Linda Nguyen is the COO of SOUPPLY, a modern premium phở bowl in one convenient, elevated package simply prepared for anyone to enjoy any time, any place — an essential for people with demanding lives. Prior to that, Linda was VP of Community Relations at 360 Clinic, the largest COVID-19 testing operator in Orange County with 40+ locations. She strives to cultivate relationships with various organizations and partner agencies to foster collaborative opportunities to serve the community.
Linda is also the Executive Director of the Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center and is in the fundraising stage to get the center built. She is passionate about giving back and devotes her time to support small businesses and our youth, serving on the board of the National Association of Asian American Professionals Orange County (NAAAP-OC) in addition to serving as Chair of Charitable Giving for Southern California Vietnamese Golf Alliance (SoCal VGA). She is a past Board Member of the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce (VACOC) and Asian Business Association of Orange County (ABAOC) along with serving as past Ambassador for Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County (FACCOC). She currently serves as a mentor to high school students in Girls Inc. Orange County and Orange County United Way’s Youth Career Connections programs by providing them internship opportunities as well as preparing them to enter their first year of college.
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Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Linda Nguyen: At the start of the pandemic, I made the transition from healthcare into the role of COO to launch SOUPPLY, a CPG product. At the same time, I assumed the role of Executive Director of the Dalai Lama Library & Learning Center to lead a $5M public fundraising campaign to get the center built in Ithaca, NY. A couple of months into the pandemic while juggling both start-up projects, I was part of the team that helped start 360 Clinic – the largest COVID-19 testing operator in Orange County with 40+ locations – handling Branding, Marketing, PR, and Community Relations. Meanwhile, I continued my volunteer work in the local community along with starting up a youth golf program for Southern California Vietnamese Golf Alliance (SoCal VGA) in partnership with First Tee OC. As COVID-19 bases began to decline in early 2021, I returned to focus on launching SOUPPLY and the fundraising campaign for the Dalai Lama Library & Learning Center.
Was there somebody in your life that inspired you to take that specific journey with your business?
Linda Nguyen: I’ve been extremely fortunate to have great community leaders in my network – Tam Nguyen, Sonny Nguyen, Steve Jones – who have taken a chance on me by giving me an abundance of new projects to delve into. Starting with non-profit work, I was given the opportunity to share my capabilities and strengths. From there, business opportunities arose.
My business partners Gary Nguyen and Jayce Yenson have been extremely supportive in giving me the freedom to build a team to grow SOUPPLY while remaining in the background to steer me in the right direction should I veer off the path. They continue to provide guidance by filling in the gaps where I lack experience.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Linda Nguyen: The biggest mistake is not outsourcing and trying to do it all in an effort to save money. Time is limited and we’re all given the same 24 hours in a day. It’s easier to scale by hiring experts in their industry as they can perform the same task more efficiently and effectively. Focus on cultivating your strengths and hire those who can supplement your weaknesses. This allows you to work on your business and not in your business.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Linda Nguyen: Resilience is like a rubber band. When stretched to capacity with challenges to overcome, we must eventually snap back to reality and learn the lessons that were taught from the obstacles so that we are better prepared to overcome the next round of adversities. There are always two options – drown in your sorrows until you reach a breaking point of no return or ease the tension by immediately reflecting on the mistakes made and then picking yourself back up to move forward.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Linda Nguyen: Company culture and commitment to its mission, values, and purpose. We must make a consistent effort to evaluate our responsibilities towards our team, our customers, our vendors, and our partners. When what we practice inside and outside the company does not align with what we promise, success is stifled.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Linda Nguyen: Leading by example. This includes doing things I don’t necessarily enjoy on some occasions. I do my best to understand how to perform a task before delegating so I know how to guide my team back on course when needed and to understand how much work goes into executing a particular assignment.
Self-awareness. I admit when I don’t know something and ask my team to do the same so we can bring in a fresh set of eyes to help fill a void and provide a new perspective.
Flexibility. I’m always ready to change course when something doesn’t go according to plan. I’ll reassess the issue and determine a new path. Business is ever-changing and I need to prepare my team for bumps in the road without feeling defeated.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Linda Nguyen: Everything matters. Be mindful of personal posts on social media and how it reflects upon your professional branding. Have several headshots handy as different media outlets will require a different tone of voice – professional, fun, casual. And don’t be hesitant of self-promotion. Share your accomplishments yet don’t be arrogant.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Linda Nguyen: I gravitate towards democratic leadership within a team of self-starters and motivators. I like the idea of including my team in decision-making and asking their opinion so I can see a different viewpoint. After delegating a task and providing minimal direction,I give my team room to execute the way they feel comfortable while I remain available for any questions and to provide general feedback. This allows them to be creative and unlocks their full potential. I enjoy developing my team and sharing information that helps them grow personally and professionally.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Linda Nguyen: Take some business management courses and read some books on entrepreneurship to see if it’s right for you. Many times people have a completely wrong idea of what entrepreneurship entails. They forget about the operational aspect including HR, payroll, and accounting as well as sales. I often hear business owners saying that don’t get to do what they enjoy and put their talents to use as they’re inundated with running the business.
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Linda Nguyen: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” by Shirley Chisholm.
Create your own opportunities by contributing your ideas and showing others what you’re capable of achieving. And if they’re not open to your input, then you’re not in the right place and with the right people who are willing to help you grow.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Linda Nguyen for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Linda Nguyen or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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