Balancing the Grind with Francisco Widjojo, Managing Partner at Arkblu Capital

Francisco Widjojo is the Managing Partner at Arkblu Capital, a private investment firm primarily focused on the venture capital asset class in Indonesia.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am one of two Managing Partners at Arkblu Capital, a multi-asset private investment firm primarily focused on the venture capital asset class in Indonesia that our team started 2 years ago. 

Our venture capital strategy comprises a twofold investment strategy whereby we acquire direct interests in early-stage tech companies as well as acquire LP interests in venture capital funds. Arkblu Capital’s portfolio currently stands at 6 companies strong (5 of which are headquartered in Indonesia) and we are LPs in several Indonesia-focused venture capital funds.

We established the company in 2019, with offices in Jakarta, Indonesia and Sydney, Australia at Haymarket HQ, and we are part of a larger business group that has interests in the health, consumer goods and manufacturing industries in Indonesia.

Having spent most of my time in Australia, including obtaining both my undergraduate degrees here, I have always felt a great degree of sentiment towards my homeland of Indonesia.

After graduating from university with a double degree in laws and business, I began my career working as a corporate M&A/equity capital markets lawyer for the Sydney office of a U.S.-headquartered global commercial law firm.

As much as I enjoyed the law, it was always my desire to be contributing to the amazing growth story of Indonesia. From practising law, I transitioned to my current role in which we are living out Arkblu Capital’s mission of identifying, investing in, and supporting the most ambitious founders building the best early-stage companies serving Indonesia’s rapidly growing middle class of 270 million people.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

A typical Monday workday for me starts at 5:15am. My morning ritual comprises 3 parts: prayer, Pilates, provision. 

I start the day with a reading of the set readings by the lectionary and thanksgiving prayer. From there, I will then jog over to my 6am Reformer Pilates class. I currently call the bustle of the inner-city of Sydney home so it is always a joy to see a part of the world that is typically packed with energy so calm in the early morning.

After finishing my 50 minutes Reformer Pilates class, I will then jog back home to get ready to go into the office. Mondays have been the day where I engage in my weekly 24-hour fast.

However, every other day my breakfast will start with a glass of apple cider vinegar with warm water to kick start my digestive system, and then a teaspoon of fresh royal jelly, a glass of paleo protein mixed with Chinese tonic to supplement my workout, and a bowl of granola with Greek yoghurt and fresh berries.

I am in the office at Haymarket HQ by 8:30am and begin the day scrolling through various business, tech, political and general news outlets. Given the international and multidisciplinary nature of our business, it is important we as a firm are on top of developments across the world, but with a focus on Asia and the U.S.

Monday mornings are dedicated to our whole team meeting where we discuss the progress of our portfolio companies, current live deals, as well as other growth projects the firm is currently executing.

Our meetings then transition from an internal nature to an external nature. Operating within the investments industry requires you to be intimately connected with a wide variety of stakeholders.

That means our external meetings could be with our amazing portfolio companies, the admirable GPs in our LP portfolio, trusted investors within our network, corporates, members of government and new potential portfolio companies.

I will then round out my Monday on working towards various firm deliverables, which can include working towards finalising impending deals, providing input on various ecosystem building activities our firm is involved in, or reviewing the analysis of our current pipeline of deal flow.

Unless there are urgent matters to attend to such as a live deal, my laptop is closed at 7pm, with the rest of the evening spent investing time into my passions outside of our business and connecting with loved ones.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Absolutely, the COVID-19 pandemic has made us as a firm turn our minds to what constitutes the future of work.

Many used-to-be offline meetings actually can be conducted online, team members do not necessarily need to be in the office 5 days a week, and investing in a good company tech stack (and building a collaborative culture around your stack) goes a long way.

We also believe that giving your team the option to work from home is very empowering, and allows team members to both feel they are, and be in, greater control of their work.

We believe, though, that the best way to build team and firm culture, and to boost and sustain team morale, is still through offline connection. Human beings were made to connect and interact with one another in the offline world, and so at a minimum a blend of offline/online interaction is required.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I subscribe to the philosophy of work-life harmony. I am very blessed that my work and our business is one of my passions, and so work is an extension of my lifestyle.

For me, work-life harmony is where your work forms just one of your life passions, that integrates with your other passions which are of a non-work nature. Achieving and sustaining a perfect equilibrium between your work and non-work passions thus becomes your lifestyle.

Achieving and sustaining this perfect equilibrium for me involves building continual flow between my various passions. Ensuring ample time is invested across all our life passions ensures we are always feeling energised so as to avoid burnout.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

I began intermittent fasting along with several good friends around 12 months ago and we have all seen the benefits of it: more energy, more focus, and of course a slimmer waistline!

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

My favourite book which I like to recommend is Dr Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

At its core, Dr Duckworth teaches us a valuable lesson that can be universally applied: grit (and not so-called ‘talent’) is the common factor amongst those at the top of their field.

This lesson, and how grit can be deconstructed and cultivated, is important not just for those in business but also for those in the military, educators, and present and future parents. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Headspace, Sleep Cycle and LIFE. I use the Headspace app daily. In my opinion it is the best meditation app on the market, and I have tried my fair share of them. For those who have the app, I highly recommend Headspace’s sleeping meditation – it is more effective than any sleeping medication, I can guarantee it!

Sleep Cycle is an amazing app that analyses your sleep and derives insights into your sleeping habits. The app usefully details the quality of your sleep both graphically and through a single ‘quality’ metric with great accuracy. For those obsessed with always improving your sleep, this is a must have app.

LIFE is a great app that records and sets reminders for those of us who engage in intermittent fasting. Like all great health-related apps, LIFE has built a community around its app to motivate us faster.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

Elon Musk.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

In acknowledging how although for many of us our work and businesses truly are our life passions, I still do believe that we should all consciously block out time in our schedule to recharge, switch off or spend time in our other life passions.

Spend quality time with your loved ones, invest more time into that hobby you love doing, pick up that book that is picking up dust on your bookshelf.

If you are a business leader, do also check in with your peers who are also in leadership positions. Send them a quick message or have a catch up with them and ask them, “Hey, I want to check in with you – how is the state of your mental health right at this point in time?”

As business leaders we are often so fixated on the state of our amazing A-star team, our loyal customers and our ever-reliable suppliers and service providers that we can often forget the state of ourselves. 

Our human bodies are both strong and frail at the same time, so it is important that we take care of both our physical and mental state accordingly.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.