A few of us had dinner and started talking about Vietnam. The topic started from our traveling experience there but eventually ended up at the crux of what this organization is aiming to accomplish: we started a dialog about what Vietnam needs, the issues that exist, and actionable steps for us to take to make it better.
We asked if there was one thing you want to do for Vietnam, what would it be? Our answers included the need for stronger education, starting at the curriculum (kudos to Quyen Le). We talked about the need for strong business ethics and ways to handle corruption. We talked about the need for a more long-term perspective in Vietnamese businesses and how customer service and branding are valuable. We talked about the issues and hurdles that stand in the way of reaching a solution to those problems. But we didn’t stop there.
We identified steps that could be taken. Too often in our community we stop at listing out the problems. Some are huge and difficult to solve, like corruption, but a small step forward is still the right direction. So we went on about building libraries and giving kids access to computers to improve education. We talked about providing vocational and professional training with strong ethical emphasis, and explaining how ethics is economically beneficial in the long run. We talked about aligning interests through equity stakes in order to curb the need for corruption.
If we haven’t sat down and talked, none of these ideas would have crossed our minds. It was then I reallized more than ever that we need a forum. The Vietnamese community has very strong, smart, and talented individuals wanting to make a difference. The first step to turning those wants to actions is starting a dialog and exchanging ideas. There is a great value in knowing that there are others out there wanting to make a difference too and that we are not alone in out endeavors. When that happens, we can make bigger steps forward.