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My Lawyer Slapped Me In The Face

by Thomas Despin October 11, 2018

Or so was the feeling after our 3h long conversation around a dragon fruit juice in Sulawesi.

It’s 00:34AM as I write this, so I won’t proof read it.

Here are my raw thoughts and conclusions, after a long meeting with the lawyer who came with us to Sulawesi to legalise the island project.

The man has been working as a lawyer in Indonesia since before I was even born, and is today known as one of the best lawyer in Bali.

What I didn’t know, is that being a lawyer is only one of his activities.

During our conversation, I learned that he also has several businesses, and that what he makes as a lawyer is just some little money for him.

“Pocket money”, is what he called the $2,000 invoice he sent me to do the due diligence on the land I am about to buy in Central Sulawesi.

Here are a few things I learned from him and want to remember:

1) Always think long term and do things the legal way

In Indonesia, opening a business illegally on a land which doesn’t have a national certificate, is pretty usual.

It’s possible, and if done smartly, you might even not have any problem.

But you also might have some, and being complacent can make one lose absolutely everything.

When everyone else was telling me things like: “Don’t worry, you just need this paper and everyone will know this is your land anyway”,

He told me: “Because everyone ignore the law, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Without national official certificate, the government could claim back their land anytime.”

He also explained me about the importance of building assets for my company, and how valuable a certified land was.

This can be applied to other businesses in other areas of the World: building assets and thinking long term by doing things the legal way is the way to go if you’re not chasing “quick bucks”.

2) Be the owner, not the CEO

His first business was to build laundries. Now he has a dozen of them all around Bali, and his net profit is above $25,000/month.

Guess how long he spends working on them? None.

He laughed when telling the story and said: “This is what you guys call passive income, right?”

His approach to any new project is to build it first thing in a way that he won’t do any execution, but have people to execute each part of it.

This is also what he advised me for the project on the island: “Because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Find your teams and be the owner, not the CEO.”

3) Listen more than you talk

This is something I noticed here during the due diligence: he asks a lot of questions, but won’t talk much.

Being curious about everyone and everything gives him the advantage to learn a lot and know more about the people he has in front of him.

Because most of the people love to talk about them, they also end up thinking he is a nice person, just because he asked them questions.

Also, specifically here in the islands, he told me how nosy people can be, and recommended me to share only the minimum I have to share with whoever I meet.

The whole conversation was a wake-up call kind of slap in the face.

Not that I am impressed of how much money he makes, but I love his energy and how he breaks down big things into small things. And makes the whole situation look simple.

Before closing this informal meeting, I asked him: “So what’s your next target now?”

He replied: “I am having fun doing this. I just want to keep enjoying. I can travel, help people, choose my cases. It’s enough for me.”

It was late when we finished to talk, but it woke me up.

Thomas Despin
Thomas Despin

Founder of doyou.co & hustlersvilla.com

You do you, we do us.