Neil Orvay, Co-Founder of Sense of Touch

Neil Orvay has two very different businesses which he says ‘keep him busy and also energise him’. He’s a true entrepreneur with his genuine passion for business and as a busy entrepreneur, he understands the importance of staying focused.
What’s your story?
I was born in Scotland, studied in London and moved to Asia 20 years ago as a young investment banker. After 13 years in banking I decided I wanted to do something else so I invested in a few different businesses; one in telecoms software, the other a spa start up. Thirteen years later, ‘Sense of Touch’ spas are still going strong with nine outlets, approximately 100 staff and more industry awards than any comparable operator in Asia. In 2008 I started studying Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and in 2009 established a business psychology training company, ‘Evolution-U’ which over the past six years has a blue chip client base across multiple industries focusing on communications, sales, negotiation, persuasion, trust and NLP profiling training. I have a genuine passion for business, meeting people and building relationships so as busy as they keep me, my businesses also energise me. In my spare time I run ultra-marathons, snowboard, scuba dive, golf (badly) and spend time with my family.

What excites you most about your industry?
The potential. Most people don’t realise how huge the spa and wellness field is, or how quickly it’s growing. Sure, we’re going through a tough time with the economy now, but it’s a cycle. People are getting older and wealthier and want to look and feel good, more than ever. This is an industry that is here to stay!

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve lived here since 1996 and it is home. My children were born here, my friends and business are here.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Hong Kong which is why I live here. It’s the most vibrant business centre in Asia by far in my opinion. Everyone is looking to do a deal and has something interesting to say. I really believe that there are no more than two degrees of separation in this city which is one of the reasons anything is possible. You can always connect with who you need to if you make the effort.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Focus focus focus. It’s all too easy when you’re an entrepreneur to take your eye off the ball for a new shiny prospect that’s just landed on your desk. More often than not, trying to take on an extra project results in the existing one suffering. I’ve certainly been guilty of this in the past.

Who inspires you?
Many people and not just the famous or financially successful. I am inspired when I hike on Hong Kong’s trails and see the streams of old local folk keeping in shape. I am inspired by those who overcome physical defect or personal loss to still make it count. I respect anyone who does the best they can with the resources they have and I am frustrated by those born with a gift who then waste it.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That when we are happy we are 31% more productive than when we are not. To me the natural extension of this relates to state control and giving people the resources they need to manage their state and get that extra 31% out of themselves. This relates very much to my NLP background.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I try not to focus on regrets. I am where I am because of the decisions I’ve made, good and bad. I guess I could reply that I wish I hadn’t sold my flat in Hong Kong in 2009, but I don’t lose sleep over it. Money can be gained as well as lost.

How do you unwind?
I go for a run, play a round of golf, go to the gym, have dinner with my wife or play with my kids. These are the best ways to get the mind off business and recharge.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It’s got everything; Golf, diving, top restaurants, good bars, excellent spas, beach clubs and a wonderful ambience.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Influence – The Power of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. I teach a course on this for one of my other businesses (

Shameless plug for your business:
We need to invest in ourselves all our lives, in our health, our knowledge and our relationships. My businesses help people in all three of these domains.

How can people connect with you?
via or

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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