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Selene Chin, Founder & CEO of Smarty Pants

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Selene Chin hopes to encourage others to believe in themselves and achieve the best life possible. She started Smarty Pants, a comprehensive life skills school to help people ready themselves for the world.

What’s your story?
My story is that of a late bloomer who took her time to flourish. An introvert who found her way in an extroverted industry. A woman with a desire to (to quote the late Steve Jobs), “put a ding in the universe”. I hope my story will give hope to anyone who knows in their heart that they are destined for bigger things, but have yet found the voice or courage to shout it to the world.

What excites you most about your industry?
The education industry has not seen a real revolution in the past 50 years! There are lots of innovators at the side advocating new ways to educate and engage with our children but there is no one that really sticks or has made it into mainstream. From an opportunistic point of view, this means that the industry has a lot of room to grow and stretch. From the point of view of someone who believes in children, I think it’s about time we adults level up the game. Both points of view excite me and push me ahead every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am a Singapore thoroughbred. I am born, bred and educated in Singapore. I am effectively bilingual and in my life as a creative agency person, my work took me all over Asia. I love this part of the world. It is rich, vibrant and buzzing with energy. Just visit any major city in Asia and you’ll get a sense that dreams are possible and can become real.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Other than Singapore? 🙂 I would have to say Hong Kong. I am Cantonese and grew up watching Hong Kong serial dramas. When I first stepped into the city, I must have walked around with my mouth wide open the whole time. I feel that Hong Kong now is very different it has lost its shine somewhat. The city feels tired, sluggish, and with a lot of angst. It just feels like the whole city needs a detox. Hong Kong will always have a special place in my heart though. I hope it will regain its shine when I next visit.

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What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Spend time developing yourself. Don’t stagnate. Only then can you be the best mother to your children.

Who inspires you?
So many. Successful, celebrated folk: Richard Branson. President Obama. Ma Yun. John Woods. But also everyday people: My husband. My daughter.  My son. My students. Their parents. The lady who sells tissues and sings a composition of her own to market her wares. My admin manager.

I like their grit, conviction, commitment to life, their determination to achieving the best life they can, their belief in themselves, and their capacity for love. That inspires me.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Just last week, I received feedback from someone that a programme I was conducting was the exact thing her school had been working with education experts to incorporate. Later that week, I also got approached by two other contacts who were interested in bringing Smarty Pants to countries beyond Singapore. Don’t get me wrong, I have always believed in the potential of Smarty Pants – I wouldn’t be doing this otherwise. But just to hear those affirmations from other people is humbling, terrifying, and mind blowing all at the same time.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Looking back, I have always had a desire to start something on my own. I wish I had listened to my gut and come out on my own earlier.

How do you unwind?
I read a book, stroll the streets, watch a movie. Simple things. I unwind best when I am by myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I don’t have one, to be honest. Different mindsets draw me to different destinations. But I always have fun at beach holidays. Something about the sun, the sand and the sound of waves.

Everyone in business should read this book:
REWORK, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

Shameless plug for your business:
Smarty Pants is a school that readies your child for life. Academic training can only take you so far. When your child moves into adulthood, you want her to ready for the world and savvy about life. Smarty Pants trains your child in 4 areas of life smarts – financial awareness, social awareness, entrepreneurial thinking, and sustainable lifestyle – so that they can go on to live rich, sustainable lives. There is no other life skills school that has such a comprehensive curriculum of life skill courses around. Why wait? Book a course now at smartypants.sg today!

How can people connect with you?
Linkedin’s good, search for Selene Chin, Smarty Pants. I’m quite visible on search so it’s easy to locate me. Email’s good too – [email protected]

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

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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

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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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?
@Spaceexecutive

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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Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

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Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched.

What’s your story?
I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position.

Who inspires you?
Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start.

How do you unwind?
I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki

Shameless plug for your business:
Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning.

How can people connect with you?
Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@malcolmABM

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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