With the mission to help people break out of the ‘I’m not good enough’ mindset and get more out of life, Adele Chung founded Strengths Compass.
What’s your story?
I am an accidental coach. I came into full-time coaching only this year. I decided to leave 15 years of my corporate work as a marketing communications practitioner to pursue my interest in strengths positive psychology to being a coach and trainer as now my lifework.
There were many turning points, and it started when I was hit with stage 1 lung cancer (thank God for the early catch) at the age of 37 (2013), just before I was about to post to Shanghai for a 3-year overseas stint. I still went ahead with the job posting after my lobectomy and 3-month of rest and recuperation.
I had the most amazing time when I was in Shanghai – a period where I grew professionally but also personally, looking deep within to find my true north, seeking a deeper meaning to living the rest of my 38 or 40 years since God has given me another chance at life. I want to make my life count. This is why I started Strengths Compass after receiving my Gallup certification in October 2016 in Shanghai, with the mission of being a guiding beacon to people who are seeking to find their anchor points.
My eureka moment on being an accidental coach is written here: https://www.strengthscompass.org/behind-strengthscompass
What excites you most about your industry?
Touch lives. The very nature of coaching is centered around ‘making a difference’ and enriching and empowering individuals to achieve their full potential.
For solopreneur coaches like us, our success is being able to extend our hands to others who want to move from “doing” to “being” to “living”, helping them get clarity to move forward at work or in life. I am like the vessel taking people on an exploratory journey of discovering their potential and living out their strengths as they navigate different chapters of their life.
Coaching is a lifelong quest for personal excellence. For many, this quest is the motivation of becoming a coach or mentor in the first place.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Not applicable in the context of Strengths Compass but as coaching business is a business without borders. I have a client in Shanghai and we have our 1 to 1 coaching via Skype once a week.
Favorite city in Asia for business and why?
As a proud Singaporean, I say home, Singapore of course. Amongst the Asian countries, Singapore is by far the most business-friendly countries (the World Bank has ranked Singapore as the easiest place globally to do business in 2017) to operate in with sound legalization system and robust capital markets. The market is small but there are opportunities for everyone.
In fact, the Singapore Government has made it so easy for entrepreneurs to set up a business offering various grants and initiatives for SMEs and Startups. I think there is never a better time now a for aspiring entrepreneurs or Startups to build their business. Resources are abundance and one can easily work out from a co-working office space these days. Startup SG is one of the government initiatives to support entrepreneurs – a launch pad for entrepreneurs by providing them with a platform to access local support initiatives as well as connect to the global entrepreneurial network.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Tom Rath says “ You Have Today To Do What Matters Most”. I always say the journey is as important as the destination. Never stop being curious, always ask questions, explore the unknown and try new things. Life is about discoveries, and we are always a work in progress.
Who inspires you?
Many – from my friends whom we promised to grow old with to even strangers. There are snippets of wisdom in every occurrence, that is if we are mindfully aware enough to notice it.
My parents are my greatest inspiration and blessings. We come from a humble family. Growing up, I see how my parents built the family tailoring business from scratch to where we are today as one of Singapore’s oldest and respectable bespoke menswear tailor – Meiko Tailor (www.meikotailor.com)
Dad at 69 is still the honing his craft while many of my friend’s dad is retired. From him, I see passion, perseverance, conviction, and responsibility. Other than my coaching practice, I am also involved in the family business, second generation, to continue the family legacy; overseeing the marketing operations as well as offering bespoke imaging consultancy. It would take time and years to hone the bespoke tailoring craft and that is something my brother and I would pick up in due course.
My mum despite being a worrier, she has always embraced life with positivity no matter how bad the situation is. She has undergone several surgical operations and yet never fail to keep a smile on her face and be there for the family. Mum shows me much about living life with gratitude. She is my cheerleader.
What have you just learned recently that blew you away?
Be discerning, be selective of who you can trust. There’s a lot of murky water in business and a lot of people looking to take advantage. Always be cautious about any guidance you receive and verify everything independently. Learn to trust your gut feeling and say no. Experience is the best teacher. You grow wiser after every lesson.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have a late start to my entrepreneurship journey. If I had time on my side, I would like to embark on my entrepreneurship earlier and stop overthinking, stop waiting for circumstances to be perfect and not let comfort zone and fear overrule. Having said that, it all happens in good timing too.
How do you unwind?
I like my quiet time. Music is my comfort, particularly jazz and piano instrumental. I particularly find painting therapeutic, though I don’t have much time to paint these days. I do incorporate art therapy into my individual coaching sessions with my clients.
Favorite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It has got to be Japan! I have always love four seasons and Japan is a country where each season has different surprise to offer. Spring this year is different from last Spring. Even the food, the apparel wear and the sports changes according to the season.
The people are always polite and their attention to and passion for detail and profound passion for doing everything well is something all should learn. It is no wonder why Japan has many highly-skilled chefs, craftspeople, tea artisan and not to mention the train masters.
Everyone in business should read this book:
These two choices are probably not the top 10 business books but I find them valuable, practical and inspiring for entrepreneurs as they seek to find the sweet spot of business growth, personal well-being, and social impact.
Are You Fully Charged by Tom Rath
I am a cancer survivor, Tom Rath journey with cancer inspires me to read his books, including “StrengthsFinder” and “Eat Move Sleep”. “Are you fully Charged” is an easy read where he emphasizes on the importance of taking care of oneself first. He gives three keys to being fully charged each day: doing work that provides meaning to your life, having positive social interactions with others, and taking care of yourself so you have the energy you need to do the first two things. The one that speaks to me, of course, is finding meaning. We spend a good three-quarter of our time at work or in business, it is crucial to find meaning (or purpose) to be our anchor point, else it will not motivate you.
Pencils of Promise
This is an inspiring true story of how one man, Adam Braun, made it his mission to make a difference in the world. He shares the steps he took to turn his ambitions into reality—a journey that’s particularly relevant to an entrepreneur that wants to create a positive social impact through business. A great read because it reminds us that success comes with the responsibility to help others while we are chasing our financial freedom.
Shameless plug for your business:
Not in business only but also in life. I am an explorer-at-large, and I believe that everything happens for a reason, and everyone whom you cross path with, be it on a personal or professional level, are there to shape us into the better version of ourselves or to teach us something about humankind. So, Breathe. Smile, Be Wholesome and Be Fabulously Ordinary.
How can people connect with you?
I am an email away on firstname.lastname@example.org should you be interested to find out what’s your Top 5 strengths as well as need help with personal image and branding help.
Not active on Twitter. You can find me on:
Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/adelechung/
Instagram @strengthscompass for daily positive strengths vibes
Facebook @strengthscompass for the booking of my coaching services
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.