Wednesday, September 28, 2011
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.(John 10:27)
Does God really speaks? If so, will He speak personally to us? Even if I listen to Him, will I understand? Thank God, the answer is yes! And believe it or not, God really wants us to hear what He is saying-more than any of us do.
If we yearn for an intimate relationship with the lover of our souls, hearing His voice is a must. We cannot grow perfectly unless we draw near to Him, trusting that He wants to speak to us personally. Communion with God is more than just a ritual or “information” time. It’s a Spirit-to-Spirit time. As for me, it is possibly the sweetest moment ever in my life, very peaceful and transcends all understanding. Until just now, I didn’t realize many believers cannot point a single instance of hearing God’s voice for themselves. I would like to share and tell you, we need to hear His voice. Let’s cultivate a heart and life that responds when He speaks.
We each have a desperate need. Many people in Bible can be our example on how to maintain personal relationship with God. From Moses, Abraham, Mary, Paul, and David, each has a need and longing to hear God’s voice. They are all friends of God. I too want to be a friend of God. In fact, that is what I think being in God’s presence and hearing Him is all about.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:13)
Our father in Heaven has sent us a very special gift, a gift that gives us gifts! Can you imagine that? It is our Comforter, our Guide, our Helper- the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit allows us to sense our Father’s personal touch. Maybe to get close to Him, you need to push through misconceptions, spiritual warfare, religious theories, and a bunch of opposition, until you come to a place where you and Him are related with one another and become close companions.
For those who has the gift already, the key is this: Give much quality time to commune with the Holy Spirit. He will not speak to those in a hurry. Wait patiently, seek the Lord and praise Him. Be willing to set your heart on Him and believe in the great Spirit that will not let you be deceived.
Holy Spirit is like a personal tutor and guide. He coaches us in life, and as we end our days in earth, He prepares us for the postgraduate course thereafter. He instructs us what life lessons we need to learn, and compelling us to take them. The quality time we are spending with Him has to do with hearing God’s voice. I love asking Him questions. Yes dear, go ahead, ask Him questions. The more specific our questions are, the more detailed His answers will be. Even sometimes, He might turn around and ask us questions. Some of the subjects He will teach are about Purity, Humility, Honesty, Compassion, Faith, studying the Word of God, and speaking in tongues. Ohya, one more thing, sacrificial giving, but I wil discuss about this topic later. All these will hone our skill in hearing God’s voice.
Okay, so now that you have a big picture of Him, can you imagine a real lesson with professor who literally knows it all, the past, and the future?? The Holy Spirit does. He gives us cheat sheets by illuminating bible passages, imparting dreams, visions, and so forth. He gives us vignettes of things that are about to take place while preparing us. He doesn’t tell us everything, if so, we would not need any faith or trust. It is all amazing.
The Holy Spirit not only gives us revelation, but also truthfulness in our personality. We will become more like Him as we spend time with Him. God has promised us that He will never leave nor forsake us. He knew that when it comes to walking into shadow of the unknown, we pretty much prefer to hold someone’s hand and be led by the voice of a guide. That’s why He gives us the Holy Spirit! As Isaiah declared “ Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left”.
Have you ever needed to be refreshed by the Lord? Have you lost some of your zeal? Need to return to your first love? Then God’s voice is the cure. Well, sometimes the voice of God will shake the foundation of our lives. God shakes everything that can be shaken so that which cannot be shaken will remain.
There are many tools the Holy Spirit uses to speak to people:
1. A dream or vision (Job 33:14-18)
2. A voice in trance (Acts 10:9-16)
3. Audible voice of God (Exodus 3:4)
4. God’s written Word (Psalms 119:105)
5. Voice of many angels (Revelation 5:11)
6. Wonders in the sky and earth (Joel 2:30-31)
7. Words to the prophets (Jeremiah 18:1-6)
8. Sound of ‘many waters’ (Revelation 1:15)
9. Moving people to declare God’s voice (2 Peter 1:21)
The list is non-exhaustive, which implies He has the right to say what He wants, how He does it and what method to use.
Here’s another hint: If we don’t make time, He will help us make time. He knows how to get our attention. For example, I have been awakened in the middle of the night many times. I simply get out of bed, sit and just be there. For a while, I thought I was just wasting both God’s time and mine. But eventually I learned the lesson: All He wanted was me. He simply wanted a friend, a companion, with whom He can share His heart. I have heard His voice more in the wee hours of morning than any other time. Now I truly love being on call to be with Him. One of the most common way I hear from the Lord is simply by hearing quiet peaceful inner voice communing with my heart.
We need to make the effort, take time to be with Him, and we will hear what the Lord is speaking.
Some people may have a hard time trying to hear God's voice in their life. Common obstacles that make barriers for people to receive are:
1. Lack of faith and commitment to Jesus
3. Ignorance of Scripture
4. Fear of being deceived
5. Guilty feelings
6. Fear of what other people think and being rejected
There is healing for all these. Love of God has healed you. Ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse our soul with stream of healing love; that will melt our hearts, remove the log in our eye, and lead us to the truth.
Even after we hear voices, there is a need for believers to discern these voices. Only the Holy Spirit is the true source. Ideas and thoughts can also be voiced by our human soul, which is an unsanctified portion of our emotions. Another source of voice is the evil spirits, who speak lies, because Satan is the father of lies, he loves mixing truth with lies to trick people. To be assured of receiving accurate and valid revelation, we can apply some tests:
1. Is it in agreement with God’s word? Because God and Holy Spirit will never contradict each other.
2. Does it have good fruit? As it is written in the Bible, there can be wolves come with sheep clothing, and we will know them by their fruits. So the result of our revelation should be useful to the building up and goodness of God’s people.
3. Does it exalt Jesus and turn you or people toward God?
Do you hear Him speaking to you now? He’s waiting for a moment with you. You will hear the sound of love beating in His heart.
May we experience the fullness of Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened (Isaiah 50:4)
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Updated 9 April 2013
Post ini saya dedikasikan untuk teman- teman SMA yang berusaha mencari dan meng'google' mengenai admission dan beasiswa di Nanyang Technological University Singapore.
Saya akan sharing pengalaman dan tips yang hopefully berguna buat kalian. Maaf jika saya menggunakan bahasa Inggris dan Indonesia, karena saya sebenarnya ingin membuat post ini mudah dimengerti, namun kosakata bahasa Indonesia saya memang kurang lengkap. And please, if you are interested to study abroad, you really have to learn English.
Sedikit introduction, Nanyang Technological University adalah satu dari 3 universitas negeri yang dimiliki Singapura, dengan dua lainnya adalah National University of Singapore (NUS) dan Singapore Management University (SMU). Di Singapura juga terdapat banyak sekali universitas swasta lainnya, seperti La Salle, Curtin, SIM, MDIS, James Cook, PSB Academy, etc. Menurut saya pribadi, being enrolled in public university is much better, karena selain lebih diakui dari sisi akademik, kita mempunyai kesempatan untuk bekerja part-time di luar selama bersekolah. Employer disini banyak yang mencari pekerja paruh waktu, baik di industri F&B, hospitality, tourism, packers, SPG event, hingga guru les privat. Biasanya mereka mensyaratkan applicant yang berkewarganegaraan Singapura, Permanent Resident di Singapura, atau student yang bersekolah di sekolah negeri Singapura. Gaji rata-rata lulusan juga umumnya lebih tinggi dibandingkan universitas swasta.
Posisi NTU di QS World ranking saat ini adalah 58. Dibandingkan dengan NUS di posisi 28 bersebelahan dengan University of Manchester, jelas NTU lebih mudah dari sisi admission maupun beban akademiknya. Namun, jika kita bandingkan dengan universitas negeri di negara kita, seperti Universitas Indonesia, ITB dan Universitas Gajah Mada yang tidak dapat saya temukan dalam 200 besar, jelaslah NTU lebih unggul.
Memang soal kualitas pendidikan saya tidak bisa bicara banyak, banyak sekali lulusan universitas di Indonesia yang sukses dan hebat. Karena perlu saya tekankan pada teman- teman, formal education will make you a living, but only self-education will make you a fortune. Apa artinya? Artinya, jika kita ingin mencapai sukses yang kita impikan, pendidikan formal bukanlah satu-satunya kunci, melainkan juga adalah banyak belajar berbagai hal dari berbagai sumber dan pengalaman.
Oke, kita kembali ke keunggulan kuliah di NTU , khususnya Singapura. Pertama, ranking yang diakui dunia, dimana hal ini merupakan bahan consideration tim admission atau scholarship ketika kita hendak melanjutkan ke jenjang pendidikan selanjutnya. Kedua, lokasi, dimana Singapura terletak sangat dekat dengan Indonesia. Hanya 1,5 jam perjalanan dari Jakarta; frekuensi penerbangan yang sangat sering, sehingga harga tiketnya pun terjangkau. Saya pribadi bolak-balik Jakarta-Singapura lebih dari 4 kali setahun, biaya per flight tidak pernah lebih dari 1 juta rupiah. Ketiga, mempertimbangkan Cost Benefit Analysis, kuliah di Singapura relatif lebih murah dibandingkan kuliah di Australia, Eropa, maupun Amerika. Saya mengambil angka pada umumnya, dimana siswa membayar full tuition fee dan hidup sewajarnya, berdasarkan info dari teman-teman yang kuliah di ketiga benua tersebut, Australia (Sydney): 35 juta rupiah per bulan, Eropa (Belanda): 20 juta rupiah per bulan, Amerika (San Fransisco): 60 juta rupiah per bulan.
Sedangkan untuk kuliah di NTU Singapura, biaya per bulan sekitar 25 juta rupiah jika membayar full, tapi kebanyakan siswa disini mengambil skema "tuition grant" sehingga orangtua cukup merogoh kocek sekitar 10 juta per bulan. Tuition grant adalah skema pemerintah yang mensubsidi 70% dari biaya sekolah, sebagai gantinya, siswa diwajibkan ikatan kerja selama 3 tahun di Singapura. Biaya yang relatif murah ini tidak berarti kualitas dan pengalaman yang ditawarkan lebih buruk dibanding benua lain. Singapura adalah negara yang sangat multikultural, di NTU sendiri, kita bisa berteman dan mengenal banyak sekali orang dari negara dan kultur yang berbeda. Mulai dari China yang jumlahnya mendominasi, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Jepang, Amerika, Kanada, Swedia, Belanda, Jerman, Swiss, Inggris, Perancis, Mexico hingga Afrika Selatan. Situasi yang sangat kondusif untuk belajar langsung beradaptasi dan bergaul dengan global citizens. Keempat, penggunaan bahasa Inggris dan Mandarin sehari-hari. Saya sendiri mau tidak mau jadi belajar dan akhirnya bisa mengerti bahasa Mandarin. Untuk semakin melengkapi, saya pun belajar bahasa Jerman dan Prancis, dan untungnya, disini pun bisa langsung kita praktekkan ke native speaker, seperti teman atau profesor kita.
Pendaftaran masuk NTU umunya dibuka sekitar bulan Oktober, dimana teman-teman harus mengirimkan aplikasi berupa form dan fotokopi raport yang dilegalisir. Pendaftarannya online melalui internet, bisa dilihat disini . Untuk tahun ini, aplikasi dapat dikirimkan mulai 1 Oktober 2013 sampai 15 Desember 2013. Link aplikasi adalah sebagai berikut: http://admissions.ntu.edu.sg/UndergraduateIntnlAdmissions/Pages/SMAUAN_apply.aspx. Teman- teman bisa menempatkan 5 pilihan jurusan yang ingin diambil, setahu saya murid Indonesia tidak ada yang masuk jurusan Chinese Medicine dan Maritime Studies, sedangkan untuk jurusan Bisnis dan Chemical Biomedical Engineering cenderung sedikit karena kriterianya sulit. Hasil seleksi raport akan menentukan apa teman-teman bisa mengikuti ujian seleksi masuk. Dari yang saya tahu, raport dengan rata-rata nilai 8 keatas hampir pasti mendapat kesempatan. Untuk menambah kemungkinan lolos seleksi berkas, boleh diikutsertakan sertifikat kompetisi yang pernah diikuti selama SMP & SMA. Surat bukti OSIS atau kegiatan siswa lainnya juga boleh dilampirkan. Ohya, UAN tidak perlu dilampirkan dulu, secara teman-teman masih kelas XII semester 1, rapor kelas X dan XII sudah cukup jadi bukti kemampuan akademis.
Ujian seleksi masuk akan diadakan sekitar Februari di beberapa kota besar, seperti Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya, dan Jogjakarta. Bahkan di Jakarta, karena banyaknya peserta, NTU mengadakan ujian di 2 tempat, yaitu SMAK 1 Penabur dan SMA Kanisius. Tidak perlu ke Singapura untuk ikut tes masuknya. Dalam ujian ini,mata pelajaran yang diujikan tergantung dari pilihan jurusan kalian; untuk Engineering & Sciences: A-Level Math, English, A-Level Physics/Chemistry (tergantung jurusannya, eg. Chemical Engineering boleh memilih salah satu, namun Electrical Engineering wajib mengambil fisika), untuk Bisnis: O-Level Math, English, untuk Art, Design, Media: English, portfolio berupa 10 gambar karya pribadi. Info lengkap dapat dilihat disini http://admissions.ntu.edu.sg/UndergraduateIntnlAdmissions/Pages/EntranceExaminations.aspx
Untuk preparation ujian masuk, banyak siswa mengambil kursus A-Level Math, karena jujur saja, lebih sulit dan berbeda dari kurikulum yang diajarkan di Indonesia. Saya dan teman-teman dari Jakarta dulu mengambil les di St. Ignatius. Pengajarnya berpengalaman dan soal try-out yang diberikan sulit-sulit, sehingga kita jadi terbiasa dan merasa soal ujian masuk jadi mudah. St. Ignatius memiliki 2 cabang di Greenville dan Kelapa Gading, ada juga cabangnya di Palembang dan Bandung. Walaupun banyak juga teman- teman yang masuk NTU tanpa belajar A-Level secara khusus, menurut saya akan jauh lebih baik jika kalian ikut kursus; karena tujuan saya dulu bukan cuma diterima, tapi masuk dengan gratis, sehingga saya perlu menginvestasikan extra di awal. Kira-kira Agustus awal, teman-teman sebaiknya mulai belajar dan berlatih supaya mendapat nilai bagus di ujian masuk, terutama untuk subjek matematika. Nah, untuk apa mendapat nilai sebagus mungkin?
Beberapa lama setelah tes masuk, kalian akan menerima surat penerimaan atau penolakan. Sifatnya final alias tidak bisa diganggu gugat. Surat penerimaan dibagi menjadi 3 macam yaitu penerimaan dengan biaya studi full (sekitar SGD 30,000 per tahun), penerimaan dengan tuition grant (sekitar SGD 10,000 per tahun, ikatan kerja 3 tahun), dan penerimaan dengan interview beasiswa (dimana siswa berkesempatan mendapatkan beasiswa full, jika gagal, maka dapat masuk dengan skema tuition grant). Email yang kalian terima harus dibalas dalam jangka waktu yang ditentukan, karena jika tidak, kalian dianggap menolak dan posisinya akan diberikan untuk orang lain. Ohya, jika kalian diterima dengan tuition grant tapi masih keberatan secara finansial, ada skema Tuition Fee Loan dimana biaya sekolah bisa dibayarkan dahulu dan kita bisa membayar kembali setelah lulus, dengan bunga yang rendah. Untuk jelasnya bisa dilihat disini http://admissions.ntu.edu.sg/UndergraduateAdmissions/FinancialAssistance/Pages/TuitionFeeLoan.aspx
Jika kalian mendapat nilai bagus untuk tes masuk, kalian akan dipanggil untuk interview beasiswa. Pada 2 tahun yang lalu, interview dilaksanakan di Kedutaan Singapura, dekat Ritz Carlton. Interviewer nya antara lain Dean of Admissions, Dean of Scholarship & Financial Aid, Dean of School of Sciences (jurusan pilihan saya), dan satu lagi saya tidak ingat. Supaya sukses dalam interview, berikan impresi yang baik pada interviewer, caranya antara lain: berdoa, berpakaian yang rapi dan formal (blazer dan pantofel termasuk, tunjukkan keseriusan dan profesionalitas walaupun kalian masih SMA), persiapan yang baik sehingga kita bisa menjawab semua pertanyaan yang diajukan tanpa berpikir lama atu bergumam karena bahasa inggris yang kurang lancar, banyak tersenyum, jangan tegang dan be yourself!
Pertanyaan yang diajukan pada umumnya mirip, yang saya rasa teman-teman bisa tebak, seperti "Why do you apply to NTU? Do you apply to any other university?", "Why do you choose this major?", "Who is your personal hero and why?", "What are your experiences regarding leadership or organization?", "What are your strengths and weaknesses?", " How do you handle conflicts?", "Have you ever live in foreign country? If not, how do you think you will do that?", "What are your plans after graduation from university?" -> Kalian bisa lihat bahwa mereka mau orang yang visioner dan punya tujuan hidup, apapun bentuknya, dan " What scholarship do you want and why do you think we should give you the scholarship?". These are some questions I tackled, there may be different ones, you should prepare to answer more. Untuk interview beasiswa, pastikan interviewer mengerti poin apa saja yang ingin kalian sampaikan. Tampilkan kesan bahwa kalian membutuhkan beasiswa tersebut, tapi dengan didukung oleh pribadi kalian yang hebat dan bercita-cita tinggi sehingga mereka ingin menginvestasikan uangnya untuk biaya sekolah kalian.
Setelah interview selesai, mereka akan bertanya apa kita punya pertanyaan. Jika tidak, we can be dismissed. Jangan lupa mengucapkan terima kasih dan tersenyum. Dan akhirnya, setelah menunggu beberapa hari, kita akan menerima email hasil dari interview tersebut, dan admission package akan dikirimkan ke rumah kita. Isinya berupa surat penerimaan, buku panduan, dan beberapa lembar brosur aktivitas yang disediakan untuk mahasiswa baru sesampainya kita di Singapura. Dibaca baik-baik dan catat tanggal- tanggal penting, supaya kalian tidak miss deadline.
Wah, kalau sudah sampai tahap ini, kalian akan mengalami babak baru dari hidup kalian. Banyak senior dari Pelajar Indonesia NTU (PINTU) yang akan menyambut dan membimbing disini. Banyak hal baru yang akan memungkinkan kalian bertumbuh jadi orang yang lebih hebat dan dewasa. See you in NTU!
From what I heard from the lecturers, some of the most innovative and aspiring young men, they seemed to be skeptical about marriage. There are few disadvantages of marriage for entrepreneur such as lack of freedom to be a risk-taker (since he/she has a family to support financially), difficulties in finding time (since the first priority should be the family), and no room for failure (once the business fail, the house may be sold, the children may postpone school, or even worse, the wife may leave). I must admit this is quite true. However, there are more good sides than bad sides of it, in case we marry a right person. Imagine we were tired after negotiation for a huge tender, and not sure about the result; it would be great to have spouse who hugged, saying everything will happen according to God’s plan, and pray for us. Imagine we were super-excited after doing a great presentation and winning a million-dollar-project; it would be great to call someone who will shout and be even more excited than us. They are people we share our life with, our journey, and our destiny. They will not forbid or prevent us from achieving our visions and dreams, but they will support and help us achieving those. For me, this is the purpose of marriage, being together forever with the one from God who are excited about your visions and dreams, vice versa. From what I learned in a Psychology class, married men are fairly healthier and live longer than those who choose not to marry. For women, this is not the case, the health and life expectation is about the same.
I am sure you’ll find a good one for yourself, if you ask God. God has given one for each of us :)
About Being Nice
One quote that I remembered is “It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.” I strongly agree with this. This is quite similar to another quote I’ve heard: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. By being nice and caring, people will remember us and count us as a friend. This is important because someday, they might have a project and offered us to help, since they trust us. If we need their help, assistance, or information, we can also approach them, and they will regard us as a friend rather than a competitor. However, being nice does not mean being a yes-man. We must be assertive and able to voice out our opinion, without offending others. I really respect nice people, those that hold the door for a person behind, those who pick up garbage (not theirs) and throw it away, those who greet their friends cheerfully, those who offer seats for older people, those who buy tissues from old men at MRTs and streets, those who donate for disaster, the long list goes on... I believe in karma; whatever we do, it will goes back to us.
This somehow relates to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs seek to change the world, doing innovations here and there, improving lives by their products and services. In this sense, entrepreneurs do help people. And through the profits, it goes back to them. By being customer-oriented, they do better and consequently, their sales increase. In any areas, whether good areas like logistics, tuition, school, or “bad” areas like casino and prostitution, they all provide their best service for users, they be “nice”. This “niceness” is going to make them important. One example could be TATA; it is trying to raise a generation of young leaders through its programmes and competitions. As a result, the company become renowned and gain trust from communities as well as youth.
I fostered good friendship with my minor in entre teammates. Since this module encouraged learning, I purposely find things to learn from my teammates. One of my teammate is very straightforward, she speak whatever she has in mind. From her, I learn to be more communicative. I voiced out my opinions and make sure the decisions taken are logical and well-calculated. The other one is funny and friendly, he throws jokes. There is one really good and fast in calculation, I always ask him to sum up the market size and everything. And there's a very nice girl, she constantly asks “What can I help?”. I really appreciate that. Though I have not worked with them before, I enjoyed the module together with them. This taught me not to judge a book by its cover, not to decide and make assumptions before really understand a person. When we don’t know a person, it is impossible to like or love them. Vice versa, we should not dislike or hate a person we don’t know.
Lots of seniors said that certain module is very tough; there will be lack of sleep and more conflict. Less slack, more crack. I personally feels it is not as stressful as it was described. Yet to go through the difficulties, such as preparing for VC fair and presentation, reading through the extensive manual, we all need motivation. There are two types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is from outside of ourselves, such as grades, money, fame, and position. Intrinsic motivation is from inside, such as personal satisfaction, autonomy, purpose fulfillment, and mastery of skills. I am very sure that intrinsic motivation is the key to survive, persevere, and finally succeed. It is true that grades and money will make people work hard day and night, there is not much difference in the process of achieving; they all seem to be striving. Yet from what I learn, those whose motivation is extrinsic, tend not to be as happy and contented when the goal is achieved. For a while, maybe, but not for a long time. Once we get the grades, money, and fame, that’s it. So what? In this situation, people start being stressful. They’ll finally know that all those things are not everything. They are not happy. Even worse, they start doing illogical things, buying handphone made of gold and diamonds, having 10 sport cars in the garage while only 3 people staying in the house, etc. This is what I saw. In the contrary, people who achieve success based on intrinsic motivation, they continues. Once they become very skillful in what they do, they seek to fulfill their purpose even more, There is happiness in whatever they do, and they inspire others along the way.
One example could be Jamie Oliver, a celebrity cook from England. He is very famous in England, he has the skills, fame, money, everything he need. Yet he seek success based on his intrinsic motivation of helping people in America to fight obesity through cooking from scratch. He does it to save lifes. He survive, persevere, and started Food Revolution Movement from Huntington, West Virginia. His journey has not finished. By being successful in doing that, he is very satisfied. But his journey never end, he need actions from all American schools, homes, and regulators to continue what he started. This brings me to share about destiny.
I strongly believe in destiny. Everyone has a reason of being made. That reason is special, given by the creator, and unique. To know why we are here on earth, we must ask our creator. We may also look at our strength, abilities, interests, and environment; everything is there for a purpose. Based on any motivation book, having clear, written, and confessed goals will enhance probability of achieving that goal. Hence, when we know our purpose, we should write, speak, and develop a plan for achieving it. All these are also related to other people. This purpose will benefit other people in the end.
I have a purpose in life: Bringing glory to God by benefiting others in need through my money, organization, and skills. However, this ‘vague’ purpose does not state what I want to be. It can be entrepreneur, doctor, chemist, social worker, HR manager, sales executive, anything. I have been thinking along the way of entrepreneurship and social worker, in area of language, including foreign language, writing, reading, and entrepreneurship skills. This is how I prepare myself; I joined NTU SIFE (Student In Free Enterprise) to overseas project, I registered as SGCares volunteer, I donate a part of my earning to Soup Kitchen, I learned German language and went for an exchange, I study hard to see more of the world through getting scholarship overseas, I do research project in school about Book and Paper preservation using chemicals, I work part time in library to see how it works, I also work freelance as ghostwriter, I was Head of Media and IT in NTU Indonesian Student Organization and I am saving money specifically for this social thing I am going to do. Through this Minor in Entrepreneurship, I confirm that I will be an entrepreneur; having good products, improve lives, and enjoy doing it. I really enjoy my time in this course.
Fail to plan = plan to fail. All success is intended. Big success are never accidental.
These sentences are TRUE. I don’t know which one is true. It is either the demand followed my scratch on tactical plan, or my tactical plan just magically accurate. The projected demand differs less than 10%, which made me kind of wondering about the power of written goals. The tactical plan was developed in quarter 5, after VC Fair, edited here and there. And we achieved it! We even exceeded it by a bit.
From this experience, I learn that written goals, plans, and projections have supernatural powers. It somehow comes true. I guess there is a book called “The Secret” by Rhonda Bryne talking about this. The book mainly focuses on the secret of having positive mindset and thoughts, which will attracts positive things to ourselves. This whole idea of detailed planning and positive thinking related to our business and success in life excites me. I will continue planning and executing things in my life. Big plans, small plans, other people’s plans. Specifically in the field of entrepreneurship, there is business plan. I want to be adept in tailoring business plans. Though I was not born a good planner, I know it is very important and hence, I will strive to have a mental map of my life and plan it well.
Success is when opportunity meets preparation. All people want to be successful, but not many are willing to pay the price. Oh please, my dear friend, get off your lazy ass and prepare.
All the best!!!
For those who wonder about Minor in Entrepreneurship programme in NTU, there are 5 modules in total, spread over 8 months period, with the last one involving starting our own company. It is a highly sought-after program, with proper application and interview for admission. You can find out more here: http://www.ntc.ntu.edu.sg/undergraduateprograms/Pages/MinorinEntrepreneurship.aspx.
I would like to share what I learn from the 4th module, namely Managing New Venture & Business Plan. In order not to spoil the market by sharing tips and trick to win this Marketplace simulation game with my experience along the way, I would just share key-points we all can learn from and take note of.
From every quarter, we have problems of all kind, all sizes and coming from all sort of circumstances. When we face troubles or questions that can’t be solved by our team, we must be bold to ask for help. This is not shameful as everyone needs help and guidance. Although the solutions may turn out to be all bad, we must be able to choose the best among the worst. This is the art of making decision, especially business decisions which have monetary value impact. Like for our case, if the production cost is realy higher than price willing to pay (due to low production volume), I personally think we should sell according to price willing to pay. Customer is the king, and since we know the key is in increasing volume to achieve economies of scale, we must direct our efforts to increase volume, even if the only way to do it is by making losses in the first quarters. High risk, high investment, high return. Bearish or bullish, we will find out later.
A major problem we faced was the lack of cash; we actually planned to expand our production capacity, yet we did not have enough cash to do that. After calculated the projected demand, we were even more surprised that our current capacity would not be able to serve the expected demand at certain quarter.
We were not able to solve this, which could be seen in more than 20% stockout result. From this, I learn that there are many many factors that potentially reduce company’s performance. It is just overwhelming when we overlook one of them, and suddenly, disaster happen. From brand, price, ads, competitors, sales offices, sales people, production capacity, leftover inventories, and market research data; all are important. Our brand, price, and ad judgement should be the highest. If it’s not, improve or learn from competitor. As our main selling point was the sales people, we should have more of them in various places to sell our products. Market research data should be studied carefully to forecast demand which affects production scheduling. Leftover inventories can be salvaged or sold at higher price than competitors, the latter is to avoid further stockout on these unwanted products.
Again; we must learn from past mistakes, find present help and cooperation from VC’s and competitor, as well as do planning for future. Cash is super crucial in a company, though income looks high, without cash at hand we cannot do anything. That’s why we fell into loanshark who lend us so that we have at least $1 in our cashflow. Another thing I learned was not to be afraid of loan. I have always avoided loan, because I know that I’ll be paying more than I should. Now, I understand that it only applies to consumer loans. For business loans, if there’s an opportunity to expand and make more money than the sum of loan with interest, this loan is HEALTHY for the business.
In terms of seeking cooperation with competitors, a guy in our team liaised with 3 other teams. We agreed to share R&D facilities to all members of alliances. This agreement was verbally made; there were no signature or any form of legal documents involved. Here I spot a mistake. In real life, every agreement and contract must be written and signed, thus there is a proof in case anyone breach the clauses. Although we are friends, our business is a separate entity, all things shall be clear and formal.
From VC Fair, I learned that in meeting VC, it boils down to our communication skill, how we negotiate etc. It is one thing to have a profitable and sustainable business; it is another thing to let the VCs know and believe it. As for my personal growth, I commit to make time for watching TED talks and pitches, and repeat or retell them. Our team get moderate score in this exercise, which I believe; if we’re in the real world, there is minute probability these VCs will inject fund to our company. If we were to restart, our team will be more prepared, do more accurate and optimistic projections, and make sure everyone in the team have the business and financial knowledge needed to convince VCs.
After getting enough funds and data, we move forward with logics and careful measures. But to our experience, no matter how calculative and research-based we operate, there is always a risk of not meeting projection or even exceeding projection. Indra and I spent quite a long time looking into market research data, summed the total market size for a year, divide them by 4, put in pessimistic projections since quarter 6 is ‘not so good’, and divide them by number of competitors in the segment. This turned out to be wrong, as we were the market leader with higher percentage of market share compared to our competitiors. What we can do is to project as realistic as possible based on market research data, put in a bit optimistic view according to our targeted market share (not just divided it by number of competitors), and work it out by improving marketing efforts and sales channels.
Last but not least, our production capacity was smaller than our projected total demand. Problem, again! There is no way for us to quickly enlarge capacity, as reselling is not permitted. So we just maximized that capacity to produce our main best-seller product. And use the rest to produce Traveller product. We agreed on cutting the production of Traveller, considering number of players in the market. Other strategies we incorporated was to pay back all loans, to make our financial performance better, which is a right way to go. Our balanced scorecard was the best among all teams! Market share was not our main target anymore. Now I understand the importance of being balance. All aspects of business must be well taken care of. It is useless if our market share is 100%, but our asset management is bad, for example. We either stockout often, which harm company’s reputation in the long-run; or we overestimate demand and have countless unwanted inventories.
From this very last quarter, I learn that business is all about balance. Every single detail is important. Someone who is careless and not perfectionist, will not be able to compete well. To avoid making mistakes or overlooking details, there are few ways. We can have a mentor or advisor to oversee, a good assistant or colleague to remind, a manual or list of things that we often forget, a good communication between team members and last but not the least, enough sleep. Why enough sleep? Enough sleep allows our brain to rest and works better the next day. Too much work is not good for physical and mental health. We all know that, keep the balance in check. Listen to our loved ones; they may complain and give us advises which we should listen to, because they care about us. Be spiritual, do prayer, meditation, yoga, or anything, to help balancing ourselves. Friendship is also important. Win or lose, friendship is not affected. We all became more bonded and close to each other, ready for the next journey ahead.
One more thing, if I am to re-do the last quarter, I would expand more production capacity. That was our team’s biggest mistakes. If only we had enough capacity, I am very sure we could get at least 50 % of total overall market share. We have the product, price, and sales people ready, it was only the capacity, or else we could go to all five segments and spoil the market with low price in this last quarter. Yup, but there’s no use crying over spilt milk. We experience, we learn, and we will share.