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Contact Name: Justin Van Deventer
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Description: 14.01.2010 Mind Power Management consultant and executive coach Justin Van Deventer has made a business of sitting down for heart-to-heart talks with some of Asia’s most powerful corporate leaders. The success of his work illustrates a growing awareness that survival is something of a “mind game” for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and larger firms alike. “It’s important for anyone who wants to set up a business that they figure out their blind spot. You need to know yourself,” says Justin. “The Chinese often say you must ‘hide under an umbrella’ that big business – which has systems, people who support you and corporate governors – provides. But to be an SME, you’re on your own. So you need a high degree of understanding and awareness of your own competency, starting with your personality.” Mr. Justin Van Deventer should know. After more than 30 years as chief executive of multinational companies, building major brands from nothing, he set off on an entrepreneurial course – Working at an executive coaching and consulting company called ASA Retail & Corporate Services. Amid the current global economic turmoil, Justin has been busy helping Hong Kong SME leaders deal with the crisis strategically, emotionally and psychologically. He says those mental factors are critical, yet often ignored, even when business is good. “What’s important is how you handle setbacks, what kind of attitude you have, and what I call ‘mind power’ to get through it, because setbacks are bound to happen sooner or later.” Justin says the “power” stems from a proper mindset as well as skills set, but he finds Asian managers are often less open to the idea of exploring their own business psyche, and many benefit from self-discovery, which leads to more creative thinking. “I consult many entrepreneurs who are very bright people; so bright that when they encounter difficulty, they think, ‘I can fix it.’ To some extent they hang on to their past, but in reality the whole world has changed,” says Justin, noting that many start-up company managers only seek help when it is too late. “I advise people that when you do something, you have to do it wholeheartedly. You may have to burn bridges to do it, but make sure you first have support financially, emotionally and socially. Don’t just burn your bridges and jump into the water, because the stress is so great that it will sidetrack you. Justin Van Deventer (MAICD) Veteran businessmen say those preparations should begin well before an entrepreneur goes into business. Justin tells students considering an entrepreneurial path to work hard developing the personal characteristics they need to handle stress. “I don’t think just anyone should be an entrepreneur. While some people have a propensity or personal character-match to be an entrepreneur, others are better off enjoying professional work on a job basis,” he says. Justin teaches what he calls the “four Ps of entrepreneurship.” He says “playfulness” generates creativity and an understanding that losing is a setback rather than overall failure. He adds that “passion” is essential, because entrepreneurs must love what they do, while “persistence” keeps them going. “And, you must be ‘positive’ - because as entrepreneurs, we should not look down on ourselves. We walk bit by bit, and understand our direction just as a turtle does. Others may not appreciate what you do, so in your heart you must be positive and know that you will prove your path may not be the best, but it is still a good way,” says Justin. “The most difficult thing to teach students is that they must know their own selves. Many young people in Hong Kong want to study business administration, but before you enroll in such a programme, you must know what is demanded of you.” The psychological factor is finding its way into other business schools, a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Canada’s Richard Ivey School of Business, who frequently teaches in Hong Kong, says an entrepreneur must “know thyself” before he or she can manage business obstacles. “When they wake up in the middle of night with a cold block of ice in the pit of their stomach, because they’re not sure if they are going to make payroll this week - what do they have to do to keep on going? Once they figure that out, they never, never stop. Failure to keep psychological “momentum” may even be harming global economic recovery. Chairman of UK broadcaster Channel 4 and head of private equity firm Risk Capital Partners, says entrepreneurs have suffered from an “epic loss of confidence” and must revive their “animal spirits.” “Right now, too many would-be entrepreneurs are worrying about dangers and not rewards,” Mr. Johns wrote in a Financial Times column arguing against a global rush to more regulation and state intervention. “Fear has overwhelmed greed: the adventurous are on the retreat. Until we reverse this psychology, we shall never recover our economic momentum.” Interview with Justin van Deventer ASA RETAIL & CORPORATE SERVICES

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