What’s the secret to doing your best work?

Ha Nguyen
Spero Ventures
Published in
3 min readJun 26, 2020


Photo credit: Kristina Flour

Recently, someone said to me, “You’re always smiling, full of energy, and ready to do your best — are you doing some kind of special meditation or regimen? What’s your secret?”

She was convinced that I was following some extraordinary ritual. But even though I do meditate, that’s not the main thing I do that keeps me smiling and becoming the best person I can be. The real secret is the people I choose to surround myself with. I intentionally look for people who, just by being around, fill me with energy and joy and inspire me to do my best.

One of the first examples that comes to mind is my former boss from Oodle, Craig Donato. He was not only a great boss, but he also became a mentor and a friend to me, someone who could always make me feel optimistic and inspired. When I was working with him, I always felt excited to get to work and do my best. It almost felt like his energy and drive transferred over to me.

Thinking about this, I asked myself, “What is it that Craig has? What characteristics roll into that je ne sais quoi?”

After brainstorming a bit, I made this as a guide for myself, to clarify and better understand the kind of people I’ve learned to keep around and the traits I love about them. I’m sharing it here with you in case it’s helpful.

A few weeks ago, I decided to email Craig. The email was to simply thank him for being someone who was always positive and energetic around the team every day, which made going to work joyful. I let him know that he was one of the most positive people I’d ever had the privilege of working for, and he made the team better by embodying those qualities.

To my surprise, I found myself getting sentimental and misty-eyed while writing this email, and just expressing these feelings brought me joy. Then, when he got back to me, he basically noted that the feeling was mutual and expressed gratitude in return. That felt great. Sometimes, such a simple exchange of appreciation can make everyone’s day.

How about you? Who do you know who brings out the best in you? Do me this favor. Reach out to them and thank them for being in your life! Tell them what they mean to you. This is something you can do to bring energy and positivity to others, giving back what you’ve received.

At Spero, the team and I try to make this the norm. From the team we hire to the founders we invest in, we look to surround ourselves with people who give us energy. They bring out the best in us and everyone around them.

If you surround yourself with positive, energetic people in your life — your spouse/ life partner, your friends, your coworkers, your network — I promise you that you will do your best work.

You will radiate joy and you will lift people up. When people ask me why I’m such a happy person or how I’m able to do as much as I do, I tell them the answer is quite simple: it’s all about the people I surround myself with, who give me joy and bring out the best in me.

I encourage you to seek these people out in your life. And if you are that person and we haven’t met yet, let’s get acquainted. 😄



Ha Nguyen
Spero Ventures

Ha is currently a Partner at Spero Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm investing in the things that make life worth living.