Bill Lewis is a determined entrepreneur who is impressed by others creating new and interesting businesses. Lewis is in the tech industry and sees great potential in technology, if managed properly.
What’s your story?
British. Countryside boy from poor but honest family (“rags to riches”) to global citizen, corporate director and entrepreneur. Progressed through life driven by sheer determination and bloody mindedness. Always believed in “big hairy goals” as a means to step change your life. Succeeded academically at two top institutions, Lancaster University and Harvard Business School. Led large complex businesses in the airline space, and ran the course as an entrepreneur – making mistakes along the way, but emerging successfully. Believes in giving back and is presently founding an online entrepreneur’s mentoring program. Extremely well travelled (50 countries) and have a passion for sailing.
What excites you most about your industry?
Technology – change and potential can create a positive impact on people’s lives. But I am also concerned about the “left behinds,” the unconnected. I am concerned about the potential for unseen control and manipulation. One of the greatest challenges is for technologists to create a moral dimension to the innovations that are pouring out of labs.
Entrepreneurship – I am constantly amazed at young entrepreneurs and their ability and willingness to step out and create something new, fresh, and what people want and need.
The on line world – so much is at your fingertips.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I first came to Asia in 1986 to negotiate a deal with the Chinese government. I was in and out of Asia from that time through 2002, when I moved permanently to Singapore, initially to head the Asia operations of a UK based technology company but by 2004 I had moved on and set up my own consulting practice. Less than a decade later (2012) I co founded a tech company and we took some big bets on an emerging technology – which is paying off handsomely today. I now commute between Singapore and Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand, and wherever my clients take me.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore – location, regulation, reputation, talent
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Never believe that anything is impossible
Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from so many people that it is difficult to name one person.
My grandfather – self-taught and a leader of men
As a boy I was brought up on stories of real men, real heroes – not celebrities and virtual characters. These were men who survived and prevailed against the odds. And they had a tangible code – of fairness, of honesty and of achievement.
My first real boss was an enabler and he encouraged everyone to think and act outside the box.
Fast forward – Howard Phelps, Operations Director of British Airways – calm under pressure, phenomenally supportive.
Vince Lombardi – brought a dead beat football team to national champions.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I wrote a blog about the power of questions. A young lady found that blog and took the advice and is building herself a new business because it helped her formulate a business plan and a successful start up.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Not very much. I think I would have been more careful with my choice of business partners. I would have been more rigorous in holding them to account. I would have been more risk averse with some investments.
How do you unwind?
Walk in the hills when in Chiang Mai, mess about on boats and sail when in Singapore. Cycle. Swim – a great way to space out from the day. Cook.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Does New Zealand count? If so, it is South Island.
Everyone in business should read this book:
I will cheat here and give you three. Napoleon HIll, Think and Grow Rich; VINCE – A personal Biography of Vince Lombardi. Jonathan Living Seagull
Shameless plug for your business:
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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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