Canadian geek in Myanmar

Tag: Vietnam

Lessons from my Dad: Vietnam War veteran, refugee, awesome human being

Today marks the fifth anniversary of my father’s death so of course he’s been on my mind all day.  My dad was an incredible man – he grew up poor in Vietnam then our family came into some wealth before losing everything in the Vietnam War.  On the surface, our story is like so many others who survived the war and fled the ensuing punishments after the fall of Saigon and while I could write a whole novel about our escape and early days in Canada, that’s not what I’m thinking of right now.

Today I’ve been missing my dad and reflecting on what an incredible man he was and everything that he taught me.  This is a man who for all intents and purposes lost everything but picked up the pieces and kept going.  Not only did he make a new life in a country that was half way around the world where he did not speak the language nor understand the customs, he did it with a wife, three young children under the age of 5 and three siblings all in their teen years.  He raised five children who by any standard are successful. We are all educated, financially secure and (mostly) sane. Not one criminal record in sight.

But the part that I’m most grateful for is that my dad absolutely insisted upon his girls being educated and career-oriented.  Let’s be clear here, he was an Asian man of a certain generation so this was seriously bucking the trend. Throughout my life I heard people tell my parents that they shouldn’t allow me to read so much, be so educated, be so career focused, etc because no man was going to want me.  Not only did my dad ignore all that foolishness, he staunchly stood in the way of match-making efforts or anything else that would have distracted me from my ambitions and for that I will be eternally grateful.  I don’t know if I would be the same person I am today if my dad were different but I do know that the road I chose would have been astronomically more difficult.

My dad continues to be my role model when it comes to overcoming obstacles and adversity and coming through the other side as a happy, kind and generous human being.  He set a great example for me as I go through the startup madness. Yes, I can build something from nothing. Yes, I should stop listening to the negative voices around me who tell me to follow the crowd. Yes, I can pick myself up again and keep going when I hit a bump – or when someone knocks me down. Most of all, he taught me that just plain old hard work can overcome a hell of a lot of barriers.

Thank you Dad. I love you and I miss you.

My new test for evaluating a digital agency

During my days at EA I used to get agencies reaching out to me on a weekly basis to ask for meetings where they could pitch their expertise.

One of the first questions I used to ask was, what’s your Twitter handle? It was amazing to me how many of these digital shops didn’t have their own Twitter accounts but claimed they could grow my considerable communities exponentially. There was one notable meeting where a social media agency was claiming they could get me up to 5k followers (!), ignoring the fact that I already had over 60k followers by that point. Clearly they did their homework 🙂

For those of us who build product, it’s called eating your own dogfood. Meaning you do what you want to charge others for, which these agencies clearly were not doing. They were dismissed out of hand.

Nowadays, Twitter is much more common and isn’t much of a test so I’ve got a new one. In two minutes you can see if your digital agency/partner knows what they are doing or if they are full of hooey.

Mobile site
This seems like such a no brainer. Everyone in the world has been talking about the importance of mobile for a number of years now. Everyone knows you need a mobile strategy and everyone is scrambling to create apps and have a mobile presence. And yet, it seems to me like everyone in Vietnam is ignoring the lowest hanging fruit. Your mobile website.

I did a quick search of the biggest ‘digital agencies’ in Vietnam and not one of them has a site that is mobile friendly! One of my favorite digital agencies from my EA days is Mekanism.com. Check out their site from a mobile browser and you will see that it’s streamlined for this platform. Now take a moment to look at the mobile site of whatever partner you are trusting with your digital campaign. See?

Forget apps for now
There’s been a lot of discussions and arguments in whether or not you need to build a native app. While I think every company is different and needs to decide that based on a deeper analysis of the business, there’s absolutely no reason why your current website isn’t mobile friendly. If the site is built properly in the first place (from the back end) then it’s a minor investment to make sure that your site is rendering properly on a mobile browser. And I don’t just mean that the site loads. Make sure that the links and navigation are clickable, the content is readable and site is easy to navigate.

Check your stats
If you have an analytics tool like Google Analytics, you can quickly check to see how much of your traffic is and was coming from a mobile browser. I would place money that the trend is swinging upwards, and rather rapidly. This is the right investment! Stop distracting yourself with whether it not you need an app yet.

Controlled customer journey
One of the reasons I’m so passionate about mobile sites is that, unlike an app, you can manage the consumer real time, the same way you would with your website. Hell, you can mostly use the same tools to ensure optimization!

It’s time to start asking yourself if you are making the right investments in your online marketing initiatives…and if you have the right partners to take you into the new digital era.