With a background in creative writing and digital marketing, Blaze set up Wordsmith Media, helping businesses and brands enter new, uncharted territories, using the power of content, story-telling and myths.

What’s your story?
I am an international entrepreneur, published author and business influencer. I am the marketer behind and Co-Founder of StayUncle, a hotel booking website for couples in India. Through creative and out-of-the-box marketing techniques, we took StayUncle and turned it into a multi-million dollar brand. After stepping away from my marketing role in StayUncle, I set up Wordsmith Media, intended to use the StayUncle ‘formula’ to extend the voice of another visionary, high impact brands.

I use the power of content and storytelling to bring brands to new, uncharted territories and capture audiences, toeing the line without being marked as an ‘enemy of the state’. My client list ranges from venture capitalists and event organisers to politicians and other high net worth individuals.

What excites you most about your industry?
The power of stories and myths. Despite the never-ending advances in science and technology, simple stories and myths will forever capture audiences. Stories give meaning and hold some power over the direction societies take.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I spent 8 years of my life in Asia, starting with an AIESEC internship in Gurugram, India. I stayed in India to hone my skills as a marketer and content wizard before I co-founded StayUncle in 2015.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Mumbai is definitely my favourite city for business. I have also worked with executives from Hong Kong and Singapore, and have hugely fond memories of both of these cities.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Truth is important, but the way you convey the truth is even more important. Knowing what to say and how to say it is an important skill, especially when working with different cultures and societies across the world.

Who inspires you?
A dear friend of mine, Adiyatma, is my inspiration. He lives in Java, Indonesia and has dedicated his life to empowering the old Javanese cultures of acceptance and tolerance. He does this through selling translated religious books to locals in the area. He truly inspires me because he embodies his one life goal of bringing recognition back to Javanese heritage and culture. I often consider Adiyatma when I consider whether my business and entrepreneurial plans are in line with my goals and values.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It’s not a brand new concept, but the concept of self-cannibalization is something which continues to fascinate me. I think it’s important for entrepreneurs to fully understand their offering and their market, especially in the current global climate of rapid technological change. By understanding and creating new products or services to rival your original product or service, you can eliminate some of your direct competition.

I also think companies are becoming extremely concerned about their immediate futures because everything is rapidly evolving, from trends to technology. With StayUncle, we didn’t want to ‘just’ create a hospitality provider, we wanted to create something more, something which would transcend the service we provided. We wanted to create a new way of cultural thinking, which we succeeded in doing.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would try more things that scared me. There were days when I lived in constant fear of judgment and prejudice, but as I’ve gotten older I have become less concerned about what others think of me. There is truth in the proverb that you will regret what you didn’t do, more than what you have done throughout your life.

How do you unwind?
My favourite way to unwind is through reading. I’m a voracious reader and will read any and all topics from any author.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
My definition of ‘relaxation’ differs from many others. I prefer to go somewhere new and live like a local, as opposed to a traditional beach holiday or city break.

My favourite destination in Asia is Spiti Valley in Himalayan India. It is unspoiled, indigenous, and so sparsely populated. I find it to be completely distraction-free, and overwhelmingly culturally rich, it feels like a time capsule to a different era. I return to Spiti at least once every year.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Image, A Guide to America’s Pseudo-Events by political historian, Daniel J. Boorstin. It is the best book I’ve ever read. I also think everyone in business should read Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake, on the creative rivalry between Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.

Shameless plug for your business:
Wordsmith Media, helping businesses and brands enter new, uncharted territories, using the power of content, story-telling and myths.

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

Twitter handle?
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ba_blaze

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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