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Karen French, Owner of Karen French Floral Designs

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Through knowing Karen I’ve been opened up to a whole new world of floral design I never knew existed.  Great to watch what she is doing for brands in this space.

What’s your story?
I’m a global nomad and grew up in the Middle East countries of Bahrain and Dubai. For the past 2 decades I’ve lived in Singapore. I’m a passionate floral designer and a published author, specialising in floral training for the hospitality industry and floral project management for brands. I’ve been labeled a Third Culture Kid (TCK), a Trailing Spouse, the Colour Lady and most recently a Floral Queen. Whatever the label, I remain focused on my floral journey.

What excites you most about your industry?
It has to be the amazing opportunities that excite me. Experiencing diverse floral cultures, the floral fashion shows, the partnerships.  Watching new trends and techniques emerge around the world and being able to share the scope of using flowers as part of a brand to create an ambience of affluence or  a touch point in a customer experience. Best of all  I get a buzz from showing my clients how to leverage the power of flowers in their businesses.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I feel extremely connected and at home here in Asia. I touched down at Changi Airport in the fall of 1994 . Some  of those years I spent  in  Jakarta and the rest have been spent living and working here in Singapore. During those years I’ve explored the cities of Manila, Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing and the many islands of Indonesia, including Bintan, Bali and Lombok – just to name a few. Asia is vibrant, well connected and fast paced with diverse cultures. I love it!

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
As a female expatriate, I think it has to be Singapore. It ranks high on the list of easy places to set up a business as well as being safe, efficient, easy to get around and has easy access to one of the best airports in the world. The infrastructure is efficient  and in the past few years more co-working spaces have become available and some incredible networking groups have emerged.  These are all good ingredients  for creative entrepreneurs like myself.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
It came from Daniel Priestley, the entrepreneur and best-selling author of ‘Become A Key Person Of Influence’. When we met, he was incredibly insightful about my business and opened my eyes to the fact that I was sitting on a mountain of wealth.

Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by a host of amazing people from so many industries and professions both in my own community, networks and everyday life to iconic leaders in our global world. American business woman Mary Spillane is one of those people who stands out. An expert in communications, business and development, performance improvement and personal branding, she was also the founder of Colour Me Beautiful (CMB) and author of several books. I had the privilege to meet her when I qualified as a CMB Image Consultant in 1994 and I think she deserves a special mention here because two decades later, even though I have changed professions, fundamentally, my floral business and life still revolve around image, colour and style.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learnt the importance of brand storytelling and how to create short, impactful videos. It’s opened up a whole new creative world to share what I do and being a ‘gadget girl’ it’s  introduced me to some new tools and Apps which have blown me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I believe everything happens for a reason and you can’t run if you haven’t learnt to walk. So I have no regrets about my journey. It has given me time to grow, to listen and to learn and now I have entered a new phase, to go forth with confidence and share.

How do you unwind?
I adore photography and love being behind the lens. Getting lost in a visual world of colours, textures and shapes, people, flowers and architecture is one of my favourite pastimes.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Only one? There are so many wonderful places to visit and am known for my frequent small breaks to re energize, but  if I can only choose one, I have to say I love the Thai hospitality. I recently traveled to Hua Hin, a beach resort and home to the King and Queen of Thailands summer palace. I found the boutique hotels fascinating, the temples calming and we even had a trip to the Hua Hin Hills vineyard, a most unexpected find.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Whatever your thoughts about Lady Gaga you can’t ignore her success in turning her followers into fanatics. In the book Monster Loyalty, Jackie Huba, a marketing expert explores her fan philosophy and isolates 7 lessons that any business can learn.

Shameless plug for your business:
A mentor once told me that it doesn’t matter what I do, but whatever it is, be the best. I believe that at  Karen French Floral Designs, our products are second to none. In the next few months my new book ‘Hospitality, Flowers and Brands’ will be published and it’s a book you can’t ignore. It focuses on 5 key areas: Image, Impressions, Inspiration, Investment and Implementation,  to create flowers that WOW!  If flowers are part of your brand and you’re in the business of hospitality stay connected!

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.karenfrenchfloraldesigns.com
Author Website: http://entertainwithflowersandflair.com/book/
LinkedIn: http://sg.linkedin.com/in/karenfrench1

Twitter handle?
@KarenFrenchFD

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnects

Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs.

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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