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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

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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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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