Ivan, Benny, Germaine, & Shawn are Transforming Lives with Financial Education
What’s your story?
We are the founding team of I Quadrant, a financial education company that is looking to transform how people learn and grow – creating a life where they are in full control.
Over the last two years, we have grown to be each other’s best friends. Our contributions to the team lie in our different strengths – Ivan in Research, Benny in Strategy, Shawn in Numbers and Germaine in Marketing. Even with such different strengths and from different walks of life, we ensure that we are always on the same page, because we regularly meet to share new information with one another.
What excites you most about your industry?
Ivan: The depth and vastness of the real estate industry. Real estate investment is different in different countries due to the cultures and individual government regulations.
Benny: Closing up the knowledge gap in real estate. Not everyone has access to this because they think it is unreachable and only elites invest. This is true fulfilment for me because I know this can benefit them and their families for generations to come.
Germaine: Creating possibilities for all walks of life! We’ve educated single mothers, young adults, retirees – there is a path for everyone. I am amazed by the effect of helping people grow their property portfolio. It makes me feel that my work is meaningful and impactful.
Shawn: Being able to make deals in the real estate industry. We are the biggest education company but in the real estate industry we are still small. The prospects are very exciting.
What’s your connection to Asia?
All: We are all born and bred in Singapore! Growing up in this ever-changing landscape with an Asian culture has moulded all of us to function at a very fast and steady pace. We can say that the Quadrant is quite the mirror of Singapore’s economy!
B: And with our conservative and “Asian” upbringing, I am a strong believer of honour (like the olden day practice of brotherhood). We enforce this in our company, to ensure that we deliver what we promise.
I: I am also a part of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global organisation that connects me to various parts of Asia, with like-minded business owners.
S: My family and friends are here. I want to build a business that is rooted at home and bears fruit that they can enjoy with me.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
G: Singapore! I appreciate our safe, metropolitan city. We may be small but our government does a great job of ensuring that our economy isn’t – look at how far we have come in 50 years.
S: Same – Singapore. Solely because it has a very diversified culture – and people can dive into many different types of businesses. For example, you can open a Food & Beverage business, doing any cuisine, and you will be accepted because we are taught to live harmoniously.
B: Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. I’ve worked with many big brands and companies in Malaysia and I love working with the Malaysians because of their drive and strong desire to excel. Their “Kampong Spirit” makes them open, and they genuinely share with no reservations.
I: For me, it is also Malaysia! Having gotten to know a few of Malaysian entrepreneurs, I would say they are a determined and friendly bunch.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I: For things to change, first I must change.
S: Happy wife, happy life!
G: From Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church: “See people as what they could be, not as they are. Train yourself to see the being through eyes of faith.”
The more you root for the other person, you start a process of developing them, as you say what you see, and tell them what they could be. I’ve seen how people shape and change for the better when they have someone believing in them. Sometimes, we just need another cheerleader in life to cheer us on!
B: “Power of being dependable,” quoting Bill Allen. I now live by this advice because the success of my businesses is built on a team that is dependable, products and services that deliver in accordance to the company’s promise as well as being a dependable leader.
Who inspires you?
I: Charlie Munger. I love his wisdom on investments and his wise principles. I respect him because of his hunger for learning, too.
B: Jay Abraham. He taught me the power of leverage, the art of being resourceful and starting effective joint ventures. One more – Marshall Thurber taught me the art of relationships and interacting with people.
S: My father. I grew up listening to his stories of successes and failures in business. It really inspired me when he never gave up on failures. That groomed me to have this never-say die attitude.
G: No one inspires me more than my mum. A single mother, she raised me and my brother while hustling. With no sales background, she became a car salesman and managed to buy a condominium, a car and enjoy early retirement. She taught me to work hard, do my best and God would do the rest.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
B: What got you here is what’s stopping you from getting to where you want to be. For instance, if something is not working well for you, you probably missed out on exploring other methods that could take you further.
G: Success comes from finding out what works after failing multiple times. There is never a “best” plan. We need to exercise flexibility and be quick to change our strategies.
I: It’s okay to be independent but it is no reason to be alone. Investing and entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. It is always better to find a community of like-minded individuals and thrive together.
S: We attended a course on scaling up and it changed my perspective on planning! A plan helps the company move in the right direction – whether or not you put every step into action, just have a plan. For example, consider creating a 5 and 10 year plan.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
All: Start investing earlier!
S: I have always reinvested whatever I earned into the same business; always in the same basket. If I had diversified earlier, one mistake wouldn’t have resulted in such a huge setback, after losing my entire business in 2016.
B: Honestly, there is nothing I would do differently because every mistake was a lesson learnt that brought me to where I am now. I believe everything happens for a reason. We just need to focus on moving forward and give our best at all times. Instead of doing something different, I would say that I do wish my younger self had the wisdom of allowing success to grow, instead of rushing to be successful. This wisdom would have freed me from unnecessary stress, so I could enjoy the process more.
How do you unwind?
B: Having meaningful conversations and personal time with my family. Watching Netflix, too!
I: A good cup of coffee and a good book!
S: Playing Poker!
G: A good facial, foot scrub and manicure. We all need some pampering me-time!
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
S: Genting, because of the pure entertainment and it’s cool. My down time is always related to fun!
B: Bali. I find Bali a really peaceful place for me to reflect and think about my next move in life and business. Most importantly, it is the place where I asked my wife to be my girlfriend and also where I proposed to her!
I: Definitely Da Nang, Vietnam. The beaches are beautiful and the people are super friendly and hospitable.
G: Taipei! With all the delicious food, good shopping and lovely people!
Everyone in business should read this book:
G: “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” by Robert Cialdini. It is one of the best books on marketing!
B: “Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that will Shape our Future,“ by Kevin Kelly.
I: “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. Business is always about a team and working well in a team means communication.
S: Fun fact – I don’t really read books.
Shameless plug for your business:
B: We are I Quadrant. We educate and teach people how to own multiple properties regardless of their background or situation. We have helped many build their wealth portfolio through property investment. If you are in Singapore, do check us out at www.theiquadrant.com.
I: If you want to grow your property portfolio, you must attend I Quadrant’s flagship programme. It will definitely save you from making costly mistakes!
G: Accelerate your learning with I Quadrant! We are not just a three-day course but a life-long community that grows with you. We are here to help pre-, during and post-course! #BetterTogether
S: We are the best in property investment education!
How can people connect with you?
B: I will be launching my YouTube channel soon to share business strategies that I’ve learnt and refined over the years. They have helped me build my businesses and I believe the information can help and inspire more young people on this exciting entrepreneurial journey. For now, follow my Facebook page – The Benny Ong.
I: I am actually very open to connecting with people to see how I can be of guidance. I can be reached by email at [email protected]. Write to me!
S: Come to our programme and look for me – because I am very serious about helping people and I want to make a direct connection.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews
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’.