Singapore-based Alex Loh is the Founder of Aviary and Co, a fitness and wellness consultancy that helps businesses and individuals. He talks to The Industry Leaders about his journey from Athlete to Founder and how he recovered from his life's most challenging period after one disastrous event.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
My compass is guided by the desire to help people, so I coach individuals and business owners to find purpose. Together we unlock fruitful solutions, experience growth and achieve targeted success.
Having successfully built and maintained communities across Southeast Asia over the years, my focus is to help businesses and organisations harness community as the vehicle to connect, and build credibility, trust and authentic relationships.
I spent my last 20 years in a non-linear career path, working in different industries and helming leadership roles. With a keen focus on transferable skill sets and competencies, I've realised that being a generalist instead of a specialist, has allowed me to excel in the different industries and roles I've held. I want to share my experiences and help others achieve similar success as well.
Fitness and sports have always been a big part of my life, having represented Singapore in Water Polo at the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and SEA Games. The resilience and mental toughness ingrained from years of competitive sports has helped me push through the most trying times in my professional and personal life. As I move into my forties, I now lead my life more as an everyday athlete active in various sports and fitness activities.
I am a firm believer in wellness being the cornerstone to life. With my consultancy Aviary & Co., I want to help businesses and individuals in the Fitness, Health and Wellness space touch more lives.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I am a consultant and coach in the Fitness, Health and Wellness space. I help businesses and individuals seek clarity of direction, unlock fruitful solutions, experience growth, and achieve targeted success.
My primary role as a consultant is to help businesses integrate fitness, health and wellness as their service offering, and communicate this effectively to consumers. It is relevant and useful as a service or a product.
My consultancy's secondary services provide professional services as a Business and Career Coach, Corporate Training, and Keynote Speaking. This means having daily calls with coachees, researching and planning workshop and keynote speaking material relevant to the client, eventually delivering them, and identifying credible trainers and keynote speakers to add to my team.
I have a couple of initiatives I started which indirectly contribute to the work I do and services that I provide:
1. Community Builders Speak (Interview-style articles)
2. Lost at 40: Kopi Chat with Alex Loh (LIVE Broadcast Series)
3. Athlete's Grit: From Sports to Life (Released Podcast)
4. Fitness Hustle: Your Dream Career (Podcast Work in Progress)
My passion for Community Building also motivated me to Co-found a not-for-profit community called Kampung Collective; a Community for Community Builders in Asia. We currently have about 600 members in a closed Facebook group.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The increased understanding and desire of businesses and consumers knowing that Fitness, Health and Wellness are the keys to optimised wellbeing and peak performance. And that this is the pathway to enjoying life till the end of our days. There are so many techniques, methods and modalities that anyone can discover and learn to make the Fitness, Health and Wellness lifestyle a reality.
The possibilities are endless and the potential immense, and being able to help businesses and individuals actualise that lifestyle is something I am passionate and excited about.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
An ex-boss told me that you cannot be "Mr Nice Guy" to be a good leader. This was in response to my hesitation on putting to action a retrenchment exercise that I knew had to be done but did not want to do.
So I took his advice the other way around and did things the way I knew best. Authentic and consistent with me as a manager and leader - "Mr Nice Guy". The exercise was communicated and delivered in as humane a way as possible, and we managed to relocate as many employees as possible to other companies.
I learned to do things that are most authentic to what I know of myself, what would work best for me, and not merely to do what someone tells me will be the best way.
What, or who inspires you?
My wife and daughter inspire me every day. They inspire me to want to be a better husband, father and human being. This is at home, at work, with friends and within the social communities that I am involved in.
And every once in a while, there will be someone or something that I come across that inspires me. When that happens, I write it down, which continues to serve as a reminder, and possibly something that could come in handy someday.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
Having a good network that I have amassed over the years definitely helps!
Social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn give me that daily dose of quick updates. Listening to podcasts, and interviewing guests on my own podcasts also give me useful updates and insights on what's happening in the Fitness, Health and Wellness space.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
I was Co-Founder of an events management company that organised a 15,000 pax fitness event that ended up being a total disaster on event-day. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, and there were many unhappy and frustrated individuals onsite to handle. We also had to deal with partners and sponsors.
The post-event aftermath was even more traumatising because everything had gone social. As the company's spokesperson, the crisis to manage - on a company and personal level - was definitely very challenging. This was coupled with finding out about certain dealings that my business partner had not been transparent with me about. It was one of the toughest periods of my life.
Without support from my wife and close friends, I would have been lost. I was blindsided by the trust I had with my business partner and failed to anticipate the potential pitfalls. Lessons were learnt, and I am much wiser from that experience!
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Call my wife!
After that, I would satisfy the family to-do-list and plan how best to amplify my business, or even start and invest in new companies or investments. All of this would aim to serve my life purpose, which is to help businesses and individuals in the fitness, health and wellness space.
This all leads to paving the way for future generations in the family to enjoy as well.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
Playtime with my daughter and meaningful conversations with my wife, as well as an occasional glass of wine!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
More consolidation and collaboration so that we can galvanise expertise, knowledge and resources. Doing so would help to amplify our reach and therefore help more people.