How do multihyphenates juggle it all? In this three-part series presented by Samsung, Patrick Furlong tells us how a healthy support system, an introspective view on life, and the Galaxy Fold, have helped him navigate the new normal
Patrick Furlong is the ultimate multihyphenate – and no, this is no hyperbole. The Argentinian-born, Singapore-based polo enthusiast is – take a deep breath – the founder of Colts Polo & Riding, a senior advisor and representative of Latin Renewables, a partner at Project Light, a director at Neelix Asia, a husband, a father of three…
He moved to Singapore in 2014 as a banker, and four years later, founded Colts Polo & Riding. For the equestrian and former captain of the Hong Kong polo team, the decision to establish the club was to democratise the seemingly elite game, and expand its reach to the wider community. “It was the first polo school of its kind in Asia. Although it is a small business (six employees and just over S$1 million in revenue) it is no longer a startup, and we are expanding this operation in Singapore and overseas. The implementation of a novel business model to polo is the most exciting part of what I do,” he explains.
Since then, he has also helmed the first interregional polo tournament in Asia, which was held for the first time in 2019 at the Singapore Turf Club. But Furlong is – by nature – a serial entrepreneur and investor. He is currently working on a start-up called Project Light, where the team is developing a UV light to disinfect people and objects – an endeavour that was born from the pandemic.
Life might have slowed down for most of us – Furlong included – during the pandemic, but he used the opportunity to re-evaluate his priorities in life, plan for the next steps and, of course, focus on growing Colts while working on the new start-up. Here, he discusses his multiple roles, and how technology – in particular the Samsung Galaxy Fold – helped him navigate this new normal.
On working from home…
“I was lucky to have Colts to manage during this time. As the main business owner, I was allowed to come to the stables and exercise horses, which must be done every day. So although most people were confined to work from home, I could go out every day.
“The lockdown did make me realise that there are lot of activities that can be done remotely. This will be, in my view, the biggest impact the lockdown will have on the way people do business.
“Being at home does take a lot of discipline. I get distracted easily, or may jump from one thing to the next very quickly, especially with various roles I have.”
On new opportunities…
“The pandemic also presents new opportunities. I am working now on a new venture to develop a new product for disinfection of viruses/bacteria using a novel technology. It is a very exciting project, but probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the pandemic and lockdown!”
On his support system…
“To help me manage better, I start the day doing a good meditation session, which clears my mind and helps me manage my days better, with more focus.
“My family was the fundamental pillar all this time. Being an entrepreneur is very hard at times, and it feels that everything falls on your shoulders. You feel you must control every outcome, which is impossible. Perhaps without noticing, spending more time with family, and realising how important they are in one’s life, gave me more strength and purpose to face all there was to face.”
On lessons learnt…
“At the beginning, it really felt like life slowed down a gear or two down. And I felt a bit restless and stressed about the business. How would we adjust to temporary closure or significant slowdown? But you apply the energy and creativity in different ways to adjust to the new business environment.
“It also made me value things that we normally take for granted. I realised how little time I spent with my family, or even the little time I spent with them wasn’t really ‘quality’ time, and did not make the most of that time.
“I guess the biggest lesson I learned is that although things may change dramatically at any time, even in the worst times there are opportunities and new ways to looking at things. You can always find a different way to adjust and us, humans, have an innate ability to adjust.”
On managing information overload…
“I had to get used to relying on technology more than I did before. Clear diary management as well as time management were crucial.
“In today’s world, we cannot live without technology, but at the same time, I realised that the more information you have access to, the more dependent you become to it… or so you think. In reality, what we need to develop more is our creativity and learn new ways to use that information more effectively.
“In the past I used to read all the papers, consume information all the time, for fear of ‘missing out’ on some event or a certain development.
“I actually learned to use information better, to my advantage, and avoid an overload of it, which is very inefficient on your time. If you sit back and think a bit more, you realise all you need is at the tip of your fingers, when you need it. You don’t have to try to keep up with the news. It’s there when you need it.”
On the importance of communication…
“I’m always on the go, physically and mentally. The Galaxy Fold is a great device and ‘adapted’ greatly to my lifestyle. From quick ways in communication with the small screen, to the amazing big screen that helps me, visually, analyse situations better.
“I normally carry phones in my pockets or the inner pocket of my jacket. The size and dimensions of the phone made it very easy to move it around at ready access.
“I move around in my car, and am on the phone regularly. I found the Bluetooth ‘wearable’ earphones very comfortable and high quality for my on-the-go regular communications.”
On using his phone as a visual tool…
“Over the past couple of years I became more active in social media mostly for my business. But I’m more active personally as well. The Galaxy Fold makes it quite easy to manage images and videos in social media. I do have staff to look after our corporate social media, but I get involved very often in creating content on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
“Honestly, I would find it very hard to use another phone, because I am so used to all the visual functions, such as the camera and video.
“I love the small screen/big screen options. When I have messages to see and need to respond quickly, I use the small screen. If not, I am now very used to the big screen where you can see everything very well, especially when I use the diary functions.”