In The Spotlight: Anh Thu Nguyen, Founder Of ThreeSixtySkills
Contributed by Anh Thu Nguyen* June 9, 2016
Not only did she leave the comfort of her well-paid job, she left her country to seek growth and move beyond the familiar. When Anh Thu Nguyen left Switzerland for Singapore she didn’t speak much English and now she runs a successful business, hosts workshops, and has her own book coming out!
Anh is a shining example of how you reap the benefits of hard work, and how leaving your comfort zone shows you that there is so much more to life than building security. It’s impossible to read this Spotlight Interview without being inspired!
Tell us about you and your business/career, and what you were doing before?
I’m a digital business coach and professional trainer. I founded ThreeSixtySkills Pte Ltd to help entrepreneurial women make full use of their potential and to support them in starting their own purpose-driven portable business.
I come from the Italian part of Switzerland, where I was born and raised. There, I was training and doing research on the use of technology to enhance learning. Learning is something that has always fascinated me, as has technology, and I wanted to combine these passions into my work. Things haven’t changed since then: when I started my own company in Singapore, I was motivated by the desire to do meaningful work, because I absolutely couldn’t stand the idea of spending my life doing a job I disliked.
To me, work is not a duty; it’s an expression of our creativity, who we are, and what we are capable of. And it’s our contribution to the world. Now that I am an entrepreneur, I really am doing the job I have always dreamed about. The most amazing moments are when I see my coaching clients having breakthroughs. When I see them enthusiastic, confident, tuned in to their own vision and getting the results they have always wanted, I know that I’m living my mission and fulfilling my vision, too.
I deeply believe that if more people were doing a job they truly love, a job that taps into their talents and passions and makes them feel fulfilled and alive, the world would be a happier place.
Your Dream Job Might Not Be So Dreamy After All
A year before moving to Singapore, I got a promotion and a permanent contract at the company I was working for. Fighting for a secure job was something I had always been taught to do, so I was over the moon about it. But after a few months in the new role (which didn’t really have anything to do with learning and development), I realized it wasn’t the job I’d been dreaming of.
I soon started to feel empty and alone. I felt that the new job wasn’t allowing me to express myself or my passions. My enthusiasm was waning. I felt trapped in a professional environment that I had pursued with all my strength, but that was now preventing me from living a meaningful life.
In the meantime, I met my current partner, who at that time was already living in Singapore. We started a long-distance relationship, which wasn’t easy at all. After a while, I ruled out the idea of continuing in this situation indefinitely, and considered moving, but I was afraid of losing my familiar lifestyle and routine in Switzerland.
On the one hand, I had a secure job and a great salary. On the other, I had my long-distance relationship and … who knew what else? The idea of moving to Singapore really scared me! I didn’t know anybody there, I couldn’t speak much English and I had no clear idea of what I would be able to do. Starting again from scratch seemed like a huge effort, as well as a pain in the neck.
However, I didn’t want to act like a victim, so I decided to do something concrete. I found a coach who helped me make the transition smoother and reinvent my career abroad. As you’ve already guessed, in the end I decided to move to Singapore. The choice wasn’t easy though. To make it I had to thoroughly analyse my personal values and what I considered important in life, as well as identifying my true dream.
In May 2014, I found myself at the airport with a one-way ticket to Singapore. Once here, I began working on my English and continuing my journey of self-improvement – reading, experimenting, testing, training, taking courses on specific topics, throwing myself into meeting people and filling the gaps in my knowledge where necessary.
If today I’m able to do a job I really love, it’s only because of that decision to take a leap of faith and follow my heart. Of course, I was very scared – wouldn’t it be strange if I weren’t? But, deep inside, I knew that if I didn’t take this chance I would regret it for the rest of my life.
What I learned from this experience is that in life there will always be difficulties, fears, and uncertainties. But we always have the ability and the responsibility to decide how to react. If we decide to just be a victim, our lives won’t get any better. Many of the negative beliefs that are holding us back are nothing but … beliefs in our head! When we open ourselves up to new possibilities and we act to create the reality we want, things start to change and magic can happen!
To the people who are struggling with making a decision (in life, career, or whatever), I suggest reconnecting with your heart and really listening to what it tells you. Imagine: if a miracle were to happen, who would you want to be in three, five or ten years’ time? How would you like your life to be? When you get a clear vision of what is important and you know that it’s the right thing for you, you’ll find the strength to face your excuses and to do something concrete to change your reality. You don’t need to move mountains or seas; you just need to take small steps, one after another. That’s how change happens.
Overcoming Entrepreneurial Challenges
My biggest challenge as an entrepreneur is dealing with many ideas and projects, and finding a way to organize my time optimally. I do that by prioritizing and delegating.
In terms of prioritizing, I now plan the upcoming months in advance and I carefully schedule my weeks and days. At the end of each month, I measure my progress and update my goals for the next one. I constantly look at what has gone well previously and what can be improved for the future.
As for delegating, I have a virtual assistant who helps me with regular tasks that don’t really require my creativity (social media management, graphics, etc.). I also have other freelancers who help me now and then, as needed.
The main point is that I moved from (only) working IN my business to working ON it, too. When I started, I believed that the busier I was, the better. (Sub-consciously, I was replicating a nine-to-five mindset.) Now I’m still working hard, but I recognize what is important and what is less important, so that I can focus on my primary goals and get things done.
Do This Before Starting Your Own Business
I would take business courses earlier. I’m not talking about doing an MBA – I would learn about marketing and how to make the business work better.
At the beginning, I was convinced that all I needed was to have great skills and be good at what I do (meaning training and coaching). I soon discovered that I needed much more than that. Being a good executor is useful, but it’s not enough. You also need to be an entrepreneur (have ideas, visions, creativity), as well as a manager (be able to control, schedule, manage).
Moreover, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to create, as well as whose needs you really want to fulfil with your services or products. When I started out, I just wanted to get on track very quickly and I didn’t take enough time to reflect on these aspects. That caused me to spend a lot of time doing things that weren’t always useful for my business.
If you know the direction you want your business to take, if you are clear on the vision and the mission you want to achieve, you’ll be able to say NO to all those “opportunities” that, in reality, are only making you waste time and focus. And you’ll be able to prioritize better.
Master The Art Of Life With Anh
Download the FREE preview of “Master the Art of Life”. You’ll learn the 7-step strategy for transforming your dreams into reality and start shaping your life positively.
Begin the journey to become the hero of your life!
Visit Anh’s page to find out more
Edited by Nedda Chaplin
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