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Eric Edmeades, Founder of WildFit

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Eric Edmeades is a South African born, Canadian raised, serial entrepreneur with a business background in mobile computing, wireless networking, Hollywood special effects, military research and development and business consulting. He is also the founder of WildFit, a fast-growing nutritional coaching company.

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In your own words what do you do?

Mostly, I like to have fun. When I look at business projects I am looking for things that lie at the intersection of fun and value-creation. Recently, I have shifted my focus to one of my most serious passions: health care through self-care. I have spent over twenty years on an Indiana Jones-like exploration into the the history of the human diet and the science of behavioral change to create programs that genuinely change the way people think and feel about certain foods. As the founder of WildFit, I find myself at the forefront of a badly needed food revolution and nothing I have worked on in my life so far has been more fulfilling than this.

What led you to your current business?

As a young man I was frequently sick. Well, no, I should say I was pretty much always sick. I didn’t really think of it as ‘being sick’ so much as just being the way I was. After receiving some advice from a good friend, I changed a few things about my diet and, about a month later, I felt better than I had in years. That made me curious. I wondered how 10 years of doctors and specialists had done so little for me and one month of changing my diet could do so much.

That started me on a journey looking into medical education, human history, nutritional anthropology, behavioral psychology and the food manufacturing, marketing, and distribution business.

What I learned, over the next several years would change everything I thought I knew about food and health and soon I was sharing my views with anyone who would listen. I think I was even sharing with people who didn’t want to listen.

Could you walk us through your process of developing your business?

At first, it was a hobby. I had learned some powerful things about food and created great results for myself, some close friends and my family. About 5 years ago, I got into professional speaking as a business speaker and soon had many people asking me how I could have so much energy even though I was flying all over the world and spending so long on stage; some of my programs have me on stage for 10 or more hours a day for up to 5 days in a row.

And so I started sharing my ideas with customers and fans. And getting results.

One day I decided to formalize the approach. Instead of just giving people ‘rules’ to follow, I created a structure that would ease them into those rules while giving them a chance to really get to know themselves and to understand their relationship with food. The first class we did went so well, that we decided to launch a business around it. The rest, so far, is history.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties in the beginning?

Not really. I mean, yes, we have had growing pains. We have experienced exponential growth over the last year and that has been tough on our business systems and our people but otherwise, we have been pretty lucky. Our business grows primarily through word-of-mouth. Our clients look so different after a few weeks on the program that their friends and relatives start asking how they did it.

What is your long term plan?

We aim to have a major impact on the food and health care industry in the western world. Healthcare is one of the most significant burdens on society, and upon many families. So much of that is because our relationship with food is incredibly wrong. We are waking up to the realization that the cigarette manufacturers were puppy dogs compared to the level of profit-motivated manipulation that we have seen from the food industry.

Could you share with us some industry insights?

Look, if you manufacture food, there are only a few ways to increase your profits. You can get more people to eat your food but once you have saturated the market, you need to start getting more creative.

You could start by lowering the cost of the food you manufacture, which might then lower the quality of that food.

You could then figure out ways to get people to eat a great deal more of your food than they really need including, for instance, adding addictive substances or reducing the nutritional value of the food so that people remain hungry even after eating it.

The ‘industry’, per your question, in our world, starts with food manufacturers and ends up with the medical industry. The whole chain profits by people eating large volumes of low-quality food and then spending a great deal of money on medication starting with the innocuous and prolific antacids up to and including expensive and multi-year treatments for lifestyle caused heart disease and cancer.

What are some important lessons you’ve learnt about entrepreneurship?

The first thing is People. It is all about people. Take care of your people and they will take care of you.

The second thing is to invest in business systems. To be really scalable, a business needs well-defined procedures and solid business systems.

Have fun. I think it is really important to enjoy what you are doing as much of the time as possible and make sure that your people feel the same way.

Any tips for achieving success?

There are two different versions of success to consider. For business success, add as much value as possible (to everyone involved), attract the right people and don’t ever give up.

Personal success is much more simple. The more days you spend in true happiness, the more successful you really are.

Connect

Website: www.EricEdmeades.com

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/ericedmeades

Facebook: http://facebook.com/ericedmeades

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ericedmeades

Callum Connects

Denise Morris Kipnis, Founder & Principal of ChangeFlow Consulting

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Denise Mossis Kipnis’ curiosity in people and the world, lead her to set up ChangeFlow Consulting.

What’s your story?
I’m driven by curiosity. Having been the only one in a room who looks like me for most of my life, I developed a curiosity about who stays, who leaves and who thrives in minority/majority situations including when and how connection and collaboration happen. I was a systems thinker long before I knew what that was, always asking why and so what; and seeing the pieces, the whole, and the places in between. So helping people and organisations move through the complexity of transformation feels natural to me.

What excites you most about your industry?
I see change and inclusion as two sides of the same thing; I don’t practice one without the other. Some people see change as death, as loss, as exhausting. And it can be. But I see in the work I do as an opportunity for something new or hidden to emerge. When an organisation understands that it is first a group of people, who themselves represent and belong to groups of people, and it begins to tackle what it would mean to understand and learn from all that talent, all that diversity, to have them all working for and not against the organisation, to truly unleash all that their people have to offer; that’s magic.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Change and inclusion are personal values as well as professional strengths. For me, living and working outside of the States was a bold experiment to see whether any of the stuff I’d learned about change and inclusion would work outside of the US. My husband and I targeted Asia specifically: it would be the greatest contrast, culturally speaking, for me; and a unique career springboard for him.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Although I’ve practiced in other cities, I am biased towards Singapore. In some ways it’s what Los Angeles is to the rest of the United States, a microcosm of sorts. The regional/global nature of it means that so many different nationalities and cultures are represented. As a result of this mix, you never know what you might get. In some situations, cultural dynamics are obvious, sometimes subdued. The variability is compelling.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.” Michael Rouan.

Who inspires you?
Often it’s a “what” not a “who.” I can get inspiration from a passage in a book or a situation in a movie, as well as a turn of a phrase or watching people interact. I often make the biggest connections between the various threads I’m working on when I’m sitting in someone else’s event.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’m honestly not blown away by much. Instead, I’m struck how circular things can be: ideas often come back around with a slightly different twist and I watch the way it shakes things loose for people. I recently sat through a workshop on Self as Instrument, and despite being thoroughly versed already, I learned something. In preparing for a panel on design thinking, I unearthed a new language to describe things.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
You’ve caught me at a good time. I’m sitting in appreciation and gratitude for all my experiences, because I wouldn’t be who I was today if all that has happened, didn’t. And yet one thing comes to mind: It wasn’t until I redesigned my website two years ago (shout out to Brew Creative!) that I realised I hadn’t made explicit agreements with my past clients as to what I could share publicly about our engagement, or whether I could use their logos in my promotional materials. In my business, confidentiality is so important, and yet I need to be able to talk about the work as reputation and experience leads to the next success, and so on. It turned out a lot of the contacts I had known had left the organisations where the work was done, so they couldn’t help at that point. So the practice I’m carrying forward is to get those agreements up front, and to make sure my relationships in client systems are broad as well as deep.

How do you unwind?
Science fiction, puzzles, wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Home. I don’t travel to relax, I travel to learn and explore.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Built to Change, by Ed Lawler and Chris Worley. To my knowledge, it’s the first pivot from advising organisations away from stability and toward dynamism, from strategic planning to strategizing as an action verb; to blow up the traditions and rigidity that impede organisations from developing change capability.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re taught that there are two kinds of people: those who see forests, and those who see trees. There is a third type, my type, and we see the ecosystem. Worms, climate, birds, the spaces in between. This is the perspective organisations need to be successful in solving complex problems and thriving in change.
ChangeFlow uniquely blends four disciplines (two of which are multi-disciplinary in themselves): organisation development, culture and inclusion, change management and project management.

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChangeFlowConsulting/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dmorriskipnis/
LinkedIn Company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4862954/
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.changeflowconsulting.com

Twitter handle?
@ChangeFlow

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

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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