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Brian Lee, Founder of Be The Voice Academy

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Brian Lee is the founder of Be The Voice Academy and is helping people become great communicators.

What’s your story?
I was born into a family of communicators. My father was a broadcaster. He was one of the pioneers of radio and read Singapore’s first TV news as well as Singapore’s ‘Proclamation of Independence’ in 1965. Because of this, I was always in the company of broadcasters and speaking well became second nature.
While it was a blessing, it was also a problem as I was painfully aware of how badly many people spoke and that bothered me. So I decided, instead of being annoyed, why not teach people the art of speaking well and help them become great communicators.
To know more about me and what I do, please do visit my website at: www.bethevoice.com.sg or like our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/BeTheVoicePteLtd

What excites you most about your industry?
Knowing the fact that I help people every single day. I help them in ways they never thought possible. Many clients have told me that when they started their classes, they never expected that they could improve so quickly. The most important feedback I always receive is that my voice coaching has helped them become confident, not only in public speaking, but also at work and socially as well.
Being voice trained at the celebrated London School of English has helped me, help my clients achieve better communication skills.

What’s your connection to Asia?
My connection to Asia is Singapore. It’s the most central and business friendly. Of course, I have plans to spread the great formula that I have to other countries as well. I’m currently exploring training opportunities in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Be the voice magic-2221 BTV logo new-02 DSC_3874

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favourite city for business is Singapore. While people in Singapore are really intelligent, I feel that there is something missing – a lack of vocal communication and speaking skills. Business owners need to realise that the quickest and easiest way to upscale their businesses, is to provide training not only to themselves, but also to their employees, so that they can learn to speak well and with confidence. This will give customers a positive experience in more ways than one can imagine. It’s my dream to help people in Singapore speak better English, one person at a time.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My ex-boss and now close friend once told me, “everything in life is arrangeable and negotiable.” Since starting my business, this is the motto I live by. However, there are always limits to how much can be arranged or negotiated. Never be too rigid but also, never be too flexible.

Who inspires you?
Steven Lee! It was always my dream to follow in my late father’s footsteps. He had a deep, silky voice and combined with his fluency and wit, he was the great communicator and public speaker that people still talk about. Ironically, I never knew that he was such a great public speaker until the day I attended his retirement party.
In the tradition of broadcasters, everyone stood up and spoke about his idiosyncrasies. He sat quietly and listened. Once everyone finished, he held court, addressed every comment (off the cuff) and kept everyone in fits of laughter for over 45 minutes. I’ll never forget that day.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
“The single biggest problem in communication, is the illusion, that it has taken place,” said by George Bernard Shaw. Well it’s not really recent but it’s certainly a statement that resonates with me every day.

We often say something and think that that’s the message we’ve communicated. However, people hear things differently from what most of us perceive. This can lead to miscommunication.  I guess it’s not what we say, it’s how we say our words that really matter.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Being a news presenter now, I would probably have pursued my dream of becoming a broadcaster earlier on in my life. But becoming a broadcaster in the 80s wasn’t seen as a career choice, so I chose to join the Air Force where I worked for 27 years.
Before joining the Air Force, I worked part time with a wizard of showbiz, the late Victor Khoo, learning the tricks of becoming a great emcee. Of course the Air Force knew of my family background as well as my experience as an emcee, so part of my secondary duties were to host events for the RSAF.
The turning point started in 2008 when I was hand-picked to be the commentator for the RSAF aerobatics team, The Black Knights. I ran the commentary as ‘Black Knight 7’ during the inaugural Singapore Airshow as well as for the National Day Parade that year.
Looking back, pursuing my dream earlier might have made me more successful earlier, but it wouldn’t have given me all the fantastic experiences I’ve had, all the great friends I’ve made and most importantly, the family I have.
So I guess the short answer is, there’s nothing I would change.

How do you unwind?
I spin my LPs. I enjoy the crackling of my records. It just gives me that nostalgic feeling and brings me back to a time when I used to spin records as a DJ.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Perth! Not only was it the destination of my first ever solo aeroplane ride at age 12, but it has the best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten. It’s not too far away and the people are just so relaxed and friendly. I have a secret wish to retire there one day. But for now, it’s my go to place for a fully relaxed holiday.

Everyone in business should read this book:
‘Your Voice – the powerful tool for effective communication.’ I’m still writing it.

Shameless plug for your business:
We coach clients on how to hone their presentation skills, by providing voice training so that they can use their voice as a vehicle to convey thoughts, ideas and feelings, more powerfully.

We are an award winning centre that provides clients with presentation skills and voice training, using the voice to convey thoughts, ideas and feelings more powerfully and with confidence. We believe that speaking well is an art that can be learned and we specialise in teaching our clients the various aspects of being a good speaker of English.

All courses are fully customised according to the needs of every group or individual.

How can people connect with you?
Drop by Be The Voice Academy at 460, Alexandra Road, #02-17, ARC (Alexandra Retail Centre), Singaproe 119963, e-mail [email protected], or call me at: 6878 0100.

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/bethevoiceltd
https://www.facebook.com/BeTheVoicePteLtd
https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-lee

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnectsCallum 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/>

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

Callum Connects

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

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’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder & CEO of Flenco & Deal’n

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Nadia Al Sheikh has created a business module which incorporates philanthropy and business to empower others, and herself, she’s called her business Deal’n.

What’s your story?
My story is mirrored in my work. Flenco and our Singaporean eco skin care brand, “Flen” combines Dead Sea minerals from the lowest point of earth with Chinese medicine, which represents the wisdom and mystics of the east and these things represent my journey. I’m a single mother rediscovering my identity at a low point in life. Throughout my journey, determination, flexibility and assertiveness are the pillars of innovation. Thus Deal’n was born after years of groundwork in volunteering with various NGO’s and pursuing my masters degree. Transforming a vision, into a module that incorporates philanthropy and business, with tools to empower others and empower myself!

What excites you most about your industry?
The endless opportunities for improvement, innovation, creativity, free thinking which is mastered through interaction with other players in the market and customers creating a virtual place for brainstorming and the exchange of ideas. An evolving industry that challenges each and every person to use their skills, talents, expertise and utilise all their abilities to claim a slice of the pie.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia and specifically Singapore are my second home. It’s my spiritual and business safe haven that provides fair opportunities for everyone to succeed. If I was back in the Middle East as a single mother, I’m pretty sure my struggle would have been much longer and more difficult, however, it wouldn’t have stopped me from achieving my dreams. Singapore specifically empowered me professionally and Asia spiritually in redefining who I am as a person and understanding myself better.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, although it’s a very tough and competitive market for entrepreneurs to start a business, it provides them with support and motivation through grants, competitions and subsidising the cost of exhibiting or promotional events to promote their business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Success is measured by achieving your own personal goals and dreams and not what others think you should achieve.

Who inspires you?
Those who go unnoticed. From senior citizens, cleaning tables at food courts regardless of their wealth of knowledge and experience to single mothers, who are fighting everyday to overcome the social stigma and manage taking care of their children while earning an income. The amazing people who give their lives to start an NGO to empower others asking for nothing in return except the success of their beneficiaries, the humble members of our community that work in silence changing lives not for the spotlight but for their belief in making the world a better place.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
To step onto the balcony! In order to evaluate situations and understand people’s motivations from different perspectives and even to understand ourselves better we all need to step onto the balcony and become observers rather than participants. It gives you the power to see life through a variety of lenses.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d be wiser with my decisions, evaluate situations from different perspectives and believe in myself and my capabilities. That all came with experience and the ups and downs throughout my journey so I guess, to be who I am today I would have accepted the rough times and embraced them because they were my best teachers. So I wouldn’t undo the past but I am changing my future.

How do you unwind?
Meditation, exercising, listening to music, reading a book and a walk in the botanical gardens.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives, I love the peace and harmony in the simplicity of what it offers; beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Shameless plug for your business:
Deal’n provides opportunities for all members of the community to utilize their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities and abilities in various ways, aiming at empowering all users to become productive members of their community. Using the services of other users for all to grow and benefit, interact with each other through the Deal’n community, thus enhancing their self esteem, level of confidence and as a result, a more empathetic and happier community!

How can people connect with you?
Through my FB page Nadousheh, my email [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@nadiaalsheikh

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’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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