A start in journalism led Anna Simpson to ask the question ‘What do we want for tomorrow?’ and from there she started working with people and organisations to help transform their perspectives.
What’s your story?
I help people open their imaginations to possible futures, empowering their decisions today. I’m a futurist (someone who uses different tools and techniques for thinking about the future) and also a life coach. I started out over 15 years ago as a journalist and editor, specialising in environment, health, gender and sustainable solutions. Then I saw the need to change the question from “What’s happening today?” to “What do we want for tomorrow?” I researched and published a couple of books on how brands and organisations can enable change, then set up my own company to help them.
What excites you most about your industry?
The people I work with, and watching them come to a closer understanding of themselves. In the last couple of years, I’ve worked with young leaders (through schools and youth groups, such as Friends of the Earth and YMCA), people working to transform cities, countries and sectors (through Civic Exchange, UNDP, the OECD and UNICEF), and executives. Every person is capable of transforming their perspective, and I love the thrill and pride I see on their faces when they do.
What is your connection to Asia?
I moved from London to Singapore in 2014 to set up the Futures Centre (www.thefuturescentre.org) – a platform for sharing stories about what’s changing today and where it could lead. Then in 2017 I moved to Hong Kong to set up Flux Compass. I live with my husband and our little boy in Mui Wo, a friendly village on Lantau Island. We love the wildlife here – water buffalo, egrets and bullfrogs on the doorstep, hiking trails, beaches, waterfalls… It feels a far cry from the Hong Kong in the news.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong, for all the reasons above! I’ve also found it to be a place of open, proactive people. In my first year here I co-founded Circular Community HK with other creative, ambitious professionals who wanted to figure out ways forward for sustainability here.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Who inspires you?
Women with stamina who go against the grain. There’s Dervla Murphy (now 88), who cycled alone from Ireland to India, through Iran and Afghanista, and Pakistan, over the Himalayas, in 1963. Or Marina Abramovic (now 73), a performance artist who spent months in silent face-to-face encounters with members of the public in 2010.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I read Peter Pomerantsev’s book on disinformation architecture – ‘This Is Not Propaganda’. I didn’t realise quite how powerful the forces are that are disrupting what we know and how we know it.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d cycle across central Asia before having a baby. I cycled round Kyrgyzstan last year and absolutely loved it. I wish I could have carried on! Not that it’s too late – it will just take more planning to do with kids, or I’ll do it in my 60s…
How do you unwind?
If I’m really knackered I just sit and look at the landscape. If I have any energy I run, swim, hike, do yoga and read. I used to play the piano but we don’t have one here.
I’m trying to meditate twice a day but for me that’s not necessarily unwinding – it’s more focusing the mind.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
The Himalayas, hiking and camping. I feel most free in wide open spaces – preferably on a mountain, with views of mountains…
Everyone in business should read this book:
‘The One-Straw Revolution’ by Masanobu Fukuoka
It’s about the importance – and challenge – of letting go, and why it’s fundamental for our collective future.
Shameless plug for your business:
If you want to thrive in radically different futures, and prime your culture to enable innovation, then I can help.
How can people connect with you?
Email – [email protected]
Social Media Links?
To hear how entrepreneurs around the world overcome their challenges, search your favourite podcast platform for ‘CallumConnects‘ to hear a 5-minute daily breakdown.
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 of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.