beautiful: MBA for LIFE

JUDY D. OLIAN : Saat krisis, orang berpendidikan lebih terhindar dari pemecatan

Ahmad Puja Rahman Altiar

Rabu, 12 September 2012 | 07:30 WIB
bisnis indonesia

JAKARTA: Dekan Sekolah Manajemen UCLA Anderson di Amerika Serikat, Judy D. Olian mengunjungi Jakarta untuk pertama kalinya guna menghadiri pertemuan dengan perhimpunan alumni UCLA Anderson asal Indonesia akhir pekan lalu (9/9/2012).

Dia menekankan pentingnya pendidikan manajemen berkualitas tinggi dengan standar global untuk mendukung pertumbuhan ekonomi Indonesia. Bisnis berkesempatan mewawancarainya untuk mendalami peran pendidikan manajemen dalam pembangunan ekonomi.

Bagaimana anda melihat situasi perekonomian dunia saat ini?

Pertumbuhan ekonomi dunia melambat dan banyak faktor yang mempengaruhinya karena pasar-pasar utama di dunia yang semakin kompleks dan terhubung, termasuk ke Indonesia.

Ilmu manajemen yang kami sampaikan dapat membantu mahasiswa memahami kompeksitas tersebut, guna merumuskan permasalahan dengan benar sehingga mereka diharapkan dapat menghadapi krisis dengan baik.

Kami juga terus mempromosikan kesadaran global dan pemahaman bagaimana saling terhubungnya pasar-pasar itu. Disanalah pendidikan manajemen dapat berkontribusi.

Dapatkah pendidikan manajemen tak hanya membantu memahami apa yang terjadi dalam perekonomian dan bisnis tapi juga mencari tahu langkah pemulihan dan peningkatan perekonomian?

Tentu saja karena ada dua keuntungan utama saat mempelajari ilmu manajemen. Pertama, kita akan mendapatkan pemahaman yang mendalam terkait pasar dan organisasi.

Kedua, kita akan lebih siap baik, sebagai pemimpin atau eksekutif, untuk menciptakan pertumbuhan dan mengatasi krisis.

Program pendidikan MBA (master of business administration) mengajarkan kedua hal tersebut. Sebagian masalah utama yang kita hadapi saat ini adalah kurangnya pemahaman yang mendalam atas apa yang terjadi.

Menurut saya, program MBA mengajarkan pemahaman tersebut dan melatih kepemimpinan.

Baik saat melewati masa-masa mudah untuk meningkatkan pertumbuhan maupun masa-masa sulit, saat mereka harus mendiagnosa permasalahan dan memimpin perusahaan melalui krisis.

Sejauh ini, bagaimana anda melihat para pemimpin dunia menghadapi krisis dan mendiagnosa permasalahannya?

Sulit men-generalisasinya karena kompleksitasnya. Tak hanya satu faktor yang menjadi masalah.

Bagi pemerintahan sebuah negara, mereka harus menghadapi masalah kebijakan nasional, pergerakan nilai tukar, ekspor impor, dan lain-lain, yang telah menciptakan krisis sebesar ini.

Tidak ada satu organisasi yang dapat menjawab isu ini sendiri.

Mereka hanya menanggapi dan melakukan apa yang mereka bisa, tergantung kondisi yang mereka hadapi.

Namun jelas ada beberapa pemimpin yang lebih baik dari yang lain. Mereka juga sering harus bekerja dengan keterbatasan atas apa yang dapat mereka lakukan.

Masa-masa sulit ini juga telah membuat beberapa perusahaan besar menunda investasi dan menangkas belanja, sehingga mengurangi karyawan. Bagaimana menurut anda terkait keputusan tersebut?

Sekali lagi, sulit untuk men-generalisasinya.

Namun kadang mereka harus mengambil keputusan sulit untuk bertahan, baik dengan mengurangi beban usaha maupun mengurangi beban upah karyawan.

Ada juga perusahaan yang menunda investasinya karena mereka menunggu hingga iklim bisnisnya membaik.

Ini terjadi di seluruh dunia. Namun, ada juga beberapa perusahaan yang malah menjadikan masa sulit ini sebagaim momentum untuk berinvestasi.

Bagi mereka yang kehilangan pekerjaannya, ini bukanlah soal apakah anda berpendidikan atau tidak, tapi lebih karena masalah krisis yang mendunia. Apakah menurut anda pendidikan, terutama manajemen bisnis, dapat membantu mereka di saat seperti ini?

Sudah terbukti di AS, orang-orang yang lebih berpendidikan akan lebih terhindar dari pemecatan.

Bahkan saat krisis, perlindungan paling aman dari kehilangan pekerjaan adalah pendidikan dan kemampuan khusus yang dapat meningkatkan nilai jual seseorang.

Adapun bagi mereka yang kehilangan pekerjaan, masa transisi bagi mereka yang berpendidikan akan lebih pendek. Jadi, pendidikan benar-benar melindungi mereka di masa krisis.

Bagaimana dengan di Sekolah Manajemen UCLA Anderson? Apakah anda mengajarkan para mahasiswa bagaimana cara menghadapi krisis?

Kami menyediakan kerangka pemahaman untuk berhasil dalam menempuh permasalahan perekonomian dan bisnis.

Ilmu kepemimpinan juga akan mengajarkan mereka bagaimana melihat kelebihan dan kekurangan yang mereka miliki.

Selain itu, kami serius mengajarkan kerangka berpikir global.

Orang-orang akan sadar bahwa ada banyak pasar yang beragam baik secara budaya di negara lain.

Mungkin dengan mengalihkan fokus bisnis ke pasar lain akan menjawab tantangan krisis.

Terakhir, kami memang mengajarkan manajemen krisis yang merupakan bagian dari kelas kepemimpinan, karena semua pemimpin pada saatnya akan menghadapi masa-masa krisis.

Apakah anda punya contoh alumni UCLA yang berhasil mengatasi permasalahan bisnisnya sebagai pemimpin perusahaan?

Ada banyak contoh, tapi saya tidak akan memberitahu nama orang-orangnya.

Salah satunya adalah salah seorang direktur perusahaan multi-nasional yang menghadapi tuntutan penarikan produk besar-besaran, menyusul hasil investigasi parlemen. Mereka berhasil melaluinya dan tetap bertahan.

Yang lainnya, adalah pemimpin perusahaan permainan yang menghadapi transisi permainan dari ‘video game’ ke ‘online game’.

Tantangannya terkait dengan masalah teknis dan permintaan yang berkurang. Namun, mereka dapat mengatasinya dan bertahan.

Ada juga yang bergelut di industri real estat. Dia menghadapi krisis real estat yang besar beberapa tahun lalu.

Para pemimpin perusahaan memutuskan untuk menunda investasi, tapi mereka kembali lagi saat iklim usahanya membaik.

Setiap perusahaan punya masalah yang berbeda. Beberapa terkait masalah bisnis, sedangkan yang lain terkait masalah pasar.

Mereka harus merumuskan permasalahannya dan solusi untuk mengatasinya. Kemampuan ini diajarkan di UCLA.

Apakah anda punya beberapa contoh alumni UCLA yang berhasil membangun bisnisnya sendiri atau berwirausaha?

UCLA berlokasi di California Selatan, di mana jiwa wirausaha dipupuk dan inovasi merupakan DNA-nya. Kewiraswastaan merupakan bagian dari identitas kami dan inti dari pengajaran.

Kami mengajarkan bagaimana membangun bisnis dan kami dapat memberitahu anda banyak sekali bisnis yang telah dibangun alumni kami dan inovasi yang diciptakan mereka di perusahaan tempat mereka bekerja.

Bagaimana anda melihat peran kaum muda, terutama yang telah menimba ilmu manajemen, dalam membangun perekonomian negaranya, seperti di Indonesia?

Banyak alumni UCLA berasal dari Indonesia dan sebagian besar dari mereka masih muda.

Saat ini lebih mudah bagi mereka karena kemajuan teknologi informasi telah merubuhkan batasan fisik untuk transfer informasi.

Untuk berinovasi atau memulai bisnis, anda tidak membutuhkan modal yang besar.

Ini kesempatan dan prospek yang cerah bagi mereka asal.

Kami membantu mereka dengan ilmu manajemen karena pendidikan merupakan langkah awal untuk menjawab tantangan dan kesempatan yang ada. Dari sinilah mereka dapat memulainya.

Apakah mungkin bagi mereka yang punya kendala finansial dapat belajar di UCLA?

Tentu saja mungkin karena kami menawarkan beasiswa untuk memangkas biaya kuliah.

Kami juga mendukung para alumni agar membantu membiayai mahasiswa-mahasiswa potensial dari negaranya masing-masing.

Yang perlu diingat adalah biaya yang diperlukan untuk program MBA memang tinggi tapi setara dengan imbal hasil yang anda peroleh dalam karier dan bisnis anda.

Saya sangat berharap lebih banyak orang Indonesia dapat belajar di UCLA. (ra)

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tetaplah mencintaiku: ABADI + tak abadi = KOMPLET

Jumat, 20/03/2009 13:19 WIB bisnis.com

Rasa aman dari prinsip abadi

oleh : Ary Ginanjar Agustian

Krisis ekonomi menyebabkan peningkatan kecemasan warga Amerika Serikat. Ini antara lain tergambar dari kian banyaknya orang yang memanfaatkan layanan telepon konsultasi pencegahan bunuh diri The Samaritans of Merrimack Valley.

Selama Februari 2009 saja ada 11.000 penelepon yang menghubungi layanan konsultasi di untuk kawasan Boston hingga bagian barat Masschusetts tersebut. Naik dari 8.400 orang pada periode yang sama tahun lalu, sementara pada Januari jumlahnya bertambah 2.900 penelepon, naik 38% dari periode yang sama 2008. The Samaritans juga mencatat kenaikan tajam jumlah ‘pendatang baru’ kaum putus asa itu hingga 75%.

Faktor terbesar penyebabnya, menurut lembaga itu, adalah masalah ekonomi. “Kami mendengar peningkatan level kecemasan yang disebabkan oleh kehilangan pekerjaan, takut kehilangan pekerjaan dan cemas tidak mampu menopang kebutuhan hidup keluarga,” kata Roberta Hurtig, Direktur Eksekutif The Samaritans.

Setiap tahun ada sekitar 32.000 orang Amerika Serikat yang bunuh diri. Tahun ini, angkanya diperkirakan meningkat signifikan terkait dengan gejolak krisis ekonomi, yang membuat tiada hari tanpa berita pemutusan hubungan kerja di negara adidaya itu. Pemerintah telah berusaha menambah poster di berbagai stasiun bus dan kereta api. Namun, orang yang bunuh diri di rel kereta api tetap meningkat.

Kecemasan yang membawa orang ke pilihan bunuh diri pada hakikatnya adalah bentuk ekstrem dari kekosongan jiwa. Pada kadar yang lebih ringan, efek kekosongan jiwa bisa berupa pelarian ke narkotika. Atau, pada kadar yang lebih ringan lagi, bentuknya bisa pula hanya berupa, misalnya, penurunan semangat kerja dalam suatu perusahaan atau organisasi.

Namun, kekosongan itu tidak melulu terpicu oleh kegagalan, semacam kehilangan pekerjaan. Tak sedikit tokoh terkenal di dunia yang memilih mengakhiri hidupnya di tengah gemerlap sukses karier dan kemilau harta. Dalam kasus seperti ini, sukses karier, seperti juga kegagalan, telah menciptakan jerat yang melilit orang ke dalam pusaran kehampaan dan ketidakbermaknaan.

Kedua kutub ekstrem kekosongan itu, baik kegagalan maupun kesuksesan, berkembang karena tiadanya pegangan atau prinsip pada sesuatu yang abadi. Sesuatu yang abadi itu jelas bukan hal yang bersifat fisik-material.

Dalam buku The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1990), Stephen R. Covey menggambarkan bahwa berprinsip pada sesuatu yang abadi dapat menghadirkan rasa aman. Prinsip yang benar itu tidak berubah dan tidak bereaksi terhadap apa pun. Ia bukan jabatan, harta, orang-orang kesayangan, penghargaan, dan sejenisnya, karena hal-hal yang demikian itu selalu dan bisa berubah-ubah atau bahkan hilang seketika.

Fenomena muram kaum putus asa yang digambarkan pada bagian awal tulisan ini adalah contoh betapa rapuhnya pegangan yang bersifat fisik-material. Orang-orang tak sanggup membayangkan keperkasaan mesin kapitalisme yang bertumpu pada prinsip materalisme bisa runtuh dengan hukum-hukum yang sangat sederhana.

Seakan-akan harta yang mereka tumpuk atau jabatan yang mereka raih adalah jaminan kekal. Ketika pegangan itu benar-benar lenyap, mereka terjerumus ke dalam lubang kehampaan tak bertepi.

Bila Anda pemimpin perusahaan atau organisasi dan Anda ingin perusahaan atau organisasi itu langgeng, hal pertama yang harus Anda pastikan adalah orang-orang yang Anda pimpin berprinsip pada sesuatu yang abadi. Inilah yang akan menjadi sumber motivasi sejati dan tak pernah padam.

menunggu keajaiban: GAYA IDUP GW sami mawon kok

[ Kamis, 12 Maret 2009 ]
Krisis Bikin Charlotte, Kota Finansial Terbesar Ke-2 di AS, Terpuruk
Industri Lain Terimbas, Gaya Hidup Berubah 

Kejatuhan sektor finansial amat memukul ekonomi Charlotte, ibu kota North Carolina yang dikenal luas sebagai Wall Street Selatan. Selama ini, dua bank papan atas dan terkemuka di AS, Bank of America Corp. dan Wachovia Corp., bermarkas di kota itu. 

Ini membuat Charlotte menjadi salah satu pusat finansial di Amerika. Charlotte merupakan kota pusat perbankan terbesar kedua di perekonomian terbesar di dunia itu setelah New York.

Namun, saat ini Bank of America (bank terbesar di AS dari sisi aset) maupun Wachovia juga mengalami masa-masa sulit, seperti halnya kondisi Wall Street. Akibatnya, Charlotte kehilangan ribuan lapangan kerja dan reputasi. Banyak warga yang melakukan investasi secara besar-besaran di sektor perbankan kehilangan seluruh kekayaan mereka. Ini berdampak pada perubahan gaya hidup di sana secara radikal. 

”Ini cukup menyedihkan dan juga melemahkan semangat. Pasalnya, bank menjadi tulang punggung Charlotte untuk waktu lama,” tutur Carl Clayton, pensiunan guru berusia 55 tahun.

Hilangnya lapangan kerja di sektor perbankan juga memicu pergolakan di bidang industri yang lainnya. Warga yang di-PHK atau terancam diberhentikan dari pekerjaan mulai membatasi belanja mereka. Ini memaksa restoran dan bisnis ritel lain tutup. 

Itu dialami Morton, restoran kelas atas penyedia steak, maupun Home Depot Design Center yang baru dibuka selama 15 bulan di Charlotte. Malah beberapa night club ternama di kota tersebut juga tutup.

”Ada sedikit keadaan yang sulit dipercayai,” kata Bob Morgan, president Charlotte Chamber of Commerce (Kamar Dagang Charlotte).

Kendati begitu, Charlotte tetap saja menjadi kota perbankan terbesar kedua di AS dari sisi aset setelah New York. Posisi kota tersebut di atas San Francisco sebagai kota ketiga. ”Tapi, kita tidak tahu keadaan kota ini nanti (setelah krisis berakhir),” ujar Morgan. ”Yang jelas, kekayaan itu sudah hilang.”

Alasan utamanya, mayoritas saham dua bank itu dimiliki karyawan. Wachovia (kini dimiliki Wells Fargo & Co.) dan Bank of America menggunakan saham sebagai kompensasi bagi karyawan mereka.

Saham Bank of America merupakan salah satu yang paling terpukul di antara banyak perusahan keuangan lain. Saham tersebut anjlok 56 persen lebih dari nilai pasar sejak ditutup menyusul akuisisi atas Merrill Lynch & Co. awal tahun ini. Nilai saham itu juga turun hampir 85 persen ketimbang setahun lalu. Tahun lalu, sebelum dibeli oleh Wells Fargo, saham Wachovia jatuh hingga 85 persen.

Clayton memperkirakan kehilangan uang USD 60 ribu karena memiliki saham di dua bank tersebut. Dia juga punya saham bank-bank lain di North Carolina, termasuk BB&T Corp. ”Saya punya banyak saham bank, tapi semuanya sudah hilang,” ujarnya. ”Semua kekayaan yang dulu saya miliki telah hilang.”

Penduduk maupun karyawan dua bank itu tidak pernah membayangkan situasi menjadi buruk seperti saat ini. Wachovia yang semula berpusat di Winston-Salem, North Carolina, masuk jajaran lima besar bank nasional di AS setelah diambil alih First Union Corp. yang berpusat di Charlotte pada 2001. Perusahaan hasil merger itu adalah Wachovia.

Banker Hugh McColl Jr. memimpin NationsBank Corp. melakukan 70 akuisisi sejak awal 1980-an. Akuisisi terbesarnya adalah BankAmerica Corp. yang berpusat di San Francisco. Saat itu, bamk tersebut lebih besar daripada NationsBank dan. McColl lalu mengadopsi nama BankAmerica menjadi Bank of America dan memindahkan kantor pusat perusahaan barunya ke Kota Charlotte.

Beberapa orang menilai, masalah yang membelit Kota Charlotte dimulai pada 2006 saat Wachovia mengambil-alih bank KPR, Golden West Financial Corp., senilai USD 25 miliar. Itu terjadi di tengah-tengah booming properti di AS. Dengan pembelian itu, Wachovia mewarisi portofolio senilai USD 122 miliar. Nilainya terus merosot hingga menyebabkan kerugian luar biasa bagi perusahaan. Warga Charlotte hanya terkesima melihat Wachovia makin terpuruk sampai akhirnya diambil-alih Wells Fargo tahun lalu.

Kondisi tak berbeda dihadapi Bank of America. Kesalahan akibat pertaruhan pada unit bank investasi beberapa tahun terakhir membuat laba perusahaan turun drastis. Saat bank itu menuntaskan akuisisi atas bank invetasi yang sedang bermasalah, Merrill Lynch & Co., pemilik saham menyaksikan harga sahamnya terjun bebas ke level terendah dalam sejarah.

Kendati begitu, Wells Farho maupun Bank of America tetap berkomitmen pada Charlotte. Wells Fargo yang berbasis di San Francisco mengatakan bahwa Charlotte tetap akan menjadi kantor pusatnya untuk wilayah timur. Itu terutama setelah Wells Fargo terintegrasi penuh dengan Wachovia. 

Saat ini, Wachovia memiliki 20 ribu karyawan di kota itu. Sementara Bank of America punya sekitar 15 ribu karyawan di Charlotte. Bank ini juga telah mem-PHK sekitar 35 ribu pekerjanya di seluruh AS.

Di North Carolina tercatat hampir 400 ribu orang pengangguran. Berdasar data terbaru, pada Desember 2008 pengangguran di kota itu mencapai 8,7 persen atau tertinggi sejak 1983. Dengan populasi mencapai 700 ribu, Charlotte merupakan kota terbesar ke-20 di AS. Sekitar 45 persen warga di county Mecklenburg itu berpenghasilan lebih dari USD 50 ribu (sekitar Rp 600 juta) per tahun.

Di luar perkantoran di pusat kota yang dipenuhi karyawan bank, terasa ketidakpercayaan saat orang berkumpul untuk minum kopi atau merokok, lalu kembali lagi untuk bekerja. Saat reporter mendekati karyawan bank untuk wawancara, mereka menolak bicara. Sebagian tidak ingin namanya disebut karena khawatir atas pekerjaan mereka. 

Ketergantungan Charlotte pada perbankan tidak sekadar karena lapangan kerja. Tapi, gaya hidup di kota itu dan bahkan gedung pencakar langit di sana bergantung pada Wachovia dan Bank of America.

Wachovia menjadi sponsor turnamen golf tahunan di kota tersebut. Nama Bank of America terpasang di stadion sepak bola ala Amerika di kota tersebut dan menjadi sponsor balap mobil NASCAR.

Kedua perusahaan itu juga memenuhi pencakar langit di Charlotte. Wells Fargo, yang saat ini masih bernama Wachovia, punya markas setinggi 48 lantai dan berdampingan dengan kampus seni. Banker dan pialang yang bekerja untuk dua perusahaan tersebut meningkatkan demand -tapi, sekarang kosong– atas kondominium di dekatnya.

”Saya menerima banyak telepon dalam beberapa bulan terakhir dari orang yang ingin menjual rumah mereka. Kebanyakan punya masalah keuangan,” kata Rich Ferretti, broker Jamison Reality di Matthews, kawasan pinggiran Charlotte.

Toko-toko di kawasan SouthPark semakin sepi pengunjung setiap akhir pekan. Belakangan, happy hour di Capital Grille yang berlokasi di seberang markas Bank of America juga kian jarang dikunjungi tamu. (AP/aan/dwi)


… gw mah idup pake pakaian yang bertaon-taon dipake … kaos juga yang itu-itu aja … dasi juga … sepatu apalagi … mobil juga gitu kok … rumah dan aset tanah juga masih segitu kok … emas khan terakhir sempat jual di Rp.365 ribuan …. laptop gw sekarang sedikit lebe bagus daripada laptop lama … jalan2 ke luar negeri, lah cuma ke oz, liat anak … aset reksa dana sedikit menguat, setelah juga sebagian (50%) terimbas krisfinalo … anak khan masih studi di oz … bokin masih kerja di perusahaannya dan naek gaji, kayanya, gw ga nanya seh, tapi doi ga ngeluh sih … he3 … jalan2 akhir minggu dan liburan, ya, masih seperti dulu, ke tempat2 seperti dulu … JADI, WALAU SEBAGAI INVESTOR, KRISFINALO MEMUKUL INVESTASI GW, TAPI DIVERSIFIKASI DAN GAYA HIDUP GW BERHASIL MENOLONG HIDUP GW JUGA  lah … selain ada faktor X seh, keberuntungan … 

yolanda: semua senyum getir

For the lucky few, there will always be opportunity in crisis.

Jeremy Warner: In downbeat Davos, the happy capitalist is hard to find

Thursday, 29 January 2009 the independent

Outlook If you want to cheer yourself up amidst all the economic gloom and doom, visit the World Economic Forum annual meeting here in Davos, where the mood is one of unrelenting “can do” optimism, as you would expectof business leaders for whom no challenge is too great.

Only kidding. In all the years I’ve been coming to these annualgatherings of the global business elite, I’ve never known the mood to be more downbeat, or confidence so deflated. Global capitalism was meant to have all the solutions.

This year, business leaders and bankers are left forlornly wondering what more governments can do to bail them out.

I’ve trawled the corridors, and the mood is grim, grim, grim. Things will return to normal eventually, but what will that new normality look like?

In the meantime it’s a struggle just to stay afloat. Even the perennially upbeat Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the advertising and marketing giant WPP, struggles to find much to be positive about.

This year is a wipe-out, he reckons, reflecting the prevailing consensus, while any recovery in 2010 will be at best anaemic. Compared with the predictions of some, this counts as almost Panglossian.

When I say it’s hard to find apositive voice, there are a few who claim to like it as it is.

Here in Davos, there are the haves and have-nots – those with continued access to finance and those without it. For the haves, a bargain-basement sale of the century of distressed corporate and financial assets awaits.

Include in that category Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the US-based private equity house The Blackstone Group, and the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Murdoch, one of the co-chairmen of this year’s event, is said to bepositively salivating at the thought of the choice media assets he may be able to pick up for next to nothing over the next year.

For the lucky few, there will always be opportunity in crisis.

… bahkan orang barat pun sudah menganggap KRISIS = ANCAMAN + PELUANG (threat & opportunity)… cuma itu loneliness part of the game for a person who sees the pearl under the ruins … baca dah pengalaman sekilas Soros

I am Investor: yolanda: when some established old man explained

yolanda: when some established old man explained

Financial Times FT.com

WEEKEND
Reportage

The credit crunch according to Soros

By Chrystia Freeland

Published: January 30 2009 11:38 | Last updated: January 30 2009 11:38

On Friday, August 17 2007, 21 of Wall Street’s most influential investors met for lunch at George Soros’s Southampton estate on the eastern end of Long Island. The first tremors of what would become the global credit crunch had rippled out a week or so earlier, when the French bank BNP Paribas froze withdrawals from three of its funds, and in response, central bankers made a huge injection of liquidity into the money markets in an effort to keep the world’s banks lending to one another.

Although it was a sultry summer Friday, as the group dined on striped bass, fruit salad and cookies, the tone was serious and rather formal. Soros’s guests included Julian Robertson, founder of the Tiger Management hedge fund; Donald Marron, the former chief executive of PaineWebber and now boss of Lightyear Capital; James Chanos, president of Kynikos Associates, a hedge fund that specialised in shorting stocks; and Byron Wien, chief investment strategist at Pequot Capital and the convener of the annual gathering – known to its participants as the Benchmark Lunch.

The discussion focused on a single question: was a recession looming? We all know the answer today, but the consensus that overcast afternoon was different. In a memo written after the lunch, Wien, a longtime friend of Soros’s, wrote: “The conclusion was that we were probably in an economic slowdown and a correction in the market, but we were not about to begin a recession or a bear market.” Only two men dissented. One of those was Soros, who finished the meal convinced that the global financial crisis he had been predicting – prematurely – for years had finally begun.

His conclusion had immediate consequences. Six years earlier, following the departure of Stan Druckenmiller from Quantum Funds, Soros’s hedge fund, Soros converted the operation into a “less aggressively managed vehicle” and renamed it an “endowment fund”, which farmed most of its money out to external managers. Now Soros realised he had to get back into the game. “I did not want to see my accumulated wealth be severely impaired,” he said, during a two-hour conversation this winter in the conference room of his midtown Manhattan offices. “So I came back and set up a macro-account within which I counterbalanced what I thought was the exposure of the firm.”

Soros complained that his years of less active involvement at Quantum meant he didn’t have the kind of “detailed knowledge of particular companies I used to have, so I’m not in a position to pick stocks”. Moreover, “even many of the macro instruments that have been recently invented were unfamiliar to me”. Even so, Quantum achieved a 32 per cent return in 2007, making the then 77-year-old the second-highest paid hedge fund manager in the world, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine. He ended 2008, a year that saw global destruction of wealth on the most colossal scale since the second world war, with two out of three hedge funds losing money, up almost 10 per cent.

Soros’s main goal was to preserve his fortune. But, as has been the case throughout his career, his timing and financial acumen enhanced his credibility as a thinker, and never more so than in 2008. In May and June, after more than two decades of writing, he finally hit bestseller lists in the US and in the UK with his ninth book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets. In October, he received an invitation to testify before Congress about the financial crisis. In November, Barack Obama, whom he had long backed for the presidency, defeated John McCain.

“In the twilight of his life, he’s achieved the recognition he has always wanted,” Wien said. “Everything is going for him. He’s healthy, his candidate won, his business is on a solid footing.”

. . .

Many comparisons have been drawn between 2008 and earlier periods of turmoil, but the historical moment with most personal resonance for Soros is not one of the conventional choices. The parallel he sees is with 1944, when, as a 13-year-old Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Budapest, he eluded the Holocaust.

Soros credits his beloved father, Tivadar, with teaching him how to respond to “far from equilibrium situations”. Captured by the Russians in the first world war, Tivadar was imprisoned in Siberia. He engineered his own escape and return home through a Russia convulsed by the Bolshevik revolution. That sojourn stripped him of his youthful ambition and left him wanting “nothing more from life than to enjoy it”. Yet on March 19 1944, the day the Germans occupied Hungary, the 50-year-old sprang into action, rescuing his immediate family and many others by arranging false identities for them.

Before the invasion, George was still enough of a child, his father thought, to need a bit of parental coddling. Yet the teenager who spent the war living apart from his parents under a false name found the danger exhilarating. “It was high adventure,” Soros wrote, “like living through Raiders of the Lost Ark.” And as the latest financial crisis gathered momentum, he admitted to the same thrill. “I think the same thing applies again. I feel the same kind of stimulation as I felt then,” he told me.

Part of the stimulation is intellectual. Soros’s experiences in 1944 laid the groundwork for the conceptual framework he would spend the rest of his life elaborating and which, he believes, has found its validation in the events of 2008. His core idea is “reflexivity”, which he defines as a “two-way feedback loop, between the participants’ views and the actual state of affairs. People base their decisions not on the actual situation that confronts them, but on their perception or interpretation of the situation. Their decisions make an impact on the situation and changes in the situation are liable to change their perceptions.”

It is, at its root, a case for frequent re-examination of one’s assumptions about the world and for a readiness to spot and exploit moments of cataclysmic change – those times when our perceptions of events and events themselves are likely to interact most fiercely.

It is also at odds with the rational expectations economic school, which has been the prevailing orthodoxy in recent decades. That approach assumed that economic players – from people buying homes to bankers buying subprime mortgages for their portfolios – were rational actors making, in aggregate, the best choices for themselves and that free markets were effective mechanisms for balancing supply and demand, setting prices correctly and tending towards equilibrium.

The rational expectations theory has taken a beating over the past 18 months: its intellectual nadir was probably October 23 2008, when Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, admitted to Congress that there was “a flaw in the model”. Soros argues that the “market fundamentalism” of Greenspan and his ilk, especially their assumption that “financial markets are self-correcting”, was an important cause of the current crisis. It befuddled policy-makers and was the intellectual basis for the “various synthetic instruments and valuation models” which contributed mightily to the crash.

By contrast, Soros sees the current crisis as a real-life illustration of reflexivity. Markets did not reflect an objective “truth”. Rather, the beliefs of market participants – that house prices would always rise, that an arcane financial instrument based on a subprime mortgage really could merit a triple-A rating – created a new reality. Ultimately, that “super-bubble” was unsustainable, hence the credit crunch of 2007 and the recession and financial crisis of 2008 and beyond.

As an investor and as a thinker, Soros has always thrived in times of upheaval. But he has also remained something of an outsider. He recalls how he “discovered loneliness” when he arrived to study at the London School of Economics in 1947. Later on, as he worked his way up from being a journeyman arbitrage trader in London and then New York, to running one of the world’s most successful hedge funds, Soros remained, in the words of one private equity acquaintance, a bit of “an oddball”, both on Wall Street and in the academic world. He is frequently described as “charming”, yet few see the fit, tanned, twice-divorced billionaire as an emotional confidant. “If I had an idea about India-Pakistan, I would talk to him about it,” Wien said. “If I were having a problem in my marriage, I don’t think I would go and talk to George about it.”

Strobe Talbott, now the president of the Brookings Institute and a former deputy secretary of state, said: “He likes to think of himself as an outsider who can come in from time to time, including to the Oval Office, where I took him on a couple of occasions. But simply hobnobbing with the powerful isn’t important.”

That lack of clubbiness, and the associated trait of iconoclasm, may explain why, for all his worldly success, Soros has had a rather mixed public reputation. His speculative plays, which have often targeted currencies, have earned him the wrath of political leaders around the world. The ambitious, global reach of his richly funded Open Society foundation has prompted some critics to accuse him of suffering from a Messiah complex. He was so effectively demonised by the US right earlier this decade that he kept fairly quiet about his support of Obama, lest the association hurt his candidate. Probably most painfully, his forays into economics and philosophy have usually met with considerable scepticism, especially from academia.

The one time and place where he instantly became a highly regarded insider was in the former Soviet Union and its satellites, at the moment the Berlin Wall came down. More completely and more swiftly than any other foreigner, Soros grasped and embraced the systemic transformation that was unfolding, and was rewarded with influence and respect. The question for Soros today is whether, as the west undergoes its own once-in-a-century systemic shock, this arch-outsider will finally find himself in the mainstream in the society which has been his main home for more than half a century.

. . .

Soros’s most famous – or infamous – speculative play as an investor was his bet against sterling in 1992, a wager which won him more than $1bn and earned him the epithet from the British press of “the man who broke the Bank of England”. That bet also turns out to be a perfect illustration of the specific talent which his past and present fund managers agree has been central to his investing success.

Soros’s best-known investment was not, in actual fact, his own idea. According to both Soros and Druckenmiller, who was managing Quantum at the time, it was Druckenmiller who came up with the plan to short the pound. But when Druckenmiller went through his rationale with Soros, in one of their twice- or thrice-daily conversations, Soros told his protégé to be bolder: “I said, ‘Go for the jugular!’.” Druckenmiller duly raised their stake – Quantum and several related funds wagered nearly $10bn, according to interviews Soros gave afterwards – and Soros earned both a fortune and an international reputation.

Druckenmiller, who spent 12 years at Quantum, says that conversation exemplifies Soros’s singular financial gift: “He’s extremely good at using the balance sheet – probably the best ever. He is able to use leverage when he likes it, but he is also able to walk away. He has no emotional attachment to a position. I think that is an unusual characteristic in our industry.”

Chanos agrees: “One thing that I’ve both wrestled with and admired, that [Soros] conquered many years ago, is the ability to go from long to short, the ability to turn on a dime when confronted with the evidence. Emotionally, that is really hard.”

Soros denies any great degree of emotional self-control. “That’s not true, that’s not true,” he told me, shaking his head and smiling. “I am very emotional. I am as moody as the market, so I’m basically a manic depressive personality.” (His market-linked moodiness extends to psychosomatic ailments, especially backaches, which he treats as valuable investment tips.)

Instead, Soros attributes his effectiveness as an investor to his philosophical views about the contingent nature of human knowledge: “I think that my conceptual framework, which basically emphasises the importance of misconceptions, makes me extremely critical of my own decisions … I know that I am bound to be wrong, and therefore am more likely to correct my own mistakes.”

Soros’s radar for revolution is the second key to his investing style. He looks for “game-changing moments, not incremental ones”, according to Sebastian Mallaby, the Washington Post columnist and author who is writing a history of hedge funds. As examples, Mallaby cites Quantum’s shorting of the pound and Soros’s 1985 “Plaza Accord” bet that the dollar would fall against the yen – his two most famous currency trades – as well as a lesser-known 1973 bet that, as a consequence of the Arab-Israeli war, defence stocks would soar. “It’s not that reflexivity tells you what to do, but it tells you to be on the look-out for turn-around situations,” Mallaby said. “It’s an attitude of mind.”

Some Soros-watchers intimate that his vast network of international contacts might be an important source of his market prescience. But it was in the one part of the world where Soros really did have an inside track – the former Soviet bloc – that he made his most disastrous deal. In Russia, as in much of the former Soviet Union, he was intensely engaged with the country’s political and economic transformation. In June 1997, as the Kremlin struggled to pay overdue wages, Soros extended a bridge loan to the Russian government, acting as a one-man International Monetary Fund.

He came to believe in Russia’s commitment to reforms, and to see himself as an insider – two convictions that were his financial undoing. He invested $980m with a consortium of oligarchs who acquired a 25 per cent stake in Svyazinvest, the national telecoms company, deciding to participate because “I thought that this is the transition from robber capitalism to legitimate capitalism”. But instead, the Svyazinvest privatisation turned out to be the moment when the oligarchs redirected their energies from fleecing the state to fleecing one another. Soros, as an outsider, was an obvious casualty. “Never have I been screwed so much since Russia. For them, they get a satisfaction out of doing it.

“It was the biggest mistake of my investment career. I was deceived by my own hope.” In his most recent book he dismisses Russia with a single sentence, further diminished by parenthesis: “(I don’t discuss Russia, because I don’t want to invest there.)”

. . .

On a chilly Monday night in December, Soros took the hour-long drive from Manhattan to the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was due to speak at a benefit for the Scholar Rescue Fund, a programme he has partly financed and which, since 2002, has provided safe havens for 266 persecuted academics from 40 countries. After his talk (on the global financial crisis, of course), Soros filed out of the auditorium chatting with Stanley Bergman, a founding partner of the law firm that had sponsored the evening.

“You like the game?” Soros asked his host with a smile.

“Yes,” the white-haired Bergman replied.

Then, in a flash of the competitive spirit that makes Soros an avid skier and player of tennis and chess, Soros asked: “And how old are you?”

“75.”

“I’m 78,” Soros replied. “But what’s the use of good health if it doesn’t buy you money?” The vigorous septuagenarians flashed each other a complicit smile.

According to Wien, Soros likes the game, too: “George loves to be able to show from time to time that he can do it.” But while he loves to play, he is disdainful of a life lived purely to accumulate more chips. His epiphany came in 1981, when he had to scramble to raise money to pay for an investment in gilts. “I thought I would have a heart attack,” he told me. “And then I realised that to die just for the sake of getting rich, I would be a loser.”

For Soros, the solution was philanthropy. “To do something really that would make a significant difference to the world, that would be worth dying for,” he said. “The Foundation enabled me to get out of myself and to somehow be concerned with other people than myself.” Soros’s fortune has given his causes enormous firepower: according to Aryeh Neier, the human rights activist who has been running the Open Society Foundation since 1993, its budget was $550m in 2008 and will increase to $600m this year. By his own calculation, Soros has donated a total of more than $5bn to his causes, primarily directing his giving through his foundation.

“No philanthropist in the second half of the 20th century has done better in deploying resources strategically to change the world,” Larry Summers, the newly appointed head of Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, told me in a conversation early last autumn. Talbott compares Soros’s impact to that of a sovereign nation. In the 1990s, says Talbott, “when I got word that George Soros wanted to talk, I would drop everything and treat him pretty much like a visiting head of state. He was literally putting more money into some of the former colonies of the former Soviet empire than the US government, so that merited treating him as someone with a very high impact.”

Soros’s philanthropic lieutenants report an approach remarkably similar to the investing style observed by his fund managers: he knows how to make big, original bets, and he isn’t afraid to cut his losses when a project isn’t working out. Anders Aslund, an economist who has studied Russia and Ukraine and who has worked with Soros on various projects, believes his philanthropic style “is very much formed by the money markets, which are always changing. He assumes any idea he has now will be wrong in a few years. He is always asking himself, when he has a wonderful project going, ‘When should I stop this project?’.”

Soros’s war chest, and his determination to deploy it beyond the usual blue-chip charities of hospitals, universities, museums or even poverty in Africa, had long made him an occasionally controversial figure outside the US. He was among the western culprits accused by the Kremlin of inciting Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution; his foundation’s offices have been raided in Russia and he was forced to close them down in authoritarian Uzbekistan.

America, it turns out, can also be sensitive to plutocrats using their wealth to address socially contentious subjects. In recent years, his foundation became more active in the US, taking on issues including drug policy. His engagement became more intense during the George W. Bush presidency, when Soros decided that the open society he had worked to foster in repressive regimes abroad was imperilled in his adopted home.

Some admired his chutzpah. The famously independent-minded Paul Volcker, who was appointed to lead the Fed by Jimmy Carter and reappointed by Ronald Reagan, said: “The drug thing is a perfect example that he doesn’t adopt a conventional view. I think drug policy needs a new look and he’s been one of the people who say that.”

Soros’s money has been crucial in enabling him to voice maverick views: “That’s what led me to oppose Bush very publicly, because I was in a position that I could afford to do it,” he said. But he also believes his fortune and the automatic credibility it gives him in America has drawn the fire of conservative pundits such as Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and extremist pamphleteer Lyndon LaRouche. “Given the excessive esteem in which people who make money are held in America, I had to be demonised,” he said.

Their attacks worked. So much so that last year, as the Obama bandwagon gained speed and American financiers, along with much of the rest of the country, clamoured to jump on, his earliest heavyweight Wall Street backer kept a low profile. “Obama seeks to be a unifier,” Soros said. “And I have been a divisive figure because I’ve been demonised by the right. I thought my vocal support for him would not necessarily benefit him.”

. . .

At around 1.00am on November 5 2008, Soros sat on a peach-coloured sofa in his elegant Fifth Avenue apartment, with Queen Noor of Jordan to his left and Steve Clemons, of the New America think-tank, perched on the edge of a chair to his right. Around them milled a crowd of eclectic and jubilant guests, many still teary-eyed from Obama’s Grant Park victory speech, which had been broadcast on four flat-screen television sets in the apartment. Like most Soros soirées, the gathering included more artists and statesmen than Masters of the Universe: Michèle Pierre-Louis, the prime minister of Haiti and former head of her country’s Soros foundation; former World Bank chief James Wolfensohn; Volcker; and twentysomething Kwasi Asare, a hip-hop music promoter, were among the visitors.

Soros drank an espresso and, a few minutes later, a final champagne toast with the last of his guests. Alexander, his 23-year-old son, perched on the arm of his chair and ruffled his father’s hair in farewell. Everyone else took that as a signal to depart, too. Soros was in a mellow, triumphant mood that night – and with good reason. He had spotted Obama early on. His ubiquitous political consigliere, Michael Vachon, still has among his papers a rumpled itinerary from a trip he and Soros took to Chicago in February 2004. In the upper right-hand corner of the page, Vachon had scrawled, “Barack guy”. The Senate candidate had been keen to meet Soros and called the pair repeatedly during their visit. But it was a packed schedule and Soros could only offer a 7.30am breakfast slot at the Four Seasons.

Soros left that meal “very impressed”, a view that was confirmed when he read Obama’s autobiography and deemed him “a real person of substance”. A few months later, on June 7, Soros hosted a packed fundraiser for Obama’s Senate campaign at his upper east side home. Soros and his family contributed roughly $80,000, then the legal maximum.

Obama was impressing a lot of people at that time. But once it became clear that Hillary Clinton would be in the presidential race, nearly all of the established New York Democrats, particularly the older Wall Street crowd, lined up behind their local Senator and her machine, driven by a combination of loyalty and calculation. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, now the head of the IMF and then a possible French presidential candidate, said Soros told him in 2006 he was supporting “this young guy, Barack Obama. He was the first one to tell me this and he was right.” On January 16 2007, the day Obama formed a presidential exploratory committee, Soros contributed to his campaign and officially offered his backing. Before doing so, Soros called Hillary Clinton to let her know. “I look forward to your support in the general election,” she told him.

His decision to back Obama was consistent with his life-long affinity for moments of radical change. “I felt that America had gone so far off base that there was a need for discontinuity,” he said. As in the markets, Soros’s political bet on systemic transformation – his support for Obama, but also his early opposition to the war in Iraq and the “war on terror” – has come good.

For Soros, one happy consequence of now being in tune with the zeitgeist is that he is being taken seriously as a thinker on American public policy issues, particularly to do with the financial crisis. When he, along with the other four highest-earning hedge fund managers, testified before Congress in November, he was treated with respect and even deference – not the prevailing attitude towards billionaire financiers at the moment. Before Soros had even taken his coat off, he was greeted in the corridors by Democratic New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “Give him a nice office,” she told a staffer who was looking for a place where Soros could wait before his testimony. “He creates a lot of jobs in my district and supports a lot of good people.” After the hearing, a lawmaker and a staffer both approached Soros and asked him to autograph their copies of his book.

. . .

Being listened to on Capitol Hill, and by global policymakers more generally, is important to Soros. But what matters to him most of all – more than money, more than the political and social accomplishments of his foundation – is leaving an enduring intellectual legacy. He describes reflexivity as “my main interest”. Even as Soros met with increasing financial and public success through his fund and his foundation, he was deeply frustrated by his failure to be accepted as a serious thinker. He titled one chapter in his latest book “Autobiography of a Failed Philosopher”, and once delivered a lecture at the University of Vienna called “A Failed Philosopher Tries Again”. As a young man, he wanted to become an academic, but “my grades were not good enough”.

He writes that his first book, The Alchemy of Finance, was “dismissed by many critics as the self-indulgence of a successful speculator”. That reaction still prevails in some circles. Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize-winning economist, devotes half a chapter to Soros in his latest book, characterising him as “perhaps the most famous speculator of all times”. He also raises an eyebrow at Soros’s intellectual “ambitions”, tartly observing that he “would like the world to take his philosophical pronouncements as seriously as it takes his financial acumen”.

Another barrier to academic respectability is Soros’s self-confessed “phobia” of formal mathematics: “I understand mathematical concepts but I’m afraid of mathematical symbols, because you can easily get lost in them.” That fear proved no impediment to success in the quantitative world of finance, but it has hurt Soros’s street cred in economics departments. “Among academics, he suffers from the additional liability of not expressing it in the language of mathematics that has become fashionable,” Joe Stiglitz, another Nobel prize-winning economist, said. But Stiglitz believes his friend’s writing has become more current, partly thanks to the financial crisis: “By those economists interested in ideas, I think his work is taken seriously as an idea that informs their thinking.”

In the view of Larry Summers: “Reflexivity as an idea is right and important and closely related to various streams of existing thought in the social sciences. But no one has deployed a philosophical concept as effectively as George has, first to make money and then to change the world.”

Paul Volcker delivered a similar verdict: “I think he has a valid insight which is not always expressed as clearly by him as I might like.” Overall, he said, Soros is “an imaginative and provocative thinker … he’s got some brilliant ideas about how markets function or dysfunction.”

This is as close to mainstream intellectual acceptance as Soros has come in his two decades of writing and more than five decades since he gave up on academia. It feels like a breakthrough. When I asked him if he would still describe himself as a failed philosopher, he said no: “I think that I am actually succeeding as a philosopher.” For him, that is “obviously” the most important human accomplishment.

“I think it has to do with the human condition,” he said. “The fact that we are mortal and we would like to be immortal. The closest thing you can come to that is by creating something that lives beyond you. Wealth could be one of those things, but evidence shows that it doesn’t survive too many generations. However, if you can have an artistic or philosophical or scientific creation that withstands the test of time, then you have come as close to it as possible.”

Chrystia Freeland is the FT’s US managing editor

andai kutau: ingin hidup lah

Jumat, 21/11/2008 11:01 WIB

Optimisme, asset tersembunyi
oleh : Anthony Dio Martin

“While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.”
Benjamin Franklin

Suatu hari seorang teman bercerita mengenai perjalanannya dengan kereta api (KA) kelas ekonomi. Memang teman saya ini termasuk dari golongan menengah ke bawah yang merantau ke Jakarta untuk mengadu nasib.

Biasanya setiap kali ada libur panjang, misalnya Lebaran, dia akan kembali ke kota asalnya di daerah Jawa Timur. Karena keterbatasan biaya, dia akan berhemat dengan naik KA kelas ekonomi.

Menurut cerita teman saya, jika kita naik KA kelas ekonomi, kita harus bersiap-siap untuk berkeringat ria karena kereta tersebut tidak memakai AC. Selain itu, kadangkala para penumpang lain membawa barang bawaan yang menimbulkan bau menyengat. Bahkan jangan kaget, jika Anda menjumpai penumpang yang membawa ayam hidup untuk oleh-oleh pulang kampung.

Jadi, bisakah Anda bayangkan suasana dalam gerbong kereta api ekonomi? Pengap, panas, penuh bau-bauan keringat yang bercampur dengan bau barang bawaan. Dan bayangkanlah Anda harus menempuh perjalanan lebih dari 10 jam dengan kondisi seperti itu.

Namun, yang lebih menarik adalah, biasanya selalu ada orang yang lewat sambil menyemprotkan pengharum ruangan di antara kursi-kursi penumpang, kemudian meminta upah dari ‘hasil usahanya’ itu. Tentu saja teman saya menolak memberinya uang karena dia merasa tidak pernah meminta jasa orang tersebut untuk menyemprotkan pengharum ruangan.

Sekilas, orang-orang seperti ini memang menyebalkan dan sering kita jumpai di sekitar kita dalam berbagai bentuk yang bervariasi. Namun, ketika saya mendengar cerita teman saya, ada insight menarik yang saya dapatkan. Sebenarnya orang seperti ini adalah orang yang bisa melihat kesempatan dalam kesempitan, meskipun cara mewujudkannya agak memaksa dan menimbulkan ketidaknyamanan.

Bagaimanapun, saya melihat mereka punya optimisme. Kadangkala ketika kondisi kehidupan mulai sulit dan mengimpit, orang mulai dipaksa untuk menjadi kreatif dalam bertahan hidup, tetapi tidak semua orang bisa memanfaatkan itu.

Masih ada banyak orang yang pada akhirnya tidak bisa (atau tidak mau) berbuat apa-apa dan membiarkan dirinya dilindas oleh kesulitan hidup. Namun, ada juga jenis-jenis manusia ‘penyemprot pengharum’ yang masih bisa memiliki optimisme dalam hidupnya.

Memiliki optimisme

Mengapa saya menyebut mereka memiliki optimisme? Karena Winston Churchill pernah berkata, “Orang yang pesimistis adalah orang yang selalu melihat masalah di tengah peluang yang terbuka, sementara orang yang optimis adalah orang yang selalu melihat peluang di tengah masalah yang menghadang.”

Pernyataan Churchill segera muncul segera setelah saya mendengar cerita teman saya mengenai si penyemprot pengharum itu. Di tengah kesulitan hidup, dia masih bisa melihat peluang dan berusaha bertahan hidup.

Selain itu, dia juga berani bertindak untuk mengejar peluang itu. Tentu saja tidak banyak orang yang punya keberanian untuk melakukan jasa itu. Risikonya bisa saja dia dimaki-maki, dikejar-kejar petugas, dan modalnya membeli pengharum ruangan tidak kembali lantaran tidak ada yang mau memberinya uang. Namun, sekali lagi, saya percaya optimisme dalam dirinyalah yang mendorong dia untuk berani melakukannya.

Sifat pertama dari optimisme adalah ia selalu menghasilkan keberanian. Optimisme bukan sekadar berpikir positif dan memercayai hal-hal yang positif, tapi lebih dari itu, optimisme adalah sebuah tindakan yang menjadi bukti dari pikiran dan kepercayaan positifnya. Apalah artinya Anda meyakini sesuatu yang baik, tetapi Anda tidak pernah bergerak mewujudkan apa yang Anda yakini?

Lihatlah kehidupan orang-orang sukses dan para penemu hebat. Mereka adalah orang-orang yang hidup dengan memakai kacamata optimisme. Ketika orang di sekeliling mereka mulai putus asa dan mencemooh pekerjaan mereka, tetap saja orang hebat itu tidak kehilangan semangat.

Sifat kedua dari optimisme adalah ia selalu menghasilkan antusiasme. Orang yang selalu optimistis tidak pernah kehilangan semangatnya dalam mengejar visi. Lihatlah kehidupan dari Abraham Lincoln, jika Anda memeriksa biografinya di Internet, Anda akan menemukan bahwa dalam sejarah kehidupannya, dia sudah berkali-kali kalah dalam pemilihan di senat dan kongres.

Bahkan, dia pernah mengalami guncangan mental yang parah karena kehilangan kekasihnya. Namun, dia masih sanggup mengejar visinya dan akhirnya berhasil menjadi salah satu presiden yang sangat berpengaruh dalam sejarah politik Amerika. Bisakah dia melakukannya kalau dia memakai kacamata pesimistis?
Sifat ketiga dari optimisme adalah dia selalu menghasilkan kreativitas. Cerita mengenai penyemprot pengharum tadi tentu sudah menjadi contoh yang jelas bagi Anda. Namun, saya akan menceritakan sebuah kisah nyata yang dialami Thomas Alva Edison.

Suatu hari pabrik Edison mengalami kebakaran hebat. Semua dokumentasi atas percobaan yang sedang disempurnakan, terbakar habis. Seluruh pekerja pabriknya sangat sedih dan frustrasi melihat hasil usaha keras mereka habis tak tersisa.

Namun, Edison dengan keyakinan yang teguh berkata kepada mereka, “Ini adalah sebuah bencana yang berharga! Semua cara-cara keliru kita sudah dibakar habis, dan syukur kepada Tuhan, kita bisa memulai lagi semuanya dengan cara baru!”

Tiga minggu kemudian Edison berhasil menemukan phonograph pertama di dunia. Bahkan Hellen Keller, wanita buta pertama yang berhasil menjadi sarjana di Inggris berkata, “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”

Optimisme adalah sebuah aset tersembunyi yang dimiliki oleh siapa pun. Masalahnya apakah kita memilih untuk menggunakannya atau menguburnya dalam-dalam? Menjadi orang optimis memang selalu mengundang risiko untuk dicemooh dan dihina.
Fakta ini memang sudah diungkapkan oleh Vilfreddo Paretto bahwa dunia ini terdiri dari 80% pecundang dan 20% pemenang. Jika Anda memilih menjadi orang optimis, akan banyak orang-orang pesimis yang akan menjadi penghalang dan menurunkan semangat Anda, tetapi Anda sudah bisa melihat hasilnya bukan? Hanya orang optimistislah yang bisa berdiri di atas puncak gunung tertinggi.
Sekarang, bergantung pada Anda, apakah Anda ingin berada di golongan optimistis atau pesimis? Seperti kata-kata dari Harvey Mackay, “Optimists are right. So are pessimists. It’s up to you to choose which you will be.”

bisnis.com

ANDAI kutau: Oooo gitu toh kalo gagal interviu pekerjaan

http://www.boston.com/bostonworks/news/articles/2008/11/17/bouncing_back_from_interview_and_job_rejections?mode=PF

Bouncing back from bad interviews and job rejection

By Dave Sanford, Winter, Wyman Companies November 17, 2008

Before reading this article, look around you – at the people in your office, on the train or across the breakfast table – and realize you all have something in common. There isn’t a person alive who wasn’t picked last for a team, asked someone to a dance who said no, didn’t get cast in the play, or got every job they interviewed for. And although rejection is sometimes hard to live through, the lessons we learn from it can be invaluable and position us for future success.

Here are some ways to bounce back from interview and job rejections.

1. Realize it’s probably not your fault. More often than not there isn’t one particular reason you weren’t chosen to go on further in the interview process or offered the job. Most hiring decisions are based on subjective criteria. The hiring manager may have clicked with another candidate quicker or was better able to relate to someone else’s background. People make it to the interview round based on the skills and experiences outlined in their resumes and then the rapport established on phone interviews. Job offers are often extended based on intangibles like personality, enthusiasm and potential cultural fit and these are determined on the subjective, educated opinion of the hiring manager.

2. Feedback is your friend. It’s hard to ask for an honest and objective review of your interview performance – especially from someone you may have only met once. But in order to do better the next time, you need to know if there are areas you need to improve. Ask the people who interviewed you for direct and honest feedback. Because it’s human nature to want to spare someone’s feelings, your interviewer may not want to share anything but generalities, especially if they think your reason for asking is to challenge their opinion or ask for a second opportunity. Realize and respect that their decision has been made and make sure they know you are seeking feedback for improvement purposes only.

3. Don’t get defensive. If you hear something you disagree with from your feedback conversation, do not get defensive and confrontational. Thank the interviewer for their time, make note of their comments and discuss them with a spouse or trusted colleague or friend to see if there is any merit. When we expose ourselves to the opinion of others and disagree with their assessment, it’s common to feel angry, bitter or defensive. Overcome these emotions and concentrate on the learning aspect of this opportunity.

4. Do something with bad feedback. No one wants to hear that their portfolio looked sloppy; they were perceived as stressed, hesitant or scattered; or their technology skills were out-of-date. But just think how each of these points can be corrected – if you know about them! When bad feedback is revealed, be prepared to put a plan in place to fix the holes in your game. Spend more time and care putting together a targeted portfolio, arrive at your interview early so you have time to relax and gather your thoughts so you don’t appear stressed, or take some refresher courses on the latest software advances in your field. Put your friends and family on your personal advisory team and bounce ideas off them for improving yourself.

5. Expand your options and opportunities. When one door closes, another opens. It might sound like a cliché, but the lesson it teaches is true: this opportunity lost is your chance to investigate others. Try not to be finite in your job search. Think broader about your career and look at related jobs, consulting gigs and contract/temp engagements. Or volunteer. Jobs and careers that can make you happy or successful come in all industries, functions and arrangements. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

6. Don’t burn your bridges. When you find out you didn’t get the job, be gracious, thank the company for the opportunity, and offer to stay in touch. Who’s to say the person they hired will work out? Or that another position won’t suddenly become available? By conducting yourself in a professional manner and not burning any bridges, you have positioned yourself for another opportunity within the company.

7. Stay positive. After job rejection, the only thing you can control is your attitude. You can’t manage their hiring process or even influence it in your favor any more. But you can control your reaction to the circumstances. Allow yourself that moment of disappointment and then put on your best face and be positive. This will help you move on a lot more quickly, which is imperative to your job search. No one wants to hire someone negative or with a defeated attitude. Find a way to make yourself feel better and embrace your new opportunities with gusto.

8. Have a clean slate. Go into your next interview with a clean slate and realize this company wants to hire you otherwise you wouldn’t be there. Leave your bad experience and rejection at the door with your coat and umbrella. Don’t let any negative energy accumulate and do not bring up past rejections in your new interviews. Let these interviewers form their own opinions about the cheerful, upbeat professional in front of them.

9. Don’t be afraid to share the bad news. Rejection is hard enough to deal with on our own so the tendency is often to keep the news to ourselves, either out of embarrassment or fear. But as stated previously, we all have been through it before and there really is nothing to be ashamed of. By sharing your circumstances with others, you will find support systems and people willing to help. And more importantly, your network will know you are still on the market and looking.

10. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you have been conducting an effective job search, you will have generated multiple opportunities and offers and this rejection won’t matter much, if at all. Sure, you will have your preferences, but never shoot down an offer or turn down an interview for a viable opportunity while interviewing or negotiating with other companies. There are too many variables outside your control to pass something new up.

Dave Sanford is Executive Vice President, Client Services of the Winter, Wyman Companies, a staffing firm based in Waltham, Mass.

boston.com