An accidental entrepreneur, Nison Chan is Co-Founder of two businesses in Singapore.
What’s your story?
I am the Co-Founder and Managing Director for Purchasing, Brand Management at We The People. Growing up, I had a dream to become a soldier or a farmer but I guess life had a different path for me. I was the accidental entrepreneur and I am grateful for the opportunities and mentors along the way. I do have my own brand of socks called Talking Toes too! Along with my Co-founders and partners Lucas Saw and Mack Chua, we hope to spread inspiration and positivity through our socks. At WTP, I work closely with countless creators and distributors worldwide on creating new sales channels, advice on strategies, pricings and branding in different markets. I do head the operations here in HQ too and work closely with the other departments on new developments and improvement.
What excites you most about your industry?
I love the fact that we add a different aspect of values to our start-ups and creators! Nothing can replace the pleasure in seeing creators that we incubate and grow, succeed and achieve different milestones every year. I feel a deep sense of achievement when they are appreciative of our efforts to take them to greater heights, and I feel genuinely happy to see their growth and progress.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Singaporean and am proud to be one! I was based in the United States for a while and will be heading back soon but I always loved Asia and miss the food a lot when I’m abroad.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s definitely got to be Singapore! I think we have a good mix of tourist, locals and expatriates that allows that diverse opinion and mindset to new concepts! In an age where we are seeing more disruptive trends, it takes a shift in mindset over time for these concepts to fully reach its potential and I think we definitely got that in Singapore.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I know this sounds conversational but, ‘Go hard or go home’, by Jay Kang.
Who inspires you?
Elon Musk for sure. He’s pretty unique and crazy in his ways but that motivates people to always be different. His hard work, charisma and enthusiasm are infectious, which allows the people around him to raise their level of competency.
Another person that I admire in life is Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s the best soccer player in the world. I admire his work ethic and how hard he works to be at the top of his game year after year. He doesn’t rest on his laurels and he just gets better every single year. He wasn’t the most talented at his age group when he was young but he compensated that with his hard work which allowed him to be better than his peers.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
This year has been pretty challenging due to a transition to the next level in WTP. But I’m extremely encouraged to see every member of our team raising their bars, working beyond their scope of work and sacrificing more for one another. Trust me, the sight of a team hard at work and doing their best for a common vision gives the founders a deep sense of gratitude and pride. I’m constantly inspired by my team.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
That’s a tough question because I don’t regret any of the decisions I made in the past. I always believe my decisions at different points of my life were the best then and it was something I wanted strongly. I live my life on the edge but I’ve been thankful for everything so far.
How do you unwind?
I used to play soccer every Saturday but it’s tough due to tight schedules at work. I try to play whenever I’m free. Playing soccer gives me a sense of fulfilment, to be free of my occasional burdens. I do spend a lot of quality time with my family and close friends too.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali for sure! I love the sun, the beach and the waves. I could surf all day, chill with a beer and reflect on life during the sunsets.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. It provides real insights into the struggles and achievements of start-ups, and how we should adapt quickly in different situations in life. It is extremely relatable as Nike is a famous brand, and that opens our heart to be more receptive to ideas and theories.
Shameless plug for your business:
We The People Store allows creators worldwide to thrive in an ecosystem that is here to last for a long time. We do more than just retail, it’s a revolution that we are introducing to the world and hope to be an institution for many years to come.
And for Talking Toes! Because every pair of socks feature that inspirational quote on the forefoot, we hope to inspire positivity to everyone that wears them. We go by the mantra of ‘We don’t sell socks, we sell inspiration’. Leave home on a good note with us. Check us out at talkingtoessocks.com!
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’.