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John Winning, CEO of Appliances Online

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John Winning started as a salesman. He ended up in the family business and from there he set up his own online retail business, Appliances Online.

What’s your story?
When I finished high school I went straight into the workforce and took a job as a door-to-door salesman. One year in, I was attacked by a dog and ended up in hospital. After that I went to work for dad at Winning Appliances. Even though I was resistant to work in the family business, I started out in the warehouse, and soon after was driving trucks and doing deliveries. From there I moved to the store, which is where I first had the idea to sell appliances online.
I started Appliances Online as a pure play online retailer in 2005 when I was 21 years old. It quickly grew from there and is now Australia’s leading online retailer of appliances and whitegoods delivering to 95% of the population and stocking more brands than any other online appliance retailer.
Now, in addition to being the CEO of Appliances Online, I am the CEO of the Winning Group which encompasses Winning Appliances, Appliances Online, Home Clearance and Handy Crew.
I also love sailing, My grandfather sailed and my dad is also a world champion so I’ve sailed for as long as I can remember. I was involved with boat racing at the age of four and while I don’t sail as much as I used to I still love getting out on the water.
In 2016 I was part of the record-breaking and line honours winning team in the 2016 Sydney to Hobart on Perpetual Loyal. It had always been a dream of mine to sail the Sydney to Hobart so to win line honours and to set a new record was an amazing feeling.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s probably the challenges that excite me the most about our industry. I think we are in a really interesting time for retail as more and more consumers are starting to shop online and we’re in a position where, in the last five years, Australia has really become part of the global retail landscape. Some of the world’s leading brands like H&M, Zara and Topshop have come to town as well as the world’s best online retailers. Plenty of South African retailers are coming over and seeing Australia as a good place for their next expansion move, as well as Amazon and Alibaba. So for me, the most exciting thing is being able to finally put ourselves up against the world’s best in terms of retail best practice and retail experience.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Even though our businesses operate solely in Australia, we buy a lot of Asian brands.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I’m from Australia and operate my business here so don’t know much about Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I remember from a very young age, my dad always drilled into me that you can do whatever you want. Whether it was in sailing, work, life, school or whatever, he would say, “look, if you want to do it you can do it. We can do whatever we want. It’s about making the decision of what you want to do you, knowing what you need to get there and whether you’re willing to make the sacrifices involved in doing it.”
I think the advice that you can do anything if you want it badly enough has really stuck in my head and I’ve definitely brought that into our organisation.

Who inspires you?
If I look closer to home my dad has definitely been a huge influence and inspiration to me. Growing up and seeing how hard he worked, everything he did for the business and how much people respected him as a leader and were willing to band together and really work for him was very inspiring.
Our Advisory Board Chairman, David Gordon, who is a phenomenal support to me and someone that is so humble yet has achieved so much is really quite inspiring.
Outside of Australia someone like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs is certainly very inspiring. There are also several musicians who have inspired me to be more creative.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It’s ongoing I guess, not just one particular thing. I’ve been reading up at a very early beginners level about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and I think it’s just incredible how quickly AI is evolving, how fast it learns and how quickly I think our lives are going to change on the back of that. I’ve also been really interested in neuromarketing and neuroscience and, again at a very early beginner level, extremely fascinated by the power of marketing to the subconscious mind and how much, as human beings and consumers we believe we are in control of our decisions but in reality how little our conscious mind actually has control.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I always say I would do nothing differently because I have no regrets about the things we do, but if you were to ask me what some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made are, I would have to say not going with my gut reaction on major decisions early enough.
I wouldn’t take anything back because I think that the journey you take in life leads you to where you are and I’m quite happy where I am so I wouldn’t change a thing.

How do you unwind?
Meditation primarily and sometimes yoga, in addition to that, I love to listen to music and play music.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Probably Tokyo, Japan because I just love the culture. I guess the obvious answer would be somewhere with a beach and sun but for me, I love Tokyo in terms of relaxation because I think that the whole culture, society and people really put you in a relaxed state.

Everyone in business should read this book:
‘It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be’ by Paul Arden

Shameless plug for your business:
If you don’t know about us you should, and if you do know about us you should tell all your friends how great we are because we have the best shopping experience in the world. We’ve won awards for it so you don’t have to take my word for it.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn https://au.linkedin.com/in/jwinning

Twitter handle?
@WinningJohn

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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