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Overcoming the Ego



Many of us would, if we knew what on earth the ego was. Indeed, trying to understand the totality of the human psyché is complex. Plato and Aristotle divided our psyché into three parts; so did Freud with the id, ego, and super-ego.

Modern psychologists describe the ego as the inner-narrator of our self-consciousness; umpiring our thoughts, feelings, and actions. The ego’s judgements produce inner-conflict and creates identity crises. The ego is impulsive rather than logical, visceral rather than reasonable.

Understanding the different ways the ego operates leads to overcoming it. Here are 8 manifestations:

1. Materialism 

The Vedics called it Ahaṃkāra; tying your self-worth together with objects—a car, a house, a piece of jewelry. Ahaṃ refers to the Self; kāra is “any created thing.” When an object has the ability to make you feel better or worse, you’re caught in Ahaṃkāra, of ego-attachment.

Advertisers exploit the ego and make us believe we’ll feel better buying their product. Ironically, it’s low self-esteem that increases materialism. But it’s reversible; increasing self-esteem through highlighting your immaterial qualities — your sense of humor, your drive, your character, breaks the ego’s materialistic bondage.

Find your value and identity apart from external objects — the things that cannot be taken away from you.

2. Trapped in the Past

The ego can go from romanticizing your past, to degrading and trapping you in your past. When scars begin to heal, it rips them open again; when working toward a great future, it whispers that your best days are behind you.

Our egos are afraid of the unknown. Our past experiences — good or bad — are familiar, and we’re comfortable with what’s familiar. It’s the reason many stay in bad relationships.

Realize your past does not define you, nor will it dictate your future. Although the ego’s intention may be to keep you safe by being comfortable, the pull towards the past cripples what is being created in your present, and for your future.

3. Inferiority Complex

The ego doesn’t just live next door to the Joneses, it mows their lawn, for free. It constantly speaks the language of “not good enough.” Any achievement is undermined, any accomplishment is mocked. Overcoming the inferiority caused by ego means ceasing to play the comparison game; stepping away from the rat-race.

The ego dissolves when you run your own race, and step to the beat of your own drum. Find satisfaction in who you are today, and who you will become tomorrow. When the ego keeps looking to others, you need to look in the mirror.

4. Limitations and Scarcity

Our brain’s reticular activation system (RAS) brings to attention what we subconsciously mark as important. If you’re considering a new BMW, you’ll start noticing them everywhere.

The ego’s focus is one of limitation; it’s short sighted, and driven by fear of running out. As a result, your RAS sees everything in a limited sense: not only finances, but also happiness and healthy relationships.

The ego always see the glass half empty and the cloud without the silver lining. Our perceptions shape reality, if you focus on limitations, you will surely experience them. Silence the ego, and choose to see the world of abundant possibilities.

5. Self-Sabotage

Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” The ego doesn’t think so. It prefers to keep you in bubble-wrap rather than risk being hurt. And so when something is heading in a good direction, the ego orchestrates destructive behavior to avoid the ‘risk’ and stay safe. Remember the ego is afraid of the unknown, good or bad.

Embrace the experience, and be conscious of your ego trying to steer you off course just because you’re heading toward an unknown destination. Never let a potential ‘sad’ ending overshadow an incredible experience.

6. The Stoic

The ego doesn’t like being naked — emotionally. It equates transparency and vulnerability with weakness, so it puts up walls. But these walls truncate the full expression of your human self. Emotions are healthy, and should never be bottled up. It causes us to live less than who we truly are.

To let fear, ridicule, and judgment block your untethered emotions and beliefs is to hide behind the veil of ego.

7. Reacting Rather Than Responding 

The ego is like an electric fence protecting a false, elevated identity — ready to react at any minute. Every comment is an insult, and any advice is criticism. It’s not just wearing your heart on your sleeve, it’s wearing your self-worth on your sleeve, and then picking a fight.

The ego-free person is able to process before responding, to restrain the visceral and make room for the reasonable, to think before acting. Understand that personal attacks from other people reflects more of their character than yours; that will help your hyperactive-bodyguard ego to relax.

8. The Tyrant of Productivity

We’re workaholics because the ego measures our value by what we achieve and produce. Yet there is something profound in simply who we are as human beings. We’re surrounded with infinite galaxies, but we are a speck. However, we are a speck with the consciousness to somehow grasp the infinite. We are a nail that understands it is part of a mansion.

But the ego gets lost in productivity and forgets reflection, awe, and appreciation. To create is a amazing ability — but it’s a byproduct of our amazing being. From being comes creating, not the other way around.


Women on Top in Tech – Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and Digital Innovation Strategist



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

I am talking to Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and freelance Digital Innovation Strategist. Tara was selected and recognized by as one of the 500 most talented young people in the Dutch digital scene during the 2017 TNW edition. Tara is known for her creative, entrepreneurial spirit, which she is using to her advantage in leading the change in SMEs and corporates around the globe.

What makes you do what you do?

I tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle. Because of my curious nature, I am in constant development, looking for new angles and new approaches to business problems. Innovation through technology is exploring ideas and pushing boundaries. The most radical technological advances have not come from linear improvements within one area of expertise. Instead, they arise from the combination of seemingly disparate inventions. This is, in fact, the core of innovation. I love going beyond conventional thinking practices. Mashing up different thoughts and components, connecting the dots, and transforming that into something useful to businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I consistently chose to follow my curiosity, which has led me to where I am today. If you want to succeed in the digital industry, you need to have a growth mindset. Seen the fact that the industry is evolving in an astoundingly quick rate, it’s crucial to stay current with the trends and forces in order to spot business opportunities. I believe taking responsibility for your own learning and development is key to success.

Why did you take on the role of Digital Innovation Strategist?

The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, I got frustrated with businesses operating in the exact same way they did a couple of decades ago. Right now we are in the midst of a technology revolution, and the latest possibilities and limitations of cutting-edge technologies are evolving every single day. This means that companies need to stay current and act lean if they want to survive. On a more personal level, I noticed that I felt the need to use my creativity and problem-solving skills to their maximum capacity. In transforming businesses at scale, I change the rules of the game. I love breaking out of traditional, old-fashioned patterns by nurturing innovative ideas. This involves design thinking, extensive collaboration and feedback, the implementation of various strategies and tactics, validated learning, and so on. I get a lot of energy from my work because it is aligned with my personal interests.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries?

Yes, I look up to Drew Boyd. He is a global leader in creativity and innovation. He taught me how to evaluate ideas in order to select the best ones to proceed with. This is crucial because otherwise,you run the risk of ideas creating the criteria for you because of various biases and unrelated factors. He also taught me a great deal on facilitation of creativity workshops.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to have the characteristics of a transformational leader. People have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy is motivating and even inspiring to them. Even though I take these comments as a huge compliment, I am not sure how I feel about referring to myself as a leader. To me, it still has a somewhat negative connotation. I guess I associate the concept with being a boss who’s throwing around commands. But if a leader means listening to others and igniting intrinsic motivation in people, then yes, I guess I’m a charismatic leader.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, one hundred percent. I believe that creativity and innovation flourish when a highly diverse group of people bounces ideas off each other. Diversity in terms of function, gender,and culture is extremely valuable, especially in the ideation phase of a project, as it can help to see more possibilities and come up with better ideas.

Do you have any advice for others?

Yes, I have some pieces of advice I’d like to share.
First of all: Develop self-awareness. You can do so by actively seeking feedback from the people around you. This will help you understand how others see you, align your intentions with your actions, and eventually enhance your communication- and leadership skills.

Surround yourself with knowledgeable and inspiring people. They might be able to support you in reaching your goals, and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Ask “why?” a couple of times. This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. Make sure to often remind yourself and your team of the outcome of this exercise to have a clear sense of direction and focus.

Data is your friend. Whether it’s extensive quantitative market research or a sufficient amount of in-depth consumer interviews (or both!), your data levels all arguments. However, always be aware of biases and limitations of research.

Say “Yes, and…” instead of “No”. Don’t be an idea killer. Forget about the feasibility and budget, at least in the ideation phase. Instead, encourage your team to generate ideas without restrictions. You can compromise certain aspects later.

Prioritization is key. There is just no way you can execute all your ideas, and, quite frankly, there is no point in trying to do so. Identify the high potential ideas and start executing those first.

Encourage rapid prototyping. Don’t wait too long to experiment, launch, and iterate your product or service. Fail fast and fail often. Adopt an Agile mindset.

If you’d like to get in touch with Tara Velis, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

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Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures



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?

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:
Download free copies of his books here:

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