Who Is Running IKEA?

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There are a number of profitable companies today who are backed by foundations with large amounts of liquid cash. Founders often set this up for the future sustainability of the business, avoiding corporate takeovers of the company and better tax management.

More often useful than bad, foundations can be used to invest for the long term future, especially in other ventures that will create value for the overall business. One of the other main reason is to manage and increase their financial reserves, through their investment portfolios, for their primary business usage when a financial crisis happens.

Foundation led business such as IKEA is a private company that is currently managed by two foundations, collectively are reported to be the wealthiest after the Bill and Malinda Gates foundation. Stichting INGKA Foundation indirectly manages the IKEA retail outlets and related investments for IKEA, and Interogo Foundation indirectly controls the IKEA systems and supplies.

Another company that I admire is Sunway University which is currently managed by the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, an education-driven foundation for the greater good of the nation’s education and the sustainability of the university. It also gives Sunway University a competitive advantage over their competitors as they do not have any shareholders to manage except the board of trustee in the foundation.

  • Endowment | Harvard University (no date). Available at: https://www.harvard.edu/about-harvard/harvard-glance/endowment (Accessed: 9 May 2019).

  • What we do | Ingka (no date). Available at: https://www.ingka.com/what-we-do/ (Accessed: 9 May 2019).

  • TaskRabbit connects you to safe and reliable help in your neighbourhood (no date). Available at: https://www.taskrabbit.com/ (Accessed: 9 May 2019).

  • Inter IKEA Systems B.V. - Who we are (no date). Available at: http://franchisor.ikea.com/who-we-are-2-2/index.html (Accessed: 9 May 2019).

  • Business in brief - Interogo Holding AG (no date). Available at: https://www.interogoholding.com/about-us/business-in-brief/ (Accessed: 9 May 2019).

  • The businesses owned by Interogo Foundation (no date). Available at: https://www.interogofoundation.com/assets-and-businesses/the-businesses-owned-by-interogo-foundation/ (Accessed: 9 May 2019).

  • Guiding Principles - Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (no date). Available at: https://jeffreycheah.foundation/guiding-principles/ (Accessed: 9 May 2019).

  • https://www.ikeafoundation.org/ (no date) ‘IKEA Foundation’. https://www.ikeafoundation.org/. Available at: https://www.ikeafoundation.org/stories/why-were-supporting-a-new-generation-of-designers/ (Accessed: 9 May 2019).

Richard Ong is the author of Mindsets and Core Purpose. He now devotes his time to helping others develop new ideas and projects for the future. He is also a business coach and keynote speaker, with multiple IBM Bravo and Performance awards. He was met by Prince Charles to discuss his entrepreneurial efforts in Malaysia. Richard has been featured on BFM and Sunway. Visit roptcreate.com to learn more and to connect with him.

Experiencing Urban Freedom

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America is the land of the free, as they say, where man's freedom is upheld to the highest levels for the rest of the world to follow.

I came across a book recently, entitled 'Man's Search for Meaning', and decided to consume it slowly with my heart. It touches on the author's experience at the Auschwitz concentration camp where he had experienced the worst of humanity's cruel intentions. He further explains in his book about man's ultimate freedom is to choose his outcome that is free from the influence of his environment, especially the one he was facing at the time.

What about man's other freedom in today's modernity? A time far from the trappings and morbid time of World War 2. What is our last freedom, when faced with depression, economic crisis, the loss of a job? Can we reference what Victor E. Frankl mentioned in his book about man's last freedom?

Far and wide, the answer is obviously 'yes' but the choice is yours to make, and I think there are a few areas that one has to consider to live a life of freedom in the modern world. Let’s break it down.

One of which is to obtain financial freedom first - free from being trapped in a job. Being financially strapped down means that you are not able to leave your job, which inadvertently means that you will do anything to keep that job, even if the job sucks. When you are financially free, you can start exploring options like taking a sabbatical.

Having the freedom to take a break from work to explore life has many upsides - like growth, re-aligning one's self with nature, explore the blessed opportunities in life and to find personal direction from within. Something that I find hard to do when I am always working.

The second practice to live a life of freedom is to manage time effectively. A man without time management will find even the longest days too short to live. He is not able to do what he aspires and therefore finds it dis-heartening to move on. We all have the opportunity to create more time in the day through the art of time management.

Last act to freedom in an urban setting is about simplifying one's life to its essentials, trimming the dead edges around you so you can live an optimal and productive life without the high cost of living. Remember, the high price of living means you will have to work hard to maintain it continually, that means find a job.

To conclude, today's man has far less time for himself and taking breaks from work to grow is becoming a novelty for most; or at least what is perceived in society these days. Taking breaks from work allows one to explore himself and life itself, nurturing his character from within; but being free can only be achieved when you are financially free through simple living while having reasonable control over time to make your days worthwhile.

Emotional Robots

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Is it possible to create machines that act as personal companions for lonely people? Most of the huge tech giants that we know today like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are already making voice assistance services to help us with our queries and day to day activities. Unfortunately, they are only good at one thing - assisting.

That is all great but aren't we looking for something more humane? Think of a machine that is designed to deeply understand how another human being feels emotionally, like how a best friend would try to understand the other.

So instead of providing a suggestion, that is sometimes wrong, why not have the machine listen and empathise with its user. As to how Stephen Covey puts it in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.

Design Language

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Good design was what drove Dieter Rams forward in the 20th century, from the materials he used to dress the machines he was designing for; to the user interfaces that delighted his users. No design opportunities were spared - from the little details of the product to the emotional experience of the packaging.

For design-driven companies to communicate a clear story, message or experience to the user, it must have control over every user's touch point, from the time they step into the store to the usage of the product. Modern industrial design is used today to achieve a clear presentation of product functionality and engaging experiences that will eventually intensify the user's appreciation for their products.

Insanely Great Design

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I have always been fascinated with Apple products and their ability to create delightful experiences for the user. The book that I am reading right now is entitled Keep it Simple by Hartmut Esslinger, a German-American designer who to my surprise was responsible for helping Apple re-imagine how its products would look like in the future. What drove all of this was a design language called Snow White.

Hartmut Esslinger was not even an Apple employee back in 1982 when he first met Steve. He was already running his design firm called Frog Design and was well on his way to design products for Sony and Louis Vuitton. But Steve wanted to drive design first at Apple, and that was a rare opportunity for Esslinger to experience even in his industry.

While reading his book, I was blown away to find out that his design influences on Steve's thinking and Apple's products have stood the test of time until today. Even back in 1982, they were already thinking about how the Mac Book and iPad would look and feel, even to the extent of building prototypes for those products. Designing is not easy. Great designers design for the future in mind so that the company's DNA, culture and vision can be conveyed over many decades.