Family traditions are what society is built on. Our heritages, beliefs, and cultural traditions provide purpose and belonging to each of us throughout the world. These traditions, when intertwined with business can become challenging, as each person has unique personalities and with that unique goals and interests.
Just as I see myself a citizen of Vietnam and a global citizen, I believe you can have co-existing identities and that they don’t need to be in conflict. In the example given, both identities give meaning to my life and help me fulfill my personal and professional mission with greater success.
I was thirteen years old when my father converted the Bến Thành Brewery Beverage Factory into Tân Hiệp Phát, later re-named the THP group. I grew up in the shadow of that transition. The company is an inseparable part of our family’s DNA, and the second generation remains as committed to it today as the first generation was in the 1990s when my parents started building it up. They worked ’round the clock’ then. We all still do now.
It was not long before I began my own journey to support them, followed by my younger sister, Bích. However, our decision to follow in the foot-steps of our parents has not sacrificed our ability to be unique individuals and contributors within the family business. The same can be said of any family business with the involvement of family members from different generations and backgrounds. Consider the following as your family seeks to adhere to its traditions and values while embracing individuality:
- Establish core values and beliefs. Core values are established to recognize the priorities of a family and business. These values, which can manifest themselves in a mission and vision – create an expectation for family members. These are often guiding principles that family members have grown up with and recognize as important to the family’s culture. It’s possible to exercise these values while being your own person.
- Welcome new ideas and open communication. My father is not interested in “yes” people. One of his favorite ripostes is telling people that, “If you agree with me all the time, then one of us is unnecessary.” He wants us to respect his vision, but he also wants us to express our opinions if we feel there is a better way to execute it. This allows everyone to have individual opinions, ideas and contributions.
- Look beyond your borders. Encourage family members to travel and look beyond the borders of their county, state, country and/or continent. Whether through education, business or pleasure, encourage family members to explore beyond what you call “home.” Doing so opens and expands your horizons and allows you to add more value to your relationships and to the business.
- Embrace each other’s strengths. Each family member will have skills and talents that are specific to their interests and experience. It is in the business’ best interest to leverage those passions and strengths for the betterment of the organization. In addition, allowing family members to contribute in ways that are personal and satisfying to them will motivate them to give their best to the business.
THP has always been a part of my life. I lived there as a child, was once an employee, later a manager, and today, deputy CEO. Since then, I have strived to be a worthy successor to my parents by learning how to be a manager, while living and teaching THP’s core values. It has been a work in progress all along the way; however, in each step I have recognized the importance of my family’s, while becoming my own person.