Establish your “Four Pillars” that allow you to align with the business directions you want to go. By looking at my past career, I identified the things that made me happy and driven, which became my four pillars. Every new project I take on now has to meet these four pillars.
Name: Vincent Nguyen
Business Name: The Nguyen Solutions
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Describe your business:
The Nguyen Solutions is a Data4Good analytics consultancy that bridges the gap between the Private and Public Sector with a specific focus on Intergovernmental Organizations.
I specialize in analyzing and interpreting high-level data to enable strategic decision-making, expand organizational capabilities, optimize performance, and enact positive, long-term change.
Tell us about your self-employment journey.
During my military career serving in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, I realized that big data had become an evolving complex issue for many organizations.
I also discovered that my personality type lent itself to providing a different angle on how to project manage this data for change. I’m a creative visionary and “Campaigner” (ENFP), so I bring a lot of positive energy and an entrepreneurial mindset that leads to big ideas, collaborative conclusions, and innovative opportunities.
I decided to embark on a self-employment journey, with a mission to help global organizations translate data to ignite profound organizational changes.
Throughout my journey, I realized I needed to align both my professional and personal values in order to feel the most in-tune with my clients.
Today, my consultancy projects need to match my four pillars:
- Data Analytics
- International Scope
- Organizational Development
- Capacity Builder
At this time, my niche deals with environmental security and intelligence: bridging the gap between data4good organizations and capacity-building with global government entities. My consultancy medium term goals will be to expand Capacity building into coaching, mentoring, and training in data analytics for Good.
As a certified U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard Instructor and Curriculum developer, I realized my clients don’t just need a project manager to come in and fix/translate a data problem; they want long term change in their organizations using these data stories to evolve their training programs and eventually policy and culture.
What area of your business are you most passionate about?
Finding and cleaning data is like a therapist getting to the bottom of an issue with a patient. I love seeing that “aha” moment with clients when the story clicks, or when you repurpose their data in a way that inspires change in an organization.
I served in cryptology and intelligence for most of my career, and realized that intel is just data analytics. You find the data, clean and organize it, write the story behind it, and find a champion to market and promote it.
I find the most joy bringing data to light through storytelling and breaking barriers in organizations. I did this in my international affairs positions which inspired a term I use in my consultancy often: “Here’s to Data Diplomacy.”
What’s the most valuable thing you learned early in your career that has contributed to your success?
No matter how well you clean and organize the data, what matters is how you tell the story and when! Timing is crucial.
How are you pivoting your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
First, I hired a business coach. Working with a career strategist helped me recalibrate myself and my business. Second, I shifted to using digital project management tools like Monday.com to triage my tasks.
Secondly, COVID-19 pushed me to ask myself how I can run my business as a true expat business overseas. I started working with two other veterans in my network doing the same thing. I provide, as Director of Analytics and Partnerships, to this Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), business ideas to support the military and veteran community while taking on small government contracts with a SaaS/AaaS need.
Finally, outside of my four pillars, I still have this as one of my questions when taking on any project: Does your industry or ask have a veteran or military nexus?
Are you part of any freelancer communities? Which ones and how do they support you?
Not yet, but I’m looking for veteran and/or expat and digital nomad freelance communities. I’d also like to be more involved with Bunker Labs, a non-profit that supports veteran-owned businesses.
What’s a recent project that you’ve worked on that you’re really excited about?
Global Fishing Watch (GFW) creates and publicly shares knowledge about human activity at sea to enable fair and sustainable use of our ocean. GFW uses cutting-edge technology to turn big data into actionable information.
I was hired to improve maritime security data-sharing among multiple countries. As GFW’s Government Liaison Officer, I manage an international portfolio of maritime security agencies and help manage, translate, and safeguard global data for good.
In my inaugural year with GFW, I played a pivotal role in securing funding and trust from government and military entities. I’ve also helped GFW evolve their environmental security intelligence and enforcement footprint.
GFW believes that human activity at sea should be common knowledge in order to safeguard the global ocean for the good of all, and I’m proud to support this cause.
What advice would you give other self-employed people?
Establish your own “Four Pillars” that allow you to align with the projects or business directions you want to go with yourself and your team.
When I started my own business, I spread myself thin with projects and investments that took my attention off of what was important to me.
By looking at my past career, I identified the things that made me happy and driven, which became my four pillars. Every new project I take on now has to meet these four pillars.
How has forming an S Corp helped you level up your business?
I’m in my 2nd year as an entrepreneur. Collective has been a great guidance counselor. I’m hoping my 1st tax election year allows me to put my retained earnings (RE), which would have been distributions, to good use for new and interesting projects. I’ve taken RE to look at funding future education/training opportunities as well.