05 October 2017

Creativity: Does It Pay?


1. Creativity is the raw fuel of innovation. It alone does not give the intended end benefit, which is economic benefits. Like any raw fuel, it needs to be burnt for energy to burst. Creativity needs to be digested into manifestation that make possible economic transaction. So we will need the left brains to work with the right. The former are business people and the latter, artists.

2. The science of making money has never worked on chaotic approach. It has been proven by many that when you reduce transactions into set parameters, it produces profits. This is why humankind invented systems such as Bourse, Currency Exchange, Book Keeping, Valuation, SWOT analysis and many more. Now creativity on the other hand will only produce its best results when there is freedom. Freedom means no restrictive boundaries. This means chaos.

3. In the Venture Capitalist fraternity, a famous term is used to describe how ideas meet its fate, i.e. demise or alive. The term is "The Valley of Death". What it means is that, when there is a good idea, i.e. creativity, it will die a natural death if there is no capital to nurture it. When a Venture Capital pumps in money, the ideas materialise, giving rise to economic undertaking. This, again, demonstrates the inability for creativity alone to pay.

4. In the Malaysian film industry we have seen many examples of how a creatively awesome film wins awards for its artistic value but does not make money. On the other hand, films that appeal to simple minds make money. Some of you may know a great film director, the late Yasmin Ahmad, who produced fantastic movies but did not make money out of it. She won awards. On the other hand we have movies on hantus, gangsters and love stories getting mega box office collection.

5. Going back to the Venture Capitalist theory, most Venture Capitalists would rank Management Competency as higher ranking than Strength of Idea Creativity. For them, it is better to have a tip top management with average product rather than an awesome idea with average management team. If the source of capital is believing this, no wonder creativity alone does not pay.

6. I have experimented this notion of "creativity does not pay" myself. Apart from managing 4 linear TV stations, 1 MCN, 1 TV shopping and 1 OTT chanel, I am also a part time visual artists. When I paint on canvas what my creativity instincts manifest, I will produce what I believe to be a creative work. However, those works take ages to find buyers. Whereas, when I paint a typical painting that does not have any story telling to it with no uniqueness given the repetitiveness of the style, I can sell easily. It is indeed an unfair world - Creativity does not pay - accept the reality.

7. Lastly, I would like to quote a quotation from a very famous Kelantanese Chinese international fashion icon, Dato' Zang Toi, who said, "To be successful in the fashion business, you only need 10% artistic values. The remaining 90% is all business acumen". Now I don't think any of my opposition panelists has got the credibility to proof Dato' Zang Toi wrong because they have not tested the notion like how Dato' Zang Toi had.

* kopihangtuah

| mcmlxxv:viii:xxix |

30 August 2017

Artists on the Threshold of Entrepreneurship


Copyright © 2017 by
Dr. Abdul Rahim Said
Business Coach and Mentor

AT THE BALAI SENI NEGARA'S (BALAI SENI) YOUNG ART ENTREPRENEURSHIP (YAE) BOOTCAMP 2017, one of the participants asked, "Now that I have completed forty hours of training, can I call myself an art entrepreneur?" No one responded. Only broad smiles around the table. He continued, "To be a private pilot all you need is a minimum of forty hours of flying! The same number of hours we spent here, in this Bootcamp". He is right. I looked it up in Wikipedia.
Amongst other requirements, the trainee pilot must complete at least a total of forty (40) flying hours. But the trainee cannot call himself a pilot just yet, until he is awarded a private pilot license (PPL). The requirements extend beyond the basic forty flying hours. In fact, out of the total, the trainee must also complete ten hours of solo flight, five hours of which must be cross-country "flying from one airport to another, at least 50 nautical miles away". Besides, in case of the US, the candidate has to pass the the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Private Pilot written examination followed by taking a Private Pilot Oral and Practical Flying examination.
The similarity between pilot training and entrepreneurship Bootcamp ends at the total number of hours involved. At the Bootcamp there was no examination and no supervising agency to certify a candidate deemed qualified to be an art entrepreneur. But more importantly, unlike the pilot, an art entrepreneur is not supposed to be able to perform a specific function. For example, he is not expected to fly a machine or drive a vehicle after the Bootcamp.
My answer to the question as to whether a person may call himself an entrepreneur at the end of the Bootcamp, is simply, yes you can! Even without undergoing forty hours of Bootcamp you can safely brand yourself as an entrepreneur. If you plan to involve yourself in art business you can always hang up a sign board in front of your premises to promote your activities.
There are many walking around us who are academically unqualified, do not go to bootcamps, do not even have Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or possess enough experience, yet take pride in calling themselves entrepreneurs. So, can anyone call himself an entrepreneur then? By the way, what exactly is an entrepreneur? And who qualifies to be called one?
The Wikipedia Business Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as someone who "exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced".  The Bootcamp "graduate" has yet to exercise his initiative and organize a venture from which he expects to benefit. He has not established an entity within which he may exercise his decision on what, how and how much goods or services to be produced.
So, I advised the Bootcamp graduate, "Get yourself a vehicle that you can drive. Use it as a means where you would like to go and at what speed".
The Bootcamp rookie looked surprised! "What vehicle?" He asked.
"You need to register a company", I replied as one of the participants who already had a company of his own before joining YAE, burst out laughing. 
"What company?" He responded. More laughter from the one who already had a company and was dishing out his business cards to other participants in the seminar room. As a prerequisite, to be an entrepreneur, you would need a vehicle, not a car but a business entity.
We took the six of the seven newly minted art entrepreneurs to the Companies Commission of Malaysia or Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) and made everyone register a sole proprietorship. That was the first time most of them have ever heard of the term "sole proprietorship". For the six artists enrolled in Balai Seni's YAE scheme, this was an alien concept. Outside the SSM one of the bright eyed young artist, questioned her handler,  "Why do I need a company? I am an artist. Many artists I know, don't have such things!"
She was absolutely right. To quote Dato' Dr. Mohd Najib Dawa, the Director General of Balai Seni, who inspired the creation of YAE, "Artists who peddle their art on city streets do not even know where to register a company. Let alone, owning one!" The easy answer is "Of course you need one to conduct business as an art entrepreneur!" But the executive from Balai Seni told her, "We require all artists in YAE scheme to register and own a company to be an art entrepreneur".
Artists are not business people. They do not think like a business person. For an artist, the first thought in the morning is to put on canvas what went through his mind the night before. On the other hand, for the business man, daily thought revolves around "Where is the next Ringgit coming from?" Or "What do I do with my company today?"
To change the mindset of an artist who thinks creatively with the right brain to make better use of his analytical left, it may take more than forty hours. But suffice to say that artists are not tuned into business thinking. We have to help them get started.
That is the raison d'ĂȘtre of YAE!
They eventually came to our way of thinking. Everyone agreed to register their own sole proprietorships. Under the watchful eyes of their handlers, they filled in the application forms, queued patiently and one by one, obtained permission, to proceed using their own names, for their sole proprietorships. Unfortunately, that day the online payment system was down. They were asked to make payment online the following day and would be issued with a business license thereafter.
All our Bootcamp graduates are now proud owners of their own unique companies:

  1. Teh Nadira Art Collection
  2. Jesicca Kuok Art Production
  5. Bop Sopan Fine Art

"Each of us have our business license, can we now call ourselves entrepreneurs?" Asked one artist who was holding up his license fresh from the printer and a few designs for his business card. At this juncture, I was not sure whether he felt the same way the trainee pilot did, when issued with a license to fly.
"You have a business license. Yours is similar to those issued to other professionals like doctors, lawyers, accountants or architects! You now have a registered business license to practice as a professional artist!" But I am sure it would take a little longer before they could fly away out of the YAE enclave as entrepreneurs or top flight professional artists. A thought crossed my mind, "We may have more work to do before that happens!"
The executive from Balai Seni did not wait for me to reply. "We will be taking you to a bank to open your company accounts, two days from now. Before that you'd need to make company rubber stamps". Blank expressions appeared on young faces in front of me. One of the artists who is familiar with the industry that carves names of companies on tiny blocks made of rubber, volunteered to help, calming down everyone, "Don't worry, I can get yours done in one day!"
As it turned out the bank could open accounts without rubber stamps. They returned to YAE enclave at the Balai Seni beaming, "Hey boss, my business card, my company registration and account number! Are we not entrepreneurs?" We were seated at a round table in the largest container designed to be the showroom for all their finished art work.
"Congratulations, you are now artists each with a company registered as sole proprietorship with SSM that you can legitimately operate. Of course, you have a company account to be used to transact your art business. You are not an entrepreneur. Not yet!"
"Why not?"
I pointed to the Wikipedia Business Dictionary definition and repeated parts of its contents, "You are just someone who "exercises initiative by organizing a venture" but has not taken the benefit of any opportunity and I have yet to see you act like "a decision maker, to decide on what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced".  I paused a while and watched them digest the information. "You are still far away from being an entrepreneur. You only have a vehicle not even a venture. Your company, your bank account and name cards are just means to an end". I studied the eager faces and added, "You are just on the threshold of entrepreneurship. You are not there yet!"
However, I was certain they could be entrepreneurs soon enough. We have designed a residency of six months at the Balai Seni. During that next six months they will produce works of art under the supervision of dedicated coaches and mentors. During their residency, they will act and behave like true entrepreneurs making calculated decisions "on what, how, and how much of the goods or services they will produce". 
During that period too, I am certain they will, as Joseph Alois Schumpeter, the originator of the concept of entrepreneurship, defined, that these artists will act as risk takers in "monitoring and controlling their business activities as sole owners of their ventures". They will be "motivated by profits, purely as a standard to measure success", hopefully without neglecting their artistic pursuits.
At the YAE enclave on the grounds of Balai Seni, we shall be turning out entrepreneurs who are themselves artists. They will complete their six months residency with values that Schumpeter discovered amongst entrepreneurs in the 19th century.
Finally, I am confident, they will emerge from the shipping containers as individuals who "greatly value self-reliance, strive for distinction through excellence, are highly optimistic (otherwise nothing would be undertaken), and always favor challenges of medium risk (neither too easy, nor ruinous)"

* kopihangtuah

| mcmlxxv:viii:xxix |

Young Art Entrepreneurs (YAE!); An Idea Worth Repeating - By Dr. Rahim Said (Others Who Spoke 7 Part 2 : Fuelling the Kreativ Malaysia)


Copyright © 2017 by
Dr. Abdul Rahim Said
Business Coach and Mentor

"DO YOU THINK WE SHOULD REPEAT THIS IDEA? This concept of selecting a group of talented young artists and train them to be entrepreneurs. Is it worth doing over and over again?" Balai Seni Negara's (Balai Seni) Director General (DG), Dato' Dr. Mohamed Najib Dawa, who sat across the table from me, at breakfast on the second floor of the Balai Seni, sipping his hot black local coffee, wanted to know whether the Young Art Entrepreneurs (YAE) development scheme that he pioneered, was worth repeating. 
It's the second week of August. The YAE was hardly three weeks old. The artists who just completed their Bootcamp two weeks earlier were in the throes of getting themselves organized and the DG was already anxious about the next step. I chose not to answer him directly. Instead I told him about Ray Croc, the man credited with the success story of McDonald's. I told him that Ray Croc repeated an idea initially developed by the McDonald brothers and turned it into the most successful franchise in history.
As a result, by the end of 2016, there were 36,899 McDonald's restaurants in 120 countries employing 375,000 people and serving 68 million customers a day. The McDonald brothers, according to Ray, were quite content with a few restaurants. But Ray Croc decided to duplicate an idea worth repeating more than thirty six thousand  times.
"Wow, if only we could do that with art! That's what I am looking to monetize art!" Looking back now it seems easy for Ray Croc to repeat the idea. But it took a great deal of effort on Croc's part to achieve his dream of making McDonald's into such a successful venture. Franchising is now known in the industry as one of the fastest method to expand a business. Many have repeated what Ray Croc did. In fact, most successful brands in United States of America emerged as a success through franchising.
Dato' Najib looked at me, with a twinkle in his eye. He flashed me a broad smile. Then asked, "Can we possibly do that with YAE?" I hated to tell him that art is not like burgers. People do not normally chew on art as they would with burgers. But franchising YAE is a definite possibility. Dato' Dr. Najib envisioned at least one YAE in every state. Through this mechanism he believes the country could develop more business savvy artists.
However, in the immediate future, Dato' Dr. Najib could not wait to select another crop of young artists by middle of January 2018 to replace the current group. But at the same time, his eyes were already focused on five to ten years into the future, even way into 2050. He told me his big dream of reaching out to the people through visual art, occasionally mentioning other areas, like performing art.
That morning we deliberated on how to proceed with the YAE career development scheme. We agreed that in 2018 we ought to select at least double the number of the class of 2017. So, he set a target of fourteen or fifteen students for YAE. But both of us knew such incremental growth would not be good enough to achieve his dream of monetizing art. He wanted more and in a shorter time frame. So, I suggested we ought to go nationwide.
First, YAE has to be branded. We would move forward nationwide under one brand. The brand should embody all the ideas it represents. This process may require some time but it would not take long to get the brand registered. Then we shall assemble a team to develop its identity kit and the manuals that would help implementers deliver the YAE message systematically.
At the same time, we would need some endorsement perhaps from the Ministry of Education to give it some form of accreditation. Simultaneously, we should be approaching all state governments and sell them the idea of building enclaves out of shipping containers that symbolize the concept and brand of YAE. At this time, it would also be ideal to get the commercial sector involved in donating containers and constructing such enclaves throughout the country. That could side step the bureaucracy involved in proceeding with the idea. Most state governments would hold back a good idea when they are hampered by shortage of funds.
A friendly non-governmental body like "Friends of YAE", if established, could advance the idea more quickly. For instance, an aggressive NGO could raise funds for a good cause faster than we could get the Treasury to finance a project where there is no provision in the annual state budget. If these could be well orchestrated, there will be thirteen YAEs throughout the country in less than 24 months. With each centre providing initial training for 25 young artists we could generate 325 business-savvy artists per year. Over the next thirty years, that is by 2050, we are looking at 9,750 young artists who would have gone through the system.
We expect each artist to produce about 20 pieces during the six months spent at the enclave that could fetch an average price of RM3,000 per piece. Over thirty years the monetary value generated through YAE could reach a staggering RM585,000,000. Dato' Dr. Najib laughed out loud and said, "Now, that's what I love to see through this concept of 'monetizing' art!"
We may not have to wait thirty years to see the idea blossoms. Instead of thirteen enclaves we could have five in every state, yielding a total of 65 art enclaves within three years. Let's say we increase the class to 25 per year, we could train 1,625 artists. If each were to generate RM60,000 in value, per year, we could attain at least RM 97,500,00 by 2021.
However, these are mere conjecture at the moment but if Ray Croc could repeat an idea and turned it into a billion dollar success story, there is no reason why Dato' Dr. Najib could not achieve his objective with his concept of YAE. "Yes, Dato', you should repeat the YAE idea because it is worth doing, for the sake of art!" I told him as I was confident he could realize his dream within his life time. The sooner he embarks on it, the better it will be for art. 

* kopihangtuah

| mcmlxxv:viii:xxix |

03 August 2017

Turning Artists Into Entrepreneurs - By Dr. Rahim Said (Others Who Spoke 7 Part 1 : Fuelling the Kreativ Malaysia)


Copyright © 2017 by
Dr. Abdul Rahim Said
mihardias@gmail.comBusiness Coach and Mentor

THE IMAGE OF A SOLITARY ARTIST painting on a canvas in a quiet secluded studio, oblivious to the business world that revolves around him, is about to change. At the Malaysian National Art Gallery (Balai Seni) a "movement" is underway,  initiated by its Director General, to transform that image by involving artists more actively in business, ultimately turning them into art entrepreneurs. 
A small group of dedicated staff assisted by a team of professionals is forging ahead with a new found mission to turn visual artists into entrepreneurs. As a first step, Balai Seni recently acquired twelve used shipping containers. They are parked at the rear entrance of the gallery and have been repainted in bright colors, refurbished, air-conditioned and aesthetically stacked, to house seven young artists, handpicked to pioneer this bold venture to change the mindset of visual artists to make them more business savvy.

This is a life long dream of its Director General, Dato' Dr. Mohamad Najib Dawa who is a self-made entrepreneur himself, before venturing into academia and eventually helming the National Art Gallery.
As a young artist who once struggled to make a living from peddling batik paintings on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, he confessed that he and his colleagues who started selling their wares in front of Wisma Yakin and later at Pasar Seni in 1980s, would be better off in their careers, had they been adequately exposed to some knowledge on how to run a business.
He said, "As artists, we had no idea about forming a company, prepare a business plan, or roll out a marketing strategy, much less apply loans from financial institutions!".  
Disillusioned with dwindling sales in his batik paintings during the recession of the 1990s, he abandoned street life and made his way to Universiti Saints Malaysia (USM), to study fine art. Later, he pursued his master's and doctorate overseas and was subsequently appointed Dean of the School of Fine Art at USM.
"Regrettably", he said, "fine art schools, locally and abroad only focus on teaching techniques without adequately preparing their students to enter the business world".
As a result, he added, "Many of our visual art graduates are not as successful as they should be!". He cited several cases of graduates who moonlighted between tedious day jobs, for instance working as waiters in cafes, in order to pursue their passion for art. Yet they are other talented artists who have unfortunately sacrificed their chosen profession for their entire life, to work in unrelated fields, just to survive.
Dato' Dr. Mohamad Najib is determined to convert as many ordinary visual artists, as he possibly can, into business savvy individuals. He wants them to be able to sustain themselves and profit from their chosen vocation.
He is not alone in trying to realise this dream. The gallery's Board of Directors is equally committed to assist young artists by giving them an opportunity to attend this Bootcamp-cum-residency at Balai Seni, and equipping them with necessary skills to thrive in an economy that is now becoming more accommodative towards visual artists.

Young Art Entrepreneurs (YAE!)
To help him attain his goal he formed a "Young Art Entrepreneur" subcommittee of the board, made up of professionals and executives from Balai Seni, headed by Johan Ishak, the Chief Executive Officer of MyCreative Ventures. This committee too is equally sold on the idea that visual artists should be trained to sustain themselves and profit from their careers with appropriate exposure in entrepreneurial skills.
The committee deliberated at great lengths on approach and methodology for selection and training of participants. They settled for a five day intensive Bootcamp followed by a six-month residency with the artists housed in cabins parked on the gallery rounds. Not wanting to be overly aggressive in this first ever venture, the committee chose only seven candidates from a list of applicants obtained through social media advertising, to undergo Bootcamp training starting 17th July, 2017.

The training prospectus, distributed to participants, describes it as "an introductory course on entrepreneurship that focuses on required skills needed to succeed as an entrepreneur in visual art".
Mindful that participants, who may be unaccustomed to entrepreneurship, the Bootcamp is designed to acquaint them with basic understanding of the fundamentals of sustainability and profitability in visual art, including exposure to strategic planning, bookkeeping, finance, business law, sales and marketing.
The Bootcamp too, offers participants an opportunity "to learn how to utilise creativity in business innovation and career development by changing their mindset from that of an artist towards becoming more of an entrepreneur". 

The Prospectus indicates that throughout the six month residency period, participants would be guided by dedicated mentors and experienced coaches to develop required mindset, knowledge, understanding and specific skills needed to smoothen their transition as an ordinary artist to becoming more of an entrepreneur in visual art. 

It further suggests that by the end of the six month, participants are encouraged to "choose whether they want to be an art professional or an owner of an art business or a combination of both".

Mentors and Trainers
During the forty contact hours of Bootcamp training, the Young Art Entrepreneur committee members and invited guest speakers interacted with participants and freely shared their entrepreneurial experience.
On the very first day, Johan Ishak introduced the concept of business planning and showed participants what investors expected to see in the Business Plans of potential applicants, including the young artists themselves who might, someday, turn to MyCreative Ventures or any financial institution for loans or investments.
Later, Low Ngai Yuen, President of Persatuan Kakiseni followed with a two-hour intensive workshop to change mindset of participants to become more positive towards entrepreneurship and in developing their own personal branding strategies.
Another committee member Winston Peng, from Vedas Art and President of National Arts Symposium who has devoted a great deal of his time researching on the Malaysian art scene, spoke on the nation's Art Ecosystem and showed our young artists the importance of their roles, as key players, in the nation's art industry.
The fourth committee member Sheikh Taufiq, a Corporate Adviser shared his experience on fundraising and examined how grant agencies, angel funders as well relevant stakeholders might be able to assist our art entrepreneur source funds for their business.
The committee members are supported by other independent entrepreneurs. Among them is Dato' Bruce Umemoto who hails from California and is now a resident in Kuala Lumpur. His entrepreneurial skills helped Melaka attract a large American manufacturer of solar panels to establish a production facility in the state. He showed participants the importance of business planning and why they need to be entrepreneurial to succeed in any venture. An avid photographer himself, Dato' Bruce shared with participants his passion for photography and what motivated him to follow his dreams. 
Another speaker is Mohamed Jafni aka Mat Jepp who is a respected man in the video and film industry, spoke to the artists on the importance of web presence and how to circumvent a variety of problems to sell online. He illustrated his talk with a variety of video clips that captivated audience and drives traffic to his site.
But most daunting of all, for the young artists, is accounting and taxes. Syakirah Hanim, a chartered accountant, who is pursuing a degree in Masters of Finance, helped alleviate their fear and advised them on how to budget to set aside funds for the tax man.
A private investment adviser Jeshida Kamal had a long chat with participants on how to reach high net worth individuals in the country through her network. While Melissa Low from MyCreative Ventures and her two colleagues welcomed participants to exhibit their creative pieces at the upcoming Riuh in August and September 2017 that will feature pop-up stores, creative workshops and live performances.

After the Bootcamp, participants will be able to further deepen their understanding of business planning, budgeting, basic bookkeeping, financial management, contract negotiation and fund raising, by completing hands-on exercises or prepare papers for submission to relevant authorities.
For instance, they will be required to apply for grants to finance their own specific projects. They will also be encouraged to apply for residency overseas to gain international exposure. In both cases their assigned mentors would assist them in preparing their curriculum vitae, an artist statement, mission, vision and budgets for submission. They would also get a chance to rehearse their pitching techniques to perfection.
During the same period, they will be guided to form their own sole proprietorship, register a brand at the Malaysian Intellectual Property Office (MyIPO), open a bank account, practice controlling their expenses, keep proper records using a pre-prepared computer application that will ultimately prove handy when it cones to filing for taxes in the following years.
To those who are already accustomed to business, these may sound basic. But for the young art novices, these concepts are indeed new. Throughout the Bootcamp, they questioned their mentors as to why they needed to register a company when they have been selling their creative work without one? Or why they would need a brand to promote themselves? Or why they would have to open a bank account, if they could transact in cash? Or even why they should bother paying taxes, since they were merely small time artists, earning merge incomes?

Changing Mindset
Over five days of intensive lectures and discussion, coaches managed to change the mindset of these artists and reorient them towards becoming more business savvy. At the end of five days they were convinced that they would need those tools to get ahead as an artist-cum-businessmen who are expected to conduct their activities responsibly and ethically in Malaysian society or elsewhere in the world.
They are now eager to prepare their creative art work using their basic knowledge of project planning that will allow them to be ready in time for various events and shows that they have committed themselves to, from August to end of December 2017 and far into 2018.
With knowledge gained from Bootcamp alone, they are now ready for Riuh organised by MyCreative Ventures in August and September 2017, the Malaysian Art Expo in October 2017, an exhibition at Balai Seni Creative Space in December 2017 and a charity auction of their creative pieces in January 2018.
Also, on their own initiative, the team has secured an invitation to hold a team exhibition in the Maldives during first quarter of 2018. They are already busy getting organised putting to good use tools acquired, to prepare for the exhibition.

Feedback from participants thus far, is very positive. At the end of the Bootcamp, Jesicca Kuok (23) who graduated with a diploma in Fine Arts from the Malaysian Institute of Arts (MIA), reechoed the wish of the Director General when she said, "I came into this course with zero knowledge but after only five days I have learnt so much on how to do business, as an artist!" She had never taken any course in management previously and had no knowledge of business planning and marketing strategy. Prior to the Bootcamp, Jesicca had obtained a research grant to study cross-cultural art. Now she is confident of getting more awards simply because she has discovered a better way of writing for funds and an effective method of pitching before a panel of judges.
To Afiq Othman aka "Bob Sopan" (29) a graduate of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), the course is an eye opener where business planning is concerned. He is now able to prepare a business plan to upgrade his studio in Tanjung Malim. A friendly donor had promised a substantial fund for the purpose, on condition that Afiq submitted a business plan. He has been delaying the submission for almost a year because he does not know where to begin. The Bootcamp is his life line. "Now I can submit my proposal!" says Afiq with a sigh of relief. "I kept postponing month after month, because I just didn't know how to write one!"
On the other hand, Teh Nadirah (27) who has a Masters in Fine Arts, the Bootcamp and the design of the course is far superior compared to all courses she followed on campus. She said she did take some components of entrepreneurship at the university but this Bootcamp is more practical. "This course is true to life. I can apply everything I learned immediately. And it is specifically focused on visual art. The entrepreneurship course on campus was very general, without any connection to visual art, at all! I certainly appreciate the caring attitude of our instructors. They are so helpful....!"
Meanwhile, Fong Yeng Yeng (22), when asked to pitch, responded  "Wow, I was so nervous! I have never spoken on camera before! I became more relaxed only after I was advised to take three deep breaths and to read the script that the professor, at our Bootcamp, wrote for me. Now, I know, next time, when I have to speak on camera I will write the speech first and breathe deeply before I talk, to stop from shaking!" She is excited about having her own small business with her own logo that she could put on her paintings and use the opportunity given by Balai Seni to show to the world her creative skills. "I cannot wait to participate in exhibitions planned for us!"
Another participant is Ahmad Fikril (24) who is dyslexic finds the Bootcamp challenging at first because he takes a longer time to read and understand materials handed out in class. However, he says the Bootcamp is "enjoyable" because for the first time in his life he is exposed to business management in simple clear language. "Before this course I knew next to nothing about business. I only knew how to draw. But now I understand what Balai Seni is trying to do. I think they want us to know that we can go very far in arts business with the help we get from instructors and mentors here! I also enjoyed listening to speakers who are all very knowledgeable". He added that he would be able to do better in business once he has registered a company, print his own calling cards and create a brand for himself that will be trademarked with MyIPO. "Basic accounting skills I learned in class will also help me prepare accounts for myself and for taxes, required by Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (Internal Revenue Board)"
Fikril's close friend, Muhammad Farhanshah Mohd. Zaini (23) who is one year his junior recently graduated from UiTM felt that the Bootcamp is "very good and will certainly open not only my mind but will show me how to make my plans more systematic. In fact, after the Bootcamp, I am more confident about participating in art business. I have made up my mind that after my residency here, at Balai Seni, I would like to venture overseas to do shows in Abu Dhabi, Maldives and elsewhere!"
Last but not least is Abdul Mohsin bin Aminuddin (30) who initially wanted to know how to venture into the interior design business, got more than what he bargained for when he enrolled in the Bootcamp and made a commitment to be on site at the Young Art Entrepreneur camp for six months. He was only interested to sell his work directly to hotel owners instead of going through interior design companies that were excessively profiteering from his creative effort. But he found friendship and although the oldest he was able to fit into the team quite easily. "The Bootcamp offered us an insight into how to better run our art business!" He felt that in just forty hours he was exposed to many ideas that could make him a better businessman. "I have accepted the offer to participate in the Young Art Entrepreneur because I know I can use it as a launching pad to better promote myself in the art industry. Some may not see this opportunity but for those willing to put in the extra effort, the returns will be tremendous!"

Has the Bootcamp changed the mindset of these young artists? Would they become art entrepreneurs by end of January 2018 when they complete their residency at Balai Seni? Can the Director General now take credit for having converted this pioneering group into entrepreneurs?
Only time will tell. But for now, the words of these artists have partly proven Dato' Dr. Mohamed Najib's contention that visual artists could go further and will likely become more successful when they are given some entrepreneurial skills and provided with basic tools in business management.
In fact, compared with those unfortunate ones who entered the art business world without any entrepreneurial skills, the seven Young Art Entrepreneur participants are indeed better prepared to face future challenges in the market place.
Dato' Dr. Mohamed Najib and his colleagues at the Balai Seni may want to congratulate themselves for initiating this movement, knowing full well that these seven young artists have shown us that they have seen the value on the need to be more business savvy in their chosen profession.
That they have also seen the reasons for changing their mindset and stepping out of the quiet confines of their own studios to be actively involved in the business world and participate meaningfully in the nation's goal to develop our very own art industry.
Obviously, we can safely conclude that it is almost impossible to turn ordinary artists into entrepreneurs overnight or make them into businessmen in six short months. But as demonstrated, you can successfully impart knowledge on business management over forty contact hours to help ordinary artists to improve themselves and learn to conduct their business more effectively and systematically.

* kopihangtuah

| mcmlxxv:viii:xxix |

Honest Mistake?


I SCREWED UP a meeting recently. I was supposed to meet someone at a Starbucks but I went to a Coffee Bean instead. That person waited for me for half an hour. I thought I was waiting for him for half an hour.

Then I messaged him, "Hei I am at Coffee Bean. Where are you?" He said, "What? I thought you said Starbucks?!!" I screwed up. Why did I say Starbucks when I was meant to say Coffee Bean? Anyway, I rushed to Starbucks.

I said what many of us would have said, that is, "Sorry I made an honest mistake". He said, "No worries" Then we went on discussing business and all. I could not concentrate while having the discussion because I kept on thinking about the words honest mistake.

What does that really mean? Is there a dishonest mistake? A mistake is a mistake. A mistake is something that was done instead of what was supposed to be done. There is no honesty or dishonesty. It is simply a mistake.

How can you say something is a dishonest mistake? If you purposely intended to do something that is not acceptable by a standard or by another party, that is not a mistake. That is a purposely intended action.

You intended to do bad and you did it. You did not screw up. You just wanted to do negative stuff. That is not a mistake and certainly not a dishonest mistake. It is simply bad intentions.

So if bad intentions are not dishonest mistakes, then how can there be an honest mistake? You screwed up honestly? As opposed to you screwed up dishonestly? The same can be said about the words intentional mistake or unintentional mistake.

If it is intentional, it is not a mistake. You simply want to do bad stuff. The word mistake itself is profound because it is already embeded with the characteristics of honesty and unintentional status. Therefore, it should just be a mistake.

So why do we say the word "honest"? So positively profound is the word honest that it has the power to make people forgive you. When you say, "I made a mistake", you are likely to get a reply such as, "Hell yes you have. You bastard! You made a mistake. Remedy it please!"

Instead, when you say, "I made an honest mistake", you will get, "Ohhh... everyone makes a mistake once in a while. Cheer up! No worries mate!" This is how powerful the gestures of language are in having psychological impact between two people communicating.

So there you go. I am sorry that I wasted a few minutes of your time reading this. I made an honest mistake intentionally. Go figure!

* kopihangtuah

| mcmlxxv:viii:xxix |

09 July 2017

To BM or Not to BM


"Kepada rakyat Malaysia yang tidak tahu Bahasa Malaysia, anda tidak layak menjadi warganegara Malaysia!.....  "  - a provocative statement in a facebook status

NATIONALISTIC (or not) is the statement, "Kepada rakyat Malaysia yang tidak tahu Bahasa Malaysia, anda tidak layak menjadi warganegara Malaysia!" (To those Malaysians who do not know his/her own National Language, Bahasa Malaysia, they should not call themselves Malaysians)? To be honest, I may be in a dilemma because I do have many Malaysian friends who are good citizens but do not know how to speak or write in Bahasa Malaysia or popularly known as simply BM. In fact some of them are not Chinese or Indians and are Malays. In fact, I also worry that my own kids may not be able to speak or write in Bahasa Malaysia because they are sent to English medium schools. And,.... I am also nervous that I am writing this article in English rather than in Bahasa Malaysia!!. So, where do we put our opinons on this subject matter?

That particular statement (mentioned earlier) was purposely put on a Facebook status to provoke opinions from many Malaysians. I must say that as much as I have anticipated some of the responses (for or against), I also felt surprised that Bahasa Malaysia has not been put at a dignified position in the minds of many (Malaysians). It has been put as "optional" mode to many Malaysians where even if they do not know the language, they do not feel that their lives would be affected. By right, English is a second language to Malaysians; but in reality, those in urban areas, take it as first language (I am also guilty). As I progressed in the corporate world, I find myself dealing with Government officials more and more. Hence, I am forced, or rather obliged, to use Bahasa Malaysia when conversing with the Government officials. That word "obliged" or "forced" that I had just used is so, so wrong. As a citizen of Malaysia, I should not feel that way. I should feel comfortable enough to discuss official matters in Bahasa Malaysia, "the" National Language.

Not too long ago many critisms were thrown at our Deputy Prime Minister, Dato' Sri Zahid Hamidi, because of his less than smooth English presentation at an International event. Sure, I agree that he should have just used a translator like his Japanese or Chinese counterparts. But surely we can all agree that it is understandable that his English is not that good when it is not his mother tongue? In that case, why are we criticising? Have we not heard the accents of other nations' officials who did not use translators but still insist in using English although their accents are horrible? I can name a few: Jamaica, France, Indonesia and many more.

One of the comments that I received in the Facebook as a result of the abovementioned statement is this, "Eventhough you are good in Bahasa Malaysia, have you done enough for the country? What is the use of being fluent in the National Language when you are just eyeing for subsidies and the like? What about those who prefer to express in other languages but yet give their all to the country? Don't judge a person's loyalty and/or patriotism by the language they converse in. Better yet, don't judge at all!" There are many truths in that series of comments and I agree with all. However, do we just forget Bahasa Malaysia altogether even if we are good citizens? Do we not care about our heritage and culture? I wonder whether Hang Tuah's "Takkan Hilang Melayu di Dunia" (Malays will not be forgotten) will be invalid in the case of the language itself.

Many also said that we should always look at substance over form. The former (substance) relates to the deeds of a citizen and the latter (form) relates to physical matters such as language. Yes, substance over form is good but surely we cannot entirely ignore the form? You must know how to read and write the National Language but not necessarily at a superb proficiency level. When a foreigner asks a Malaysian, "Do you know how to say (certain words or phrases) in your National Language?", surely you cannot say, "Sorry I do not know my country's National Language". This is just like how the Americans and the Australians require certain level of English proficiency before you can become a citizen or even a Permanent Resident. In fact, when I was in an Australian university some 20 over years ago, I was failed by my lecturer not because of my facts (substance), but because my English (form) was horrible. I got Distinction (But Fail unless Pass English Summer School). I had to go to Summer School - and passed.

Perhaps the context of the statement (in the Facebook status) has been perceived to be too extreme but, again, we cannot ignore it 100%. Malaysians are lucky that the Government (Malaysian) did not force us to really, really use Bahasa Malaysia in our daily lives, both official or not. In Indonesia the Chinese speaks fluent Bahasa Indonesia and even have Indonesian names like Wirianti, Suprianto and what not? Sometimes I cannot tell the difference between a Malay Indonesian or a Chinese Indonesian. Now in Malaysia we have the privilege of not being forced as such; and what do we do? We ignore it altogether. Surely that is not good for the nation?

As mentioned earlier, I do agree that Malaysians who cannot speak or write in Bahasa Malaysia are not less of Malaysians than those who can speak Bahasa Malaysia. It is, of course, what we do that matters to show our support for the nation. Nationalism or patriotism can be measured in other ways apart from the use of language. However, we must not ignore it totally. We must at least put effort to master the National Language. We may not be really, really good at it in the proficiency scale, but at least we can tell foreigners that, "Yes we do know how to speak and write our National Language."

Whilst we put efforts to maintain the dignity of the National Language, we are commercially pushed to master English Language for the sake of globalisation and internationalisation of the professional work that we do. There is no harm in learning many languages. The Malaysian Chinese and Indians know how to speak 3 languages (assuming they can speak Bahasa Malaysia and their tongue of origin - China and India). The Swiss can speak German, Italian and French. The entire Miami speaks Spanish but when asked in English, they will reply in English. A national language is what keeps us together just like how a nation's flag or a national anthem do. It is a sense of belonging. A focal point of reference to remind ourselves that we are Malaysians. Our hundreds of years of open immigration policy has led at least 2 major ethnic groups to be assimilated into the citizenship of the nation - namely from China and from India. Imagine, one day, if the Bangladeshis and the Rohingyas are accepted as citizens of Malaysia? Do we still want them to only stick to their own languages or would we also ask them to learn Bahasa Malaysia?

Finally, I would like to remind Malaysians that our nation is a young one. We are only going to celebrate our 60th independence anniversary this 31st August 2017. What have we as a nation gone through over the past 6 decades? Our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was pretty much concentrated in establishing the nation's sovereignty matters - matters such as battling communism and apartheid; and such. The subsequent Prime Ministers, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein, were great at abolishing poverty and assimilating citizens of all walks of life. Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah were championing the country into internationalisation - the former on modernisation and the latter on moderation of Islamic values.

After all these, we are now faced with the urge to transform from a Developing Nation to a Developed Nation and we will need to support the current Prime Minister, Dato' Sri Najib, to realise this in whatever way we can as citizens. What does a Developed Nation has if we are to benchmark? A Developed Nation has Identity, a strong Identity. What are the building blocks of Identity? I must say, Culture. What is a Culture of a nation without common elements for all citizens to grab hold onto? We need that common element. I say, let us start with strengthening the acceptance and appreciation of our very own National Language, Bahasa Malaysia.

* kopihangtuah

| mcmlxxv:viii:xxix |

There was an error in this gadget