Why I am already in love

With Tribewanted in Bali

This afternoon Peter Wall, our gaffer at Hubud, walked back into our co-working space on Jl Monkey Forest after his new year holiday. After the usual, ‘how are you?’, he asked me “what’s this Tribewanted?”.

This is my first self-post on Medium since early December, in part because I am running a new blog, for the specific purpose of tracking my start-up project here in Ubud, Bali.

In this post, I intend to give an early insight into Tribewanted and why it fits so nicely with being here, in every sense of the expression.

So what is Tribewanted?

Thankfully I had a quick answer: “it’s a co-working group”.

Then I elaborated: “it’s similar to us (the Hubud co-working place), but with them I am part of a group, for a specific period of time”.

I then went on to explain the real point of what attracted me to Tribewanted when Ben Keene announced he was bringing his off-grid movement to Bali, with its format where other people and Bali itself matters just as much as the participants’ own businesses and ideas.

The official Tribewanted line is that our time will be split:

  • 50% time working on our own startups.
  • 25% time working on each others’ startups.
  • 25% time exploring Bali.

The first two bullets have already hit the target. The last does not fully reflect the intent of Ben and his co-founder, Sam Tyers.

They go on to say:

Bali is an island where community is the heart of society. Here you can find a wide range of projects to visit or support. A few we are particularly keen on hooking up with are the local business owners on the beautiful and sparsely populated island of Nusa Penida. Only a short boat trip from Bali Nusa Penida is relatively untouched by tourism. The local community are keen to develop sustainable tourism businesses and share the wonders of their culture.

For me, this is the most compelling and challenging aspect of a three-month programme (as Tribewanted is), where its members can stay for as long or as short as they want.

We have an impressive leader

If one can’t get excited about working with someone that once thought ‘I wonder if I can rent an island?’ and then did so in Fiji, then I am completely wrong about what it means to be ambitious. Ben has recently written about it.

The first time I spoke to Ben was over Skype last year and when we got to the dreaded ‘what do you want to do’ question, he immediately put me at ease by saying something to the effect of “it’s not important right now, we can work on that”. Can you imagine a careers advisor or recruiter having such needed benevolence?

Two things have stood out for me this week, since we met in person. Ben knows how to run a meeting by combining humour and knowledge. He nails this completely and already I am learning a lot about leadership style from him.

I also like the way he appears to be making it up as he goes, though I am sure he is not. Our group is up to around 1o people (as of today) so we are all new to each other and everyone is new to Bali. Ben’s approach and apparent ease helps a lot.

Quality people make it count

Today we said goodbye to Roshan Paul, who was headed back to his business in Kenya after five months away from the base of the Amani Institute masters programme. It’s something we’ll have to get used to — people leaving that is.

The sad aspect for me was that we did not get the chance to properly talk about cricket — we both have a DEEP background in it. The happy aspect is that I now know about a massively ambitious idea that he has made real.

Roshan was one of the lucky ones, like Ben, that was not lured into a City job by the promise of money. We was smart enough to realise his education in the United States could be put to much better use.

After a decade or so working in the social enterprise sector, he tackled a problem that we read about in the UK press most weeks, at least since I started tracking it, in late 2013. He faced the lack of skills/preparedness for work head on. I tried and failed with this inside my old company.

Best of all though, he did it in his own sector and based his business not in some City office, but on the ground in a place where involvement is as much a part as the teaching. He is from India and his business partner is from Argentina, so they picked Kenya has a sensible middle ground.

That’s super cool!

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