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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

Elizabeth Wu, Co-founder & COO of Trehaus

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Elizabeth Wu is making work-life integration a reality for working parents in her new family friendly coworking space.

What’s your story?
I co-founded a coworking space in Singapore that comes complete with a child-friendly facility. We’re the first of our kind here and we’ve been making work-life integration a reality for working parents since we opened.

What excites you most about your industry?
We are the first of our kind, and there’s no other coworking space like us. Sure, there are plenty of coworking spaces in Singapore, but we are the pioneers of championing ‘BYO-kid’ to work by creating a conducive workspace and enriching kids play, all under one roof.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I’m a local through and through.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, of course! It’s safe, well-regulated and has a diverse community. Barriers to entry for starting up a business is low, and generally there is good support for small to medium enterprises and startups, which is great.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Life is short. Do stuff that matters.” I think I decided to do “stuff that matters” a long time ago and that’s why I became an educator. When motherhood beckoned, I decided again, to do “stuff that matters” by staying home to be with my kids. Then, I began to desire a meaningful career while raising my kids. So, I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, because I am governed by wanting to “do stuff that matters!”

Who inspires you?
So many people inspire me. My members at Trehaus inspire me with the things they do and the changes they make. But if I have to pick someone, it would be Elim Chew, founder of 77th Street; who is a seasoned entrepreneur. She started from humble beginnings, went through setbacks and never said never to new journeys in entrepreneurship. I love that she always looks for ways to give back to society and mentor the next generation with her wealth of wisdom and experiences.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learned the 5-by-5 rule recently: That is, ‘if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it.’ This helps me puts things in perspective, and I try to remember this every time the urge comes to dwell, to brood, to beat myself up or to sweat the small stuff.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely be more careful with the people I hired to build the team. I’ve learned that it is important to find and build an entrepreneurial team that will plough and work hard alongside the founders. Like Jack Ma once said, “Don’t hire the most qualified candidate. Hire the craziest.” I should have done that right from the start. It would save us so much time and heartache.

How do you unwind?
I take long walks to clear my or I go for a fruitful session of self care, like yoga or a massage.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I really enjoy getting out of Singapore to the outskirts of Bangkok to live amongst the locals. My family of 5 used to do that each December; just taking off to live amongst the locals where street food is aplenty and warmth and hospitality is everywhere. I enjoy their slow pace of life and how simple things can be.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

Shameless plug for your business:
Trehaus is Singapore’s first ever family-friendly coworking space that lets you build a career while prioritising family. If it takes a village to raise a child, then Trehaus is the modern village where you will find a robust community and supportive ecosystem that lets you be an involved parent – never missing a single milestone in your child’s early years – and at the same time do efficient and productive work. We’ve made magic happen in what we’ve created!

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

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

Mark Winterton, General Manager of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay

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Mark Winterton has dedicated his life to achieving unparalleled and extraordinary guest experiences in the hospitality industry.

What’s your story?
I’m a seasoned hospitality professional with over twenty years international experience launching luxury brands, repositioning existing brands and driving innovation for some of the world’s most successful hotels.

As General Manager of InterContinental® Singapore Robertson Quay, I’m responsible for the strategic positioning of the property as the next generation of the InterContinental hotel brand and have been spearheading the hotel since its opening in October 2017, with the goal of achieving a unique and unrivalled market positioning as Singapore’s most luxurious residential hotel.

I started my career with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) in 1995 and have since been dedicating myself towards achieving perfection. I find immense fulfillment in leading my team towards achieving extraordinary and unparalleled guest experiences.

What excites you most about your industry?
The hospitality industry boasts an extremely dynamic landscape, and we are always seeing new hotels opening alongside the entry of burgeoning brands. This growth has, over time developed positive competition and generated positive driving forces that have elevated the overall standard of the industry in Singapore. The industry has a dynamic landscape. There are many opportunities to bring the right people together and create amazing teams to launch or reposition hotels. The process of creating teams, inspiring individuals and then working together to bring a project to life is where I find the excitement lies.

What’s your connection to Asia?
The lure of Asia has always been very strong for foreign economies and companies, with great accessibility to new opportunities, customers, consumers and clients. My first foray into Asia was back in 2007, when I launched Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Singapore. Following that, I was also based in Bangkok for a couple of years for the rebranding of Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park. Over my years in Asia, I have had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in new cultures, establish new connections with key counterparts and friends; and these have further solidified my interest in and strengthened my connection to Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Commonly known as the gateway to Asia, we’ve been blessed with a stable government, a sound political economy and a comprehensive infrastructure for reliable business operations. With tremendous efforts put in by the Singapore Tourism Board towards elevating the city as an attractive venue for visitors, the growth of Singapore as a key MICE destination, coupled with a cosmopolitan pool of talent, Singapore remains my favourite city in Asia for business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You can never be 100% ready for a new role.” I believe that there will always be room for growth and learning on the job. As long as a person is 80% ready for a new role, the opportunity should be extended. I am a strong believer in the development of people and the grooming of talent, and this piece of advice has allowed me to take more chances on people I’ve worked with and developed over the years.

Who inspires you?
Simon Sinek, a speaker with TED Talk.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I don’t think I can pinpoint just one lesson learnt recently, as learning is an ongoing process. No matter how small a piece of knowledge may seem, it should be valued. Everyday is a journey of learning and development.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing at all. I don’t believe in regrets and everything that has happened thus far, has had a part to play in who I am and where I stand today.

How do you unwind?
Spending time with friends over relaxed conversations and wine or working my green fingers in my balcony garden.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It’s one destination where I’ve always returned to, simply because it offers me the same level of comfort and familiarity each time I return. It’s where I can feel most relaxed, yet still be able to enjoy the vibrant dining scene.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

Shameless plug for your business:
Officially opened on 12 October 2017, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay is the first international luxury hotel brand situated at Robertson Quay. Set amidst a dynamic, sophisticated neighbourhood along the Singapore River, known for its dining options and arts houses, the luxury residential-inspired hotel has been carefully curated by world-­class designers, architects and culinary purveyors. Located minutes away from the CBD, the hotel still maintains a stylish but laid back, relaxed feel in the leafy, upscale neighbourhood of Robertson Quay. The hotel offers 225 luxurious studios and suites, including an expansive Penthouse, which has unparalleled views of both the Singapore River and vibrant city via floor-­to-­ceiling windows.

The residential-­inspired property combines elements from Robertson Quay’s industrial and intriguing past with sleek contemporary finishes whilst seamlessly blending into the residential surrounds. Light-­filled room interiors have been designed to magnify the familiar comforts of home where guests may enjoy bespoke amenities such as a specially designed in-­room cocktail kit.

Established as part of a holistic dining and lifestyle destination, the hotel boasts a wide range of restaurant and bar concepts. Flagship restaurant Publico, representing the central core of Italian culture, is a multi-­concept dining destination comprising a variety of Italian experiences under one roof – a neighbourhood deli and bar and a ristorante with adjoining terrazzo by the river. Other highlights throughout the hotel include New York institution Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, and a bar and dining concept from the team behind Izy Sushi. Over 40 other dining options await at the hotel doorstep, in The Quayside precinct.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markwinterton1/

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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