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Source: Screen shot from CNA
Source: Screen shot from CNA

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Popular Holdings CEO Chou Cheng Ngok showcases story-telling prowess in CNA interview

Our shortlisted candidate for the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards 2019 this week brought us back to the eighties with an interview with Popular Holding’s CEO Chou Cheng Ngok, discussing how he started the book store chain, and the challenges he faced over the years.

When he went ‘On the Record’, Mr Chou kept us entertained throughout his 24 minutes on-camera interview on Channel News Asia.

Mr Chou shared his perspective on how he has managed to stay on top of the book-selling industry in Singapore. He also talked about his failed attempts to venture into other lines of business, and how he managed to overcome them.

Scroll down to find out my reasons for nominating him in the category of Best Broadcast Interview.


The Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards 2019 resumes with our third round of nominations in Singapore and Malaysia in the following categories:

  • Best Broadcast Interview, in association with Meltwater
  • Best Online Interview, in association with Shootsta
  • Best Conference Presentation, in association with Dianomi
  • Best Live Webcast, in association with The Streaming Company

We launched the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards to recognise senior local leaders for their communications skills, and to showcase authentic and credible home-grown communicators.

These are shining examples for other local business leaders, and to build a culture of excellence in communication, to maximise the potential of Asian companies in the Asian Century.

Each week until November 30, 2019, we are shortlisting a local corporate figure who has demonstrated excellence in a media appearance for the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards 2019.

Click on the link below to enter yourself or another Senior Business Leader.


Here are three observations on his performance:

  1. Asking rhetorical questions – The normal interview format is for the reporter to ask the questions, and the guest to answer them. But Mr Chou turned this around, asking several rhetorical questions during the interview: “I am a bookseller, what is my first mission?”, before following up with another question: “If I spent so much time reading books, do I have the time to sell books?” This is an interesting technique, which prompts your audience to think.
  2. Numbers – Adding numbers helps substantiate your words. At the 08:40 mark in the interview, Mr Chou reveals that he has “200 book stores, over 4,000 staff in 7 countries”. He also repeated those number to drill them into the viewer's mind. 
  3. Candour – Most apparent was Mr Chou's quirky, candid and authentic style. He was disarmingly honest about how he got into selling books (he describes himself as lazy), his dispute with his son, and his failed attempts in businesses. As a listener, you will find yourself laughing along with the presenter.

Mr Chou demonstrates that succeeding in media interviews is possible no matter your age or your seniority.

If you know Chou Cheng Ngok, share this article with him and congratulate him on being shortlisted for the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards 2019.

If you have what it takes, nominate yourself or your senior business leader for the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards 2019!

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Director (+65) 6223 2249

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