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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

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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