On leadership: Mike Rios of 17 Triggers

Focus Asean interviews some of the business world’s brightest minds to discover their inspiration, drive and advice for those set to follow in their footsteps

Focus Asean Editorial
May 24, 2016

Focus Asean interviews some of the business world’s brightest minds to discover their inspiration, drive and advice for those set to follow in their footsteps

As a creative adman for big agencies, Mike Rios worked for clients like Coca-Cola, Nike and Total Gas. After being offered a promotion to be an agency’s youngest creative director, he resigned, started working for good causes and launched the development-focused, Cambodia-based agency 17 Triggers

What, in your opinion, makes a great leader?
Care. Someone who genuinely cares about the team. It’s amazing how far being human can go.Mike Rios

On a personal level, what drives you to succeed?
I was adopted when I was six months old, but it wasn’t until I came to Cambodia that I realised how incredibly lucky I was to be given a better life. After seeing children beg on the streets, I realised I could have been one of them with a flip of the cards. Since then I’ve been driven by the idea of helping others, just like my parents chose to do for me.

What has been your greatest achievement over the course of your career, and the biggest lesson you have learned?
Recently I’ve learned how to put my wife and marriage as the first priority in my life. This means I’ve had to say ‘no’ to many projects, speaking engagements, and jobs in countries around the world. This has not only made my wife and me much happier, it has also helped my work. By learning to say no, I have more energy and greater focus to work on the few things that I add the most value [to].

What or who inspires you?
I used to say things like ‘Steve Jobs’, but now I realise I’m really inspired by spending time with smart, nice and funny people.

If you could meet your younger self, what would you say?
Ambition is great, but don’t let your career define you or feel you need to build a legacy. Be humble. Find comfort in the fact it’s highly unlikely you will ever be remembered in 100 years. Cherish the few days you have on this tiny planet by living a life that energises you now, not searching for a career you think sounds ‘successful’ later.

What would be your best piece of advice for youngsters who aim to become the future business leaders of the Asean region?
Meditate for at least ten minutes a day. It’s like a shower for your mind that will keep you sharper, nicer and more focused. There are great apps out there to help as well, like Headspace, that make building the habit easier.

Read more interviews:

Kumi Shimamoto, vice-president of sales, Asia at Getty Images

Christine Wrightmanaging director of Hays Asia

Soon Su LongCEO Indochina at Maybank

Jakob LykkegaardCEO & co-founder of Playlab

Mark Turner, senior director at FMI Air

Pumin Yuvacharuskul, co-founder and CEO Thailand at Eatigo Co Ltd

Martin Limpertmanaging director at Porsche Asia-Pacific

Shivam Tripathi, co-founder of CamboTicket

Thomas HundtCEO of Smart Axiata

Aulia Halimatussadiah, co-founder and chief content officer of Zetta Media Network

Shannon Kalayanamitr, group chief marketing offIcer at Orami

Sean Preston, country manager of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos at Visa

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