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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

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

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

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

Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

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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