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Hong Sin Kwek, CEO, Chairman & Founder of PhoenixICT

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What’s your story?
I am a woman who has learned to love, appreciate and believe I have a part to play to contribute in this world to all human mankind. It is because of what I experience, I constantly evolve and shift to explore new results. I believe if I want change, it starts with me. I am a hard and determined worker; if I want something – I go make it happen with no victim story. I am accountable and responsible for the outcome. NO BLAME, it is about what I can do better, different, greater next time.

What excites you most about your industry?
The field I am in is totally crazy and new.  People are starting to know about Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding, people don’t yet know about CrowdWISDOM.
It starts off with my personal belief that I CAN make a difference. Whenever the country takes steps to shift to make things better for her people – it excites me.

Just imagine; everyone has wisdom, can you visualize that the world is willing to come together to help a situation? To solve a problem?  To drive a project or even to rally for change? This is exactly what I am doing to encourage, to enroll and to entice people to step forth to join this whole game changing landscape via on internet.
Calls can come from Ukraine, Africa, Sri Lanka and around Asia seeking for support or mentorship etc.

I never have to think about where I will land, I keep going….

What’s your connection to Asia?
Connections in Asia is about being true to people I work with as I have a philosophy to SERVE and no prejudice. I can deal with all level of people, simply we are human beings and I am just being human. Connections is not about just who you know on the surface and names only.  Rather it is about who you know who is willing to run the extra mile with me. I believe sincerity plays a major role and I am practicing it everyday.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Asia is my playground.  Favorite city is where I see the people in the city working hard to have a better life. I am a pure Asian; I can be recognized as a Malaysian, or a Thai or an Indonesian or Taiwanese – name it; I look like one…
I no longer just call myself Singaporean – I call myself Asian or Aseana.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You either choose to be top mafia conquering the whole turf and dare for the kill without blinking, or You choose to be good right deep from your heart – from my dearest late dad when I failed my exams in secondary school and he told me whatever choices I choose, I must give my 100% best. No bargain.  

Who inspires you?
Many people …

Beggars who take pride in their job and beg on the streets – it reminds me that I have lots to do to get them back on track and their kids are not going to grow up thinking begging is their only career choice.
Hawkers who serve with passion – it reminds me that I am so fortunate to have choices of food in my space and what about those who are dying of hunger; that’s makes me even more adamant to invest my every cents to promote crowdfunding, crowdsourcing to help the emerging or 3rd or 4th world countries. I started my work since 2013 in promoting Crowdfunding Asia knowing that it is a uphill task and tonnes of obstacles; but my focus was to use such tools to support all fields of concern that I can imagine to craft a compelling story to help anyone…
Single mother who was emotionally destroyed once and now standing tall for their children, making a decent living – I am one!
Obviously, surrounding me were books, inspirational speakers, motivational stories, amazing courses. The key is to continue practice practice practice.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
When I take count of my work starting from being rejected by VC’s in my business, being laughed at for my vision; I realized that I have done tremendous and things are shaping up. Taking stock from Zero to now; I have spoken in public, I conducted focus groups discussing how to drive Crowdfunding adoption.  I enrolled the world renowned practitioners in the first Asia crowdfunding summit. The fear of my heavy investment may not be recuperated led me to strive even harder and in fact the first summit in 2015 was conservatively profitable. The entire years calendar is filled and the latest is to be invited to be on panel by World Bank Group in Spain “From the Crowd to the Base; Crowdfunding-enabled Climate Business for SMEs”  

It was not about what I learned that blew me away, it was what I applied that blew me away. It was my undeterred belief that kept me inching closer to a real Crowdwisdom.  In practice in numerous fields that I am in. It is not about me – it is about YOU, the people.   

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
LOVE Myself earlier…

How do you unwind?
Cooking with my favorite FM Kiss92 music for my two darlings, my son and my daughter; they are my joy and my confidante.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand and Indonesia; the spread of islands and diving spots that I read about…. they are so unspoiled and so beautiful. But first, I must get my open water cert. lol or I will always be at the shore or at most snorkel . I have phobia of the sea but i am committed to overcome it.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Execution – The discipline of Getting things DONE” by Larry Bossidy

Shameless plug for your business:
I probably got no clue cos I was simply so focus on what I need to get done

How can people connect with you?
http://www.phoenixict.biz/

Twitter handle?
@HongKwek

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

CallumConnects

Callum 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

Mikyung Kim, TV Commercial Producer

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Mikyung Kim is a savvy producer who runs her own TV and print production business, based in Hong Kong.

What’s your story?
I am a TV commercial and print producer working with advertising agencies and brands to bring their communication needs to the screen. My background is in film production and I started my career in Hollywood working with Oscar winning directors Michel Gondry and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Before starting my own company last year to produce content directly with agencies and brands, I was with Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong for nearly five years as the Senior Producer and Head of TV running the film production department.

What excites you most about your industry?
How it’s constantly evolving! Every day is different and it’s certainly never boring. I love that it’s a creative industry and that my job involves talking to people with creative minds on how we can bring a story on paper to life. It’s exciting that the advertising industry places high value on the creativity and effectiveness of content. I’ve produced a few commercials that creatively push the envelope with fun and sometimes wild ideas that have converted into positive brand awareness. Ever heard of KFC Finger Lickin’ Good…Nail Polish that yes, tastes like chicken? https://www.adweek.com/creativity/kfc-just-made-edible-finger-lickin-good-nail-polish-yeah-tastes-chicken-171245/

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Seoul and raised in Hong Kong until graduating from high school at HKIS. I spent my university years in Boston at Emerson College and worked in Los Angeles at Anonymous Content and Partizan Entertainment. But on a brief visit back to Hong Kong in 2010, I decided to move back and continue my career here, and it was the best decision I ever made.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is my home so it will always be my favourite city for business and for me personally. What I love about Hong Kong is that while I am based here, I can actually work with agencies and brands from anywhere in APAC. If I need to attend an important meeting, I can just hop on a quick flight easily. I spent most of 2017 working in Seoul with Korean agency Cheil and Samsung, and currently I am working with Japanese agency ADK and Toyota based in Singapore.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Fake it until you become it,” from Amy Cuddy’s TED talk. Worth a watch. This helped me early in my career when I felt like I was under qualified for the job I was in. I learned to fake my confidence and fake a powerful body language until I truly felt that confidence became something real. It was nerve wracking at first but it worked and now I don’t have to fake it.

Who inspires you?
My friends. Noelle who worked part time jobs while being a full time student to pay her own tuition while we were in college together. Osti who is a lawyer focused on supporting developing nations and a board member of Redress, an environmental NGO working to reduce waste in the fashion industry. Vanessa who runs a real estate company, co-owns the gym Crossfit Asphodel, started a health foods business called Quo and NGO The Keep Moving Project to promote wellness in our community. Cathy who will be the first Asian woman to direct a big budget superhero film starring Margot Robbie with Warner Bros and DC. And too many more to name!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
5.2 million plastic bottles are thrown away in Hong Kong every day. Plastic pollution is a major issue for the environment and we as responsible citizens can do our small part by reducing our consumption of unnecessary plastic. I do mine by having a water filter at home and carrying my own reusable water bottle with me everywhere I go. I love the brand Hydroflask because the stainless steel material keeps water hot or cold for hours, so I don’t feel tempted to buy a cold water at 7-11 on those hot, humid days we have here.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
About five years ago I purchased my very first stock and put one month’s salary into it, which at the time was a lot of money for me. Knowing how that stock has performed now, I would have put all my savings into it.

How do you unwind?
Exercise is essential in my daily life to help clear my head and de-stress. My go to is a workout at Crossfit Asphodel, running outdoors, yoga and hiking. But a glass of red wine and live music at Soiree in Soho on Sunday night works pretty well too!

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
One of the best trips I ever took was to the island of Lombok in Indonesia. Two girl friends and I did a 3 day 2 night hiking and camping trip to summit the Mount Rinjani Volcano. It was physically challenging but mentally relaxing. There was no cellphone reception, no distractions, we had the company of nature and nights with skies full of shooting stars. It was pretty magical. We then went to the Gili Islands for a few days of scuba diving, yoga and sitting on the beach doing nothing but sipping on coconuts. That was pretty relaxing too.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Lois P. Frankel and “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. Essential reads for every working woman and/or man who wants to know how to support the working women in their life.

Shameless plug for your business:
I am a TV commercial and print producer that can plug into an existing advertising agency or brand team to produce their communication needs. Many advertising agencies these days are scaling down so they have creative directors and account services but may not have an in-house producer, so I can fill that gap by becoming a part of the existing agency team. For brands that want to produce content directly without involving an agency, I can also bridge the gap by bringing my production knowledge in-house and working as part of the marketing/brand team and liaising with the other departments in the company such as product team and ecomm.

How can people connect with you?
They can email me at [email protected]
or visit my website at mkimproducer.com

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

Renne Ballard, Owner of Renée Ballard Communications

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Renne Ballard runs a social media agency working with business women, helping them find their business’s voice.

What’s your story?
I began my career in PR/communications ten years ago in Australia, after arriving home from two years in Dubai. In Dubai I was working for Emirates Airlines as a flight attendant and flying around the world non-stop for two years. This really sparked my interest for how people communicate. I started out as a community manager for an online advertising company, then moved into the corporate world of outdoor advertising, managing internal and external PR and communications. After having a baby four years ago, I decided to leave the safety net of corporate, and stride out on my own. I now run a social media agency and I specialise in working with business women, helping to find their business’ voice so they can use social media to achieve their business goals.

What excites you most about your industry?
I love the open accessibility online provides. It’s free for businesses to get online and connect with their target audience. Twenty years ago, advertising and PR was insanely expensive and quite elitist, but through incredible platforms like Facebook or Twitter, any business can connect with who is looking for their product/solution. Social media is particularly effective for small businesses because they have the edge when it comes to authenticity and a clear voice.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m in Hong Kong because I’m a trailing spouse. I know it’s such a daggy term, but I love it, it makes me sound so dedicated to my husband! Alas, we came to Hong Kong for my husband’s work. He’s the Design Director of Asia for an international retail design agency. We’ve been here for almost two years and it’s been a huge learning curve in terms of business and culture. We love the fast-paced nature of Hong Kong and the fact that everything is open late – it suits me perfectly because I’m nocturnal.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
That’s easy, Hong Kong. It’s the perfect blend of start-ups and mothership-sized institutions. I love the small business side, watching the collaborations between workshare spaces with galleries, networking groups and foodies; it’s a hothouse of creative partnerships here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
When you’re are feeling scared about your next step, lean in and feel the difference. Is it fear mixed with excitement? Or fear mixed with dread? Always go with the former and cut loose the latter.

Who inspires you?
I love Tamara Mellon (Jimmy Choo founder). She has created multiple empires and she never stops trying new business models and pushing her limits. It helps that I love shoes too.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I just turned 40 years old. At best, I’m probably halfway through my life. It makes me constantly question, “Am I where I want to be?”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have asked more questions to the people I looked up to, and listened less to the people telling me I won’t achieve my goals.

How do you unwind?
In this day and age, it’s scandalous to say, but I love sunbaking. At any chance, you’ll find me poolside, laying in the sun in a trance-like state.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Northern Danang in Vietnam. We were there at Christmas, at the foot of the mountains and it was beautiful. Heaps of wildlife and jungles and enough five star resorts that I was never parched once.

Everyone in business should read this book:
‘The E Myth’ by Michael Gerber. It’s an oldie but a goodie because it succinctly outlines how to transition from a one person operation to a global business like McDonalds. Once you see how important systems and processes are, you can recognise shambolic companies a mile off.

Shameless plug for your business:
Renée Ballard Communications is a social media agency that works with business women who are ready to make social media work for them. We create effective, powerful social media strategies that are tailored to the people who will be breathing life into them. We hand on heart promise to never use annoying, marketing buzzwords and that we value laughter above everything else.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected] or www.reneeballard.com or +85296670115

Twitter handle?
@ballard_comms

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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