Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 30 #HappyGoGrateful - Dan Rivera

Passion energizes us. It makes us feel "alive". The energy created when we're doing what we're passionate about can also be felt by those around us.

I have seen and experienced how passionate Dan Rivera is when it comes to music. By music, I don't just mean singing or playing instruments, but I'm talking about the whole nine yards of music. From singing and playing instruments, musical theories, producing music, listening and learning from all genres whether he likes it or not. He takes what he learned, and........and most importantly, he shares them. Those who know him can testify for that.

You love sharing your knowledge, Dan. You really enjoy making others better, and you do this in your own fashion which I adore :)

It's your no-excuses attitude. You don't take non-sense from people, you're a very practical person, detail oriented,  you work hard and so eager to learn something new everyday, and I so admire this from you. Simply, you walk the talk, Dan. There's no better role model than someone who walks the talk.

That is what an amazing person, friend, mentor, and leader you are. Because if it's just your passion, you wouldn't welcome me to your beautiful home those countless times to teach and produce music for me. You wouldn't teach me how to use the program, or even more, give me the CD for my graduation present. You wouldn't send those holiday cards o me and everyone...even when I'm already in Indonesia. You wouldn't be so patient and caring, and you wouldn't helped organize my farewells and created that beautiful poster and video. You wouldn't be doing all that, if it's not because the beautiful individual that you are.

"We don't care what people say, rock 'n roll is here to stay." 

You're my rock 'n roll, Dan. Your passion has saved me from loosing mine.
I thank you and I love you.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 29 #HappyGoGrateful - Alicia Elett

It was said that best friends make good times better and hard times easier. But with Alicia, the hard times didn't only become easier, it also becomes good times.

The fact that we shared many things in common did make it easier for us to become friends. From the love of movies, The Knicks, how we like a lot of the same bands, The Knicks, the nerdy stuffs, and also The New York Knicks. But I also know other people who shared those things in common with me, yet we're not that close of a friend...

At the end, it's about the person. It's the kind of person that you are....and I see you as someone who's genuinely interested in people. It's also how you remember them despite the fact that you meet so many people every day. You made them feel they're worth remembering, and that's important.

At first, that was how I feel as well. But then, the more I got to know you, I feel a lot more than just feeling I'm worth remembering. Having you as a friend also makes me feel loved, excited, cared about, crazy (the good kind...haha!), joyful, challenged (and accepted!), blessed, grateful, and just....really so much happier.  

I once read someone wrote about his friends:
Sometimes I see my friends and think, "where did I find these crazy people?"
But then I think again, "what would I do without them?"

So what would I do without you Alicia? Well, probably just doing something else...
But what would be I without you? I wouldn't be the one with so many amazing, awesome, and unforgettable moments. I wouldn't be as grateful and happy as I am today.  And I surely wouldn't be the better person that I am today. 

I'm grateful for who I am today, and I thank you and love you for helping me be that person.



Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 28 #HappyGoGrateful - Anggia & Andhika

I've known these two for 13 years now. But back then, I knew them separately. It's funny actually, that for over 4 years in the same faculty, I never saw them together. In fact, I don't think they ever hung out together at all. But suddenly a couple of years after we all graduated, they got to know each other, became a couple....and voila! They got married and now with the precious baby Danis (yes, still a baby to me).

I guess that's what fate is. It does work strangely. And in my head today, it seems like you've been a couple since the first time met you 13 years ago.

Lots and lots of great moments in college that I had with you, Andhika....and lots and lots of great moments I had with you, Anggi. Separately, each of you have been such a wonderful friend. But I personally believe that those were the strong foundations we've all built for the amazing times when you two were living in Boston and me in New York. Because those years when we were city-neighbors was when to me, we're no longer friends, but truly a family.

I loved every single seconds of your visits to New York, and me to Boston. And I was soooo filled with happiness when I got the news Danis was born. I was so thrilled that I told this to everyone I know there. And when I was heading to Boston, I told everyone that I'm going to see my new niece.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I love you guys. And I thank you for giving me the easiest and obvious reason why I should be happy with my life: I have you as family. I'm very grateful for the jokes and laughters, the advices, the vitamins for my dad, the support and encouragements, and the love that the two of you always showed for me.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 27 #HappyGoGrateful - Marie-Claire Tabone & Davinia Pirotta

June 2008. When I first told them that I'm going to Malta, Marie-Claire's response was:

"heyyy :) what great news! yes i'll make sure i'm definitely here ;P ........your msg really made me smile :D"

And Davinia's reply: "Cool! I'll be rid of exams and free to take you around the island"

My 4 days trip in Malta was shortened to 3 days because of an airline screw up in Barcelona. But oh my godddd, what an amazing amazing 3 days...!!!!

From picking me up at the airport, driving me around the island, taking the boat in Blue Grotto, going to the beaches, all the historical and prehistorical places that I freakin' loved, the food, the conversations and catching up, the time we're writing post cards for our friends abroad....

Both of you were simply beyond words. You welcomed me with such loving hearts, and you're also so passionate to explain and make sure that I left Malta knowing its history and significance....and I LOVED that. Plus, this country is dead-seriously beautiful and gorgeous!

I experienced so much awesomeness in Malta, that I ended up falling sick by the end of the 3 days. Was it worth it? I'd absolutely do it again and again! Poor Juliana had to take care of me when I arrived in Greece (thanks again Juliana!) :D

Separately, I've met Marie-Claire in India and New York City. Davinia, we've met in The Netherlands, Poland, and Egypt. But that time in Malta was truly special for me, because I got to meet and hang out with both of you together. It's a beautiful country, with beautiful people, with beautiful hearts. I thank you, I love you, and I miss you both.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 26 #HappyGoGrateful - Tariq Shaw

All of my friends in New York City know that Washington Square Park is like a second home for me. In fact, if it wasn't illegal to stay there all night......well, who knows =)

It's about the park. But more importantly, it's the people. It's the regulars of the park that makes this place such a magnet with an endless supply of magical times and experiences....and the very first park-regulars I ever talked to, was Tariq Shaw.

March 2009, still cold, but there were a bunch of musicians jamming. So my ears forced my legs to move straight to the source. Tariq was the one playing the djembe. After maybe 30 minutes, he decided to take a break and sat next to me.

The jam was still going on, but we ended up talking about so many things, from djembe and other percussions, music, the park, new york, me, and you. We ended up moving away from the jam so we wouldn't be disturbing the music. But the very first thing, the 1st sentence you actually said to me was: "you're a good person". Do you remember that, Tariq? Granted, you weren't exactly "low" at that time =)

But it was actually you who is the good person. The one who introduced and taught me how to play djembe, one of my favorite instruments to play. You're the good person who kept forcing me to try and practice, and encouraged me to start playing there. You're the good person who first introduced me to so many people there. And more importantly, you're the great friend who've kept doing all this from that first day to our last meet, almost 5 years later.

For almost 5 years you never stopped giving me encouragements. Still with the positive attitude. Still with the smiles. Still with the passion. The only thing different is your short hair style =)

And after I'm back in Indonesia....still with the messages. Still thinking. Still asking me questions on how I'm doing. Still caring. Still the amazing friend that you are.

Thank you, Tariq. Still I am happy to have known you. Still I am grateful to have you as a friend.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 25 #HappyGoGrateful - Mia Annisa

"Mamma Mia!" :
1. An Italian expression. Literally means "my mother!". Usually used as an exclamation to express surprise and/or amazement.
2. My favorite way to greet my AIESEC Mother, Mia Annisa. Usually used with smiles because I'm always happy to see her.

Here's a living proof of how a person can have a mix of: kind, poised, loving, calm, polite...AND....the firmest, toughest, and badass cut-to-the-chase-and-execute! approach....all wrapped in her intelligent, energetic, critical, adventurous, and positive attitude. Those who know her know right away how accurate those descriptions are...

One can only feel loved and inspired to have worked or simply just be around you, Mi. And I am of so many who've been blessed to know and have you in their lives.

But of all those many people, and of all the positivity you've "infected" us with, I'd like to mention 1 particular thing that to me, is the most special. It's your way to challenge and inspire people to comfortably think out of the box, go out of their comfort zones, and make a change.

None of those things are comfortable to do, yet you miraculously lead people to do that...comfortably.

Maybe it's those mix of qualities I mentioned earlier...I don't know. What I do know though, and what you should know, is how grateful I am to have experienced and learned from your leadership; to have your guidance back in Romania, to have you as my learning challenger and sparring partner to this day, and to have everyone reading this and know what a blessing you have been.

In its 1st definition above...Mamma Mia!



Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 24 #HappyGoGrateful - Francesco Costanzo (Cisco)

Yes, the happy times in Egypt 7 years ago with a bunch of crazy awesome people from every corner of the world. Those were truly unforgettable moments. Full of joy, laughters, new experiences, and new friendships. There's one person particularly who kept offering us and night =)

Though it became the joke of the trip, "Cisco, got some more chocolate?", it was also a simple yet true picture of how kind, fun, generous, and selfless Cisco is.

Then, just over a year later in 2008, I had the pleasure to personally know more and experience what a wonderful person Cisco is. On my way to Slovenia, I got off the train and stayed for 2 days in Pisa, Italy. From picking me up at the train station, taking me around, reminiscing and catching up with each other, introducing me to his family and letting me stay in their house .....all with smiles.

Though it's been over 6 years, I still remember how welcoming you and your family are to me. I left Pisa with a big smile and so much gratefulness. I still am grateful, Cisco. Believe me when I say that you have a home that's ready to welcome you here in Indonesia...anytime!

Thank you for the sweet endless supply of chocolate and friendship, my friend. Every person should be grateful to have a friend like your in their lives. I know I am. Grazie, Cisco.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 23 #HappyGoGrateful - Stephanie Levinsky Shaw

In my first few months in New York City I lost a very dear friend of mine back in Indonesia, and I got the news in the middle of an evening class. I was a mess and still too "confused" to process the whole thing.

Voltaire said that the road to the heart is the ear. It is actually that simple. Too often we listen with the intent to reply, not to actually listen. No matter what country or cultures you're from, we all want to be listened. I know that. I only know....but Stephanie practices this.

All I needed that evening was a place to dump all those emotions. Someone to listen. And of course, you were there.....though still relatively a stranger at that time. But then as I got to know you, I realize it wasn't just because I was in a slump. That was just who you are. You don't just hear, you listen, and it makes people feel appreciated and important...and it's important to feel important.

You also know your passions. I love to hang out with people who are passionate about some things, whatever they are Your passions generate this positive energy to you and those around you. From urban planning, transportation, water management, and of course trying different foods. I'm sure there are tons of others which I haven't mentioned or simply just didn't know it yet...

But what I simply want to say, is thank you. For the countless Baburchis and all the conversations in there, for showing me New York City, for being so so very thoughtful and caring, for the energy, for your ears, for being genuine, and thank you for prioritizing me as a friend.  

......oh, and thank you for introducing me to Djenga! =)



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 22 #HappyGoGrateful - Tómas Kristjánsson

One of the many many things I love about Iceland and its people is their sarcastic humor. Tómas is a real definition of this. He is brilliant and super fast in coming up with these "attacks", and I absolutely  love it to the point where we can't even greet each other seriously anymore.

I've mentioned somewhere before that in this world, to keep yourself sane, you have to go crazy every once in a feel and experience life not in the ordinary and mediocre way. Tómas does this....but not once in a while. He is to me, a true definition of someone who both thinks and lives out of the box or comfort zone. He challenges himself constantly, and I personally believe that this attitude on life and living, is why he is the fantastically insane person that he is.

It is so exhilarating to have a friend like you, my friend. From India 9 years ago, our short meet in Indonesia, the ridiculous time in Poland, and when I met you back in Iceland; every single second spent with you was always a time well spent.

I know we have both continued our own journeys, but I love how we can still talk and it's always like we have just met a few hours earlier. And I love knowing that through these years, I got to learn and experienced how much you value our friendship.

So through this simple writing, I'd like to let you know how grateful I am to have shared all those joy, happiness, laughters, and sometimes frustrations. It's a testimonial to me that we have a friendship that have and will stay the test of time and distance. Know that I value your invaluable values you've brought to my life. Takk fyrir, shrimpy boy. Love you!



Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 21 #HappyGoGrateful - Adrian Vargas

Sometimes the quiet person can give a very "loud" impact. In my case, this is a proven concept. In 2005 Adrian Vargas came from Mexico to Indonesia and worked in my team for a whole year.

To this day, Adrian is still one of the most diligent person I've ever worked with. It was very inspiring and admirable to see his work ethic. A true example of "action speaks louder than words".

That being said, after a while working with him, I got to know him more on the personal side, and so does him to me. You, Adrian, are a metalhead with the heart of an angel. You are incredible kind and generous, honest, funny, caring, calm, and also very wise.

Honestly, I wouldn't be able to lead the way I lead without my regular consultation with you. It was through our conversations and your advices I could stay sane that year. We both know that it wasn't an easy task, but you seemed to be super calm and wise....and you are!

What I learned from you didn't only helped me and our team that year. But I carried it through out my life until today. To always step back and see the big picture on every situation, and search for those possibilities no matter how tough the situation is. To this day I still tried to do that, and I've been teaching that as well to everyone I can.

In a leadership team, sometimes there's something the people call the "right hand" of the leader. But to call your role and impact as a "right hand" was really an understatement. To me, you are my "right heart" as the leader. I wouldn't make it without you, and I wouldn't be the person that I am today without your support and wisdom.

I'm very happy that I got the chance to visit you in Mexico 3 years ago. To me, you will forever be a friend, colleague, mentor, and brother. Terima kasih, Adrian.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 20 #HappyGoGrateful - Gina Rizzi

After almost 5 years, exactly 1 year ago I finally left New York City and went back to Jakarta. New York was, is, and will always be home for me. It's a big home, and I have a big loving family whom I'm so grateful to have.

The day before I left, that big loving family had me a "see-you-later" gathering which was both musical and magical. Last family member I met was for breakfast the next morning, at Washington Square Diner with Gina Rizzi, my sister in metalhood =)

Tired, nervous, hectic, mind went all over the place that day. But for that short hour breakfast, I was poised.

But that's how infectious you are Gina. You've always come with smiles and positivity. Yes, everyone has their "down times", but you don't dwell in it for too long. You're able to refocus your attention to the good things in life. That's the mindset you choose to operate in, and it has been spreading to those around you. That's why you have so so so many people who love you and will go the distance to be there for you (count me in!). Because whether you realize it or not, you've infected us with your positive attitude, and we're better because of it.

From the first lines of the song you love, Green River (CCR):

Well, take me back down where cool water flow, yeah.
Let me remember things I love.

Well, I remember you. Thank you for listening,  thank you for the smiles, thank you for the joy and happiness, thank you for being such a badass loving wonderfully awesome part of my life.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 19 #HappyGoGrateful - Niall Gibbons

At first I thought Niall was another cool Irish guy, like the rest of Irish people I know....But this Limerick boy here is on a whole other dimension.

I first met Niall "under the shades"....Shades of Green that is, where he works :D

I used to play music jamming with other musicians there every Sunday. It really didn't take long to be friends with him, and it wasn't really because I went there regularly. It's easy to be comfortable with him because he doesn't hide anything. He tells things as it is, and he always come with so much energy.

Another thing that I admire about you, my friend, is that you think, plan, and act for what you want in the long-term as well. You told me about your plan to open your own joint, and you started saving for it. You're also not afraid to follow your passion, whether in business or music. You studied. You invested your time, effort, and money as well. Not everybody are courageous enough to take risk and follow their passion, and it's really inspiring to have you as a friend.

....and of course, finding out that you're a die hard Knicks fan was an icing on the cake :D

It's great to have someone who'd screamed and go crazy at MSG with me, and to know that all these these years I wasn't alone in being delusional about their chance on getting a ring, hahaha..but seriously, this upcoming season for sure =)

I could never be grateful enough to have you as a friend. You're serious, creative, thoughtful, brilliant, and for damn sure you know how to have fun. What a fine and classy friend I have. Thank you brother.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 18 #HappyGoGrateful - Jay Kopetri

Selama 13 tahun saya mengenal Jay, saya hanya ingat 3 waktu di mana kita dapat bicara dengan serius.

Pertama, jika saya membeli barang di Kopetri FEUI yang dia jaga.

Kedua, ketika kita membahas kemitraan bisnis. Dahulu saya memiliki bisnis persewaan film di kampus. Kopetri yang dijaga oleh Jay mejadi tempat pengambilan/pengembalian film jika saya berhalangan untuk menemui pelanggan.

Ketiga, meskipun hanya pembicaraan satu arah: penuturan saya berikut ini.

Ada alasan mengapa banyak orang yang datang ke Kopetri FEUI tidak hanya datang untuk membeli dan pergi. Meskipun dulu hanya ada satu bangku panjang, Kopetri tetap menjadi tempat "tongkrongan" yang nyaman karena Jay membuat kita merasa nyaman di sana.

Secara pribadi, saya (dan saya yakin teman-teman yang lain juga) merasakan kepribadian Jay yang sangat ramah dan peduli terhadap kepada kita sebagai seorang teman. Dia tahu banyak hal tentang saya dan begitu pula saya tentang dia. Pertemanan kita bisa dibilang bersifat sarkastik. Kita saling mengolok-olok satu sama lain, dan tidak ada yang keberatan atau tersinggung karena kita tahu bahwa semua itu hanya bercanda, di mana sebenarnya hal itulah yang membuat pertemanan kita menjadi sangat kuat. Tidak peduli berapa lama kita tidak bertemu, ketika kita berjumpa, cara kita memperlakukan satu sama lain tidak berubah, penuh senyum dan canda tawa.

Baru kemarin kita berjumpa lagi di kampus. Banyak hal baru. Saya dengan perjalanan saya, dan Jay dengan perjalanannya. Namun terlepas dari semua perkembangan dan perubahan yang terjadi, saya sangat bersyukur persahabatan kita tetap erat. Saya sangat bersyukur memiliki teman yang dapat membuat saya merasa lebih baik dan bahagia setiap kali kita bertemu.

Saya juga yakin bahwa saya bukan satu-satunya yang merasa demikian dalam hubungannya dengan Jay. Dan memang saya tidak heran begitu banyak orang yang sangat mencintainya. Terima kasih atas persahabatan yang tak akan tergantikan Jay.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 17 #HappyGoGrateful - Andrew Richmond

On September 10th 2012 I went for skydiving in Long Island. Once arrived at the place, one of the first things to do was to sign an agreement that I will not sue the company if I got injured or die. Then there's this question about who should the company contact in case something did happen?

Of all the people in the world, 1st person in mind: Andrew Richmond.

For a split second I was surprised by myself. I thought, "Ok, this jackass came first in mind. Interesting...". But then again, in that same moment I realized why he was the 1st person in mind....and why no matter how long I had to think, it would still be him.

As a friend, I would describe Andrew as highly intelligent. He's been around, he's traveled and lived in places. Be it living in Brazil or Kenya, I can see how he has seen and experienced things. He's also had his big ups and downs. Andrew is also a very realistic and practical person. I found these 3 things are an amazing combination to have in 1 person. This makes you a very interesting friend to have, a friend that I have been learning a lot from. I've always enjoyed our fascinating discussions about so many things, from world issues to our personal lives.

But you, Richmond, is not just a friend. To me you're my brother. And I don't mean brother like "my bro" or anything like that. To me and my whole family, Richmond, you are family. You're like a long lost brother whom I just happened to meet in 2009....and that we just happened to look nothing like each other =)

As a brother, you care and worry about me. You regularly check on how I'm doing. You make sure you always have time for me. You've always come with such a cheerful attitude. You ask questions because you care and naturally curious...always wanting to learn.

You love to introduce me to everyone you know. And what's so amazing is, every single time, you ALWAYS make sure that they know that this Indonesian person you're introducing, is a very important person to you....and I know you're genuine. You really mean that.

Through these short paragraphs, I'd like to make sure that the world also knows that you are very, very important to me. I'd like people to know that having you in my life is truly a blessing in NO disguise, and I'm deeply grateful to have found another brother as admirable as you.

I thank you. I love you, and I miss you.



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 16 #HappyGoGrateful - Satryo Wibowo & Dewi Kejora

For over 30 years, I've been blessed with so many incredible experiences and invaluable life lessons. I'm still far and will never be perfect, of course. But in a reflective mood like I am now, I'm reminded of how important it is, to actually not be perfect. Because not being perfect gives you that room to grow. It makes life interesting, and worth learning from and fighting for. Through all the ups and downs, I'm a happy and grateful man.

As I think and reflect back in time, of all those great moments, there were several big important ones, and to borrow Malcolm Gladwell's term, there was 1 Tipping Point which completely opened the gate for an endless learning, self discoveries, and continuous life-changing experiences. That Tipping Point, that defining moment, started in an afternoon in 2002.

After playing cards at the cafeteria, me and my flip flop sat down on the floor behind the library building. There it started, my interview to join AIESEC. Sitting in front of me, my 2 interviewers: Satryo Wibowo and Dewi Kejora.

Knowing the person that I was, and how the interview went, I truly realize that it shouldn't be difficult to reject me. In fact, it would've really make sense. Yet about a week later, I saw my name on the bottom of the list of those who got accepted. Honestly, I was happy, excited, but still had no freakin' clue of what I'm about to experience.

For whatever reasons you guys chose to fight for me to get in, I know saying thank you for the rest of my life wouldn't still be enough, but it's the very least that I can do. I mean, I know this is way overdue, but I guess it's one of those "better late than never" things to do.

Thank you Dewi for the non-stop smiles and guidance, both in the LC and in Singapore for my very first ever conference (nationally and internationally). Thank you Bowo for your words in Orimot which I still remember to this day, "you are full of potential, full of ammunition ready to create your impact. But somebody needs to pull the trigger, and there's no one to do it but yourself."

From the bottom of my heart, I'm sincerely grateful to you both for the opportunity, the challenge, and most importantly the faith given to me. Thank you for making me change my life.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Day 15 #HappyGoGrateful - Nancy Widjaja

Those of you who know Nancy Widjaja would agree with me that Nancy is a godsend and wonderful human being to work with, listen to, to be around with, to talk to, to laugh with.......

....I can keep writing these default characters of hers, but I want to mention 1 thing which nobody else really knows about. It's the one thing which to me is beyond everything else: She managed to cope with my crap.

Going 13 years now that we know each other, and without a doubt you are officially an expert on me, which by the way is the last expertise anyone would and should ever take =)

I'm very happy and grateful of who I am. And the person that I am today, is an accumulation of all my past experiences. You have been a huge and very significant part of that process. You've added all the positives and took away many of my negatives.

There's a saying that a real friend is the one who gets in your way, but only when you're going down. You, Nancy, have mentally slapped me back up those countless times I was going down. You have listened, talked, inspired, and become a real life example of what it means to always strive to be a better person

Haha, and all those things, the Peruvian Metallica mouse pad, the Bangkok Gap t-shirt (which I'm wearing right now), the Cloud Spotter's Guide Book, and all those meaningful things that speak volumes of how thoughtful you are as a person.

It's the sheer joy and happiness you've always shared with me. But mainly, it's the fulfillment you've brought into my life. Grateful is still a very underrated word to use to expressed that feeling. It's simply indescribable, so, _________

I highly doubt it, but maybe one day there's a word to fill in that blank.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 14 #HappyGoGrateful - Viktor Kiyashko

Viktor Kiyashko, a Ukrainian working in Norway. Me, an Indonesian working in Iceland. We are both a huge movie fan, we both like heavy music, we both love to travel, to write, and to reflect. And now I'd like to pause and reflect a bit....

From the time you came to Iceland, then me to Norway, and later in Sweden for the Scandi Chill Out, we have really got to know each other better, and I couldn't be happier on how our friendship has become.

I got to know you first as the sharp, informative, insightful, very critical and analytical person. But along the way, I also learned how soft hearted you are. How generous and proactively kind you are to others. You don't wait for someone to be nice to you, you're the one who always reach out to people.....including me.

It's that empathy, Viktor. You can put yourself in other people's shoes, and it's such an amazing learning field for me to have you as a friend. And of course, I can never thank you enough on our last meet in Prague 6 years ago. I remember you were still in the hectic process of moving to another place, yet you let me stay and left all of my "Bulgaria stuffs" there. You also carried that stuffs to your new place, and let me picked it up there when I came back a month later.

.....and you're the one who offered to do all that for me. That is truly empathy on it's finest form, my friend.

There's a scene from one of my favorite movies, Into The Wild. The main character had a realization about his personal journey, and on the book he wrote, "happiness only real when shared".

Still to this day, whether through writing or those beautiful pictures you took, you have always shared them and made our days happier. I'm also very happy and grateful to have you as a friend, and I need to share this, so the happiness can also be real. Thank you, Viktor.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 13 #HappyGoGrateful - Jingwei Zhou

I love good quotes. I have received and shared them on a pretty regular basis. I'm sure most people have as well. But many times, I feel that we got and shared these quotes without seriously internalizing nor practice the message. One of those great quotes which I really like is "a plan without action is just a dream".

There was a time when that was just "a cool quote that I really like". I didn't really internalize and put it into practice on a daily basis. At least not until Jingwei Zhou came into my life.

Having you as my Asia Pacific Director back in 2005/2006 was one of the biggest leap I've ever had in my professional life. Your straight forward and cut-the-crap approach was the exact manifestation which taught me to really practice that quote above.

From your regular calls from Rotterdam, to our meeting in the restaurant in Jakarta during your country visit. I took your words and have tried to implement it ever since, and I'm so glad I did. In case you forgot, your words were "at the end of every meeting, make sure you have these 3: what are the next steps, who will do it, and when will it be done".

It's very simple and logical, but most people still don't do it anyway. Because it's not about what should be done, it's about actually doing it. Or else, as the quote said, it's just a dream. You taught me this, and it has truly changed my life for the better, and I thank you.

But more than that, I'm even more grateful for this 9 years (and counting...) of friendship we have. You have always backed me up in every single move I make in my life. From the advices during my time in Iceland and Bulgaria, the recommendation you wrote which got me to NYU, and our serious and silly talks when we both lived in the U.S.

Last but not least, it's those meaningful details, Jingwei. Your welcoming attitudes, your messages, your sense of humor, your unique and insightful point of views, your genuine caring, and your uncompromising friendship.....they are why it's such a blessing to have you in my life.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 12 #HappyGoGrateful - Manuel Diaz

After meeting twice in 2 different continents, we kinda lost contact with each other. But when I finally contacted you, almost 5 years later, and said that I want to go to Peru, this was your reply: "please let me know when you are coming so I can plan something special for you bro!"

And just a few months later, there it was....January 2010, Peru, our third continent. 

It was like those 5 years in between never happened. We reconnected right away and you welcomed me to meet and stay with your beautiful family. From taking me all over the city, to inviting me to your aunt's promotion party. Your mother, sister, girlfriend, aunts, uncles, grandmother, cousins, and every single person there came and showed me their loves like I'm a family member and make sure I had a great time there.

I'm happy that we're still able to have fun together, reminiscing our times in Romania and India, and especially just us talking about life in general, sharing perspectives of what we do and want to do in our lives. My time and experience in Peru was truly beyond anything I could ever asked or imagined.

It was a very humbling and meaningful experience for me, Manuel. You truly are a testimonial of how beautiful and honorable a human being can be. I know this simple gratitude does not justify what you mean to me and my life, but it's the very least that I can do. Mi amigo y mi hermano, Manuel Diaz.   



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 11 #HappyGoGrateful - Carissa Sahli

On September 19th 2006, I wrote a post on my blog entitled How Random Is "Random"?, which talked about some scientific arguments about the random thoughts we often have in our minds. This post was inspired by an absolutely random conversation I had with a crazy genius from Switzerland by the name of Carissa Sahli.

Since 2005 we have proven again and again how important it is sometimes to let those random thoughts out. Maybe it doesn't work for everyone, but it was and still truly works for our friendship. It was actually the one that broke the walls between us to understand each other's character and authenticity. Because every time we talk we said whatever it is that's in our mind, we became transparent and have nothing to hide from each other.

........and here's what I know about you:

Like I mentioned earlier, you're a crazy genius. But sometimes, you're also just crazy....which ironically, is absolutely necessary to keep us sane. You also have an incredible sense of empathy, which makes you able to put yourself on other people's shoes....and that's a very rare quality. You're socially not intelligent, but brilliant. You can talk and connect with any kind of people, and you don't fake it. Because you're naturally a curious person, you can naturally make people feel comfortable and welcomed to be around you.

I can say all of that because I've seen and experience them myself. From the time in India, Egypt, and New York City, you've always made it very comfortable and easy for me to (re)connect with you. Being your friend has always been a positive thing for my life, because you have been insightful, hilarious, truthful, motivating, fun, thought-provoking, caring, spontaneous, and unconditional in your friendship.

Thank you for bringing your wonderfulness into my life, Carissa.



Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 10 #HappyGoGrateful - Nikola Cavic

Many years ago, a Serbian boy moved to Iceland. Years later, an Indonesian moved to Iceland.

They both met, and shared one thing in common that’s more than enough to build a life-lasting friendship: they love to annoy the hell out of each other! =)

Sometimes sarcasm is a great way to break the ice with someone new, and my friendship with Nikola is definitely one of them. We got connected easily from our sarcastic sense of humor. Even further, I believe this “sarcastic-based” friendship is in fact one of the best there is. It makes it easier for us to be straight forward with each other, to build a deep sense of trust faster than any friendships would normally take.

It becomes faster and easier for me to know how critical and intelligent you are as a person; how outgoing, witty, adventurous, kind, and trustworthy you are as a friend. And now, 8 years later, I think that you are still all of those things.....including annoying. =)

There's a saying that good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget. It is impossible to forget you, because whether in Iceland, or the short time we met in New York City, you gave me lots and lots of invaluable and unforgettable moments and experiences.In short, your presence in my life have made me a happier person, a more reflective person, and a better person. And I thank you for that.  



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Day 9 #HappyGoGrateful - Tami Lin

Of course I have to mention that Tami Lin introduced s'more to me. I can't leave out the important stuffs. :)

So for that same reason, I cannot leave out the fact that it was easy to connect with you because we share several things in common. From our similar interests in public policy issues, movies, books, fascination over Derek Fisher's bald head, cucumber juice, or even Doraemon and his dorayaki cake.

Yes, the fact that we were both new to New York City and those things above did make it easier. But they could've easily meant nothing as well, if it's not for your pure affective personality.

You also have this genuine curiosity about....things. Anything. And that curious nature of yours is also what made you a really good listener. When you listen to someone, you're fully present, and really care about them and what they're talking about. And that is a fine and rare quality to find in someone.

That's how I feel about our friendship. I feel that you deeply care about me as a person. When you find things that I like -even though you don't necessarily like them- you shared them to me, because you know it'll make me happy. To me, that shows how much you know me and how much you value our friendship.

You're not afraid to ask tough and critical questions, and I really really appreciate that.

Thank you for always bringing your smiles and positivity in me, for being such a wonderful friend, Tami. Not only that I'm grateful and value our friendship, I will also cherish maintain it for the rest of my life.



Saturday, August 09, 2014

Day 8 #HappyGoGrateful - Rosen Georgiev

My experience living and working in Bulgaria was a landmark for my personal development. Significantly, I learned more about myself and other people. I've had an incredible job in an incredible place with incredible colleagues, I went to 19 cities all over the country, and I've made so many life-long friends......and it all began on August 27th 2007 through Rosen Georgiev. A reply to my email which started with: "Hi, Ali, it is pleasure for me to reply You!"

From then on, we started our correspondences, and Rosen was so patient in helping me to connect with the company there, and supported me throughout all the hassles I had in processing the visa.

Fast forward, I arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria.

From day 1 when you picked me up at the airport until the day I left, you have been consistently caring and patient to me. You regularly checked up on my situation. And for a foreigner living in a different country, where I didn't even know how to read or write in Cyrillic, all the small details really count.

Every time you called or text or meet me, and even engaging me to your activities, that really meant something for me. It means that you didn't get me there just because it's your job, but because you really believe that what you're doing really makes a difference in people's life.

You believe in the impact that a person can create to others, and I saw you transferred this believe as well to your beautiful team. I'll be forever grateful to have known you Roskata, my favorite TN manager....and most importantly, my friend.

Благодаря много, Росен.

...that's without Google translate...still not bad right ;)


Friday, August 08, 2014

Day 7 #HappyGoGrateful - Mian Putri Sianipar

Here’s a girl who thinks she’s so awesome. If only she knew….if only she knew, that she’s more awesome than she already thinks she is =)

Yesterday I mentioned about my most magical national conferences I’ve ever been a part of, and Mian "mimi" Putri Sianipar was the #1 person in charge of that event. Actually, this is not just about the event, but let me start there.

Managing different parties like that is not an easy thing to do. But you made it so easy and enjoyable for everyone to work with. Yes, there were challenges, but you showed yourself (and all of us!) that you are way above that. You led your team and everyone involved beautifully and the result was…again, magical!

Yes, it was your responsibility as the leader. But there’s something more about you that made you so damn awesome….

You once told me that sometimes you feel obliged to be outgoing, because you think that’s what people expect of you. Sorry to write that out in public, but I know that is also because you have an incredible nature of a personality, and that is: you love bringing happiness to others. It’s a passion of yours. That is why you manage to be that colorful person that you are. It is your kind nature that drives your sky-high creativity in finding ways to bring joyful experience to others.

Thank you for being a colleague. Thank you for the smiles. Thank you for the positive atmosphere you bring. Thank you for the insanity. Thank you for your support. Thank you for the jokes, that’s mostly on me…hahaha.

But really, thank you for the friendship.

A part from the conference’s theme song:

There's been some good times
There's even been some bads
But we always somehow managed
To get something good
Out of the bad 


Thursday, August 07, 2014

Day 6 #HappyGoGrateful - Anders Günzel-Jensen

We had a Danish team-mate in Indonesia during the Danish Cartoon incident in September 2005. I was worried as hell about him, and he was relatively cool like a pool :)

One of the biggest realization I've had in my life to this point was when we both sat down and you expressed your disappointment in me on what I wrote on your recommendation letter. For years I didn't realize how bad I was at writing a recommendation letter, and you gave the slap that I needed. I felt like the biggest jerk alive because....well, I was being the biggest jerk alive.

Anders Günzel-Jensen opened my eyes on the importance and how to be sincere in appreciating someone. And a part of being a great leader is to know and appreciate those who've supported you. Nobody can make it alone.

But because of that big heart of yours, you gave me another chance. Not only that, you even took an even bigger responsibility by becoming the chairman of our national conference in 2006. And let me say this with every single drop of sincerity I have: That was still the most amazing, memorable, heartfelt, joyful, and magical national conferences I've ever been a part of....and I cannot say enough how much you've inspired me, our team, and everyone there.

I'm grateful that you gave me the chance to right my wrong. I'm happy on how our friendship turned out to be, that we're still supporting each other in anyway we can. I mean, even now you still reach out to me and teaching me a lot of things...including how to utilize my Linkedin...and I got quite some clients from there =)

You know, as human beings we all have an ego that we subconsciously carry all the time. We carry a "what's in it for me?" mentality every time we meet a new person. And you, Anders, you showed up with so much to offer. From being a fine example of a personality to the brilliant and out of the box ideas that you have. People want to be with you and learn from you.

You truly are one hell of a guy, you Danish Dynamite! Just please don't use too much salt on everything...and keep doing Tai chi =)


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Day 5 #HappyGoGrateful - Sona Hovhannisyan

Exactly 8 years ago, August 2006 in Warsaw, Poland. The bus was late....and thank god the bus was late.

Many people think of me as a generally positive person. But many times, like everyone, I've had my down times....and several times, I’ve had my really really down times. Sona is one of the very few people who’s been unconditionally and proactively there for me. To be like that for another person is already amazing, but you're doing this even though you are professionally one of the craziest multi-taskers I've ever known.

It is that sense of commitment you have that is so special. It is also your genuine caring for others that makes you the beautiful person that you are. Every work you do is always about making others better, and you do this with so much love and perseverance.

I never forget one of the lines you put from a story, "I asked for love....and God gave me troubled people to help." I was absolutely one of those troubled people, and you were there to help me. You have showed consistent love and caring regardless the time and geographical boundaries, and I thank you and love you for that.

It’s a very simple equation really: to receive love, you have to give love. You have continuously give love to those around you, including me….a lot of them. So thank god that bus was late, or else I wouldn't known you, Armenian zebra-girl, like I do now. 

Oh, and all the silly silly things ….haha, what a wonderful life it is to have you in my life, Sona jan =)



Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Day 4 #HappyGoGrateful - Cristian Hossu

“Wish me luck!”
“Of course not!”
“Don’t get me wrong, I do hope you’ll get the position. But I won’t wish you luck. I wish you’ll face crazy challenges which you can learn from, and become better out of it. I won’t wish you luck, but I wish you the best.”

Remember, Cristian? :)
That was 2nd of March 2004, the place was Balairung of University of Indonesia. The event was Career Days, and I was one of the organizing committee.

It’s been 10.5 years now since my last “wish me luck”. Since then, it’s been “wish me the best” or something like it. I took it to the heart.....and I’m glad I did.

I’m sure I’m just a tiny fraction of those whom you have positively influenced. When I went to Romania in 2005 (I think you’re still in Jakarta), almost everyone there knows about you and your positive outlook on life. And here’s the thing, they’re so proud to have to know you. I’m not exactly surprised, but it’s just really cool to see that. =)

I truly believe you have set yourself as an example on how to live life to the fullest. You took the challenge, and inspired people to do the same: to be brave; to face their fears and take bold decisions; and be the one who make things happen for yourself. I have followed that path....and it has been magical!

So of course… those I met in Romania, of course I’m proud as well to have known you. But not too much. Too much pride doesn’t really do any good either. What I really feel is grateful to have known you.

People don't always realize the impact they have on others, positively and negatively. But you my friend, have positively impacted me in a life-changing way. You've made me changed my mindset. You made me see challenges as opportunities, and you really need to know how grateful I am to live with that outlook on life. Thank you, Cristian. I wish you the best.