Bill Gates dropped out of college, as did Mark Zuckerberg and Calvin Klein. Fellow college dropout Bong Chandra might not have that kind of name recognition, but he’s working on it. At just 22, he has built a reputation around Jakarta as one of the best up-and-coming motivational speakers. But Bong doesn’t use traditional methods to get his message across; he uses life-changing exercises like fire-walking. Bong will be on TVOne every Monday, from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., starting on Oct. 11. And his book, ‘Unlimited Wealth,’ has sold more than 10,000 copies.
Did you dream of becoming a professional motivator when you were a child?
As a child I was an introvert. My dream at that time was simple: become an entrepreneur. My defining moment was when I was in my first year of university. My group had to make a presentation, but no one wanted to be the speaker. I took on the responsibility. When I was done, I knew I had the innate talent to become a motivator. I sold my computer to attend a motivational seminar. I believe that smart people own the past, but people who are willing to learn own the future.
But why should I pay to listen to you at a seminar?
I can share my real-life experiences with you. I have several businesses: a car wash, event organizer and property. And when I say that you can start in business without your own money, I can prove it.
Other than fire-walking, what other ‘crazy’ tools do you use to motivate in your seminars?
I prove that I can raise as much as Rp 5 million [$560] in five minutes without any capital. I tell participants that I will sell them information that can save people’s lives. They are then invited to pay whatever they like before I reveal the info. It’s a fun game, but the message behind it is also very powerful. Plus, all the money goes to Yayasan Vincentius [an orphanage], together will all the royalties from my book. I want to show people that you can raise money without money; you can start in business by selling ideas.
Would you pay money to listen to one of your own seminars?
My seminars aim to awaken the inner motivation, which is something more permanent than what we call ‘soda motivation.’ The latter is where you are pumped up for a few minutes only to fizz out and disappear later. You will also get the tools applicable to your daily life and business. Also, I guarantee that I will give you a 100 percent refund if you attend the full training and remain dissatisfied.
Why did you decide to drop out of university?
I wanted to become a motivational speaker. Leaving university was what we in the motivation business call ‘burning your bridges behind you.’ It’s a kind of point of no return. After I dropped out, the only choice was to become a successful speaker.
When did you know you wanted to be a motivational speaker?
I knew that I could never work for other people. I once tried to work for someone else and I only lasted for five days!
What is your favorite quote?
‘Leaders do not do different things, they do things differently.’ For me, the way a leader does something is the differentiating factor between a good, mediocre or bad leader.
Do you see being young as a strength or weakness?
People I look up to tell me never to reveal my actual age. But, I always tell people in my seminars that I am 22 years old and a dropout. My point is that if I can make it this far, older and better educated people can definitely do it as well. At 22, I’m a already a shareholder in a car wash business and a property business.
How do you command a stage?
First, take center-stage. Always remember that the audience wants to listen and learn from you. Second, be prepared, by which I mean ‘log flight time.’ I gave a hundred free seminars over two years before I became a professional speaker.
Tell us about the fire-walking.
The participants walk over burning charcoal. There’s no black magic and no one suffers any burns. We use it as a metaphor to show how we can handle life’s obstacles. When you are experiencing problems, you can always think back to when you walked on burning coals.
You say that people can start a business with no money. Care to explain?
Take me, for example. I started my event organizing business with no money. I asked my friends to invest in the company and told them we would share the profits later. I applied the same method to my car wash and property business.
Is there any difference between the audiences in Jakarta and those in other Indonesian cities?
Jakarta audiences are better educated, and braver and more challenging with their questions. People from other cities usually tend to ask less forthright questions.
As a motivator, what one thing would you change in the people of Jakarta?
Habits and behavior come from the way you think. To change them you need to change your thinking first. In terms of thinking, I’d like to see Jakartans try seeing things in a more positive way. For example, when I had 3,000 people at a seminar, people were complaining about the long lines. They said things like, ‘I don’t have time for this’ or ‘It‘s too hot to wait in line this long.’ If they had been thinking positively, they would have been grateful that they had the chance to attend a popular seminar.