Phil’s passion for exploring brought him to Asia for a few months…that was 6 years ago!
What’s your story?
Growing up in North Carolina, I was lucky to be surrounded by nature and have both mountains and beaches within reach. Living in Colorado further fueled my passion for outdoor adventures, from trekking to biking to snowboarding. After years of working in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industry, I took what was meant to be a break to travel internationally for a few months…that was over 6 years ago! I spent a year exploring both popular areas and well off the beaten path, then became a full time dive instructor and dive centre manager, so the view from my office has improved considerably. Two years ago I joined Wildfire Expeditions as a start-up and have led both trekking and diving expeditions to share my passion for exploration with like-minded people.
What excites you most about your industry?
There is a wide world to explore! New adventures can be found for experienced travelers as well as those trying something outside their perceived comfort zone. It’s exciting to be able to provide new experiences and help people realize a dream goal. We also get to push ourselves in the process, so it is truly a shared experience.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I came to Asia in 2012 to spend time with my cousin and explore. I moved to Bali in 2013 and became a dive instructor, and spent the next 4 years managing a dive centre on Nusa Lembongan, which also provided a great base to continue travelling! As co-owner of Wildfire Expeditions (based in Singapore), I remain connected even though I am currently on the other side of the world.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is a great melting pot of worldwide cultures, which brings a great business mindset. Something we all need to remember is the importance of work-life balance, and Singapore has accessible parks for cycling, running, sports, and even climbing.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To grow, you have to get out of your comfort zone. I like the saying “Never try, never know”. We learn and get the most out of life by challenging ourselves rather than taking the safe and easy route.
Who inspires you?
For integrity, my father. He has always been a strong role model, hard-working, honest and always follows through on his word. While it’s not always easy to maintain integrity in certain situations, his example taught me that maintaining core values earns respect.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Just one hour of snowboarding burns as much as 450 calories! I also like to do some hiking to higher terrain, so my favorite sport is a great way to stay in shape.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would start traveling internationally earlier in life. There really is no time like the present, so rather than hope you can do something in the future, plan for it and make it happen!
How do you unwind?
It’s nice to chill out by watching the sunset over the sea with a cold beer. Throw in some friends and a beach barbecue for a great way to end a day!
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love so many places in the Philippines – you can find good diving, jungle treks, stunning beaches, and friendly people.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Zero to One, by Peter Theil
Shameless plug for your business:
What’s the next challenge you want to undertake? Abseiling, climbing, multi-day trekking, drift diving…when you’re ready to go beyond the ordinary, let’s plan an adventure together! www.wildfirexpeditions.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’.