What’s your story?
I grew up in a humble family with 5 siblings. Growing up wasn’t easy. My father was the sole breadwinner and even simple things like soft drinks or a doughnut was a luxury. My best possessions were items I picked up from what my neighbours throw out. I always felt embarrassed about being poor and vouched to make it big. One (naïve) dream of mine was to set up a supermarket so that my mother can take any groceries she wanted and we didn’t ever have to worry about whether we can afford.

Fast forward 20 years, I got my hands into event management during my internship with South West Community Development Council. After I completed my degree in Australia, I entered the corporate world. One fine day, I woke up telling myself, it’s now or never. Linear Dots Production was born and I never looked back since.

What excites you most about your industry?
Although event management is one of the top 5 most stressful jobs in the world, in this industry, no two days are the same! The adrenalin rush I get when the team brainstorms about event concepts and eventually seeing our ideas come to live excites me the most.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Besides being born and breed in Singapore and having studied in Australia, a big part of my work since the corporate days was doing business in the region. Of course, my extended family is also spread across Asia and I am always very proud to call myself an Asian.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It has to be Singapore without a doubt. Apart from the obvious reason that I am biased towards the country that has moulded me into who I am, most Asian entrepreneurs who have done business here would agree that the business infrastructure in Singapore has made it possible for almost anyone to build their dreams. While Asians are generally more conservative, I do not feel like I am short changed being a young entrepreneur; we believe in meritocracy.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep asking yourself how you could be doing things better and never settle for anything less than your best.

Who inspires you?
Li Ka Shing. While there are many successful entrepreneurs who possess the never-say-die spirit, Li Ka Shing is a humble businessman who has built his empire on honesty and integrity – foundations of great leadership.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The meeting and event industry is undergoing a paradigm shift, or disruption if I may put it, in the way events are being planned and executed. More and more meetings/events are driven around the return on meetings/events rather than environmental factors relating to venue accessibility, food quality, etc. It is increasingly important for Multinationals to partner event agencies who can facilitate them to maximise their return on meetings.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would skip studying and jump into entrepreneurship sooner. What I have learnt in the last 4 years as an entrepreneur is more than what I have learnt in the last 10 years prior to starting Linear Dots Production. No amount of books can prepare you for the roller coaster ride as an entrepreneur. I am in the midst of starting my second business and looking back when I started Linear Dots Production, I don’t have as much energy as compared to 4 years ago!

How do you unwind?
The Apple of Toys – Lego. Being in the creative industry, we always talk about thinking outside the box. Lego allows me to zone out of the adult world of projects, deadlines and targets, and step into the world of aimless play.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Australia is my favourite because of nostalgic reasons. No matter how many years down the road, the years of independent living abroad has embedded quite deep into the fabric of me than most periods of my life. On top of that, Australia is a destination that has it all, from beautiful beaches and friendly cities to stunning countryside and the outback, so there is no reason not to enjoy a holiday down under!

Everyone in business should read this book:
Blue Ocean Strategy”

Shameless plug for your business:
From the client who has been with us since the beginning and saw us grow:
“The team at Linear Dots Production is simply outstanding. They are hardworking, dedicated, enthusiastic ‘can do’ event professionals and it is an absolute pleasure at all times working with them. They went over and beyond their scope of work to ensure the success of our event. To Takeda, they are the benchmark for other companies to meet. I will not hesitate to highly recommend Linear Dots Production to companies who want to create a legendary experience.”
Takeda Pharmaceutical

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joewinsiaoying.tan
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jtsy37

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnectsCallum 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.

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com