What’s your story?
My dad was paralyzed in a car accident when I was 12 years old. He lives well with his disability, but most people assume that’s not possible. There are incredible resources available to support families, but there’s no easy way to find them. AbleThrive.com is a one-stop platform featuring articles, videos, products and services to help families live well with a disability. We reached over 60,000 people around the world in our first year and we’re building a new site to grow and scale. Our goal is to be the go-to resource for families facing disability to thrive.

What excites you most about your industry?
Social enterprise is up and coming, demonstrating that it’s possible to positively impact society and also have a successful business. More and more entrepreneurs are looking at issues in society and finding ways to fix them, challenging traditional notions of business while also having a tremendously positive impact.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I first came to Asia in 2005 to learn Chinese in Beijing. On another trip to China, spending time with people with disabilities inspired my work today when I saw that people with disabilities faced similar challenges worldwide. I was also a Chinese teacher in the United States for 3 years before moving to Singapore in 2013. I incorporated AbleThrive while living in Singapore and in addition to our work online, our local team that shares stories and hosts events to bring the community together offline. Asia, its culture and people have had such a tremendous impact on my life.

img_9989 ablethrive2

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is the best hub for business in Asia. It has all the resources and networks you need to be successful, while being the perfect point of access to all other places in Asia.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Be true to yourself.” I am on the path that’s right for me. Having confidence in my passion, purpose and my direction helps me withstand any challenges or criticism I face.

Who inspires you?
My dad. Being so young when he was injured, I followed his lead and learned by example. After his accident, he had to relearn to do even the most simple tasks. He now lives completely independently, drives himself to work everyday and is a great husband, father and friend. He takes every challenge he faces in stride and is the epitome of resilience. I learned from him to make the most of every situation, and always look for a silver lining. These lessons have been invaluable to me as a social entrepreneur.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I recently read an article about the birth of the Paralympics. It started from a doctor who believed his patients who had acquired disabilities during WWII still had value. This quote stuck with me “…he treated them like people, listening to them in hopes of discovering ways to convince the others that they had a place within society, too, rather than beside it.” He introduced them to sports and it changed their lives. That same mentality is the foundation of AbleThrive. People with disabilities are humans with unique potential, and everyone deserves a chance to thrive. (here’s the article for reference: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/paralympics-origin-story_us_57d01cbce4b0a48094a6b119

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
There’s nothing I’d like to do differently because every single decision I’ve made, for better or worse, is part of what’s made me who I am today. Every mistake is an opportunity, so rather than dwell on changing what I can’t change, I choose to learn from it, grow from it and be better the next time.

How do you unwind?
I unplug when I need to unwind and get outdoors, preferably with someone I love who reminds me of the important things in life outside of work. I also enjoy watching some TV series or reading a book.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Port Barton on Palawan in the Philippines blew me away. Not only is it breathtakingly gorgeous, but the lack of cell service and computers makes for the perfect retreat. I loved every minute of it and dream of going back!

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Shameless plug for your business:
Are you committed to making your workplace more inclusive? Are you looking to cater to your customers with disabilities? Many people are uncomfortable around people with disabilities and underestimate their potential and value. Don’t overlook the more than 1 billion people in the world with disabilities or the more than 900 billion dollars of spending power they have. Inclusive companies are better businesses, so hire AbleThrive to teach you 4 simple steps to shift your perception of disability and maximize the benefits of inclusion.

How can people connect with you?
Feel free to email me at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
Personal at @BrittDejean and professional @AbleThrive

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnectsCallum 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.

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>

Connect with Callum here:
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

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