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Karen Aroney, Founder of ExecFuel

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A fascination with human behaviour and a trying time led Karen Aroney to her venture. Now she helps others get on top of their nutritional needs and helps them to re-energize themselves!

What’s your story?
I was not always a nutritionist, however, I have always been fascinated by human behavior, both the physical and mental. After graduating with a psychology degree, I ‘fell’ into the world of corporate, specifically telecommunications. It allowed me the ability to work with people in a field of technology that was fast paced and enjoyable. I had gained financial success, however, I was unfulfilled. My own weight fluctuated constantly due to excessive work stresses, as did the health of my colleagues. I suffered from hypothyroidism (so was always fatigued), and eventually my focus became more on myself and ways to eat and exercise better, so that I could feel great again.

My early 30’s were a trying time. I was a mum of premature twins, my own mother passed away from an autoimmune disease that she had been battling for four years and I was transitioning careers. After consulting to various clients as a qualified nutritionist, I decided to specialize in nutrition for executives. Not just because I used to be one, but in working with both male and female executives over many years, I have seen the dangerous consequences that gaining high body fat or living with hypertension leads to.  Serious complications such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as not feeling energized or under-performing at work. These can all be avoided by applying the right strategies. Therefore, I developed the ExecFuel,  an online 6-week nutrition and fitness program so that busy individuals can apply these strategies to their daily lives, at their own pace and feel energized almost immediately.

What excites you most about your industry?
New research in science and the new technology that is constantly being released to support the research. As an ex-corporate from a tech background, it excites me to be able to combine nutrition and technology. I have therefore focused my energy on being part of that market with ExecFuel.

What’s your connection to Asia?
My 4 year-old twins. They were born in Singapore, speak Mandarin fluently and know the national anthem! As an Australian, who has now lived in Asia for 6 years, I am tempted to bring out my patriotic side at times, but Singapore and Asia are home for them and I want them to feel like they are always home.

ExecFuel logo PNG PVNC High-Res-PNG-logo TM

The bonus to staying in Asia is that the opportunities are available for programs like ExecFuel, and they are embraced. I beleive Asia likes to see new and upcoming technology, particularly in the area of health and fitness.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
At the moment it’s Singapore. This is where I have invested my time and energy with my nutrition consultancy, PureVitality Nutrition Concepts Pte Ltd and with building and launching ExecFuel.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
No matter how often you revisit the past, there is nothing new to see.

Who inspires you?
My friends who have given up their cushy desk jobs to get out there and become entrepreneurs! I regularly meet with these different groups and individuals and always leave feeling energized, supported and ready to get on with it!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I have recently learned that there is a lot you can outsource that, as an entrepreneur, can actually allow you the work-life balance that you typically would not have. There are various platforms and resources that can really help free up some time that you can spend on yourself to regroup a little.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would plan my business goals to be crystal clear and more specific, before starting the business. It would have saved me some much needed time and energy.

How do you unwind?
Exercising and dining out! Two completely different things, but both serve a function for me. Exercising helps me to stay strong, clear my mind and keep me fit and dining out allows me to experience the joy of eating different foods and socializing with the people I love.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. There are 2 places I prefer to stay at, an adults-only boutique hotel in Seminyak when I fly on my own or our friends Villa in Jimbaran when we take the family.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things From Taking Over Your Life, by Richard Carlson.

Great read and nothing to do with business, finance, entrepreneurship, strategy, planning. Sometimes it’s good to use the other parts of your brain to gain an objective perspective.

Shameless plug for your business:
We are excited to officially present to you ExecFuel, the only 6-week online nutrition and fitness program that empowers busy individuals to feel energized, by achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle! With 24/7 access and the flexibility to start and resume the program when desired, ExecFuel shows you how to be in charge again and regain some control at your own pace.

I am committed to creating a dynamic, vibrant, and effective support community for people like yourself who are busy, but who are also now also fitter, stronger and healthier. With over 6 (easy to follow) modules with 9 videos, and more than 20 videos demonstrating fast, effective exercises, from three specialist Fitness Professionals, this practical step-by-step program to help you meet your health goals
Visit www.execfuel.net for more details on the benefits of the program.

How can people connect with you?
Email [email protected]
LinkedIn https://sg.linkedin.com/in/karenaroney

Twitter handle?
@KarenAroney

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

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

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

Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder & CEO of Flenco & Deal’n

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Nadia Al Sheikh has created a business module which incorporates philanthropy and business to empower others, and herself, she’s called her business Deal’n.

What’s your story?
My story is mirrored in my work. Flenco and our Singaporean eco skin care brand, “Flen” combines Dead Sea minerals from the lowest point of earth with Chinese medicine, which represents the wisdom and mystics of the east and these things represent my journey. I’m a single mother rediscovering my identity at a low point in life. Throughout my journey, determination, flexibility and assertiveness are the pillars of innovation. Thus Deal’n was born after years of groundwork in volunteering with various NGO’s and pursuing my masters degree. Transforming a vision, into a module that incorporates philanthropy and business, with tools to empower others and empower myself!

What excites you most about your industry?
The endless opportunities for improvement, innovation, creativity, free thinking which is mastered through interaction with other players in the market and customers creating a virtual place for brainstorming and the exchange of ideas. An evolving industry that challenges each and every person to use their skills, talents, expertise and utilise all their abilities to claim a slice of the pie.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia and specifically Singapore are my second home. It’s my spiritual and business safe haven that provides fair opportunities for everyone to succeed. If I was back in the Middle East as a single mother, I’m pretty sure my struggle would have been much longer and more difficult, however, it wouldn’t have stopped me from achieving my dreams. Singapore specifically empowered me professionally and Asia spiritually in redefining who I am as a person and understanding myself better.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, although it’s a very tough and competitive market for entrepreneurs to start a business, it provides them with support and motivation through grants, competitions and subsidising the cost of exhibiting or promotional events to promote their business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Success is measured by achieving your own personal goals and dreams and not what others think you should achieve.

Who inspires you?
Those who go unnoticed. From senior citizens, cleaning tables at food courts regardless of their wealth of knowledge and experience to single mothers, who are fighting everyday to overcome the social stigma and manage taking care of their children while earning an income. The amazing people who give their lives to start an NGO to empower others asking for nothing in return except the success of their beneficiaries, the humble members of our community that work in silence changing lives not for the spotlight but for their belief in making the world a better place.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
To step onto the balcony! In order to evaluate situations and understand people’s motivations from different perspectives and even to understand ourselves better we all need to step onto the balcony and become observers rather than participants. It gives you the power to see life through a variety of lenses.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d be wiser with my decisions, evaluate situations from different perspectives and believe in myself and my capabilities. That all came with experience and the ups and downs throughout my journey so I guess, to be who I am today I would have accepted the rough times and embraced them because they were my best teachers. So I wouldn’t undo the past but I am changing my future.

How do you unwind?
Meditation, exercising, listening to music, reading a book and a walk in the botanical gardens.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives, I love the peace and harmony in the simplicity of what it offers; beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Shameless plug for your business:
Deal’n provides opportunities for all members of the community to utilize their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities and abilities in various ways, aiming at empowering all users to become productive members of their community. Using the services of other users for all to grow and benefit, interact with each other through the Deal’n community, thus enhancing their self esteem, level of confidence and as a result, a more empathetic and happier community!

How can people connect with you?
Through my FB page Nadousheh, my email [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@nadiaalsheikh

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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