Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tablets, Tablets Everywhere

It seems like everyday some company releases new tablets to the market. Many options are good, but sometimes it can be confusing too for consumers. Which tablet is the best? Should I get Android or iOS or Windows 8 based tablet?

My answer is: it depends on what you are going to use the tablet for.

I don't think there is "the best" tablet. There is only the best tablet to answer your specific requirements for specific time frame.

If you like to customize your tablet, go with Android. If you have already used and invested some apps with Apple ecosystem you may want to go with iPad. If you want new UI you can try Surface or Windows 8 based tablets. And just to remind everyone, Windows 8 based tablets are the only ones right now that can run native Microsoft Office suite which is (unfortunately) a must in today's business.

There is only one iPad from Apple but there are so many Android tablets out there. Which one to choose? It depends on which brand that you trust. Or what features you are looking for specifically. Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 offers the true stylus experience. Sony has just released the thinnest tablet in the world. Samsung products use plastic material. Some comes with a bit better Megapixel. Some comes with a bit better something that sometimes it's not really worth it. So I still believe the reason to pick between many Android based tablets material out there is for specific functionality like: whether you like stylus or not.

If there is no specific function needed, you may want to look at Google Nexus just due to the fact it comes from Google. You can be sure they have done some optimization to the Android software better than anyone, for their own hardware.

Similar case with Windows 8 based tablets, there are so many brands beside the Surface from Microsoft. Which one to choose? I'd personally prefer Surface due to the same reason like Google Nexus for Android: Microsoft made the OS, and they must have done some optimization for their own hardware.

How about the 7 inch tablets? I believe they are good as on-the-go tablets, to be used anytime, anywhere due to their size. Apple has iPad mini, while Android has many options. But again, if you don't like to use stylus (Samsung Galaxy Note 8 inch is coming soon) I'd prefer Google Nexus 7 since it's from Google.

Can we use tablet completely instead of PC? I think yes, if you don't need specific software that currently only available on PC. But even with Surface that has Office suite, I still need my Macbook Air to run specific software like Visio and Webex client.

Should we buy now or wait until the next best tablet gets released? There will be always something new. So just buy a tablet when you need it, to answer your specific requirements. Most likely the tablet you buy will last only for specific time frame anyway.

What are the tablets I currently use for myself and family?

1. For younger kids = iPad 1

Simply because it's probably the most robust tablet out there. My 3-year and 4-year old kids have done the worst to this tablet and until today it's still alive. Drop the ipad? Done. Splash water on it? Yup. Step on the tablet with both feet? Couple of times :)

So the tablet is very tough even it has been tortured to the limit. The battery is still very good, it can stay more than 8 hours. And my kids don't even need the latest software so iPad 1 with old iOS is fine. But it requires some work to really make it really "the tablet for kids". I need to install appropriate apps for my kids. I need to think how to limit the Internet access for them. I need to find more education apps.

I'm currently thinking to replace it with a new tablet built really for kids, like this Nabi2 from Fuhu. It has good hardware design, interesting UI for kids, and many pre-loaded education apps. I may go for it.

2. For older kid = Galaxy Note 10.1

My 14-year old kid is a future artist. She likes to paint and you can check some samples of her works here. I bought her the Galaxy Note 10.1 to let her practice drawing or sketching on this tablet.

Unfortunately after coupe of months she told me she doesn't really like to sketch or draw with Samsung S Pen :( It just feels different with doing it on paper, she said. Well, for time being I'm going to keep the tablet since it's cheaper than the iPad, and at least my family can use it for content consumption

3. For business = Surface RT

Yes indeed, it has the MS Office suite. It has expansion slot, USB and mini HDMI port. I can make and edit the document, build slides, and I did customer presentation lately with it. Windows 8, even the RT version, offers a fresh and interesting UI compare to iOS or Android.

But it just lacks of many important apps. For example, there is no Webex client for Win 8 until now. For someone like me who uses Webex in daily basis, it's just unacceptable. It means I still need another device like my macbook. And since my macbook air is quite light, and it has all the software I need, why would I need the tablet then?

So I may give this Surface to my assistant who will use it only for email, social media and MS Office.

4. For on-the-go tablet = Google Nexus 7 or iPad Mini

I like Google Nexus 7. I bought one. The price is right. I used to bring it everywhere. It's lightweight. It's really good to play games and watch movies while on the road. My only issue is to browse the Internet with it. I was not comfortable to read from the browser. So after several months I sold it to my friend who needs it for his kid, and now I'm thinking to get the iPad Mini that has a bit larger screen.

I don't know if Mini is the right tablet for my purpose. I tried it couple of times and I like the way it feels in my hand. But only time will tell, only after I use it heavily I can say yes or no. And even if the Mini is worst than Nexus 7, it's considered a hot product so I can always sell it again easily.

Since there is no real tablet for my business needs, it seems like I'm going to stick around with my macbook air. Plus either iPad Mini or Google Nexus 7 for content consumption whenever I need to entertain myself.

Perhaps you should check your requirement before buying any tablet too. You should ask yourself what the purpose of the new tablet is, before making any decision.

Because new tablets get released to the market everyday, and it's really easy to buy one because you think you need it, only to find later that you have no real use of it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

What's In a Job Title?

Are you proud with your job title? Do you think it still matters?

According to wikipedia, a job title should reflect the job description that is defined as a list that a person might use for general tasks, or functions, and responsibilities of a position. It may often include to whom the position reports, specifications such as the qualifications or skills needed by the person in the job.

During my work in Cisco I've been introduced to customers with different job titles, depending on the situation. One time I was introduced as Technical Adviser, other time as Solutions Architect. There were couple of times when I have to put Project Leader in my opening slides, and few times as Technical Project Manager. When I don't lead the project, I could be the Design Engineer or Consulting Engineer. For migration projects, some project manager introduced me as Migration Expert. In some other situation, I could be Technical Lead or Senior Consultant.

If I was asked by other parents at my kid's schools about my job title, what should I reply? Should I select one of the above? Or use all of them? I guess not.

So I made a new terminology called Global Consultant. I think the title is self explanatory. And it is not coincidence I made a training program with the same name.

For the second part of my life, I can be even more creative. I call myself 50preneur, even I don't use it as job title. In GEM Foundation I've been managing and directing the team. What job title should I use? Obviously I pick Managing Director. In Jawdat, a company that generates profit to power GEM Foundation activities, my job can be described as the rain maker. Together with my team, we set the vision and execute it. But I personally run the marketing campaign and bring the sales, as well as to develop the training programs, and supervise the learning platform developers. What should I call myself? I don't manage the daily operation, so no Managing Director for me. Then I thought a "chairman" would be nice.

Am I proud with all those titles? I think I'm not.
They are just titles. Collection of words.
If I keep mentioning about Global Consultant lately, especially in this blog, that could be a part of the campaign strategy to market this terminology on the Internet. So it would be easier for me to sell the training program for it.

Are you happy with your current job title?
If yes, that's good for you.
If not, I guess you can always invent a new one :)

Listen to what our friend, who like to wear the bat mask, said: It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you.

So forget the job title.
Just deliver the work.
Or create something.
Or do something.

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Leader of Happiness

Tony Hsieh, CEO of, is leading the company by spreading happiness to customers. Will he be able to make delivering happiness as global movement?

Tony Hsieh joined Zappos as primary investor and advisor, a small company who tried to sell shoes online, back in 1999. Tony eventually became CEO and was able to grow the company from almost no sales to $1 Billion in gross merchandise sales within 10 years (Twitchell 2009). His secret? Deliver great customer services and make it as part of company culture. The Wall Street Journal (Wingfield 2009) reported that Amazon acquired Zappos in 2009 as “the biggest acquisition in Amazon 14-year history” for about $847 million in cash and stock.

Zappos Company Culture
In Delivering Happiness (Hsieh 2010) Tony mentioned he has gone through three phases during his business career: Profit, Passion and Purpose. In search for his higher purpose in life, Tony aims to deliver value by providing the best customer service experience to the customers who purchase the merchandises online.  This results in huge sales growth within 10 years as Zappos is able to attract hesitated customers to shop online from the website and in process is converting them to become loyal customers.

Zappos company culture is built around the customer service. And it is not only a jargon; every individual from the executive level to the new recruit believe and “live into” this value. The company website even states that Zappos is powered by service, and internally they call it WOW philosophy. By building the culture around great customer service, the company strives to deliver happiness to both their customers and employees.

Level 5 Leader
Jim Collins mentioned in Good to Great (Collins 2001) about a level beyond charismatic leader called Level 5 Leadership. According to Collins, humility is a key ingredient of Level 5 leadership and the essential difference with the previous levels.  Level 5 leaders operate with genuine humility, and that humility is defined by this burning, passionate, and obsessive ambition for the cause, the company, and the work. Not for themselves (Collins 2009).

As Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh possesses the quality of Level 5 Leadership explained above, and coincidently humbleness is one of the company’s other key values. A leader is supposed to set up parallels between customer vision, the company vision, and the user experience (Baer 2012). And Tony is able to create and coordinate the parallelism and keep them in sync.

Tony explained he wanted to work with people he respected and to emphasize the company's larger purpose, and making sure money is not the part of the motivation for everyone in Zappos. The company even offers $2000 to new hires to quit their job after the first week, to ensure money is not the main reason for them to work for Zappos (Tjan 2010).

Global Movement
After starting the idea of Delivering Happiness with his book, Tony and the team from Zappos drove a bus cross-country to talk to those who inspired by the book and hear directly how people were making happiness a priority in their lives. They continued the effort to spread the idea as global movement through the website and various online social media, in order to achieve the objective to connect like-minded people as well as to educate and empower both employees and employer to create more happiness at work.

If a company can be successful selling shoes online by providing great customer service experience to build customer trust and loyalty, Delivering Happiness idea can be the model many services oriented companies should follow. Whether the model can fit any online business that operates globally in different industry, it is yet to be tested in time.

Jeremy Twitchell, 2009. From Upstart to $1 Billion Behemoth, Zappos Marks 10 years [online] (Updated 16 June 2009) available at: [Accessed 24 August 2012].

Nick Wingfield, 2009. Amazon Opens Wallet, Buys Zappos [online] (Updated 23 July 2009) available at: [Accessed 24 August 2012].

Tony Hsieh, 2010. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, 1st ed., Business Plus.

Jim Collins, 2001. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't, 1st ed., HarperBusiness.

Level 5 Leadership, 2009. [video] Jim Collins. Available at:  [Accessed 24 August 2012].

Drake Baer, 2012. To Create True Innovation, Consider Who You Want Your Customers To Become [online] (Updated 23 August 2012) available at: [Accessed 24 August 2012].

Anthony K. Tjan, 2010. Four Lessons on Culture and Customer Service from Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh [online] (Updated 14 July 2010) available at: [Accessed 24 August 2012].

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

50preneur for the Next Generation

I've been living with two lives. Or better yet, I've been having two faces.

With one face, I'm the Global Consultant for Cisco Advanced Services, traveling the world to work with our customers. With another face, I manage a non-profit organization GEM Foundation and at the same time I work as chairman for a company called Jawdat Teknologi Indonesia that offers advance training in computer networking.

I personally have so many thoughts in mind that keeping me awake in 2012. I have a dream to see many more Indonesians competing in global market. I have a dream to see Indonesian consultants are taking over the jobs currently held by external consultants in my country. I have a dream to educate and produce the next generation Indonesian professionals who have global mindset.

I work with the other founders of GEM Foundation in order to make the organization as the bridge between professionals, entrepreneur and students, by conducting regular online meeting called WebexSunday. With my team in Jawdat, our focus is to help Indonesian professionals and students preparing for global competition by offering advance training products such as CCIE93, Network Engineer+ and Global Consultant class. The profit gained from our products is used to run the operation, to build CCIE lab that can be used by community, and to offer scholarship to less fortunate students and talented professionals who cannot afford the training price.

Our advance training system can help with the new concept of learning like “anytime, anywhere”, “at your own pace”, and “learn one thing a day”. We teach something "beyond certification". We show "the big picture".  We make sure what we teach is relevant with what is required to perform at work in real life. We use new methodology to ensure those who attend our class will gain simulated project experience, team work, presentation and communication skill. Everyday we keep thinking about how to improve our products, and to invent new way of learning, in order to achieve our goal to prepare our students for global competition.

To perform all the tasks in my two lives I have to split my time, not my face, in half.

Google encourages its employees to take 20 percent of their time to work on something company-related that interests them personally. This means that if you have a great idea, you can spend time for a full day in a week to try to make it happens. Google claims that many of their products in Google Labs started out as pet projects in the 20 percent time program. 

I love the idea. But I don't work for Google. And I'm not trying just to execute new idea for my current company. What I'm trying to execute, with the other founders and my team, is something disruptive and a completely new way to educate professionals and students from my country. It is something that no one has done it before.

So personally I believe it takes more than 20 percent to be able to execute this great idea. I need at least 50 percent. I want to continue working with my current company with 50 percent focus, and continue pursuing the dream and trying to make it reality with the other 50 percent.

Hence I call myself a 50preneur.

And how am I doing with my venture by focusing 50 percent?

We laid out the plan for GEM Foundation and Jawdat. We identified the 8 factors we believe are required to make my dream in 2012 becomes reality. When I looked at it, I realized we are not very far to achieve the goal.

1. Place and Lab for Learning
We have already had one in Jakarta, and our current lab is capable to practice CCIE in Routing & Switching track. We are in progress to build another lab that can be used to learn Internet services and programming language.

2. Structured Learning Program
We have this with our CCIE93, Network Engineer+ and Global Consultant program for computer networking area. We will include some other areas in the future.

3. Instructors and Mentors
Several Indonesian CCIEs are currently supporting the program.

4. Paying Students
We have more than 50 students in CCIE93. Network Engineer+ has just been opened with 20 pilot students. Global Consultant IP NGN pilot class was done last month, and we are going to open the second class early February. The previous profit generated by these activities was enough to build a complete CCIE lab.

5. Social Network Hub
We built several online tools as the hub for social networking. We have CCIE Club portal, our recording from the online meeting are available on WebexSunday portal, and we have global forum for those who have attended the classes from Jawdat.

6. Experienced Professionals dan Entrepreneurs
Experience professionals and entrepreneurs have a crucial role to share their knowledge and experience, to open up the horizon of those young professionals and students. We aim not only to teach technical expertise but as well as to educate about soft skill, how to communicate, mindset, interview skills and ability to market oneself.

7. Scholarship System
We are currently building a scholarship system that will be managed by GEM Foundation. Since Jawdat have already several programs running, we can start offering the scholars to attend our classes for free. In the future we are going to design a collaborative mechanism to pay the scholar to take CCIE lab, for example, and to learn other skills than computer networking.

8. Global Company to Hire
After we train both the technical skill and the soft skill, GEM Foundation and Jawdat will try to distribute our students to work in global companies all around the world.

We have covered about 6 out of the 8 factors! This is an exciting time. What we have achieved so far makes me wake up everyday with full of enthusiasm. The same enthusiasm I have with my current work in Cisco :)

Am I cheating my current company?
No. I perform at the same level compare to before I became 50preneur. What is the secret? By working more efficiently. 200% more efficient, to be precise. I learn how to deliver the same task like before, with only half of the time. I learn to prepare for presentation and to create slides for customer meeting within a very short time. If previously I need 8 weeks to deliver a Low Level Design, now I have to do it in only 4 weeks. Without sacrificing quality. So what matters for me is to achieve the same result like before, with only 50 percent time.

Is it hard?
Yes, it is. But I believe it's necessary in order to do more for the community.

Why don't I quit Cisco?
I love what I do in Cisco. I like to meet our customers to solve their problem. I love to travel to see new places. I feel that I accomplish something every time my project is concluded. Why should I quit? Until now I still able to manage between my work in Cisco, my venture with GEM Foundation and Jawdat, and my personal life.

How does this way of life affect my performance at Cisco?
So far there is no impact. I got good performance review recently. I delivered a superb work in my latest work auditing one customer network in Middle East. I got good feedback from my colleagues, and even a small bonus as appreciation of my work.

What is going to happen next?
I'm going to continue living with two lives, to continue working with two faces. There is no drawback for my current company anyway. If I continue doing this, it means I become more efficient at the same time I practice what the company call Corporate Social Responsibility, in my own way. If someday I decide to focus only with my work in Cisco, it means I'm already a very efficient worker that can do the same task with half time. If someday I decide to work full time with GEM Foundation and Jawdat, well, that means my current company is capable to provide good resources and atmosphere to produce an entrepreneur.

Can I survive long with this? Is this 50preneur only for temporary?
Only time will tell.

Right now I just want to live to the fullest, in this world and to pursue the after life. To contribute, to be a good father, to do what I love and to love what I do.

I'm a 50preneur.
And I'm doing this for the next generation.