April 5, 2012

The Importance of Having Standards

Me and cô Cúc before she fired me.

My Vietnamese teacher fired me.

I was late to our thrice weekly appointment one time too many.  Angry that she was waiting 20 minutes and I still hadn’t shown up, cô Cúc stormed out of the office.  I ran downstairs but just missed her.  “She looked mad!” said Phuong, the receptionist.  Uh oh.

I tried calling.  No answer.

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January 15, 2012

Ducks and Eagles

Are you a duck or an eagle?

Here’s a video from a talk I gave at a Citynetevents networking event.  It’s about how there are two kinds of people on every team — ducks and eagles.  Each has a role on your team.  If you want to improve your leadership and create a great team it’s important to know who is who.

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January 8, 2012

Ho Quang Khanh – From Corporate to Startup & Loving It!

Hồ Quang Khánh

“Starting a new company is a roller coaster ride with lots of ups and downs.  But I really love building something meaningful and creating value through that process.”

Hồ Quang Khánh
Founder and CEO, CungMua.com

Hồ Quang Khánh started his career at Mekong Capital, steering private equity investments to promising Vietnamese companies.  After a few years of working with entrepreneurs he decided to become one.

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December 30, 2011

Trần Trọng Kiên — Travel Guru

Trần Trọng Kiên

“The tourism industry’s forecast of continuous high growth in the next decade will create fantastic opportunities for Vietnam.  Not only will it be a great means to introduce Vietnam to the world, but it will be Vietnam’s most important industry for job creation and prosperous communities.”

Trần Trọng Kiên
Chairman and CEO of Thien Minh Group

Originally Kiên studied to become a doctor and ran local tours to fund his medical studies.  He enjoyed the tour business so much that he decided to found Buffalo Tours in 1999.  Since then Kiên has pioneered many adventure tours in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

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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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December 4, 2011

Do Not Accept Other People’s Problems

Tho and Van each try to give the other their messy problem.

If you are accepting responsibility for your people’s problems then you are a lousy leader.

“Wait,” you might say.  “My job as a leader is to take responsibility for problems.”

No, it isn’t.

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October 25, 2011

Chad Ovel – Mountaineer CEO

Today I’m beginning a new feature on my website: Interviews with business leaders to discover and share their leadership secrets.

Chad Ovel

My first guest is Chad Ovel, an accomplished high-altitude mountaineer who has conquered some of the most challenging mountains in Asia, the tallest being Pakistan’s Broad Peak at over 8,000 meters.

Chad is the Chief Executive Officer of AA Corporation, a Vietnamese-owned company with 2,000 employees.  AA Corporation has led the market for interior furnishings and construction in Vietnam since 1993.

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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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