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Shaen Yeo, Founder of Positive Education

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Shaen believes “education is for life.” Through positive psychology, Shaen is empowering schools and teachers to raise the next generation of thriving kids.

What’s your story?
As a schoolteacher I was frustrated and worried when I realised kids knew very well how to study but did not have the skills to weather challenge or a solid foundation for well-being. So I decided to uproot my family (my daughter was 10 months at the time) to Philadelphia to pursue a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology at U Penn in 2010. I realised how much of that could be applied into our schools, and into parenting. I knew it was the missing piece to our education system, so I quit my job and ventured into being an entrepreneur, serving schools and families to raise flourishing kids. Over the last 7 years, I’ve seen schools transformed, parents reconnected with their kids, businesses thriving as a result of applying the principles of positive psychology. I want to expand my reach beyond Singapore (already been to Philippines) so that more people can benefit and as the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” I’m in the thick of it, and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon!

What excites you most about your industry?
What is exciting is that education is for life. It has given me and many others a chance to grow, learn and create a new path. Well-being education, in particular, isn’t just about being happy, but empowering people to live their fullest life and in turn contribute to the world in the best possible way. With the research in positive psychology as the backing, there is hope of leaving a positive legacy for generations to come.

What’s your connection to Asia?
When I was studying in U Penn, I was the only Asian (in fact, the only Singaporean) and it really made me think about what it means. My classmates would turn to me and ask, “What’s the Asian perspective (on this Western literature?)” I had to really dig deep for the answers. To me, being Asian means we have a deep respect for family, strong ethics (both professional and personal) and a quiet humility that gives us inner strength and courage. I’ve learnt that we have so much to offer the world, through our commitment to quality and detail, and our ability to navigate relationships. The saying I love is 有关系没关系,没关系有关系。Literally that means – when you focus on the relationships first, there is no issue/challenge you can’t overcome. If you don’t, then everything becomes a challenge. This has rung particularly true for me in business.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. It’s easy to start up a business, and the taxes are low. It has one of the best internet connections in the region, making it easy to set up the IT infrastructure for your business and also reach consumers quickly.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Spend time every day feeling into and imagining your own dream as if it were true. Allow all the emotions to fill you, and live the reality even before you can see it. Because when you can dream it, and surround yourself with the right mindset, emotions and actions, anything is possible.

Who inspires you?
Nick Vujicic. Watching him and his life unfold. It reminds me everyday that there is no limit to what we can all achieve. He combines a certain vulnerability, humour and wisdom as a result of his past experience that makes it easy to relate to him. And he is living proof that we are all capable of living a full and flourishing life!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
A new coaching methodology that allows me to access the unconscious parts of my memories, beliefs and emotions, freeing me (and my clients) from their past baggage, so they can reach greater heights in their life. Knowing psychology deeply, I found that there was a limitation when the conscious mind (person) blocked their own progress to get better. With this methodology, I could simply command my consciousness and it will continue to work in the background. It’s amazing.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would take setbacks and other people’s words less seriously, and recognize that being in tune with my emotions is not the same as being emotional. It is about relating to the world in a different way than what is expected, but it is authentic.

How do you unwind?
I play badminton and do yoga. I have lots of outdoor time with my kids and go on date nights with my hubby!

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Krabi. It’s close to Singapore, has great food and the people are warm and open. I feel a sense of peace kayaking amidst the Hongs. In those moments, I can really reconnect to my inner self and my vision for what I want my life to be about.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Start with why” by Simon Sinek. When you are super clear on your ‘why’, the ‘how’ and ‘what’ fall into place.

Shameless plug for your business:
Through coaching, training and speaking, I empower schools, teachers and parents with the tools and research from positive psychology so they can raise the next generation of thriving kids. I also support business mums who want to have it all – a thriving business, a happy family and a positive impact on the world. Over the last 7 years, I’ve impacted more than 10,000 people in Singapore and beyond. Clients that have worked with me always commend my top quality work, deep knowledge of the field and practical application of the research that empowers them.

How can people connect with you?
They can find me:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/shaen.yeo
Biz page: https://www.facebook.com/positiveeducation/
Website: http://www.positiveedu.com
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shaenyeomapp/
Email: [email protected]

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

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

Callum Connects

Denise Mossis 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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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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