Advancing the youth’s success with 21st century skills

“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” — Will Smith

I have been traveling around Asia to share my experience, idea, skills and mentoring many young startup. I have been asked many times which skills need to be developed and how to obtain them. As the world is changing so fast, technology like AI, IoT, robot will soon take over many current jobs. What should the youth prepare?

We clearly foresee that entrepreneurship acts as our central comparative advantage. Nothing else can give us the necessary leverage to remain an economic superpower sustainably. It is undeniable that the need of 4Cs including Critical thinking (and problem-solving), Communication, Collaboration and Creativity is a integral part in the global society.

Critical thinking

In fact, a person cannot learn well without thinking well. As I know, graduates in Vietnam specifically or Asia in general are lacking of autonomous learning whereas researching and marshallings are foundation courses of educational system in international colleges and universities. International schoolchildren learn to filter out unnecessary information and choose the reliable one. Yet Vietnamese youth do not have this important skills because of their lazinesses in exploring and thinking leading to being unable to absorb pertinent knowledge and gain fulfillment after graduation. They complain about the Internet-based references are unreliable and misleading. And the reason is that they do not sift data or even estimate resources they had.

In addition, they figure out a problem with irrelevant questions which make others are fed up due to their insufficient thinking well before asking. The process of making such inquisition helps you to deeply understand to problematic aspects that you endure. You want to exercise critical thinking, let ask the questions whenever you discover or discuss new information. Let start with 5W1H: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Such questions regulate your decisions. I definitely underestimate those who are not able to making decision. Even it fail or you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you have not failed, you have learned.

Communication

The ability of communication effectively which means that you communicate what think and feel. You are going to convey clearly a message and inspire someone to do better, good communication helps you to do it. There are several ways to communicate well among individuals throughout face-to-face conversation, digital channels or teamwork. People who get involved in a casual conversation will not grasp your thoughts or ideas properly unless you make an effort to practice communicative skills on a daily basis. In each case, you have to learn how to share information, how to present in public and how to make a request effectively and efficiently.

You sometimes make the same mistakes that you demonstrate excessive information, or you explain ambiguously with unfamiliar words. If you ramble on, your listeners will either tune you out or will be unsure of exactly what you want. A good communication means saying just enough – don’t talk too much or too little. Try to convey your message in as few words as possible. Say what you want clearly and directly.

Collaboration

In 21st century, collaboration is of significant importance among community. We are now living in multi-society where people from different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities. We tend to integrate ourselves into this community to achieve a defined and certain purpose in global society. Therefore, Vietnamese youth should learn collaborative skills in order to work effectively with a particular group of people and lifestyles. You should learn interactive methods and empathy while working in a team to get a higher level of productivity, to share responsibility instead of devolving it to others.
Vietnamese people are woefully inadequate this skills since I assume that they are afraid of taking responsibilities and endeavoring to gain results. They have a preference for being secure and unwilling to take risks. Personally, I properly appreciate those who dare to change and shoulder duties which aim to lead their members and thrive their organization. I consider that they are inspiring leaders, and I always advocate them to become more genius.

Creativity

Creative skills is to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connection between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.

Of course, critical thinking can support people to master creative skills. If you have ideas but do not act on them, you are imaginative but not creative. However, Vietnamese citizens, particularly young people, are not accustomed to innovation. They might be wounded when they demonstrate different ideas from others and get negative judgement. A judgment is just an opinion of someone else, and you should not mind to limit your ability.

It could be a culture of Vietnamese people as they cannot be accepted if they alter something new. They are able to speak up but they keep silence, they want to debut their products to public but they do not, and then still living in imaginative world instead. It is not alive. It is a glimmer. Get your ambition which means to stretch on your own way and be creative in order to compete internationally.

It’s 4Cs that I want to mention to enlighten those who are still get stuck in common issues in my country. When young generation acknowledge the need of 4Cs and master these skills, we will account for the prosperity of Vietnam to be a worth-living place in the world. Are you contributing to be a pivotal part of this development?

Still procrastinating? Start the new day right with a productive mindset

Do you suffer from the so-called symptoms of procrastination? Here are some things you can do to help improve your workflow

Procrastination is a bad habit. It directly affects the success of your career and your life.

The sages of ancient Greece used one word to talk about the state of hesitating or not being sure whether to act or not. They used the term ‘Akrasia’, which basically means procrastination. One of the biggest reasons that prevent young people from succeeding in any endeavour is Akrasia.

To address this problem, you have to understand that you’re suffering from procrastination. Try to overcome it with specific plans.

Are you a procrastinator?

The common ‘symptoms’ of procrastinators are as follows:

  • Lack of motivation. If you’re not working for your goal, you will find some excuse to get rid of the tasks at hand. Without deadlines for completion, all the things you must do will be delayed.
  • Lack of clear objectives. Procrastinators underestimate the difficulty of their job. One cannot visualise how to solve the work to the extent that the tasks remain stagnant. Such people often do not know how to use effective tools such as to-do lists, notes, and reminders, and tend to avoid all unwanted work. Procrastinators often prefer doing things that offer short-term satisfaction than long-term value.
  • Lack of assertiveness. If you cannot decide what to do, you will simply push back decisions and re-schedule tasks for a later time. Procrastinators are often worry about perfection in the way they work, to the extent that nothing gets accomplished.

Rescue yourself from procrastination

Do you suffer from the so-called symptoms of procrastination? Here are some things you can do to help improve your workflow:

  • Make a plan every day. When you have a plan, you need to stick with it and make sure nothing can slip out of your schedule.
  • Take advantage of tools. Use a “to do list” for example. Note down everything you need to do during the whole day. Or, you can try various apps that help you through reminders and task lists, so you don’t miss the important things.
  • Set priorities. You need to know which things need to be resolved first, so you can avoid delaying something you don’t like.
  • Split your projects into smaller tasks. When you divide tasks into smaller ones, you can more easily create a timetable with specific deadlines. Solving these will be easier than vaguely aiming to finish a big project. This way, you can keep track of accomplishments and then reduce the pressure on yourself when you tick off tasks from the list. Set a time limit for each job — this helps you become more willing to finish each task.
  • Reward yourself. You can kick the procrastination habit by incentivising yourself for achievements. It does not have to be expensive or big-ticket. This can involve eating out with friends, a delicious meal, a satisfying drink, or anything that can make you feel comfortable and satisfied. You will become better-motivated this way, and it helps create joy in your work. Still, reaching your goals is, in itself, a great experience.

Life is a river. It never stands still. It always changes, for better or worse. So every day, we must ask ourselves:

Am I looking forward to this new year?
Am I feeling better, happier and more prosperous than last year?
Had I been a better person today than yesterday?
If the answer is “No”, you might need to do things differently to welcome the new year with better perspectives.

7 lessons for young Vietnamese entrepreneurs

You will face a lot of challenges as an entrepreneur; Here are some things that can help you overcome these

Having done many projects – some of which were failed ones while others made considerable progress – I have gained myself a few life lessons that I think would be valuable for young people.

1. Observation

Observation skills are the first thing we need to work on. I am talking about the observation where you learn by watching things happen around you, and you analyse them.

When attending a networking event, how can you tell who is important to approach?

Let us suppose that you want to open a restaurant. Now imagine yourself setting foot in a trashy Pho diner with dirty tables, and the rude staff – would you find yourself feeling annoyed? If not, then, do you think you could operate a good restaurant of your own?

When you observe, you can learn how a lot of things need to be done correctly for setting up a successful startup.

2. Self-discipline

As you launch your startup, there will be no one to supervise you. Hence, you need to plan your schedule carefully, be strict towards yourself to avoid days where you feel like not going to work and oversleeping because you are too tired or, just simply, unmotivated.

When you are the boss, not only do you work for yourself now but you also work directly with your business partners. Being the boss, you have to be an ideal model for your employees to look up to. Especially when you are the one to set up a startup, during its first period, you are expected to deal with and solve all of the unexpected problems. Without discipline, your system will most likely to not run smoothly.

Having a self-disciplined life guarantees you a physically healthy body and a flexible mind. In contrast, an ill body accompanied by a tired mind will prevent you from being productive. Spend at least 30 minutes per day on exercise to get in shape.

A self-disciplined lifestyle helps us have enough energy to face and cope with business challenges.

3. Getting used to rejection

Rejection could come and knock on your door at any time when you invest in a project or found a startup. Back to days when I first started my business, I was turned down at least 30 times before getting my very first client. You must accept the fact of being rejected and take that as a normal part of the process. What needs to be done here is that after every rejection, you figure out the reasons that lie behind it and prevent it from happening in your next attempt.

In order to become a businessman or a businesswoman, bear in mind that you will have to face a lot of bad news coming from many sources: your investors, your staff, customers, and so on. If you let the negative thoughts distract you, you shall waste a large amount of time, nothing will get done, and no lessons will be learnt.

4. Right attitude

There are some problems in younger generation: throwing rocks at people that are better than them; looking down on others’ talents and hard works, and spreading rumors about someone they know nothing about because of envy. You will never can be a better version of yourself if you do things like these.

When you face bad things in life with a positive attitude, you will gain life lessons, which seem to be small and not worth paying attention to but in fact are very valuable.

Humility is a good way to help your soul flourish. Humility helps us fight against greed, braggadocio and narcissism – all of which are cancerous to Vietnamese’s values.

5. Being fluent in at least one foreign language

The world is getting flatter and flatter, and if you do not know its lingua franca, which is considered to be English, then your job opportunities are very limited.

Learning a new language is like working out. In order to be muscular, we have to work out every day. Spend at least 5 minutes to practice your English skills, turn this language into a tool helping you step up in the career ladder.

People who speak English fluently tend to be more confident. According to a survey, a person who knows how to speak English earn 30 per cent more than those with the same job but do not speak English.

6. Daily reading

Vietnamese people read approximately one book a year, stated Mr. Hoang Le, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Publishers Association. Vietnamese people spend only VNĐ 40,000 (US$ 1.76) on books every year, meanwhile an average Chinese person spends VNĐ 200,000 (US$8.80) and people from developed countries spend around VNĐ 4 million (US$176).

Reading is a way for us to gain knowledge, learn skills and experience things for free. Reading could also provide us with a deeper understanding of our jobs, life, better thinking habits and therefore helps us grow. As a result, we are more equipped and become confident when holding conversations, have better control over the way we behave and improve our conflict solving skills.

7. Keeping promises

Young people have to get rid of the bad habit of being late. Try to arrive at least 15 minutes in advance for every kind of meeting.

Once you promise someone something, make sure to do your best to keep your word. I promised to help a Vietnamese French man recruit his team and sort out the red tape and bureaucracy during his first time coming to Vietnam to do business. I tried my hardest to assist him and expected nothing in return. Later on, thanks to him, I met a lot of now very big clients of mine.

So bear in mind the word “trust” and do not let anyone down once they have put their trust in you.