Tuesday 6 February 2007

Be the First to Do

A very important thing we must know when we choose business as our career is that we MUST always be the pioneer. In a real market economy (I say “real”, or a market economy in the true sense of this word), being the first in doing something means we are the winner.

Skimming through the list of successful leaders and businessmen in Vietnam in the recent two decades, we will see that most of them are the first to go in for their realm, thus the first to gain a firm foothold in it.

Nguyn Trn Bt – the first to establish an investment consultancy firm. He was also the first Vietnamese to take US investors back to Vietnam.
Cao Quý B
– the first to launch commercial magazines
ng Gia Bình – the first to introduce PCs to Vietnamese consumers (please, set aside the fact that he was the son-in-law of General Giap)
Đào H
ng Tuyn
- the first to trade in tourist sites
Thang Đ
c Thng
– the first to launch a Vietnamese online newspaper
Võ Văn Ph
ước – the first to publish books on TOEFL and informatics

and so on. Hopefully this list of “the first to do something” will be prolonged and someday include the name of some of us.

It’s unneccessary to explain why the first person to do something are most likely to be the winner. The thing of concern to me is what one can do to be the first.

The prerequisite, or the crucial condition for this, is one’s talent, of course.

The second most important condition is one’s knowledge in the form of information.

Talent and information together will create visionary minds that can discover market gaps.

Information must be of extreme importance today. I can hardly imagine a genius of our time living in Mù Căng Chi or some remote area. Unlike the 19th century, our 21st century will see scarcely any genius born into a poor family and growing up in a destitute and backward land like Nghe An. (Please do not get me wrong, I don’t say it as to offend any person coming from Nghe An; I don’t have much of that sort of prejudice.)

To get information in an untransparent place, you are certainly required to have good contacts with those who own information. This means you can’t avoid hanging around with people of the upper strata, and this is often an impossible mission for people of the lower classes. Today success will only come to those with a large and “high-quality” network of social contacts.

However, information ranks behind talent in the set of criteria for success in business. I still believe that a real genius can take off from a relatively low level (but not from an extremely low level and never from a zero point. Even Bill Gates, with his inborn IQ of over 170, would not have been who he is now if he had been born in the countryside of Uganda, bearing a name like Tala Jurika Altalichili or something like that, totally unaware of the presence of a thing called computer and the needs of its potential users.)

In the next post I will focus on my reservations about this "law" of being the first.

Next post: more on this subject