One Happy Forum, One Happy Family

I joined EO Indonesia three years ago, and by an enormous stroke of luck, was welcomed into Forum Happy. We are an eclectic group of individuals ranging from first- to third-generation entrepreneurs with spouses from Indonesia, Japan and the United Kingdom. We have a lot in common, united largely by our shared passion for travelling and commitment to family. Making time to see the world beyond our busy lives is our oxygen, as is spending time with those whom we hold dear.

When we formed our Forum’s constitution, we made it a point to involve our family in the EO journey. Knowing full well that our success is contingent upon those who support us, we explicitly included social events and Forum retreats that involved spouses, children and extended family. Adding this into our constitution solidifies our commitment to family and one another, and the retreats enable us to channel our common passion into a unifying experience. To make our retreats truly special, we chase once-in-a-lifetime experiences that encourage learning and growth.

Last year’s retreat did just that: We went to Sri Lanka, chartered a private plane to a national park, camped in a leopard sanctuary and traversed the coast, where we visited historic sites and tasted local delicacies. During the trip, we even produced our own version of Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” music video, which was subsequently featured at a local chapter event (scan the QR code to watch the video). On the flight home from Sri Lanka, I remember thinking it would be tough to beat this incredible retreat. We were up to the challenge.

While brainstorming for this year’s retreat, we came up with several ideas— from travelling across Indochina to exploring Raja Ampat, Indonesia’s renowned diving spot, by boat. During these discussions, the idea of a family retreat was brought up again. The challenge proved exciting: Where could we go where it would still be off the beaten track, kid-friendly and capture that once-in-a-lifetime feel? After much deliberation, we settled on a secluded resort nestled inside a coffee plantation near Borobudur, Indonesia’s largest Buddhist temple and a UNESCO world-heritage site.

We picked flight times that were friendly to children, scrutinized the restaurant options and arranged customized experiences, such as meditating during sunrise. One of the learning points we took away was the ability to let go and trust each other when it came to fulfilling the assigned roles and responsibilities. By including young children, we also had to be flexible with their unpredictability and how that would, in turn, affect our pre-arranged schedule. Ultimately, we learned how to improvise on the go to meet our families’ needs, while ensuring every retreat goal was achieved.

All in all, this year’s retreat was one we will cherish forever. While we conducted our Forum exercises, our spouses and children engaged each other and created relationships that will last a lifetime. We even hosted special exercises that supported experience sharing and a greater sense of integration, which has since strengthened our bonds. The highlight of the retreat occurred on the final night; a barbeque was held after meat was flown in by one of the spouses, who happened to be a restaurateur.

What was the key to our successful retreat? Beyond proper role delegation and a mutual sense of empowerment between the Forum members, we were all equally focused on a core value of commitment. It’s said that what you get out of your Forum experience comes from what you put into it. We applied that mantra to the family retreat, which is, I believe, the main reason why we had such a great time. As my spouse, Tania, commented: “I have witnessed my husband grow in a multitude of ways since joining the Happy Forum. It was a privilege to step into the special world they created and witness its transformational components up close. Now officially a ‘Happy Family,’ our appreciation of EO’s value has taken on a whole new dimension.”

Gibran Abidin is an EO Indonesia member, as well as a board member of, and head of sales and marketing for, Tunggal Idaman Abdi, an Indonesian-based, family-owned pharmaceutical company. Prior to this role, he was a senior vice president at HSBC. Contact Gibran at[email protected].

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