Last week could have gone better. There were Internet problems, wire transfer problems and a more than usual set of small business fires to be extinguished - but throughout the week there were two major issues that helped me to understand my true dyspepsia:
#1) I want to be spending more time with quality, intelligent, dedicated people who are doing their best to be the best at what they do.
#2) I need to be spending more time with people who are being honest with me and in the end, honest with themselves.
And that's what my week boiled down to - two essential problems that I needed to work better through to help me avoid disappointment and associated depression - because when I'm not sleeping well or sleeping too much, I know something is not right.
Issue #1) That I need to be spending more time with passionate, intelligent people who are making a difference in their business - came up in a response to a blog post I did regarding Vietnamese advertising agencies not winning awards. One person actually wrote a response to my post almost defending, and then in the end making excuses for why his agency didn't even bother to enter the industry award shows. "We don't see the point" - he quoted his management as saying. And that made me sad. "Why even try to be better", it said to me. And that I thought was a very sad comment coming from a man who is actually in charge of a creative business here. Other contributors to my feeling along these lines were an old acquaintance in a bar insulting another guy for seemingly no reason, except to maybe make himself feel more superior and another person just chasing small money instead of looking at the bigger picture. Are my standards too high? Or do I just need to be spending more time with people who have similar standards? That seems to be my question.
Issue #2) That I need to be spending more time with people who are honest with me and in the end, honest with themselves - started with a personal relationship last year in which someone had been fabricating almost an entire lifetime for me. The psychological reasons a person would do this are varied and complicated and as of yet, unsolved, but suffice to say it shook my trust - more my trust in myself in being able to feel I could judge people well. A job I was offered recently lasted only two weeks because the people with the business had neglected to write a business plan and obtain the proper licenses to do what they told me they wanted to do. They weren't being honest with themselves and that in-turn caused them to not be honest with me. Should I have seen it? Should I have vetted them better? Yes. But I did my best and gained a new understanding into exactly how unplanned, idealistic and poorly researched people can be when starting a business. Nobody should expect it to be easy, especially if there is a lot of money involved.
So with these two reasons for general unhappiness, I ended a week. But how to solve? Saigon is full of bars but I have found them as of late to be less than inspiring for anything outside of football and girls - so I settled on fish and chips.
Ones favourite foreign meal can take on a special feeling when it comes to hard times and big issues. People call these meals comfort food. And that's exactly what I needed. A meal served as I perceived it, at a proper price and with all the associated accoutrements - this fish & chips, served at Sheridan's Irish Pub in Saigon came with cole slaw and mushy peas, and was plump and fried and exactly what needed - with a Coke to wash it all down. Funny how simple things can wash away larger doubts. Funny how familiarity breeds comfort as opposed to contempt in a foreign land.
The week would end in my meeting Barry - a man who, of all things, builds concrete buildings with a large Vietnamese construction company - not a very creative business at all you might say? But Barry addressed his subject with a passion and professionalism seldom seen in many businesses. He impressed upon me elements of design, engineering, quality and style that only a man at the top of his craft could do. Thank you Barry. I needed to meet a person with that positive attitude at the end of last week.
The following week would bring a truly unprofessional lawyer who would cause me to just scratch my head and say WTF? - but it would also bring an interview with Sandrine Lloquet, a French/Vietnamese visual artist and VJ who brings a more than interesting history and passion to her work. Surrounding ourselves with people who inspire and help us to do better is not always such an easy job. Last week reminded me that it is a job though and one that needs constant tending - something we should never forget.