In 2017, after working for a creative agency for 6 years and feeling things were lacking with the traditional agency model, Lionel Lee started his own branding agency, Playmakers.
What’s your story?
Having graduated from law school in 2011, I knew that my heart lay in writing. I was quickly slapped with a dose of reality when my applications to be a journalist, copywriter, and a contributor were rejected swiftly. The silver lining though was that I received an offer from one of the creative agencies who needed an account management intern urgently, and I took it up. I was severely underpaid (and overworked), but that taught me the ropes to the advertising industry. After working for the big man for 6 years, I took the plunge to start my own agency, simply because I felt that many things were lacking with the traditional agency model.
What excites you most about your industry?
That I am constantly seeking ways to get into people’s heart and minds – to convince, dissuade, or challenge them in their consideration process(es).
What’s your connection to Asia?
If you consider Asia Pacific, I was born, raised, educated, and have worked in Asia all my life.
Favorite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. It’s full of opportunities if you look hard and are dogged enough.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Be clear, then be clever.”
Who inspires you?
My parents, who built their company with nothing to start with – and with only each other to count on.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have spent less time minding less about fulfilling the expectations of others and paced myself better in the first 5 years of my career as an ad man. I might not have had to dig myself out of multiple burnouts.
How do you unwind?
I always allocate 10 minutes each day to meditate or engage in some form of breathing exercise; as well as 30 minutes for a HIIT workout: the fast-paced routine makes it hard for me to focus on anything else.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Again, if you count Australia, it has to be Melbourne city. It has the exact balance of agelessness and modernity – the people, the architecture, and the cultural core that underscores the food, music, and performing arts scenes there is simply one-of-a-kind.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Applied Empathy” by Michael Ventura. I just finished it and I think it’s missing in a large proportion of business owners here in Singapore.
Shameless plug for your business:
Playmakers is a digital branding agency that I started with my business partner in 2017. Put it this way: look out there and you’ll see the everyday man on the street. And he isn’t just walking by.
A restaurant, a gift or even a service – at any one point your business could be exactly what he is searching for. He just needs to know that you exist so that he comes through your doors instead of others.
Brand recall, brand affinity, brand loyalty. Many names for that one lightbulb moment where your business immediately pops into his head in his time of need.
Call it what you like but let us help you get there. It may take hard work but it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Get a better understanding of who you are talking to and what your business is. And when we build a bridge between the two – you’ll see that you’ve caught the attention of the everyday man on the street.
That’s what we do.
How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected] or
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ 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 of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.
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Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com