Ten Inspirations from Dato Sri Tahir: an entrepreneur & banker
Dato Sri Tahir / 翁俊民 is the founder of the Mayapada Group, an Indonesian-based conglomerate.
Literally, Mayapada is an imaginary kingdom in Mahabharata.
I first knew Tahir through Forbes. He was born in Surabaya on 26 March 1952.
Below are ten (10) inspirations that I learned from him:
1. Dare to dream.
To quote Tahir, "One is not afraid of failure, one is only afraid of being fearful to dream. Life is like a competition / race with many participants and few winners. If you do not run faster than others, you will never win prizes"
Transform our dreams into our beliefs & vision / 异象.
With vision, we can exercise self-control.
2.Turn adversity into advantage / 逢凶化吉.
Once I attended a talk by Professor Lui Pao Chuen who also advocates turning adversity into advantage.
In the words of Tahir, "I come from a poor Chinese family," the tycoon says of his roots. "My parents used to make becak (a three-wheel rickshaw / pedicab). My father would assemble the parts while my mother painted them."
3. Be resourceful & courageous to make positive use of our resources.
"His wife, Rosy, the daughter of another Indonesian tycoon, Mochtar Riady, recently started h2h Charity, which has a vintage shop in Jakarta, proceeds from which are donated to help provide schooling for underprivileged children in Indonesia."
Tahir’s father-in-law rescued him from bankruptcy in 80s. Having wealthy (and most importantly keen & willing to help) family or friends may be helpful.
Sometimes, we may know wealthy associates but the timing and place are not right for them to assist us.
Do not blame them.
When the people, timing, and place (the spatio-temporal dynamic context) are right,
and we obtain assistance in the forms of any or some financial ($), intellectual resources,
these people become 贵人.
Make positive use of 贵人, even the best universities and Google stand on the shoulder of giant.
4. To win,
one must continuously learn, absorb, observe, and practice.
Practice makes perfect.
Practice creates talent.
It takes 10,000 hours of practice to give birth to an exceptional talent.
5. It is essential to pursue and support education.
Tahir’s Formal Education:
2008 : Obtained Doctor Honoris Causa (an honorary doctorate degree) from Universitas Tujuh Belas Agustus 1945-Surabaya (Major in Small and Medium Enterprises)
1987 : Obtained Master in Business Administration with GPA 4.00 from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, USA.
1976 : Obtained Bachelor’s degree majoring in business from Nan Yang University, Singapore
Tahir has also been appointed as a Board of Trustee at the University of California, Berkeley, becoming the first man from Southeast Asia to hold this position.
On April 2011, Tahir donated $1 million to the University of California, Berkeley for international student fellowships for students in the fulltime MBA program at Berkeley-Haas.
In my humble opinion, education is not entirely equal to schooling. I will write more about their differences.
6. Abide by the rules.
Competition has rules.
If one does not follow rules, s/he will face extinction.
Tahir cites an example using his banking business that strictly follows rules and regulations of the banking world.
"The Mayapada bank went public at the Jakarta Stock Exchange and weathered the 1997 economic crisis (when many banks became bankrupt due to not following rules) and managed to expand even more aggressively after the crisis. With foreign investment partners from the US, UAE and Singapore, the bank now has over 100 branches throughout Indonesia, and in 2007 has been voted as the second best public bank outside state-owned banks by InfoBank magazine, an influential banking magazine in Indonesia."
Though rupiah (IDR) collapsed in 1997, his bank (The Mayapada Bank) was spared because it was small and had not borrowed in US dollars.
Know ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses.
Know our level of competence.
If you are of 50 kg, you should not compete in the 100 kg class.
8. Win over your greatest enemy: yourself.
The only challenge Tahir faces, he says, is within himself: "I have to overcome my selfishness, my improper ambitions and greed."
Tahir could say so because he has successfully journeyed through the climb.
For many of aspiring entrepreneurs,
we first have to overcome laziness, faulty pride (e.g. the need of approval from others), negative mindset.
9. Build strong & solid platforms / foundations.
To quote Tahir, "I don’t build deals, I don’t build transactions … I build foundations or platforms."
Tahir has built the following platforms:
financial services (Mayapada Bank, Zurich Insurance Indonesia and Nipponkoa Indonesia).
Duty Free Shoppers.
real estate business (several buildings in Jakarta, hotels in Bali and Batam, and a new tower in Singapore).
healthcare (Mayapada Hospital).
media (Guo Ki*, Forbes Indonesia, Topas TV).
* the largest Chinese newspaper in Indonesia, with a circulation of 30,000 copies.
10. Make others happy, especially let others happy in their last moment.
Perhaps Tahir has lived long enough (as compared to young students) and seen many death to say: "The most enjoyable moment of my (life) is when I help people, especially when you give pride and honor to a person who is in a crisis in (the) last moment of his life."
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