Founder and CEO of Benson Capital Ben Soebiakto gives us his two cents on the creative landscape in Indonesia and how he balances his personal life with his hectic lifestyle. We also asked him questions that made him ponder the deeper things in life. Trust us: this is the article you don’t want to miss out on.
How do you see the landscape of the creative industry in Indonesia?
I am excited because technology companies are now the biggest contributors in Indonesia. Fintech is also the next big thing that will make the creative industry become more exciting. Also, seeing that more Hollywood studios will be coming to Indonesia, the traction for Indonesian film industry will be big. But it needs more collaborations from investors and the government. Business talents should also help creative talents build more sustainable businesses.
Can you give us tips on building successful teamwork?
The key is to manage the ego. You always have to be their good partner—educate them stage by stage, and make them understand the value of each stage. They might not be the best in marketing and they might be poor in financial management or dealing with investors; that is why we should be the good partner who always cheers them on. As creative talents, they need to be the centre of attention and we should be able to tell them: “Hey, this idea might work in the first stage, but will it work after stage 3?” Fundamentally, we have to help the creative talents have more structure, vision, and roadmap.
What are your principles as a leader?
I think trustworthiness is number one for me and willingness to learn comes next. I don’t want to put my position as always being the right person. I hire people that are smarter than me. I see myself as someone who connects the dots because smart people need direction. I am the person who’s into roadmaps and planning, but I always know that everyone has their own specialty. I always approach people who are more capable than me. I help them operationally and I always believe that in good management, the right person in the right place and time is really important. As a leader, I know my limitations, too. I am really good at building something from zero, but after it grows and needs to scale up, that is not my forte.
What expectations do you have for the Indonesian government so that more creative talents can grow?
I wish the government will bring more experts to Indonesia. The way the government is opening door for international producers is a good example as it will allow Indonesian producers to learn a lot from them. The more Silicon Valley companies come to Indonesia, the more expertise and knowledge will be given to Indonesian people.
How do you balance your personal life with your work life?
For the past two years, I learned more about time management. My creative brain sometimes kicks in when I have balance in my life. You need to have the discipline to protect your personal life.
I learned about mindfulness concepts, too. So I meditate, do yoga, and I even went to a retreat in Ubud to try out a vegan lifestyle. That is how I balance my life. When you meditate, you start to clarify your mind. I’m fond of movies as well, so I always find the time for that.
What is your morning ritual?
I hope that meditation will be the first thing I do, but I’m not there yet [laughs]. As you can see, I have two phones: one for business and another for personal. I will not open my business phone until 8am in the morning. If you see my work phone, you will see countless messages and emails that I haven’t got the chance to reply to yet. But the thing about meditation is learning to say no to opportunities.
Do you have any favourite books, role models or mentors that you look up to?
When it comes to a role model, it will be Steve Jobs. I think Steve Jobs inspired a lot of people. For books, there’s a book that I am currently reading called Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. It just gives me an approval of my movement towards a more simplistic lifestyle. It gives me confirmation that what I’m trying to do right now is right, which is the belief that less is more. I also like Monocle magazine because there are lots of big ideas in there.
If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Steve Jobs, of course! The first thing I would ask is whether he wants to be my business partner or not [laughs]. I would ask for his collaboration on creating something that would help Indonesians. If it is someone from Indonesia, maybe our first President Soekarno, because of his bold move to unite Indonesia back in 1945—it is something that takes courage.
If you could do anything in the world with no possibility of failure, what would you do?
I am keen to have sustainable happiness for the people I can influence. Sometimes, I can be happy by myself, but I would be happier if I could make 10 more people happy. Unhappiness is the number-one problem in the world. So if I could be that person who makes other people happy, I would be happy as well.