What changed me significantly?

After my first 10 years startup journey (2011–2021).

Luong Van Can Award season 1, in 2011.

#1. Back to be original

I am an introverted person who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I like reading comic books (Doraemon and Lucky Luke are my friends), drawing, imagining, and composing stories when I was a kid. I learn maths quite well and like problem challenges. I enjoy the beauty of maths and enjoy the time of being alone to solve problems deeply.

I am not a procrastinating person. I am disciplined, follow a schedule, and fear making a mistake, especially in public. I am not a smart person, I spend more personal time supplementing my weaknesses. I try to start things as soon as possible to have more time thinking through my problems, even in my dream (sometimes I brought a maths problem to my dream to solve it). I like to have something interesting and challenging sticking in my head. And I love the moment when I solved the problem. I ran to the bookstore near my house to buy a new notebook to write down the solution for a maths problem that I spend a whole week solving. At that time, because of the no-internet and it’s expensive to call anyone to talk by dial phone so I have to solve it by myself. No way out. My day was so long and so quiet, I stayed at home and had nothing else to do except that interesting and challenging problem. And I couldn’t post or share the solution to any kind of platform to let anyone know that I solved that hard problem and hashtag something to let my name be known. Nope. I cheered that emotion with me and with some friends later in class. It’s still a great emotional outcome that I still remember after 15 years.

Be original means that accepting any failures mostly happening and keep trying with new approaches without losing freshness and curiosity. The award of it is the original solution that you come up with by yourself that is maybe already discovered by someone else in the world but it doesn’t matter. It is your solution and you own it. Failure is normal and never defines or affects your value. I hate to be a loser and I am ashamed of it. To do a startup, I have to give up that thinking and that emotion. I can lose or fail many times but I will have the courage to try again, to do again until I find a solution. Never let failure or anyone define you.

To be a founder I have to learn much new knowledge from different fields and new skillsets. With an original mindset as I enjoyed in the maths world, I also enjoy learning new things every day and failure is just a sign to know that this approach didn’t work and let’s start it again. The more I learn, the more I know that so many things I don’t know. I was failed many times by solving things without a given solution but I will find my way no matter what. I am blessed because I am sure that I grew a lot in 10 years while doing startups. I can’t count, I just know it there. So continue to be courageous to be original. Don’t be afraid of failure.

#2. Change my why

When I was 27, I thought about suicide. It’s a time when I thought I lost everything after I had to close the most important things in my life. I was lost and depressed. I was lost because I put myself as the main purpose on the things I built so when it failed it means that I had to die with it. The reason that I tried to make my startup successful was that I wanted to be successful and be recognized. It’s all about me. And it’s terrible.

That event changed my why deeply, gave me a true reason that I wanted to build a successful startup. If it’s not for people and by people, I shouldn’t start it. The startup that I started maybe won’t need me in the future and still follow the mission that serves and impacts a lot of people to make our world a better place for everyone. This reminds me every day when I was proud of some winning or when I was down of some losing. This keeps me bold and humbled to work with my team to make great products for customers. This makes me grateful and thankful for the current situation with my imperfect teammates (including me) but we know that we will grow together for our better versions. This helps me to overcome obstacles and to guide me to find answers to deal with issues daily. Again, if I can’t remember “my why” to start this, just stop it and close it. It would be a good ending for everyone not to suffer anymore.

#3. Public or private speaking and Writing

These two skills were my weaknesses before. I am a shy person and introverted as I mentioned from the beginning. So it’s not my nature to speak in front of a lot of people, I am quiet in my family as well and I am comfortable. In the meetings in the company, I am not the one who talks much, I rather listen first and talk later. I learn to pitch and speak by practicing, by putting myself on the battlefield. I created opportunities for myself to learn and to grow. English is not my strength either. I pitched on stage in Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan. I presented our startup to visitors at exhibitions in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Paris, London. I applied to some competitions and pitched before judges. I learned by doing.

Besides that, in some situations, I have to go to a 1–1 meeting with someone to have a hard conversation that it’s not easy for me. I can’t hide my emotion because of my personality, so I try to control my emotion by breathing and let the person in the room know that I have an emotional issue before the meeting starts. It’s fair for him or her to know that in the meeting I may have some expressions but it’s not because I have an emotion with him or her, it’s my emotion for a problem that we’re dealing with.

Writing is an important skill that I think every leader should have. I am not good at writing at all but I have to do it because of my responsibility. I have to write an email for a client or a partner, I have to write an important announcement for the company, I have to write a monthly report for investors, or I have to write a meeting minute for my team. My writing skill for different contexts is sharpened little by little and it helps me a lot.

Today, I write for myself which I have been doing for more than 2 years. What’s next for the next 10 years? I don’t know it yet.

Good sleep, 22 September 2021.



My Christian life journey. Personal stories. Thoughts.

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