Shaen believes “education is for life.” Through positive psychology, Shaen is empowering schools and teachers to raise the next generation of thriving kids.
What’s your story?
As a schoolteacher I was frustrated and worried when I realised kids knew very well how to study but did not have the skills to weather challenge or a solid foundation for well-being. So I decided to uproot my family (my daughter was 10 months at the time) to Philadelphia to pursue a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology at U Penn in 2010. I realised how much of that could be applied into our schools, and into parenting. I knew it was the missing piece to our education system, so I quit my job and ventured into being an entrepreneur, serving schools and families to raise flourishing kids. Over the last 7 years, I’ve seen schools transformed, parents reconnected with their kids, businesses thriving as a result of applying the principles of positive psychology. I want to expand my reach beyond Singapore (already been to Philippines) so that more people can benefit and as the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” I’m in the thick of it, and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon!
What excites you most about your industry?
What is exciting is that education is for life. It has given me and many others a chance to grow, learn and create a new path. Well-being education, in particular, isn’t just about being happy, but empowering people to live their fullest life and in turn contribute to the world in the best possible way. With the research in positive psychology as the backing, there is hope of leaving a positive legacy for generations to come.
What’s your connection to Asia?
When I was studying in U Penn, I was the only Asian (in fact, the only Singaporean) and it really made me think about what it means. My classmates would turn to me and ask, “What’s the Asian perspective (on this Western literature?)” I had to really dig deep for the answers. To me, being Asian means we have a deep respect for family, strong ethics (both professional and personal) and a quiet humility that gives us inner strength and courage. I’ve learnt that we have so much to offer the world, through our commitment to quality and detail, and our ability to navigate relationships. The saying I love is 有关系没关系，没关系有关系。Literally that means – when you focus on the relationships first, there is no issue/challenge you can’t overcome. If you don’t, then everything becomes a challenge. This has rung particularly true for me in business.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. It’s easy to start up a business, and the taxes are low. It has one of the best internet connections in the region, making it easy to set up the IT infrastructure for your business and also reach consumers quickly.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Spend time every day feeling into and imagining your own dream as if it were true. Allow all the emotions to fill you, and live the reality even before you can see it. Because when you can dream it, and surround yourself with the right mindset, emotions and actions, anything is possible.
Who inspires you?
Nick Vujicic. Watching him and his life unfold. It reminds me everyday that there is no limit to what we can all achieve. He combines a certain vulnerability, humour and wisdom as a result of his past experience that makes it easy to relate to him. And he is living proof that we are all capable of living a full and flourishing life!
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
A new coaching methodology that allows me to access the unconscious parts of my memories, beliefs and emotions, freeing me (and my clients) from their past baggage, so they can reach greater heights in their life. Knowing psychology deeply, I found that there was a limitation when the conscious mind (person) blocked their own progress to get better. With this methodology, I could simply command my consciousness and it will continue to work in the background. It’s amazing.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would take setbacks and other people’s words less seriously, and recognize that being in tune with my emotions is not the same as being emotional. It is about relating to the world in a different way than what is expected, but it is authentic.
How do you unwind?
I play badminton and do yoga. I have lots of outdoor time with my kids and go on date nights with my hubby!
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Krabi. It’s close to Singapore, has great food and the people are warm and open. I feel a sense of peace kayaking amidst the Hongs. In those moments, I can really reconnect to my inner self and my vision for what I want my life to be about.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Start with why” by Simon Sinek. When you are super clear on your ‘why’, the ‘how’ and ‘what’ fall into place.
Shameless plug for your business:
Through coaching, training and speaking, I empower schools, teachers and parents with the tools and research from positive psychology so they can raise the next generation of thriving kids. I also support business mums who want to have it all – a thriving business, a happy family and a positive impact on the world. Over the last 7 years, I’ve impacted more than 10,000 people in Singapore and beyond. Clients that have worked with me always commend my top quality work, deep knowledge of the field and practical application of the research that empowers them.
How can people connect with you?
They can find me:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/shaen.yeo
Biz page: https://www.facebook.com/positiveeducation/
Email: [email protected]
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’.