Aden Liu is a home-grown entrepreneur and the founder of The Leading Man, an exclusive sartorial club dedicated to helping gentlemen dress their best.
What’s your story?
Entrepreneurship was the serendipitous journey that completely changed the course of my life. Everything changes when you’re doing something you absolutely love. That was how I discovered my (previously obscured) drive and passion for pushing boundaries, continuous learning, leadership, self-improvement and managing people. I dare say many of my friends from junior college and university would be surprised to see this “slacker” turned workaholic.
What excites you most about your industry?
I am in the events and media industry and so what I do is always about the “EXPERIENCE”. I have always loved giving people a good time, be it at my private parties or at a gala. But more than a good time, our events increasingly incorporate greater profundity & depth, significance, meaning, life-transforming messages and multi-sensory experiences that I trust enriches, entertains and empowers our guests, viewers, and users.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I have lived in Singapore since birth, traveled to many Asian countries and cities and I simply love the food, the people and the culture in this part of the world.
Favorite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course! Naturally I am biased but in all honesty, the strong and stable governance here makes running businesses fuss-free and worry-free. The market is small as many would say – and yet opportunities abound for those willing to look and explore.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Not to look inwardly and not to be too affected by what others think or say about me. Of course, it is healthy to gain feedback and learn how to connect with people – but stable independence emotionally and the cultivation of a healthy ego just makes things that much clearer. Coming to terms with my own strengths and weaknesses simply frees me to focus, learn and improve.
Who inspires you?
So many people have inspired me in so many ways. My business associates have opened my eyes to the potential of brilliant entrepreneurship, my wife inspires me to be a better man and my son just motivates me to be his hero. My parents have taught me valuable lessons in life and even students I coach (in entrepreneurship) have delighted me with their energy and enthusiasm, inspiring me to widen my perspectives. Little children move me with their purity and true artists remind me of the value of staying true to my craft.
What have you just learned recently that blew you away?
I have always been a keen learner of human behavior and it gets even more exciting and more relevant the older we get. The human psyche is complex and hard to understand. But virtually everything in life hinges on your understanding of your fellow human beings. Wanna find a life partner, close a deal or lead a country? You better understand people first.
Ok, so here’s something cool I thought I’ll share. There has been a lot of debate on this actually for quite some time – but recent studies have taken a more scientific (or some might argue pseudo-scientific) approach. The thesis is that human beings do not actually have a free will. My translation for this into layman’s terms is this – your subconscious has already made a decision before your “conscious mind” knows it. Which explains why sometimes, you can already fall in love with someone (and in fact, the people around you can tell) but you seem ignorant of it. I am not going to say I fully agree or disagree with this. But food for thought 🙂
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
It is easy to immediately wish that I would have been more hardworking, more mature, more driven, etc. at an earlier age but it is hard on the hindsight to know where exactly that would have really led me. I do regret a lot of the things I started “late” but I constantly tell myself to just look forward and be responsible with my time from this moment on.
How do you unwind?
Playing with my son and watching Korean dramas with my wife. Many guys I know are initially averse to Korean romantic comedies – but trust me, the moment you’ve seen one – there’s no turning back.
Favorite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Hmmm… tough one. Japan, Korea, Malaysia… they are all good! Food, sights, people and I just enjoy the space – it does get “cramp” in Singapore sometimes.
Everyone in business should read this book:
So so many! Usually, I would recommend biographies (or autobiographies). These books have a way of making life and business lessons interesting. Check out the lives of Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, our late Minister Mentor Mr. Lee and Phil Knight – written through their perspective in their biographies. Very illuminating and exciting. For a practical read for the modern businessman – The Lean Startup is highly useful.
But if I had to narrow it down to one single book – then, “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene is an absolute must-read. Anecdotal it may be but I find its practical wisdom surpasses that of modern pop psychology – astonishing and uncanny in its breadth of insights and real-world street smarts. Once you are done with that, devour “The Laws of Human Nature” – also by Robert Greene.
Shameless plug for your business:
A shout out to the guys! Connect with me via [email protected] This is a men’s community that I founded that is for all men from all walks of life – as long as you are interested in style, grooming and looking your best. We also coach men on tailoring – something I think every guy should understand. Let’s connect over coffee and chat about suits first – and then business can follow 🙂
Ladies are welcome to connect also – we are looking to starting a chapter for female fashion too – trying to convince my wife to spearhead!
How can people connect with you?
For business inquiries, drop me an email at [email protected]. If you are keen to join my gentleman’s community (for guys interested in fashion and classic menswear, email me at [email protected]
I don’t have a Twitter account but do connect with me via Facebook @aden.liu
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 and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.