Did Bukalapak’s Achmad Zaky really apologize?

For years we have been using Achmad Zaky interview tapes to demonstrate to media training clients what not to do when speaking to the Press or, in his case, to anybody really.

That’s because when he speaks before cameras the performance is usually cringeworthy for any PR professional. he usually comes across as cavalier, gruff and unpolished and saying things that aren’t always relevant and sometimes comes across as offensive.

Now, of course, Achmad Zaky has outdone himself.

Yesterday he took to Twitter to rail against the Government’s allocation to R&D:

Bad enough that he implicitly criticized the government for paying lip service to Industry 4.0 (if anyone knows what 4.0 is supposed to mean please let me) without providing the funding for it.

The biggest mistake in his Tweet, however, is when her seeming attacked the president personally in this sensitive runup to the president elections. “Hopefully, the next president would be able to increase (the funding).”

This Tweet caused a Tweetstorm from Jokowi’s supporters using the hashtag #uninstallbukalapak They feel particularly betrayed because Jokowi recently graced Bukalapak’s anniversary celebrations and appeared side-by-side with Zaky before the Press.

This is a favor, according to industry insiders, that Ahmad Zaky has been clamoring for. They say that Zaky has been envious his rival, Tokopedia’s William Tanuwijaya who seem to get much more attention from the media and the President than Zaky. So when Zaky was seen criticising the president and asking for his ouster with the “next president” reference, it hurt particularly bad.

When the criticisms started raining down on him Zaky tried to explain his way out of it with another Tweets:

It’s one of those non-apology apologies where he explained how his intent was misconstrued and misrepresented.

He then tried the maaf  word, but here again it was a non-apology apology. “Sorry to Jokowi’s supporters if there was anything amiss in my words has caused any misconceptions. I know Jokowi as someone who is good whom I consider like my own father (we’re both from Solo). Recently he visited us at our anniversary. There is certainly no ill will in my Tweet.

It is apologies like this that infuriate people. Explanations and justifications instead of an admission of wrong doing followed by an absence of proper contrition. It would not be surprising if it inflames rather than abates the fury of Jakowi’s supporters toward Zaky.

Indonesia has few unicorns as it is and Bukalapak provides a good challenge to Tokopedia and other other players. It would be a pity if Zaky’s lack of communications skills sinks his promising business.

He should get professional help, or at least listen to his professional PR advisors if they are any good, before he utters the next public statement or Tweets his thoughts. And while he’s at it he would do well to also whether his gruff communication style has rubbed off on the rest of Bukalapak, resulting in his minions treating their vendors and partners with the same perceived lack of care and respect.




What to do with the broke but hip Milliennials?

The article below, posted in Facebook by a former employee, has me wondering how many of the people we employ are in this predicament.

The need to be stylish, to be trendy, to embrace the forms of success while the pockets and stomachs go empty must be a great pressure on the Millennials.

I hire many Millennials  and often wonder how they do it. Having the latest iPhones, dressing up to look so trendy and cool and going to all those overpriced nightspots that is a drain even to someone as old and established in work as me.

Some days I imagine that many of them are shuffling credit with their multiple credit cards. Other days I wonder if their parents are subsidising them. Or if they are moonlighting.

The fact is that the salaries don’t match the lifestyles of many of the people I employ, especially in an expensive city like Jakarta.

I worry for them. At the same time I am worried of being anachronistic if I tell them about the virtues of thrift and making ends meet because their generation has not have to worry about things like this before.

The best I can do as an employer is to encourage them to work smart and hard so that I can promote them and increase their salaries, or give them bonuses when they work especially hard or smart.

My business partner and I toyed with the idea of buying a house and converting it into a lost for our staff. But new laws not allowing companies to take loans for non-commercial properties put paid to that effort.

The only thing I can think off is to the some of them out for lunch , especially during the third week of the month before pay day.

But what else can be done for the Millennials caught in this variety of urban poverty? How do other employers respond to this situation?


The Urban Poor You Haven’t Noticed: Millennials Who’re Broke, Hungry, But On Trend

Too many young professionals have internalised the lesson that to earn any money, you’ve got to spend a lot of it.

There’s an underground dance bar in Santacruz West where I saw a former national-level beauty pageant contestant perform. According to the person who took me there, she began working there when she was looking for a Bollywood break. To land roles, she needed to be seen on red carpets and at parties, for which she needed heels and dresses. While acting gig after acting gig fell through, the dance bar turned out to be so lucrative, it became her primary vocation.

I know a young marketing executive who bought a car with her first salary and now sleeps in it. Between rent and loan repayments, she was starting to starve. I won’t tell you where she parks, but thank god Mumbai is still safe.

Then there’s my junior journalist friend. For a period, she was coming into work less often. And she was growing thinner. She insisted it was because she was jogging every evening. When she started to disappear at lunch time, or nurse a cold coffee all day, I knew. (I didn’t miss the signs, because I’ve done it too.)

I WhatsApped her. It was the only way to be discreet.

“Do you have enough money for a meal?”

She didn’t.

Read More…

Diving Deep at Maverick

One of the values at my workplace, Maverick, is that “balance is vital to everything we do.”

To love up to those values we ass a company provide what we call a Personal Development Fund. The idea is this: after working with us for a year, provided you make the grade by being confirmed, you get up to a month’s salary to do something that you haven’t done before, or travel to somewhere you haven’t been to.


The idea behind this is that we want to groom the best consultants in the communications business. The best consultants, in our view, are those people who not only are good at work but those who lead full, interesting lives. They are the ones with passion about a pastime or a hobby, or have an innate craving to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. The lead fully textured multidimensional lives and experiences, which they enrich the office and their work with.

I had the opportunity to watch two of my colleagues use their Personal Development Fund over the weekend and witness literally an expansion of their worlds from the merely terrestrial to a whole new world under water.

Jonathan and Sharon used their Personal Development Funds to pay for the crew pack, lessons and diving instruction to obtain their Open Water Diving Certification. It was their first real dive at Sepa Island just off Jakarta. Where diving sites go the Thousand Islands are only so-so when compared to other places, especially in East Indonesia but that was beside the point.

For the first time they discovered a world underwater, that silent, weightless and wonderful world filled with corals, fish and all sorts of critters. New world of experiences opened to them and and future adventures now beckon.

Will this make them better consultants in the long run? I believe so. In learning something as exotic as scuba diving they learned of many concepts such as buoyancy, safety, thermocline and a whole lot of stuff. And once they get into diving they will travel to many places and meet fellow divers from all walks of life and many countries. All the enriching stuff that is essential to make the compleat consultant.

One of the reasons that we introduced the Personal Development Fund is to help us retain people. It has not quite worked out that way. There are still some staff that use the PDF and then leave, or staff that refused to use the PDF for fear of being tied down to the company. The PDF, however, has worked for us in another way. It acts as a filtering mechanism. Those who are adventurous and appreciate the fact that their workplace would encourage them to expand their horizons inevitably stay; the less adventurous or those short of intellectual curiosity cannot see the point of it and leave.

Another side benefit is that when word of benefits like the Personal DEvelopment Fund get around we get very interesting characters who apply to work at maverick (BTW we are constantly looking for the best talents in communications, so if you’re looking pop us a line at recruitment@maverick.co.id).

The Personal Development Fund, it would seem, works in mysterious ways but one thing is for sure – it helps us in our mission to groom the best consultants in the market.

The bonus we get when we give bonuses

One of the most gratifying moments as an operator of a communications consultancy is when we are able to distribute bonus checks to our employees. We did that last week, in recognition for their contributions in helping Maverick active a profitable 2011 but more importantly in helping us become even more robust as team.

The bonus we pay out is not required by law, which merely requires companies to pay an extra month’s bonus for Lebaran. But from the start my business partner Lita and I promised our staff that we would share some of the profits and that’s what we have been able to do for the past nine years.


I think it is important to show our staff that they are appreciated, as often as we can. So we always time the bonus to come just before another event to appreciate the efforts of our staff – the annual outing. The bonus comes just in time for them to have extra spending money for the outing.

These outings began modestly – to Anyer for the first year if I remember correctly. Since then, as Maverick grew we have been able to go to places further and more exotic. memory fails me on the exact chronology but we have been to Bandung, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and Phuket.

This year we are all heading for Hong Kong. These trips are always fun as the whole office takes a breather form the breakneck speed of work we have been subjected to. One of the things we do is to make sure that everyone – from the bosses to the most junior staffers – has to share rooms so that it’s an opportunity for us to get to know each other more.

The office has voted to go to Hong Kong’s Disneyland this year so all of us will be trooping to see Mi-Key Lau Shu and friends. For some of the staffers it will be their first time out of the country. for others it would be their first time to Hong Kong. This is all good for them as we believe that travel expands one’s horizons.

Another that we try to show appreciation for the staff is to make their journey in the PR profession special. So we have a music triangle installed in the office and the consultant gets to ring it when they achieve a milestone in their careers,much as the first solo presentation to a client, their first overseas assignment or when they lead their first account team.

It is easy for the more experienced PR professionals to overlook the significance of such events. But when you’re starting out these achievements are a big deal and we try to celebrate it with them.

This is all in our pursuit to build the most formidable communications consultancy in Indonesia. The journey has been challenging but its been fun along the way and I’d like to think that we’re closer to our goal today than when we started out.

Still, it’s a never ending struggle if you want to be the best. Looking around at the happy faces in Maverick and the spirit with which they go about their work and help each other it all seems worth it. We never rest, however, and are constantly looking for new ways where we can make our people feel special.

I constantly wonder, however, what other communications firms in Indonesia Do to appreciate their staff and make them feel special, so that we can learn from the best practices if there are any out there. If you work in an Indonesia-based communications firm, we’d certainly like to hear about how you firm does it.