Callum Laing Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Callum Laing
Callum Laing is todays guest joining us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots Podcast interview.
A New Zealander that has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents.
He has hustle flooding though every vein, as he has powered himself to being classed as one of the most connected people in Asia.
Whilst of course enduring his fair share of painful crashes too!
He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries, and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs allowing executives and business owners to become a ‘Key Person of Influence’ in their industry.
A company whose vision is a world full of entrepreneurial people solving meaningful problems.
But this is just part of the story, as when you look at Callums background, there seems to be a strong decision maker, who is willing to take calculated risks to build the future that we wants.
How The Dots Joined Up For Callum
He is willing to do the unusual if it steps him forward to were he wants to be.
Starting way back in 1999 when he co founded Netherlands based Telco Management consultancy and recruitment company, which to me is a fascinating moment in his life.
Wouldn’t it have been easier to start building in his hometown and country of birth, or perhaps he did, and we have even more dots to join up in his life.
Well let’s find out what makes this guy tick, as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots, with the one and only Callum Laing.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Callum such as:
How we are losing the entrepreneurial spirit of the youngsters of the world, who haven’t got the freedom of location that we had many years ago.
How successful entrepreneurs are the ones not chasing the pack, but focus purely on the value they can provide to their customers.
Why the vast majority of entrepreneurs will struggle if they haven’t performed the necessary pre work before undertaking their latest venture.
Why he wont invest in any of his ideas, without getting any pre-sales first, as he can’t be guaranteed a market from his own genius.
How he once deleted the whole of Italy from the worldwide web, and spent a frantic half hour trying to get the country back online.
How To Connect With Callum Laing
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Full Transcription Of Callum Laing Interview
David Ralph [0:00]
Today’s show is brought to you by podcast is mastery.com, the premier online community teaching you to podcast like a pro. Check us out now at podcasters mastery.com.
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph,
David Ralph [0:36]
everybody and welcome to Join Up Dots Episode 371. And we came back on to a kind of business entrepreneurial route today if you listen to the last episode, you would have heard the lovely Veronica grey talk about how life with rock stars came about and how she’s really living a full free spirited life and I suppose Today’s guest is doing this Same kind of thing. Probably not that dabbling around with rock stars but doing everything else because he is a New Zealander, but has started built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He has hustle muscle flooding through every vein, as he has powered himself to being classed as one of the most connected people in Asia, whilst enjoying his fair share of painful crashes to He’s the owner of fitness buffet, a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries. And he’s also the CEO of entry vo Asia company that runs 40 week growth accelerator programmes allowing executives and business owners to become a key person of influence in their industry. A company whose vision is a world full of entrepreneurial people solving meaningful problems. But this is just part of the story as when you look at his background, there seems to be a strong decision maker who is willing to take calculated risks to build the future but he wants he’s willing to do the unusual if it’s stepping forward to where he wants to be. Now starting way back in 1999, he co founded Netherlands based telco management, consultancy and recruitment company, which to me is a fascinating moment in his life now, wouldn’t it have been easier to start building in his hometown and country of birth? Or perhaps he did and we have even more dots to join up in his life? Well, let’s find out what makes this guy tick as we bring onto the show to start Join Up Dots with the one and only Mr. Callum Laing, how are you sir?
Callum Laing [2:27]
I’m very good. I love that introduction. I might just get you to follow me follow me around and sing my praises like that. That’s fantastic.
David Ralph [2:34]
I will do that. I’ll pick you up wherever you want to go wherever like a Join Up Dots app, but you can just press and feel inspired or motivated
Callum Laing [2:44]
with download that app that’s awesome.
David Ralph [2:46]
So you and you’ve got an interesting life because I’m gonna cut straight to the chase. I like to get a bit pricey. Now we’ll go straight to it. Did you start building up businesses in New Zealand or did you come over to Europe? Was there a kind of a moving long version of your younger self I used to sort of go around earning money and hustling as a young kid.
Callum Laing [3:10]
And that definitely was but not when I was in New Zealand. I left New Zealand at about three years old. And when I was a young entrepreneur, I don’t think I achieved much at the age of three. And but I certainly did start. So we were living in Cambridge in the UK. Not too far down the road from you. And I was certainly started off I think my first proper business was doing car washing as a lot of us do. Remember, have a little little car washing business to try and make money for holidays. And, you know, did the paper rounds and all that usual stuff and just kind of kind of grew grew from there, but definitely, I’ve always, always been doing one thing or another one of my first couple Have more successful ventures when I was younger was making and selling ice cream. I had a someone Someone had given me a copy of the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream recipe book and I thought that was fantastic. So I built up a little ice cream business at that time was delivering it to bars and restaurants around Cambridge, which and that was it was a lot of fun until I made myself very very sick and ice cream on something.
David Ralph [4:27]
That’s interesting, isn’t it? Because the uncertain things I always go It’s too much effort. Now the Washington car business Yeah, that was me as a kid. I used to go around and especially on freezing cold days when people didn’t want to wash their car. You’d make a fortune. Yeah, but did making ice cream I would always being discovered by ice cream is kind of like too, too much effort. What was it a lot of effort to make enough to break even even. Even even Can you even even in
Callum Laing [5:00]
It was Yeah, it was it was fine. I mean, it was it was there was back in back in those days. You may remember the quality of the quality of ice cream was was pretty rubbish in the UK It was kind of that that yellow fizzy stuff that everyone ate. So there wasn’t there wasn’t as much choice. I don’t think Ben and Jerry’s have even come to the UK yet. I don’t think haggen dollars was there yet. So making home homemade ice cream was actually it was a premium product and I could I could sell it as such that the problem I had was one of my clients came to me one summer and he had over ordered strawberries for his restaurant and he delivered he turned up at my door with eight pallets of strawberries and said turn that into as much ice cream as you can.
David Ralph [5:49]
Please tell me the name was Mr with the
Callum Laing [5:55]
But I then had to go out and buy some more ice cream makers. And roping my friends and and create more strawberry ice cream then than is healthy and I was the only quality taster. So at the end of that contract I decided that I probably had my have my fill of ice cream and I made a lot of money on it but yeah, it was I hadn’t I hadn’t learned about delegating at that point. So put an end to my ice cream adventures after that. Did you think that the
David Ralph [6:27]
the real young entrepreneurial spirit that I used to see when I was growing up in the 70s as I say people little kids going around knocking on doors. Would you like your lawn mowed? Mr. Would you like your car washed and all that kind of stuff? Do you think that’s kind of dying out because I’ve got sort of kids. My youngest one is 10 maybe 113. By love the money but they don’t want to do anything to get it. They really will negotiate to the to the end of the year to try to get the best deal before they even get off the sofa.
Callum Laing [7:00]
Kids today they don’t know that. I am I, I think I’m going to think that the world’s changed and a lot of ways I think it’s I mean, I, you know, you’d be hard especially in the UK, you’d be hard pressed to encourage a kid to go around and start knocking on stranger’s doors. Whereas 20 years ago, that was kind of a normal thing to do. And I think you know, what’s kind of interesting is you see kids today making making money online with like, little gigs like fibre and stuff, where kids will run around and scream out your brown brands name for $5 probably ending up making far more money than we ever did. It just being smarter about it. So I think I think the the entrepreneurial spirit is, is still going to be there amongst amongst some kids. They’ll probably just find, find smarter ways to do it, and they’ll find their customers and now, anywhere in the world, whereas we were Somewhat hampered by when you get on a bicycle.
David Ralph [8:03]
I saw this gig on Fiverr the other day, or actually, my friend told me about it, so I had to look it up. And this lady would write Happy birthday on her breasts and being photographic and, and she was literally making hand over fist money hand over fist. And I’m not today and I thought, What an amazing entrepreneurial mind that lady must have. And obviously she’s got the assets to sort of develop that today’s for but yeah, you can literally on fire, but you can do anything. If you just want to sort of put yourself
Callum Laing [8:32]
out there wasn’t really where I was going with encouraging your kids to look at five.
David Ralph [8:39]
There’s a good in everything Calum? If you find it there is there is some So when did it really start coming together for you because you have built and sold half a dozen businesses and most people will maybe do one or two. So you’ve you’ve done quite a few and you’re still a young man, of course. So when did it all start really kicking on
Callum Laing [9:00]
Any day now or record? And now I look, I think as, as with a lot of entrepreneurs, you it’s it’s a constant, constant game of of testing yourself and testing the market. And
I think for me, it’s really been a case of
working to the limits of my capability and then trying to find ways to go up. So I actually started so it was one of the things you mentioned in the intro was on earth that I start a business in Holland. And I had to actually started off as an engineer for an internet company. So it was 99 was the height of.com. It was very, very exciting, lots of fun. And being an engineer and an internet company, at that time was a very lucrative thing to do. So that was all good. That was a slight problem was that I wasn’t actually any good and I didn’t really have That attention to detail that engineers and programmers need to have. So after a few interesting mistakes, one of which is where I actually deleted Italy from the internet, which was profitable to do in those days. But why
David Ralph [10:16]
not just slow you down on that? Because that’s one of the most bizarre statement the spat that kind of blew my mind for a moment. You deleted Italy, how well everything about Italy?
Callum Laing [10:27]
Yeah, so I was working for an internet company as it was the biggest internet company in the world at the time. And we were running the European Operations Centre for it. And it was a Friday evening. And, and in those days back in 1999, probably 9798 at that point. All of the internet traffic to and from Italy went through one, one central router, and we were we were adding a new client to that router. And it was all sort of fairly, fairly rudimentary stuff but I wasn’t clearly wasn’t paying attention and I sent the wrong command to to the big box that tells traffic where to go. And Tilly dogs Is
David Ralph [11:13]
that what you saying? What was it?
Callum Laing [11:16]
No, I was getting geeky. I said no IP route, which was supposed to write was a specific IP route. But actually what I said was no IP route which basically told the box, don’t let any internet protocol traffic through, including any more messages that I would send to it. So the box suddenly went offline. I was sitting in an operation Centre in Amsterdam, and bits of the wall started flashing up red as various clients couldn’t be reached. And we kind of went into full on panic mode and I had to, I had to phone someone in Italy and get them on their desperate and drive out to the place and reboot the machine and get it back online. But yeah, so for half an hour, nobody could get internet traffic into or out of Italy. And that was all my fault. And so, yeah, I had to move into management very quickly before people realised that I could cause a lot of trouble as an engineer. That’s that’s an astonishing
David Ralph [12:23]
statement, isn’t it? Really, because you think about the internet now, and it’s just bad. You can’t really imagine how you can do something like that. But of course, you go back in time, it all started a very basic level.
Callum Laing [12:36]
It was very flaky in the in the beginning days. Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, so then I moved into management. And what she discovered I wasn’t much better at that management. And so decided to, if I became the owner of the company, then I was less likely to find myself as a manager.
So yeah, jumped jumped into entrepreneurship.
with both feet and it was me I was very, very, very lucky at the time because it was.com boom. And because I was, had spent a couple of years now working for the biggest ISP in the world. That was internet service provider that that gave me quite a lot of credibility and made made us and a few other sort of 2324 year olds very, very attractive to telcos around Europe with desperately trying to play
Unknown Speaker [13:31]
Callum Laing [13:32]
So I launched a little management and recruitment company.
Hi hiring, hiring people and providing them to telcos and we were making a lot of money and it was it was a lot of fun and of course being 2425 I assumed it was all down to my superior intellect and good looks. And then when the.com bubble burst Turned out, I wasn’t that smart after all, and I had just done a very good, good job of being at the right time at the right place. And so that was
David Ralph [14:09]
and is that a key point? Is that a key point to entrepreneurial success? For the people out there listening? Can you jump into a market and been hustled like mad? Or do you literally have to get that perfect time?
Callum Laing [14:24]
So I think timing is it is a massive, massive piece of entrepreneurship that very rarely gets talked about, just because it’s nearly impossible to kind of plan for what I think is really interesting. Now, if you look at what tends to happen with entrepreneurs, is they’re always running. They’re running behind the ball. So you know, somebody starts to make a tonne of cash in social media, and they all run to to become good at social media. Yeah. Somebody somebody makes money to Daily Deals and they all rush to start up a daily deals company. What you find about the, with successful entrepreneurs is, is they’re not rushing to where other people are making money. They’re figuring out how to deliver value to their customers. And occasionally you get caught up in, in a wave of other stuff. And if you’re already there, then you can surf that wave. If you’re if you’re paddling to try and catch up, you never get to surf the wave. One of the things I was actually talking to a bunch of entrepreneurs about recently, and it’s sort of come as a as a bit of a, I guess, it’s one of those things, you know, and you kind of hear advice over and over again, and you never listened to it, never really understand it, and then it suddenly
David Ralph [15:46]
I’m married. So I do that on a daily basis.
Callum Laing [15:50]
Yeah, one day I’ll drop into place. And so, one of the things one of my first mentors, many many years ago, I’m going to talk about something and I just asked him how he how he was so successful in one particular thing. And he made this throwaway comment about being able to see him into the future. And I just kind of thought that’s a weird thing to say, and I dismissed it. And but over the years, I’ve noticed a lot of very successful people I know and people that have been kind enough to mentor me, have made these throwaway comments about being able to see into the future or being able to see around corners. And it’s only recently that I’ve really started to have conversations with people that are high up in the up in the industry. And you realise that, that actually what is happening is a lot of people are shaping the future with so for example, I was talking to a gentleman quite recently, he, he his job is basically to find big corporates understand what companies that They’re looking to buy in the next 12 months. And then he goes out. And he creates those companies pretty much on order for for the corporates, who then six months later buy it off him for 10s of millions of dollars. And he’s seeing the future because he knows exactly the problem that he’s solving and how to solve it. So it’s a very interesting idea that I hadn’t really grasped. And it’s only recently that all those people that keep saying they see the future. They’re just asking the right questions. And then, as the famous quote is skating to where the pucks going to be. So yeah, it’s an interesting insight.
David Ralph [17:42]
Well, it is. It’s, it is interesting, but how do you know that it’s the right future? And how do you know that you’re talking to the right person? But being devil’s advocate in that?
Callum Laing [17:52]
Yeah. So what I what I realise and I’m part of a helping friend of mine launch his business here. called key person of influence. So you may be familiar with Daniel Priestley, in the UK, best best selling author of a couple of books and set up the company become a key person of influence. And I’ve, I’ve helped him to launch that business in Asia. And, and, you know, consider, consider myself very lucky to have had that opportunity because I’ve got to learn so much about it. And it’s, it’s pretty amazing. But it’s also you realise that people have influence in each industry, have conflict, have conversations with other people of influence, that you just don’t even get awareness of, unless, unless you start to play at that level. And, you know, just listening to a lot of our clients that they’re suddenly starting to have conversations at the highest level of their industry. And just a It’s like sort of peeling back a layer of the layer of their business and, and suddenly they can kind of say, so this is why, you know, I thought that company was mad for doing doing that expansion. But actually, they know that in six months time the laws about to change in that country or, you know, there’s just this whole other level that if you’re not playing on that level, it’s actually very difficult to get that awareness.
David Ralph [19:30]
And did you feel that being a New Zealand who grew up in the United Kingdom and you’re now in Asia? Do you feel a global approach to what you do? Or are you more focused in on the Asian market?
Callum Laing [19:45]
I mean, the reason I’m in Asia is that even 1520 years ago, there was still enough I mean, I’ve always been a bit of a business geek and even if 20 years ago, there was a lot of talk about how all the trends were pointing to Asia and that, you know, the macro economic situation was all shifting towards Asia. And, and I had that that fear of missing out. So that was why I started to move over here in the first place. What what appeals to me about Asia is that there’s just for any entrepreneur that when we make our money is where there’s a value differential. So in traditional markets, there’s very little value differential because whenever there’s a profit, anyone jumps into that profit to try and get a part of it. Where you’re in an environment where there’s fast growth happening where there’s lots of change happening. There’s, there’s many more value differentials, which means there’s many more opportunities. And so I can you know, if you put yourself in Little bit like with the with the.com boom. And if you can put yourself in a in a fast growing environment, then even if you’re not the smartest cat in the world like myself, you can still you can still seem seem to catch on to a few opportunities just because there’s so many opportunities happening happening around you.
David Ralph [21:21]
You’re very self depreciating chap on you, you know you are a hustler. You’ve gone out there you put yourself in the centre of opportunities, but you still kind of knock yourself back that does that. Is that part of your charm? Is that what makes you a key person of influence that you don’t buy into the myth?
Callum Laing [21:41]
Now I think that’s just English humility, as we were taught from from an early age, so apologise for someone trying to fade. I’m no i don’t know, i think i think you know, it’s easy when when you kind of look at it from from a distance And he made me look at look at my profile and my media and and that sort of stuff it it obviously gives you an impression and I talk about the successes. But also I think most entrepreneurs are inherently ambitious and so we’re also inherently disappointed with the fact that we very rarely match kind of what we want to where we want to be. So I’m not you know, right now I’m in a very very nice place and very much enjoy what I’m doing but i’m i’m also acutely aware that there’s a large part of luck that put as played a part in helping me get get that way. So I think there’s, there’s way smarter people than me that haven’t had quite quite so much luck or haven’t found themselves in the right place. So
David Ralph [22:57]
yes, well, but let’s apply either words, but I like To play about this time of the show every day, and these are the words that Jim Carrey said and it’s all about taking a chance on something. So this is Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [23:08]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [23:35]
I’m a wise words I the kind of words that we should be getting out to the world nowadays and not just ladies pointing their breasts on fibre.
Callum Laing [23:46]
Yeah, look, I do think it’s wise I think. I think there’s there’s never been more opportunities to to find your nation to to work to that. I is interesting. It was on a TV interview just recently and I was beating up a little bit on the whole follow your passion advice, which isn’t exactly what Jim Carrey was talking about but you know, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of advice out there just to follow your passion, which actually is not necessarily good advice because the market doesn’t actually care what you’re passionate about. following your passion is great advice if the market actually values that passion is prepared to pay for it. So I think there’s there’s always a challenge when when you kind of take take sound bites and especially where we live in the social media world where you can kind of take take quotes out of context and, and, but I’m always wary of when I hear people that are giving up. Giving up a job purely to follow their passion without having actually done any market research or necessarily have skills in that area was always makes me a bit nervous. But But is that not
David Ralph [25:01]
just more leading towards more success in? Did you need to do that market research? Or do you need to burn your bridges and it comes up time and time again in Join Up Dots, some people go, just go for it, and you’ll be so focused and panic but you’re not going to ever earn some money again, you will be successful when other people will say no, no, spend a little bit of time doing the preparation. And how do you feel about that?
Callum Laing [25:26]
So I’ve had over the last year I’ve probably met with over 1000 small business owners through through our events and there’s, you know, that there’s clearly a lot of there’s a lot of people in the corporate world who are exploring, you know, that that they’re doing right, but that they feel like they’re unfulfilled and you know, they could be could be having more fun as an entrepreneur. Um, and it’s interesting that The ones that I see that do it successfully, the ones that transition successfully are the ones that don’t jump into it. Obviously, you get a few outliers that that do, but the vast majority of entrepreneurs, whichever have taken end up struggling. But I keep meeting now successful entrepreneurs that started things on the side while they were still in it in a job. Yeah. And what I’ve come to realise is that, you know, a lot of people leave the job because they’re looking for creative freedom. And they’ve got this idea that if they become an entrepreneur, they’ll have creative freedom. And actually, what they discover is, they’re now not doing what they love. They’re they’re running around trying to find stuff, trying to find clients being there, IT support being the coffee pose and being like dude doing all of that stuff, and they’ve actually got very little time to to be creative at all. They discovered that they had more time more resources when they were in in the corporate world. And but the ones that have done it well, and there’s I think there’s a couple of reasons for this. But so for example, I was talking to a guy recently who had set up a cafe, on his, on the side while he was working for for a bank. And Firstly, it like it was definitely a challenge, but because he couldn’t actually physically work in the cafe. From day one, he had to find a model that worked without him. So he put in the systems and the processes and he hired well, and he did all of that stuff that most entrepreneurs are actually terrible at doing because when we’re in the business, whenever there’s a challenge, we fix it. So we kind of end up making ourselves irreplaceable. And so what happened was, not only was he able to Think a little bit more objectively about the challenges. He wasn’t constantly worrying about having to pay his wages as well, because he had that coming in from the job that he was doing. And he had to think a little bit more strategically about the business he was creating, because he couldn’t just throw himself at the problems and the opportunities. And I’m seeing more and more people that have done that. And the beautiful thing about the world we live in today with elands. And you know, all the opportunities out there is that it’s never been easier to go out and to test a business idea. Before you you make the jump going, like I was, the archetype or idiot entrepreneur of my idea of market research was to ask my mates in the pub, whether they would buy a service if I made it, and my mates are very friendly, they always say yes. And so then I would go and invest months of my life and hundreds of thousands of dollars developing this what I thought was a genius idea. And I would bring it to market six months later. And invariably, it was a bad time for my mother, my mates, they couldn’t afford it right then or didn’t have the budget for it or, and I would be in this position where I was stuck with a product that I believed in and had to believe in it because I put so much time and effort into it. And then I’m out trying to hammer into the market. And, and I didn’t, hadn’t really proven that there was a market for it to start with. And then of course, the problem we have them and something I’m hugely guilty of is you go to meet a potential client. If you’ve got this product that you’re emotionally invested in. It doesn’t matter what the client says to you. You’re trying to sell them a product. So I’ve been in meetings and I’d like to shout out to Think about it now. But I’ve been in meetings where
the client on the other side has said, Look, it’s a nice product, but it’s not what we want. We’ve got budget for this, could you provide us with this? And instead of saying, Yes, let me come back to you with a solution to that. I’ve kept trying to sell the product that I’ve got invested so much time in it. And, and so I’ve, I’ve walked away from, you know, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in in deals, because I’ve been mano focused on a product that I created based on something that that I thought was a good idea, but I hadn’t actually proven in the marketplace. Which is, which is a, you know, it’s a fairly common thing. I don’t think I’m unique in that but, but what’s nice about today is that, you know, with crowdfunding and those sort of models, you can go out and pitch and pitch your product before you’ve even created it and not Bernie find out whether the market wants it but actually take forward orders for it which is which is quite frankly is it that’s the only metric that matters these days
David Ralph [31:09]
well is and the pre sale still blows my mind where you can actually say to people this is what I’m thinking or would you pay for it and actually get money up front and vein work like a lunatic to actually bring it to the fore now we are we’ve released a product podcasters mastery com that we talked about at the very beginning of the show and that the end and I didn’t go that route because I was terrified of suddenly having money come to me and then having to work like a lunatic to provide it. And so I was saying to my business partners No, we’re getting the product almost there before we take money because I didn’t want to go the opposite route. what’s what’s the right way for the listeners out there that have got an idea? Do you think it is my way or, or your way Get get money up front and Ben develop it?
Callum Laing [32:01]
Yeah, and I like that there is no right way. But if there was a right way of doing business, we would all save ourselves a lot of time. So that doesn’t help your listeners at all doesn’t like I think that the Yeah, there’s plenty of cases where people have just been passionate about their product and there has been that market fit but my my view now and maybe it’s just
an aspect of having spent so much time is that
I no longer tracks my own ideas. I don’t I won’t invest in my own business ideas because naturally I think they’re all genius. But I’ve learned through through bitter experience that the market doesn’t always agree. So now, for me getting getting pre sales is is absolutely my criteria over whether or not I will go ahead with with a product and and the other thing that I’ve realised Is that most entrepreneurs are actually great problem solvers. So, finding, finding the market fit is is the hardest bit it’s, you know, getting getting clients to actually put their hands in their pockets and give you large sums of money is quite hard. But if you if somebody wrote you out a check today for a million dollars and said, David, we want you to come up with a three week podcasters bootcamp with top top entrepreneurs or whatever it might be. And you knew that you couldn’t possibly put that together yourself. But you’ve got a check for a million dollars. You’ll find a way to solve that problem. You you’ll get on the phone you’ll call other people you’ll partner with other people. You’ll make the thing happen. Are you offering
David Ralph [33:53]
you’re offering me this deal is on the table. Callum
Callum Laing [34:00]
And I love it. But but that’s the thing. Like if you’re talking to a client and you discover that they’ve got a problem and they’ve got a problem that’s so valuable that they will throw money at it, then even if you don’t know all the answers, I’m pretty sure that you can get you can gather together some people that will will be able to put together a solution and sell it. So it’s, you know, it’s, I think it’s very exciting times from from that, that perspective. It’s never been easier to pull together those resources to deliver what people will pay for.
David Ralph [34:35]
Well, that’s the whole mantra of Richard Branson, isn’t it? He says yes. And Ben goes and finds out how to do it afterwards. The screw it let’s do it sort of mentality. That’s what he’s done. All right for himself. Yeah. I don’t know what he’s doing at the moment. Probably sitting on some beach, setting deck chairs or something. I don’t know what he’s doing. But yeah, it is and but it is a comfort That you gain from or not come that a competence that you gain from being successful to be able to do that? Or is that something that he would have always had the screw it? Let’s do it.
Callum Laing [35:14]
Good question. I think what definitely happens as you go through those learning cycles is you get much better attuned at what questions to ask, and how to listen to the answers. So, ya know, I think, definitely there’s a, there’s an expertise there that comes from and, you know, understanding the difference between someone saying, you know, that’s a good idea and somebody saying, Yes, I will put aside budget if you can deliver that solution for it. And, but it’s interesting, we were talking at the beginning about people being able to see into the future and and you see that You know, Richard Branson’s now got seven separate multi billion dollar companies in different industries. And he’s not running into those things blindly. He’s he’s getting some good feedback from other people in the industry that are playing at that high level. And I know that if he makes billions they can also make billions from it as well. So, you know, he, the, the level of discussions that they’re having, and that does come that’s definitely comes through experience and through also having having credibility, people aren’t going to share that information. If you’ve got no credibility in the marketplace, you have to, you have to sort of earn to, and it just burns a little bit before you start learning that stuff.
David Ralph [36:47]
So So where’s the Where is your Domino and I use the word Domino because this is something that’s come up in conversation recently where you can maximise your effort by finding that one Domino that wins Press, you suddenly knock down 100,000. And it’s the real, how business success can come to you easily if you find that like dominoes. So what you do on a daily basis? Did you know where your Domino is to gain best effect for you?
Callum Laing [37:18]
I do now. I think I do. You know,
I think one of the big things and it’s
this is one of those kind of weird bits of advice, but
one of the bits of advice that I give to entrepreneurs is to go out and try and buy another company. And now that might that might sound really weird because most entrepreneurs are struggling to make their own company work, let alone the idea of buying somebody else’s company. But I was given an opportunity eight or nine years ago to go and Yeah, a company asked me if I, if I would buy them out, they got into a bit of trouble. And they thought I might be able to do that. I didn’t have any money at the time. But I was intrigued by the proposition or I could see some value in owning that company. So I decided to go and kick the tires and and what I discovered was, when you actually look at somebody else’s company with a view to paying money for it, you take on a very different attitude to business. So, you know, I started looking, looking through their business and saying, I don’t understand why you’ve got this client, like, every time you service that client, you lose money. And as I Oh, you know, but he supported me when we first got started. And you know, we’ve always worked with him. Okay. And what have you got this department? What is this department? Well, you know, Gladys, she’s worked here for 20 years and she hasn’t done anything for the last Dating but we can’t get rid of. And so you look at it and you go well, okay, if I was going to run that business, I would cut that out cut that I would add this, I would do that. And you, you take a very critical approach to it and you take the approach of shareholder, you suddenly start to understand shareholder value. Whereas, on the day to day basis, most entrepreneurs obsess about customer value. Because we have to, we have to figure out how to get money out of our customers. So we’re obsessed about customer value. We think we understand shareholder value, but actually, Intel you put yourself in a situation where you might be paying your own money for another company. It’s very difficult to have that awareness and and what happened for me was, I had a new set of glasses on, I went back to my existing company, and I looked at it with a whole new light and I was like, Am I doing it was like 40% of my business was ego or you know, not wanting to upset particular clients, so secret staff and and I wasn’t running the business to maximise my my shareholder value and the one of my mentors is guy called Jeremy harbour he’s bought and sold about 4040 businesses. And, and I told him this story and he will actually write customer value adji your customer value is everything but I’ve only got one customer, my customer is the customer that is going to buy the company. Everything else I do is in the service of that. So I think for me that was a that’s been my kind of Domino is to start realising or start start playing a different game. Which is more about how do I maximise shareholder value rather than what a lot of entrepreneurs do, which is end up building a job for themselves that isn’t necessarily that much fun.
David Ralph [41:00]
Yeah, I think that answers the question perfectly certainly in this show my Domino at the moment, every day, I’m looking at trying to find an easier way, an easy way. Because there was a long time it was a slog, it was a hell of a slog doing this show. And now it’s got easier and easier and easier. But I hear these conversations from people and they say that if it’s too hard, then it’s wrong. It’s got to be easy. It’s gonna be easy water will always find its easiest route. So if you feel that you’re slogging your guts out every single day, you’re doing the wrong things at the wrong time. And have you been in that you yourself? Are you aware of and looking back you think Yeah, that was too much effort. But what I was getting
Unknown Speaker [41:44]
I definitely have
Callum Laing [41:47]
with this stuff is it’s never cut and dry. And, you know, I’ve certainly had businesses where I was pushing, pushing a rock uphill and definitely because I was So emotionally engaged in the product I wasn’t I didn’t have a visibility of of a bigger opportunity. But I also find you so if you take key person of influence, which I’ve launched in in Asia this year, we even though Dan’s done, it is no question absolutely incredible product. And, and he’s got amazing take case studies from around the world. We launched it in Asia to a very sceptical Asian market that said, Well, you know, it can work in England and Australia in the US, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to work with the Asian market. So it was, it was hard work to you know, we had to build that credibility. We had to do a lot of partnerships. I had to speak to an awful lot of people pitch it an awful lot of people.
you know, it was definitely hard until we got the momentum and it’s you know, as he We’re in now we’ve got great momentum. We’ve got great clients, we’re attracting great people. And, you know, you’ve sort of got got the wheel moving, it’s like you said, it becomes easier and easier. So I guess the challenge is always and this is this is why it’s so useful to have good mentors around you is to know the difference between flogging a dead horse and just having to having to do the reps to get the result that that you’re looking for.
David Ralph [43:29]
Well, what do you think in these words, I’m going to play these words. Now. Oprah said these recently about doing the right next thing.
Oprah Winfrey [43:36]
This is Oprah the way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this stuff. What is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move and the next right move and not to be overwhelmed by it because you know, your life is bigger than that. One moment, you know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you, because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [44:09]
I like wise words of very simplistic words when it comes to business.
Callum Laing [44:14]
I know that for me that brilliant words. I hadn’t actually heard her say that before. But now I think I think they’re fantastic. And we, one of the things that we talk about in KPI is about little wins and and only pitching for the next step. And, and partly it’s because, you know, a lot of us have have big goals. And so we kind of hope that stuff’s going to happen, but you’ve got to be you’ve got to be going for the next step and understanding what’s what’s the next move. So I think that’s great key. I also think it’s key from a motivational standpoint. You know, my other company is in fitness and You speak to any personal trainer and their biggest challenge is trying to show little wins on a regular basis. So people stay motivated. And because people have their big goals and big goals take time to achieve so. Yeah, no, I think it’s great advice. I think having, you know, being clear that you’ve got to put one foot after another and, and not not focusing too much on, on the end, the end game you have it there but realise that it is just a process of Keep, keep moving forward and keep getting out there and pitching and
Unknown Speaker [45:46]
David Ralph [45:47]
Because one of the things that people say to me is, when do I give up and I upsets them, it is very difficult to answer but one thing that I do come back to them is don’t have an expectation of where success will come to you because it’s always probably two years Berber down the line and so many people will set off on it’s going to take me six months of real hard work and then I’m going to be laying on a beach with a couple of swimwear models by the side of me which doesn’t sound a bad life to have but you get to six months down the line and then you find out I hang on I’m still nowhere near it and I’ve still got gladius sitting by the side of me from from accounts, where’s all gone wrong? Did you think that is a big part of failure as well or perceived failure? Not where you are but the expectations expectations.
Callum Laing [46:38]
def definitely and and they you know, we get blinded a little bit by the media because the media always focuses on those the unicorns the rarities the you know, the 18 year old that’s just sold his company for 13 million and then So I think people do that they focus on on these these big outline goals and obsess about them. And I think I think the other thing that happens is if you actually look at, I think Steve Jobs said something about you can only ever join the dots, which presumably is where this name came from, but you only have joined the dots looking backwards. And you know, many successful entrepreneurs started off heading in one direction and an opportunity came up, but that took them in another direction. And so being open to saying, look, I get my objective for this business is that I want to get us from from A to B. But just being open to the opportunity that an inbound inquiry could could come in or a partnership opportunity that could come in that could completely transform your business. If you’re open To, to exploring that. And again, it’s a fine line, there’s no sort of clear, clear guidelines on this. You can you can waste a lot of time chasing the next shiny thing, but
Unknown Speaker [48:12]
Callum Laing [48:14]
many, many successful people that I’ve spoken to their biggest opportunities have come, you know, completely out of the blue and, and often you knows it’s beyond the podcast talking about something and somebody else will see an opportunity where the two businesses could come together and and get in touch and it’s it’s nothing that they had ever planned for. But when it falls on their lap, it’s a great way to move forward. So you’re going to be you’re going to be open to changing direction a few times as well. Absolutely. And
David Ralph [48:46]
let’s bring the man on himself. Yes. As you say the whole show is based around the words that Steve Jobs said back in 2005 10 years ago.
Steve Jobs [48:54]
This is Steve. Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path and that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [49:30]
So what would you big.in life being Callum, when you look back on the Join Up Dots timeline?
Unknown Speaker [49:38]
Unknown Speaker [49:41]
there’s there’s been a few.
Callum Laing [49:44]
So yeah, it’s interesting. I think the one I mentioned earlier that the first time I bought a company, and I think that was really where I got and yeah, I really got a big a big insight and I’m being I’m constantly constantly learning, constantly adapting my approach constantly being proven wrong and what I think and yeah, all of them are all the dots that make up the game that we play. And so it’s a fun game.
David Ralph [50:16]
And then do you look at any of the things that you you’ve done and go oh, what was I thinking? What was I thinking?
Callum Laing [50:24]
Most of them yeah.
Yeah, it’s it’s it’s one of those ones that
I like to say that I was going through them with my best thinking at the time. The irritating thing with with with me and liaison to the younger self conversation is that I felt a need to repeat mistakes several times before then the lessons sunk in would have been nice if I just learned those lessons a little bit quicker and but you And generally you know opportunities come out of some of the some of the horrible experiences I’ve certainly had some some pretty catastrophic failures 2009 was was particularly brutal for me. And, you know, it’s it’s everyone that’s successful looks back and goes I couldn’t couldn’t have been successful without without that failure. So that’s all right. I would have loved to have been successful without the failures really painful. It would have been very nice if I could have skipped skipped those pieces, but But yeah, the reality is you you do learn from them and you learn some lessons and then you discover that those lessons weren’t actually that valuable and you have to relearn them. But yeah, many, many, many, many adults,
David Ralph [51:55]
because I’m still doing stuff you know, I release a daily show a deed until recently. And every now and again, I will be doing something that I have done literally 400 times beforehand. And I suddenly think, hang on, what am I doing this? What’s the point in doing this? And I look at it as Oh my God, I should have been doing this from the beginning. Why wasn’t I doing it? But it’s weird how those moments come to you and you suddenly realise Yes, you’ve moved on. You’ve moved on more towards your final destination. It had to hit you at that right time.
Callum Laing [52:30]
Yeah, yeah. And it says that that whole thing about
when the student is ready the mental will appear. Yeah, the teacher will appear. You can you can be told stuff over and over and over again and not get it and then something random happens or somebody else says it to you in a slightly different way and you just go
Unknown Speaker [52:54]
Ah, what you want told me that
Callum Laing [52:57]
everyone around you guys
David Ralph [53:00]
Well, let’s send you back in time now, this is the end of the show that we call the Sermon on the mic when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Kalam, what age would you choose, and what advice would you give? Well, we’re going to find out now, because I’m going to play the theme tune and when it fades you out. This is the Sermon on the MC
Sermon On The Mic [53:25]
e league with the best paid the show.
Callum Laing [53:42]
So little Callum, you won’t listen to me because that was one thing endearing throughout the course of your entrepreneurship. And, but probably the advice would be is you don’t need to know everything. You don’t need to be the clever There’s person in the room. And the way that you can be more successful is to find people that are already playing the game at one or two levels above you, and figure out how you can create value for them. And the more the more people you can create value for that, uh, that understanding the game a little bit ahead of you, the easier this journey will be, and you can save yourself a lot of hair loss.
David Ralph [54:27]
How can our audience connect with you, sir?
Callum Laing [54:32]
So, there’s my website, Callum lang.com or I’m on Twitter at Lane, Calum or LinkedIn or I don’t use Facebook. But yeah, Twitter, Twitter or my website, good places to connect with me. And if you’re looking looking to do business in in Asia or a small business looking for exits, and I’d love to talk to you,
David Ralph [54:57]
we will have all the links on the show notes can be found Thank you so much for spending time with us today joining those dots and please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Mr. Callum Laing. Thank you so much.
Callum Laing [55:14]
Thank you, it’s been great.
David Ralph [55:18]
Thanks for listening to today’s episode of Join Up Dots brought to you exclusively by podcast is mastery.com. The only resource that shows you how to create a show, build an income and still have time for the life that you love. Check out podcast is mastery.com. Now
David doesn’t want you to become a fated version of the brilliant self you or wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.