Passion. Skills. Hard work. Creativity. Humility. Values. 6 words to describe him. He is a #1 Best Selling Author and one of the most influential individuals in the digital space (over 55,000 followers on LinkedIn). People often say, “I’ve not met him but I know him”.
The coolest Mohawk guy, Chris J Reed and I had an inspiring chat brimming with information in his artistic co-working space. Hear what he has to say about his life being an entrepreneur.
‘It is not what you know, it is who you know.’
– Chris’ grandad
To be an entrepreneur, it’s not an easy route. What drives you?
C: My Mohawk. When I first came to Singapore 8 years ago, I went to this hairdresser and said: ‘I want a Mohawk.’ ‘You can wear that to work?”, the hairdresser asked. I claimed, what do you mean? That’s my company hair. That’s my personal brand. That makes me standout and get recognised. I was in Shanghai last week, and someone asked: ‘I’ve not met you but I know you are from LinkedIn.’ I got the same when I was in the lift in HK. That says it all.
Why be an entrepreneur? I want a change. I want to make things happen. I see the opportunity to make a difference. So, I started my own business.
How do we go about telling our stories like what you’ve done?
C: Everyone has done something. Everyone has something to say about themselves.
Showcase what you’ve done in real life on LinkedIn. Because it tells the employers that you bother to actually go out there during holiday and work, be it internships or part time instead of taking easy way out. It serves your personal brand, the context of being a student looking for a first job – that stands out. This shows your leadership. It is always the extra initiatives that complement. But of course, you need to connect with the right circle of people – spot on!
What are your advises for the novices/entrepreneurs to-be?
C: Experience. I was told when I was at my 20s, I have to build up my experience and not to stay in the same job throughout the years. You need to keep building your contacts. I have worked in 5 different industries – media, internet, entertainment, sports and music. That being said, your contact will be the first having your back.
How did you gauge your vision when you first started Black Marketing?
C: From building from scratch on my own to 35 people in 2 years – the direction is, CEOs and entrepreneurs are looking to use LinkedIn to achieve their goals. We provide the services. Because we appreciate the one thing CEOs and entrepreneurs don’t have, time. We give in our time, create content and generate leads for them. They enjoy the benefits.
We are growing rapidly and are looking for other partners to help grow in other countries.
How do you manage your employees?
C: Independence. Freedom. Flexible hours. Fantastic co-working space. No micro managing.
Basically, we can’t force someone to be creative when they can’t. We have an editorial team, our editor writes the best blog 2am in the morning, that’s her time for inspiration. So why do I force them to come in at a certain working hours, as long they get things done or achieve the ROI. You spend longer hours in office doesn’t bring in high productivity level. If you achieve things in 6 hours compared to 12 hours, your boss will be more than happy.
Do you think LinkedIn is only applicable to B2B or both B2B and B2C?
C: Both B2B & B2C. For financial companies, we target high net worth individuals. How do you target these people on Facebook, WeChat and Instagram? But by LinkedIn – why not?
Many are inclined to look at things as B2C, but take for instance employer branding, the B2B approach might be more appropriate. It might not be a B2C organization but if it relates to employees, it is deemed B2B. Because it is about business to humans on a professional level. You’ve customers/buyers on both sides.
The majority are on Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Live but LinkedIn isn’t part of this yet. Do you think Real time/Virtual Reality/IoT will affect or be impactful to your content?
C: Obviously, it will come to everything. Everything will change in a particular way. On LinkedIn, it will be more in a business context. Hopefully Microsoft helps adapt the change to be more flexible in terms of content. When Google+ was launched, everyone had that mindset of which it will transform the world but it didn’t work and it was the biggest failure. What’s with the driver-less taxi in Singapore? You will still need a person behind the wheels just in case things happen, no?
What’s your 1-3 year goal?
C: There is no 1-3 year goal. No one can predict exactly the life of technology. No one can predict what’s going to happen next. The constant is change. The best idea comes when I am actually not at work. I’ve got no digital distraction.
How do you balance your work and family?
C: Entrepreneurs work 24/7. But I don’t consider that as work because I am passionate about it. My team has Monday blues, but I have always been looking forward to Mondays. Sundays, half the time is nightmare because I can’t get so much done. No one is replying. It’s a family day on Sunday.
I had 3 divorces. As with any other entrepreneurs, you can’t have both. I travel a lot around APAC to meet people for business and especially the different time zones. But to answer your question, I’ve got a lot of girlfriends.
What time do you wake up daily?
C: 5am. I cycle to work and reach office by 6am. An early bird I am. Because when I get into the office, Australia and New Zealand have started working. I need to catch them all. We target globally not just Singapore. As an entrepreneur, you probably can’t leave office on time at 5pm. You have the other countries to look after, and the UK has just got in by then.
What do you love doing apart from your business?
C: I love meeting new people, experience different mentalities. I network all year around. I love music, live music, especially. When I was in London, I’d 10 concerts a night. But there’s nothing going on here in Singapore, not even in Shanghai. All the musicals, ballet theatres, mainstream dramas and comedies, the culture back in London – is the only thing I’ve missed.
What’s the best moment in your life?
C: I would say probably having a conversation with my granddad when I was 9. He said, “It is not what you know, Chris, it is who you know.” What do you mean, granddad? Surely I’ve to go to school, pursue an A Level, a degree and then get a job. Done! As I began my career, I realised it is not just about my education, it is about building my network too. My relationship with my contacts and the importance of it.
And LinkedIn definitely proves that, the fact I can come to Singapore knowing nobody here and yet able to build businesses in Asia by leveraging off my UK contacts to reach out to more on Linkedln. The truth is, my contacts know me, they trust me – it is the credibility. Never ever burn bridges, because you will never know who’s going to be there for you when you need them.
Want to know more about him? Connect with him on LinkedIn.
Read LinkedIn Mastery for Entrepreneurs, if you have not already.
Photos courtesy of Shaun Tay