Living in Interesting Times – Turn The Ostrich Into an Opportunity

Living in Interesting Times - Turn The Ostrich Into an Opportunity
Interesting times
Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.

There’s an old Chinese curse. Actually, there are lots of Chinese curses, but the one that springs to mind and seems most appropriate for 2020 goes something like this … “may you live in interesting times!”

The origin of the curse is debatable, (is it really Chinese or just a fortune cookie prophecy?) but in 1966 Robert Kennedy gave a speech in Cape Town where he used the phrase but then went on to explain what he thought it meant.

“Interesting times,” he said, are “times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.”

It’s a mad, mad world

We certainly are living in interesting times.

We’ve gone through riots and demonstrations around the world looking for democracy, freedom and human rights.

We’ve started trade wars and almost witnessed a real life world war.

We’ve witnessed a continent on fire!

We’ve ignored obscene breaches of human rights and had to endure the banality of “Brexit with Boris” – a twisted kind of children’s freak show.

And we’re still yawning our way through the long-running reality TV show with the orange one and two septuagenarians, called “Let’s Beat The Don” that’s fast become the divisive destruction of American democracy.

The power of a pandemic

As if this wasn’t enough, we now have to deal with a global pandemic. Or not deal with it depending on what and who you want to believe.

Attempts to limit the spread of COVID-19 now include unprecedented lockdowns, restrictions to international and national travel and something called ‘social distancing’ and ‘shelter-in-place.’

This is affecting us all and Indonesia is by no means exempt.

Needless to say, the COVID-19 Pandemic has had, and will to continue to have, negative effects on our daily lives as well as local and global economies. Businesses, both big and small will have to learn to adapt to a new paradigm.

Positive mindsets benefit everyone

It’s difficult to say how long this emergency will last, but it will pass. And it’s important for us all to try and maintain a positive mindset until this happens.

This doesn’t mean ignoring recommendations and guidelines and acting as if nothing is wrong. This would be both foolish and irresponsible.

Whatever our opinions are, the fact that communities are being forced into unprecedented states of self-awareness is undeniable. We are all being asked to consider the greater good; for the benefit of our communities, encouraging us all to work together. Because, like it or not, we’re all in this together.

Don’t be an ostrich

The hospitality industry, especially in Bali and Lombok’s Gili’s, may be hardest hit as tourist arrivals plummet. But what hotels do in times of crisis also offers opportunity and lessons to learn across many business and investment sectors.

Accepting the reality of the situation is the first and most important thing to get to grips with. Burying your head in the sand will not make the problem disappear. Neither will panic and sharing unverified, fear mongering social media posts.

Historically in times of crisis, the hospitality industry doesn’t sell its assets, at least not generally. Hotels don’t just turn and run. They’re aware not only of their business interests but also of their commitments to communities.

Lessons to learn from hospitality

Operations downsize, for sure, but the most successful hotel operators, both domestic and international, use the downtime to literally re-evaluate systems and procedures, conduct maintenance and training and find ways to offer better services for when things get back to normal. Because they know things will recover. Eventually.

These are the lessons the hospitality industry can teach us all. And this is how Seven Stones Indonesia is trying to help our clients.

We’re encouraging them to use this global slowdown as a time to consolidate investments, to restructure and look at smarter ways to organize their businesses and to explore areas where opportunities are likely to appear.

It’s not a time to panic and not a time to bury ostrich heads in buckets of sand. The new paradigm means it’s time to be realistic so why not work creatively together?

It’s time to be aware of what we are as a society and it’s time be as positive as possible and to help each other.


#coronavirus #COVID #positivity #paradigmshift #interestingtimes #hospitality #sevenstones #sevenstonesindonesia #pandemic #creativity #hospitality #worktogether

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Andrzej Barski

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Andrzej is Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia. He was born in the UK to Polish parents and has been living in Indonesia for more than 33-years. He is a skilled writer, trainer and marketer with a deep understanding of Indonesia and its many cultures after spending many years travelling across the archipelago from North Sumatra to Irian Jaya.

His experience covers Marketing, Branding, Advertising, Publishing, Real Estate and Training for 5-Star Hotels and Resorts in Bali and Jakarta, which has given him a passion for the customer experience. He’s a published author and a regular contributor to local and regional publications. His interests include conservation, eco-conscious initiatives, spirituality and motorcycles. Andrzej speaks English and Indonesian.

Terje H. Nilsen

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Terje is from Norway and has been living in Indonesia for over 20-years. He first came to Indonesia as a child and after earning his degree in Business Administration from the University of Agder in Norway, he moved to Indonesia in 1993, where he has worked in leading positions in education and the fitness/ wellness industries all over Indonesia including Jakarta, Banjarmasin, Medan and Bali.

He was Co-owner and CEO of the Paradise Property Group for 10-years and led the company to great success. He is now Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia offering market entry services for foreign investors, legal advice, sourcing of investments and in particular real estate investments. He has a soft spot for eco-friendly and socially sustainable projects and investments, while his personal business strengths are in property law, tourism trends, macroeconomics, Indonesian government and regulations. His personal interests are in sport, adventure, history and spiritual experiences.

Terje’s leadership, drive and knowledge are recognised across many industries and his unrivalled network of high level contacts in government and business spans the globe. He believes you do good and do well but always in that order. Terje speaks English, Indonesian and Norwegian.

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Ridwan Jasin Zachrie

CFO of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Ridwan is one of Indonesia’s top executives with a long and illustrious career in the financial world. He holds several professional certifications including being a Certified Business Valuer (CBV) issued by the Australian Academy of Finance and Management; Broker-Dealer Representative (WPPE); and The Directorship Certification for Directors and Commissioners, issued by the Indonesian Institute of Commissioners and Directors.

His experience includes being the Managing Director at one of the top investment banking groups in the region, the Recapital Group, the CFO at State-owned enterprises in fishery industry and the CEO at Tanri Abeng & Son Holding. He’s also been an Independent Commissioner in several Financial Service companies and on the Audit and Risk Committee at Bank BTPN Tbk, Berau Coal Energy Tbk, Aetra Air Jakarta as well as working for Citibank, Bank Mandiri and HSBC. His last position was as CFO at PT Citra Putra Mandiri – OSO Group.

Ridwan has won a number of prestigious awards including the Best CFO Awards 2019 (Institute of Certified Management Accountant Australia-Indonesia); Asia Pacific Young Business Leader awarded by Asia 21 Network New York USA (Tokyo 2008); UK Alumni Business Awards 2008 awarded by the British Council; and The Most Inspiring Human Resources Practitioners’ version of Human Capital Magazine 2010.

He’s a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Law, Trisakti University, Co-Founder of the Paramadina Public Policy Institute and actively writes books, publications and articles in the mass media. He co-authored “Korupsi Mengorupsi Indonesia” in 2009, which helps those with an interest in understanding governance in Indonesia and the critical issue of corruption. Ridwan speaks Indonesian and English.

Per Fredrik Ecker

Managing Director of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Per is the Managing Director of the Seven Stones Indonesia (SSI) Jakarta office and has more than 25-years’ experience in Indonesia, China, and Western Europe. He previously worked in senior management positions with Q-Free ASA, Siemens AG, and other companies in the telecom sector. Over the last six years, he has been the Chairman of the Indonesia-Norway Business Council (INBC) and recently become elected to be on the board of EuroCham Indonesia.

His most recent experience is within Intelligent Transport Solutions (ITS), Telecom, and other sectors within the Indonesian market. He is today through his position in SSI and by representing Norway Connect, promoting Nordic and European companies that would like to explore business opportunities in the Indonesian market. He’s also playing an active role to help create the Nordic House concept in Jakarta that will provide an excellent platform for Nordic companies entering Indonesia, where they’ll find a community that can offer support with trusted information and affordable services to enter this market.