June 2017: Audacity, Authenticity, and Affection

Bryan Gunawan

This is my last month in Fontainebleau campus.

Sayonara to Edbert and Mehdi - friends from Paris

I have decided to be more efficient, effective and optimum (read: greedy ?) in my INSEAD journey – after careful consideration, given that this is my first time living abroad – I wanted to experience US education. So I am doing my exchange to Kellogg business school, spending effectively my P4 and P5 in Kellogg, and then I will be joining my INSEAD comrades in the Graduation Trip – then Graduation. Before the US Kellogg exchange, I will be in Singapore campus for two weeks as I will start my Kellogg mid-September while P4 officially starts end of August, the school recommended me to take one or two credits in one of the main campuses. I chose Singapore. Then I get a taste of everything – maximizing my journey and experience.

So, this is the last month in Fontainebleau Campus. I will be 60% done with my MBA by the end of June. It’s exciting and saddening at the same time. So what better way to spend the last month other than transforming myself to its fullest extent?

And so I went to the journey of the 3As: maximizing my audacity, my authenticity and affection.

Audacity means boldly and daringly getting myself out there – getting out of the comfort zone.

I occasionally feel that after-study parties in INSEAD can be daunting – having been tired, and being an introvert in the basics myself (believe it or not – I am what the psychologists these days called extraverted introverts – I can talk for hours, but it sucks my energy out instead of giving me energy), I find getting myself out there and building new connections can be exhausting.

But I tried to pile up my courage and I go to more parties – and it was not easy. Spending hours drinking and talking can be pretty tiring. Repeating the same old mantra of what I did, what I am doing and what I would be doing can be boring. But I discovered something really interesting out of these connections – that people appreciate you more then, and you discover more stories out of people’s lives as you talk more beyond the surface. More and more dinner and party invitations pouring in, and that was just fun in itself, feeling connected.

The 3P (Pint, Pizza, Pitch) with the Entrepreneurship (IEC)
The OUTSEAD and Wharton Exchange Pool Party - people censored :P
The Legendary Holi Party in the Indian Week!

So I decided to go out there and challenge myself more: the 17Js made a new event that is hoped to last for years to come, an event that is called Applesauce. Ask me not how the naming came about, but it was basically a competition where presenters present slides unknown to them, they would only see the slides as late as they stand on the stage. And the slide themes? Bizarre, weird ones. We are talking about ‘Where do the baby pigeons go?’, ‘Twerking for a better future’, and the like. And guess what I had? ‘Silky chicken: A brief but illustrious history’. Long story short, I decided to just talk about whatever I wanted to talk – and unfortunately, there will be too many censors if I write it here, so better not – ask fellow 17Ds on what I eventually talked about? LOL.

Me at the Applesauce - all words censored. :))

But audacity brings you more, and what’s more, beyond audacity, is a discovery of authenticity.

Authenticity means being you, and being the best you. That’s when you contribute a lot to your surroundings.

I was fortunate enough to be selected to speak, twice, by the Alumni and Advancement Relations department in INSEAD. They were basically gratitude and thank you speeches for alumni gathering and top donors from INSEAD, as I represented the INSEAD scholarship recipients.

Stewardship Dinner Speech

I’ve always believed in these two concepts. I believe that we are where we are because of the hands that have been working behind us, and most of them are not seen. They helped us in all parts of our journey. And these generally happened because they see something in us – that we can be greater. Which brings me to a point whereupon transformation (for in May I wrote about transformation), we are actually not alone. True, hard work does play out – but as we grow, the people around us actually helped a great deal in helping us to grow. So I’d like to take a brief chance on this blog to say thank you. If you’ve ever encountered me in my life, thank you. I am sure our interaction has helped me somehow, to this point of privilege I’ve had and I am very grateful.

But most importantly as I was actually walking through the experience of giving these speeches – they gave me the authenticity to become who I am. Acknowledging and accepting (and getting accepted during the speech) as a triple minority in my country is extremely rewarding. And as I wrote the speeches, I realized that authenticity does not only mean about who you are or the best of you or getting all these experience from others in the journey – but also a lot about exercising that authenticity to contribute for others – or to ‘pay it forward’, as a lot of people would say.

And that brings me to the student clubs. Quite a number of people would ask why I am involved in many club activities – consulting (ICC), entrepreneurship (IEC), OUTSEAD, public speaking, and even other school activities (or even why I bother writing the experience blog). Well… it’s rewarding to be able to ‘infect’ people with the experience – and at times, you wouldn’t know what impact and contribution you can actually bring until you do it, and as you exercise your authenticity and what drives you outside beyond the classes.

Because at times, you might find that you are, in fact, inspired back. I’d like to give three simple stories (out of the so many stories and I am very thankful for this).

Lisa Wei, Daniel Layug, and Hsia Ping of 17D, I’d like to thank you.

Lisa Wei showed me what great leadership is throughout her leadership in the MIINT comrade team (I was part of the MBA Impact Investing Networking & Training – MIINT 17D team), affecting us with a lot of diversity policies and positive spirit and creating a lot of leaders in the process, and bringing us all the way to eventually win the World Competition!

Daniel Layug, through his perseverance in learning to improve his presentation skills as he presented for Kellogg Real Estate Competition, and making his way all the way to win the tournament – and how he thanked me in front of everyone saying I had helped him a great deal (didn’t feel like it, you’ve done a great job yourself – but thank you!)

Also, Hsia Ping mentioned me in a casual group conversation, saying thank you to me for helping her with her growth project in public speaking. I was humbled. There’s nothing bigger than a thank you and a smile when you shared something for others. You make me feel that I matter.

It’s amazing how these friends reminded me of one thing beyond audacity and authenticity.

Affection is how we all humans connect – and there’s nothing bigger than when we truly remember that at the end of the day, it’s all about empathy of human connections – that we are all beyond being assets, that we are truly unique beings with feelings.

Some of Section E8 comrades at INSEAD - 'Till We Meet Again!

So I dared myself to take the challenge of learning what I’m passionate about during the summer, to connect and empathize through more and more interactions. More on that in July post.

June had been bittersweet, as I said goodbye to the Fontainebleau campus and all the friends in the INSEAD ecosystem.

But I know I will be back one day to this campus, in whatever capacity – because the experience was definitely one of a kind.

But now I am very much excited to face summer. I am meeting Obama on 1 July in Jakarta!