Pursue Happiness: Tips to Reap Real Rewards
Crossing the Chasm to Revenue and Profit

Set Your Own Standard

How do you want to be remembered?  Tandean Rustandy, an inspiring rags-to-riches entrepreneur, is known for setting his own higher standard of contributing to others.  He states, "I believe all can benefit.  Ask what can I give, how can I serve?  When you go into business, determine how you can contribute to others."

Rustandy's Story

Tandean Rustandy was born and raised in a small town on a river in Indonesia from humble beginnings. There was no clean water and no electricity.  His grandfather was a shipper; he died when Rustandy was six years old and that shipping business died too.  Rustandy went on to build a successful, socially responsible, 'green standard' ceramics business which employees over 3000 people in five locations throughout Indonesia.  Having celebrated its 25th anniversary in business, PT Arwana Citramulia Tbk (www.arwanacitra.com) is the #1 ceramics firm in Indonesia and #14 in the world.  Rustandy is pursuing his passionate purpose. 

Rustandy's Practical Pointers.

  1. Get Educated. Luckily, his mother supported the concept of education. Rustandy received a good education -- High School in Toronto,  a B.S. in Finance in 1987 from the University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business, and an MBA in 2007 from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.  Rustandy was the first in his family to graduate college.
  2. Build Relationships and Stay In-touch with People. While working on his undergraduate degree and helping to pay his way through college while washing dishes, Rustandy made good friends.  One friend actually lent him money to pay his last semester of tuition.  They are like brothers now.  When Rustandy travels now, he chooses to take the train.  "I can afford to take a limousine, but that cuts me off from people.  It is important to see the real world so you can remember who are serving."
  3. Protect the Environment. After graduating from the CU Leeds Business School (https://www.colorado.edu/business/2018/03/21/tandean-rustandy-fin87),Rustandy got involved in a timber business in Indonesia.  It made him a multi-millionaire by the age of 25, but it was damaging the environment.  He decided to move on and start a socially responsible business. His current business, Arwana, is an eco-conscious company which has been awarded the Green Industry Award from the Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry for six years in a row from 2011 to 2016. Arwana is also the first company in Indonesia to obtain ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system.
  4. Help the Disadvantaged. Rustandy chose to locate his new business in 1993 where he could help the poor through the creation of jobs in manufacturing tiles.  He now provides jobs, healthcare, and education for his employees.  It has not always been easy; his firm almost went bankrupt during an Asian financial crisis, but he has stayed true to his values. 
  5. Give Back. Rustandy says, "Everyone has responsibility to help the next generation."  A $20 million gift from Tandean Rustandy, supports expanded research and programming in social innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago through the newly named Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation.  He also made a $6 million pledge  to support innovation at CU Boulder.   “Our aim is to elevate our efforts in entrepreneurship, innovation and design in new, refined and disruptive ways in and outside of the classroom, said Sharon Matusik, dean of the Leeds School. “To have Tandean step forward with this meaningful investment to continue our long tradition of entrepreneurship helps further not only our momentum with curriculum advancements, but also our world-class reputation.”


Tandean Rustandy says, "Stay in touch with people, to stay connected to life.  Ask, how can I help?  Especially encourage young people to ask, how can I contribute?  He quotes Helen Keller, "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart."


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