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Marketing Chill Chats: Expectations – Perceptions (Gaps Model)

This video series with Frances Bowden Affandy continues to Part 4, where we talk about the Gap Model of service quality. This segment delves into the difference between customer expectation and perception.

We also offer a personalized counseling session to help you work through your small business and / or personal branding and marketing needs! The 45 minute session will be done via Zoom, and you can take a look at the prices here. We assure you it will be well worth your time and money!

For a bit on Frances’ experiences, visit this page.

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How I Diversified My Income Streams in 2021

One of my major resolutions this year was diversified income streams. I’m not sure about you, but for the most part I grew up thinking that I had to focus on one main income stream / field. If I work hard and excel, then that would one income would do. Well, hello, enter the pandemic of 2020! One of my takeaways as someone working mainly in the performing arts field was that I need multiple sources of income. Otherwise I would be screwed the next time around. So that’s what I set my mind out to doing this year.

At the end of 2021 I am quite proud to say that I have diversified to 7 different sources of income stream. These range from the most active to passive incomes. I’ll list them out for you and then give you some tips on how you can also diversify your income stream for 2022.

Active Incomes

  1. My main job is CEO of an arts nonprofit that I co-founded – the Bandung Philharmonic. This is still my main source of income at the moment. I did voluntarily slash my salary during the pandemic crisis thus the other sources become necessary.
  2. My other music-related job is with the South East Asia Music Academy Online based in Singapore. I had the pleasure of being invited onboard by Singaporean violinist Gabriel Lee.
  3. An interesting side job opportunity presented itself mid-year via freelance writing for a fantasy blockchain game called Eizper Chain. This came about through some members of Mad Tea Book Club, a completely voluntary book club that I co-host.

Side Business

  1. Since domestic travel reopened, my airBnB listing Villa Gupondoro has been able to start receiving guests again. It was real tough there during lockdown.
  2. Mulberry Jam – there is a patch of land by the Villa on which Oky, my late husband, and I had planted mulberry trees. Though so many things have changed, the trees keep blooming each harvest season! So I still produce and sell fresh mulberry jam twice a year, now with the help of the an awesome assistant Joe Wu.
  3. Online sales of my ebooks and stories from my shop have started to pick up this year – thanks to all the bookstagrammers and book reviewers helping to share the word about my books out there!

Passive Income

  1. I’ve bought / invested in some government bonds – not the highest monthly yield but I’m aiming for security with this investment.

There are other extremely high-risk investments I’m involved in such as robot trading and crypto trading. There are also some initiatives for 2022 building upon what I already have: book launches, Mulberry Tea product, and a small hedge fund opportunity. These are still in the infancy stage (or likely to go bust any minute due to the high level of risk!) so I try not to depend too much on it. I also think risk tolerance is also something very personal for every individual.

Those are pretty good well-rounded diversified income streams, if I may pat myself on the back. So how did this come about?

Tips To Have Diversified Income Streams

  1. First of all, as with everything, start with the why. Do you know why you’re trying to diversify your incomes? Do you really even need to? What is your current position in life and what are your goals? If you don’t have these major answers yet, that’s OKAY. You can always chat with a mentor / advisor and get more in tune with your life and goals. Once you have these, it’s much easier to make an intentional commitment to diversify your income streams.
  2. Throw your intention out there to the world. Get it out there. Tell a friend / family member / work buddy that you want to diversify your income stream somehow (you might not know how yet). You’ll be surprised at what opportunities come your way by just getting your intention out there into the big, big universe.
  3. Understand yourself better – what are your skills? What do you like to do? What are you naturally good at? These will be your assets in finding another source of income. Knowing what you don’t like, what you are not good at, and what will take you longer to learn will also help narrow down choices and opportunities.
  4. Once you’ve chosen something to pursue – it can be as “passive” as buying some government bonds / stocks, or a notch up with starting an online side business, or even applying for side jobs, then don’t give up or change direction too quickly. I would recommend to stay at it for at least a year before deciding it’s not for you and quitting. Some things take time to get used to, and time is also needed for results to really show.
  5. Find good trusted people/partners and find a way to collaborate or work with them on a money making venture that would benefit everyone involved. This is a big point and deserves more elaboration (getting cheated on, etc), but generally I would say it is very difficult to achieve great results if you only work alone.

It’s also really important to keep in mind that nothing is instant (except unhealthy stuff). If you’re impatient like me, find a hobby to distract yourself with. With that, I congratulate you for surviving 2021, and hope the best for the coming 2022.

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Marketing Chill Chats: Tangible – Intangible

This video series is back with Part 3 of 9, in which Frances discusses Tangible and Intangible concepts in marketing. I hope you’ve been enjoying this new segment of the site!

To take it a step further, consider purchasing a live counseling session with Frances and myself to help think through your small business or personal branding needs. You can also purchase it as a gift for someone else who might appreciate it. If you have any questions about the session, you can contact me.

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Marketing Chill Chats: Target Market

We hope you enjoyed the first segment of this video series: Expectations and Perceptions. The second segment goes into the topic of Target Market. It’s something I have learned to be extremely important, even before considering to start your business!

Research, research, research. Find how your product / service would really be a solution to your target market so that your happy customers become your strongest marketing arm.

If you find our conversation helpful, consider a private, personalized online consultation for your personal branding or small business with Frances and myself. You can also purchase the session as a gift for someone else!

Do you have any questions or feedback? Let us know in the comments!

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Girls – Let’s Start Investing!

“You don’t save your way to wealth, you invest your way to wealth.” Janda Becanda (The Widow Jokes Podcast) episode on cryptocurrency.

Following up on my post about financial freedom for women is this post on investing for women. What’s the idea behind investing? The quote above sums it best. Once you have stable finances (paid off your debts, set up an emergency fund, you have an active insurance) then and only then would it be a good time to start considering investing. The philosophy behind it is that the money you save up decreases in value over time due to inflation rates. Thus the best way to grow your money is by spending it on sound investments.

Sadly, most women lack confidence in investing in comparison to men. However, despite less women investing, studies actually show that the women who invest are outperforming the men who are investing.

My Approach As a Newbie

For me, I approached it this way: investing, like everything else in life, is a habit. If it’s a habit, that means everyone can learn it and manage the ropes well to benefit themselves. I started my investing attempts late 2019 and I won’t say I’m an expert – not at all. I’m still a newbie. But what I want to share are some tips on how to start investing. Because, the best time to start investing is as soon as possible – the longer the time you have, the better your chances are.

First, talk to a trusted financial advisor. Find someone who is well along their investing journey and ask them to share their basic philosophies. How do they make their decisions? What books / journals / blogs did they read? Maybe they listen to some great podcasts. Educate yourself on the topic, and make yourself more financially literate.

Educate yourself on the topic, and make yourself more financially literate.

Second, try to understand your appetite for risk. Do you like risks? Or do you prefer something safer? Would you be ready if that bit that you invested suddenly loses value during a market recession?

Third, diversify. Don’t have all your eggs in one basket. Spread out your investments into several different sectors (research beforehand never hurts). That way when one sector sinks, the others can still help balance your portfolio. This happened for me in the pandemic. Most of my stocks were bleeding except an investment I made on forex trading in 2019. Phew.

Fourth, don’t wait to invest. Start with as small as 10 USD, but get yourself into the habit of it and let time work for your favor, instead of for your demise.

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A New Video Series: Marketing Chill Chats!

Ladies and gentlemen, it has been 1 year since this website was launched for public! Since November 2020, this little corner of the internet has had 7K visitors, 17K views, 140+ posts, and 500+ likes. Thank you to everyone of you who has stopped by, read some of my thoughts, listened to my podcast, liked, commented, and perhaps even purchased something at the shop!

To celebrate one year, I am rolling out a special video series with the one and only Frances Bowden Affandy. Frances is a lecturer at School of Business Management in ITB (Institut Teknologi Bandung) on Principles of Marketing; Services Marketing; Consumer Behavior; and Sales Management. Her experience throughout her international career of 40+ years encompasses marketing and hospitality (from Boston, New York City, Kathmandu, to Bandung). For her detailed career history, visit here.

Marketing Chill Chats

This new video series consists of 9 segments. Each segment covers a topic in services marketing which I believe will be very interesting for those of you interested to learn more about the field, or perhaps for those of you keen on marketing your brand or small business.

Expectations & Perceptions

The first part covers expectations and perceptions of your consumers. If you find this content interesting, consider trying out a live, personalized consultation session with Frances and myself. You can also purchase this live consultation session as a gift for someone who is trying to market their personal brand and / or small business.

The second segment covering Target Market will be available 2 weeks from now on Thursday, 25th November 2021.

If you have any feedback, don’t be shy! Help us out by sharing your thoughts and comments. Again, thank you for going on this website journey with me!

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Tips For Finding Work

I remember in my last semester of college, one of my fears were “would I get a job”? Would I be able to make enough money to support myself?

It has now been about 14 years since I graduated, and let me tell ya, I’ve had at least ten jobs. Come to think of it, I was already working 3 part-time jobs even in college. I had even started a side job in high school. I’ll go through them briefly here because in this economically difficult situation, more than a couple of people have come up to me asking if I have work (jobs) for them. I know it must be stressful and scary, but I hope my experience will help you get some tips for finding work.

From Librarian to Counting Wildlife, to Cleaning Toilets

High School

  • Teaching piano lessons for kids.

Undergraduate years in college :

  • Staff in the Dining Hall. This includes helping the cooks, lay out meals in massive amounts for the student population (hundreds would eat in the Hall during meal times), dishes duty, mop and clean floors before and after meal times.
  • Observe in the Nature Preserve. This was easily one of my favorite part-time jobs in college. I was an environmental science major, and I signed up to walk 2-3 times a week in the nature preserve (sometimes everyday during Spring / Winter / Summer Break). My duty was to observe the wildlife that I saw during the walk and write them all down. CAN YOU BELIEVE I GOT PAID TO DO THIS? I loved those walks.
  • Maintainence Crew, aka cleaning crew. This was the job almost all international students did because it paid the most per hour and was the least glorified job available on campus. I regularly cleaned toilets, rooms and apartments (after students moved out), laundry rooms, take trash out from dorm public rooms, you name it. Yep, I cleaned toilets to help me get through college. I say this with pride now.

Graduate school years :

  • Music Librarian. Oh this was fun, not too difficult, and I got to be with books. Old, music books. This was my first library job, and I really enjoyed everyone I worked with.
  • Teaching Assistant to my piano pedagogy professor, which allowed me to build a great relationship with her and learn a lot from her.
  • Piano Teacher in the Music Academy. This paid really well, and I got to meet some awesome kids and families, some of whom I still keep in touch with until now via Facebook!

After graduation I did many many music related jobs, everything from on stage to behind the stage to preparatory work to marketing work. This helped me really understand the ins and outs of the industry.

It’s the Attitude

Okay so, this post isn’t supposed to be a CV, you say.

What I want to share is that if you take a look at the various things I have done for work (and the various things I’m doing now to stay afloat in this pandemic induced economic crisis), you’ll see that it’s not really about the job. It’s about the attitude.

I was willing to do anything, from counting birds to cleaning toilets to organizing up my professor’s cabinets to archiving hundred year old music books. All of those jobs I did for the span of at least 1 year. That, folks, is what matters most – that you’re willing to hustle, and willing to give it a shot not just for a month or two.

With that attitude, I’m sure you’ll be able to find work no matter how difficult the economy condition is.

Another inhibiting factor is sometimes our internal voices. Take a read of my post on dealing with toxic voices.

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Why I Create

I stared at the black and white keys of the piano. They blurred in my eyes. I tried to remember what I was supposed to play, which notes I had to press, but everything left my mind. My brain could only feel one thing: burning shame. I was supposed to perform a piece by Bach at a concert during my student days, and I absolutely failed. I forgot everything on stage.I pressed the last chord, forced myself to make the most awkward bow in my life, and walked off dejectedly.

I was 20 years old.

An email popped into my inbox, from an international competition I was waiting to hear back from. My ensemble and I had prepared hundreds of hours, used our own money to make the music videos, and submitted the recording of our playing to the committee. I didn’t want to read the email. If we were rejected, it would be hard to deal with the disappointment after all those hours of practicing. When I gathered enough guts to look at the screen, I saw the apologetic words. Fuck. We failed again. We were not good enough.

The above two are examples from my earlier years of some of the grandest failures of my life. Several weeks ago, I had a discussion on my Instagram channel about what we fear most as creators, whether it’s musicians, actresses, auditions, or writers sending drafts, or illustrators sending drawings, or any type of creators.

From the fear of failure, rejection, not being good enough, to fear of wasted time, energy, and effort, all of those are very real daily inhibitors of creating.

Oh, not to mention, economic pressure. HA. I bet 99% of creators on this whole planet are not making enough money to get by just from their creations.

What’s the whole point?

So why then, do we still create at all? If it’s scary; if it’s not going to give us enough money; if it’s just going to make us feel bad about ourselves, then what is the whole point?

I struggled a lot with this, trust me.

What gave me clarity of mind was one of my mentors, who told me about his cardinal rule of life which is to HAVE FUN. He would only do something if he was sure that it would be a fun, enjoyable ride for him. If not, then he would not do it.

Reflecting upon myself, I analyze again and again if I am having fun while creating. Did I enjoy myself? Did I have a good time? If I did, then it was worth it. At the heart of it, the act of creating is not about the receiver, it’s about the creator. It’s about me spending the most precious asset I have (which isn’t money, by the way, it’s TIME) doing what I like to do.

The most precious asset we have is not money, it’s time.

Whether other people like it or not is secondary. Whether they would pay for it or not, is also secondary. I am not saying it’s not important to be sellable, to make money, to be able to price your creations/artwork/time. I am saying that for me, it is secondary to the creating process. That’s why it’s different when you’re doing a commissioned work versus when you’re just doing it for yourself.

When you’re performing for a specific audience, writing for a specific target group of readers, or say cooking for a designated person with certain taste bud preferences. In those times, I believe the focus is the receiver, the client, the audience.

But I believe creating starts with yourself, and will end with yourself. So my advice: make sure you’re having a good time while you’re creating. If you’re no longer having a good time, then just stop and do something else.

That’s okay too.

A great book to read for creators is Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking.

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Covid Cauldron in Indonesia

July and August 2021 Indonesia has risen to number one Covid hotpot in the world. “We are the next India,” friends said in the WhatsApp groups. Every day there is news of someone dying, friends or family members that got infected, and some that are grieving because loved ones have just died.

When my grandmother died just 2 days after she contracted the virus, I wrote a lamentation. My uncle died soon after.

Economic Implications of the Covid Cauldron

In one of my zoom meetings for a possible next musical project, a new possible collaborator spoke of the film industry in Indonesia being in a critical situation due to producers not being able to pay hundreds of crews. This takes me back to the beginning of the pandemic. The performing arts industry was in that critical period last year. Of course, the whole landscape freefalling and musicians had to start selling food, masks, fresh vegetables, anything really to survive.

As for myself, in addition to my job at the Bandung Philharmonic where I’ve reduced my salary by 40%, I have been very fortunate to be a part of another music start-up in Singapore, made possible by Singaporean partners and grants. I’m also lucky that Villa Gupondoro Airbnb is still up and running, in fact becoming quite the popular staycation place in Bandung, so that provides some breathing space in terms of finances. Although of course it closed down again along with everything else in July.

The film industry still had online platforms, Netflix, etc so I guess they managed to hang on for another year (just barely). But now it’s their turn. It’s like watching a slow-moving train wreck. I wonder what will indeed happen in the next couple of years. How will the map change after Covid cauldron, and who are the players that will survive?

To be honest, I am not sure. I guess we can only take it a day, a week, a month at a time and hang on to weather the storm as best as we can.

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Channeling Anger Into Creative Energy

“Anger is a tool,” said Frances Bowden Affandy (anthropologist). If you follow my blog, you will notice that Frances is a frequent presence on this site. She was also a guest speaker for one of my earlier podcast episodes.

This one morning, I was talking to her about angry energy, and she helped me to realize that just like many other emotions and energy, it is really, a tool. Harnessed in the right way, anger can push you to do many things you would not have had the guts to do otherwise. Now some of these might be destructive decisions, and that’s where anger management comes in.

Angry Muse

I have fallen to that many times, and probably will again. I’ve been so angry that relationships have been ruptured for good, bridges have been burned, and collateral damage abounded. I realized though that if I just channel this wave of nuclear energy in myself into a creative project, then it usually turns out to be something rather cool!
For example, I was got so angry on a recent project that I sat down and wrote a WHOLE MUSICAL in 24 hours. This includes 11 scenes and the lyrics to 5 new songs for the musical. Some say I was kissed by a muse. Well, I know the muse was anger.

The musical is called Bobo Lee, inspired by the life of my grandmother. I had written two posts about her for Chinese New Year celebrations this year. Ever since then, I have been thinking to develop it into a stage musical.
I imagine this will take about 3 years of preparation to stage. This consideration includes riding out the Covid-19 pandemic. I do want it to be a live theatrical experience for everyone. In the meanwhile, if you are curious about the results of my angry muse, you can visit Bobo Lee Musical on Instagram.