In English, Observation, Passion

Passion, Business and Time

I read an article featuring an interview with Karl Lagerfeld. The article was closed with an interesting question.

Interviewer: Have you ever thought of having your own fashion label?
Lagerfeld: No. I love what I’m doing now. I don’t want to be a businessman. I want my business to run smoothly, but I don’t want to be responsible for the business. I want to be completely free.

Kompas daily newspaper, Sunday, May 15, 2011.

Many people think that you must make a business out of your talent and passion. Nothing wrong with that. There is a great advantage of owning and running a business. You can have full control on your income, and you get to call all the shots. It is a big responsibility, and it may require a majority of your time. When the business side begins to take the lion’s share time, your passion will suffer. And eventually, it will impact your business as well.

On the other hand, there is always a choice of not having to control everything. Like Lagerfeld, you can go freelance, and limit your influence on what you do and love best. Or have a balance of both. Make it a business, but hire the best people you can trust to run the business.

Both ways need you to develop strong relationships and alliances all around you. The key point is to have as many good people around you to enable you to keep as much of your time free for your passion as possible.

In English, Personal Reflection

Like The Little Brother I Never Had

My Mom likes to tell and retell the story of how my Dad got into the business of owning a Dale Carnegie Training® franchise. And the story always starts with me.

It was in the beginning of 1976. Jakarta had just experienced a heavy rainy season, and some part of the city was flooded. I was just 6 months old at that time. Somehow I contracted a severe case of diarrhea, and was so dehydrated that (in my Mother’s words) my eyes were turning inside out.

The doctor immediately sent me to the hospital. I cried my eyes out most of the time, and wouldn’t want to be left alone. My Aunt had to stay with me at nights so my Mom could go home and get some rest.

During that time my Dad already resigned from his job at an established government owned construction company, and started his own consulting business. Aside from doing consultation for engineering projects, my Dad had also started to do seminars and trainings. It was something that was practically unheard of in Indonesia at that time.

A Dale Carnegie Course® sponsor from Hawaii had his eyes set on Indonesia. He wanted to start an operation in the country. He already bought the territorial rights from Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc. But he needed a local partner whom he could trust to market the courses in Indonesia. He was looking for someone who was already familiar in running seminars and trainings. And when he began asking around, he got one name as a potential partner: my Dad’s name.

My Mom said that I was still in the hospital when Dad received the letter, asking him to be the partner to run a Dale Carnegie Course® class in Jakarta. My Dad readily accepted the request, and quickly went to action. In a short time, he managed to gather a class of about 42 participants for the very first class of Dale Carnegie Course® in Jakarta.

Since that first class in 1976, there has been nearly 900 more classes of the now locally called the Dale Carnegie® Fundamental Leadership Program. My Dad later took licenses to be a trainer himself, and eventually took over the sponsorship (or franchise) of Dale Carnegie Training® in Indonesia in 1985.

The Dale Carnegie® business is more than just a business. It’s like part of our family, and part of our lives. I believe it is the only business that my Dad ran in which he involved his entire family. For his other businesses, Dad would only recruit my Mom to take care of finances, and my uncles to be consultants. But for Dale Carnegie®, all of us were in it.

Mom and Dad took the Dale Carnegie Course® as members of the first class, along with two of my uncles. Later, there were nights in my childhood where all of us would gather in the living room, talking and preparing name tags for the upcoming classes. As we grew up, Dad would took my brothers to be his assistant when he was teaching night classes. And eventually, my brothers and myself became graduates of the program.

In retrospect, I cannot help thinking that the Dale Carnegie Training® is very much like my little brother. And right now, what me and my family are doing is basically helping this little brother to grow.

There were times in my career when I felt like I wanted to pursue something else, but I just couldn’t find the heart to leave this little brother.

I can see that one day in the future, this little brother will no longer need my help. He will be able to walk on his own. Until that time comes, I have a lot to do in caring of him.