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Conscious Business Leadership : Dr. Julian Hosp, Co-Founder and President, TenX

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This is one in a series of articles and interviews about conscious business leadership, which is about leaders creating and promoting workplaces of understanding, honesty, and compassion, for the betterment of their employees, their community, their organization and world.

Dr Julian Hosp co-founded the Singapore based FinTech company TenX, the only company worldwide that makes multiple digital currencies instantly spendable anytime anywhere by offering a debit card payment system to its users. He was named one of the top Blockchain and Cryptocurrency experts to follow in 2017. I met him at Slush Singapore and Women in Tech where he was passionate to educate the audience on a new world in finance.

To be a disrupter one has to have a philosophy of another world. What is your ideal world in terms of finance?

I am a scientist and I use the past trends to deduce ideas for the future. I look for an adaption of what can be possible. Statistically, everyone cannot be equal. There will always be a small proportion who will outperform the rest; in all aspects of life. Financially, my hope is for the ones who can’t or don’t perform to those standards, are not left behind.

My world-view changed around two and a half years ago. Initially, I was of the opinion that people who didn’t do what was the task at hand or seemed productive, shouldn’t get monetary compensation. I saw people who were involved in pursuits I didn’t see as productive, like meditating or sitting by the beach day dreaming as non-valuable. However now I am more aware, that for everyone doing something is that something they are to do. I now support the need for a minimal base income.

Are they living to the standards I set for myself? No. However, their basic living should be met if they can do basic tasks and essentially there should be no cause of suffering, where possible.

That being said, TenX is not merely an attempt to save the world, again as a scientist and business person, the business case was clear. If we are not doing it – someone else will. The future of finance is a decentralized marketplace full of financial services, that provide the lowest cost, highest security and best performance to its users. At TenX it is our mission to bring the entire financial system right to their fingertips.

In the past, there was control and regulation of people now there is less and maybe soon no control. Some people will want to be controlled and told what to do. They may want to use regulated and centralized authorities to lead and depend on. I suspect 5-10% of a population would want guidance and control. How about the rest of us? The Internet has flourished. We already see less friction of talent explosion and exchange. Peer to peer economies.

Once the access to money becomes easy and we have competition spurring results. More people will and can step up in all industries. This will lead to my world-view of a more inclusive monetary system and therefore world.

As a leader, I try to build the ideal world in my own leadership and the company I co-founded. I see myself as leader than manager. I am not as good as managing people who may need it. I tend to lead by inspiration and “wow” acts of behaviour. This inspires best in me and this allows them to express the best in them. Optimal leadership means leading by example and getting the best out of the team. My example is not the example they have to become. I need only be the best version of myself.

When did you doubt your vision and implementation? 

I hardly ever doubt the big picture but yes I did doubt the approach, many times. I had some arguments with my co-founder. I often had to contemplate that maybe other approaches are right and mine, wrong.

A dark hour of soul searching was when China banned Bitcoin. I wasn’t as upset by the ban but by the rationale behind it. Now after some insight, I see that their fear could be more around Blockchain and the decentralization track transition history. Cryptocurrency doesn’t need a centralized authority so if you take it to the fullest extent of that idea, it may have made the Chinese government rein that freedom in.

Eventually we can communities that are decentralized for passports, other forms of identification, ownership of large things like homes; as long as I have the cryptography running, no one can shut me down. Industry now leads and influences the government’s ability to act. I believe the Chinese government feels that strongly.

How did you have this vision of TenX?

I trained as a doctor and then after a year of practice, I quit. My friends advised me to go into personal development instead. I went to Hong Kong and tried many things and coached. But was always looking for a bigger project to be immersed in. I was almost lost because I found nothing. My personal lowest point was right before I met my co-founder of TenX, Toby, by coincidence in 2014 on the beaches of Thailand. It wasn’t an immediate partnership, I always have had a curious mind so I spent some time to learn more. If you look at my first Youtube for TenX in June 2015 you can see my hesitancy as I entered this industry. Do I still have doubts very now and then, yes. However now I understand better how this works and we are learning and improving every day. Even Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of Facebook spent months if not years re-thinking if Facebook would be the idea to run with.

If you can advise an entrepreneur, what is the next big thing in this space?

Decentralization is the problem to solve. As mentioned, passports, cross-country transfers, purchasing large items if you want to get into that space and solve the problems which arise with decentralization. I love science so I am always looking at Space tech and AI too.

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Benedict Heng, Founder of Mr. Farmer

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Benedict Heng is bringing back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your story?
I’m Ben from Mr. Farmer. Mr. Farmer is an online grocer dedicated to supplying the freshest produce to our customers. We believe in sustainable and ethical farming. Since a young age, I have always been an avid food lover (especially meats), developing a strong interest in all things delicious. That is why I ventured into the F&B industry, working as a junior cook for 3 years.

Midway through my career, I made a move to the finance industry to pursue monetary rewards. I dove into high-risk investments and I made lots of money from these investments. However, the good fortune did not last long and all these came crashing down when I suffered a tremendous loss. This coincided with the time that I had just started my own family and it was a huge blow to me both materially and mentally. It was this crash that made me realize that this life wasn’t for me. I went on a hiatus and eventually, it was only through the strong support from my family that I managed to tide over this tough episode.

I went back to help the family business and this was how Mr Farmer came about. My family has been in the food industry for many decades and one thing they noticed from years of experience is that sustainable farming practices are not as developed as in Europe. This is why through Mr Farmer, we hope that we can provide the best quality products to families out there who want the best ingredients for their loved ones.

What excites you most about your industry?
Delicious and wholesome food excites me. I believe food is a critical component of life and it brings people together. The opportunity to serve the community with fresh produce for a healthy life, that brings me joy.

I feel that there is still so much more we can do to improve the quality of food and bring it to the masses. One of the key components of ensuring greater quality of food is to support ethical and sustainable farming. Due to commercialization and urbanization, most farming practices these days are no longer the way they were in the old “kampong” times. Shortcuts are taken, standards are compromised, all in the name of profit. At Mr. Farmer, profit is important too but we want to focus on the concept of One Welfare – sustainable farming directly impacts our health. Our vision is to bring back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I call Singapore my home as it’s where my family and close friends are. I also travel frequently to Malaysia and APAC for work.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s definitely Singapore. There is just so much this tiny city can offer! Singapore has been globally recognized for its top-notch business environment providing its residents with developed infrastructure, political stability and excellent connectivity. These factors have given us an outstanding support system for businesses to strive.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, challenge you to rise higher, make you better and, keep them in your life.

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my uncle, who is the head of both the family and business. He takes care of our family matters at home and manages hundreds of employees at work. Handling both the family and business side of things can be tricky, but he has shown me that success can be sustainable and done with a conscience. His guiding philosophy of handling business and family is simply, to have a big heart.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Even just one day of separation from the day the meat is slaughtered, makes a world of difference to its flavour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have come to learn that awareness is the beginning of everything. If I had my time again, I would have probably spent more time figuring out who I truly am and with that self-awareness, begun to lead my life with more purpose and meaning.

How do you unwind?
I like to spend my free time sipping white coffee at my favourite coffee place. I enjoy taking in the surrounding sights and letting my mind wander freely. It allows me to unwind and gain clarity at the same time. It also helps me organize my thoughts to prepare for the week ahead.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It would be Bangkok as the people there are genuinely friendly and hospitable. They say people are what defines the city and I couldn’t agree more with this. I also enjoy the ‘laid back’ vibe of Bangkok. Not to mention Bangkok has all the good food and awesome shopping choices too!

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Spin selling” by Neil Reckham. It’s an amazing book that teaches you a process designed to help you successfully sell your products and services to business buyers.

Shameless plug for your business:
We at Mr. Farmer have the best tasting meats in Singapore, do a blind test and you will know why it’s Michelin chefs’ preferred choice. Not only are we very confident about the taste, we are also proud to say that all our products are chemical, hormone and antibiotic free. We also focus a lot on supporting ethical and sustainable farming practices believing in the ‘One Welfare’ concept. Do check us out if you enjoy good quality food like us!

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

Zac Chua, Founder & CEO of The Kettle Gourmet

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Zac Chua’s popcorn business validated itself straight away and fast tracked him to the startup world. Zac now employs 11 people and shifts 500 bags of popcorn daily.

What’s your story?
It’s a crazy one. It was an accidental startup. If you think about it, no university graduate would ever dream of becoming a popcorn seller. We crashed our first tech event to validate our idea and it took off from there. I bought a logo for $7 from a designers marketplace, printed some cheap name cards, and built a 1 page landing page. Sales started pouring in and eventually, we were serving B2B clients (corporate pantries) and we have never looked back. Today we move about 500 bags daily, we have 11 employees and we are growing. Talk about a validation that worked in our favour.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s food! Everybody loves food! In Singapore the F&B scene is brutally competitive and it spurs me on to fight and compete for market share and to prove to myself that I can do it. It keeps me going and I won’t stop until we become the market leader.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore, and have traveled to most of Southeast Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Even though Singapore has a high cost of living, the Government is actually very supportive of startups. They provide grants for us to tap into, and the technological infrastructure makes it possible for us to compete on a global scale. I believe if you can succeed in your business in Singapore, you can succeed in most of Southeast Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only need to be right once, and the rest is history.

Who inspires you?
My father, who was a VC. In fact he was the one who gave me the best piece of advice which I shared above. Having one successful exit, he showed me that it’s okay to fail a million times – all it takes is just one time for you to win in business and in life.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of compounding.

  • Mary and John are the same age.
  • Mary saves $2k annually from the age of 19-25 – so she puts $14k into her portfolio
  • John saves $2k annually from the age of 26-65 – so he puts $80k into his portfolio, but 7 years after Mary.
  • If both are able to generate 10% per annum, who would have more at age 65?
  • John of course! But how much more?
  • Mary will have $944,641 whilst John will have $973,704
  • Think about it! Mary puts in only $14k but John delays for 7 years and puts in $80k.

CRAZY RIGHT!?!?

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, my mistakes taught me how to become a better me. But if I really must choose, I’d say take more time to find the right business partner.

How do you unwind?
Poker, Mahjong and Dota 2.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Vietnam! Things are cheap, people are warm and friendly, and their coffee fills up my life. I would love to retire there if possible.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The richest man in Babylon

Shameless plug for your business:
We don’t need a plug. Just try our competitors and you’ll understand why!

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chuazongyou
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zacchua

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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