What’s next?

Vu Quan Nguyen
Feb 17 · 3 min read

I’m “only” 34 years old and I’ve been lucky enough to work with several geniuses. You have to be a genius to build a company, to own it and to maintain it and the lives of all the people helpful, forgettable or ungrateful alike. So when most of the founders I’ve worked with were also creative stars, this gives you an idea of the genie I’ve been able to brush shoulders with.

I love working with geniuses. I hate working for geniuses too. Which allows me a good average statement saying I enjoy working along geniuses.

It’s exciting to work with a genius. There is ambition, there is vision, there is an irrepressible desire for better outcomes, and an unlimited amount of projects to tackle. And usually, the objectives are inspiring too. You create a brand here, you help another company to find out its true value, you help good-hearted businesses grow there, you make a mark around the world while based in a country no one expects anything great from. #newvietnam

It’s heartbreaking to work for a genius too. There is euphoria, then there is anxiety. There are moments of awe, then there are moments of confusion. And whether there is a strong and supportive working environment or not may never prevent a breakup.

Cerebral as I may be, my motivation to work with these companies has always been the involvement in culture, from which I derive my own passion. While passion is the most sought-for attribute in a collaborator, it is probably the most underestimated variable when it comes to management. Passion is a great booster of productivity, motivation, but it also becomes poisonous when challenges arise.

I read quite my fair share of management and leadership articles, such as this one recently about work-life balance. But I realized most of the research and experiences shared often come from the traditional corporate environment or its offspring, the young and kicking start-up nation. When you work in grassroots start-ups grown by original and authentic creators, the setup is very different. Management is there a very different discipline, where none of the best practices truly apply — yet. But my point is, in those creative companies, you rely on passion mostly, while corporate jobs will of course crush your soul by purposelessness but also allow you to rationalize and disconnect, ultimately opening a window for health and balance.

I’ve heard my founders (I have a hard time saying bosses) being surprised that I end up exhausted or demotivated. But I understand. We’ve usually built our work relationship on shared passion for a project. I usually put in more thoughts and commitment than expected, and expand beyond my designated area, which leads to self-exhaust. But I don’t have the founder’s fire. When I get exhausted, the flame goes out.

So I am now looking for a way to work passionately, while maintaining the flame.

Two options seem open to consideration:

a) go on my own, and run my personal business, which would give me that missing founder’s flame. The one that lasts and which you can revive regularly as it’s deeply linked to your person and soul

b) find a job, cause and purpose that will carry that fire in me. The one that drives me mad, that keeps me awake at night. The one that makes a durable and hopeful change for this dumpster fire of a world

I think this sums up the complicated answer to a question that sounds simple when I’m now asked by my peers: so VQ, what’s next?

If you run a project that has purpose in ecology or social justice,
If you have a project requiring brand strategy and creative work,

Feel free to contact me at turquoise.va@gmail.com

Find out more about my past experiences on linkedin.

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