Category Archives: Lifelong Learning

Travel for a living?

Getting paid to travel? Life is just too complicated; there’s no free lunch in this world, and making a good living out of traveling is simply too good to be true.

To be frank, I secretly had that aspiration. I mean, it was definitely not as impossible as to have a super power, but someone like me being paid to travel? I already gave up on the idea long time ago, when I realised i’m no extra-ordinary writer in English and I have no charm and natural talent, let alone the handsome-ness, to be on camera, like those TV and social media personalities.

Luckily enough, recently, a “social media influencer” friend jokingly invited me to go on a paid trip on her behalf, and of course, I said yes. She picked the wrong person to joke about this with. Free trip? Paid? I hadn’t gone on one for a really long time. Being someone who quit his full-time job simply because his boss said no to his leave request to go on a free trip to a new country, I took my chances and accepted the invitation without hesitation.

So in the last week of Oct 2016, I went along with 20 something “social media influencer” (mostly from the Philippines), on a fully sponsored tour around two major tourist attractions cities of Indonesia – Bali & Yogyakarta. It is part of Indonesia Ministry of Tourism, Marketing Division’s strategies, to promote Indonesia as leading attractions among both emerging and avid travellers, mostly from Southeast Asia. The idea is to let this bunch of social media activist to experience first-hand high quality hospitality of Indonesia, inspiring them to tell about their amazing experiences to their fans and followers, mainly through their writing, photos and/or videos.

I must applaud their approach to marketing. Definitely taking the word-of-mouth approach to the new level. In the realm of social media taking over the world, where social experience by genuine customers, real travellers, sharing authentically about their experience about something, speaking incredibly volumes than deliberate marketing campaign led by the “sellers”, this is definitely an easy example of putting investment in the right basket.

Not entirely genuine, I would say, but it’s very close. I am no social media celebrity and my influencing power is limited to a much smaller group of people. But whatever I put online, I really mean it. From someone that hardly talked about Indonesia, to become a friend, a colleague, and acquaintance that can’t stop brining up Indonesia, Bali and Yogyakarta, when travelling and holiday come into a conversation. Certainly a shift of behaviour I’ve noticed in myself, which is not because I feel obliged to promote the country or to boast about where I have visited or what I have done, but because I genuinely had a good experience and want to honestly recommend it to other people.

Plus, other destinations around Indonesia are now among the top places that come to my mind when planning for next personal holiday, and I’m not even kidding about it.

This is  one third of the bunch that I spent about a week with. I would say they are definitely a bunch more friendly, more interesting, more inspiring than an average person I’ve met. Thanks to them, I want to travel more, I want to take better pictures, and I have eyes on things other than what’s in my daily routine over the last 2.5 years.



This is the full bunch:


@IndTravel #WonderfulIndonesia #TripofWonders

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Wrong Things Managers do!

Entering my new job, working in a new place, meeting a different group of people from my usual circle, coupled with my experience working in teams and around leadership, it’s clearer than ever now, some of wrong things that a lot of leaders like to do, which is quite toxic to their workforce and the entire organization. Let me take you through the 6 things with real examples from my current workplace:

1. Failing to create the needed culture that would bind the entire organization together: Where I’m working now, everyone is a separate individual without any common understanding towards each other. Everyone seems to just care about their own business, not really working for anything in common. I do my job; you do your job. People simply don’t care to care about what others are doing, and they hardly know about what others, other than themselves, are doing. This may be considered as a culture, which is the combination of many different cultures adopted by different individuals. The atmosphere is simply very dry: people don’t seem to care about each other; no-one seems to even give a shit when the boss is finishing his term and has to go back to his country in a week or so; no-one talks about any celebration, and everyone, including myself of course, can’t wait to go home when the clock strikes 5pm.

2. Distancing himself/herself too much from the employees; simply not involved and engaged: “I am your leader; I am the boss, and nothing besides work, about you, is my business.” My current boss is the type that comes to the office and goes straight into his working room, where he sits alone and would not come out unless he needs to actually go home or go outside for a meeting. It’s simply not in his habit to go around the office, saying hi and trying to build connection with people that work for him. After I having worked for almost 2 months, my boss seems to show no trace of interest over how I am doing, if I like my job, if I need any help. I myself, although feeling the need to be friendly, am always quite reluctant to take the first step and be the friendly type first, feeling concerned that the boss might not like it and see my behavior as being rude. Anyhow, I believe a good leader should be the one to start, to set the culture. If the leader is not the one to take the initiatives, followers/employees should never be blamed for not doing it either.

3. Not communicating: I really don’t like it when I was not told what is right and what is wrong in advance but I am expected to simply do it and get blamed if not having done it right. I was the newest member to this place and very few things were actually told to me. All that was given at the start was a big pile of employment contracts and pages of internal rules and policies to sign and maybe read. I wish my leader would take some time talking and setting expectations with me, not just for me to understand how he likes his employees to behave but also for him to understand what my needs and difficulties are. That would have given me a much better start of my work.

4. Not creating opportunities for employees, not prioritizing his/her people’s development: This place is simply not right for people like me, and I guess for anyone that aspires for a thriving career, aspires to work and continuously able to see own career advancement. I started as the head of Logistics and if I were to take this workplace as where my career lies, I honestly think I would be the head of logistics forever. That’s the easiest trap one can possibly fall into. The other day I went through some documents trying to grasp the working history of some employees here but yes, of years working for this organization, they have been holding the same position. Where is the opportunity to grow, where is the excitement? I enter as the head of logistics, why would I ever stay if I know that in 5, 10, 15 years’ time, I will still be the head of logistics?

5. Being a lonely man in the workplace: I’m pretty sure no-one in the organization really knows their boss – what he likes, what he dislikes, how much he loves his family, what was his previous job, what is his life motivation, what will be his next step after a two-year post here… He doesn’t tell and no-one seems to bother to ask. Personal life is simply out of question. It’s totally ok to not bring personal life into work or during working hours, but when there’s nothing prepared or planned at all outside working hours, our working life is simply too lonely. Actually my boss seems to be blending well with his expat friends, but I’m disappointed if it’s in his true intention to not try and mingle with the locals. I know that he’s been living in Cambodia for about 2 years now, and I highly doubt if he has made any good Cambodian friends.

6. Having little trust and hope for his/her employees: I was talking with a few people and we have a common understanding that most expats that work in Cambodia really put themselves on the level that is higher than Cambodians, looking down on the country and its people, seeing us as no-where near them, in terms of ability, skills, understanding, intelligence, etc. I hate it when they do that or unconsciously show it through their way of working, the working styles and behaviors. I do admit that they had much more advanced environments to grow in, the education that they went through is much better than ours and it’s natural that our typical workforce is not as good as theirs. However, please don’t act as if there’s no hope for us. I would appreciate their faith and their belief in us, not judging and easily giving up hope on us because of certain things that happen.

And let me tell you the effects of all these happenings, of all these allowed to happen by the leader. Clearly, ambitious and good people would not stay. Leaving this organization would definitely be the easiest decision I had to make, if I was not broke and in great need for something short-term to earn money. No-one, who is potential, who has vision and sees far into the future, who enjoys life and wants to also enjoy work,.. would stay.  Some that have been here for a while and could develop something would simply fly away once their wings are strong enough. And the organization that is unable to maintain good talents would never be able to realize or go even close to realizing its potential. No doubt the last guy before me quit and just the other day, one of the staff asked me about corporate working environments and showed her keen interest to explore it.

It’s actually quite sad to see this, the organization that aims to do amazing things and has funds far much more than many other places. If only these huge funds and amazing vision could reach its potential and, in the most efficient way, produce the results that would greatly impact Cambodia.

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