Kickstarting my journey to become a unicorn person 🦄 Joining The Knowledge Society

Liesl Anggijono
8 min readOct 11, 2020


Yes. You read that right.

Living as a teenager in Indonesia 🇮🇩 - everything seemed uniform. From the subjects we learnt at school, yes. we all learn the same set of subjects-the whole country’s curriculum 🤯) to the actual attires we wear to school. Nobody could stand out. The girl with the dyed hair was demanded by my school’s headmaster to dye it black and tie it in a ponytail to match the other girls in my school. Everyone learnt the same set of skills and knowledge and even when it comes to other interests, we couldn’t spend much time as our schools require us to spend most of our time doing academic subjects.

I didn’t like that. I would always complain to my parents, teacher of friends about this. I was investing my time on something I wasn’t passionate about. But then in 2019, hope arose. The founder of Indonesia’s first unicorn company — that eventually became a decacorn company, Nadiem Makarim was appointed by our president to become our minister of education. Imagine an education system built by unicorn people. I was ecstatic. But then I suddenly came into the realization that his curriculum changes would only be seen in the next decade 😔. I will be graduating high school in 2022. That meant I would need to pave my own path to becoming a person whose mindset is different from everyone else.

Taking initiative to explore.

Curiosity is the sole reactor of this. Asking questions; how is this or that possible ? Curiosity allows us to embrace unfamiliar circumstances( for me, it was the dilemma of the education system I MUST follow) , giving us greater opportunity to experience discovery and joy. Online courses and resources have been the only thing keeping me sane in this journey and process. With the increase of numerous online courses available online on literally ANY topic you can think of. Topics I couldn’t learn in school or even in my country taught by industry leaders and professors from all around the world. I myself have done courses from Harvard’s CS50🖥 to Google’s Digital Garage: Digital Marketing🛠. I went from knowing NOTHING about those topics at all to attempting to apply the skills I’ve learnt in these courses. An example is that me and my friend decided to open a small jewellery business based online. Using strategies I’ve learnt from the Digital Marketing course, I had an idea of the strategies I would need to implement to reach out to more customers.

Taking advantage of your resources

Whether it’s online MOOCs to connections! Last year, I joined a residential STEM camp in Boston, MA ; ten thousands of miles away from home. I learnt and took so much from that whole experience but that deserves another medium post itself 😅. But to relate to the story i’m telling today — building and maintaining connections. Me and my friends decided to create a group chat on instagram; we used that for A LOT of things there. From memes, helping each other debug our codes or sending cool interesting stuff! One of those was a registration link to an online webinar with people from Uber and AI.

WHAT?! As a teen who has never known or had relations and heard from people from these big names in the industry, my eyes glimmered🤩 .I’ve used Google and Uber so many times and it has impacted our lives so much but now I can finally hear from the people behind it?! I knew I had to join and there I was, sitting thousands of miles away from these amazing minds. Gathered with people from all around the world 🌎 waiting to hear and gain knowledge.

As much as I’d love to talk about their talk, there was an interesting segment that didn’t only catch my eye, but my heart. It was a short segment from Sigil Wen, talking about his journey as a teen in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence and how much we can do in a short amount of time IF we want to dedicate and give in our time and effort. I wanted to be like him. Doing cool things you’re passionate about and eventually getting results. How was this possible ? How did he get all these opportunities, what mindset and people was he surrounded by? In the 6 minute segment of his, he talked about the maximizing our intellectual horsepower by having a #FigureItOut mindset 🧠 — training ourselves to do difficult and interesting things. As I became more keen to know and learn, I attended more of the TKS Talks series with speakers from SpaceX, Tesla, Microsoft and the United Nations 💫! In these talks, there were more of these short segments of teens doing crazy things with emerging technologies. And that’s how I found out about The Knowledge Society aka TKS .

I quickly went into their website and sadly there wasn’t a program in my city(not surprised tho lol😔). Not long after, they announced they were opening a virtual program! I was truly happy that the barrier that I usually face when wanting to become part of a program- geographical barriers🌟 wasn’t a problem anymore. As a lot of these programs are from countries where education and innovation is truly strong and isn’t like my country- still a developing country. As much as I was excited, I was nervous. What If I don’t get in? Will people laugh when they look at my application?

I applied anyway with uncertainty in my mind. Nevertheless, the emails I received — advice and encouraging words from alumnus made me realized I needed to do this. It was for the best. There were interesting questions; where I needed to research topics a typical 15 year old wouldn’t think about. Luckily after that, I got into the interview stage. I prepared much for it, thinking about the questions one might ask in an interview. I looked up my interviewer and learnt about the things she has worked on- and was impressed🤩. It made me want to work harder to become part of a community of exceptionally outstanding people with unique skill sets, wanting to impact the world.

On interview day, my laptop webcam suddenly broke. I panicked, thinking this might be a tragic silly accident that might block the road for the mounts of opportunity I might receive in the future. I was interviewed — without my face being seen. Just my voice. My personality and passion needed to shine JUST through audio, without facial expressions and all else visual. I personally enjoyed the process, having a conversation and talking about deep and interesting topics. After the session was done, I had just finished the whole application process and all I could do was hope I would get accepted. Whatever the results, the application process was an interesting one. I learnt and looked into many things I wouldn’t ever think about searching up — AI & Quantum, Revolutionary Startups, etc. At this point I was just grateful for everything I had learnt from this process. I finished the application with no regrets.

Weeks went by and I got a notification on my TKS portal; it was decision day! I . Got . Accepted. It was a big deal for me. Doors would start to open for new opportunities. Before the program started, we were given some action items !

1. Stop wasting time Tracking how much time I spend on social media that wastes my time and create time for myself to spend on more valuable and productive things.

That meant setting time limits for unproductive apps and replacing those times to read more educational materials that will benefit me in the long run.

Being intentional on how I would spend the 24 hours in my day.

2. Knowing how to code 🛠 — Coding is the language of the future and is a key skills to excel in the emerging tech field. I myself am not unfamiliar with code, but I started to refresh my skills I’ve learnt in the past. That meant revisiting past projects, notes and modules.

3. Meeting each other 🤩 — My favourite part of this so far! TKS is a community of like-minded people who give support to each other to do great things . It’s not competitive, it’s collaborative. I’ve got to take advantage of the community and network I’ve been given. I personally reached out to people on the contact sheet, did some 1-on-1’s and took the initiative to host a mini pre-party zoom meeting with other virtual cohort members! We introduced ourselves — learnt about one another’s intentions and goals. Well to be honest, at first I was kind of intimidated and felt some kind of imposter syndrome learning about the past accomplishments but I changed my mindset — rather than being insecure and questioning myself, I try to push myself to reach the high standards that are set. Here, we’re not competing against each other. We’re competing with ourselves. You right now, and what you could be in the future. Me this week vs. me 2 weeks later. Have I had self improvement? Or not.

4. Broadening my knowledge📚 — Reading newsletters about emerging technologies has been a new habit I’ve been doing so far. Subscribing to MIT Technology Review and The Hustle has been feeding my brain with up-to-date knowledge. Other than that, listening to podcasts. A few of my favourites include Naval(pursuing wealth and happiness) and a16z(Technology,Innovation and Change) ! I totally recommend these two podcasts as you can listen to them when you’re brushing your teeth or stuck in traffic.

5. Getting in the mindset 🧠- I usually never dedicate the time to buy physical books and take the time to read them. But to get into the mindset, I read Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. That really set the mood for self-improvement.

So far, the beginning of my journey has been bright with unexpected expectations being met. Being in an AMAZING community that pushes us to become the best version of ourselves, learning about emerging technologies and building my T. It has been a crazy start to my journey and I can’t wait for new experiences that are yet to come.

Our first session ! 💫

🔑 takeaways : (just to keep it short and concise) JUST DO IT!

Signing off ….

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