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What’s your story?
The story began when I took off as a 20 year old on a journey to China with the naïve idea of learning Chinese in couple of months. What I found was completely different from my expectations yet what I experienced impacted my lifestyle and values. Today when I look back, I see that many of the decisions I made then were completely random but actually make sense now. For example I adapted a Chinese name which meaning I did not fully understand at the time, yet today its meaning describes my character and values very well. 易宇航 easy astronaut – a way to live easily in any place. Later, I willed my way to fluency in Mandarin and Cantonese.
Since then I have worked in entertainment for the German Consulate as I have always been keen on bringing cultures together in a non-conventional way. Many people asked me how I learned Chinese so well and so I decided that there is something for me to do to help people learn Chinese.
Since then I have been running LiveitChina.com a platform to learn Chinese. We are now putting out a new and global concept to find your ideal language partner through an easy to use mobile app.
What excites you most about your industry?
There are unlimited possibilities in technology to make people more effective in learning languages and finding ideal language partners. Big Data can give insights on how to improve algorithm and get people together. Interaction needs always to be between real people however I believed there is something we can do about how technology helps us to transfer knowledge between people.
Finding a language partner is a key ingredient to keep your motivation high and receive immediate feedback and encouragement from a friend or peer. Talking to someone is the most natural thing we do every day and for that reason we believe it is essential for learning any second language.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I have lived in Asia now for over 7 years. I am a permanent resident in Hong Kong. I see how people live in China or Hong Kong interested in learning the local language but just don’t get the right opportunity to achieve it. Learning Mandarin or Cantonese has given me a source of connection and identity here in Asia.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is the ideal base from which to grow our business because it is very close to the Pearl River Delta. Many westerners work and study here. The city also has an excellent infrastructure, abundant resources, and a growing start-up community to provide support. I also believe the way Hong Kong works in terms of citizenship and people treating each other is a way for truly cosmopolitan places.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Take any advise as an opinion only and trust your own gut. Be open to change in your mind and after all play life is on the court and not in the stance of an audience.
Who inspires you?
Richard Branson for his approach to ‘just do it’ in business
Artist and entrepreneurs like Daniel Wu, who live life with passion and see and thinks through the perspective of art. Everybody should feel like an artist working on a big piece.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I am always learning how our system is built on belief. Some people believe so much in that something “is” the way it is. Others can bend the rules to suit themselves. The accountant audits the account the lawyer interprets the way it fits the client.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
There is maybe many ways in which I would have wasted less time or got in with the right people. After all I would have worried less and maybe just became an artist making art in reflection of future events.
How do you unwind?
I like to work hard and play hard. I practice Muay Thai as being in a ring just gives me concentration on just this matter. I also like to push myself with taking roles in films that have many Chinese words, as it is key to stay out of the comfort zone. This gives me balance.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I set up offices in the Philippines before. It really is a complicated place in this aspect however there is no better place to just sit on a motorbike ride along and dream of the landscape. Also the people are truly loving and open. An amazing place.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki, Sharon L. Lechter
The Prince : Book by Niccolò Machiavelli
Shameless plug for your business:
fylp.com – find your language partner, is a free social app for language learners, to find a real language partner. We help users to make the right choice; based on our suggestions they can find ideal language partners in order to practice language with high motivation.
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.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>