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Josh Black, CEO of GroupM Content & Fitness Advocate

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How can a dead man kill you?  Josh Black has the answers, read on!

What’s your story?
It all started about 39 years ago in a suburb of Sydney, Australia.  As a young lad my passion for business was fuelled by spending weekends and school holidays working the cash register at my father’s take-away food shop.  I took home my first pay-packet at the age of 11 and haven’t looked back since.  I have sold ice-creams at sports grounds, pop-corn at live concerts, cookies to office blocks around Sydney and currently am the CEO for GroupM’s Content business across Asia Pacific. We get to create pop culture, bring new TV Formats & Content to Asia and work with some of the most amazing brands in the world everyday.  It’s awesome.

What excites you most about your industry?
I work in Media and Content and it’s an incredibly dynamic place to be right now.  You’ve probably heard the saying that “Content is King” and that’s true – but I believe “distribution is queen and she wears the pants.”  I find that most of the industry is heavily focused on creating content but unless you have the audience really defined and understand what they want, what they are searching for and where they are getting it from, the creative is pointless.  I’m also excited about the people I get to meet, work with and collaborate with each day – they are all so much more interesting and smarter than me, mostly.  

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have lived and worked in Asia now for 12 years – starting in Bangkok and then moving to Singapore, Sydney, Manila and now Hong Kong.  For all of those 12 years I have been working in regional marketing and business operating roles cover everything from Afghanistan to Japan, China, India, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
There is just so much diversity across the region that I struggle to just pick one.  I love the energy and vibe of Ho Chi Minh City, the pace of Tokyo, the cafes in Melbourne, running in Seoul and the nightlife of Manila.  Oh, the question was ‘favorite city for business’ – sure, yes they are all very good.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Well the worst piece of advice I ever received was “don’t make friends at work”.  I spend about 12 hours a day working and if was as dull and boring as that I’m not sure how I would handle it.  The best piece of advice, “90% of being in business is turning up”.  So many people have a great idea but just lose the drive, the conviction or their purpose at some point in the journey… and that’s what separates those that eventually make it happen and the rest that don’t.    

Who inspires you?
People that don’t accept second best, people that set goals that really stretch themselves and people that have a wide variety of interests and passions beyond work.  People that run marathons, ultra-marathons and Ironman’s whilst holding down senior roles in companies.  People that really embody the values of being “corporate athletes” which is something I work on everyday.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Sigurd the Mighty, a ninth-century Norse earl of Orkney, was killed by an enemy he had beheaded several hours earlier. He’d tied the man’s head to his horse’s saddle, but while riding home one of its protruding teeth grazed his leg. He died from the infection.  The point of this random story is that, you as the reader probably won’t remember anything about this article in a year from now, except the story of Sigurd the Mighty.  Story-telling is powerful and as an industry, we need to be great at telling stories as it helps bring brands to life.  It always needs to be backed though by a great distribution plan though.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would probably have undertaken studies in my second choice of study at University – Geology – and gone on to find iron ore mines in Western Australia and be retired by now.  Actually, in all seriousness, I probably wouldn’t do anything differently – I’ve met some amazing people, worked on some great brands and had a lot of fun.

How do you unwind?
I hit the gym 6 days a week and do MMA Training, box and run half marathons.  I like to shop (hunt) for my food, cook it up and share it with friends.  You’ll occasionally find me at one of Asia’s hippest new bars or nightspots mostly drinking vodka and soda water because it only contains 65 calories.  I love to travel, kite-board, wake-board and mountain bike. I wind up each day with a double espresso.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love Seminyak in Bali and Boracay in the Philippines – they both offer a great mix of chilling out, good food, interesting people, nice beaches and adventure.  When I unwind, I really try and unwind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Sun Tzu – the Art of War and Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

Shameless plug for your business:
I have my own fitness and health brand ‘247X Fitness’ which I am growing as an opinion leading platform around corporate health and being a corporate athlete in the workplace.  Follow me on Twitter and watch out for my YouTube Page.

How can people connect with you?
I am on LinkedIn (Joshua Black)

Twitter handle?
@247XFitness and @JoshuaBlack11

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

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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Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

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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