Impressions, Joseph Hong
Just one meeting with him has inspired me tremendously. His serious yet fun attitude complemented with “drive and passion (that) comes from within” taught me important business and family interaction skills my teachers at college and university never taught me before. I now know what contributes to success and what grows a business. I am confident I will see my first millions if I faithfully map his lifestyle strategies!
Simon Faure-Field, 36, is the founder and CEO of visionary customer experience consultancy, Equal Strategy(S). The company advises global brands across multiple industries how to achieve consistency in “brand atmospherics”, specifically telephone and customer environment touch points which enable companies to achieve powerful competitive advantage in the context of their long-term business strategy. His business immersed him in music, and indulged him in fragrances. Music “makes people happy, excited, loving, passionate, sad and tearful”, while fragrances “in a way,…help people feel more comfortable with and around you, more relaxed, at ease”. The company deploys cutting-edge, Internet-based technology to deliver both music, telephone and “fragrancing” solutions to retail and business premises.
You are into music a lot, what type of music are you into? Does it help you with your work? Anyway, it is your business, does it go beyond business?
I love music. It’s universal, crosses all languages, and cultures. I couldn’t think of the world without music. It makes people happy, excited, loving, passionate, sad and tearful. I listen to all types of music apart from heavy metal. It ranges from soul, r & b, hip hop rap, punk, rock (occasionally), Latin, jazz, classical through to my main preference of electronic music – (this excludes the commercial type advertised on TV to sell cd’s) – it comprises; electronica, house, break beat, minimal techno to blends of electro and tech-house, even lounge. With electronic music I find it has so much energy, originality, emotion that it transforms you to another place. Brilliant for working late in the office! It’s not just boom boom boom … its key … the pitch, blend of instruments, layers of sounds and textures make it very interesting.
Depending on my mood, whatever I’m doing, music plays a major part – whether I’m driving to work, sitting in the traffic, driving to KL, working in the office or if I need to focus, or want to go out and party, play with my daughter or have a romantic dinner with my wife. Music goes beyond my work, it is my life.
Music creates brand atmosphere, bring customers a sense of relaxation and they stay longer for shopping. Does music do the same for you? You stay home often to enjoy music with the family?
Yes, music does help me relax, every now and then I will even play records as a way to relax and unwind. From a dj perspective, at that time you forget about everything else but your focus – the music – you immerse yourself within it. My wife enjoys music – one of my criteria was my partner needs to enjoy a slice of what I do – otherwise how would she truly understand me if she didn’t have a passion for it (albeit her taste is different, she plays the piano (classical) … and has even exposed me to her calming Mandarin and Cantonese songs). Our 19-month daughter loves music and to dance. Trixy even plays the piano with her hands and feet at 6 months. And believe it or not, from birth she was a big fan of r&b, house, and even Madonna!
Do you have sophisticated musical equipment at home for your personal use?
My equipment is not that expensive – but I made sacrifices for it. It’s set up more for dance music, Technics turntables, Pioneer mixer, amp and very good Cerwin Vega speakers with 12″ drivers that make all the doors rattle, six floors below our apartment (kidding).
What are your other leisure pursuits?
I used to be a big tennis and basketball fan when I was younger then got involved in schoolboy motor-cross in my teens till I grew out of it. In my early 20’s I did Tae Kwon Do and Ju Jitsu, then started squash a few years later to help a friend lose some weight and get fit. At the moment I don’t have the time for sports, I’d rather spend it with my family. But I need to get down to the gym to keep in check. I enjoy catching up with friends for drinks, listen to music, watch football and travel, and from chilling in the paddling pool with my daughter to shopping with her and my wife – a big family event!
Fragrances – what fragrances do you particularly fancy when you need to wear one for that crucial business dinner or lunch appointment?
I’m wearing a new Bvlgari after-shave, whereas I wore Davidoff for a few years. I don’t wear it for special occasions, it’s part of my grooming. After a shave in the morning, it’s nice to put on a dash of aftershave.
Can fragrance affect the way you close your deals similar to what it does to customers who visit an office that used your fragrances?
I’ve not thought of my fragrance helping to close deals, now you’ve got me thinking!! In a way, if it helps people feel more comfortable with and around you, more relaxed, at ease, it would help the overall interaction – more of being attractive to others as part of your social and interaction skills.
You take life and business seriously yet often have a good laugh. Care to tell me more about this side of you?
I take my work and life very seriously but it has to be FUN. If it isn’t, don’t do it! I found something I love to do and I do not regard it as work. Simply put, it’s doing something I love. Humour is part laughter and it’s ALL POSITIVE. If you can laugh at something you’ve done wrong or during a stressful moment, it makes you take a different perspective and disconnects you from the negativity. I find too many people fail to laugh and enjoy themselves – it makes life dreary, boring, and depressing. I can laugh at most things, as my mother told me, no matter how bad it is, there is always a positive angle.
Are you fashion conscious? What exactly is being fashionable to you mean? What is your fashion taste like? What particular fashion do you fancy? Colours?
I’m fashion conscious to a degree – I can’t wear flares. From young I always detested flares, and even though fashion has gone full circle, several times, I still won’t wear them – its somehow ingrained in my brain. At times, my wife complains I’m too conservative. I don’t see the point of having to ride the crest of the fashion wave. I have too many other things to worry about than buying several new outfits every week! Fashion should be what people want it to be. People are starting to realise they are individuals who are allowed to express themselves through the way they dress and behave. Everyone has to find their style they are happy with – sometimes people have it all in their head, others need introducing to different themes and styles. Blue used to be my favourite colour, very strong, dependable, but I’m getting more creative – my tailor, Daniel Morby from Victor York opened my eyes and made some beautiful shirts that I’m proud to wear and a step apart from the norm.
Does being fashionable and colourful a reflection of one’s character? Is being fashionable a lifestyle and career statement of authority and success?
In this day and age, people are judged by what wear and how they look, and assumptions made about their character. However that’s life, and you can’t change the world, so you have to go with the flow. On the other hand, would you feel confident if you went to visit the doctor and he was scruffy, unshaven and had his tongue pierced – same goes for your lawyer? Presentation, appearance, attractiveness is built into human nature – its the way we are. So do you want to change the way the world looks at people?
Can one be simple in most aspects of life and be successful at the same time?
Yes. My philosophy is simple – treat people, as you would like to be treated. I developed our company’s sales and service culture upon this. It’s not about cutting corners and being the cheapest, but doing it properly. It’s what I would expect. People will eventually recognize you for this, and over time, quality builds loyalty.
What is success to you?
Success is about reaching your point of fulfillment. It’s where life balances and you can focus and feel everything around you without feeling stressed or negative – to do all the things you want to do. We all have different levels of satisfaction and this is what makes the world so interesting. Imagine living in a world where everybody looked the same, ate the same, and did the same – so boring lah… yawn!!!
You have a busy schedule, do you make time for yourself to refresh, rejuvenate and to rethink strategies for life, family and business?
I have a ridiculous self-inflicted schedule. There is so much I want to achieve, and the harder I work now, the sooner I will achieve my goals and be able to spend more time with the family and provide the lifestyle I want them to have. This drive and passion comes from within. I find travel refreshing as it provides many perspectives, and that itself is refreshing. I love the time I spend with my wife, and especially my daughter. We’re very close. She’s so young but such a clever, charming and fun character. Thinking of the times we play together, so funny, brings tears to my eyes. Even when I’m in the office working late or traveling, we have a family videoconference online using Skype and a webcam, and she even tries to kiss me through the monitor!
What’s your favourite Asian food in Singapore?
For many years I’ve been a big fam of Sinar Nasi Padang – located along Circular Road. The bbq chicken with green sauce is out of this world and not forgetting the Ayam Lemak and Beef Rendang…
What is so attractive about Asian food fare?
Variety – the depth and broadness – flavours, textures, cuisines – all so easily accessible, virtually all hours of the day. Moving to Asia really opened my taste buds, and I can take spicy food… tom yam koong – no problem.
Will you “die die” must eat a particular Asian food at a particular location even if it takes driving 45 minutes or an hour to get there?
I could (and did) eat Sinar Nasi Padang every day, but if I wanted to go for a romantic meal with my wife, Mezza 9 Restaurant at Grand Hyatt would be one of the top contenders. They have taken the time and effort to create an ambience that’s intimate and cosy with fantastic service and variety of food.