1. Why did you accept the invitation to become a judge for VietChallenge, the first-ever business idea competition for Vietnamese youths globally?
I’m very intrigued with the competition. I think it’s a great initiative. I do have a lot of respect for Vietnamese. Notwithstanding that I know a lot of different countries and a lot of young people from different countries including my own children, I don’t think that I have seen as a nation more seasoned young people as Vietnamese professionals. In my personal opinion that children of VN today born during that transition of a Vietnam closed economy to an open one has given them a different perspective in the world and the need for them to succeed, to make a difference. I do think that the biggest challenge is to be able to transform the country and transform the lives their parents had. I don’t think that anywhere else that you can see it as clearly as you can see in Vietnam.
2. What unique experience do you think you can use to help mentor young Vietnamese entrepreneurs at the competition?
I do think that only thing that the one can do from a mentor is being able to transmit to these young entrepreneurs an honest vision that you trust them. They need to be self confident, they need to be assured that they are welcomed in global business environment. As a mentor I think that One can do is try your very best to have them know and feel that you trust them and that you believe in them and most important that they can do it, that you have full confidence in what they can do and make a difference in a global business environment today.
3. Having been a managing partner of Duane Morris Asia and a leading international attorney in Asia, what do you think about the Vietnamese young entrepreneurs? What are their strengths and weaknesses in your opinion?
As I said, I am very impressed with their determination to embrace the world, their determination to succeed, their determination to sacrifice whatever is needed in order for them to be accounted for, in order for them to be parts of an international sea. I think the strength they have is the drive that they want to do it and anyone that has the determination will be able to succeed.
Weakness: I think Vietnamese in general are hard people. What I mean by hard is it takes them lots of time to trust someone outside of their comfort zone. The truth is they are the most stubborn people I have ever met in my life. There’s no way to convince them of anything different. That’s their weakness.
But I would say they have a number of weaknesses but I do think that’s where you admire them even most. I do think their education system is not on par with many of the what you would call today the 1st world economies, notwithstanding that they are great achievers.
That’s their weakness, the whole schooling, the situation there and their system is not… I do think that recognizing that weakness makes them study harder, makes them be determined to go and follow different degrees somewhere else. It makes them try to be alert and learn a little bit more. It allows them to work a little bit harder, knowing the deficiencies that they have. Likewise as entrepreneurs, they know that deficiencies in their system, in the culture that keep them behind and they are determined to conquer and to go the extra mile in order for them to be integrated.
4. Please tell us one of your observations about Vietnamese or Vietnam’s economy.
Today’s the world economy is a bit tricky. There’s no structural problem per se in the general economy however there is fear that people not knowing what is really happening. A number of bad news that have made the econ to be weak.
I do think that VN in addition has some structural problems in the economy that have not been addressed: I am talking about debts, inefficiencies that need to be addressed. We are all hoping that changes in the political arena in Vietnam allow the new prime minister and the new congress to actually finally do the structural reforms that vn so badly needs.
5. What advice do you want to give to the aspiring Vietnamese entrepreneurs?
Prepare yourself, work hard. Never take a no for an answer. Have confidence in yourselves. Be stubborn as you can be in your determination to insert yourselves in the global economy. Most importantly, feel proud always of who you are, what you represent and make your parents proud with your daily acts.