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Luke Tan, Founder of Evolved Generation

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For Luke Tan, succeeding as an athlete and an individual comes down to being fuelled by plants. As a vegan he has experienced an athletic edge.

What’s your story?

I am an author, coach and award winning plant-fuelled athlete. In my journey through the health and fitness industry, I have found that the intersection between long-term health, enhanced athletic performance and sustainability, lies in a plant-based perspective.

I initially embraced a vegan diet for ethical reasons, but 3 plus years on, I realise it has become my athletic edge giving me, enhanced recovery and detoxification, increased strength and energy and better body composition. Being extremely passionate about a plant-based diet, I decided to start the brand Evolved Generation (based in Australia), authored a book on the subject, and I am now growing my coaching brand, The A.W.A.K.E Method. My intention is to spread the message of health, athleticism and personal empowerment through a plant-fuelled lifestyle.

In June 2015, my team (from Evolved Generation) and I travelled to Austin, Texas to compete alongside global vegan muscle team Plantbuilt. I was placed first in my category representing Australia and Singapore. Through my journey as an athlete and a coach, I have realised that achieving optimal health is fairly simple. All it takes is starting to incorporate more nutrient dense whole plant-based foods into one’s diet.

What excites you most about your industry?

With the rise of chronic degenerative diseases (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc) in developed nations, there is now a massive move towards preventative health (more personal trainers, nutritionists, yoga and holistic practitioners, for example).  Medical practitioners in the U.S.A. are starting to utilize a plant-based diet to heal and reverse these debilitating diseases. On another front, companies these days are also starting to move towards more sustainable and ethical practices.

Based on these two factors, the interest in the plant-based movement is experiencing significant growth according to Google trends. It has seen a 3 fold increase in the past 4-5 years and 700% increase in the search for ‘vegan’ information in Australia since 2005. Living and breathing the message, it’s amazing to be at the forefront of an emerging industry.

What’s your connection to Asia?

Born in Singapore, I packed my bags in 1999 and left for Melbourne, Australia to further my studies. In a blink of an eye, 16 years have passed and I realise how much the Singapore landscape has changed.  It’s amazing to witness Singapore’s progress each year I visit. A new freeway, a new mall and a new MRT line. Everything just happens so quick here.

While being in Melbourne, I appreciate the great coffee, arts, the four seasons in a day, the Yarra river, but most of all the laidback Australian culture. Fully embracing a western perspective towards life, in my heart, I was always a Singapore boy. I appreciate sitting in a coffee shop sipping on my local $1 ‘sock kopi’, whilst watching seniors doing their morning ‘Tai chi’ in the neighbourhood parks.

Bodybuilders+(web) Team+evolved+(high+res)

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?

I may be biased but I would have to say Singapore. What I’ve noticed is that the government here is very supportive of SMEs and start-ups. Offering generous grants and a framework that supports business owners, resulting in an entrepreneurial culture that is extremely innovative and highly productive.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

‘Make a difference,’ I once heard Anthony Robbins say in an audio book. I believe that to create something of significance, it has to be driven by a strong ‘Why’. ‘Why’ does the organisation exist? ‘Why’ does the product or service exist? ‘Why’ do you do what you do? It has often got to be greater than oneself, and the obvious.

I believe that as I work towards growing both my brands, I am driven by a strong ‘why’. My ‘why’ is what drives each action and decision that I make.

Receiving a few hard knocks from life (as described in my book), experiencing my own archetypal descent, I’ve now found a deep sense of purpose for doing what I do. It revolves around making a difference to others, and the world at large. Be it better health, a greater sense of self, or creating a culture where consumption is both mindful and positive. I am extremely passionate about my cause.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by wellness advocate, author, ultra-endurance athlete and father, Rich Roll. How he acts in the world is congruent with his brand, and the positive message that he spreads. I love his plant-powered message, and how he inspires others to embrace a life of truth and authenticity.

This quote by Carl Jung deeply resonates with me, ‘the privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.’

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?

What you think someone wants, may be totally different to what they actually want. For answers, feedback or leads, my uncle always told me as a kid, “always ask and you shall get!”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

If I had my time again, I would not change one single thing. I believe any mistakes made and any past lessons learnt, defines who I am today, and who I will be in the future. As an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) trainer, I often advise clients on the presuppositions I’ve learnt, such as,‘there is no such thing as failure, only feedback.’

How do you unwind?

My morning routine of meditating for 20 minutes when I wake up, then writing in my journal on how my day is to unfold. Another activity that helps me unwind is putting on an ambient soundtrack, sitting on my favourite armchair, then getting absorbed in a good book.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?

Hua Hin in Thailand. Being remote and about 3 hours away from Bangkok, you get the warm Thai hospitality minus the hustle and bustle of the city. Plus, I get access to an amazing array of sweet tropical fruits that cost next to nothing. Perfect for someone who thrives on a plant-based diet.

Everyone in business should read this book:

Good to Great by Jim Collins. It describes why certain brands or companies have achieved global success in the long term. The book then visits what the characteristics are of these great brands or companies and addresses how to achieve it within your own organisation.

Shameless plug for your business:

Through the A.W.A.K.E Method philosophy towards coaching, I am looking to launch seminars and workshops that revolve around personal and physical empowerment.

Specialising in plant-fuelled nutrition and NLP, the aim of each seminar is to equip and empower individuals with the necessary tools to break out of the ‘diet/weight loss mindset’ and instead, focus on intrinsic motivations and plant-based nourishment to achieving long-term health, increased energy and enhanced mental acuity, whilst maintaining a perspective of sustainability.

My book ‘A.W.A.K.E and Alive: Harness your physical and mental potential through a plant-based lifestyle’ is a great intro for anyone open to a holistic perspective on long term physical and personal empowerment. On my website, there is a page dedicated to plant-based diet references, documentaries and films to watch, free downloads and even where to eat.

How can people connect with you?

Through my website, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Twitter handle?

@theawakemethod

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

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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