November 19, 2012

An Entrepreneurial Story

Sometimes you have a conversation that makes everything so clear.

Earlier this year I consulted with an attorney, Nam*, about legal structures in Vietnam.  Nam owned his own successful law firm.  Our conversation wandered into motivations of starting a business.  Nam shared with me his entrepreneurial story.

“Ten years ago I was working for a big European bank in Saigon,” he began.  “I had a good salary and excellent benefits.  I had just gotten married.  I was comfortable.  I decided to spend my career there as an in-house lawyer.”

“Then one day a senior executive at the bank’s home office in Holland was looking at a report comparing the margins of the bank’s operations in Vietnam to other countries in Asia.”

“He thought that his overall Asia numbers would look better if Vietnam were no longer included in the calculation.  So he decided to shut down the bank’s operations in Vietnam, just like that.”

Nam snapped his fingers.

“This executive who lived halfway around the world, whom I had never met, who had never been to Vietnam, made a decision that turned my life upside down.”

Nam paused for effect.

“I decided then and there that I never wanted somebody else to control my life in that way again.  So the next day I began planning to open my own law firm.”

“It was hard at first.  I didn’t know anything about managing people, accounting or cash flow.  I made a lot of mistakes.  I had to figure everything out on my own.  But it worked.  Now I’m doing better than I ever have, on my own terms.”

Nam paused again and looked me in the eye.

“You’ve been a CEO for years!  You know how to recruit and manage people.  You know about accounting and cash flow.  You know marketing.”

“There’s no reason why you shouldn’t begin right now!”

Yes, Nam.  You are absolutely right.

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  • Khanh Quoc Tran

    Being a manager/CEO and a leader/owner are two different things. But good luck Chris!

  • Thanks for this…and for your part in the conversation that made everything a lot clearer for me :)

  • Nampeung

    Nam was right, “There is no reason why you shouldn’t begin right now.”
    It was a pleasure to spend the evening chatting about business and fun things with 2 CEOs, you and Prateek. I always understood that what sales persons do is selling their products. That’s it. I also think they would say “anything” and might not be true just to get you buy their products. What I learned from you today was another idea of being a sales person, trying to understand customers’ problems and solve their problems. Now, things are more interesting because they are not always what I “think”
    So why not I follow you here?

  • Good Luck Chris… good to see the next steps forming ahead of you…