He wants you to stop smoking; he pushes you to finish a 24-hour run and he urges you to jump of a 421-metre tower. Yet, surprisingly, Malaysians still adores him.
Reading Julian Leicester’s qualifications and credentials alone would take an extraordinary mind, and for someone like me with limited intellectual capacity, it may put you in a hypnotic state of mind.
For starters, the spirited 53-year-old is national record holder listed in the Malaysia Book of Records, in addition to having worked with the country’s ice hockey team at the Asian Winter Games in China, the national under-13 football team, contributed towards the training of our athletes at the Southeast Asian Games and was a mental coach for Adidas’s 24-hour Challenge Run.
As a member of UK Register of Advanced Hypnotherapist and armed with a diploma in advance hypnotherapy from Austin Centre in London, Leicester is a certified national service trainer for character building programmes as well as a speaker in numerous national-level health-related initiatives and university campaigns throughout Malaysia.
Previously a regular newspaper columnist, the highly sought after trainer is also the author of “The Science to Quit Smoking”, where he shared his thoughts on his patented S2QS system, a drug and product-free training format approach to quitting smoking based on 10 years of research and development in Malaysia, Holland and the Philippines.
“In 2005, I decided to specialise in quit smoking strategies without drugs. I tell people that hypnosis is like the brake pads in the car. It will stop the habit, yet with implementation of a syllabus of right educational process and measures, it can stop smoking forever rapidly,” testifies Leicester, CEO and subconscious specialist of Hypno Station.
Having amassed his share of accomplishments to date, it is interesting to discover that it was not a planned choice of work at the start of his flourishing career.
“It was by fate that I was introduced to this field. Many years ago, I attended a corporate training and was fascinated by the relaxation techniques that this trainer Peter Ling did. As I inquired about it from him later, Peter told me it was hypnosis and that it was a powerful tool for change and helps in curing some negative conditions like fear and addiction,” recalls Leicester who at that time had a diploma in computer studies from UK and was already a member of the prominent British Computer Society.
Working as an e-business solution architect with a global software company back then, he was going through some personal challenges and was hoping that hypnosis could provide him with some solutions.
“I was instantly interested and made many inquiries to this subject matter. I remember Peter telling me, it’s a much unknown profession in Malaysia then and if I was going to spend that much money to study in London, I had to seriously make sure that I made this career work for study investment sake. It was then that I thought that this was a business career that I could do even when I was 80 years old. All I will need then is a chair and I could still earn a living as a therapist,” he jokes.
Training with the best
Following this career enlightenment, Leicester went to Richmond, London in 2000 to undertake an advance diploma course on hypnotherapy at Austin Training Centre, where he was trained by acclaimed hypnotherapist Valerie Austin, who is also an author of an international series of hypnotherapy books. During this period, he was also trained by Dr Jack Gibson, an Irish surgeon who had done more than 4,000 operations without the use of anesthetic.
“Even back then, hypnosis was rather unknown to Asia. Even in the west, such therapy was learned or taught by experts with years of practice in the field. Many were either famous book authors or show masters,” he says.
Currently the National Chapter leader for hypnotherapy and honorary treasurer of the Malaysian Society for Complimentary Medicine, Leicester believes that his training in London presented him with the much-needed diversified experiences and insightful expressions of the profession’s ideas and techniques that helped groomed him to be among the country’s leading hypnotherapists today.
“In the course, we went through the manuals, case studies and hypnotic practice sessions. Learning hypnosis is not rocket science, but the impact it had, sure was. We had tests, assignments and thesis writing to support being qualified for the certification at the end of the course. Medical specialist like Dr Gibson, and many more were brought in to further teach us on specialised techniques that they themselves had used in real life patients.”
His biggest challenge came upon his return to Malaysia after completing his studies. Having the confidence in his newly acquired skills, he quit his IT job and started Hypno Station. He remembers that all of his IT vendor friends used to say that “Julian has gone to join the circus, doing this hypno something stuff!”
Leicester, who holds a certificate in intensive sports psychology from USM, recalls the harsh beginnings of his practice: “Starting a therapy business was so unknown to Malaysia then. Those days, the medical profession called it ‘quack practice’, and people were always saying to me ‘Don’t look at my eyes’ or ‘It’s against my religion’. I almost starved!”
Deciding that the only way he could educate people on hypnotherapy – and to earn a living — was to write about his profession in the newspaper. His break came when as a regular newspaper columnist, he was soon appearing in numerous radio and TV shows, as well as received invitations to lecture at public universities.
“I had a major advantage then; people have never seen a real life hypnotist and just mentioning what I do will always get me crowded by people with questions and fascination about hypnosis,” he says.
Today, with clients from across the region and as far as China, Middle East and Europe, Leicester owes his practice’s biggest leap to the “Your Heightness” seminar conducted in Menara Kuala Lumpur in 2003 for those with fear of heights.
“It was a first of its type in Asia and a world-class seminar never done before at the fourth tallest tower in the world then. We took 40 phobic sufferers to a one-day hypnosis therapy seminar and then asked them to look down from 431-metres high. We had 100% results with the participants,” he says of the event, which he was subsequently recognised with an admission into the Malaysia Book of Records.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Leicester approached his next calling with a strong sense of purpose. In 2004, he started You1Quit.com, an innovative corporate quit smoking consultancy and training provider specialising in getting rid of cigarette addiction, while increasing productivity and an innovating workplace environment.
“Quit smoking was truly an unexpected challenge and getting evidence-based millage took some time to achieve. Getting smokers to come for therapy was not an easy task and this specialisation in quit smoking cost me personal savings and sacrifices to implement, especially to the public, as we did many ground-breaking and pioneer public anti-smoking seminars and corporate training with hypnosis,” re reveals.
A registered hypnotherapist with Association of Hypnotherapy Practitioners Malaysia, which is the official hypnotherapist umbrella body under the Ministry of Health, it is his aspiration that one day You1Quit.com will be the official country rollout programme to teach smokers the will to quit smoking.
“Many people, including top ministry officials have told me not to give up on my quit smoking quest and innovation as it’s an original programme, has delivered consistent results and an iconic Malaysian innovation to the world. I dream of the day that our Prime Minister will launch it as a national quit smoking education programme for schools, corporations and youth camps,” he expresses.
“My greatest challenge has always been funding R&D and convincing corporate Malaysia to spend CSR to help their staff quit smoking. Today this program is HRDF-claimable and more companies are looking at its potential to create healthy leaders at work and reduce cigarette breaks for productivity during work hours,” he remarks.
These days, Leicester and his team at Hypno Station are kept busy with continuous invitations to speak at international conferences and public health symposiums. “Today my primary job function is still hypnotherapy. Over the years, our clients have come mainly through word of mouth and internet search engines.”
For those inspired to follow on Leicester’s footsteps, he advices: “Hypnotherapy is a healing and motivating therapy. It’s a rapid tool to change paradigm thinking and focus of limiting and negative thoughts.”
“The traits that a person should have to be a good hypnotherapist is self-confident and determination. Common sense and creativity is very important in dealing with symptoms. Good control of language, proper voice craft and the right usage of hypnotic scripts for intervention will determine the percentages to success.”
Adding further, he urges those who want to venture into this field of work to stay focused. “I believe to build a good brand is to be consistent, innovative and continuing to fulfil the brand promises. I have never ventured on anything other than being related to hypnosis.”