June 2019 - CEO Clubs Newsletter

Dear friends,

I hope you are great. As you probably know, we just got back from Singapore after spending there 5 days, with another 26 Members of the Club. 27 people to the other side of the globe!!! Our very own Dan Bulucea who is for the last three years the Head of acquisitions for the Asia Pacific region, hosted us there and managed to blow our minds with the amazingly interesting talks that he organized for us. We all definitely came back with many new ideas and a significantly changed point of view for the future of both humans and of the ways we interact, buy, sell, fall in love and everything else that we call life. A big thanks to him and his lovely wife Corina for being such great hosts and for making us all very proud that the leader of such an important international function for Google is a Romanian, one of us. We will definitely be back soon (and that is a threat :)))))))  

As for Singapore…? If I was to put a title in this article, I’d definitely go for “making something out of nothing” which is by the way the interpretation of entrepreneurship. Singapore is a relatively new state as it went on its own from Malaysia in 1965. Since then, a little red dot (as the Malaysians were calling it) became a country that has expanded its ground on the water by 23%. They even had (and still do) to create land! And they did. They focused on education and on becoming what they used to be centuries ago: a center of commerce. Only this time they added a lot of innovation and definitely a lot of solid education. Although new as a place, Singapore has no danger of being characterized as an artificial place (although it partially is) because it is privileged to share the far east traditions which add a strong scent of spirituality in everything about it.

Singapore is also a quite controversial piece of land: based on first (very real) impressions it is extremely clean, everything works on time, 0 crime, everyone is doing what they are supposed to and probably you have heard that even chewing gum is not allowed. That is called perfectionism in my book :))))))) People are very friendly and polite, and as a citizen of a country that practically lives from tourism, I can tell you that customer service level is quite good, especially on a people to people level. All those things are impossible to miss, not only because they’re obvious but also because as everyone else, the first thing we do is to compare with our local realities. Fair enough. Everybody does that. But, what do all these things come with? What’s the price that comes with 0 crime? Well, allow me to give you an idea: the punishment for drug dealing or whatever in Singapore, we were told that is death by…. decapitation. Yes, you read right: not just any death sentence… Or the penalty for smoking outside the designated area is 600 local $, around €370 paid on the spot! And if you are wondering how they can catch each and every offender all you have to do when you visit is at ANY place you are, to stop for a few seconds, raise your head and count 360 degrees how many cameras are looking at you at that moment. As the locals were telling us: “Sir, while in Singapore keep smiling. A camera is watching you all the time!” and it is true.

If you are looking for my personal point of view I won’t come up with one, as this piece is just my way of expressing the contradicting feeling of something we envy but is happening through ways that our western societies would never be willing to tolerate. And that is a contradiction. We complain more and more about crime rates and social anarchy around us, but at the same time we are not willing to make better use of our freedom as we definitely don’t want the “big brother” watching us at all times. We need to decide what we want because we cannot have it either way. Do we really want to be good people or we just want to be good just because someone is watching and we cannot get away? Are we worthy of our freedom and the rights that generations before us earned for us? Well we should be, there’s no doubt about that. It is just that we need to start valuing more the way this freedom is still available to us and that we shouldn’t take it for granted. And if you think that some things are impossible to happen, I have two words for you: “9/11” and “internet”.

Singapore was a revelation for us all and definitely made most of us ask themselves whether we would consider moving there. Most of us said yes. And some of us really meant it. The reasons being the dynamism of the market and its pulse. The feeling that everything round smells innovation and “let's try that too”. Given the DNA of our Members, that makes perfect sense. Singapore has one more amazingly unique advantage: it is Asia and it isn’t. It is what they call “an intro to Asia”. Indeed. It has the atmosphere and the philosophy and the climate and everything AND at the same time it is new and organized. It is Asia without the chaos. I’m sure we will remember for some time the orchid gardens, the glamorous light shows at the bay and at the “Jewel” falls, the majestic Marina Bay Sands hotel which employs 13,000 people… for its 2,561 rooms!!!!!, the Hawker centers (full of cantinas of amazing Asian food), the smiling people and its humidity which was taking heat to a different dimension… But what we will never ever forget is that none of these things (besides the port and the humidity) was there some decades ago. Today, they are visited by millions of people who pay a ticket and all that generates jobs for millions of people and a great place for holidays for the rest of us. Definitely a great experience for all 27 of us.

As Romanians and Greeks are saying “pofta vine mancand” : ) and we are already planning our next city break somewhere nice. Stay tuned as soon you will receive a doodle to let us know of your favorite weekend in September. It will be in Europe and it will be open to your significant others as well. See you all there!

I wish you a great June ahead! 

Sotiris