The Best Co-live and Co-work Space is at Outpost
What’s your story?
I’m just the standard American, from the east coast, who got hooked on Asia, after teaching English in Japan. Four years ago, I started a live/work/travel community, Outpost, now with four co-living properties in SE Asia.
My years away from Asia took me from the White House to Wall Street. In Uganda, I managed an NGO, and worked at a university in Lithuania.
I also took second place in a slam dunk contest in high school.
What excites you most about your industry?
I love introducing people to new cultures, and more importantly, opening their eyes to their own. I get to do that while meeting dynamic Outpost members who are trying to live life on their terms, while still struggling to make an impact. I use struggle in a positive sense because nothing rewarding comes easily.
What’s your connection to Asia?
After Japan, I traveled through Asia. Entranced by the warmth of the people, especially in Indonesia, I returned often: a stint at the UN in Jakarta, fellowships at Tokyo University and Japan’s economy ministry.
In 2015, after five years bouncing between China, Indonesia and Japan, consulting and researching new metal resources needed for a future green society, I wrote a book, “The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the struggle for a sustainable future in the Rare Metal Age.”
During my travels, I saw so many people working in coffee shops. I wondered, why not just escape the city? I wanted to empower city dwellers to live lives of exploration and growth. So we set up Outpost in Bali in 2016 as a community for them to escape to.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Bangkok. For hospitality there is no better place to be. It’s also the location where we seem to find our best leads for new properties and investors.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Well there are two. “Let your hook always be cast, because in the pool you least expect, there will be fish.” — Ovid. Opportunities abound in the most uncommon places.
And my father taught me that, how you do things, with integrity and intention, was more a measure of your success than the outcome.
Who inspires you?
Today, it seems everyone claims expertise with little study or practice.
True expertise — garnered by people who specialise and dedicate their life to one craft — is awe inspiring.
Think: Pastry legend, Will Goldfarb at Room4Dessert. He came out to Indonesia to set up a restaurant serving only his life’s work, pastry. He figured fresh dessert ingredients are there, and so should he. That’s nuts! And, yes, the place is amazing!!!
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That some metals, like titanium, have shape memory. Meaning no matter how you bend or stretch them, they come back to their original shape like magic.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Excel at one thing. And learn more than two languages. Language allows you not just to speak to more people, but to understand how people think..
How do you unwind?
Japanese sentos and sushi, mango sticky rice, and being in quiet places. With so much travel, I find joy in familiarity, like a Locavore Restaurant meal in Ubud.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Kobe and Sapporo Japan. Amazing food and sentos. Peaceful, engaging cities, not far from natural beauty.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Chris Voss’s “Never split the difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it,” because everything is a negotiation.
Shameless plug for your business:
What was just a dream 20 years ago—traveling with your job in tow—is now a thing.
At Outpost, you meet amazing entrepreneurs, creatives and internationally-minded peeps. You can stay for days or months and make the kind of lifelong connections you relish from your university days.
When people see how our members explore the world, grow personally and professionally and connect with amazing people in fabulous locations, they wonder how they can join.
How can people connect with you?
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ 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 of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.