Vietnam is truly a challenging experience for me. The day I left my advertising career in Manila, I do believe that there are a lot of hurdles ahead. It scared me at first because I have no idea how it feels to work in Vietnam. I do heard a lot of funny and challenging stories from my friends who have been working in Saigon for quite a few years. I can’t relate to their stories back then but being here for more than three months made me fully understood what they meant when they narrated their stories few months ago. My everyday life here is a roller coaster ride, anything goes.
Life is anything goes here in Vietnam but not when I’m in my office. I was mentioning about hurdles, and the first major barrier I encountered was their language. I don’t know how to deal at it first and it gave me several headaches almost everyday. I have people under me who cannot speak English and cannot understand English. How about that? And unfortunately I lost one Art Director whom I didn't approve the probation because of his negative attitude and can't speak English. Then I also had a designer who disappeared out of the blue maybe because I asked her to do key visuals. I think she didn't understand it. Anyway, I don't get it too either. Account Managers usually help me in translating the message but most of the time it’s not accurate.
There are a lot of funny anecdotes about my day-to-day work. Every time I encounter one, I’d tell myself “I want to blog this!” So let me cite one example. Whenever we had a meeting or presentation the language medium is always Vietnamese because few people can speak and understand the English language. Maybe you guys are wondering what I felt then, I felt like a friggin’ flower Vase! I was just smiling and nodding with whatever topic they are having in that discussion.
So presentations, long meetings and discussions often give me headaches. But as days go by, I manage to get used to it. Just like now, I am currently having my FGD and the consumer are all Vietnamese. Sitting next to me is the Account Manager translating the consumers reaction. Actually the system of work I have now turns to be an exciting adventure.
In terms of the people under me, often times they are stubborn. Most locals have this “cannot” attitude. A couple of instances I asked them a very easy task and they often give me the word “cannot.” So as I learn there language I’d always say “can!” The people and the system of work here are very different from what I am used to in my advertising life in Manila. In Manila everything is possible. But here, I have to undergo major adjustments. I am starting to get used to some of the things that I think is part of their norms but there are some things that I still have to make an adjustments.
So I am taking things one day at a time. It may take a while to fully adapt to Vietnam’s culture but I am sure I can get there in due time. What I often do to break away from all these hurdles and stressful predicaments, I’ll have my lunch out and perhaps ride a motorbike and meet a friend to share the bits and pieces of my stories. I really need that. Otherwise, it will pile up inside my mind and heart and will explode one day. Then I might give up if that thing happens. So I’m glad to enjoy the ride of my lunch out whenever I can have one.
with my 3D Artist Tin Cong Nguyen
So lemme enjoy this ride and jump on every hurdle. Will keep you posted!