Good morning, Vietnam! How a whole nation can be a start-up

I just came back from my mid-year break. A few years ago, I decided that taking some time off in the middle of the year is critical. Otherwise, you get to about September and are just that little bit angry.


I am, anyway.


So, I spent about 10 days in Vietnam and it was a really interesting experience from a start-up point of view.


Vietnam struck me as the country equivalent of a start-up business.


There was just an energy and enthusiasm about the place that is typical of a start-up company.


On every corner, new buildings were being built. The roads were jammed with people on motorbikes with their daily quota of goods to sell between their legs and precariously tethered to their backs.


Everyone was busy building the future. You could really sense a thirst for taking advantage of the opportunities economic development will bring.


Like a start-up, there were also lots of rough edges. There was manic traffic. Some officials at the airport could do with a lesson on how to have a sense of humour. So on and so on.


But that’s what you get when you are learning by doing. There isn’t the luxury of having a 10-year strategic plan. Today’s problem is solved with today’s solution. Better today is superior to perfect tomorrow.


You come away with a real sense that if you go back to Vietnam in five years’ time, the country will be unrecognisable.


There will be a plethora of new high-rise buildings. The street vendors will be replaced by a growing army of professionals in offices.


It’s an exciting place. The people are hungry for development.


I’m not going to bemoan why Australia isn’t more like a Vietnam, with its palpable energy and a greater focus on the future rather than a preoccupation with entitlement.


I’m not a politician.


It was just interesting to feel that energy and enthusiasm and to recognise that whole countries, not just corporations, can be in start-up mode.


I hope to bring a little bit of that passion and deep belief in the possible back with me.


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