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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

Elizabeth Wu, Co-founder & COO of Trehaus

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Elizabeth Wu is making work-life integration a reality for working parents in her new family friendly coworking space.

What’s your story?
I co-founded a coworking space in Singapore that comes complete with a child-friendly facility. We’re the first of our kind here and we’ve been making work-life integration a reality for working parents since we opened.

What excites you most about your industry?
We are the first of our kind, and there’s no other coworking space like us. Sure, there are plenty of coworking spaces in Singapore, but we are the pioneers of championing ‘BYO-kid’ to work by creating a conducive workspace and enriching kids play, all under one roof.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I’m a local through and through.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, of course! It’s safe, well-regulated and has a diverse community. Barriers to entry for starting up a business is low, and generally there is good support for small to medium enterprises and startups, which is great.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Life is short. Do stuff that matters.” I think I decided to do “stuff that matters” a long time ago and that’s why I became an educator. When motherhood beckoned, I decided again, to do “stuff that matters” by staying home to be with my kids. Then, I began to desire a meaningful career while raising my kids. So, I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, because I am governed by wanting to “do stuff that matters!”

Who inspires you?
So many people inspire me. My members at Trehaus inspire me with the things they do and the changes they make. But if I have to pick someone, it would be Elim Chew, founder of 77th Street; who is a seasoned entrepreneur. She started from humble beginnings, went through setbacks and never said never to new journeys in entrepreneurship. I love that she always looks for ways to give back to society and mentor the next generation with her wealth of wisdom and experiences.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learned the 5-by-5 rule recently: That is, ‘if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it.’ This helps me puts things in perspective, and I try to remember this every time the urge comes to dwell, to brood, to beat myself up or to sweat the small stuff.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely be more careful with the people I hired to build the team. I’ve learned that it is important to find and build an entrepreneurial team that will plough and work hard alongside the founders. Like Jack Ma once said, “Don’t hire the most qualified candidate. Hire the craziest.” I should have done that right from the start. It would save us so much time and heartache.

How do you unwind?
I take long walks to clear my or I go for a fruitful session of self care, like yoga or a massage.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I really enjoy getting out of Singapore to the outskirts of Bangkok to live amongst the locals. My family of 5 used to do that each December; just taking off to live amongst the locals where street food is aplenty and warmth and hospitality is everywhere. I enjoy their slow pace of life and how simple things can be.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

Shameless plug for your business:
Trehaus is Singapore’s first ever family-friendly coworking space that lets you build a career while prioritising family. If it takes a village to raise a child, then Trehaus is the modern village where you will find a robust community and supportive ecosystem that lets you be an involved parent – never missing a single milestone in your child’s early years – and at the same time do efficient and productive work. We’ve made magic happen in what we’ve created!

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

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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Mark Winterton, General Manager of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay

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Mark Winterton has dedicated his life to achieving unparalleled and extraordinary guest experiences in the hospitality industry.

What’s your story?
I’m a seasoned hospitality professional with over twenty years international experience launching luxury brands, repositioning existing brands and driving innovation for some of the world’s most successful hotels.

As General Manager of InterContinental® Singapore Robertson Quay, I’m responsible for the strategic positioning of the property as the next generation of the InterContinental hotel brand and have been spearheading the hotel since its opening in October 2017, with the goal of achieving a unique and unrivalled market positioning as Singapore’s most luxurious residential hotel.

I started my career with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) in 1995 and have since been dedicating myself towards achieving perfection. I find immense fulfillment in leading my team towards achieving extraordinary and unparalleled guest experiences.

What excites you most about your industry?
The hospitality industry boasts an extremely dynamic landscape, and we are always seeing new hotels opening alongside the entry of burgeoning brands. This growth has, over time developed positive competition and generated positive driving forces that have elevated the overall standard of the industry in Singapore. The industry has a dynamic landscape. There are many opportunities to bring the right people together and create amazing teams to launch or reposition hotels. The process of creating teams, inspiring individuals and then working together to bring a project to life is where I find the excitement lies.

What’s your connection to Asia?
The lure of Asia has always been very strong for foreign economies and companies, with great accessibility to new opportunities, customers, consumers and clients. My first foray into Asia was back in 2007, when I launched Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Singapore. Following that, I was also based in Bangkok for a couple of years for the rebranding of Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park. Over my years in Asia, I have had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in new cultures, establish new connections with key counterparts and friends; and these have further solidified my interest in and strengthened my connection to Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Commonly known as the gateway to Asia, we’ve been blessed with a stable government, a sound political economy and a comprehensive infrastructure for reliable business operations. With tremendous efforts put in by the Singapore Tourism Board towards elevating the city as an attractive venue for visitors, the growth of Singapore as a key MICE destination, coupled with a cosmopolitan pool of talent, Singapore remains my favourite city in Asia for business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You can never be 100% ready for a new role.” I believe that there will always be room for growth and learning on the job. As long as a person is 80% ready for a new role, the opportunity should be extended. I am a strong believer in the development of people and the grooming of talent, and this piece of advice has allowed me to take more chances on people I’ve worked with and developed over the years.

Who inspires you?
Simon Sinek, a speaker with TED Talk.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I don’t think I can pinpoint just one lesson learnt recently, as learning is an ongoing process. No matter how small a piece of knowledge may seem, it should be valued. Everyday is a journey of learning and development.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing at all. I don’t believe in regrets and everything that has happened thus far, has had a part to play in who I am and where I stand today.

How do you unwind?
Spending time with friends over relaxed conversations and wine or working my green fingers in my balcony garden.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It’s one destination where I’ve always returned to, simply because it offers me the same level of comfort and familiarity each time I return. It’s where I can feel most relaxed, yet still be able to enjoy the vibrant dining scene.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

Shameless plug for your business:
Officially opened on 12 October 2017, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay is the first international luxury hotel brand situated at Robertson Quay. Set amidst a dynamic, sophisticated neighbourhood along the Singapore River, known for its dining options and arts houses, the luxury residential-inspired hotel has been carefully curated by world-­class designers, architects and culinary purveyors. Located minutes away from the CBD, the hotel still maintains a stylish but laid back, relaxed feel in the leafy, upscale neighbourhood of Robertson Quay. The hotel offers 225 luxurious studios and suites, including an expansive Penthouse, which has unparalleled views of both the Singapore River and vibrant city via floor-­to-­ceiling windows.

The residential-­inspired property combines elements from Robertson Quay’s industrial and intriguing past with sleek contemporary finishes whilst seamlessly blending into the residential surrounds. Light-­filled room interiors have been designed to magnify the familiar comforts of home where guests may enjoy bespoke amenities such as a specially designed in-­room cocktail kit.

Established as part of a holistic dining and lifestyle destination, the hotel boasts a wide range of restaurant and bar concepts. Flagship restaurant Publico, representing the central core of Italian culture, is a multi-­concept dining destination comprising a variety of Italian experiences under one roof – a neighbourhood deli and bar and a ristorante with adjoining terrazzo by the river. Other highlights throughout the hotel include New York institution Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, and a bar and dining concept from the team behind Izy Sushi. Over 40 other dining options await at the hotel doorstep, in The Quayside precinct.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markwinterton1/

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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