Many years ago I organised a seminar where Detlef came into to teach participants Creative Thinking. I still use many of the techniques today and it is great to see Dr.D continue grow his business in this area.
What’s your story?
In 1999, I came to Asia with a fresh Ph.D. in Management. After 4 years of working as a Corporate Banker for Deutsche Bank in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Hong Kong, I noticed that I am not a banker: I thought and worked and behaved and looked differently than a typical banker. I realized that among a flock of white sheep, I am the black sheep. My search for meaning culminated in a Eureka moment that showed me who I really am (a creator and entrepreneur) and what I should do in life: Creating Asia’s finest innovation company.
What excites you most about your industry?
As an innovation company, we’re operating at the forefront of change. It’s our privilege and responsibility to empower corporations and individuals with methods and tools to become more creative and produce more meaningful innovations that improve people’s lives and make the world a better place. Isn’t this exciting?
Personally, there’s another thing that excites me: Nowadays, countless “experts” talk innovation, but very few authorities have the personality, know-how, and practical experience to genuinely walk their innovation talk. My two hands suffice to count those who I truly respect as global peers — and I am the youngest of them.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Soon after moving to Asia in 1999, I noticed that the dynamic, fast-changing pace of business and life in Asia suits my personal style. I feel grateful to Deutsche Bank Asia-Pacific that I had the chance to work in three different Asian markets (Vietnam, the Philippines and Hong Kong) and visit many other countries in the region.
In 1999, I founded Thinkergy in Asia as an Asian-centered innovation company. Why? Asia is widely predicted to drive global economic growth in the coming 2-3 decades, and most related challenges for humanity need to be resolved here, too.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Both Hong Kong and Singapore make it easy for entrepreneurs to set-up new ventures, offer attractive corporate taxation, and provide a stable legal environment (including strong legislation for IP protection), all of which are important factors for a creative start-up business. Given that we’re an innovation company, Singapore is probably my favorite pick as its overall industry structure is more diverse than Hong Kong (which is more strongly driven by finance, trade and logistics). Personally, I also like Bangkok for its large number of young creative talent and its outstanding venues and locations to run experiential innovation events.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Master your ego and be yourself. Your ego is your false self; it’s the mask that you’re wearing to copy and imitate the ways of others; it’s the role that you’re playing to live up to the expectations of others. In contrast, your true self is who you really are; it’s the essential core of your true being that is both self-confident and humble. Insisting upon yourself and being original is the only way to be able to come up with truly original creations and realize your full inner genius potential. Be yourself to unlock your full creative potential.
Who inspires you?
In the last decade, I studied the lives of many creative leaders to learn more about their success secrets and creative mindsets. The creative leaders that inspire me span a wide range of diverse talent:
- Universal geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe;
- Scientific geniuses like Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin;
- Creative business leaders and innovators like Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Walt Disney;
- Spiritual leaders like Jesus of Nazareth, Gautama Buddha, and Lao Tze;
- Political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela; and
- Sports leaders like Bruce Lee and Mohammad Ali.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
At the beginning of 2015, I adapted a new planning routine for both my business and my personal life. What blew me away is that at the end of Q1.2015, I have achieved most of my quarterly targets.
What contributed to this success? A clear roadmap of what I want to achieve in 2015 (and related quarterly targets and monthly action plans); a disciplined focus on the vital few, essential things that really count; a daily focus on one core activity that makes everything else more easy or redundant; a weekly review-preview routine; and monthly check-in mentor sessions.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
What’s the point in looking back? It’s always easy to be smarter in hindsight, isn’t it?
I believe we’re all on a life journey towards realizing personal growth. Traveling all the surprising twists on my path —and taking some paths less trodden— have made me become who I am today: a meta-creator, inventor and creative start-up entrepreneur. I am deeply grateful that I know who I really am, what I love doing with my life (creating innovation methods & tools and delivering them to audiences), and why I am doing it (to create and empower innovators and creative leaders).
How do you unwind?
Mainly by doing sports. As a former championship middle distance runner, my favorite activity to think, ideate, unwind and get into flow is going on nice long run. I also enjoy working out in the gym and doing Yoga (108 sun salutations easily put me into flow, too, whenever I use empowering mantras and affirmations to make the counting more intuitive and fun). I also enjoy wining & dining evenings with friends — and occasionally clubbing all night long (hey, I used to be a House-DJ during my twenties). Finally, I love reading to relax, learn and have fun.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Asia has too many fantastic destinations for unwinding that it’s hard for me to pick just one:
- I love Phuket because of its fantastic sunsets and the many things you can do.
- I love Bali because of the light and the spiritual energy that you can feel.
- I love Boracay because of its 7 km-long White Beach which is perfect for barefoot running and sundowners.
- I love Northern Thailand for its mix of green nature, culture and cuisine.
- And of course, I love the balcony of my apartment in Bangkok when friends stop by for a Sunday evening BBQ.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“GENIUS JOURNEY. Developing Authentic Creative Leaders for the Innovation Economy” is *my* upcoming first creativity book (targeted for publication in 4Q.2015). The book is based on 3 key insights:
- Geniuses and top creative leaders produce “abnormal” breakthrough ideas and outstanding results because they think and act differently than “normal” people.
- Most geniuses share a similar set of “abnormal” mindsets and action routines.
- “Normal” people can reconnect to their inner genius by understanding and practicing the “abnormal” mindsets and actions of genius.
GENIUS JOURNEY consist of a textbook and an accompanying workbook (with 88 “Genius Exercises”).
Shameless plug for your business:
Thinkergy (www.thinkergy.com) is the innovation company in Asia. We believe that the world needs more innovators, and we’re on a mission to create more innovators in Asia and beyond. We use our 4 proprietary innovation methods to support companies in their aim to produce meaningful innovation:
- Our award-winning innovation process method X-IDEA allows teams to do better thinking and get better ideas in innovation projects;
- Genius Journey transforms businesspeople into authentic creative leaders;
- TIPS explains individuals and teams how everyone can contribute to innovation based on their personal innovator profile; and
- CooL helps corporations to evolve into a creative company.
How can people connect with you?
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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