativity spreading in my country, watching her show – even just for a tiny bit of it – can make my day better.

Ellen’s powerful message of kindness is now become a reason for viewers to watch her show. And I do hope it will inspire us to do the same.

“We need to remember that we are more similar than we are different. We all want the same thing; love, acceptance, and kindness.” – Ellen deGeneres

Exploring Siem Reap

Recently I just flew back from my short vacation to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Little did I know that Siem Reap had been chosen as a number one must-visit destination in Asia via TripAdvisor in 2015. My family and I just simply picked a country in Asia which was completely foreign to us. After exploring Siem Reap for about 4 days, all of us felt so glad we picked the right travel destination, as Siem Reap offered its own unique and unbelievable history, which contributed to a massive ancient temple complex, called Angkor Wat.

We arrived in Siem Reap International Airport around 9 in the morning. Unfortunately, there is no direct flight form my country to this city, and we had to take a flight from Malaysia instead. What the airport looked like quite impressed us. Yes, it was pretty small without sophisticated shops or restaurants, but it was very clean and neat.

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Siem Reap International Airport

Interestingly, there were no officers to check our  customs claim at the airport. You just put your cards stating that whether you bring some hazardous or suspicious stuffs with you at a table, and you can approached the exit door. We got our tuk-tuk driver directly in the arrival hall. Tuk-tuk was a very common mean of transport there, and you should definitely try to ride it if you visit Siem Reap.

At the first glance, Siem Reap looked like a typical Asian city, but older, without many high buildings or vehicles in the street. I could see people who sell food at the corner of the street and kids walked to school. But they drive in the left-side, which is quite different from other South-East Asian countries! 

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On Our Way to Hotel from Airport

We explored the city by our own on the first day. Surprisingly, almost everything is in US Dollars, even though Cambodian people have their own currency, called Cambodian Riel. If they want to give you change, most of the times, it’s a mix of USD and Cambodian Riel. (1 USD equals 4,000 KHR). And so many things are sold in the price of 1 USD, so the paper money of 1 USD will be so useful for travelers. You can basically get one coconut, one glass of fresh juice, one set of postcards, one short trip for tuk-tuk, all for 1 USD. We said hi to one Cambodian kid, he’s probably 4 years old. We said “Hi, how are you?” and he replied back, “Hi! One dollar!”, excitedly. It was so hilarious. So, “one dollar” is a very known phrase there.

We took a look of the old market in the center of the city (10 minutes by walking from our hotel). They mostly sold T’Shirts and cute bags with a typical pattern which looked like tribal thingy or elephants, souvenirs such as key chains or scarves, anything with Angkor Wat’s figure on it, or spices for cooking.

However, we couldn’t stand the heat (35-38 degrees!) and decided to have a lunch in a restaurant nearby, Yellow Mango Cafe. Food was fantastic and they had indoor, outdoor, and also a small balcony. They served traditional Khmer food and also Western menu. A normal meal in a normal restaurant cost around 5-7 USD per person. You can save more by having a meal in an outdoor restaurant without concrete buildings at the side of the street, order 3-4 dishes with rice for the entire groups, and share them.

We visited Angkor National Museum and it is located side by side by the sophisticated duty-free store. The entrance for the museum was quite pricy, $12 per person, plus extra $3 if you want to have the audio guide. But well I’m always excited by the idea to visit a museum, no matter where, so I visited that too. I learnt a lot about the history of Cambodia as a country, the religious influences towards Khmer people, and the detail of the Angkor Wat, which apparently means holy city. Actually, Angkor means Holy City. Later on when the king was changed, he believed in Buddhism, and so he added “Wat” which means temple at the end of it.

At the evening, most tourists go to the Pub Street or Night Market. There were countless options of bar, pub, restaurants, stores, street foods, and also a massage parlor!

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Pub Street

The next day, we woke up around 4am to be able to see the sunrise in the Angkor Wat. We set up our 2 days tour with Angkor Guide Sam and guided by Mr. Ong Voetha. We picked the 3-days pass ticket of Angkor Wat which cost 40USD per person.The sunrise view was amazing; slowly you can see a better image of the temple itself.

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Sun Rise in the Holy City

Then, we continued our journey to go inside the Angkor Wat. The complex was massive. I think it was not a good idea to go there without a guide because you wouldn’t know what’s to see first and so on. We got a plenty of information too from our guide; how Angkor Wat first discovered by a French man who walked on foot throughout Cambodia and Laos, how ancient people use to go to Angkor Wat to pray and they often got there by riding elephants (that explained why the entrance was so wide), the fact that people built Angkor Wat in 12th century without modern tools to measure or to calculate but yet, every detail of the building is precisely accurate and carefully thought, how the restoration took place, and how the Angkor Wat actually represented our universe.

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The Beauty of Angkor

There are many other buildings inside the Angkor Wat. It was mostly built from a sandstone; researcher thought the stones came from a mountain about 50km far from the temple, and if you look closely, every stone has a circle sign on them. People used that to carry the stones by a bamboo stick, and also transported them from the river nearby. The King decided to choose this locations too because of the water system surrounding the area.

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We have to line up to be able to get inside

Almost every sides of the sandstone has a detailed crafting on it. Sometimes it’s a beautiful flower-alike pattern, but mostly it’s a figure of beautiful women or goddesses, war illustration, Hindu mythology, Buddha image, and form of activities in the past, such as dancing, musical performances, martial arts, and even weight-lifting. In a few crafting, I even spotted images of dinosaurs, like how it’s even possible for them to know that dinosaurs were once exist in this world! Our guide kept repeating several times that we can learn a lot from the past, and people at that time understood a lot of things about the universe by watching the moon and the stars.

Then, we moved on by car to other temple called Bayon, which means magic in the local language. Its shape was very unique, you can find a lot of faces in the temple. The king mixed up his own face with Buddha’s face. I’ve been told that I can understand the differences between each faces only if you looked closely to them.

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Bayon Temple

On the way back, we saw the real elephant (yes you can ride them if you wish!) and also the Elephant Terrace. It used to be the place where people sit to watch towards the field. I reckon’ it could be a beautiful spot for audience to see whatever played on the central field back in the past time.

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The Elephant Terrace

Next stop was the temple in the Tomb Raider movie! It’s called Ta Prohm. Except the fact that Angelina Jolie once walk around and jumped from the top of the temple, this temple is famous because it has a lot of old trees inside it. The trees were so huge that their roots going crazily everywhere searching for the grounds and you can see it going through the temple building.

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Ta Prohm
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Beautiful Detail of Woman’s Images

And the following day, the tour is continued. We visited Preah Khan temple. It was my favorite one! King Jayavarman VII built this one specially for his father. And we had to go through some kind of ancient gate before getting into every temple. There was a row of Buddha as well as Asura figures on each side of the gate. Unfortunately, most of them now has been demolished, so you cannot see the full rows of figures, you can see only the foundations.

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Entrance to Preah Khan

Preah Khan was special because its structures contains a lot of pillars. I felt like being in an Asian version of ancient buildings in Greek! The guide told me that it used to have a connecting majestic roof, but it was now all gone, so you can only see the pillars. In almost every temples, the Buddha images were ruined, because once the King converted back to Hinduism and he instructed people to destruct the Buddha images. But in Preah Khan, the King tried to divide equally the eastern and western part of the aisles, one for all Hindu symbolism, and one for Buddhists.

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Pillars in Preah Khan

The next temple was also pretty impressive. Banteay Srei, or the Lady Temple. It was made by a pink stones and the motives that you can see here are impossibly comparable to what you can find in the other temples! This temple was dedicated for Shiva, one of the Hindu god.

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Banteay Srei

You can find many young children who sell souvenirs inside the temple. We met one little girl who can count from 1 to 10 in English, Chinese, Indonesian, Russian, French, and German. She can communicate and negotiate with us in Chinese can you imagine that. Locals are friendly, polite, and they never charge us higher prices than what it supposed to be, but some of them can be really persistent to persuade you to buy something. But as long as you say no directly they will stop following you around.

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Local children who impressed us with her skills in languages!

Well, we also visited some other places, like Neak Poan, Ta Som, Ancient Crematorium, and Ta Nei. All of them was located around the Angkor Wat complex, including the Banteay Srei which is located 35km from the main temple of Angkor. And all of that required the same entrance ticket that you bought previously. Make sure you carry it with you everywhere because in every temple’s entrance the officer will check it. It’s a good idea to wear something that is long enough to not show your bare shoulders and skirt or pants that is long enough to cover your thighs. And wear something very thin because you will definitely be sweating a lot! Pick the right shoes (strong but comfortable) as you will climb a lot of steps and some of the sandstone are uneven! Always bring the sunscreen with you as the weather was very very hot with strong sunlight exposure.

Some visitors traveled around Angkor Wat complex by tuk-tuk, and I even saw some travelers who went around by bicycle (super crazy, knowing that it’s extremely hot outside). My family and I was not the one who can stand the heat and my mother especially was not so physically strong, so we decided to use the family car along with the guide. It’s just a matter of preference, but I personally think it takes more time to go around by tuk-tuk and you cannot rest on it.

Siem Reap was amazing and if you plan to visit it in the future, I would happily recommend you this tour operator called Angkor Guide Sam. Our tour guide, Mr. Voetha, was really informative, helpful, funny, and caring. We never run out of cold bottle waters and cold towels. He also told us a numerous spot in the temple where we can have great pictures. He speaks perfect English and made us laugh a lot on the journey. Feel free to ask me if you’re interested in contacting him.

អរគុណ, Siem Reap! 

 

When Someone is Trying to be (Like)You

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I think we are all familiar with the term copycat. According to some resources, copycat refers to someone who imitates another person, either partially or completely. He or she will create a reproduction of an act that is first introduced by other person.

Probably some of you wonder why it should be called a copy-cat. Well, I looked up some information and surprisingly, the term copycat is apparently created back in 1887 – which is more than two hundred years ago – by an American writer, Constance Cary Harrison, in her work called Bar Harbor Days. Interestingly, she decided to use the word “cat” because at that period, cat’s attitude resembled an evil behavior, as well as other negative things. However, some people also say that the root of word copycat comes from a kitten who loves to imitate its mother’s movement.

Firstly, we have to wholeheartedly admit that we are all a copycat, at some point on our life. This phase usually takes place  in our youth; a period when we are all busy trying to fitted in. We try so hard to present our coolest appearance and personality in order to be accepted by others. I remember a particular style of wristband that I loved to wear back in elementary school just because almost every girl in my class wore the same things. I find this is still understandable, because as a teenager you probably still have not found your own style, yet.

Therefore, we also have some figures that we regularly looked up to as our role-model. Taking others’ experiences and positive traits to motivate you to be a better person is so common, and very acceptable, even if you’re not a kid anymore. But, it is important to know that role-model could be two things: positive or negative. It’s so easy to spot on some young people who sadly try to imitate a bad behavior from a bad role-model, such as self-harm, smoking, and so on. With the heavy exposure of social media usage nowadays, it’s even easier to be misled by some particular figures or media.  These are all depends on the individuals’ mindset, whether they want to learn how to tackle life’s responsibilities and to follow a good example, or they think that it’s cooler to escape from the reality and to follow a bad example.

Anyway, psychologists say that people who duplicate other people’s act are usually have a poor self esteem so that they are afraid to show who they really are. They have the constant need to take a certain style from other people. Otherwise, they fear that other people will not appreciate them. Apart from feeling insecure, other reason behind the act of copying others is jealousy. They want to take other people’s success and to make it their own. And strangely, the one who has a habit to imitate other people is usually the one who claims that they are original.

So, what to do to deal with a situation in which you find somebody else try to do the same stuffs that you did? Being positive is on the number one of the list. You must have realized first that this world doesn’t consist of only you. There are million other people who might like the same books that you read, the same artists that you adore, or the same hair-style that you own. That’s why, don’t be over-fussy about this issue.

However, if it’s getting more specific and detail, it’s rational to be a little freaked out. Nobody wants other people to be their clone.

As weird as it sounds, you must take it as a compliment. You are an awesome being and sure you have already done something meaningful. You are a role-model for somebody else. What you have done has been acknowledged by others. You have inspired somebody else to imitate what you do – especially if it’s a positive act like creating an art, doing charity, or just simply being nice to other people, you must be really proud of yourself because you have successfully empowered others to do the same positive things. Instead of worrying about these copiers, you can use this opportunity to increase your productivity.

If you really want to prevent your work to be duplicated, it’s also wise to keep some precious ideas just for yourself. Let the copiers steal from other places.

In the end, I believe that the best work that you could possibly done is by just being you. You could never be somebody else, and, nobody else could ever be you, no matter how hard they try. Authenticity is one of the most important factor in creating something.

Let’s just do our own things, even more greatly, and give the copiers a decent amount of time to grow up and to find their own identity.

 

 

 

 

Inspirasi dari Supir Taksi

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Siapa sangka, percakapan yang bisa memberi inspirasi dan ngena di hati kebanyakan justru terjadi di dalam taksi. Ya, saya beberapa kali terlibat dalam pembicaraan yang mengasyikkan dengan supir taksi. Padahal, sih, naik taksinya cuma setengah jam sampai satu jam saja. Mungkin karena usia para supir taksi yang kebetulan saya tumpangi jauh lebih tua daripada saya, jadi mereka gemar membagikan pengalaman hidup mereka sendiri. Atau mungkin juga karena ngantuk kali ya, kalau cuma diem-dieman di mobil, he-he-he.

Salah satu diskusi dengan seorang supir taksi yang nggak akan mungkin saya lupakan terjadi pada awal Desember lalu. Sore hari itu, saya sendirian ingin pulang dari sebuah komplek universitas menuju rumah. Saya baru saja selesai menjajakan produk saya di acara pameran kampus tersebut. Taksi tersebut datang bertepatan ketika saya masih sibuk mengangkut properti yang saya gunakan. Kayaknya sih, si supir ini bingung melihat barang bawaan saya yang begitu banyak.

Setelah duduk di kursi penumpang, supir ini bertanya singkat,”Habis ngapain, Mbak?” Lantas saya bercerita kalau saya baru saja ikut pameran untuk menjual minuman yang saya olah sendiri. Supir ini terlihat kaget luar biasa. “Ah masa, Mbak? Kok bisa?” Menurutnya, tidak mungkin seorang wanita muda seperti saya mau repot-repot berjualan sendirian. Beliau tambah kaget lagi ketika tahu saya baru saja lulus kuliah. Sampai di situ, saya masih nggak paham kenapa supir ini terlihat heran sekali.

Baru deh, setelah itu, Beliau bercerita. Si Bapak yang mungkin berusia sekitar awal 50-an ini bercerita tentang keponakannya yang berhasil mendapatkan gelar Sarjana dari universitas ternama di Bandung. Sayang, nasibnya sekarang bisa dibilang kurang berhasil. Si keponakan mendapatkan gelar dari jurusan Desain, tetapi rupanya dia cukup ribet ketika melamar pekerjaan. Ia punya ekspektasi yang sangat tinggi akan pekerjaan pertamanya, apalagi setelah mendapatkan embel-embel gelar di belakang namanya. Selain itu, dia juga malas untuk memulai karier dari nol. “Maunya, yang langsung enak, langsung jadi boss”, ujar Pak Supir ini. “Tuh, sekarang dia cuma jadi tukang sablon, sama levelnya kayak orang yang nggak sekolah, kasihan anak istrinya”, tambahnya lagi.

Sambil terus melajukan mobil, Pak Supir terus bercerita dan juga melontarkan pertanyaan kepada saya. Saya bilang saya sudah terbiasa berjualan sejak masih kuliah. Kebetulan, saya mengambil jurusan bisnis, dan kampus saya sangat mendorong mahasiswanya untuk menciptakan bisnis sendiri. Selain usaha ini pun, saya ada pekerjaan lain, yaitu mengajar musik untuk anak-anak.

Kemudian, komentar Bapak ini adalah,”Saya salut banget sama orang-orang kaya Mbak. Biar udah sarjana, nggak sombong, mau kerja dari yang kecil-kecil. Mau repot, mau capek.” Sebelum saya sempat merespon, Bapak ini curhat lagi tentang kekecewaannya terhadap generasi muda jaman sekarang. “Ya, anak sekarang kan maunya apa-apa yang enak ya, Mbak. Yang cewek sukanya ke mal, belanja, makan enak, minta cowoknya yang bayarin”, tambahnya lagi.

Saya pikir sebentar lagi percakapan ini akan usai soalnya taksi udah deket sampai rumah saya. Tetapi, lagi-lagi Pak Supir mengagetkan saya dengan ceritanya yang lain. Ternyata, Bapak ini adalah seorang manajer front desk di sebuah hotel di Jakarta selama 10 tahun sebelum memutuskan untuk menjadi supir taksi. Beliau mencintai pekerjaannya yang terdahulu, hanya saja gaji yang ia dapatkan habis lantaran biaya transportasi yang besar karena jarak dari rumah ke tempat kerja yang sangat jauh. Belum lagi, harus melawan kemacetan dan padatnya lalu-lintas di ibukota setiap harinya dengan motor.

Yang paling menarik adalah, Beliau hanyalah seorang lulusan SMA namun bisa mengepalai beberapa orang di hotel tersebut, termasuk para Sarjana sekali pun. Beliau berulangkali menegaskan bahwa jenjang pendidikan dan gelar bukanlah faktor utama yang menentukan keberhasilan seseorang. Menurut Beliau, kerja keras dan kemauan untuk belajar adalah kunci utamanya. “Percuma kalau Sarjana tapi males, lama-lama bisa kalah sama yang cuma lulusan SMP tapi kerja keras sejak muda.”

Tiba juga taksi saya di depan rumah. Setelah membayar ongkos taksi, saya masuk ke rumah dengan perasaan yang campur-aduk. Percakapan tersebut meninggalkan begitu banyak warna di dalam benak saya. Bapak Supir itu nggak tahu, bahwa dua bulan yang lalu, saya baru saja keluar dari sebuah perusahaan karena tidak kuat dengan beban kerja yang diberikan. Dalam hati, saya jadi malu sendiri. Saya nggak sehebat yang Bapak itu pikir.

Di lain pihak, percakapan singkat tersebut memotivasi saya untuk fokus pada apa yang saya kerjakan sekarang, yakni menjadi seorang pengajar dan pengusaha, meski yang saya hasilkan sekarang nilainya mungkin belum seberapa. Terima kasih Pak Supir-yang-saya-lupa-tanya-siapa-namanya, sudah berhasil kasih semangat dan inspirasi ke saya. Tiap kali saya mulai ngeluh-ngeluh dan rasanya mau nyerah, kata-kata Pak Supir itu terulang terus di telinga saya,”Kerjaan sih apa aja, yang penting halal dan terus kerja-keras, nanti pasti rejekinya nggak ke mana.”

Sukses Berbisnis Anggrek

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Ciater Orchid didirikan oleh Pak Widjaja S (58) pada awal tahun 2005. Ciater Ochid merupakan perusahaan yang menjual tanaman anggrek bulan (phalaenopsis) pada setiap fase pertumbuhan. Senada dengan tagline-nya, yakni more than just a flower, Ciater Orchid menawarkan anggrek bulan dari yang baru bertunas, yang tangkai bunganya baru keluar, hingga yang sudah bermekaran bunganya. Untuk fase pembibitan, Ciater Orchid berlokasi di Subang, Jawa Barat. Lokasi kedua Ciater Orchid yakni di Desa Sukamulya, Bogor, untuk fase pembesaran tanaman. Lokasi yang ketiga mengambil tempat di Desa Palasari, Ciater, untuk tahap pembungaan.

Ketertarikan Beliau terhadap usaha budidaya anggrek berawal dari hobi. Sejak dulu, ia menyukai segala sesuatu yang berhubungan dengan pertanian serta perkebunan. Sejak tahun 2000 ia gemar mengunjungi pameran-pameran anggrek baik yang berskala lokal maupun internasional. Kunjungan ke berbagai pameran ia manfaatkan untuk belajar mengenai pembibitan anggrek. Ia pun semakin yakin untuk terjun ke usaha ini setelah mengetahui margin keuntungan dari penjualan anggrek yang cukup besar.

Berbicara mengenai kesulitan yang dihadapi dalam menggeluti bisnis ini, Beliau ternyata telah melalui serentetan eksperimen yang berujung kegagalan. Berkali-kali ia mencoba menanam anggrek, berkali-kali juga ia gagal menuai hasil yang memuaskan. Anggrek yang ia rawat terserang hama, terkena penyakit, atau tanpa alasan yang jelas mati di tengah jalan. Beliau mengatakan ia hampir putus asa karena tidak kunjung berhasil menanam anggrek. Ia kesulitan karena bidang ini sangat berbeda dengan latar belakang ekonomi yang ia miliki sehingga ia harus belajar dari nol.

Untuk mengatasi masalah ini, Beliau tak bosan-bosan bertanya kepada orang yang lebih ahli di bidang anggrek, belajar dari kebun orang lain, dan banyak membaca artikel di majalah mengenai anggrek. Kerja kerasnya berujung manis. Pada awal tahun 2005, ia akhirnya berhasil memahami cara merawat anggrek yang tepat sehingga anggrek yang ia tanam berhasil bermekaran bunganya.

Tantangan terbesar dalam bisnis ini ialah perawatan tanaman anggrek itu sendiri. Dari proses pembibitan hingga bermekarannya bunga, dibutuhkan waktu 22 hingga 24 bulan. Setiap harinya, perkembangan tanaman harus selalu dipantau karena anggrek sangatlah sensitif.

Apabila cuaca terlalu panas, organ dalamnya menjadi rusak. Namun jika kurang panas, anggrek tidak bisa bertumbuh dengan optimal. Kalau terlalu lembab, anggrek akan ditumbuhi jamur. Namun jika terlalu kering, daunnya menjadi rusak.  Semua unsur seperti suhu, cahaya, kelembaban, serta cuaca harus selalu stabil untuk mendukung pertumbuhan anggrek. Niat, kesabaran, dan ketekunan menjadi kunci kesuksesan Beliau.

Tantangan selanjutnya ialah usaha ini membutuhkan minimal dua lokasi yang berbeda, yakni dataran rendah serta dataran tinggi. Tanaman anggrek membutuhkan cahaya matahari yang kuat di masa awal bertunas untuk memacu pertumbuhannya. Setelah berusia 1,5 tahun, tanaman anggrek harus dipindahkan ke dataran tinggi untuk mendukukeluarnya bunga. Jadi, bisnis budidaya anggrek memerlukan waktu yang lama, investasi yang besar, dan perawatan ekstra teliti.

Hebatnya, Pak Widjaja memandang hal ini bukan sebagai ancaman, melainkan sebagai suatu peluang bisnis. Demand terhadap tanaman anggrek trend-nya terus meningkat, sedangkan produsennya sangat sedikit, sehingga Beliau mengambil risiko untuk memanfaatkan celah ini dan berhasil meraih keuntungan yang menggiurkan.

Ciater Orchid menggunakan teknologi perawatan yang khusus untuk membuat pupuk sendiri. Tak hanya itu, Ciater Orchid juga sedang mengembangkan teknik cloning atau tissue culture menggunakan organ tanaman anggrek dengan mempekerjakan seorang Sarjana Biologi. Beliau mengatakan teknologi cloning yang ia gunakan sekarang masih tergolong standard, bukan cloning yang melibatkan perubahan secara genetic. Untuk menghemat biaya, Ciater Orchid juga sedang bereksperimen membuat bibit di laboratorium milik sendiri. Pak Widjaja mengatakan teknologi sangat penting untuk menjadi kunci keberhasilan di bisnis anggrek ini.

Menurut Pak Widjaja, pendidikan yang ideal dimiliki seorang entrepreneur ialah pendidikan yang tidak melulu teori, melainkan juga menekankan pada praktik. Menurutnya, ilmu ekonomi dan manajemen dapat dengan mudah dipelajari oleh siapa saja. Namun, ketrampilan berwirausaha tidak dapat diperoleh begitu saja tanpa pengalaman dan bakat. Karakter entrepreneur seperti keberanian mengambil peluang, keberanian mengambil risiko, serta kreativitas dalam memunculkan ide-ide bisnis tidak dapat dipelajari melalui teori, melainkan lebih kepada pengalaman setiap orang.

 

The Act of Giving

Selain memperkaya diri sendiri dari hasil kerja keras mereka di bidang masing-masing, deretan nama di bawah ini juga secara aktif memberikan kontribusi yang positif kepada masyarakat. Yuk, intip ceritanya.billgates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Gates – yap, pria yang telah sukses membangun Microsoft itu kini mendedikasikan sebagian besar waktu dan ilmunya untuk Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Kekayaannya yang diperkirakan mencapai 81 miliar dolar ini justru semakin mendorong keinginannya untuk berbuat baik kepada sesama. Bahkan, mantan mahasiswa Harvard University ini hanya akan memberikan warisan sebesar 10juta dolar kepada masing-masing anaknya. Pada tahun 2010, Gates mendeklarasikan aksi Gates Giving Pledge, yang membuktikan kalau ia ingin memberikan setengah dari kekayaannya untuk aksi sosial. Yayasan sosial miliknya giat bekerja mengenai isu kesehatan seperti pemberian vaksin malaria, polio, dan pencegahan HIV di berbagai benua.

OPRAH WINFREY

Oprah Winfrey – selain dikenal sebagai pembawa acara untuk her own talk show dari tahun 1986 hingga 2011, Oprah Winfrey merupakan wanita Afrika-Amerika pertama yang berhasil masuk ke jajaran daftar billionaire versi Forbes di tahun 2003. Menjadi sukses seperti sekarang tentunya bukan perkara mudah bagi Oprah Winfrey karena banyaknya masalah yang ia miliki di waktu muda, mulai dari kekerasan seksual, dilahirkan di keluarga yang tidak utuh, penggunaan obat-obatan, dan lain sebagainya. Bakatnya di bidang public speaking sudah diasah sejak remaja, hingga ia bisa menjadi news anchor termuda di Nashville TV Station di usia yang baru 19 tahun. Sejak berlibur di Afrika Selatan pada tahun 2002, hatinya tergerak untuk menolong anak-anak di sana. Ia menghadirkan kegiatan bernama Christmas Kindness-memberikan hadiah bagi setiap anak di sana. Nggak hanya itu, hingga sekarang ia juga memberikan bantuan kesehatan dan pendidikan bagi anak-anak yang terkena AIDS di Afrika. Tambah lagi, melalui program Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, ia mengajarkan perempuan di sana untuk mengembangkan soft skills mereka di bidang kepemimpinan dan komunikasi sehingga kelak mereka bisa punya masa depan yang lebih baik.

rowling

J.K. Rowling – siapa yang tahu bahwa alasan penulis sukses serial Harry Potter ini tidak lagi menjadi seorang billionaire adalah karena ia begitu senang menyumbangkan uangnya untuk anak-anak yang hidup dalam kemiskinan. ‘‘I remember 20 years ago not eating so my daughter would eat. I remember nights when there was literally no money,”katanya di suatu kesempatan. Melalui yayasan sosial miliknya yang bernama Lumos, Rowling berupaya mencarikan keluarga dan kondisi yang layak bagi anak-anak yang terlantar di panti asuhan. Lumos sendiri merupakan istilah yang merujuk kepada cahaya di ujung tongkat sihir milik Harry Potter. Sedangkan, inspirasi untuk menolong anak-anak di Eropa Tengah tersebut juga berkaitan dengan kisah Harry Potter yang lahir tanpa kasih sayang dari orangtuanya.

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Taylor Swift – memberikan kebahagiaan bagi orang lain nggak melulu harus dengan uang, dan hal ini dibuktikan oleh Ms. Swift. Terkenal sering memberikan kejutan bagi para penggemarnya, baru-baru ini Taylor Swift mengunjungi fansnya yang juga penderita kanker di rumah sakit, memberikan donasi untuk melunasi tagihan rumah sakit, memberikan personalized Christmas gift kepada fansnya, dan masih banyak lagi.