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Steph Chu, Women’s Leadership Coach

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I’ve been lucky enough to start working with Steph on a couple of projects and it is great to see the energy and knowledge she brings to her work.  

What’s your story?
I grew up in a small town in Sabah, Malaysia, which had 3 main roads and not much else.  After completing university in Australia, I was privileged to join Accenture, working with financial institutions like DBS, ANZ, and CIMB. I had a great 16 year career, working in 8 different countries across 4 continents.

Unfortunately, I burnt out in my 10th year and it took 6 months of personal development and coaching to help me realise where I went wrong.  I went back to Accenture, renewed and had another amazing 6 years with them.  I realised that my mindset was the only thing that was making a difference in my entire experience.

I made the decision to leave Accenture and start my own women’s leadership coaching company as I wanted to help other women grow their teams and careers without burning out.

What excites you most about your industry?
Coaching provides a safe space for people to work through their fears and insecurities, without the fear of being judged or analysed.  For a lot of us, we don’t have someone to talk to who is there as our personal cheerleader and also our accountability partner.

Magic happens when we are able to bounce ideas off a neutral, trusted party, have them listen, question and encourage us when needed.  The key is also that they hold us accountable to the actions that we have committed to.

Just as all elite athletes have coaches, I believe every elite leader should have a coach.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve coached women from Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. What I’ve noticed is that for Asian women, the glass ceiling seems much thicker. As an Asian woman myself, I understand what it takes for an Asian woman to navigate her way through our patriarchal culture and even internal self-beliefs. For the non-Asian expatriate woman leading teams in Asia, having a female Asian coach who has led teams as an expatriate in 4 continents, helps too.

Athena Talk IMG_4182

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, because it’s uber efficient, clean, safe and very supportive of business owners.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Feel the fear and do it anyway.

This is a great piece of advice because whenever we want to do something new, something out of our comfort zone, fear is the number 1 emotion that will be coursing through our veins. When I made the decision to quit a steady corporate job and start my own business, I felt a lot of fear as starting a business was the great unknown.  However, I remembered this piece of advice and so I felt the fear and did it anyway.

Who inspires you?
Oprah Winfrey is an amazing woman and role model.  She came from a very underprivileged background, was abused when she was younger, and she still managed to create her media empire today.

Her ‘never say die’ attitude is something that we can all learn from.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Lea Coligado wrote an article about the amount of sexism she faced as a female student in computer science at Stanford.  In the 21st century, we would expect equality of the sexes to be more prevalent, especially at institutions of higher learning. Unfortunately, in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, it seems like we have not made much progress. When both Lea and a male classmate landed summer internship gigs at Facebook, a mutual friend was initially impressed by the male classmate’s intelligence at being accepted by Facebook.  When Lea, said she too was at Facebook, the friend made a comment that he should have applied, implying that if Lea, a woman, could get in, then obviously it wasn’t too hard.

As we try to encourage more young women to enter STEM, we must first ensure that we are encouraging both men and women to recognise each others strengths and contributions regardless of gender. We must level the playing field, or else we will be losing women in the workforce and all that hard work in getting more girls to enter STEM will be for naught.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing.  My journey has made me who I am today and I want to use my mistakes to help others.  I hope that they can learn from my mistakes, instead of making them.

How do you unwind?
Hanging out with my partner and my friends.  Nothing beats good food, good wine, good company and great conversation.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Any beach destination.  The sea has always been a soothing influence on me.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.  This book introduced to me the power of the mind and how beliefs impact our actions.  

His book is one of my inspirations for my upcoming book “ Effective Leadership for Women:  Building High Performance Teams“.  In my book, I teach women how to “activate” their leadership, by first working through their self-limiting beliefs and replacing them with enabling ones.

Shameless plug for your business:
I specialise in coaching women leaders who want to accelerate their career or their own business, without becoming overwhelmed . I’ve distilled my 16 years of leadership experiences into a 5-step leadership framework. Through a 12-session coaching programme, I help women leaders adopt my leadership framework. Over 3 – 6 months, they will learn to build teams that consistently overdeliver. I will even coach them through the implementation process, if they desire.

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.stephchu.com
LinkedIn: Steph Chu
Facebook: www.facebook.com/StephChuCoaching
Twitter: @stephchucoach

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s 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.

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

Benedict Heng, Founder of Mr. Farmer

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Benedict Heng is bringing back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your story?
I’m Ben from Mr. Farmer. Mr. Farmer is an online grocer dedicated to supplying the freshest produce to our customers. We believe in sustainable and ethical farming. Since a young age, I have always been an avid food lover (especially meats), developing a strong interest in all things delicious. That is why I ventured into the F&B industry, working as a junior cook for 3 years.

Midway through my career, I made a move to the finance industry to pursue monetary rewards. I dove into high-risk investments and I made lots of money from these investments. However, the good fortune did not last long and all these came crashing down when I suffered a tremendous loss. This coincided with the time that I had just started my own family and it was a huge blow to me both materially and mentally. It was this crash that made me realize that this life wasn’t for me. I went on a hiatus and eventually, it was only through the strong support from my family that I managed to tide over this tough episode.

I went back to help the family business and this was how Mr Farmer came about. My family has been in the food industry for many decades and one thing they noticed from years of experience is that sustainable farming practices are not as developed as in Europe. This is why through Mr Farmer, we hope that we can provide the best quality products to families out there who want the best ingredients for their loved ones.

What excites you most about your industry?
Delicious and wholesome food excites me. I believe food is a critical component of life and it brings people together. The opportunity to serve the community with fresh produce for a healthy life, that brings me joy.

I feel that there is still so much more we can do to improve the quality of food and bring it to the masses. One of the key components of ensuring greater quality of food is to support ethical and sustainable farming. Due to commercialization and urbanization, most farming practices these days are no longer the way they were in the old “kampong” times. Shortcuts are taken, standards are compromised, all in the name of profit. At Mr. Farmer, profit is important too but we want to focus on the concept of One Welfare – sustainable farming directly impacts our health. Our vision is to bring back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I call Singapore my home as it’s where my family and close friends are. I also travel frequently to Malaysia and APAC for work.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s definitely Singapore. There is just so much this tiny city can offer! Singapore has been globally recognized for its top-notch business environment providing its residents with developed infrastructure, political stability and excellent connectivity. These factors have given us an outstanding support system for businesses to strive.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, challenge you to rise higher, make you better and, keep them in your life.

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my uncle, who is the head of both the family and business. He takes care of our family matters at home and manages hundreds of employees at work. Handling both the family and business side of things can be tricky, but he has shown me that success can be sustainable and done with a conscience. His guiding philosophy of handling business and family is simply, to have a big heart.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Even just one day of separation from the day the meat is slaughtered, makes a world of difference to its flavour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have come to learn that awareness is the beginning of everything. If I had my time again, I would have probably spent more time figuring out who I truly am and with that self-awareness, begun to lead my life with more purpose and meaning.

How do you unwind?
I like to spend my free time sipping white coffee at my favourite coffee place. I enjoy taking in the surrounding sights and letting my mind wander freely. It allows me to unwind and gain clarity at the same time. It also helps me organize my thoughts to prepare for the week ahead.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It would be Bangkok as the people there are genuinely friendly and hospitable. They say people are what defines the city and I couldn’t agree more with this. I also enjoy the ‘laid back’ vibe of Bangkok. Not to mention Bangkok has all the good food and awesome shopping choices too!

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Spin selling” by Neil Reckham. It’s an amazing book that teaches you a process designed to help you successfully sell your products and services to business buyers.

Shameless plug for your business:
We at Mr. Farmer have the best tasting meats in Singapore, do a blind test and you will know why it’s Michelin chefs’ preferred choice. Not only are we very confident about the taste, we are also proud to say that all our products are chemical, hormone and antibiotic free. We also focus a lot on supporting ethical and sustainable farming practices believing in the ‘One Welfare’ concept. Do check us out if you enjoy good quality food like us!

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

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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Zac Chua, Founder & CEO of The Kettle Gourmet

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Zac Chua’s popcorn business validated itself straight away and fast tracked him to the startup world. Zac now employs 11 people and shifts 500 bags of popcorn daily.

What’s your story?
It’s a crazy one. It was an accidental startup. If you think about it, no university graduate would ever dream of becoming a popcorn seller. We crashed our first tech event to validate our idea and it took off from there. I bought a logo for $7 from a designers marketplace, printed some cheap name cards, and built a 1 page landing page. Sales started pouring in and eventually, we were serving B2B clients (corporate pantries) and we have never looked back. Today we move about 500 bags daily, we have 11 employees and we are growing. Talk about a validation that worked in our favour.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s food! Everybody loves food! In Singapore the F&B scene is brutally competitive and it spurs me on to fight and compete for market share and to prove to myself that I can do it. It keeps me going and I won’t stop until we become the market leader.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore, and have traveled to most of Southeast Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Even though Singapore has a high cost of living, the Government is actually very supportive of startups. They provide grants for us to tap into, and the technological infrastructure makes it possible for us to compete on a global scale. I believe if you can succeed in your business in Singapore, you can succeed in most of Southeast Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only need to be right once, and the rest is history.

Who inspires you?
My father, who was a VC. In fact he was the one who gave me the best piece of advice which I shared above. Having one successful exit, he showed me that it’s okay to fail a million times – all it takes is just one time for you to win in business and in life.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of compounding.

  • Mary and John are the same age.
  • Mary saves $2k annually from the age of 19-25 – so she puts $14k into her portfolio
  • John saves $2k annually from the age of 26-65 – so he puts $80k into his portfolio, but 7 years after Mary.
  • If both are able to generate 10% per annum, who would have more at age 65?
  • John of course! But how much more?
  • Mary will have $944,641 whilst John will have $973,704
  • Think about it! Mary puts in only $14k but John delays for 7 years and puts in $80k.

CRAZY RIGHT!?!?

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, my mistakes taught me how to become a better me. But if I really must choose, I’d say take more time to find the right business partner.

How do you unwind?
Poker, Mahjong and Dota 2.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Vietnam! Things are cheap, people are warm and friendly, and their coffee fills up my life. I would love to retire there if possible.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The richest man in Babylon

Shameless plug for your business:
We don’t need a plug. Just try our competitors and you’ll understand why!

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chuazongyou
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zacchua

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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