What’s your story?
What is experience in tertiary education + entrepreneurship + corporate management? This is where my story begins.
Not every successful businessman knows how to pass on knowledge. I do. I had taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for over 10 years. I can resonate with the ups and downs of entrepreneurs as I had been one before. I founded an advertising agency in Hong Kong and ran it for 10 years until the financial crisis hit us. After working for a Fortune 100 company looking after the Asia Pacific region, I can guide business owners on how to leverage corporate management systems and processes. With this transformation, they are more realistic and in better control on setting directions to achieve sustainable growth.
Start-ups, social enterprises and SMEs are increasing in numbers. The business owners have passion and drive to make a difference in the world. Yet they need help on managing and expanding a business. I have seen too many stressed and burnt-out faces.
This is where I step in to help. I am a business coach for entrepreneurs, helping them to:
• Quantity thoughts with facts and data. (“Thanks Ricky. I am clear on what I should do next” is a common compliment.)
• Disrupt pre-conceptions. Expand options. (“I have not thought about that before, thank you” is another remark I often hear.)
• Arrive at a strategic decision and a realistic action plan, on-and off-line.
Through my business coaching experience, I have seen and worked with entrepreneurs to pursue beyond the million-dollar milestone.
What excites you most about your industry?
Continuous growth. In business coaching, we grow with our clients every time we meet. New issues, new challenges, new obstacles … leading to new insights, new perspectives and new approaches to solutions. The issues may be similar in nature, however, no two conversations and solutions are the same, since we are dealing with different business owners, who exhibit unique personalities and pursue distinctive metrics of achievements.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Hong Kong, where I got my teaching and entrepreneurial experiences. Now living in Singapore where I got my corporate management experience and practicing my coaching business. During my corporate life, I had traveled to 13 Asia Pacific countries, with a focus on ASEAN.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I have two in mind, actually. Hong Kong, for its creativity. Singapore, for its structured approach.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Control what you can control. The devil is in the details.
Who inspires you?
My clients. During every meeting you get new inspirations, challenging you to think wide and deep to come up with creative solutions. Whenever clients mention a name, a book, an article or a news item, I shall look them up and learn. Not only am I closer to my clients on reading what they read; this continuous exposure to collective wisdom also inspires me from all angles.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pricing strategy. A mechanic looked at the engine of the car; switched a knob; problem fixed. He charged $100. The customer said, “What you did was switching a knob, in less than a minute. Why $100?” The mechanic replied, “Switching the knob costs you $5; knowing which knob to switch and saving you time $95.”
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Listen to both music and lyrics. Feel the rain, not just getting wet.
How do you unwind?
It may sound silly, watching TV. I also play table tennis every Saturday and chit chat with the team after the game. Good exercise for body and mind. Physical and social.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I prefer Iceland which is not in Asia. I like the snow and the tranquility. Sitting inside a bookstore, enjoying a cup of coffee, watching people reading leisurely, seeing pedestrians walk past the window. Nobody bothers you. You can write, think, stay online and chat, listen to your music, or just indulge in day dreaming. Best of all, the coffee shops are cozy with a personal touch and have their own unique designs and decors, unlike the standard interiors of the international coffee chains. You feel you are with yourself in those settings. Not to compete with, and be disturbed by, people talking loudly in a crowded noisy space.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Two books — The McKinsey Way by Ethan Rasiel and The McKinsey Edge by Shu Hattorii. The books were written 17 years apart, on the same subject McKinsey. Notice the evolvement of language, from “way” to “edge”. Interesting read.
Shameless plug for your business:
Three of the entrepreneurs featured on Asian Entrepreneur magazine are my clients. They are Xania Wong, Betty Ashman and Zhen Hoe Yong. Please check out who they are. You will see the wide variety of people I am coaching over a wide range of businesses.
I focus on entrepreneurs. They need an adviser to help them clarify their thoughts and directions. A challenger to free them from unconscious bias to make the right business decisions. And a listener to render support, understanding and feedback along their entrepreneurial journey.
When an entrepreneur is clear about the business direction, leverages facts and data for making business decisions with less bias and assumptions, and has an adviser, a challenger and a listener to accompany him/her to tread on the entrepreneurial journey, the chance to succeed will be much higher.
A few testimonials to share.
“You inspire me to do more … you always ask powerful questions and facilitate my thinking process …you dissect problems, provide innovative and constructive suggestions … if someone calls me and wants a creative person to brainstorm for new ideas, I definitely will recommend you.”
A shameless pitch to the entrepreneurs who are reading this: Talk to me. I am based in Singapore. With today’s technology, it does not matter where you are based.
How can people connect with you?
Through email: [email protected]
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/>
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Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com