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Raoul Olbes, Co-Founder Director of Big Brown Eyes Studio

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“Ignorance is bliss” when it comes to developing apps and games.
 
What’s your story?
I have failed, I have failed, and I have failed. This makes even the humblest of successes worth it. My story starts in Manila where I was born and raised; your typical island boy I spent weekends on the beach and studied in international schools which helped prepare me for the international world we now live in. I eventually moved to Las Vegas for university but always wanted to move back and take what I had learned back with me. After many ventures into various industries like television production, fuel wholesale and mining, I find myself lucky enough to be working with a super team of developers, artists and like minded individuals who share a goal to reinvent apps and game development in the Philippines. We want to show that the talent here (which is utilized heavily in an outsourcing manner) can be used to create our own original world class games and apps.

What excites you most about your industry?
The fact that it is all very new to me; I am learning as I go and trying to absorb as much as I can. I feel this is a strength though because during this period you can operate outside of the boundaries that people normally set for themselves. I like to believe ignorance is bliss in this case.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am proudly born and raised in Asia. I did get my university degree in the States (UNLV) so I feel very fortunate to have spent time abroad but Asia is home and this is where I see myself.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I would have to say Manila. This place has always been the ugly duckling compared to her sister cities around the region but it seems like it is changing; people seem to be more open to Manila and can see that the people of our city are educated and innovative, but still have reasonable expectations. On a personal note, this is homecourt for me and who does not enjoy that?

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Remember, no one else knows exactly what the hell they are doing; everyone is just doing it as best they know how. You will make it through.

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from many individuals and teams. Some are decorated athletes, some are people in my daily life. People who take the time to help or make an impact on someone’s life even if they have nothing to gain always puts things back in perspective for me. Especially when you get derailed and need that kick in the @$$ to get you back on your track.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learned more about Tony Hsieh and his Downtown Las Vegas project. He spent almost $400 million of his own money for a cause he personally believed in. This shows a man who has won and isn’t afraid to lose. A man who has a vision and will see it through despite the difficulties. On a personal note the balls needed to tackle a project aiming to change a portion of a city are at the very least noteworthy.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I feel I could write a book about wrong decisions, derailment, getting my ass kicked up and down the block. But cliched as it sounds I feel all these experiences not only make you stronger and more knowledgeable; but they open new doors, new ideas and ways of thinking. On a fun note, I would love to go back to my college days in the States and seed fund Instagram – that would be great.

How do you unwind?
I enjoy unwinding with good friends over a bottle of bourbon. To keep balance I also maintain a pretty strict workout regimen. Racing cars are a big passion of mine and I join local drift competitions when time and budget allow. However being from the tropics I need to say nothing quite resets the body and spirit for this island boy like a trip to the beach.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I would have to say Palawan in the Philippines. Beach wise it just doesn’t get any better. There are resorts to suit all tastes and budgets as well as countless activities adventures and reasons to do nothing. However if a person is more inclined for recreation rather than relaxation; Boracay’s nightlife will not disappoint.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Who Moved My Cheese? — seeing as things get dated nowadays pretty much faster than we can innovate it’s good to remember to keep on top of your relevance.

Shameless plug for your business:
Big Brown Eyes Game Studio is a startup that breaks the rules. The fact that we do not all come from a tech background is a strength. We have a lot of influences to draw from. We also do not limit ourselves to the constraints of a single industry and we we are going to press on with our own rules. This is definitely something worth watching because succeed or fail, it is going to be a hell of a show.

How can people connect with you?
They can find me through most social media platforms; facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. Just search for Raoul Olbes. I can also be reached via email; [email protected]

Twitter handle?
Twitter is the one social media platform I do not have. I do share my thoughts and pictures on Instagram though — raoul_olbes

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

Denise Morris Kipnis, Founder & Principal of ChangeFlow Consulting

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Denise Mossis Kipnis’ curiosity in people and the world, lead her to set up ChangeFlow Consulting.

What’s your story?
I’m driven by curiosity. Having been the only one in a room who looks like me for most of my life, I developed a curiosity about who stays, who leaves and who thrives in minority/majority situations including when and how connection and collaboration happen. I was a systems thinker long before I knew what that was, always asking why and so what; and seeing the pieces, the whole, and the places in between. So helping people and organisations move through the complexity of transformation feels natural to me.

What excites you most about your industry?
I see change and inclusion as two sides of the same thing; I don’t practice one without the other. Some people see change as death, as loss, as exhausting. And it can be. But I see in the work I do as an opportunity for something new or hidden to emerge. When an organisation understands that it is first a group of people, who themselves represent and belong to groups of people, and it begins to tackle what it would mean to understand and learn from all that talent, all that diversity, to have them all working for and not against the organisation, to truly unleash all that their people have to offer; that’s magic.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Change and inclusion are personal values as well as professional strengths. For me, living and working outside of the States was a bold experiment to see whether any of the stuff I’d learned about change and inclusion would work outside of the US. My husband and I targeted Asia specifically: it would be the greatest contrast, culturally speaking, for me; and a unique career springboard for him.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Although I’ve practiced in other cities, I am biased towards Singapore. In some ways it’s what Los Angeles is to the rest of the United States, a microcosm of sorts. The regional/global nature of it means that so many different nationalities and cultures are represented. As a result of this mix, you never know what you might get. In some situations, cultural dynamics are obvious, sometimes subdued. The variability is compelling.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.” Michael Rouan.

Who inspires you?
Often it’s a “what” not a “who.” I can get inspiration from a passage in a book or a situation in a movie, as well as a turn of a phrase or watching people interact. I often make the biggest connections between the various threads I’m working on when I’m sitting in someone else’s event.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’m honestly not blown away by much. Instead, I’m struck how circular things can be: ideas often come back around with a slightly different twist and I watch the way it shakes things loose for people. I recently sat through a workshop on Self as Instrument, and despite being thoroughly versed already, I learned something. In preparing for a panel on design thinking, I unearthed a new language to describe things.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
You’ve caught me at a good time. I’m sitting in appreciation and gratitude for all my experiences, because I wouldn’t be who I was today if all that has happened, didn’t. And yet one thing comes to mind: It wasn’t until I redesigned my website two years ago (shout out to Brew Creative!) that I realised I hadn’t made explicit agreements with my past clients as to what I could share publicly about our engagement, or whether I could use their logos in my promotional materials. In my business, confidentiality is so important, and yet I need to be able to talk about the work as reputation and experience leads to the next success, and so on. It turned out a lot of the contacts I had known had left the organisations where the work was done, so they couldn’t help at that point. So the practice I’m carrying forward is to get those agreements up front, and to make sure my relationships in client systems are broad as well as deep.

How do you unwind?
Science fiction, puzzles, wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Home. I don’t travel to relax, I travel to learn and explore.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Built to Change, by Ed Lawler and Chris Worley. To my knowledge, it’s the first pivot from advising organisations away from stability and toward dynamism, from strategic planning to strategizing as an action verb; to blow up the traditions and rigidity that impede organisations from developing change capability.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re taught that there are two kinds of people: those who see forests, and those who see trees. There is a third type, my type, and we see the ecosystem. Worms, climate, birds, the spaces in between. This is the perspective organisations need to be successful in solving complex problems and thriving in change.
ChangeFlow uniquely blends four disciplines (two of which are multi-disciplinary in themselves): organisation development, culture and inclusion, change management and project management.

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChangeFlowConsulting/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dmorriskipnis/
LinkedIn Company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4862954/
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.changeflowconsulting.com

Twitter handle?
@ChangeFlow

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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Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

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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