Peter Lloyd is a very different type of entrepreneur. In his own word he is “Hong Kong British, whatever that is?” He is an interfaith minister, psychotherapist, and importer. He has worked as a journalist, started a publishing company, an online magazine, and also writes articles for newspapers, magazines and websites.
It was in his role as an interfaith minister when I first met him. And for him this is his most passionate role. One he chose after he realised his life should follow a different path than to those around him who measure success to different standards.
He is clearly a sharer and links his roles as an interfaith minister and psychotherapist with his beliefs. One of which is that we all share a responsibility to help and support each other.
His importing business could have failed right at the start but now provides the finance that allows him to follow his true passions. His past life and work guides him as he looks towards the future, and life that revolves around being physically present where people are during life changing moments and offering services few entrepreneurs think to provide but are vital for meaningful lives. And this is theme in his advice to everyone as well as entrepreneurs.
Our conversation was recorded in a coffee shop and due to this there is noticeable background noise. We hope that you enjoy the content but just in case we have supplied a full transcript on the website.
So now without further delay lets begin.
NJM: Hi, I am with Peter Lloyd. We met about two years ago when I was in Hong Kong and I was lucky enough to get married here. And, Peter can you just introduce yourself and tell us what you do.
PL: My name is Peter Lloyd. I do a few things the reason I know Neville is that I am an interfaith minister and a celebrant. I celebrate weddings, that’s one of my hats. I… I’m also a psychotherapist and I sell spirulina, as one of my incomes. I used to be a journalist. And I set up a publishing company in Hong Kong, I set up a magazine, one on line and one in print. Um, I used to have a small column in a local newspaper, the “South China Evening Post” I’ve done a few bits and bobs, yeah. And yeah. I was born in Hong Kong and came to live here again as an adult just before the hand over and I am still here more or less.
NJM: So how long have you lived in Hong Kong?
PL: Most of my life.
NJM: When you haven’t lived you haven’t lived in Hong Kong where have you lived?
PL: In the UK, mostly.
NJM: In the UK. So would you consider yourself British or Hong Kong?
PL: British, but I am a Hong British, whatever that is. It’s a something
NJM: So you said you’ve done a few things. OK. So what do you want to start off with first? What do you want to tell us about?
PL: Lets do the ministry first because that’s how we met.
NJM: Yeah, that’s how we met. How did you get into that?
PL: : Maybe it was a personal thing. I used to live in a spiritual community in the North of Scotland called Findhorn and then I came back here and after a while I kind of felt spiritual a little bit, like I was missing things I couldn’t keep up with my meditations and stuff like that, so I wanted to do more, and eh yeah, I heard about this course and everybody I knew who did it seemed to really benefit. And it seemed to be really good for the stage of life I was in, so I ummed and ahhed and then I signed up for it. Yeah.
NJM: So how long ago was that?
PL: That was 2006 to 2008 a long time ago. I actually almost did it in 2005 but I thought I was going to move to India. But I moved to India but as soon as I landed at the airport I knew it wasn’t for me. So I had this either or. But I was setting up a… I had this online magazine called holistic Hong Kong, which became “Holistic Asia” and some friends moved to Bangalore so I set up a Bangalore edition and so I thought I would do the India thing, um, but it didn’t quite take off. (So) I delayed it a year because of that.
NJM: So the ministry, How, how did you go about telling people, informing people that’s what you were doing and that service was available.
PL: Sort of like promotion?
NJM: Yeah, promotion, yeah.
PL: It’s really been word of mouth. But I had an online magazine so I put it on there, which it, and it was a spiritual environmental magazine so it was a good target market. I was lucky enough to be booked for my first wedding (5:19)noise) before I’d even been ordained by some friends in Hong Kong. Um, and then its really just a bit random. You know I’ve got a website, I’ve had a website for a long time. Is that how you found me?
NJM: I found you did a search, online search and your name popped up interfaith minister. I thought because was, I had people coming from different faiths, different backgrounds, different countries and different places. I thought this would be ideal. Um, and it was one to few things that I pushed for in my wedding because I felt it would bring everyone together.
PL: I am really passionate about particularly weddings with the work of interfaith ministry actually. Because I feel it offers something that is lacking. Because there are a lot of people that fall between the crack of either being in the Church and of a faith, or no faith and there is a whole bunch of people who are in between and they are not being catered for and that’s who the interfaith is for like people who have some faith, abut are not regular church goers or mosque goers or synagogue goers or whatever they are, you know. So I really genuinely believe in it and feel like it’s a good thing. So that helps too.
NJM: How do you feel you are doing a service?
PL: I really love it now. I’ve done about thirty maybe three-dozen. Something like that I haven’t counted recently. The first two I was incredibly nervous. like almost shanking. But now I feel quite, quite relaxed actually. I try not to get too relaxed. Like, I try and turn up an hour or two before and double check I’ve got the scripts and I’ve got everything. I feel I’ve got more and more into what ceremony means actually and I’m in a Skype group of people who look at ceremony and writes of passage I feel like I’m understanding more as each year goes on what a ceremony is about, what a wedding is about, what a funeral is about, what a baptism is, yeah. So I feel a bit more confident.
NJM: So, You mention funerals, baptisms?
PL: In Hong Kong it tends to be mostly weddings. That’s not just me. That’s, you talk to any of the priests that are here, just because it’s an expatriate population, as an English speaker. Um, Like, Interfaith ministers in England they tend to do more funerals. (Ah) But in Hong Kong then tends to be more weddings just because bluntly put less people die here and more people are married
NJM: So you basically you rely on word of mouth.
PL: Word of mouth and website
NJM: And website so is there anything that you do special with your website that helps move you along. Do you do any SEO?
PL: Um. No. I used to link it to my other site and eh and I probably should do more of that I do do Google ads. I’ve done Google ads for about four years and then I’m on a, I get a lot of reference from a website called marriage.com. Did you come through that? Or did you come to mine?
NJM: It was just a straight search, straight Google search or yahoo.
PL: Yeah. So, that’s, that’s in terms of tech that’s what I could probably write more articles, maybe I’ll do that in the future. As anything it’s a time and space type question. I’m always like fiddling with it. Last week when I contacted you actually I had a real push and I reviewed every page and I up dated stuff and I changed things. Like I also became an Australian Civil Celebrant. Now I have lost that because I haven’t moved to Australia. So, little tweaking things I’ve offered pre wedding counselling. Things like that I’m always playing a bit with stuff.
NJM: So you’re looking for new products, not products services?
PL: In a sense you could say that. Yeah. Um, which I feel because it has an ethical component product, seems a bit weird. But actually it is a product, a different offering.
NJM: So apart from the um, interfaith ministry. What else do you do?
PL: I’m a psychotherapist
NJM: Can you tell us about that?
PL: I’ve been studying for six years and I’ve got at least another two years of psychotherapy based, in the UK, um, called process-orientated psychology. It’s accredited with the UKCP, the counselling board in the UK. Also so like very deep, very transpersonal, very challenging, very rigorous training. So I’m benefiting from it. Grappling with it the whole thing. Working on it. I have a small practice here. I tend to give talks every couple of months.
NJM: Who to?
PL: Just offering it to people, just trying to get more clients. I work with asylum seekers as a volunteer. Of which there’s actually quite a number of them Psychosocial Counselling Unit, so um, I’ve been working there for three years. That’s rewarding and challenging too. And, it ties in a bit with the ministry. Like, this pre wedding counselling I just mentioned it’s sort of a marrying between the two. Because it’s actually got a counselling component so it’s on my ministry hat. So, I’m trying to find my own authentic voice. Yeah. I actually just gave a talk on (10:45 Noise) divorce and separation, which is a bit weird when I conduct weddings but actually a lot of weddings do end, so it’s good to do that as consciously as possible too. So I’m trying to like find my unique curiosity and what moves me and then I bring it into my work as a psychotherapist. As a therapist it’s quite important for me to bring my faith in, but not impose it, but more that it’s there. That I find meaning in what I do it’s not just like a technique I do.
NJM: So how do you promote that?
PL: Physiotherapy has been quite tough, to be honest. Because I know some people who go straight away and have got the full quota of clients. And I, I haven’t really flown in that sense.
NJM: Are they based in Hong Kong?
PL: In Hong Kong (In Hong Kong). Err, I’ve had. You know I’ve had two, three, four it depends, um… Now I’m sort of half time in the UK, half time in Hong Kong with the family reasons as well. So it doesn’t help. So, I ‘m keeping it to a small practice. Yeah, I have a website, That’s the first thing I did. Once I could take clients. And um. And I give talks. Those are my main promotional ways that I do it. I’ve written an article. Yeah, so…
NJM: So it’s, it’s not like some… It’s not really something that you can sort of advertise in a newspaper? Is it or…?
PL: I guess you could. I’ve got Google ads as again, and maybe I need to like up that. Because what I noticed is that a lot of therapists put a lot of money into Google ads.
NJM: Is there a lot of competition?
PL: There’s quite a lot of competition in Hong Kong and in the English speaking territories.
NJM: Why is that?
PL: Um, I think because there is a course based in Hong Kong, which is with a Melbourne University. Eighteen months. So a lot of people are sort of giving up corporate careers and becoming counsellors.
NJM: Is that because they want to solve their problems or solve…?
PL: I don’t know why people do it. I know that’s why I do it. (Yeah) So I don’t think… To be honest any think any therapist who doesn’t have a personal reason for being a therapist is a bit dubious.
PL: Because then it implies that you’re kind of superior, (Yeah) and that actually you have affected. And unfortunately this is true of a lot of therapist who just like look at their poor clients that are suffering and they’re in this comfort zone and that’s not the way I’ve been taught or live. You know like we all struggle and have issues that we grapple with, so. Jung said that therapy is like two people sharing a bath. I like that your together you try your best. You know you got some skills that will be useful but you are also a human being their a human being at that moment they are suffering more than you are but you can certainly empathise do what you can (Yeah). So I think that’s important. I think one of the things about Hong Kong I don’t know about Shanghai so much is there is a real emphasis on goals, obviously money and success and in terms of my psychotherapy that I’m less oriented that way. I’m more into finding the meaning of something less quick fix. More like what’s really going on. so yeah that’s a factor maybe too. Like I’m really fascinated by dreams. That’s one of my main subjects of interest. Dream are just awesome.
NJM: Is it something you learned on the course, or is something you…?
PL: Yeah. But it’s something I’ve developed a personal passion, personal thing. What we do. And it ties in spiritually because. Dreams to me are where my spirituality comes out, because it brings the world of mystery and of god to daily life. Like when you really notice that. It’s quite powerful. Um, and also like on a collective level. In my particular psychotherapy process orientated psychology. Um, One of the few psychologies which has a social activist agenda, we call it world work in our jargon. Because if you are the recipient of something like homophobia or racism or some other ism. Like on one level that’s a personal problem (Yeah) but on another level it’s a collective issue so if we can work on collective issues, then that will make the world a better place, which will then effect the individual. So that’s very much our philosophy, and in Hong Kong I don’t know about Shanghai, um, there is such a stress on success and on work that there is a flip side to that. I gave a talk, three months ago, it’s the best talk I’ve given in terms of numbers and I only gave two days notice, actually. I had eighteen people and, um, it was called finding yourself in Hong Kong. But really it was about what it is really like to live here. Because scratch the surface of like go-go-go-success-money and there is quite a lot of alcoholism, drugs, malaise really
NJM: Is that people that have moved here or is it just…?
PL: I think a bit of both, yeah, so… Um, and there is a real questioning of like, who we are and that comes from both individually and as a society. So… Yeah… There is that collective level to, which I am fascinated about. Because for like me I sometimes I sometimes wonder “Oh my god, I’ve lived here so long and all my friends are super successful and I’m not in terms of strict financial success, but I am rich in other ways and in trying to articulate those values of rich in its different forms. That’s another hat, psychotherapy.
NJM: So that’s two hats. What’s the third hat?
PL: Spirulina. So I import spirulina, got a website spirlllinaplanet.com. This is a lovely story actually. That time I almost move to India, I had this fantasy that I would be a tea importer and my great-grandfather and grandfather worked in India in the time of the British Empire doing tea stuff, I don’t know what. So I thought ‘Oh we’re the same’. And my best friend here was setting up Hong Kong’s first veggie restaurant organic veggie health and I said I’m going to get into tea and I was in india and I sent him back six or seven types of tea and as an after thought I threw in a pack of spirulina. And I got an email a week saying, terrible tea, bitter and nobody drinks loose tea anyway. The spirulina was amazing. And so that’s just sort of become more popular and the moral of the story for me is. Like I thought I was giving I was more or less volunteering my whole work for spiritual and environmental magazines, living like very low cost, but getting a joy from doing something I was passionate about. And I felt in my cosmology that god was taking care of me through this sort of rather unexpected way so I just did…. And it’s still bubbling away, you know, um. And I’ve got licences for Australia and I sell a bit in other places. It’s one of those things. Actually I also sell organic cashew nuts but then we had a problem with like hygiene and sprays and insect repellents, and it kind of went. It’s kind of interesting to try different things and then see which one works.
NJM: So the spirulina is that something you want to grow or are you happy with it as is?
PL: I try to grow it. I put a lot of effort. I got this Australian licence that took a while. And I’d be happy for it to grow but at the moment it’s sort stable for the last two or three years.
NJM: Where are you importing form and to?
PL: From India to Hong Kong
NJM: From India to Hong Kong
PL: And sometimes I sell on to other countries. I put up a website. And there’s always the issue like that because 90% of my sales are to shops, you don’t want to compete with shops, and sell it at the retail not the wholesale price. But then you’re up against cheaper goods, quite often from China. (China exports), Which is crazy because it should only be grown in hot climates and I notice it’s from Shandong. So, and water quality is really important because it’s a type of algae. And anyway there’s always a cheaper good somewhere, isn’t there.
NJM: How are they able to grow it?
PL: Guess, in greenhouses.
NJM: Would it be organic?
NJM: Is yours organic?
PL: It’s not, and actually it’s really interesting because I‘ve been really passionate about organic food for many years. But the reality of growing spirulina organically is really complicated, because it needs to have a really high PH, alkali level, so it’s not quite as straightforward as it seems. And it’s a social product with no chemicals in it but to be organic you need to get an extra…
NJM: What is spirulina used for?
PL: It’s used for smoothies, its used, it’s a superfood. So people add it to usually smoothies. I put it on my cereal my salads.
NJM: How much would you use?
PL: I take a lot personally 5 to 10 grams a day.
NJM: What would be the average persons?
PL: Less 2 or 3 grams
NJM: 2 or 3 grams
PL: But I am vegan as well and its full of good stuff, protein, iron, B12 that vegans don’t get and, um, quite a few minerals. So it’s a useful thing.
NJM: So that’s your third hat
PL: Those are my existing ones right now.
NJM: What did you do before?
PL: I was a journalist.
NJM: Can you tell us about your journalist days?
PL: Yeah. So, I came to Hong Kong and I got a job working for the New Age shop and I edited their magazine for two years. And I went back to the UK for a year and then I came back and I set up basically the same magazine because they were folding in my absence, no fault of mine I would stress. Um, but I did it on line and I did it for ten years. I think… You know it kind of went pretty well but it never like fully took off. I tried to bring it to Asia, um, but it was good. I had this holistic column in the South China Morning Post. There was a lot of work and a lot of detail and it was quite uncreative by the end a lot of copying and pasting. So I am glad I did it. I also, Um, I also set up a book publishing company called pilgrims guides.
NJM: What did that do?
PL: Mainly travel guilds to spiritual centres but a few other health type books. And, that to me was really clean. It didn’t work but I’m really glad that I lived the dream.
NJM: Why didn’t it work?
PL: Because I was going for too small a market. But I was trying to be the lonely planet of the twenty-first Century. And that was a nice dream. I’m just really glad I tried something, which didn’t quite happen but which you do it. You mean, I’d love to be a book publisher, you do it. I’d love to be a journalist, I did that. So I think that the lesson for me is that if I could go back in time like my online magazine I did for 10 years.
NJM: How long ago was that?
PL: That was like, 2001 to 2012-13 and I wished I’d stopped early, and I think that’s why I’m a bit more brutal now. It’s like if something isn’t really flying, just let it go, give it a go, see if it works. If it doesn’t work, just let it go. Unless it’s something like the ministry where it just so easy and pleasurable to do, you know, it’s not my main income, it’s a wonderful job to do, on the side, you know.
NJM: So how did you assess that it wasn’t worth doing?
PL: The magazine
PL: Well, two things. One. The income just never really, flew just enough. Two it was quite draining, actually. Like the, the work of it, became less creative as time went on. And that’s when I started the ministry training and I found there was more impetus, yeah, so, yeah, I think. Long time ago I did a business course and they talked about the S-curve and you want to continually grow and never be static and that made sense to me. I didn’t at the time but now I get it. So, I’m kind of watching that right now.
NJM: Do you think you could use the newer technologies to start, restart your journalism?
PL: I’m quite happy not to become a journalist. Because I actually feel I’m not temperamentally that way. Because it’s a highly detailed job. not only do you have to be word perfect, literally, but everything, every photo needs a credit. That’s why I check with you like I’m so trained, to get that photo credit for my website. Like everything has to be just perfect. If you make a mistake. I once wrote an article and forget the journalists name, you know. She’s very forgiving, you know. Little things like that are in front of you for however long the magazine is there. Online you fix it. So I’m quite happy not to do that again. Every so often I feel like it might be nice. But I’m a bit hesitant. Because also you don’t want to six months. You want to think where will I be in four years. Like and if I’m really bigger what will I be doing? It’s like publishing another one of the reasons why I’m happy not to do it is, in all the time I put into that probably the actually writing of the book was five to ten per cent of my work and admin was eighty, ringing up shops, sending books, doing my accounts and that doesn’t really buzz me. So you got to have a type joy in that which I don’t.
NJM: When did you have the publishing company?
PL: Ninty-nine (Ninty-nine)
NJM: And you know about self-publishing, now?
PL: That was self-publishing. Yeah I’m just, glad I’m not in it. So in terms of technology, like I’ve actually taken a step back. I mean I run still four websites. But em, I don’t, might have a twitter account but I don’t use it and… And I wish I wasn’t on facebook.
NJM: You wish were not on Facebook.
NJM: Why’s that?
PL: I don’t like to spend much time, if I don’t use it. Um, so I’m trying to limit. If I have an addiction in life, it is to checking the news online and too much time in front of the computer. So I wish… I like to do more outdoor stuff and that’s what I like about therapy. It’s like meeting people
NJM: When you say outdoor, you mean…?
PL: Like also gardening.
NJM: Oh gardening
PL: Gardening, So that, that’s very, that’s where I get a lot of sanity from. So, yeah at the moment not too enamoured by technology. Trying actually, I’m writing a thesis, which I’m writing on a laptop, but it’s making me think like take notes and little comments and put them in like that.
NJM: If you were going to advise somebody to be an entrepreneur. What, what advice would you give from your perspective.
PL: I have a friend here maybe an acquaintance, who is one of those sort of Hong Kong success stories. Turned up here aged eighteen with a backpack in the eighties and left, well more than a millionaire, probably, whatever that is. And hear his story that he says, is that he just kept saying yes. Got this job, got that job and was in the right place at the right time and everything just grew. Um so, in terms of… That is one level of success, financial. And I’m from a privileged family and I would also like to put a shout out for different forms of success, than having a family eating well, having a relaxed life, finding personal meaning. That’s a different type of success that doesn’t get valued so much in Hong Kong, which will play out in our health, our mental well being and ultimately our soul. So that to me is really important. So that, that, that’s, that’s a drama with a different beat, you know. Sometimes they over lap and sometimes they don’t. So, eh… Yeah, listen to both of them I think.
NJM: So if anyone wants to get in touch with you, look at your websites.
OK so, thank you very much well keep in touch as I’ve always done.