12 Pearls of Speaking and Business Wisdoms From 12 Asian CEOs [Part I]


What does it take to be an artful and effective communicator in Asia? How do you operate in diverse business contexts in Asia and inspire loyalty and buy-in from your people? What it takes for you to constantly stay in peak performance on stage and off?

These were some of the questions that have been brewing within me as a Public Speaking Coach working with over 2,000 corporate clients and executives in Asia.

After 4 painstaking months of researching and unearthing some of the best business leaders, we present to you – ‘INSPIRIT – How Asian CEOs Inspire Action From The Stage’ and it is currently up for pre-ordering athttps://publishizer.com/inspirit/!

Based on the deep insights, experiences and wisdom we’ve derived from 12 Asian CEOs from corporations like LinkedIn, Bain & Company, Maxus (part of GroupM), ONG&ONG etc., this is a public speaking business title that offers you insights on speaking and presenting from some of the best Asian business leaders.

With each CEO, we had an intense and invigorating discussion about how they embraced the platform to build their professional and personal brand, grow their businesses and inspire action from their people.

It was a humbling experience for us to pick up numerous “pearls” of speaking and business wisdom from these CEOs and we present to you a peek into what they have shared with you:

(Feel free to Tweet (with an @benjamin_loh mention), share and bookmark them)

1) You Have To Constantly Re-Calibrate And Strive for Excellence (Adrian Tan, Managing Director, RecruitPlus)

“We always have to find the direction that we are taking and also try and look at ways and means to raise our efficiency just like how an Olympic swimmer would do that bit of extra just to get gain the millisecond”

You don’t have to be Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt to embrace excellence at the highest levels. The CEOs we’ve spoken to and especially Adrian, believe that they not only have to constantly strive for and demand excellence from their people but also, constantly communicate it to their people.

Why? Because your people are always looking up to you.

2) You Have To Weave Stories And Involve Your People In Them (Ajit Varghese, CEO, Maxus Asia Pacific (part of GroupM))

“When people buy into the story it becomes a much easier task to deliver quarter on quarter, year on year, because you have to have an army of people working on the same story and the same dream.”

Ajit believes, it is not just about the KPIs, deadlines or daily grind. It has to be a rhetoric. A common story well-told that binds your people together so they work together to shape this wild dream into a vivid reality.

Give them characters, personas and larger-than-life roles to play. That’s when the dream comes to life.

3) You Need To Constantly Re-orient Your People Towards The True North (Ong Tze Boon, Group Executive Chairman, ONG&ONG)

“Alignment operates on many levels. I don’t think there’s an exact science to it. In fact, it’s possibly the most complicated part of doing business”

When you run a business that’s diversified across multiple geographical regions, business units and enterprise focuses; you know the job of galvanizing your people is never done in a day, month or even year!

Tze Boon believes the biggest value that a business leader can bring to the table is the ability to align and constantly re-align your people to what the firm is committed to achieving.

Day in day out, with a mission-critical and relentless focus.

4) Your Words Have The Power You’ve Never Thought Possible (Elim Chew, President & Founder, 77th Street)

“I think for me it’s one life at a time. If I can save one life at a time, impact one life at a time, then it drives me.

While it’s great to aim high and embrace lofty goals, don’t forget that your words and intentions have the ability to impact the lives of your audience for the better. The quality of your communications hence, determine the quality of your response.

Put in the best of your intentions before you step up the platform and you will be certain that people who hear you, will believe you. And when they believe you, they gain just that bit of courage to plough ahead in their own journey.

One life at a time, as what Elim truly believes.

5) What You Do With Your Story Is As Important As With What You Do Within It (Victor Cui, CEO, ONE Fighting Championship)

“Sharing my story and helping other people grow is something that I have always loved to do and that’s what I love to do with my team.”

You thought people are always forward-looking and wanting to know what’s next? Not true.

The more they know where you’ve come from, what trade-offs you’ve taken to achieve what you have today and how you written your own “rags-to-riches” story… it rubs off on them. It rouses them. It enlivens them in an inspiriting manner.

And Victor isn’t living a single day without fighting a good fight.

6) You Realize, “It’s Not Always Just About You” (Hari Krishnan, Managing Director, LinkedIn Asia Pacific & Japan)

“We have strong leaders here at LinkedIn and I can’t be the only person who’s visible out there…I do sometimes need to step aside and let someone else shine”

There is courage in stepping up the platform. And there is also humility in stepping down from it so your people can evolve, develop their own messages for the world and shine as leaders and individuals.

It is about you. And it’s also, not always about you. Kapish?

The finesse in achieving that balance then, lies in your self-awareness and embrace your own vulnerabilities as a leader and knowing how and when to let go. To step aside willingly so you can, evolve powerfully to your next level.

Hari’s constantly seeking that next level for himself, how about you?


It would thrill you to know that these “pearls” of wisdom are but scratching the surface of the depth and breadth of knowledge and wisdom that these CEOs have shared with us.

If becoming a world-class communicator is in your agenda in 2015, who better to model and learn from than these CEOs?

Pre-order your copy of the INSPIRIT book now and watch your words and intentions come to life. This post will be shared on my personal LinkedIn page.