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Stephen Lew, Director of The School of Positive Psychology

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Stephen Lew is interested in making a difference through positive psychology with his business, The School of Positive Psychology.

What’s your story?
Since a young age, I have been curious about the world and the events behind human existence. I posed loads of questions in school but it didn’t help as the education environment in Singapore was based on academic success and not human excellence. The search for meaning spurred on heaps of insightful conversations with people from all walks of life, through these dialogues, I uncovered insights into human experiences. In 2005, a World Health Organisation report cited that the main challenge of the world would be depression. I became interested in making a difference, more than just making a living. Seeing that workplaces and communities are challenged with higher cases of burn outs, depression and suicides. I had a vision to create a platform to help people and organisations to develop sustainable and practical wellbeing skills. In 2007, ‘The School of Positive Psychology,’ a higher education and training institution was established in Singapore to execute this mission. Through the science of positive psychology, I wanted to bridge that gap from “surviving to thriving,” and develop pro-social thinking and business leaders to bring about positive human experiences to improve our world.

What excites you most about your industry?
I am really fortunate to play a part in people’s careers and crafting their lives. That really gets me going. For individuals, it is really fulfilling to be involved in their positive, transformational journeys. The fulfilment is simply priceless, seeing people coalescing into better versions of themselves. For organisations, it is especially meaningful and gratifying to hear how their employees develop resilience and wellbeing and up their psychological capital skills. The feeling is simply extraordinary.

What’s your connection to Asia?
As a positive organisational coach and psychotherapist, I care deeply about helping develop the community and workplace wellbeing. I’d like to reach out and connect to more Asian thought leaders as collectively we can empower or nudge others to nourish a collaborative, trusting, prosocial and thriving workplace for all. The world needs us to play a bigger role to make the world a better place to live in, especially for our next generation. Currently, apart from Singapore, we have extended to Japan, Hong Kong and Philippines. We are hoping to form more partnerships to offer our training programmes and services.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei and Tokyo. I am constantly charmed by the diversity of cultures, as there are simply so many flavours in cultures, human energies and connections. If I had to shortlist, it’d be Singapore. Singapore is a great melting pot to cultivate ideas and springboard them into actions.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
It is more of a quote that has stuck with me for years.
“The meaning of life is, find out your gift, and the purpose of it, to give it away.”

Who inspires you?
My dad. Since a young age, he has been a great storyteller and I have learned a lot from his life experiences.
Apart from him, I am inspired by people who are kind. It actually takes courage to be kind and I have seen uncelebrated heroes who demonstrated kindness by taking on selfless acts. They give up their time, energy and resources to bring light to others. They do not judge others, and they don’t look for praises, their acts of kindness are simply contagious. If you are a kind person, thank you!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Heliotropism.
Heliotropism is a phenomenon that all living organisms are attracted to light energy. Even in the most dire conditions such as darkness, given a small source of light, a seed can sprout towards the light despite its fragility and its lack of supporting resources. All living organisms are energy tracking and light seeking. To me, this is a form of innate resilience. Human beings are heliotropic in nature. Everyone gravitates towards light to grow, and becoming better versions of themselves.
In this space of unconscious potential, we can develop the heliotropic effects in leadership and people. As such, this will result in wellbeing and engagement at the workplace, hence creating positive cultures, and lead to higher performance and peak experiences. This is totally neat.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am grateful that I am able to do what I love. If given the chance to re-live my life again, I would not change anything.

How do you unwind?
Nature and animals energise me! I love to hang out with animals, interact with them is relaxation for me. I especially love dogs. Apart from that, I enjoy being outdoors and connecting with nature. Driving in the vast landscapes of nature rejuvenates me.
Having meaningful conversations with people energises me too.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
My recent trip to Bhutan places it as my favourite Asian destination. Bhutan offers a gorgeous landscape of virgin forests, paddy fields, waterfalls and nature. Bhutanese people are hospitable and deeply connected with their environment. Their unspoken respect for nature, environment and culture is highly admirable. I find Bhutan a great place to offer respite in both physical and mental space. Apart from this, Thailand and Indonesian islands are next on my list.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. When you identify your “why” (purpose), everything you have lived for will line up and show you your “what” (role) and “how” (goals).

Shameless plug for your business:
The School of Positive Psychology (TSPP) is a leading higher education and training institute in Singapore and Asia that offers world class training in positive psychology, organisational psychology, coaching and psychotherapy. We offer academic and professional courses in positive psychology, organizational psychology, coaching, psychotherapy and counselling programmes. Apart from that, we offer customised bite size training programmes and consultation services for organisations. We have trained more than 10,000 students and learners; our corporate arm has trained several MNCs, SMEs, and governmental organisations. We bring world-class experts and leading authorities to share their learnings with our students. In return, our graduates become effective thought leaders, coaches and trainers, and they become people champions and make a difference in others.
If you are an opinion leader, or an aspiring individual who seeks to make an extraordinary difference in leading, facilitating and enabling others in your organisation, community, or social environment or, if you seek to become a coach, psychotherapist, trainer, capabilities developer, we would like to co-create and establish that space and goal with you.

How can people connect with you?
Feel free to connect via email: [email protected]
Or visit us on www.positivepsych.edu.sg

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

Elizabeth Wu, Co-founder & COO of Trehaus

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Elizabeth Wu is making work-life integration a reality for working parents in her new family friendly coworking space.

What’s your story?
I co-founded a coworking space in Singapore that comes complete with a child-friendly facility. We’re the first of our kind here and we’ve been making work-life integration a reality for working parents since we opened.

What excites you most about your industry?
We are the first of our kind, and there’s no other coworking space like us. Sure, there are plenty of coworking spaces in Singapore, but we are the pioneers of championing ‘BYO-kid’ to work by creating a conducive workspace and enriching kids play, all under one roof.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I’m a local through and through.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, of course! It’s safe, well-regulated and has a diverse community. Barriers to entry for starting up a business is low, and generally there is good support for small to medium enterprises and startups, which is great.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Life is short. Do stuff that matters.” I think I decided to do “stuff that matters” a long time ago and that’s why I became an educator. When motherhood beckoned, I decided again, to do “stuff that matters” by staying home to be with my kids. Then, I began to desire a meaningful career while raising my kids. So, I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, because I am governed by wanting to “do stuff that matters!”

Who inspires you?
So many people inspire me. My members at Trehaus inspire me with the things they do and the changes they make. But if I have to pick someone, it would be Elim Chew, founder of 77th Street; who is a seasoned entrepreneur. She started from humble beginnings, went through setbacks and never said never to new journeys in entrepreneurship. I love that she always looks for ways to give back to society and mentor the next generation with her wealth of wisdom and experiences.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learned the 5-by-5 rule recently: That is, ‘if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it.’ This helps me puts things in perspective, and I try to remember this every time the urge comes to dwell, to brood, to beat myself up or to sweat the small stuff.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely be more careful with the people I hired to build the team. I’ve learned that it is important to find and build an entrepreneurial team that will plough and work hard alongside the founders. Like Jack Ma once said, “Don’t hire the most qualified candidate. Hire the craziest.” I should have done that right from the start. It would save us so much time and heartache.

How do you unwind?
I take long walks to clear my or I go for a fruitful session of self care, like yoga or a massage.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I really enjoy getting out of Singapore to the outskirts of Bangkok to live amongst the locals. My family of 5 used to do that each December; just taking off to live amongst the locals where street food is aplenty and warmth and hospitality is everywhere. I enjoy their slow pace of life and how simple things can be.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

Shameless plug for your business:
Trehaus is Singapore’s first ever family-friendly coworking space that lets you build a career while prioritising family. If it takes a village to raise a child, then Trehaus is the modern village where you will find a robust community and supportive ecosystem that lets you be an involved parent – never missing a single milestone in your child’s early years – and at the same time do efficient and productive work. We’ve made magic happen in what we’ve created!

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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Mark Winterton, General Manager of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay

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Mark Winterton has dedicated his life to achieving unparalleled and extraordinary guest experiences in the hospitality industry.

What’s your story?
I’m a seasoned hospitality professional with over twenty years international experience launching luxury brands, repositioning existing brands and driving innovation for some of the world’s most successful hotels.

As General Manager of InterContinental® Singapore Robertson Quay, I’m responsible for the strategic positioning of the property as the next generation of the InterContinental hotel brand and have been spearheading the hotel since its opening in October 2017, with the goal of achieving a unique and unrivalled market positioning as Singapore’s most luxurious residential hotel.

I started my career with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) in 1995 and have since been dedicating myself towards achieving perfection. I find immense fulfillment in leading my team towards achieving extraordinary and unparalleled guest experiences.

What excites you most about your industry?
The hospitality industry boasts an extremely dynamic landscape, and we are always seeing new hotels opening alongside the entry of burgeoning brands. This growth has, over time developed positive competition and generated positive driving forces that have elevated the overall standard of the industry in Singapore. The industry has a dynamic landscape. There are many opportunities to bring the right people together and create amazing teams to launch or reposition hotels. The process of creating teams, inspiring individuals and then working together to bring a project to life is where I find the excitement lies.

What’s your connection to Asia?
The lure of Asia has always been very strong for foreign economies and companies, with great accessibility to new opportunities, customers, consumers and clients. My first foray into Asia was back in 2007, when I launched Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Singapore. Following that, I was also based in Bangkok for a couple of years for the rebranding of Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park. Over my years in Asia, I have had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in new cultures, establish new connections with key counterparts and friends; and these have further solidified my interest in and strengthened my connection to Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Commonly known as the gateway to Asia, we’ve been blessed with a stable government, a sound political economy and a comprehensive infrastructure for reliable business operations. With tremendous efforts put in by the Singapore Tourism Board towards elevating the city as an attractive venue for visitors, the growth of Singapore as a key MICE destination, coupled with a cosmopolitan pool of talent, Singapore remains my favourite city in Asia for business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You can never be 100% ready for a new role.” I believe that there will always be room for growth and learning on the job. As long as a person is 80% ready for a new role, the opportunity should be extended. I am a strong believer in the development of people and the grooming of talent, and this piece of advice has allowed me to take more chances on people I’ve worked with and developed over the years.

Who inspires you?
Simon Sinek, a speaker with TED Talk.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I don’t think I can pinpoint just one lesson learnt recently, as learning is an ongoing process. No matter how small a piece of knowledge may seem, it should be valued. Everyday is a journey of learning and development.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing at all. I don’t believe in regrets and everything that has happened thus far, has had a part to play in who I am and where I stand today.

How do you unwind?
Spending time with friends over relaxed conversations and wine or working my green fingers in my balcony garden.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It’s one destination where I’ve always returned to, simply because it offers me the same level of comfort and familiarity each time I return. It’s where I can feel most relaxed, yet still be able to enjoy the vibrant dining scene.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

Shameless plug for your business:
Officially opened on 12 October 2017, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay is the first international luxury hotel brand situated at Robertson Quay. Set amidst a dynamic, sophisticated neighbourhood along the Singapore River, known for its dining options and arts houses, the luxury residential-inspired hotel has been carefully curated by world-­class designers, architects and culinary purveyors. Located minutes away from the CBD, the hotel still maintains a stylish but laid back, relaxed feel in the leafy, upscale neighbourhood of Robertson Quay. The hotel offers 225 luxurious studios and suites, including an expansive Penthouse, which has unparalleled views of both the Singapore River and vibrant city via floor-­to-­ceiling windows.

The residential-­inspired property combines elements from Robertson Quay’s industrial and intriguing past with sleek contemporary finishes whilst seamlessly blending into the residential surrounds. Light-­filled room interiors have been designed to magnify the familiar comforts of home where guests may enjoy bespoke amenities such as a specially designed in-­room cocktail kit.

Established as part of a holistic dining and lifestyle destination, the hotel boasts a wide range of restaurant and bar concepts. Flagship restaurant Publico, representing the central core of Italian culture, is a multi-­concept dining destination comprising a variety of Italian experiences under one roof – a neighbourhood deli and bar and a ristorante with adjoining terrazzo by the river. Other highlights throughout the hotel include New York institution Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, and a bar and dining concept from the team behind Izy Sushi. Over 40 other dining options await at the hotel doorstep, in The Quayside precinct.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markwinterton1/

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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