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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

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

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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Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

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Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched.

What’s your story?
I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position.

Who inspires you?
Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start.

How do you unwind?
I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki

Shameless plug for your business:
Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning.

How can people connect with you?
Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@malcolmABM

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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