A new monthly forum called Expert Series offers sage advice for business people from the
ones who have walked the walk.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF EE Boon Kiat|
BBG-EH, a zone in City Harvest Church, comprising business professionals led by Chew Eng Han, has a motto of “Building Business for Christ.”
With a focus on serving and supporting business people, the zone has recently included a pre-cell group event every last Thursday of the month. Titled “Expert Series,” this interview-style segment features successful entrepreneurs and professionals in the group who share the secrets of their success as well as insights into the marketplace.
Expert Series began as a suggestion by one of the members. “We started tossing this idea around with our cell group leader Michael Song, to have a once-a-month forum to expose our members to ‘practical business experiences,’” says Bernard Lim, a connect group leader. “Michael, being always game to pioneer such ideas, agreed we should talk to our zone leader Chew Eng Han, and that’s how it began.” Lim then volunteered to kick off the new idea by serving as the first speaker of the series and helping to organize subsequent ones. “That was on Aug. 26 and the topic was ‘How to Avoid Major Pitfalls in Estate Planning.’ That night happened to be the closing ceremony of the Youth Olympic Games! The roads were blocked but still, more than 30 people showed up. Phew!” laughs Lim.
Thereafter, procedures were quickly set up for Expert Series, thanks to team effort. “We go around sourcing for people within the zone who have a good story or something relevant to share with our members. After the speakers have been approved we start publicizing it: preparing the announcements, e-brochures and text messages. Then there’s the coordination with the equipment, people, the ushers, among others. We have done two of the forums in the style of a ‘live talk show.’”
The second forum featured V.Hive owners Felix and Michael Song, and was titled “From Luggage Salesmen to Retail Kings!” The Song brothers shared about how they started from virtually nothing and went through all kinds of setbacks (including a massive warehouse fire) to become one of the most successful furniture retail chains in Singapore.
“For me, what happened after the fire was nothing short of amazing because God brought good out of it,” says Elaine Xu, 23, a producer. “Michael made a statement about how those products that were burned also consisted of those that weren’t selling well in their stores. I guess God has His own brand of humor and His ways are higher than our ways.” Xu also points out that “when we hear stories like these, we wish to be that person. But do we wish to be that person when he was a luggage salesman? When he had to work long hours? When he had to make sacrifices? We see the success but we did not experience his trials.”
For John Soo, a doctor who owns Twin City Medical Practice, “The forum was informative and insightful! The experiences shared by Michael and Felix, especially about the devastating fire, gave us clear examples on how to approach business crises and overcome them. This is timely advice given today’s environment where in times of peace, one should prepare for backup and contingencies.”
The third forum proved to be a powerful eye-opener for many. A “teaser” advertising mystery speakers as a young couple, both under 30, was sent out. “The Y.E.S. (Young, Entrepreneurial & Successful) Couple” turned out to be Samuel and Rachel Pei, whom many knew as the quiet couple doing chorus board during the meetings. Though from a modest family background, Pei started his business while he was still an undergraduate and today, is one of three partners in a multi-million dollar company. His wife left a comfortable corporate life to start a human resource outsourcing company. In just about one year, she had doubled her income and now works only about two hours a day, leaving her the rest of the time to look after their newborn son.
“Samuel and Rachel’s story was very inspirational—it was like a call to action for me to take stock of my life,” says Ashley Ng, 21, a secretary. “They are both under 30, own a multi-million dollar business, are happily married with a kid. It’s like a dream ‘happy-ever-after’ story!
From their sharing, I learned not to be complacent or easily contented, and that God really has a lot more things in store for me. It got me thinking: Start planning, aim high, start small. Never despise small beginnings. Don’t limit yourself, and don’t put God in a box.”
The Expert Series has proven fruitful in the biblical sense: attendance began at 30 people during the first session, grew to 60 for the Song brothers, and hit 100 for the Peis.
Lim says that the Expert Series is open to all BBG-EH members and their friends. “It’s a platform for members to bless others with insights and experiences that are valuable to every business owner. We believe that by doing this, some will pick up good ideas and insights, while others may just be encouraged to press on. We also feel it’s a good way for our members to get to know more about each other.”
The next Expert Series features Gary Khoo and Sara Hay of Spectacle Hut on Nov. 25 from 7 to 8 p.m. For venue details, contact Bernard Lim at +65 9679 1650 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the Expert Series mailing list.