December 25, 2011

Lê Hồng Minh — “Your #1 Job is People”

Lê Hồng Minh

“The key thing is to put “talent” at the center of everything you do.  You’ve got to feel deeply that your #1 job is all about people – attract the best, manage them, grow them and keep them.”

Lê Hồng Minh
CEO, Chairman, Founder of VNG


Lê Hồng Minh is a friendly man with a smile that reveals the enthusiasm always bubbling below the surface.  A passionate gamer, he led the Vietnam team to the World Cyber Game competition in Korea in 2002.  Two years later he founded VinaGame.  Tapping the previously untapped market for online gaming in Vietnam, VinaGame enjoyed explosive growth and quickly dominated the market for massively multiplayer online games.

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December 13, 2011

Head to Head CEO Forum on VITV

Recently I returned to the “Diá»…n Đàn CEO,” or “CEO Forum” program on VITV.

Mr. Hà, the host, felt that the viewers would find two CEOs more engaging than one (maybe by creating some drama and getting us to argue?).  I invited an outstanding CEO I met a few months ago, Mr. Trần Trọng Kiên.  He is founder and CEO of Buffalo Tours, one of Vietnam’s largest and most successful tour companies.  Not only a great CEO, but a super cool and interesting guy.

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October 31, 2011

Halloween Fun

We like to have fun at VietnamWorks and Navigos Search.  A big part of that is Halloween.  The Dream-Makers love it!

Enjoy the vid and pics.

In Saigon…

And in Hanoi…

October 23, 2011

Do I Not Bleed?

"Tug-o-War" from NaviWorks Olympics. The thrill of victory and agony of defeat are universal across cultures.

Westerners and Vietnamese both like to ask me “How do you work with Vietnamese here?  Vietnamese are so different from Americans!”  Then they look at me expectantly, thinking I’ll spin some story about how inscrutable and mysterious Vietnamese people are.

This question always reminds me of Shylock’s speech in Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.” [I’ve taken a few liberties to suit the context.] Continue reading →

October 13, 2011

Tôi và Việt Nam (Me and Vietnam)

In August I shot an interview with Mr. Trần Quốc Khánh, host of the “Me and Vietnam” program on the FBNC business television network here in Saigon.

We discussed building a fun company culture, how we treat our people as customers, finding your passion and motivating teams.  Khánh was a very engaging and relaxed interviewer.

Khánh’s team even took some footage of me delivering a “$2 Award” to a Dream-Maker and dancing swing outside the office.  It was a lot of fun.

The interview is in English with Vietnamese subtitles.  I’ve included a transcript below.

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October 11, 2011

“Người Đương Thời” (“People Today”)

Here’s an interview I did in May 2011 for the program “Người Đương Thời” which roughly translates to “People Today.”

The host, Ms. Bich Loan, likes to interview people whom she believes have interesting ideas.  She likes to surprise her guests and put them in novel situations to observe how they react.  It’s very effective.

We met at Hanoi’s “HR Day” in 2010 and she saw me speak about “Ducks and Eagles.”  I was flattered she invited me as a guest on her program.  The interview is in English, but dubbed in Vietnamese.  I haven’t figured out how to get English subtitles in there yet.

August 21, 2011

Are You Having Fun at Work?

One of the most important values in our company is “have fun!”

We all work a lot.  Who said being professional and achieving greatness had to be done with a serious face?  I don’t know about you, but in my book it’s not that fun to be serious all the time.

I find that when people have fun they’re more relaxed and comfortable.  And when they’re more relaxed and comfortable, they are more happy and productive.

At VietnamWorks and Navigos Search, we take our work seriously but we do like to have a good time.  We let our hair down.  Sometimes we’re just plain goofy.

I encourage people to express themselves and their unique personalities.  One fun way we do this is through “team show” tradition during each of our monthly “All Hands Meetings.”   A different team each month puts on a show.

The video below contains my and Hang’s show from last year.  You can see we’re both having a great time.  Which is important, because the leader of the organization sets the tone.  A leader should make it safe for people not to be so serious all the time.

Are you having fun at work?  Why not try something fun today?  Both you and your team will love it!

(I learned the power of goofiness and fun from Southwest Airlines.  Thank you Herb Kelleher!!)

August 14, 2011

Name Game

“A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

– Dale Carnegie

I'm in Hanoi only a few days each month. To help me remember names, I take photos of each person and edit their name into the photo. I regularly update the album on the Internet to aid Dream Makers in their quests to take my money in the Name Game.

One of my most important responsibilities as a leader is creating a sense of community in our team.  I want people to feel recognized and important and have a sense of belonging.

One of the best ways to do that is to learn everyone’s name.

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July 23, 2011

Servant Leadership

NaviWorks leaders perform the song and dance number "Be Our Guest" for Dream-Makers during the last annual trip. After our performance we served food and drinks. Dream-Makers made sure we gave them excellent service!

Here’s a tale of two bosses I had when I worked at Yahoo!

The first boss (call him Andy) was a good guy.  He was likeable, funny and very smart and fiercely ambitious.  However, over time it became clear to the eight or so of us on his team that Andy was more interested in how we could help him climb higher in his career than how he could help us in our careers.  He was pleasant and friendly, but showed little interest in our career goals.  He helped us with our jobs, but “benign neglect” seemed to be his guiding principle regarding our careers.  He was all about driving results for his boss.  Fair enough.

My second boss (call him Bill) was different.

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July 3, 2011

The Business of Business is People

The VietnamWorks North Sales team achieved their goal in one particularly rough quarter. To show appreciation, we arranged for a surprise visit from a Vietnamese pop music heartthrob. He sang a few love ballads and posed for pics. They loved it!

“The business of business is people.”

– Herb Kelleher, Founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines (one of my heroes)

Ask different people what business is “about” and you will get different answers.  They’ll say “Profit” or “Getting rich”  or “Creating a product.”  It’s none of those things.

At the end of the day, the business of business is people.

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