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Jeff Tan, CEO of REV Inspires Me

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Jeff Tan had a military career cut short, he moved to Shanghai and set up two businesses.

What’s your story?
I started life flying helicopters with the Singapore Air Force straight after high school fully expecting to retire at 55. Somewhere along the way, the rules changed and all military officers were told that we could (or must) leave at 45 instead.
I was totally lost and found myself staring at immense uncertainty. Thankfully, I found my identity, purpose in life and core values during an intense personal mastery course and voila! – I left the air force after 26 years of service with gusto and enthusiasm.
I came straight to Shanghai even though my Chinese was at the level of a two-year-old kid, and I went from being a super duper logical and by-the-book military pilot, to becoming ultra flexible as a business owner. Today, if you tell me to bend and touch my toes I’ll need to ask if you want me to bend forwards or backwards.
I’ve been in Shanghai for 11 years now and my Chinese has improved to that of an almost three-year-old. I own two businesses, a training and coaching company, and one that makes learning products for young professionals.
Clichéd though it may sound, finding my purpose in life, identity and discovering my core values made all the difference as I didn’t just have a mid-career change but rather, a revolutionary change in life, as I went from safe and certain Singapore to anything-goes Shanghai!

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most now is being part of the burgeoning personal development industry. I have a chance to reach out to so many more people to help them become the person they want to be.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born and lived in Singapore for 45 years then in Shanghai for the past 11. Both great cities but with a completely different energy.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Must be Shanghai as that’s where I’ve been for the last 11 years. There’s an incredible “can do” attitude here that’s really empowering for budding or even experienced entrepreneurs, super useful networks to tap into, and generous people who share their time and experience just because they can. Throw in the very cosmopolitan population and you have a very good mix of resources to get things done.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Instead of approaching my business with a “ready-aim-fire” mindset, do it with a “ready-FIRE-aim” mindset. In other words, perfection at the start won’t help and isn’t necessary, and it’s far better to quickly get a close to perfect product out to the market and refine it later.

Who inspires you?
Anyone I come across in life who doggedly persists to achieve what they want in the way they want it! This means I’m constantly inspired as I keep meeting some pretty amazing people.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
How much my 22-year-old daughter earns with her first job!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Only one thing – continue growing to 1.8metres tall instead of stopping at 1.7metres.

How do you unwind?
By going home and doing nothing and letting my mind wander off to wherever it wants to wander off. Horror of horrors – I even watch TV to unwind! I’m not one of those who accounts for every second of the day with a strong desire to always do something productive. In the winter, I take very long walks through Shanghai’s amazing streets. One moment there’s Prada and Chanel stores and literally around the corner is local housing with happy old folks who have lived in the same home all their lives. Extremely therapeutic.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Can’t single out one place so here’s my three favourites: Hong Kong in the winter – perfect weather, perfect food. Bangkok in Dec / Jan – perfect weather, perfect food. Singapore anytime – it’s home. Happy to be in all three places regardless of weather!

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite” by Paul Arden.
Why this book? The title alone tells you so much about running a building or running a business doesn’t it? Although it won’t tell you how to…

Shameless plug for your business:
Calling all young professionals – you know you want to grow and develop and be your best, right?
It doesn’t matter if your highest desire is to save the rainforests or scale the corporate ladder, so why not learn and grow in a fun way with online learning that really tells you HOW to get things done, e.g., how to present better, how to think with great clarity, how to speak like a pro, how to influence, how to solve problems with critical and creative thinking.
Many personal development resources tell you what to do and you feel inspired to try, then …. you realise you don’t know how to do these seemingly “simple” steps. With our Sticky Steps products, you’ll know what to do and HOW to do it!

How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@stickysteps

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

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

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Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website: http://uventures.com.sg/

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacekoh/

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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Ray Ferguson, Founder of Caber Partners

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Ray Ferguson left the banking world and returned to Asia to explore exciting fintech opportunities.

What’s your story?
I am the Founder of Caber Partners, a Singapore based MAS Licensed Fund Manager and Financial Advisor investing and working with companies focused exclusively on the intersection of finance and technology. I work specifically in the areas of payments, insurance, wealth management, alternative lending and blockchain.

I am also Chairman of Singapore Life which was founded last year. It is the first new local life company in Singapore. Concurrently, I chair Youtap a business which is creating a cashless e-money processing backbone providing real-time interoperable settlements of all consumer e-money payments to the merchants, e-money providers, retail and FMCG distribution groups, and banks across emerging markets.

My 30 year journey as a banker had its main leg with Standard Chartered Bank, where I held multiple country chief executive and regional leadership roles across four continents. I spent 6 years as Regional CEO, South East Asia and Chief Executive, Singapore. After Standard Chartered, I moved to Bank ABC, Bahrain and assumed the role of Group Chief Banking Officer where I took care of the group’s banking businesses worldwide.
Last year, I decided to step down after 3 years from my role with Bank ABC to return to Asia to pursue interesting and exciting opportunities that fintech disruption was providing.

What excites you most about your industry?
The sheer pace of technological innovation in the financial sector, and how it is up-ending the traditional models and traditional players. There are huge implications and benefits for efficiency, transparency and importantly financial inclusion which will drive growth in emerging markets.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have lived in and worked in Asia for more than 30 years. I first came to Singapore in 1994 and today I am a proud Singapore citizen, and to me Singapore is home.

Its an invigorating environment. Asia is in the middle of an historic transformation. If it continues to follow its recent trajectory, by 2050 its per capita income could rise sixfold in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms to reach Europe’s levels today. It would make some 3 billion additional Asians affluent by current standards. By nearly doubling its share of global gross domestic product (GDP) to 52 percent by 2050, Asia would regain the dominant economic position it held some 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution. This is a big deal and I’m excited to be part of it!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore! Singapore is known for being a business-friendly country and it was crowned the best country in World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business List” and ranks as the top 3 in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitive Index.” Singapore is an attractive hub, for both businesses and has a great community to live in.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Listen intently and you will know what you don’t know.

Who inspires you?
Nelson Mandela

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That the global mobile wallet market was valued at approximately USD 594 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD 3,100 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 32% between 2017 and 2022.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have learnt to code.

How do you unwind?
Exercise, golf and sailing large catamarans.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket. Easy to reach, Thai people and service, breadth of choice of locations/accomodation and great sailing weather.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Good to Great – Jim Collins. It’s about how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how and why most companies fail to make the transition.

Shameless plug for your business:
Caber Partners team is uniquely connected with our networks and experience in fintech markets, investing and banking and business growth solutions throughout Asia and across the emerging world.

How can people connect with you?
Come connect with me through my LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rayfergusonscb

Twitter handle?
Rayferguson888

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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