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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

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

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Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website: http://uventures.com.sg/

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacekoh/

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

Ray Ferguson, Founder of Caber Partners

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Ray Ferguson left the banking world and returned to Asia to explore exciting fintech opportunities.

What’s your story?
I am the Founder of Caber Partners, a Singapore based MAS Licensed Fund Manager and Financial Advisor investing and working with companies focused exclusively on the intersection of finance and technology. I work specifically in the areas of payments, insurance, wealth management, alternative lending and blockchain.

I am also Chairman of Singapore Life which was founded last year. It is the first new local life company in Singapore. Concurrently, I chair Youtap a business which is creating a cashless e-money processing backbone providing real-time interoperable settlements of all consumer e-money payments to the merchants, e-money providers, retail and FMCG distribution groups, and banks across emerging markets.

My 30 year journey as a banker had its main leg with Standard Chartered Bank, where I held multiple country chief executive and regional leadership roles across four continents. I spent 6 years as Regional CEO, South East Asia and Chief Executive, Singapore. After Standard Chartered, I moved to Bank ABC, Bahrain and assumed the role of Group Chief Banking Officer where I took care of the group’s banking businesses worldwide.
Last year, I decided to step down after 3 years from my role with Bank ABC to return to Asia to pursue interesting and exciting opportunities that fintech disruption was providing.

What excites you most about your industry?
The sheer pace of technological innovation in the financial sector, and how it is up-ending the traditional models and traditional players. There are huge implications and benefits for efficiency, transparency and importantly financial inclusion which will drive growth in emerging markets.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have lived in and worked in Asia for more than 30 years. I first came to Singapore in 1994 and today I am a proud Singapore citizen, and to me Singapore is home.

Its an invigorating environment. Asia is in the middle of an historic transformation. If it continues to follow its recent trajectory, by 2050 its per capita income could rise sixfold in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms to reach Europe’s levels today. It would make some 3 billion additional Asians affluent by current standards. By nearly doubling its share of global gross domestic product (GDP) to 52 percent by 2050, Asia would regain the dominant economic position it held some 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution. This is a big deal and I’m excited to be part of it!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore! Singapore is known for being a business-friendly country and it was crowned the best country in World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business List” and ranks as the top 3 in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitive Index.” Singapore is an attractive hub, for both businesses and has a great community to live in.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Listen intently and you will know what you don’t know.

Who inspires you?
Nelson Mandela

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That the global mobile wallet market was valued at approximately USD 594 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD 3,100 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 32% between 2017 and 2022.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have learnt to code.

How do you unwind?
Exercise, golf and sailing large catamarans.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket. Easy to reach, Thai people and service, breadth of choice of locations/accomodation and great sailing weather.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Good to Great – Jim Collins. It’s about how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how and why most companies fail to make the transition.

Shameless plug for your business:
Caber Partners team is uniquely connected with our networks and experience in fintech markets, investing and banking and business growth solutions throughout Asia and across the emerging world.

How can people connect with you?
Come connect with me through my LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rayfergusonscb

Twitter handle?
Rayferguson888

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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