Adrian Goh is enjoying discovering the unknown in the sake industry.
What’s your story?
I got into sake distribution by chance and leap into it without knowing much about the product or the industry. On hindsight, it was a steep learning curve. On requests from customers to conduct workshops about the product, I started learning more about sake through interactions with brewers and taking courses both in Singapore and in Japan. I was even a judge at the London Sake Challenge 2015. I am currently learning Japanese to further my knowledge of the industry.
What excites you most about your industry?
What I like about the sake industry is that it is one with a 2,000 year history, but is still relatively unknown. As young and enthusiastic brewers take over, we see a kind of renaissance. As such, I get to deal with a lot of interest and passion from both the supplier side, my peers and also my customers.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore and as I deal exclusively with Japanese products, I travel extensively through many parts of Japan. I usually spend about one month a year in Japan and have covered 21 out of 47 prefectures. I have also lived a year in Beijing and really loved the energy there.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I would still have to say Singapore, with Japan a close second. Our laws and regulations are reasonably transparent. We have a very task orientated culture and are straight to the point. Working with Japanese is also great, as they are dedicated to their work and have great attention to detail.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Stay humble, work hard, don’t be evil.
Who inspires you?
I really like Jack Ma and his approach to business. He said that financial people don’t make good business leaders as they are too focussed on dollars and cents. Good business is based on good company values that lead to benefits for the customers and the greater society.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I had the pleasure of visiting the Alibaba headquarters in Hangzhou and attending a course by their Taobao University. I was amazed by their scale, and how their business model benefits not only the big corporations, but also the little mom and pop shops.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have started what I’m doing now at a younger age.
How do you unwind?
I love to take impromptu holidays and get lost in a foreign country.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Malaysia is truly underrated. As a Singaporean, I can drive up the eastern coast, with great food and quiet unspoiled beaches. I visited the gorgeous Lake Kenyir, watched sea turtles lay eggs on the beach and trekked up amazing waterfalls.
Everyone in business should read this book:
How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. I first read it when I was around 12, and was amazed 10 to 20 years later how it got even more relevant. Relationships are the most fundamental thing to business, even more so in Asia.
Shameless plug for your business:
Inter Rice Asia brings the best sake from Japan to Southeast Asia and we are committed to sharing how to appreciate the taste and unique culture of this amazing drink.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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