Craig DeLarge is a digital healthcare executive in the Pharma Industry. In a career that spans over thirty years. His focus has developed into challenging leadership roles that have advanced digital health outcomes globally. From his base in the USA specific projects included digital mental health, digital healthcare strategy development education & advisory and change leadership strategy consulting & coaching. He knows what it takes to make an organisation change when it faces a crises.
“It’s Just that in my experience what I found generally people will agree with you about an opportunity but they will act on a crisis.”
Three years ago he moved to Singapore to support clients & stakeholders navigate the emerging digital healthcare ecosystem and develop the capacity to lead in ambiguous change scenarios. He describes himself as an intrepreneur.
This is our first meeting. Our conversation takes place just a few days before his return to the USA, in his bare bones apartment. A reflection on move which is about to see him start a Master of Public Health in Global Mental Health, a family reunion, and the next phase of Craigs passion project and the change from Intrepreneur to Entrepreneur “The Digital Mental Health Project”.
“…the point in life where your most susceptible to becoming mentally unwell, between about 18 and 25, I hope the university that he goes to, has a whole suite of support systems, technologies, data algorithms, notifications to the family, and an absence of stigma.”
During our conversation Craig reveals the motivations behind his career choices and how he sees the potential benefits that digital technology can bring to the field of mental health.
As well as:
His origins as a regional hybrid from the southern United States before moving to north-east and Philadelphia.
His initial career choice and the reason for switch to the Pharma industry.
His memory of going to his VP who advised him that his career choice was going to ruin his career.
The role love and novelty in his career replaced burning out.
The nature of the digital cycle of adoption in the Pharma industry and how this led to him become a serial intrapreneur.
The last three years in Singapore working as the head of the digital accelerator for for Takeda Pharmaceutical.
Similarities and differences between the roles of intrapreneur and entrepreneur.
The forces working against the intrapreneur in an organisation and the reasons.
Well know failures that did not capitalise on their own R&D innovations.
The point when an organisation recognises a crises, before during and after.
The thing that makes an organisation successful is also the thing that can make it fail.
Solutions that reduce the possibility of organisations from failing.
So why don’t most companies do that. The 3M model is well known. I know about it.
Why organisations conserve of energy. and the connection to complacency and then crises
Employees that see a crisis coming and what should you do.
The Fortune 500 today is not the same as a decade ago.
How the switch to a career based on love of being a designer.began with an MBA at University of Westminister to connect the intrapreneur, and innovator within to design management.
How “nudge” is helping healthcare is get human beings to take better care of their health.
The sabbatical that led to linking being an entrepreneur in the pharma industry to his mental health advocacy for the creation of the Digital Mental Health Project.
Future benefits that digital technology will bring to improve mental health.
How in the future mobile digital devices can move from damaging mental health to improving it.
The move from intrapreneur to entrepreneur, the nervousness, the advantages and disadvantages of each
The loneliness of being an entrepreneur and advice on how to maintain mental health
How Silicon Valley is recognising the negative mental toll that the pressure, and the loneliness and the drivenness of tech entrepreneurship is having on its workers.
The symptoms to look out for with your own mental health and what mistaken beliefs exist when the psyche breaks and the stigma surrounding it.
Strategies on improving and protecting mental health
How to overcome the stigma surrounding mental health issues and
Craigs hope for the support, in the future, that will be available at university and for 18 and 25 year olds, which is the point in life.
When to start taking care of your mental health and who to start with and the challenge.
The importance to remember, the advantages we have today in society are because somebody in the past stepped out of line and began to challenge the status quo and how we can create the same for someone in the future.
Finally he tells us about his family and the number one motivation for leaving Singapore and how it fits into the plan.
Chris Morris is a Relationship manager & Entrepreneur his previous career roles have been with NHS Trusts and Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs in the UK. This was before setting up a new life in Singapore where he initially supported his wife’s career before finding a role in Change Management and then as an independent consultant. Now, he splits his time between being a Regional Relationship manager and his real passion as an Entrepreneur with his restaurant the Lime House in the heart of Singapore.
“I took on the lease for Lime House I didn’t have a chef. So I actually took on the lease, because a lot of people think I am a restaurateur and I am not. I don’t cook at all. My wife is a very good cook not me. But I like to entertain and so I see myself very much as a founder anyway, so I took the lease on and I thought oh shit you know we’ve got to find a, we need to find a chef from somewhere. So actually got a plane flew to London, on the way to London I googled top Caribbean chefs in the UK. I landed I interviewed three of them, two of them thought I was just crazy Caribbean guy from Singapore and didn’t want to engage.”
During our conversation Chris reveals the motivations behind his founding of the Lime House, difficulties, career changes, family and his positive purposeful attitude he creates for the future.
As well as:
The only Caribbean establishment in Singapore
Arrived in Singapore as a trailing spouse in 2008
Background as Management consultant
Start of the job business transformation practice as a consultant for five years
The reason for the row
Then became a entrepreneur
Passion of the Caribbean led to him creating a Caribbean footprint in Singapore f or his children and the Caribbean diaspora
The opportunity for a positive Caribbean experience in Singapore
Its all about the food and ambience
The size of the ground floor restaurant, second floor bar and third floor event space.
The Trinidadian and Tobago meaning for the word “Lime” and its origins
A history and cultural lesson of rum and the largest rum collection in Singapore at 168
The journey of growing up in the Caribbean, moving to London and then to Singapore, Corporate to Cultural Entrepreneur
Specialism from IT to change programs in organisational culture in government agencies.
However mentor and locked his passion to mix food culture.
Overcoming opening a restaurant with no cooking skills.
The top Caribbean restaurant chef in London solving the cooking issue for a crazy Caribbean Guy
Using passion, belief and culture to achieve success
The years of pain to produce success
The dark lonely moments of being an entrepreneur and the don’t do it message from the naysayers,
Singaporean success Fridays and Saturdays full
Singaporeans creating authentic Caribbean food
Localised in the food.
The connection between the food in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia
The competitiveness of the Singaporean restaurant market, fine dining the failure then the chance meeting
Creating a grab and go experience in Singapore that failed and then moving it halfway around the world to London using the lessons learned in Singapore
Three minutes to walk out with a meal learned in Singapore.
A new fusion food experience.
The entrepreneurs need for the support of family but it helps when they eat the food
Creativity is in the family fashion design father, set designer sister, artist brother and the link to Central St. Martins
Chris’ excitement of changing perceptions of the Caribbean diaspora
The most difficult task for the entrepreneur is always dealing with failure
The painful road of luck
When did you realise you have to close
How an entrepreneur knows when to stop
Being comfortable talking about failure and playing it safe and the role exposure plays to opportunity, capital and expertise through mentors
Caribbean business groups in the UK and the importance of mentorship both Singapore and London.
The first conversation is with Güneş AltunGüneş, who is a cofounder and organising member of the Business Development Society of Singapore reveals about herself and some of the background and motivations behind the Business Development Society organising an event called OTOT.
“So whatever comes in its goes back to the marketing, operations and so it’s like a circle we’re trying to build like a self-sustaining community.”
In the second conversation Chris Dawson reveals something typical of many entrepreneurs that they work with multiple organisation. In his case Bam, who he represented at the event and Nimbus Design Consultants, a company he works with run by wife.
“She’s the brains, she’s the designer, she knows where she wants the company to go.”
Third and final conversation Norrapat Shih reveals his background as a research scientist at the National University of Singapore and the route he is taking to become an entrepreneur in the field of medical science
“So basically a lot of people in my lab we catch snakes different venomous animals, ticks leeches”
This entrepreneur event like many is attended by individuals with varied backgrounds and experiences. So now without further delay let’s begin.
As well as:
Why the business development society call the events OTOT.
Other entrepreneur events such as connections of coffee, COC.
Reasons for choosing Singapore.
Organisation structure of the business development society.
Profit or non-profit organisation.
The reason for creating the business development society.
Why the founder whose idea what’s to create the business development society, isn’t present.
The reason why Chris left his native USA for Singapore.
His role in the company and the service it provides.
Reasons for attending the event.
His office location in a co-working space.
Platforms and different types of events organisers
Commercial drug research from venomous animals in Singapore.
Moving from research to a start-up in the pharmaceutical Industry.
How his research could help heart-attack patients going through percutaneous coronary intervention.
The cost of creating a new pharmaceutical drug.
Venture capitalists fears.
Patent ownerships and licenses
The hope of grants from the Singapore government to create a start up.
Taking your specialist knowledge and finding app and software developers
The road from Thailand, Canada, a failed start-up and finally to Singapore.
The attitude of scientists to research and commercial Products.
Abhinav Sharma is the CEO and Tanisha Chawla is the COO, entrepreneurs of the startup FocusDigit. An eCommerce platform that provides sellers with end-to-end solution to reach their customers online across multiple channels. Abhinav and Tanisha live and work in Delhi, India and represent the growing number of entrepreneurs that are building companies successfully out of India to challenge on the world stage.
During the conversation Abhinav and Tanisha reveal what makes them a successful team, based on their knowledge and experience with a touch of humour. Tannish also reveals the secret that Abhinav’s kept and to who in the first 6 months of the company,
“Six months later he actually broke the news to her.”
In the podcast Abhinav reveals Tanisha’s secret passion, which she is finding difficult to indulge in due to her commitment to the startup. Abhinav and Tanisha also kindly allowed me to talk briefly to other members of the company, which is why the podcast is over two episodes (EIA 035 and EIA 036).
As well as:
Abhinav Describes his entrepreneurial journey that started when he was still a student to earn money.
His early failure because of his lack of maturity.
The start of his passion for retail industry.
Tanisha’s conventional educational path before breaking away and turning a hobby into a business and realising it was not what she wanted to do.
Her father’s entrepreneurial influence and working in the family business.
How supplier and client came together to help build the business.
What occurs on the bad days.
The source of the difficulties they face.
Spending zero on marketing and still grow the business.
Being operationally profitable in a year and a half.
Starting in a basement.
Where to recruit and what to look for and the key qualities in a startup employee.
An Indian’s approach to working internationally with colleagues.
The problems faced and working to the rules of my company.
The support of family, single mother’s influence, secrets, and an entrepreneur as a father role model.
The madness of being an entrepreneur and the shift from the old rat-race to the new.
As we are in India we have a cricket anecdote to discuss failure along with a Hindi saying for the road to profitability.
The entrepreneurial game of short-term gain vs sustainable long-term business.
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.
The Entrepreneurs Breakfast (Shanghai) is the informal mentorship event organised by Entrepreneurs Asia Entrepreneurs are given about eight minutes to present their business, talk about your current challenges Other entrepreneurs will then ask questions, challenge the model, provide honest feedback and give suggestions on how to solve problems.
Regular attendance allows entrepreneurs to become accountable for their progress.
One of the most common themes discussed is; how do I market my business?
If you are an entrepreneur with a low budget, I would suggest you look at the online tools available and you learn how to use them. Finding good, reliable and available technical people is very difficult generally in any developing market. They usually have their own projects or are being well paid by someone else.
If your project doesn’t take off and you are between ideas you can always become one of the technical people for someone else.
Listen to one entrepreneur get the Entrepreneur Breakfast treatment.
My interviews are carried out face to face and until I get to the location I don’t know what the environment will be like.
Since my equipment is fairly basic the sound quality is not as good as I like it to be. I am working ways to improve this.
This week I attempted to do a recording at a trade show so the environment was even more challenging. I found a room that was empty and started recording. A few minutes after the interview started a couple a people entered. Both my interviewee and I informed them that we were recording They acknowledge this and went quiet. Two to three minutes later they started talking and making noise and we asked them to be quiet again. They went quiet again for a couple of minutes they started to talk and make noise again. This was repeated several more times. Finally we abandoned the interview and rescheduled for the next day. However the next day I was unable to complete it as the interviewee was unavailable.
Throughout the whole process I felt OK as I remembered “Don’t stress over the things you cannot control.”
Today I attended the Shanghai Entrepreneurs Luncheon. This is a regularly organised monthly event I have been attending for over a year and eventually gave rise to what I am doing now.
This one was different because a lot fewer people attended.
Why was this?
Lee Lam, the invited speaker: gave lots of useful and good anecdotes, the food was described as delicious and authentic Vietnamese by many of the attendees and it was organised in the same manner as all previous.
The reason, based on my previous experiences, was the venue, Cyclo, was different.
This reminded me of how much we crave habits and routine even amongst entrepreneurs. One of the attendees introduced himself by mentioning that the idea for his logo business came about as he was researching his idea for a trading company, which he immediately abandoned.
In conclusion allowing some routines to be broken can lead to some positive surprises.
I will be interviewing Lee Lam in the future so you will get a glimpse of what he has to offer, but not the food.