Brown Jesus says Happy Easter

Good writing is hard to come by, so what we do with recruits at my workplace is to teach them to write well.

Being a former journalist and being one who writes moderately well, the task fell on Unspun to conduct the class.

Being a firm believer that writing is a reflection of your mental processes, I’ve always started the course with Critical Thinking 101 and the first slide in this presentation asks the participants to tell me which of the two images is a more accurate depiction of Christ.

Jesus

To Unspun the comparion is a no brainer. Jesus was a Jew and a middle easterner, a native of Galilee.

People like that, as in the BBC reconstruction from a skull found there during the period of Jesus, tended to look like the chap on the right. He may not looked exactly like the man portrayed but for sure he would have been swarthy and would NIT look like an Anglo-Saxon savior right out of the paintings of Byzantine artists.

Inevitably, however, there would be one or two – sometimes more – participants in the class who said that Jesus would have looked like the person on the left. The reason? That’s the image of Jesus they’ve seen growing up and the image that adorns the churches they go to.

Which was perfect for us to begin our discourse on critical thinking, the importance of not accepting anything at face value and why we need to ask questions more.

Inevitably too, someone would raise the argument that too much critical thinking is bad for us because it makes us cynical. We should just accept things based on faith.

The answer is that too much of anything is not good for anyone. At any rate critical thinking, if practiced skillfully leads one not to cynicism but to skepticism, which is not a bad thing.

In this world, if we question more without becoming cynical (which Oscar Wilde defines as “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”) we’d be enjoying oour lives more, not less; and socially and politically we would be ensuring that much of the ugliness and hate in this world we see today would be minimized.

Happy Easter everyone.

 

 

Bragging, ever so humbly

I just have to vent on this. I open my FB timeline and there it was: another person being humbled for being chosen to be on a list of notable humans or the recipient of an award, scholarship, fellowship etc. etc.

Do they really feel humbled? Humility tends to make one silent, introspective as one thanks the cosmos for such undeserved benificence.

But when you go on FB, Instagram, LinkedIn and Good knows what other social channels to trumpet your recognition, you may be chuffed, delighted, happy or pumped. Humbled you are not.

So enough of that humble bragging now. It’s not fooling anyone. We’d be more impressive if you told the truth, shamed the Devil and told us how you really feel.

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.

 

 

 

The Millennial Conscious Consumer

Pecha Kucha Nights are always quite enlightening and stimulating because you get to learn what various thought and community leaders are up to.

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Speakers at the Pecha Kucha Night Vol 36 on Conscious Consumption pose with DBS Indonesia’s Head of Group Strategic and Marketing Communications Mona Moniks (far right). The bank is an active supporter of Peha Kucha Night.

 

 

Last night’s Pecha Kucha Night, with the theme Consume Consciously was particularly insightful. There were seven speakers, each committed to the 20X20 format of Pecha Kucha – 20 slides at 20 seconds each to share their ideas.

They were all Millienials and what emerged from their talks is the reason why big brands and retailers should be worried.

Up on the stage of the newly renovated CJ-CGV Rumah Kreasi, you have all these young, bright and articulate young people committing themselves to minimalist – as opposed to conspicuous consumption – lifestyles.

At the age my generation would have been considered a prime target for marketing companies as we had the disposal income to spend, spend, spend. The speakers at Pecha Kucha also had disposal incomes but instead of spending they have opted to do more with less.

Eva Celia, for instance, spoke of how she threw out her accumulated fast fashion clothes when she realised that material things did not define who she was. She also became a vegan that, though not for me, is the most logical thing to do if you really want to stop global warming.

Astri Puji Lestari also spoke about how much lighter she felt when she decided to commit to the minimalist lifestyle. She showed us a photo of a tiny wardrobe belonging to her and her husband and told us that everything there were literally the clothes on their backs. In spite of all this renunciation she still looked chic with a linen blouse she had worn on her wedding, brown pants and off-white loafers.

Denia Isetianti of Cleanomics (from Clean + Economics) spoke about how she came about realising the amount of waste we dispose of in our daily lives and how that has led her to  start a shop that is aimed at selling environmentally friendly household and other items.

Other speakers were also committed to conscious consumption but also took an activist approach. Tiza Mafira of Gerakan Indonesia Diet Kantong Plastic Indonesia, has declared war on the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag, campaigning hit her friends ceaselessly for local governments to ban their use at retail outlets.

Nezatullah Ramadhan of Nara Kreatif spoke about how he was part of starting a social enterprise that took worthless discarded paper and recycled it into a means of income and funds for education for poor families.

And David Christian of Evoware spoke abut converting a plentiful resource – seaweed – into disposable (and edible) cups and “plastic bags” that break down into organic material in 7 days.

Rounding everything up was Hani Sumarno from Jakpro who lauded the efforts of all the speakers but also said that the amount of rubbish Jakarta produces was so massive that there was no immediate solution. The matter has also become very urgent because the current landfill of Bantar Gerbang will be full and closed down by next year. That is why an Intermediate Treatment Facility was needed to complement al the efforts at turning the country greener and more environmentally friendly.

In Indonesia Unspun has found that when things get you down something will usually crop up to blow your socks off and restore your faith in the country.

What got Unseen down recently was the amount of rubbish and discarded plastic bags polluting the otherwise spectacular and beautiful tourist sites in the southern coast of Java. On a trip there about a month ago to a waterfall called Curug Cikaso, for instance, the falls were picturesque, the water would have been fresh and clear – except for the moon and mounds of rubbish and plastic bags from upriver strewn all over the place.

The presence of rubbish and plastic materials – bottles, bags and shoes – was so endemic that you could not go anywhere without noticing them.

Then you have these young people taking at Pecha Kucha who are asking the talk when it comes to making Indonesia a better place to live. These are opinion leaders if you look at their social media followings. They have also taken concrete actions and built real businesses along the lines of their commitment. They restore one’s faith in the future of Indonesia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serial Fellows

We all have them.

Friends and acquaintances who are so talented and must have accomplished so much and shown such promise that they have been singled out time and again to receive one plush fellowship or another.

You know them. They are the ones that pop up in your timeline proclaiming they feel so “humbled” to be selected for such fellowships, then proceed to bombard you with photos of the hallowed halls of influence and scholarship they’ve been sent to and the beautiful super smart people they’ve met.

At first we feel very happy for them, to be recognised for their contributions and being sent out on fellowships so they may learn of developments in their field by others in other countries.

Presumably, this would open their eyes give them new insights with which to come home  and put new ideas into practice for the benefit of recipients of their cause.

So we like their posts when they so generously share on social media the great times they had and the illustrious people they meet.

Then they come home and before you know it, they are on yet another fellowship again. And again with barely a year’s hiatus in between.

Which makes you wonder,

About the institutions dishing out these fellowships. Is Indonesia so thin on talent and worthy people that the same people keep being selected all the time?

About the recipients themselves. Where do they find time to put their new learnings and insights to work if they are busy going form one fellowship to the next?

Unspun recently had conversations with his friends and and we tried to analyse what these recipients do after their initial spurt of productivity that saw them establishing causes, movements and organisations for the public good. Out conclusion was that we couldn’t see how their fellowships had benefitted their causes.

In fact, in some instances, we felt that their causes had suffered from neglect because their founders/main movers were too busy traveling father fellowships.

We counted a couple of serial fellows who must have gone on three or four fellowships over the past five years.

There comes a point in life when anything, even the best intentioned ones involving very talented people, become ridiculous.