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Conscious Business Leadership : Dr. Julian Hosp, Co-Founder and President, TenX

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This is one in a series of articles and interviews about conscious business leadership, which is about leaders creating and promoting workplaces of understanding, honesty, and compassion, for the betterment of their employees, their community, their organization and world.

Dr Julian Hosp co-founded the Singapore based FinTech company TenX, the only company worldwide that makes multiple digital currencies instantly spendable anytime anywhere by offering a debit card payment system to its users. He was named one of the top Blockchain and Cryptocurrency experts to follow in 2017. I met him at Slush Singapore and Women in Tech where he was passionate to educate the audience on a new world in finance.

To be a disrupter one has to have a philosophy of another world. What is your ideal world in terms of finance?

I am a scientist and I use the past trends to deduce ideas for the future. I look for an adaption of what can be possible. Statistically, everyone cannot be equal. There will always be a small proportion who will outperform the rest; in all aspects of life. Financially, my hope is for the ones who can’t or don’t perform to those standards, are not left behind.

My world-view changed around two and a half years ago. Initially, I was of the opinion that people who didn’t do what was the task at hand or seemed productive, shouldn’t get monetary compensation. I saw people who were involved in pursuits I didn’t see as productive, like meditating or sitting by the beach day dreaming as non-valuable. However now I am more aware, that for everyone doing something is that something they are to do. I now support the need for a minimal base income.

Are they living to the standards I set for myself? No. However, their basic living should be met if they can do basic tasks and essentially there should be no cause of suffering, where possible.

That being said, TenX is not merely an attempt to save the world, again as a scientist and business person, the business case was clear. If we are not doing it – someone else will. The future of finance is a decentralized marketplace full of financial services, that provide the lowest cost, highest security and best performance to its users. At TenX it is our mission to bring the entire financial system right to their fingertips.

In the past, there was control and regulation of people now there is less and maybe soon no control. Some people will want to be controlled and told what to do. They may want to use regulated and centralized authorities to lead and depend on. I suspect 5-10% of a population would want guidance and control. How about the rest of us? The Internet has flourished. We already see less friction of talent explosion and exchange. Peer to peer economies.

Once the access to money becomes easy and we have competition spurring results. More people will and can step up in all industries. This will lead to my world-view of a more inclusive monetary system and therefore world.

As a leader, I try to build the ideal world in my own leadership and the company I co-founded. I see myself as leader than manager. I am not as good as managing people who may need it. I tend to lead by inspiration and “wow” acts of behaviour. This inspires best in me and this allows them to express the best in them. Optimal leadership means leading by example and getting the best out of the team. My example is not the example they have to become. I need only be the best version of myself.

When did you doubt your vision and implementation? 

I hardly ever doubt the big picture but yes I did doubt the approach, many times. I had some arguments with my co-founder. I often had to contemplate that maybe other approaches are right and mine, wrong.

A dark hour of soul searching was when China banned Bitcoin. I wasn’t as upset by the ban but by the rationale behind it. Now after some insight, I see that their fear could be more around Blockchain and the decentralization track transition history. Cryptocurrency doesn’t need a centralized authority so if you take it to the fullest extent of that idea, it may have made the Chinese government rein that freedom in.

Eventually we can communities that are decentralized for passports, other forms of identification, ownership of large things like homes; as long as I have the cryptography running, no one can shut me down. Industry now leads and influences the government’s ability to act. I believe the Chinese government feels that strongly.

How did you have this vision of TenX?

I trained as a doctor and then after a year of practice, I quit. My friends advised me to go into personal development instead. I went to Hong Kong and tried many things and coached. But was always looking for a bigger project to be immersed in. I was almost lost because I found nothing. My personal lowest point was right before I met my co-founder of TenX, Toby, by coincidence in 2014 on the beaches of Thailand. It wasn’t an immediate partnership, I always have had a curious mind so I spent some time to learn more. If you look at my first Youtube for TenX in June 2015 you can see my hesitancy as I entered this industry. Do I still have doubts very now and then, yes. However now I understand better how this works and we are learning and improving every day. Even Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of Facebook spent months if not years re-thinking if Facebook would be the idea to run with.

If you can advise an entrepreneur, what is the next big thing in this space?

Decentralization is the problem to solve. As mentioned, passports, cross-country transfers, purchasing large items if you want to get into that space and solve the problems which arise with decentralization. I love science so I am always looking at Space tech and AI too.

Callum Connects

Mikyung Kim, TV Commercial Producer

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Mikyung Kim is a savvy producer who runs her own TV and print production business, based in Hong Kong.

What’s your story?
I am a TV commercial and print producer working with advertising agencies and brands to bring their communication needs to the screen. My background is in film production and I started my career in Hollywood working with Oscar winning directors Michel Gondry and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Before starting my own company last year to produce content directly with agencies and brands, I was with Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong for nearly five years as the Senior Producer and Head of TV running the film production department.

What excites you most about your industry?
How it’s constantly evolving! Every day is different and it’s certainly never boring. I love that it’s a creative industry and that my job involves talking to people with creative minds on how we can bring a story on paper to life. It’s exciting that the advertising industry places high value on the creativity and effectiveness of content. I’ve produced a few commercials that creatively push the envelope with fun and sometimes wild ideas that have converted into positive brand awareness. Ever heard of KFC Finger Lickin’ Good…Nail Polish that yes, tastes like chicken? https://www.adweek.com/creativity/kfc-just-made-edible-finger-lickin-good-nail-polish-yeah-tastes-chicken-171245/

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Seoul and raised in Hong Kong until graduating from high school at HKIS. I spent my university years in Boston at Emerson College and worked in Los Angeles at Anonymous Content and Partizan Entertainment. But on a brief visit back to Hong Kong in 2010, I decided to move back and continue my career here, and it was the best decision I ever made.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is my home so it will always be my favourite city for business and for me personally. What I love about Hong Kong is that while I am based here, I can actually work with agencies and brands from anywhere in APAC. If I need to attend an important meeting, I can just hop on a quick flight easily. I spent most of 2017 working in Seoul with Korean agency Cheil and Samsung, and currently I am working with Japanese agency ADK and Toyota based in Singapore.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Fake it until you become it,” from Amy Cuddy’s TED talk. Worth a watch. This helped me early in my career when I felt like I was under qualified for the job I was in. I learned to fake my confidence and fake a powerful body language until I truly felt that confidence became something real. It was nerve wracking at first but it worked and now I don’t have to fake it.

Who inspires you?
My friends. Noelle who worked part time jobs while being a full time student to pay her own tuition while we were in college together. Osti who is a lawyer focused on supporting developing nations and a board member of Redress, an environmental NGO working to reduce waste in the fashion industry. Vanessa who runs a real estate company, co-owns the gym Crossfit Asphodel, started a health foods business called Quo and NGO The Keep Moving Project to promote wellness in our community. Cathy who will be the first Asian woman to direct a big budget superhero film starring Margot Robbie with Warner Bros and DC. And too many more to name!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
5.2 million plastic bottles are thrown away in Hong Kong every day. Plastic pollution is a major issue for the environment and we as responsible citizens can do our small part by reducing our consumption of unnecessary plastic. I do mine by having a water filter at home and carrying my own reusable water bottle with me everywhere I go. I love the brand Hydroflask because the stainless steel material keeps water hot or cold for hours, so I don’t feel tempted to buy a cold water at 7-11 on those hot, humid days we have here.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
About five years ago I purchased my very first stock and put one month’s salary into it, which at the time was a lot of money for me. Knowing how that stock has performed now, I would have put all my savings into it.

How do you unwind?
Exercise is essential in my daily life to help clear my head and de-stress. My go to is a workout at Crossfit Asphodel, running outdoors, yoga and hiking. But a glass of red wine and live music at Soiree in Soho on Sunday night works pretty well too!

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
One of the best trips I ever took was to the island of Lombok in Indonesia. Two girl friends and I did a 3 day 2 night hiking and camping trip to summit the Mount Rinjani Volcano. It was physically challenging but mentally relaxing. There was no cellphone reception, no distractions, we had the company of nature and nights with skies full of shooting stars. It was pretty magical. We then went to the Gili Islands for a few days of scuba diving, yoga and sitting on the beach doing nothing but sipping on coconuts. That was pretty relaxing too.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Lois P. Frankel and “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. Essential reads for every working woman and/or man who wants to know how to support the working women in their life.

Shameless plug for your business:
I am a TV commercial and print producer that can plug into an existing advertising agency or brand team to produce their communication needs. Many advertising agencies these days are scaling down so they have creative directors and account services but may not have an in-house producer, so I can fill that gap by becoming a part of the existing agency team. For brands that want to produce content directly without involving an agency, I can also bridge the gap by bringing my production knowledge in-house and working as part of the marketing/brand team and liaising with the other departments in the company such as product team and ecomm.

How can people connect with you?
They can email me at [email protected]
or visit my website at mkimproducer.com

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

Renne Ballard, Owner of Renée Ballard Communications

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Renne Ballard runs a social media agency working with business women, helping them find their business’s voice.

What’s your story?
I began my career in PR/communications ten years ago in Australia, after arriving home from two years in Dubai. In Dubai I was working for Emirates Airlines as a flight attendant and flying around the world non-stop for two years. This really sparked my interest for how people communicate. I started out as a community manager for an online advertising company, then moved into the corporate world of outdoor advertising, managing internal and external PR and communications. After having a baby four years ago, I decided to leave the safety net of corporate, and stride out on my own. I now run a social media agency and I specialise in working with business women, helping to find their business’ voice so they can use social media to achieve their business goals.

What excites you most about your industry?
I love the open accessibility online provides. It’s free for businesses to get online and connect with their target audience. Twenty years ago, advertising and PR was insanely expensive and quite elitist, but through incredible platforms like Facebook or Twitter, any business can connect with who is looking for their product/solution. Social media is particularly effective for small businesses because they have the edge when it comes to authenticity and a clear voice.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m in Hong Kong because I’m a trailing spouse. I know it’s such a daggy term, but I love it, it makes me sound so dedicated to my husband! Alas, we came to Hong Kong for my husband’s work. He’s the Design Director of Asia for an international retail design agency. We’ve been here for almost two years and it’s been a huge learning curve in terms of business and culture. We love the fast-paced nature of Hong Kong and the fact that everything is open late – it suits me perfectly because I’m nocturnal.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
That’s easy, Hong Kong. It’s the perfect blend of start-ups and mothership-sized institutions. I love the small business side, watching the collaborations between workshare spaces with galleries, networking groups and foodies; it’s a hothouse of creative partnerships here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
When you’re are feeling scared about your next step, lean in and feel the difference. Is it fear mixed with excitement? Or fear mixed with dread? Always go with the former and cut loose the latter.

Who inspires you?
I love Tamara Mellon (Jimmy Choo founder). She has created multiple empires and she never stops trying new business models and pushing her limits. It helps that I love shoes too.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I just turned 40 years old. At best, I’m probably halfway through my life. It makes me constantly question, “Am I where I want to be?”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have asked more questions to the people I looked up to, and listened less to the people telling me I won’t achieve my goals.

How do you unwind?
In this day and age, it’s scandalous to say, but I love sunbaking. At any chance, you’ll find me poolside, laying in the sun in a trance-like state.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Northern Danang in Vietnam. We were there at Christmas, at the foot of the mountains and it was beautiful. Heaps of wildlife and jungles and enough five star resorts that I was never parched once.

Everyone in business should read this book:
‘The E Myth’ by Michael Gerber. It’s an oldie but a goodie because it succinctly outlines how to transition from a one person operation to a global business like McDonalds. Once you see how important systems and processes are, you can recognise shambolic companies a mile off.

Shameless plug for your business:
Renée Ballard Communications is a social media agency that works with business women who are ready to make social media work for them. We create effective, powerful social media strategies that are tailored to the people who will be breathing life into them. We hand on heart promise to never use annoying, marketing buzzwords and that we value laughter above everything else.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected] or www.reneeballard.com or +85296670115

Twitter handle?
@ballard_comms

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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