Ciputra in “Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos”

To look a lot cockier, the 'cocky' book should be in red. Just saying...

To date, the United States of America may be considered the hub of entrepreneurship in the world. We, however, almost forget how dynamic the world economy has become and that there are developing economies throughout the globe that keep catching us off-guard.

Sarah Lacy brings us a series of novel insights on the ever-changing entrepreneurial constellation in developing countries. And Indonesia is one of the eleven countries Lacy has visited and written about in “Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky”. While dedicating the whole of chapter 9 titled “The Emerging World’s Big Secret” to Indonesian entrepreneurs, she divides it into 3 subchapters, each of which focuses on three different facets of Indonesian entrepreneurs. These three are property, beauty care, and the IT startups.

Ciputra represents the first facet, i.e. the male-dominated  kingdom of property. Here Lacy highlights when Ciputra started to dream big by sending a letter to Walt Disney. Disney disapproved of his proposal. As we all may have learned, this later encouraged the young and ambitious Ciputra to work on a project in the notoriously ‘unpromising’ Northern coast of Jakarta, Ancol. But as an entrepreneur, Ciputra saw Ancol in a much different way and managed to prove Disney wrong.

The story goes on when Lacy tells us why Ciputra thinks Indonesia is likened to a sleeping giant whose growth was held down for centuries largely owing to the Dutch colonialization:


Indonesia is a giant that’s economically still asleep. Pick your favorite reason why: Indonesia has been one of the most dominated, unstable, tragedy-stricken countries of the 20th century.

[…] Indonesians may be the only people who envy 20th-century China. “They were only held down by communism for 50 years,” Ciputra says. “We were held down for 350 years.” (BCC,  p 184-185)


The diverse experience that Ciputra has amassed from the Dutch colonial days to the current administration of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono led the 80-year-old entrepreneur to a new, more massive undertaking than building affordable housings or luxurious townships in Indonesia or abroad. What Ciputra is now trying so hard to achieve, along with the entire nation, is transforming the opressed mentality to the liberating and empowering entrepreneurial one.

Despite the hard cold fact that changing such a mentality is a daunting task to complete, Ciputra relentlessly does anything he could to realize his dream. He without hesitation invested $ 10 million in Universitas Ciputra Entrepreneurship Center (UCEC) located in Surabaya, East Java.  Another enterprise to stimulate the nationwide growth of new entrepreneurs figure is called Training of Trainers (ToT), in which more than 2,000 teachers from 350 universities across the country are trained (BCC, p. 189).

In his ambitious project, Ciputra does not overlook the significant role of Indonesian government. As he argues:

“Ciputra rejects the U. S. view that all a government needs to do to spur innovation is get out of the way. “We have to involve the government because we are trying to change the nation entirely,”he says.” (BCC, p 190)


In order to combat poverty which often is the root of evil such as radicalism and crime, there is nothing that can compare to entrepreneurship. While it certainly improves the nation’s public welfare, entrepreneurship might help Indonesia create a new face of moslems and Islam, as Dino Patti Djalal (the Indonesian ambassador to the States) puts it. Djalal’s statement , which represents the SBY administration, is simply in line with Ciputra’s grand ambition. (This post is previously published on HERE)

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