Learning to do business, from London to Beirut: Charting INK Middle East rise

Learning to do business, from London to Beirut: Charting INK Middle East rise
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Simon Leslie, co-founder of INK, with his book ‘There is no F in Sales.’ The group started in Beirut in 1994, where Leslie began publishing an airline magazine for British Mediterranean Airways. (Photo/Supplied)
Learning to do business, from London to Beirut: Charting INK Middle East rise
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Learning to do business, from London to Beirut: Charting INK Middle East rise
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Updated 26 November 2019

Learning to do business, from London to Beirut: Charting INK Middle East rise

Learning to do business, from London to Beirut: Charting INK Middle East rise
  • INK works with 30 of the biggest airlines in the world, including American Airline

LONDON: The West London base of INK does not feel like a regular media company office.

The vast open space is blanketed by an abundance of sunlight shining through overhead skylights, with budding plants everywhere.

The sales room — the travel media company’s co-founder Simon Leslie’s forte — is very different, with a trampoline sitting in the corner for stress-relief reasons, a bell waiting to be rung at every sale, and pumping, up-beat music bouncing off the walls.

Pacing round are sales executives with Bluetooth headphones speaking to clients.

“It’s about making sure that everybody who works for us has got an opportunity to live out their potential and become who they want to become,” said Leslie. 

INK started in Beirut in 1994, where Leslie began publishing an airline magazine for British Mediterranean Airways, which had only one route at the time — London to Beirut.

“The whole business started in Lebanon and I spent most of the late 90s back and forth across all the countries in the region,” he said. “We now work with 30 of the biggest airlines in the world, including the biggest: American Airlines.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Starting a company in the Middle East gave Simon Leslie a unique experience in the way business is handled in the region.

• Etihad is one of INK’s main Middle Eastern clients now — with the company working on a Grand Prix magazine titled ‘Ignition’ for the Abu Dhabi race.

Starting a company in the Middle East gave Leslie a unique experience in the way business is handled in the region.

“When people owed you money, they invited you for dinner. I love that because it was all about family.”

Etihad is one of INK’s main Middle Eastern clients now — with the company working on a Grand Prix magazine titled “Ignition” for the Abu Dhabi race.

“It’s (got to do) with everything going on in Abu Dhabi that weekend — all about the drivers, all about the city, all about the culture … it’s a great piece of work we do once a year,” he said.

Leslie decided to compact all the experiences, lessons, and ups and downs that he witnessed over the past 33 years on the job to write a book, called “There is no F in Sales,” in which he offers personal advice, motivation and truths about surviving in global business in the twentieth century.

“A lot of the time people write books because they show what they learnt in business school, but it’s not real and raw,” he said. “I talked a lot about how I dealt with personal issues, how I dealt with business issues and how they affect me, and that was really the main theme that’s come out.

“If you want to accelerate your growth in business, if you want to accelerate your growth in human performance then this book is something that you need to read,” he added.

Apart from that, Leslie explained that no matter what, everyone needs a mentor in their life and someone they can look up to for inspiration and motivation in their careers.

“I always say to people ‘if you want to be successful find a successful person and hang around them,’” he said. “If you’re a startup and you’re just starting a new career, read this … I made so many mistakes over the last 33 years, hopefully if you don’t make half of the ones I did you’ll get there a lot quicker than I did.”


Hong Kong censorship debate grows as Internet firm says can block ‘illegal acts’

Hong Kong censorship debate grows as Internet firm says can block ‘illegal acts’
Updated 15 January 2021

Hong Kong censorship debate grows as Internet firm says can block ‘illegal acts’

Hong Kong censorship debate grows as Internet firm says can block ‘illegal acts’
HONG KONG: The company which approves Internet domains in Hong Kong said it will now reject any sites that could incite “illegal acts,” raising new concerns about freedoms after Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on the Chinese-ruled city last year.
Holders of .hk domains were advised of the policy change late on Thursday, sources told Reuters, hours after Internet service provider Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) said it had blocked access to HKChronicles, a website offering information about anti-government protests.
The moves came just days after the arrest of over 50 pro-democracy activists, and sources have told Reuters that China is planning a further crackdown.
HKBN said it had blocked the website, which also publishes personal information on Hong Kong police officers, in compliance with the national security law, the first such censorship in the city of its kind.
Anti-government protests in 2019 relied heavily on social media channels like Telegram which allowed protesters to organize anonymously. Many sites also sprung up in support of the protest movement, though a number shut after the passage of the security law.
In the emails, the Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company (HKDNR) alerted holders of .hk domains to the new “acceptable use” policy by its parent, Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited (HKIRC), which goes into effect on Jan. 28, according to copies shared by recipients with Reuters.
It said it could reject applications for new .hk sites that it believes could incite criminal acts, abuse privacy or provide false or misleading information.
It was not immediately clear whether the policy will apply to existing .hk websites. The HKIRC, the HKDNR and the Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The rollout of the acceptable use policy is quite worrying,” said one website operator who declined to be identified, citing fear of repercussions.
“Things like providing false or misleading information, who are they to decide? Are these preventive measures for future false news regulations?“
The moves are fueling worries that a censorship mechanism similar to China’s “Great Firewall” is being put in place in Hong Kong.
While the Internet in mainland China is heavily censored and access to many foreign platforms like news sites is blocked, residents in Hong Kong have so far enjoyed greater freedoms under the “one country, two systems” framework that it was promised when Britain handed it back to China in 1997.
China Mobile and PCCW, the other major Internet providers in Hong Kong, did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Wong Ho Wah, who is running for Hong Kong’s legislature to representing the information technology sector, said he was deeply worried that Hong Kongers’ freedom to access information on the Internet was starting to be affected.
“The government has the responsibility to explain the justification and the rationale of the action,” he said, referring to the blocking of HKChronicles’ website.