AUDI Q2 x SHENTONISTA: #Untaggable — Game Changer

Javier, F&B/Nightlife Entrepreneur.
Shirt from Industrie, jacket from COS, jeans from Mango, shoes from Jil Sander.

In the vein of Audi’s new Q2, to be untaggable means to be undefinable; to mean different things to different people, or to be so good at so many things that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what you do or who you are. With that approach in mind, our Audi Q2 x Shentonista campaign sees us speaking to four individuals who seem to be able to do it all—balancing different roles both at work and play, managing to stay on top of everything, and having the best of all worlds.

Javier Perez is one such individual. His charisma and statuesque frame suit him well as the boss and leading man of his company, Series Of Intentions, which includes brands such as Kilo, Kilo Lounge, Grain Traders, and Camp Kilo Charcoal Club. Javier’s almost constantly on the go and on the ball, meeting people, having FaceTime calls, or checking in on any of his outlets, sometimes even working the floor. Above all, what really drives Javier is his desire for connection and creating unforgettable experiences. This lends itself to his lesser seen, more tender side as well—as a loving husband and the father of a one-year-old daughter. No matter what he does, however, you get a sense of Javier’s genuine, warm personality—one that certainly came through when we spoke to him.

What else have you done and how did all of that lead to you working in F&B?
I think it was always about the sense of community and serving. I was a radio deejay during college, and that took me to work at the National Basketball Association (NBA) in America. I’ve always enjoyed seeing people having a great time in whatever capacity it was. I used to be an air steward too. That’s quite obvious—you’re serving people and hoping that they’re having a great experience throughout the flight. After that, I got into hotels; I’ve always loved hotels and restaurants from a guest’s perspective, but I wanted to learn more about them and be more involved. I’d never set out to open as many restaurants as I have now—it was more about showing people a great time and creating memorable experiences, as tacky or clichéd as it sounds.

Was there anything else you wanted to try?
There’re two things that I wanted to do in life: to be a stand-up comedian, and to write musicals or broadway plays. I’ve always loved ad-libbing, and making up things and music. I used to play the saxophone; when I was 16 or 17, a friend of mine and I used to make our own music. I’ve always had this dream about writing plays because I felt like I could tell a story through that medium.

You wrote a poem as we were photographing you.
Yeah, it reads:
The man with the lens
Has asked me to bend
To look, to type, and to pretend.
To catch an image of still life
Only at work, maybe a child, no wife.
All these impressions
To showcase different dimensions.
What position he’ll want next, let’s see.
All this for advancement through technology.

What are your hopes for your business?
I think now I’d like to transition into greater things. It’s no longer about opening more concepts, restaurants, bars or things of that nature, but I’d like to be involved in greater initiatives that propel cities, communities and people. It doesn’t necessarily have to be brick and mortar, it could also be through campaigns and awareness. A dream of mine is to one day serve on certain boards—it’d be great to work with government agencies here such at the Singapore Tourism Board or the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Is there a cause that you feel really strong for, something that you’d like to work towards?
Wow, there’s a lot. For the most part, it’s being aware that a significant amount of the population in Singapore is in a privileged place, but unfortunately there are certain injustices. There’s a campaign with the tagline, “Low crime doesn’t mean no crime”, but you could also say, “Minimal poverty doesn’t mean no poverty”. This country has given me so many opportunities; I’ve realised so many dreams. Now it’s time to step back and ask, “What else can we do to be involved?” Moving forward, I’d like my companies to have a greater involvement in our community, to really be part of our value system and purpose.

Is there anything you’d like to do at this moment?
I’ve always wanted to create a campaign called I Am Singaporean. I feel that there are a lot of people, like myself, who’ve been here for some time and feel very connected to and proud of this country. I’ve been here for more than a decade, I enjoy learning about the culture and country, and I feel that I am Singaporean. I think there’re a lot of people who are not Singaporeans but have contributed to the fabric of this country, and I’ve always wanted to showcase them in a campaign. When taxi uncles ask me “Where are you from?”, I always tell them “Singapore” and that kinda throws them off!

Would you consider your daughter, Amelia, Singaporean? You were born in Puerto Rico, and your wife Sharon, though she was born in Singapore, was raised and lived in many countries around the world. Would you want Amelia to learn more about her heritage?
Definitely. I think it’s interesting that she has two cultures now and I’d want her to embrace both of them to a certain degree. My wife, Sharon, left Singapore when she was four years old. She lived in Canada most of her life, then the Philippines, California, and Switzerland. If you ask Sharon what culture she resonates with most she’d say Canadian. For me, I sometimes play salsa music in the mornings—I’m very integrated in my own culture. But yes, of course, I’d want Amelia to understand her culture, where she was born, where her grandparents and parents are from, and instil some kind of pride within her.

What are some of your hopes for Amelia?
That she becomes an understanding individual, and that she gets the chance to be exposed to many different cultures and ways of life. I want her to experience everything, and learn that life is this thing that has so many layers that we’re never ever going to completely understand. And that people think of her as a genuine person, someone who has heart.

Did the way you run your business change after you became a father?
I think it just enhanced it. I don’t feel like I do things with Amelia in mind, right now. Some parents may say, “Now that I look at my kids, I know it’s all for them,” but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. Amelia just turned one, so maybe when she’s a little older and it becomes a bit more real then I’d be like, “Oh wow, this is someone that I really have to take care of.”

How do you manage all your different roles at the same time?
Of late, I’m learning how to be more still. I’m not trying to sound hyper-spiritual, but it’s the act of slowing down, while moving faster—slow but more precise. I don’t view my professional versus personal life as a juggle, but rather a balancing act that requires focus, breathing, and calmness. I’ve never felt overwhelmed even though I have many things going on. I think of people out there who do much more and are involved in many more business ventures, companies, initiatives, community work or philanthropy. What it demonstrates is that, with great intent and by following through, I should be able to take on more.

How do you deal with so many things?
I’m learning how to separate my time. When I start my week on Mondays I no longer have meetings or go to the outlets. I don’t even go to the office. I take Monday for myself to get my week thought out and planned. There are days of the week now that I know I’m going to be at the outlets or attending meetings, so when I’m there, I don’t feel overwhelmed, it’s just part of the day that I’ve already prepared for myself beforehand.

Did it take time for you to develop/get used to this way of working? Do you get stressed and how do you deal with it?
(laughs) Of course, the 33-year-old me would have given a completely different interview! Like everyone, there are moments of stress, but at this point in life I measure facts against emotions and that allows me to put everything in its rightful place.

How about family time?
It’s a little bit different because my wife and I work together. We see each other at home, and then we see each other again in the office. Family time with our daughter is pretty much set aside for the weekends. I don’t leave the house till about 930AM in the morning, which for some people is quite late, but I do that so that I can be there for my daughter’s breakfast. I don’t necessarily have to feed her but I am there with her. Before, I used to wake up at like 730AM in the morning, and felt like I had to take a quick shower and immediately go. Now, I’m just pacing myself. As for my wife, we definitely make it a point to have date night once or twice a week.

Do you work better at home or in the office?
It depends. It’s great for me when I can start my Mondays at home. I have a bit of a routine. I start my morning very slow: I meditate, think about things (not just work), answer some emails for an hour or two, and go to the grocery store. Then I come back home, have lunch and then maybe just take a walk around the neighbourhood with Sharon and Amelia.

What do you think are some of the best things in life?
Trust, friendship, consideration, patience, and love. I mean, these are all things that are quite clichéd, and you can’t really grasp them, but the best things in life are the simple things. I don’t want to sound like Oprah but it’s those “A ha!” kind of moments where you know you’re growing and maturing in certain ways; that you’re constantly learning.

What motivates you?
Just knowing that I’ve been given the opportunity, or I’m in the position that others aren’t. Change motivates me but I think the motivating factor is already knowing that I’ve already been given so many great opportunities and not to take them for granted, and dwindle them.

What’s innovation to you?
We live in an age and time now where we’re probably not going to see these great fleets of innovation like, for example, when the automobile or aircrafts came out. I think the definition of true innovation now is how you make things better, smarter, or more efficient. For instance, the purpose or function of the iPhone hasn’t necessarily changed, but what’s changed, through its various representations, is the design or technology in order to enhance your experience. When we look at it like that, innovation is just enhancing something that already exists.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has given you? Who did it come from?
There’s been so much! A lot of it came from my grandfather, actually. He always used to tell me that “Life is short, but life is long.” Pace; there’s no rush. Enjoy the process, and don’t get caught up and lose the idea behind why you began doing something. My grandfather’s also the one who would say that “The richest man is not the man who has the most, but the man who needs the least”—that’s the quote I’ve included in my questionnaire below.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
From other people, currently. We live in a time where we’re exposed to so many peoples’ lives through social media. We know that a significant amount of those are not necessarily real; they’re just figments of what they want to show or how they want to be perceived. But I think there’s also a great amount of people out there who are putting out positive vibes, great energy, and are really doing great things. Travelling also inspires me. I was on a little private island recently, and I just thought to myself: how can you look at this island and not be in awe, how can you not believe in God, how can you not be inspired to want to do more or be more?

What are certain things in life that are #untaggable/undefinable?
The pursuit of purpose, and trusting your intuition. These two thoughts, though separate, are a bit more connected than we believe, and are thoughts that we must continuously test and trust. As we grow and evolve so will our purpose, but our intuition also becomes more accurate. We always hear about “trusting yourself” or “doing what you believe”, but what does that truly mean? And how often does that change in ones’ lifespan? It’s impossible to define because it’s unceasingly developing, but in a great way!

This is a project for Audi Singapore.

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