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Vinita Rashinkar, Founder of Amara Vedic

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Vinita is hoping to help people understand themselves better, bringing good health hope and fulfillment into their lives.

What’s your story?
I moved to a small town in South India (Mysore) after I got married at the age of 20. I continued my studies after motherhood at 21 and completed my masters in English literature and took up my first job at a new generation bank several years later as there were few opportunities in Mysore at the time. My heart was not in banking and I was seeking a vocation which led me into the realm of vedic wellness. I started studying Ayurveda and yoga alongside my career as a Marketing Manager at Indus Valley Ayurveda Center. After 5 years, I joined the Windflower Group during its inception and went on to set up their wellness division and also headed up marketing for the group. Last year, I moved to Germany to set up Amara Vedic Wellness and today we have our flagship center in Dusseldorf with plans for rapid expansion across Europe.

What excites you most about your industry?
The quest for wellness is universal and has always featured prominently in human history. Every morning I wake up knowing that I can make a difference in someone’s life by helping them understand themselves better. In my counseling sessions, I focus on helping my patients feel more connected with their own bodies, minds and with the universe at large. After meditation classes, I get feedback from students that they find themselves much more calm and relaxed, they adopt healthier lifestyle habits and sleep better. This for me is the ultimate high. I am grateful to be a catalyst for change, bringing good health, hope and fulfillment into many lives. This is the most exciting aspect of being part of the wellness world.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and brought up in Bangalore and spent 25 years in Mysore before moving to Dusseldorf. The work that I do is intricately linked with India as we offer ancient healing techniques to resolve modern health issues. I believe that Asian traditions and our deep rooted culture has much to offer the world in all aspects of life. From the perspective of wellness, Asian healing traditions can be used very effectively to combat ailments that are common in modern times. The benefits of the spiritual ethos that pervades everyday life in Asia is something that can be made available to every human being to help them improve their own life condition.

vinita image 2 amara logo

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
In Asia, I would favour Mysore for my line of business because it has already established itself as the wellness capital with several influential yoga teachers being based there and also it has many reputed Ayurveda institutes and practitioners. Mysore is also home to many revered spiritual leaders and Vedanta teachers. The city itself is noted for its heritage buildings and palaces and is known to be the cleanest city in India with the lowest pollution levels.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
It was at Harvard Business School where our professor always started the class with the lines from Peter Drucker: “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” I have heeded this advice every single day and I take risks all the time. By risks, I don’t mean major gambles which may jeopardise but minor ones like reaching out to people and companies as a shot in the dark or always being on the lookout for speaking and writing opportunities. I will not be lulled into a false sense of security and would like to lead a life of adventure and excitement, not cocooned in my comfort zone.

Who inspires you?
I derive inspiration from every woman I meet. This is particularly so of women who are mothers and who have to maintain a fine balance between work and family and yet aim for self actualisation. I am inspired by people who have found success after going through great difficulty and after putting in much effort and the stories of their struggles always motivate me to aim higher and achieve more. I have drawn a great deal of inspiration from Oprah Winfrey at times when I felt completely defeated by life. Of late, Lisa Nichols and Vishen Lakhiani, both motivational speakers, have been a source of inspiration.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I read a quote from Carl Jung recently which said, “No tree can grow to the heavens unless its roots reach down in hell.” This is particularly true of any entrepreneur’s journey. One is plagued by endless self doubt on the path to the realisation of one’s dreams. Difficulties arise, tremendous challenges loom large before us, but we have to plod on knowing that success is just around the corner. Giving up is not an option for those of us who put everything at risk to pursue our heart’s calling.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have deliberated more on various business decisions. As an entrepreneur, I was raring to go and did not completely think things out till the very end. Many decisions were taken not fully understanding the long term consequences. If I had another chance, I would have been more meticulous in my planning, I would have made a greater effort to learn more things about the business environment, government regulations, tax implications, labour laws and most importantly, I would be less trusting of people who over-promise and under-deliver.

How do you unwind?
I meditate for 20 minutes in the morning before I begin my day and 20 minutes in the evening as the day comes to an end. This time spent with myself is non negotiable and helps me handle stress efficiently and I have learnt to be equanimous at all times regardless of the situation I find myself in. I also love to write and I am presently working on a book about transformation using vedic tools and simultaneously on a compendium of short stories.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives for its pristine beaches, amazing resorts and spectacular spas. Having been in the hospitality business for more than a decade had actually dampened my excitement for vacations but moving to Europe with its cold weather makes me crave the sun and the beaches. Sri Lanka is also a favourite for its cuisine and warm hospitality.

Everyone in business should read this book:
‘When breath becomes air’ by Paul Kalanithi is a must read for everyone. For me the book served as a harbinger of hope. We all need to understand the utter frailty of our lives and how precious each moment is, given the uncertainty of life. This is especially true for all of us who are active in their pursuit of business and forget to take a moment to acknowledge the sheer beauty of a regular day spent doing nothing.

Shameless plug for your business:
At Amara Vedic Wellness, it is our endeavour to make you feel good about yourself. We help you in your quest for wellbeing and we focus on all three dimensions of your being – the body, mind and soul. We teach you to invest in yourself and enjoy the benefits that accrue and lead a richer, more fulfilled life.

How can people connect with you?
Please email me at [email protected] or connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vinitarashinkar or Linkedin at www.linkedin.com/vinitarashinkar and follow our instagram account ‘Amara Vedic Wellness’.

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

CallumConnectsCallum 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

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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Callum Connects

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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