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Xi-Wei Yeo, Director of Living Theories

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Yeo Xi-Wei is a trainer and concept designer, using gaming as a tool to enhance learning with his company, Living Theories.

What’s your story?
My name is Xi-Wei, and I run a company called Living Theories, with a team that designs gamified learning experiences for institutions and organizations. I’ve had a varied occupational background; I used to work in the food and beverage industry for a while, before transitioning to Singapore Airlines for a couple of years, prior to starting Living Theories.

I started Living Theories to engage our participants in a modern and innovative way, by customising experiential programmes to them. Taking our inspiration from modern games and shows, our programmes typically include cinematics, storylines, and game decks to enhance the learning experience of our participants.

What excites you most about your industry?
Learning is inherently organic, and there are infinite possibilities to how people learn, how they grow, and what they take away from different experiences. A person’s mindset and learning experience is unique, and very often a composition of personal life journeys, philosophies and beliefs. At Living Theories, we build upon this rather than restrict it, to allow freedom of choice and learning.

Gamification is the perfect tool for this; games offer infinite ways of manifesting outcomes and experiences for the individual, and being gamers ourselves, it makes it a lot more interesting to curate and design a brand new concept with different clients. Gamification is still relatively new in Singapore, and there’s a lot to learn and grow within the industry itself.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born and bred. Don’t think I’d ever stop being fascinated by the myriad of cultures and perspectives that each region contains; it’s just like a saying we have in Singapore, “Same same, but different.”

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I’ve always loved Singapore for what it is, a safe haven for you to build something from scratch with good business regulations and government support. Singapore has its fair share of trials; high manpower and rental costs, and a local audience that is slightly more conservative in incubating new ideas. Together with this though, comes a thoroughly modern city that allows technological advancement in many industries, great business connections and networking, and a highly supportive community of fellow start-ups that keep each other going.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right!” This is a quote that my father used to drill into my brothers and I, from Henry Ford. It speaks truly and surely to the core of my beliefs, that at the end of the day, you’re the only one that can drive yourself forward. I’ve heard many say that they have good ideas they wished they implemented, or that they thought of a trending product before someone else did, but didn’t have the self-confidence at that time to follow through. There’s a tough lesson in there. Having the self-belief and confidence to take a leap of faith and ultimately, fail in order to succeed, is critical to our journeys.

Who inspires you?
I wish I could say it was a famous person who inspires me, but it’s really the people around me. My parents worked their socks off through different economic crises, while raising 3 boys with different personalities and ambitions. My brothers are other examples of people pursuing their own paths. Whys? My older brother gave up a solid career to pursue his true calling in church, while my younger brother is now an award-winning sommelier, having started from scratch. They are all inspirations to me (even though I don’t admit it to them very often), and are prime examples of pursuing radically different paths, but succeeding because they knew they could.

Lastly, my team at Living Theories inspires me the most. They gave up a lot, in different careers, to start this new venture with the same belief and mindset that we can be change-makers in an industry that we feel strongly about. They’re the ones who keep me going, creating new concepts, and fighting hard to establish a foothold.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That over the last 5 years, 5,000 teachers in Singapore have resigned. To me, teachers are a unique breed. They didn’t take up teaching as a ‘stepping stone’ in an industry, and most genuinely are there to help nurture and grow a new generation. To see huge numbers leaving is something that must be addressed, both by the Ministry, and by the local communities – schools, parents and even students. We all have a role to play here.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wish I could say I’d have worked harder in school, but I’m not so sure. I would have taken the time to see more of the world, to experience more cultures, speak to more people, and start new projects.Too often are we comfortable in the bubble we live in, without actually understanding the world that lies just beyond this bubble.

I wish I had started projects or companies earlier. It gives me the cushion to fail more. I’m 29 now, and I wish I’d started at 25, to try and fail and try and fail and try and fail again before I get up and keep going.

How do you unwind?
A relaxing dinner and movie night with my girlfriend. We typically stuff our faces at a hawker centre, get excited over what desserts to bring home, mix up gin and tonics and watch movies or documentaries. I also play tennis and a tonne of games. More often than not, I suck at them (my friends will testify to this), but I keep experimenting with new methods, new ways of exploring new play-styles within the same characters or roles.

Aside from this, I’ve a little unwinding secret. As a prelude, food is my unwavering passion in life. So when I’m upset, depressed and just need a break, I have a $30 rule. I set myself a $30 budget to buy whatever I want in a nearby hawker centre, which can pretty much get you anything. It’s immensely liberating and uplifting, and I’m always at peace with the world after.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I’d go with Bali or Taiwan. The common denominator between the two is that the local populace are insanely friendly and easy-going, and the language barriers are not as pronounced. Bali is perfect for self-pampering and escaping the world for a bit, and Taipei is amazing for great food, bars and endless things to explore. I’ve barely scratched the surface of Taiwan’s culture, and I can’t wait to get started!

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. That book has been my go-to since I heard his Ted-talk in 2009, and I rely on it to ensure that I know my path. The great thing about the book is that it doesn’t give you “quick tips to success”; there already are many books for that, but this book is really about you, your why, and how you build your business while keeping your personal why in mind. It’s a fundamental read, especially for decision-makers and startup founders.

Shameless plug for your business:
Living Theories was built by us, for you. We’re here to inspire, educate and reinvent the way you think. We design games, create exciting programmes, and work hand in hand with you to discover more about the world we live in. We assist teams to find their WHY, and through uniquely crafted games, allow you to understand each other, and yourself a lot better.

Despite being hardcore gamers, we take our work seriously: To create your customised experience, our team of academic researchers and designers will conduct landscape reviews, work with the client on their needs analysis, solution provision and post-programme data analysis.

Check out our Facebook page or our website, or email me and we’ll have a coffee together!

How can people connect with you?
Interested parties can look for us on LinkedIn and Facebook, or on our website at www.livingtheories.com.sg.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what we do, you could also just email me directly at [email protected], and the next coffee’s on me!

Social Media handle?
You can connect with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/xiwei.yeo

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

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Callum Connects

Jasmine Tan, Director of Stone Amperor

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Jasmine saves her clients time and effort when doing kitchen fit outs with her biz Stone Amperor.

What’s your story?
I started working in the industry in 2003. I was in a marble and granite supplier company for 5 years. Even though I left the company, I still had customers calling me for my services. I referred them back to my previous company but they refused to because they loved the fast response service that I offered. I realised that customers do look at prices, however most of them prefer quality over quantity. Thus I have decided to establish a sole proprietor company also known as 78 Degrees which later rebranded as Stone Amperor in 2014.

What excites you most about your industry?
The kitchen countertop industry is a very confusing market. There are many brands, materials and prices to choose from. What excites me the most is my ability to help clients choose the best materials and brands within their budgets, whilst saving them time and effort.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have been in Asia all my life and I love Asia. No matter where you go there is no place like home.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore. This is because Singapore has always been a stable country and it is great for doing business. However as it is a small country, it can be really competitive. I believe that if just do your best and give your best to your customers, you can overcome this.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Take actions. Learn and improve continuously. An idea without action is just a dream.” This was really good advice that I received from my partner.

Who inspires you?
A very down to earth billionaire from Malaysia, Robert Kuok

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Property is the foundation of every business.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Own instead of renting property for my business.

How do you unwind?
I enjoy going shopping, watching movies and hanging out with friends. I am quite a simple being.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love going to Taiwan as I love the culture there. Everyone is so polite and the weather is great.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Sun Tzu, Art of war

Shameless plug for your business:
Perfect top, Perfect price, Perfect life from Stone Amperor

How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@StoneAmperor

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’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy

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Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (https://www.chillicrab.com/nationalday)

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/djtehkh) or visit www.rebirthacademy.sg for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @ www.tinyurl.com/dexclar

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’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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