Daydreaming is easy, reality is difficult. Only things that are closely related to everyday life and can be practically applied can truly develop sustainably.
― Nguyen Thi Minh Dang
Author of Thien Viet Nam, Chairwoman & CEO Koro.love
The pinnacle of business is THIEN (Zen), and the pinnacle of THIEN is business.
Only when an entrepreneur no longer confuses themselves with their EGO, can they see clearly and possess the necessary qualities to create a sustainable and successful business. To build a human-centered business, we must start by cultivating individuals who live for themselves. When employees love and take responsibility for themselves, focus on goals, and are not dominated by their EGO, the business will thrive, families will be happy, and society will also develop.
Doing business to solve human problems.
Many people think that education is necessary to solve human problems, but Minh Dang thinks that doing business can actually help with this.
From a young age, Minh Dang has always been a top-performing student in her class, school, city, province, and country. She also actively participated in various movements, starting as a young member of the school’s youth union and later joining the school or student association.
As a student, Minh Dang always found ways to develop herself and become a better version of herself. Despite being an excellent student, she still felt like she didn’t understand herself, didn’t know what she wanted, and didn’t know which university to choose.
Minh Dang took a bus from Bien Hoa to HCMC to seek advice from a counseling center on which major to choose and was advised to take the entrance exam for the University of Technology. She didn’t feel it was the right fit and eventually decided to enroll in the University of Foreign Trade because it had the highest admission score, hoping that the university would help solve her problems. But by the third year, Minh Dang also felt that this was not the place that would help solve her problem.
The specific problem here is that besides understanding the profession or knowledge, each of us needs to understand ourselves, know what we want (different from what society wants us to do or desires imported from outside). In addition, we also need the ability to realize our desires, in order to have a successful and happy life.
She decided to be a pioneer and find solutions to her problems. After researching, Minh Dang realized that to solve her own problems and human problems in general, she had to become an entrepreneur. She founded her first company, IMAS, while still in her third year of college in 2010. After five years of operation, IMAS achieved some successful milestones with large customers. IMAS is a member of the board of directors of Go Group, the largest independent PR network in Asia. But Minh Dang understood that the company had reached its limit. It might be a good company, but it couldn’t be a great one, and she still hadn’t found a solution to her own problems and human problems in general.
Self-development is the key to success.
If you want to solve the human resources problem (the most headache-inducing issue in every business), the leader themselves must solve their own problems first, and then the personnel problem will be solved on its own.
Minh Dang understood that if she could not lead herself, she could not lead others. Her new journey began with suspending operations with IMAS and attending the full-time meditation program (or the Self-Leadership program of Proself Spiritual Management and Consulting Joint Stock Company) at the end of 2015.
Minh Dang spent two years diligently working on this program at Proself and ultimately found a solution to the human resources problem in business by focusing on developing her leadership abilities. This key to success for entrepreneurs and startup investors allowed her to solve her own problem and achieve her goal.
In addition to participating in the Vietnam Zen program, Minh Dang also attended a Business Leadership training course organized by Proself. Among the more than 100 attendees, she was the only one to receive the philosophy of “Investing and Starting Up in Light” of this training course. Therefore, in 2017, immediately after the end of the program, Minh Dang was invited to join the leadership team and become the Chairwoman & CEO of Proself, where she not only solved her own problems but also restarted IMAS with a more suitable and effective strategy. Not stopping there, Minh Dang and her new colleagues also founded Proself Angel, an angel investment group that can help startups and investors reduce the failure rate (in 2022, Proself Angel was honored as one of the top 10 innovative organizations awarded by the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City).
Doing business is customer benefit
There is no separation between business and charity. Many people want to earn a lot of money and then do charity at the end of their lives. Because they think there is a separation. When doing business is itself a form of charity, it also brings value to customers. There is no separation.
In 2019, when providing marketing services for water filtration products to a customer, Minh Dang and her colleagues at IMAS discovered an issue in the market that both sellers and buyers were lacking knowledge about drinking water filtration products. This led to consumers not only losing money on the wrong product but also drinking contaminated water without knowing it.
Knowing about the issue meant they couldn’t ignore it. To get the best product, collaboration is needed from all stages including production, distribution, sales, and marketing. After completing the contract with the partner, Minh Dang and his colleagues decided to invest in establishing Koro company to help customers avoid buying the wrong water filtration product and prevent them from losing money and endangering their health. To ensure the quality of the water filtration products, she contacted leading water filtration equipment manufacturers such as Pentair USA and Atlas Filtri Italy and proposed to become their official distributor in the Vietnam market.
Moreover, with the awareness that water filtration products are health products rather than ordinary household products, Minh Dang invested in a Lab to provide free water testing for her customers.
Water filtration is like medicine for water. Each type of medicine has the ability to treat different diseases. No medicine is a panacea that can cure all diseases. Therefore, doctors will prescribe medicine depending on the specific disease. Similarly, in water filtration, each type of water filtration equipment has the ability to filter out different pollutants. There is no water filtration equipment that can filter out all pollutants to produce clean water. Therefore, the appropriate filtration equipment should be installed based on the pollution level of the water source to produce water that meets the requirements.
The Lab that Minh Dang invested in for Koro is a place to examine the health of water, providing a basis for Koro to give advice and solutions to each customer’s water source. Not stopping there, Minh Dang also invested in scientific research at Koro company. With over 100 different scientific research projects on magnetic water, Minh Dang and her colleagues have enough foundation to research and invent a magnetic water generator that can transform and revive the valuable natural properties of hexagonal structured water rich in magnetic energy. This type of water is recognized by many scientists as having the potential to increase the body’s health and fight diseases if consumed regularly.
The passion of Minh Dang
Selling is just like teaching Thien (Zen). They are both two-way win-win exchanges between two parties. The buyer receives a product or an idea, while the seller receives money or a change in the buyer.
In every person, there are two groups of choices that one must make: what one likes and what one needs. What one likes reflects one’s deep-seated desires. What one needs satisfies one’s own needs. When buying things, consumers have two options: buying things they like and buying things they need.
Typically, consumers like to be treated like gods. They like to hear sweet words whispered in their ears, in line with their desires, easy to believe in the promises and commitments of marketers, sellers, because they satisfy their dreams, fulfill their desires… and give them a feeling of being a winner.
What consumers fear most when buying is that the seller will achieve their sales goals, that they will be the ones to lose when making a purchase, that they will feel wrong, stupid or that others will see them as foolish. They fear having to change their shopping habits, or being different from others when shopping. For these reasons, people tend to focus on how to escape their fears and satisfy their desires when shopping, rather than considering buying in a way that benefits themselves.
Unscrupulous salespeople know these fears and desires of consumers, and they exploit them to sell their products. They are willing to make promises and commitments to satisfy the desires, dreams, and fantasies of customers, willing to make customers feel like gods and winners when buying to achieve the ultimate goal of selling their products to their customers. But the products they sell may not be suitable for the needs of the customers, and may even be of poor quality.
Marketing experts have concluded that every consumer has a worldview that influences the product they want to buy. They advise salespeople to build stories around that worldview. These stories will make consumers listen and can lead them to deceive themselves because it satisfies their desires. Once consumers believe, even if it is a lie, they do not want to see it as wrong, and they do not want someone to show them that they are wrong.
Minh Dang knows these things very well, but she does not follow that advice because she thinks that it is unfair to her customers. Moreover, she wants every consumer to know the truth when shopping and to buy what they need, not just what they like or want. Minh Dang’s business philosophy is to benefit her customers.