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Sam Lau, Founder of Total Loyalty

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A great mutual friend of Sam and I suggested we connected a couple of years ago as we both own businesses in the Employee Wellness space.  Sam built up a great company in Australia and now is replicating that success in Hong Kong.

Sam’s Business:

My company is called Total Loyalty Company, and we provide staff lifestyle programs for employers. We help companies provide more perks and social activities to staff, without using valuable internal resources to do so. We source corporate discounts, help organise staff events and seasonal offers to enhance the employment offering, allowing companies of all sizes to provide the sort of perks normally reserved for large corporations to their employees. We help provide happy, healthy and productive work environment. We call these staff loyalty programs. Companies very often look to loyalty programs for their customers, but many times ignore their most valuable asset, their staff.

We typically help our clients work on a theme – such as to enable staff to mix better, or have more work-life balance, but recently the most popular theme has been to provide wellness solutions.

We have a complete solution that costs similar to buying staff a cup of coffee a month. Currently our solutions are in Hong Kong but looking to expand to other parts of Asia.

What’s your story?

I have been an entrepreneur since 1995, after spending my early career in Shell Australia. I have a passion in helping companies create better workplaces, in terms of staff morale and making the workplace fun! As many of us spend almost half the day at work, I believe that each company should provide the initiatives at work to make sure each person can feel they can perform at their optimum. After all, happy and healthy employees will lead to optimal productivity!

What excites you most about your industry?

Work-life balance, corporate wellness, staff engagement are terms that are top of mind of many HR leaders, but yet in Asia not many companies are providing solutions in this space specifically. This industry is still in its infancy and has got huge opportunity to grow in the next 2-3 years. I am excited to be in the driver’s seat and see the opportunity to be one of the change leaders of this industry in Asia.

What’s your connection to Asia?

I was born in Hong Kong, and after studying in the UK briefly and spending many years in Australia, have recently moved back to Hong Kong.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?

I have to say Hong Kong, for now, as the city is, for all the rhetoric still the gateway to China and also a window to many international corporations. The city is very multi-cultural and still attracts many entrepreneurs with many fresh ideas.

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

There are many great pieces of advice I have received, but probably one that I live my life by, is to always think “how can I help you” when meeting people, without expecting anything in return. Doing business is about developing trust, especially in Asia. I am always happy to provide an introduction or a connection if I can help. You develop a trust and bond with your contact and that could be invaluable as you develop.

Who inspires you?

Many people inspire me for different reasons, so it is hard to pinpoint one. Just because one is rich and successful to me doesn’t necessarily inspire. I would say anyone who has a strong sense of ethics in they way they conduct themselves inspires me.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?

Recently someone was talking about company values, what does a company stand for. Large organisations tend to work these out through many offsite workshops and come up with some collaboratively created list. This person challenged all that, and say as an entrepreneur – you and you alone should set what the company values are, and these should be non-negotiable with your staff. It is about what you stand for and that is reflected in your business, and you should not be doing any staff consultations to work this out.

In fact you should use these values and find out during interviews for new staff if they buy into them. Otherwise no matter how competent they are for the job, if they do not share your values and ethics, that person should not be an employee of yours. I thought this was totally on the mark..

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

I think most entrepreneurs agree that starting companies can be a very lonely existence. You come up with great ideas, you have a plan and you work on it. Unlike sitting in a multi national corporation where you can have many resources on hand to help critique and enhance, you are a lot of times on your own. I would say I would get myself a mentor earlier on, to help guide and perhaps provide a sounding board for your wacky ideas and schemes, and also to ensure I stay on track!.

How do you unwind?

I am a big fan of hiking and in Hong Kong it is a great way to get away from the concrete jungle and actually smell some fresh air. It helps clear your head and I find it physically and mentally rewarding. I also love to eat and trying out new places. My latest favourite area in Hong Kong is the network of streets around Tai Hang for some great eateries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?

I recently went to Chiang Mai in Thailand and didn’t realise how relaxing it can be, sitting by the pool with a massive green wall, great service and people, and basically doing nothing! I highly recommend this place for a thoroughly relaxing holiday!

Everyone in business should read this book:

I am not a big reader of business books, but one that I recently picked up is called The Chimp Paradox, by Dr Steve Peters. It talks about how to recognise how your mind works and he has used his model to help many olympic athletes to succeed.

How can people connect with you?

You can contact me by email – [email protected] or by phone +852 5131 6338

 

This Interview was part of Callum Connects column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnects

Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs.

 

Connect with Callum here:

twitter.com/laingcallum

linkedin.com/in/callumlaing

Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>

 

Callum Connects

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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Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

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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