This is the one principle that I will strive for my whole life to live with: doing awesome things with awesome people. Interestingly, this principle is best illustrated under another VC (Venture Capital) principle: “Idea is a dozen a dame, only execution counts”. I just have given you the idea that’s worth a dame, now I need to make it more worthy than that.
Time of realization: Early 2014
On Ventures: Board Member of Cloudjet Solutions, Co-Founder of NTS Partners
The risk of adventuring with wrong companions
Partnership is the most complex and luxury thing in life and business. I was in a single business where my team had to kick 2 CEOs and founders out the hard way (along with laying off nearly 200 employees and replacing and turning-over more than 10 middle managers – from Chief Accountant to deputy CEOs in 3 years), buy-out another 2 CEOs and founders out through diplomatic way (along with divesting at least 2 subsidiaries with 3 factories), terminate partnership with our most prominent ally, and keep the single remaining partner in check. I was not the chief conductor – but I was there in the management cabinet and lived with the ups and the downs and the negotiation deadlocks and the game-changing events. Cash was always low and we did not have room to do anything awkward – every event happened pushed the company to a dead threat and the situation called for an audacious leadership with all bold and correct actions. I hope you stop here for a moment, reread those lines, and feel how intense the situation was. And I tell you one simple thing: if we had known in advance all of these things, we would never step into that business in the first place. Those fights destroy your trust in the people so bad that when you get over it, you will realize that reliable partners can be the hardest asset you have ever had.
So, the hard question will be: Who are those awesome people?
The harder question is: What is awesome?
And the hardest question is: Why do we need to have “awesome things” to tag along with “awesome people”?
Why we need awesome people to do the awesome things
I have met many interesting people in my life. So many that I hardly remember half of them and a third of the talents I have seen. To me, awesomeness doesn’t start with handsome or talent or both. Awesomeness starts with a meaningful cause. An awesome person starts with a meaningful personal mission. The mission serves a cause that is so meaningful to the person that the person can just do it for free and try to solve the problem without too much care about the reward. That’s the righteous in the focus: solving the problem, not to suck the cash out of you and gain power over you. That’s also the righteous in the approach: build a company/organization to solve a social problem and strive to be the best in the game he plays, not to seek for a short-term cash and stuck in a mediocre business years in and years out. Awesome people were born twice, the day they were born and the day they realize they have a mission(s) to solve – the second event is more important: that is where the game begins for each of them. Awesome people think about the problem and their journey so much that they seems to have all of the answers, see it from all of the angles, know every thing happen around it from the next cities to the next countries. He has a vision. He is in control all of the time. He knows who is critical in his journey and he will try to approach them, convince them to believe in his vision. He sharpens his skills and his knowledge continuously as he knows he need to be good enough to tackle the issue at hand and to lead his army. So you see, he – the awesome person – needs to serve a meaningful cause. Sooner or later he will find out awesome solutions. Else, if he doesn’t serve for anything, he will only be an interesting person but not awesome. The question what you are serving for is one of the hardest questions to answer. Finding the ones is even harder because among the monkeys who have already started wandering around thinking, only a vital few knows clearly why.
From survive to live
Henry A. Kissinger once said: “While we should never give up our principles, we must also realize that we cannot maintain our principles unless we survive.” The Survival Lesson is critical because if we don’t survive, other lessons are worthless. This lesson lets me know what’s the difference between survive and live: survival lesson teaches me how to defend, this lesson teaches me to reach out and take the hit. Besides, this principle is also among the hardest principle to live on as it does not only serve on the external side, it also pushes us to ask some very difficult questions to ourselves: what truly matters to you? what do you want to bring to the world? And I believe that when we start to answer those questions ourselves, it will be when the game begins.
12:12 AM – Mar 27th 2014, Da Nang City, Vietnam