Eric Helps Executives Advance Their Spoken and Written Communication Skills
What’s your story?
Our family migrated to New Zealand in 1979. I worked there in Banking for 15 years before returning home to HK in 1994. I’ve since run an Immigration Consultancy, worked in the music industry, property sales, and for an Australian University. About 12 years ago I “accidentally” found my true calling as a Training Consultant and Executive Coach.
I say accidentally, as I had just been made redundant and a good friend, who was training to be a Life Coach, offered to coach me for free. During one session I completed a Strengths Finder Questionnaire, which highlighted my key strengths and skills, but more importantly, what would keep me interested and motivated enough so that Monday mornings were a pleasure not a chore! The very next day I saw a job advertisement with a candidate description that almost exactly matched the strengths revealed in my questionnaire, while ticking the interest and motivation boxes, as well. The job was with Connect Communication Limited and I’ve been here ever since.
What excites you most about your industry?
I enjoy the variety of people and industries I encounter and the fact that every day brings something new! I love the opportunity of meeting and working with an interesting cross section of the business community, from “C” suite executives to summer interns, from the investment banking sector to NGO’s and charities. I find the challenge of walking into a room of senior and highly experienced professionals within their respective fields, people for whom time really is money, and finding ways to connect with them and deliver training that is fresh, interesting, relevant and adds value to their skill set, to be immensely satisfying. And on a personal note, working as an Executive Coach, knowing that you have really helped someone to achieve their dream, is both rewarding and humbling.
What is your connection to Asia?
I’ve got very strong roots in Asia. My Mum is Eurasian and her family came to HK from Shanghai in the 1930’s. Her father was English, though born in India, and he grew up in Burma and became a merchant seaman sailing the China Coast trade route. My Dad, on the other hand, is English and came to HK in the early 50’s.
I am HK born and raised, did all my schooling here, and grew up with friends who were of diverse heritage: Chinese, Eurasian, Macanese, Indian, Australian, British and more! As a baby, I had a Chinese amah so for the early years of my life Cantonese was my mother tongue. My partner has lived in HK for nearly 30 years as well, and most of my clients are from the Asia Pacific region.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is an obvious choice because of all the opportunities it offers, for its energy and dynamism, and for how efficiently everything works. It’s one of the world’s great business cities on a par with London and New York. As a result, it attracts both international business and international talent. It is also incredibly easy to get around, being compact and well served by a wide variety of public transport. It’s a major hub for international flights with the airport being an easy 22 minute train ride for the Central business district, and it’s my home town!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
An incredibly wise man once said to me, “Fake it till you make it.” Initially I recoiled from that advice, not fully understanding what he was saying. I was having a crisis of confidence in my abilities at that time and felt like a bit of an imposter doing what I was doing. He wanted me to realize that although I did not think I knew what I was doing, the reality was that I was already doing it successfully. I just needed to believe in my own abilities because the outside world already did. Furthermore, they trusted me and I just needed to extend that trust to myself.
Who inspires you?
At the risk of sounding corny, my partner! She’s an amazing artist and I admire her energy. She’s always thinking up new ideas, looking for interesting new angles, and has an actively enquiring mind. She stepped away from the teaching profession and reimagined herself going in a whole new direction, then successfully set up her own business. She’s a great connector and inspires so many people who come into contact with her, both professionally and personally.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I always knew that HK people were hard workers and resilient, but I have been amazed by their pragmatism and their good-natured response to the trials and tribulations caused by the Covid 19 epidemic. Despite everything, they have tried to maintain a semblance of normality, with a dash of creativity thrown in, as they go about their daily business. I admire how they care enough about their fellow citizens that they are willing to put aside their own comfort to wear face masks so conscientiously!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
My father died relatively young, in his early 50’s, at a time when we had just started to get to know each other better as adults. So I wish that when I was younger I had spent more time with him and learnt more about his early life, his hopes and dreams, and got to know him as a person and not just as my Dad.
How do you unwind?
I love the sea and everything related, so swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and in particular, fishing. The experience of a dawn at sea where there is nothing but the rising sun, the ocean, and the horizon as far as the eye can see is primal, magical, and spiritual!
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand is always near the top of the list. It is easy to get to, has great food, is relatively inexpensive and the beaches are tremendous. For Christmas, we spent a lovely week on Koh Ngai Island which is situated in a National Park. The pace of life was relaxing, the food was wonderful, and it really felt like we were getting away from it all. Another plus was snorkeling off the beach with great corals and marine life.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Strengths Finder 2.0,” by Tom Rath. One of the fundamental questions this book asks is “Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” And for most people, chances are the answer is no. The book highlights the fact that all too often people’s natural talents go untapped and that most people devote more time to fixing their shortcomings than to developing their strengths. This book and its accompanying website and questionnaire will change the way you look at yourself, and the world around you. 12 years ago, it changed my life forever!
Shameless plug for your business:
I’m proud to be a Partner at Connect Communication Ltd. Established in 2002, we develop talent by combining an award winning training approach with the specific objectives of individuals and corporations.
Our consultants are seasoned professionals with backgrounds in banking, journalism, the military, education, FMCG, and the law. We train in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, German, Polish and French!
Our clients are diverse, from the finance sector to law firms; from I.T. to hospitality, construction to media and advertising; education, government departments and NGOs to Tech start-up’s. 50% of the top 12 banks globally and all of the top 5 law firms regularly use Connect’s services.
How can people connect with you?
Connect Communication Limited
15/F Jade Centre, 98 Wellington Street
Central Hong Kong
Social Media Links?
To hear how entrepreneurs around the world overcome their challenges, search your favourite podcast platform for ‘CallumConnects‘ to hear a 5-minute daily breakdown.
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built, and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.