All They Care is Your Money?

If you’re tired of crowded, hasty and noisy city life, and you want to forget about it for just a while, a club could be one of the choices of entertainment created within the city. Why not a book? Sometimes reading book is too serious to entertain yourself with. Just sometimes.

I have a friend named Hieu, which is pronounced like ‘Hugh’. I’ve known him since we were in university. We studied at the same one in Saigon. After graduation, I just hardly have time to meet him, but it’s fun and interesting to know the things and places he shows for entertainment.

That night, he and I and two other guys met and we agreed that we wanted to go to some coffeeshop or somewhere to drink. He said it was ok if we left the job for him. He added, ‘let me show y’all a new coffeeshop’. A new one? That sounded great.

Two of us went on a motorbike. He took my friend on his bike and I took his on mine, and he showed us the way to get there. He led us to a small alley which I went through long before. The street was in a sucking condition, and we had to turn left and right and left and right so many times. The ride became a bumping experience. When we just got to more even part of the alley, he suddenly turned left and stopped on the right.

The guys in front of the business gave us a parking receipt for each of the motorbikes. When we got closer to the entry, I noticed that it didn’t look like a coffeeshop at all. One of the security guards gave us a bow and asked how many we were. Man, how could he ask such a question? Didn’t he see there were only four of us in front of him? Another thought came into my mind right after that is that he would wanted to make sure and be nice to us. They’re big guys and we’re small. That was kind of weird and ridiculous of them to do that.

When we got in, tables and chairs were in something like a dance floor. “Oh man, this is not a coffeeshop at all. Where are we now? it’s in a club right?” I asked Hieu. He said he had no idea about it and he just noticed it one day and wanted to try a new place now. You know what? He didn’t understand what I’ve just said. I just mean this was a great idea. Why didn’t he do this a bit earlier? Lol.

I’ve learned in my past experience with the clubs in town and some others in the outskirts that there are just a few good ones and the rest are just shameful imitation with a bad, buzzing sound system and stone age dance music downloaded from some free music websites.

We ordered Heineken and they brought us the beer with extra peanuts and a kind of dried food made from cheese. I didn’t know what the food was and the waitress told me the story about the cheese stuff. There were lots of people standing around us but I didn’t think they’re the ones like us. She explained that it was just not late enough for the customers to come and enjoy. Oh, so they all were just waiters and waitresses. It was just fine as we could spend some time drinking, eating, yelling to one another, because that was just what we needed to do to talk to the others, and enjoyed the music.

The music being played was awesome with the support from the DJ standing opposite me. When I wanted a smoke and finished lighting it, I saw the guy holding a lighter already there for me. That was a amazing. Hieu’s friend wanted to do the lighting himself, but I supposed having some support for it was cool and brand new. It was just like you owned higher authority for others to respect, just because of one reason – we were their customers. Two of the waitresses came closer to our table and they seemed to be there for us to start the conversations with. Having somebody to talk with was good under the influence of the loud music and cold air. That’s just right to the people from the tropical countries. I just love the yelling part of the conversation. Lol. Some of the guys in front looked serious and uncomfortable due to the new environment. They just didn’t know how to relieve themselves and adjust to the atmosphere there. I was wondering who aimed the guns or knives at their backs and kindly invited them to come here.

When we finished our first beers, the waiters squeezed the beer cans. I thought they didn’t need to do that because we knew they were empty already, but maybe they wanted other colleagues to know that. The girl came and told me that we can have a beer for free if we order five. We had a discussion as two of us didn’t want to drink more. Finally, we decided to have four more. Though we could have drink more without the two, that would look bad. Anyway, we could drink eight and just had to pay seven.

Time just went by so quickly and more customers were coming in. It was hotter here with the crowd, cool air, music, smoke and sight though the conversations sounded basic and senseless. But who cared? It was just fun and relaxing. In the end, three of us stood up and join the dance and the other guy just couldn’t stand anymore as he said he would fall down if he did. He confessed to me that he loved it, everything in there.

Some can say something like ‘ they just care about your money, man’.  ‘If you would like to do something like what they did to get people put their money into your pocket, that’s surely the lesson you need to take’ would be my reply.


Why do You Study a Language?

If you ever meet a foreigner face to face and you feel the inspiration of talking or listening to them, what would you do if you don’t know their language or they don’t know yours? Nothing would happen between y’all but a smile or look. Then you find yourselves left with no reasons to be there anymore.

How would you feel if you hear a hello in your language and vice versa? The invisible wall between you disappeared. It’s a fresh brandnew alien impression you’ve got inside.

Then you might ask me a question like “why do I need to study their language?” Well, you can come up as many reasons as you wish with your imagination.

Your work or business will be bettered.
Many people like to work in other country because they like to travel. They love to see things and people that they’ve never done before and speak and listen to a new language.

Or they find themselves obliged to do so, maybe because there’re less jobs in their country in such a depression like which we’re in right now. Just the percentage is lower in the alien nation. The ability to communicate with their colleagues in their language will be welcomed more strongly, friendly and warmly. Sitting at certain corner in the office would look not very cool.

With the search for less expensive investment a businessowner can make, some nation in South East Asia may be favored. The businessman’s native language competence could save him from faux interpretation as well as misunderstanding occurred during meetings due to cultural differences. Do you think you wouldn’t lose money if you give a clear and understandable directions and then recognize that everything goes wrong? Who to blame? That translator can go home, and you’re there in an ocean of mistery and doubt. Hiring another one only can’t help the case.

You can have thousands of reasons not to do something. Learning a foreign language is not an exception. You have your decision to make.

Next time if you meet me in Vietnam, which of these willl you use to stop me?
(1) “Hi”,
(2) “Hi” and “Xin chao”,
(3) “Xin chao”

Follow the Trend!

Like most Asians, Vietnamese like drinking tea everywhere and in most situations. After eating your meal in a restaurant or even in a tiny diner, you can order a glass of ice tea. At some food places, you can get one for free. And if you love going to the coffeeshops, you could have your free ice tea before, during and after you get your drink. That’s just the case when you’re in Saigon.

Vietnamese from the North of the country are proud of green tea. However, you would have no idea about what kind of tea you are drinking although you can recognize their distinguished tastes after you’ve tried some. Besides, most people just don’t care about that. Although not many people think tea is a cheap drink, they didn’t really look at it as something special. Yes, tea was just a normal drink.

Tan Hiep Phat Joint Stock Beverage Company, which located in Binh Duong Province about an hour by taxi or scooter from Saigon, created and launched its now famous kind of energy drink with the brand “Number One”. Inspite, its fame now is not as high as it once was, “Number One” helped Tan Hiep Phat feel more confident to show off its new strength of competition in beverage industry with the present of the two giants Pepsi and Coca Cola.

With some repeated commercials on some national and local newspapers and television stations, Tan Hiep Phat developed a revolutionary brand for the brandnew beverage in Vietnam – bottled green tea “zero degree”. The company has recognized and took good use of Vietnamese favorite taste and way of catering and drinking – all fresh. Zero Degree’s told to be made from fresh and original green tea, and the story’s spread very rapidly. Freezing Degree sales have been made as quickly and much as water falls down from the waterfall.

The two giants Pepsi and Coca Cola become outsiders in this green tea revolution. Maybe they would have no ideas what the heck green tea is and how to make it, or they might think it doesn’t worth their attendance into the market, or they must have tried and failed with this local type of drink. Vietnamese beverage businesses could have become smarter and more sneaky to be able to survive in the foreign domination in their own country’s market. Tan Hiep Phat is one of them.

Others couldn’t stand the fact of being observers and the temptation to be in the game. With the same story of green tea, they changed some of its part and tried to market their own tea drink in a slightly different way with the hope that consumers would give a bit of their attention and pockets for it. All fell; just one can stand the hard time. The green tea C2 has showed up in the marketplace with sweeter taste and less expensive price and, of course, with its different bottle design and labeling. Nowadays, when you come to a coffeeshop, restaurant or grocery store, you could see more people wanting to buy C2 along with Zero Degree. And I’m sure that we could hardly remember or notice the name of the business making C2.

Not being the first and biggest in the market doesn’t necessarily mean that you can not survive, make a good profit and become noticeable and dominant provided that you come up with a brandnew, prosper, punctual and distinguished product or service like a purple cow “natural” green tea Zero Degree in the forests of normal cows soft drinks described by Seth Godin in his marketing books.

Deloitte Consultancy’s Interpretor Did a Good Job as an Actor!

Last Wednesday, I attended a seminar on Retailing at New World Hotel in District 1, Saigon. I came there after lunch and some of the audience left, so I have opportunities to choose where to sit. I was seated myself at the last row next to the translation booth, which is at the right corner of the auditorium. That was the first time I’ve ever witnessed a conference interpretation, so it took me a while to figure out what were happening.

There we had people who could speak and understand either Vietnamese or English, and not many of them afford the knowledge about both languages. The first speaker talked about branding a retail business along with some other marketing tactics. I noticed that the Vietnamese audience had to take the translation headphones on, because they knew that they needed translation and had an expert in the translation booth to do that for them. Perhaps there was no major problems with the interpretation because all of them were busy listening to it.

Right before an English speaker from Deloitte Company started to speak, there appeared another guy at his right hand. It took me some of the first paragraphs of their speech to know that the audience didn’t need to wear their translation headphones on, and so the interpretor in the booth had a long rest thank to the help of the assistant of the company.

The assistant must have tried a lot to make sure that he spoke right after the company’s speaker finished every of his paragraph. He was there to help the company with the interpretation for the speech, so that was his job to back up the English lecture with Vietnamese interpretation.

Many people there would say thank you to him. The audience could overcome the language hindrances and more importantly the interpretor didn’t need to work at the meantime. Everyone seemed happy with his help out of the interpretation.

This assistant guy could really help the rare number of attendants who can understand both English and Vietnamese not with his interpretation but with his professional acting. Within his acting, he didn’t need to interprete exactly the words the English speaker was using to express what he meant. He didn’t need to convey the meanings of the speech either. Really! Believe me or not, he was coming up an entire different imaginative script for his own play. He might have brought to the seminar all the things he’s listened in some of his macro and micro economics, socio-economics and some philosophy classes. He should have made up some of his own fairy tales and decided to entertain everyone to save them from the boring monotoneous afternoon.

The interpretor in the booth should shut up because he benefited a lot from the Deloitte’s assistant. He shouldn’t complain when he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing thank to the assistant’s play.

The audience at the time had their lullaby already. Their ears felts so good and entertaining from the play that the couldn’t say anything about that.

They English speaking speakers didn’t have to say a word about the Deloitte’s Assistant’s Vietnamese interpretation, because it was really a hard job for them to listen and understand the language of a developing small country located in South East Asia though they were in that country to talk to its people and some of them have been doing business there for about fifteen months. They don’t need to understand the language because they can pay someone who can do that for them. Deloitte should have employed just a Vietnamese speaking guy at some street corner in Saigon to cut down the payroll and get more entertainment. Maybe a guy from the street has more tricks to tell.

The remaining people in the seminar, who can understand English and Vietnamese shouldn’t comment about the assistant’s acting because otherwise they could never have a chance to enjoy such a successful acting.

At the end of the English businessman running Deloitte Consultancy, there was a big applause for its assistant’s contribution.

And everyone continued with the next speech as if they had a really good interpretation.

Do You Miss “Saigon Red”?

Do you still remember the time when you were in Saigon Vietnam? Do you still remember when we sat and drank Saigon Red Beer and ate rare-boiled seafood like snail, shell, oyster or eggs of some kind of small poultry on the walkway of one of the streets or alleys in Tan Binh District, Saigon.

There’re so many reasons for each of us to have been here in Saigon, Vietnam. We just once wanted to earn a living here or save us from some maybe worse consequence of being bankrupcy after being trapped with one of our business deal or event. The costs of living here are perhaps okay enough and the number of chances to recover over here is big enough for us to feel a bit relaxed from the downturn of our lives.

With or without our recognition, there have existed some of our memorable experiences with some coffeeshops, night clubs, awesome or awful seafood and beer places and some other brands like “Saigon Red Beer” that bring us up here to where we wouldn’t need them anymore. There exist some brands that are part of our lives at present or in the past, like our blood and flesh.

Can we really build one of those brands for other people when we’re there to help them thru the ups and downs of their lives? It’s stayed there just for them even when they don’t need it anymore. It’s still there when they once wanted it because it’s just a drinking experience helping them forget and remember what they want to?

Is your brand good enough to be there for them once they may want it just one more time though how expensive it is?

Yes, but…

Imagine that you’re being interviewed for what you’ve done and not done up till how old you are now. You’re being shown the video of your life and asked questions.

At a Toy Shop
My parents said that we didn’t have enough money for that, and it was too expensive.

Yes, but I didn’t have money and I couldn’t decide to buy what I liked to.

At the High School Graduation Ceremony
I don’t know. My parents said that it’s good and other people said the same things about it. You know, it’s close to my home so it didn’t take me much time.

I have no ideas about that.

Actually, it was just so so, and I don’t think I like it very much. Sometimes I didn’t know why I needed to be here. I just went to school every day like other kids.

At the University Graduation Ceremony
It’s said that I can find a good job with high salary if I graduated from some major about economics or business.

I’m not sure. The companies don’t employ the new graduates to be their managers. They can hire some B.A with years of sales experience, but I don’t know how to sell things and it’s a hard job. And why the hell does a B.A need to do sales? I have to be a manager cos I’m a B.A, man.

At Your Wedding Party
She’s a beautiful and hardworking. She knows how to take care of the family – my mom said that. Her parents are kind, and my parents know hers. They’re good friends.

You don’t need to love any girl before getting married with her. Just marry her and you’ll love her and she’ll love you too at some time or other.

At a Party
You know, I got a high paid job. Everyone in the company respects me. My family said that it’s a good company to work for, and it gives me a stable life.

You know… doing business is risky and you need to have a lot of money and experience. You have to pay the rental, water, power, internet and all kinds of bills and also taxes. You need to have money to buy equipment stuffs. And you need to have your ads on some popular newspaper like The Youth, but it’s expensive to post your ads there. And you also have to pay the workers and other allowances for them. The global economy is going down, and it’s not wise to jump into business now. My wife said that she doesn’t want to risk her and the kids’ future. She told me just keep the stable job with high salary and forget about my impractical dreams and stuffs.

At Your Eighty Year Old Anniversary
I don’t think I’ve ever had any one like that. Life is hard and I’ve felt like I’m destined to do what I’ve done

Mine? It’s selfish to care about your dreams only. You also have your accountabilities and responsibilities for your family. Though I haven’t done anything for my dreams, I’ve taken care of my family. So, it’s obvious that my kids must take care of my dreams. I want them to be doctors and engineers. I’ve dreamed of my ideal restaurant I’ve longed to have and the flavors and tastes of all kinds of dishes to serve. But I have to take care of my kids’ education and careers, and they’ll think it’s fair for them to take care of my dream.

Of course yes, man. You started to annoy me already. You’ve asked me a lot of questions. Now leave me alone!


Missing Part of My Life

It’s been years since I started that dream in me. I’ve wanted to do business. I’ve read so many books and taken so many kinds of jobs to know more about every necessary aspect about business.

I sat eight hours a day to learn how to make good translation. I hate sitting in front of the computer when I don’t like to. Now I can do translation in some major fields.

I spent at least four hours a day under the sun to ride around the city to make sales. I had to ride about 37.5 miles a day to go to the cosmetics shops to sell cosmetics to them.

I stayed in a woodwork factory about five hours a day to do interpretation and learn how to manage the workers with their work. The workers there didn’t like to be supervised but I needed to do my job.

At the same time, after working for that factory I had to do a completely different job, teaching English to people of all ages – from a kid to an elderly. They can make you crazy if you don’t know how to deal with them. I didn’t care much about teaching because that’s what I can do, but dealing with various kinds of people almost killed me some times. But now I can deal with people a little bit better.

Most of the comments I’ve got on what I’ve done are partly positive and partly negative. I don’t like the negative, but I don’t know when they would stop their critics on me and my work. I started to ignore them once, then turned into listening to all off them, favorable and unfavorable. So now I can learn a lot from them – the good and bad things about so many things and people. I can take good use of what’re good for me and my dreams and ignore the rest including what’re bad and nonsense.

Sometimes I felt like losing my direction, but I know I’ve tried to find my ways to my dreams, doing business and learning languages.