Robert Vanderwall helps people realise their potential in the workplace.

What’s your story?
My story is about the never ending search for people to learn from and to influence, so that good things result from those meetings. I am ideally placed to do this because of my role as a facilitator for positive change in organisations and individuals. I look for the best in people and usually find it. I am also fortunate in that I have a passion for being active and it helps sustain the energy I need to achieve the results from my collaborative efforts.  

What excites you most about your industry?
My industry is all about enablement and the excitement of working with others to help them realise how good they really are. This is priceless.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Australia, which I love. Somehow I find myself drawn to Asia where I have worked on and off for over 20 years. Lasting friendships have formed through business and travel that have enabled immersion in the cultures. I have just started working in China and I feel this is a natural extension of my story – meeting new people and learning from them.

Rob at Cadel Evans Race

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I have two; Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. The former because of the wonderful contrast of the modern bustling metropolis and the ancient cultural values of hospitality and acceptance of others. Of course the food in both places is unbelievably good. Ho Chi Minh City is flexing its muscles and joining the Asian Tigers albeit with a style that is uniquely their own. The transformation in the last 10 years has been amazing. They are my favourites because the people accept me despite the language skills on my part being rudimentary.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
From my dad, “No matter what job you do, give it a 110% even if you don’t like it. If you take the money you must perform.”

Who inspires you?
People who keep learning and never give up.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I am doing some research because I am writing a book and I use the internet as the primary means of sourcing information before going to the libraries. What blows me away is the breadth of information we have at our fingertips; every subject that is known to man is accessible on the net in some form or the other.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would believe in myself at a much younger age and pursue my goals with the sense that I am worthy of achieving them. Something that I learned later in my current life.

How do you unwind?
I listen to jazz, and I exercise a lot. I am essentially a cyclist and part time martial arts student. Both require good breath control – an essential requirement for relaxing.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Luang Prabang, Laos: It is located on the banks of the mighty Mekong and Nam Khan rivers which somehow transfer the languid energy to the small and divinely, beautiful city. Everything goes into slow motion and the desire to rush is abated. The food is marvellous and the people enchanting.  

Everyone in business should read this book:
E F Schumacher wrote “Small is Beautiful”, which was published in 1973. He was questioning the sustainability of the Western economic model. There are two things he wrote about that we all need to consider as we rush headlong into growth at any price:

1. How much is enough?
2. Economics as if people matter.

Business people and indeed everyone who influences the decision making of business people should read this because I believe the current model being used helps marginalise the workforce and create the boom/bust cycles and the consequent angst.

Shameless plug for your business:
We get measurable positive results, not simply in the short term but those that are sustainable because they are co-created with our clients. The most important thing is that we all enjoy the process of getting those results – even the difficult bits.

How can people connect with you?
Through Linkedin and Facebook and via e-mail: [email protected]

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

CallumConnects

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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