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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

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

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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Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder & CEO of Flenco & Deal’n

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Nadia Al Sheikh has created a business module which incorporates philanthropy and business to empower others, and herself, she’s called her business Deal’n.

What’s your story?
My story is mirrored in my work. Flenco and our Singaporean eco skin care brand, “Flen” combines Dead Sea minerals from the lowest point of earth with Chinese medicine, which represents the wisdom and mystics of the east and these things represent my journey. I’m a single mother rediscovering my identity at a low point in life. Throughout my journey, determination, flexibility and assertiveness are the pillars of innovation. Thus Deal’n was born after years of groundwork in volunteering with various NGO’s and pursuing my masters degree. Transforming a vision, into a module that incorporates philanthropy and business, with tools to empower others and empower myself!

What excites you most about your industry?
The endless opportunities for improvement, innovation, creativity, free thinking which is mastered through interaction with other players in the market and customers creating a virtual place for brainstorming and the exchange of ideas. An evolving industry that challenges each and every person to use their skills, talents, expertise and utilise all their abilities to claim a slice of the pie.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia and specifically Singapore are my second home. It’s my spiritual and business safe haven that provides fair opportunities for everyone to succeed. If I was back in the Middle East as a single mother, I’m pretty sure my struggle would have been much longer and more difficult, however, it wouldn’t have stopped me from achieving my dreams. Singapore specifically empowered me professionally and Asia spiritually in redefining who I am as a person and understanding myself better.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, although it’s a very tough and competitive market for entrepreneurs to start a business, it provides them with support and motivation through grants, competitions and subsidising the cost of exhibiting or promotional events to promote their business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Success is measured by achieving your own personal goals and dreams and not what others think you should achieve.

Who inspires you?
Those who go unnoticed. From senior citizens, cleaning tables at food courts regardless of their wealth of knowledge and experience to single mothers, who are fighting everyday to overcome the social stigma and manage taking care of their children while earning an income. The amazing people who give their lives to start an NGO to empower others asking for nothing in return except the success of their beneficiaries, the humble members of our community that work in silence changing lives not for the spotlight but for their belief in making the world a better place.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
To step onto the balcony! In order to evaluate situations and understand people’s motivations from different perspectives and even to understand ourselves better we all need to step onto the balcony and become observers rather than participants. It gives you the power to see life through a variety of lenses.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d be wiser with my decisions, evaluate situations from different perspectives and believe in myself and my capabilities. That all came with experience and the ups and downs throughout my journey so I guess, to be who I am today I would have accepted the rough times and embraced them because they were my best teachers. So I wouldn’t undo the past but I am changing my future.

How do you unwind?
Meditation, exercising, listening to music, reading a book and a walk in the botanical gardens.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives, I love the peace and harmony in the simplicity of what it offers; beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Shameless plug for your business:
Deal’n provides opportunities for all members of the community to utilize their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities and abilities in various ways, aiming at empowering all users to become productive members of their community. Using the services of other users for all to grow and benefit, interact with each other through the Deal’n community, thus enhancing their self esteem, level of confidence and as a result, a more empathetic and happier community!

How can people connect with you?
Through my FB page Nadousheh, my email [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@nadiaalsheikh

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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