When everyone sounds sassy and is an expert

Remember that iconic cartoon from the early days of the Internet in the New Yorker?

The Internet has moved on a lot since then. Apps and other services now make it so much easier to create and upload great looking content.

So much so that I think the saying “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” needs to be updated to: “On the Internet, everybody can look and sound like an expert.”

This is what I am seeing on my social media feeds, no matter if they are Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reels….

Everyone, even if they are green behind the ears and have not done anything to win them respect in the industry, is now capable and do try to come across as an expert dispensing tips, advice and listicles like they are going out of fashion.

They are aided in their quest for their 2 minutes of fame by platforms such as Glints and other headhunting outfits out to find a cheap way of generating relevant content.

So in the PR industry, for instance, you have consultants with less than a year’s experience lecturing their peers on media relations, engaging influencers, client servicing…every topic that is sellable to aspiring industry workers.

Then there are the masterclasses carried out by hoods who can’t even qualify as apprentices. Same MO. Young, ambitious people who don’t expect to be paid but grateful to be given a platform to show off to their peers.

No doubt some of these speakers are good and have fresh insights but most of them, I suspect, would be pedestrian.

So the question that needs to be asked here is whether this democratization of the ability to look and sound clever on the internet (for materials all you need is to do a Google or YouTube search on the subject matter and presto! You can sound like a pro!) – actually helps enlighten or dumb the audience.

What do you guys think?

An actual story of Indonesia’s loss because of the LGBT madness

It says a lot about Indonesia today that when an employee of mine recently quit his job to apply for asylum in Canada on grounds that he’s gay and feels discriminated against in Indonesia, they not only put him on the Protected Person’s list as they usually do to asylum seekers – they classified him as a refugee instead.

He now has to undergo some procedural hoops but it looks like he will be accepted by Canada, who will now gain a productive, caring and professional person. Indonesia, on the other hand has lost someone like him that could have contributed so much to the social and economic development that it so needs.

Z had been working for me for the past five years. He had been a journalist and when he started off at our workplace he was tentative and unsure of himself. He quickly picked up the needed skills and soon became one of our potential consultants.

One of the things he enjoyed most about our office was that we accepted him for what he was. The other was the Personal Development Fund we had for consultants who completed each year of service. They could use the fund, that amounted to a month’s salary to develop themselves personally, not professionally. We do this because we feel that people who have an active life outside the confines of the office make the best consultants as they would then have new perspectives, knowledge and experience to bring to the table.

Z mae the most of the personal development fund, traveling to Europe and Egypt with it. But his wanderlust wasn’t slaked by these forays and in 2015 he applied for a Sabbatical to travel and work overseas. He applied and received a Work and Travel visa from Australia and spent about a year traveling and working. He then crossed the Atlantic and went to the US.

Overseas, he got something that he could not find in Indonesia – not only tolerance but acceptance of the fact that he was gay. Then, circumstances intervened and for family reasons he had to come back to Indonesia. h began to work for us again and this time around his traveling had contributed to his experiences and world view, making him a much stronger professional.

He had become so good at what he did that I could delegate tasks to him and not worry about the quality. And when a client needed help in one of the most remote and difficult parts of Indonesia, working under very stressful and demanding conditions where he had to advice and push back against unreasonable demands, I felt comfortable sending him to lead the team.

He was to stay there for close to a year with only short R&R breaks in between. In his stay he had to endure sniper fire, labor strikes and violent destruction of property directed at our clients. He also lived through a mud slide and flooding that destroyed parts of the work site, even it was 2,300 meters above sea level and in remote mountains.

There were times when he felt it was too much but he bore it all with good grace and turned in a stellar performance that not only won the clients’ hearts and praise but also won for us a prestigious regional award for crisis management.

By any count Z was an asset to us. if I had more people like him I would be able to grow our company much faster, provide more jobs and even better working conditions to our employees. If Indonesia had more people like him we would be able to attract more investors who need skilled professionals to propel its national development.

But we have now lost him to Canada. When explaining his move Z told us that his one wish when he first joined us was to travel, travel and travel. Working at our workplace allowed him to do that with the Personal Development Fund and our decision to allow him to go on Sabbatical allowed him to travel more.

Paradoxically, however, all that travel made him want to settle down more. Now all he wants is to have a partner, kids, house – and a dog. This is something that most of us want but just because he has a different sexual orientation he no longer feels safe or welcome because of the rising intolerance, not least to the LGBT community that has become so shrill lately in Indonesia, his own country.

He feels so persecuted that he is willing to uproot himself to seek asylum in a county that he has not been before. I applaud his courage and hope he finds everything he is looking for in Canada. He’s Canada’s gain and our loss.

What has become of you of late Indonesia?

Note: For Z’s account of his adventures since landing in Canada check out this link: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/92959508/posts/3221


A Malaysian newbie in Jakarta

What would you make of Indonesian working life and the people in general if you’re a Malaysian, newly graduated and looking for some work experience? Andrew Seow took the plunge and tried his hand in public relations at Maverick and this is this story:


Time passes when you are having fun. So after what felt like mere days I realized that my four-month work experience with Maverick in Jakarta had reached its inevitable end.


Just prior to joining Maverick I had, like so many in my generation, been given lots of encouragement to do well in school and then getting a degree from a recognized university as the jumping off point with which to launch a respectable career.

When I left university at the end of last year, however, I realized that I was rather clueless of what I would like to do next. I was beset by a sense of emptiness, not knowing how my life would turn out, and what my next moves should be.

Realising that the best course of action was to begin immersing myself in the real world of work, I reached out to a family friend whom I grew up referring to as Uncle Hock Chuan, but whom I later learnt was referred to as Pak Ong, the well-known PR consultant in Indonesia.

When Maverick decided to accept me I quickly packed my bags and headed for Jakarta with few expectations except to fulfill three goals – to learn as much as I could about the industry and country, make as many new friends as possible, and have a damn good time doing it.

The first thing that struck me on arriving at Maverick was its creative working space concept. It was a huge relief being in a cool working space as I’ve never liked being contained in claustrophobic cubicles.

The open office environment was comfortable to work in, dismissing the usual hierarchal tension between senior and junior co-workers. Also, how often can people brag about their office having a Tatami room? The beanbag and pillow-filled Japanese-styled room ended up being my most productive working space, especially for Gen Zs like me who do our best work away from chairs and desks when working…read more

On why a blanket ban on after work email may be folly

Stories like the one below began creeping up at social media posts a few days ago. It seemed like a stunning piece of news, this banning of after work e-mails. But it seemed plausible. It was the French, after all, that was supposed to be putting the ban in place and we know that the French can be rather unorthodox, especially when it comes to labor regulations and a disregard to what others might regard as essential business practices.


France bans work e-mail after 6 p.m.

France already has a 35-hour work week, and a new rule is designed to make sure that it doesn’t start shading toward 40 hours because of work-related e-mail.The Guardian reports that the rule forbids workers from checking their phones or computers for work stuff after 6 p.m., and it forbids employers from pressuring them to do so.

Read more..

That was, however, not the most interesting aspect of this so-called piece of news. The reactions over social media, especially Facebook,  are. You have people gleefully posting stories similar to this and making silly remarks like, “Can’t wait for this to catch up in this country,” or “At last, I can get out of the clutches of my bosses,” or other remarks in a similar vein.

The message that these people were sending out was that anything that reduces my commitment to work outside of what’s stipulated is good. I’d just like to get paid, do what I have to and not want to worry about the company I work for.

This sounds reasonably transactional, except that the reality of life and work is vastly different.

As an employer I’d expect my employees to treat the company’s fortunes as their own rather than embracing a mentality that a friend has dubbed OPM – Other People’s Money.

“OPM employees,” said my friend, “usually come from Government or aid workers where their continued employment and well-being has little to do with the performance of the organization they work for.”

“That’s because the organization is funded by donors, the government or other sources and so long as you can justify that you did whatever you had to do, your continued employment, even promotion, is guaranteed. There is no such thing as the organisation saying to them we’ll have to lay you off, lower your salaries or take away your benefits because we have not been innovative enough.

This is not the case in private companies, where we sink or swim, depending on how well we perform, not over the past decade or months but every day. The moment we slack off, the moment when we stop trying to innovate is the moment we slip into decline and a client may fire us, serve us a warning or tell others to go elsewhere.

As such apart from technical excellence and being good at doing what they do, we private sector guys also demand that the employee view their employment fates as inevitably tied with ours. If they see something wrong they should bring it up, if they see something that can be improved they should set about doing so and if we need to change they should speak up.

In return we try to make their working hours as reasonable as possible, to bother them outside working hours only when it is essential and that they take a proactive part in “owning” the business.

That is the only way we know on how to run a business. To expect a strict transactional relationship to exist between employees and management is, to our view, unreasonable and immature.

Fortunately, even the French are not so crazy to slap a blanket bank on after-work emails. It turns out that, like so many other things, social media is a great amplifier of popular but wrong information especially when it is on a popular subject.

So the real story is that The French have not banned anything. They are only considering some restrictions. And the restrictions are not blanket but subject to some conditions to be agreed between workers and employers.

Not Ban

So what the hell are you doing reading this blogpost during or after your working hours? Go back to work!








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…