Interview with Vivek Iyyani, Founder at www.youtraining.sg
Vivek Iyyani is the Founder at Vivek-iyyani, a leadership training and consulting firm: YOU! Training & Development that focuses on empowering teams to peak performance. He has addressed more than 250,000 people each year on the subject of leadership, motivation and peak performance. Recognised as a Millennial expert, Vivek has also been regularly featured on regional media such as Vasantham Central and Magazines from the Singapore Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) and Singapore Indian Association (SINDA). Before he started out on his own, he was an associate trainer for multiple organizations while pursuing a Psychology Degree.
Fun Fact: He just wrote a book called “Empowering Millennials”, you can check it out here!
1. How did you get into your current line of work / why did you decide to do it?
I was always fascinated by self-growth and leadership since my teenage years. To be honest, back when I was 14, I had no clue what I wanted to be. All I knew was that I didn’t want to work in an office-based desk job. Over time, I noticed some patterns emerging – I enjoyed reading about positive psychology. When I found out there was a course of positive psychology, I jumped at the opportunity immediately. During my university days, I was inspired to be a speaker and trainer and hence decided to work as an associate trainer and see if this line of work suited me.
After I started training for camps and workshop seminars, the sense of achievement I felt after empowering youths and Millennials became the way forward for me. I was lucky enough to find my calling early on, but if you are still unsure, I highly recommend getting your feet wet first before jumping into anything permanent.
2. What would you say was your greatest difficulty getting into it? Did you have to make any sacrifices?
The greatest difficulty starting out was realizing I had to learn sales and be good at it. Starting out, I was always afraid of Sales and always avoided it whenever I could. Two months in… I realized that no business can survive without Sales.
I started learning, and sought after mentors to show me the right way to do sales. Through these experiences, I came to realize that not not all salesmen were salesy. I learnt about consultative-based sales and that changed my perspective. Apparently, you didn’t have to ‘force’ a prospect to accept your ideas but work from their problems instead. It allowed my clients to get comfortable with me and they could make a decision without feeling uncomfortable. This way, you focus on solving their woes and avoid an unpleasant experience of buyer’s remorse. I’ve always been against hard sales, and I’m glad I found out about consultative-selling early.
I learned that you need to ask better questions to prospects to truly understand teir pains, frustrations and troubles. That way, you’ll be able to guide prospects to buy from you rather than ‘sell’ to them.
Sacrifices I had to make were mostly related to time with family and friends. I had to fully devote my time for my business to take off. It was necessary and it has paid dividends.
4. How are you marketing your business/getting, clients?
We now have multiple ways we use to get new business:
- Cold calling
- Social Media Advertising
- Email Marketing
- Content marketing
The one that has brought the most immediately noticeable results for me would have to be Linkedin. Through Linkedin, I was able to get many inbound enquiries from warm contacts as well as introductions from various connections. This is partly because I write useful material on Linkedin as well.
In these articles I write, I actively share about the value of Millennials and the importance of leadership. By contributing value and insights to the community free-of-charge, I am able to establish myself as a market leader without deliberately pushing my programmes to people. The inbound enquiries increase for me and it pays off in the end. If you are looking to gain more credibility in your industry, you should start sharing insights of what you know that can benefit others.
As they say, content is king.
5. What would you say has been the greatest lesson so far since you started the business?
My greatest lesson so far has to be the fact that you should only take advice from people who are qualified to give you advice.
There are many out there who have multiple opinions of many matters but few have the trained eye and wisdom that can guide you. Never take advice from anyone who hasn’t ‘been there done that’ before, otherwise you might be led the wrong way. It will save you lots of time and money.
6. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best piece of advice I received was with regards to providing services for free. When you’re just starting out, when people don’t trust you enough, you will be asked to give your services for free. Initially, I fell in that trap of giving away my best skills, products and services for free and feeling indignant about the unfair value exchange.
The real eureka moment came when a mentor of mine said this: “You only give your products and services for free to the needy, for those who are struggling with basic needs such as housing and food.”
Generally, I would advise against free work. However, if you’re doing a good deed and at the same time building your wealth of experience, I’d say go for it.
7. If you had to offer a piece of advice to someone that had zero experience or connections getting into the business, what would you say?
Find a mentor who has done what you want to do. Someone with a heart to help you and see you succeed, not someone who wants to earn your money. You must select your mentor as carefully as every other important business decision.
This way, you get to avoid pitfalls your mentor has made in the past and also have a confidante to help you meander obstacles that you might face in your journey. The advice I’ve gotten so far has been nothing short of invaluable.
8. What have you started trying this year that has been working well for your business?
As we move deeper into the digital universe, it has been proven that digital marketing and digital assets are the way to go. Our focus on this has helped us greatly this year!
I make it a point to write an article on my blog every month, refine my website and also to post consistently on Linkedin.
9. What have you learned recently that just blew you away?
The simple fact that has always been there but I only realized it recently…the fact that today you can have a global target audience. You can serve the international community with your products and services and not be limited by location. Today, we can build global businesses without being a multi-national company.
If you write an article sitting in a room in Singapore, someone thousands of miles away can get value from that. If you wanted to get in touch with someone you admire, you can tweet them and they’d receive it in seconds. The world is more interconnected now than ever before, it can mean a good thing or bad thing depending on whether you’re leveraging on it.
10. What is one book you would recommend that every new business owner or freelancer be reading?
Please read “ The Key Person of Influence” by Daniel Priestley.
11. What are 3-4 tools (digital or offline) that you feel everyone should know about?
Evernote – The best place to store those ideas that pop up randomly
Slack – Excellent software for team communications
Fiverr – I use this to outsource tedious work that I don’t always enjoy doing.
12. How can people connect with you?
I can be reached via the following avenues: