Major expat mistakes in Asia: business, money and more...
Now... 10 years ago, we didn't have to do that. That's an interesting thing. 10 years ago, when customers were coming in, I was just kind of like, so what do you want? Just need to deliver. What do you want? You want some of this? You want some of the service, right.
Okay. That confidence. Now I'm just like, okay. Hi. Hello. I'm dealing. Oh. Oh. Is that what you want? Okay. I'm here to do it. Yes.
But before I was like, so what's up? What's up? Hey, guys, welcome to this new video. Today, I have a special invite on the channel, someone who has been living for 10 years or more than 10 years actually in Vietnam. Maybe you recognize his face. So his name is Yevato. Thank you for accepting my invitation to come to share about your expatriation journey and also your entrepreneurship journey, because we've been running business in Vietnam with the up and down.
So I hope to this video, you can illustrate a little bit what people don't say publicly about doing business in Vietnam and how we can have some struggle and we have to recover after having trouble. Okay. Thank you. It's an honor to be here. And, I mean, thank you. Thank you for inviting me. I really appreciate it. Yeah.
I mean, I've been living here for 11 years now. A lot of my life has been documented. If you can go back to my videos, it starts, like seven or 8 years ago, I think. And I think Vietnam is a great place to live.
There are many perks. There are many adventures here. There are many pleasures, many good things about Vietnam. There are a lot of topics that we can cover. But I think the first thing that I want to talk about is moving from my middle class existence in California and coming here to Vietnam and what that transition was like.
And it's really it's a really interesting topic. I think that when I first came here as a middle class person living in California, near when I first came here, I thought I was special. Do you know what I'm talking about? It's like it's like when you're coming from a developed country to an emerging developing economy, and at first you may feel this sense of that you're nothing special or perhaps develop. And it's really embarrassing. But actually, that can hurt you, because once you kind of have that mindset that complacency inside of your head, you're not really moving forward as a human being. And so, you know, in America, I might be among people who have, you know, many accomplishments.
They can be economic or whatever. Once I came here, I thought that I was perhaps a notch above the locals here. And what that did was that really hurt me in the long term because I didn't really do anything to better myself.
And I think that's one of the traps that you guys can anyone can avoid. It was very pleasant for me. Like my coming here, I discovered that the prices were really low and that I can live much more comfortably.
However, there are certain things that can perhaps poison you. There are vices here. I won't get into what they are.
But just use your imagination. There are vices here. And there are people who may live on the cheap but are abusing themselves, abusing their Bank account, do devices that are available here. That's one thing that you really want to stay away from. I think when you come here, it takes a good two to 3 years to know what this place is about. You know, it's like your first year, your second year.
You're still in that stage of discovery. And for me, I think after four years of living here, that's when I just kind of like, click. Okay. Alright.
So I understand my place in this society. I understand where I need to go from this point on. The thing about this society, we call it an emerging market. We call it a developing market. It gets more sophisticated every year.
It's amazing. It's like when we talk about culture in the developed world, it just kind of plateaued. Everything is the same.
You're just adding on different technologies, different cultural amendments, if you will. Here. It's that times 10 every year. And then, for instance, let me give you an example. When I first came here, no one was using credit cards. Now people are not only using credit cards, but they're using like, you know, barcodes and all kinds of things that are not being utilized in the States.
Yeah. And a lot of the things that the previous generation who might know about the generation that was 10 years ago and the generation now, the generation now is much more educated, healthier have access to the Internet. And, you know, the the generation 10 years of previous and the generation now they're completely different.
You guys, you guys have to really keep that in mind. I'm just like you guys. Before I actually came here, I watched all the Oliver Stone movies and Vietnam movies and that had an imprint in my mind. And while some of those situations are true, Vietnam is nothing like that. This is a high paced this society values technology.
There's a lot of wealth here. Sophistication culture, beauty and danger. Anyway, a good kind of illustration at all. How is the summary of your life for the last 10 years? Can we maybe focus a bit now about your entrepreneurship story? Because we didn't share so much on YouTube about what was your journey or running an English Center at a pretty kind of early stage, I would say here. You kind of surf a certain trend.
Can you share about how was that entrepreneurs project you had he done for sure. Yeah, I would love to talk about that. Okay. So for me, I would consider myself a professional teacher and that is where the bulk of my earnings come from. And as a professional teacher, you just kind of have to find your segment who you're going to cater to. For me, I focus on the Korean community. Actually, you're kind of limiting yourself when you do that, by the way, because by not focusing on the large Vietnamese community and focusing on a smaller segment, there are dangers with that.
You can't really scale it. But but it's interesting because for one, the Korean community here, they're here for about three years. And then you have another generation of Creek people coming here. So for me, what I do is instead of teaching English, I take the more academic route. So there's a Korean community here that's looking for, you know, scholars, people with PhDs, people who can teach physics, Sciences, chemistry. A lot of the Korean who are here, they've already been exposed to to the whole English Academy.
The education. Hey, guys, my name is Bob. They've done that before. They don't need that here. They need someone who can help them with chemistry. The classic.
That's the segment that I serve. How much do I get paid? Right now? I teach students literature, because that's what you know, many of the Korean students are attending international schools, American international schools, Australian international schools. And they need help not with the English, necessarily, but with the whole literature aspect. You know, they need a they need to understand the concept of existentialism. And what that's about.
That's about, you know, they they want to understand what Albert Camus, The Stranger is really about. They're writing theses papers in high school about these topics and I get paid fifty dollars an hour. That is the fifty dollars an hour. If you're teaching English, if you're going to the person's house to teach English for Eilts, a lot of the tests out there, you would be getting paid about twenty five dollars an hour. However, you may want to position yourself to be doing the fifty dollars an hour.
However there is. You have to be able to deliver the results. So, for instance, if you're being paid fifty dollars an hour, you have to sort of guarantee that by the end of the term, the student achieves a score that he or she is satisfied with.
Now, this is the way I work. Now, previously, I had a center in which I had, you know, at one time 40, 50 students at a time. They were Korean. You had young kids that I was willing to do anything. I would have I would have a teacher, I would be teaching.
And I would just at this point, there was a lot of traffic going in and out. And I had a building in which I had to pay the rent. I had to pay the teachers, pay the cleaning lady, pay the electricity, what you would consider a traditional English center academy. However, I find that the sort of business modules are not, are not, are not, are kind of outdated. Now, people don't necessarily are looking for these types of services anymore. They don't want the building with the pretty you know, with the pretty logo.
I think for the segment that I serve, they just want results. They just want results and they just want someone who knows what he's doing. And that means that we could just work out of a Starbucks. And so, you know, if I'll tell you about one one segment of the population, you know, they can be attending an international school and taking a foreign language such as Chinese or French. How but there are many different curriculums for French and Chinese.
You have a level IGCC or IB, but you really need to know this curriculum. Like like, yeah, some people can speak Chinese really well. But do you know the IB aspect of the Chinese? That's a really interesting thing. It takes about a year to sort of develop your eyes for what that whole EBX system is about to serve the Korean community. I every weekend I went to Cambodia.
So so OK, let's talk about the profile of the students whom I serve. Most of my students parents are either working for a really big Korean company or they are like factory owners, industrialists in which they're doing shoes, clothes, machines. So I knew that there is that community in Cambodia as well. And I was going there every week in Cambodia to offer the services to my students in Cambodia.
Now, I didn't want to go to Cambodia. At one point I was kind of forced to go to Cambodia because it was so competitive. At one point it was so competitive that I was going to Cambodia to make the money to pay the teachers and pay the rent.
Isn't that a really interesting story? So, you know, the the idea of the the English center with the big building and the pretty logo and the teachers and the t shirts and the and that is probably not your best business model at this point of Ho Chi Minh City's history. The business has changed a lot in which we are using Internet platforms to advertise to get customers. We are using Internet platforms such as Google Classroom to to set up the curriculum. We're using a lot of technology now. It's not necessarily a matter of having a big pretty brick and mortar space. It's it's the education business is really facilitated with technology right now, you know, going back to how it gets more and more competitive here.
Ten years ago, we didn't have people like you. The Westerners tended to be in their fifties and sixties. They were retirees. Sometime around twenty fifteen.
I started seeing younger Western people. The same goes for Koreans. When I first came here in 2010, most I was the youngest.
I was thirty at that time and I was considered like the youngest guy. It was this was this was a place that was not attractive for young people to come to. And then and then that changed about five, maybe four. Four years ago, starting from 2015, 2016, you had a younger faces, people in their 20s and 30s, and then what happened was you had the segment of the population that was older that was here. They kind of moved out of the city and then they started going to the countryside, Laos, Cambodia.
Not to say that young is always better, but just from an economic perspective. Yeah, you guys can make your observations there. The consumers here, the Vietnamese consumers are getting a lot more sophisticated, too. I think there is this sort of thing in Asia in which. Tastes change really fast, like one year, they can be into this one thing, the next year, they don't care about that anymore. I think that's the fast pace of Asia.
And I've seen that in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, even China. They're kind of into one thing right now. It's dogs, a lot of people into dogs. Last year it something else. Next year, they might not care about dogs anymore.
And then you're going to have like many dogs without owners. So this was also a case for the education perspective. Like, you cannot be able to self expand when you have plenty of students as well as different location was we were teaching and delivering your teaching classes. And after a point, there were different factors coming, different component that can kill success. There are so many different actors. But if I had to sort of laid out in a simple way, there's more competition, more Koreans like me coming in to serve the Korean community and with more competition, it just there's more competition every year.
I just it's just I could see it. I can smell. I could see that, you know, new people coming in to serve the community with their services. But so so every year I have to adapt myself so that my service is getting stronger and stronger and stronger.
And you have to make a conscious you have to make these conscious efforts to to get your game up. You just have to do that just to survive, just to survive here. But I think for the world, coming to Vietnam has become a more and more attractive thing. I don't know, maybe after the whole covid thing is over, how many people are oh, my gosh, I want to go to China on this grand trip. You know, I don't know.
Maybe that's you don't have those people, you know, where will those people go? OK, what's next? So I don't want to go to China anymore, but I want to explore the East. You know, probably Vietnam's going to be on top of the list. Yeah. So, one, if I can lay it out in simple terms, more competition to the consumers are getting more and more sophisticated. So so as time goes on, let's talk about a French restaurant that's serving the Vietnamese community every year.
It has to get better. And so, you know, when you first came here and when you had French cuisine, you probably argue that's not bad. Now, you know, the French food that you have now, I'm sure, is just as good as the food that you have back home.
It's it's it's one of those things like if you can't deliver a service that is good, you know, you're it's going to hurt you in the competition. Yeah. So consumers are becoming more sophisticated. Number two is the competition. I think that's about it. As long as you can adapt and evolve so that your services are becoming better for the consumer.
And I think really it's a really important part of becoming better. The progress is. Is the whole empathy aspect of if if this person if I were this person, what is this person going to want? And to be constantly thinking about that day and night, what does this person want? How do I make this person happy? Now, 10 years ago, we didn't have to do that. That's interesting. Ten years ago, when customers were coming in, I was just kind of like, so what do you want to just deliver? And then what do you want? You want some of this? You want some of the service, right? OK, the confidence now I'm just like, OK, hi. Hello. Really. Oh. Oh is that what you want.
OK, I'm here to do it. Yes. But before I was like, so what's up, what's up. You know, but now I'm just like, oh yes. Oh yeah we got that.
OK, how do I keep this guy. How do I keep this guy. Don't quit. Don't quit. Keep on doing it with me. You know, it's sort of a shift. But actually it's interesting to note that with the more sophisticated services, the prices have gone up. So right now, 50, some people are saying that, you know, in two years I can probably get 70.
I think these are how markets develop. And then and then from that, you you kind of find your positioning with within the market. You narrow your audience and not really your services.
So going deep in the direction of providing this value added that normally you don't do that with all the scope that you are currently providing and increasing the value for the student. Then in the end you're earning, I think, the the good direction you are. Yeah, I actually. Right how you're living here, you know, a lot of expats come here. The whole ironic thing is, OK, you have people who go to Australia. Right.
As temporary workers. Right. And they get out get out of Australia with money in their hands. This is a country in which people come in with money.
And it's really interesting. It's like they leave with like zero in because again, you have a lot of temptation and as well as business, I mean, if you want to start something is not easy. Yeah. You either need to find a partner, which also you have this dilemma of should I know is a local should I do things by my own.
Yeah, right. And then in the end of the day, as you say, competition is rising. Consumer is getting more and more aware about what they can find in the West, what they what they what they expect here as well, probably. And as a business owner, just to finish on that, he's not only accused of hiding, having the good idea.
Yeah. It's also how you can operate on a day to day basis. I can acquire sales, knowledge, marketing, really leverage what you can provide and kind of can you get, let's say now what could be your your your piece of advice you would share to yourself ten years ago, maybe not to commit some mistake or maybe to take better decision on the business and on the personal life. Yeah.
One, I would have saved my money. It's like discipline. When I first came here, I had no discipline because I was like, huh, I'll never go hungry.
And I just started spending. This is like it's really weird because in in California, I just knew what my limits were and I would maintain my expenses here. I was just under the impression that things are just cheaper and then suddenly my wallet just opens to do, oh, just do it. Whatever that habit, it's always individual.
It's not this country that that that instilled a bad habit to me. It was me. So that at that time, ten years ago, I was entering six figures at the age of thirty. And so I thought I was like, you know, I thought I was special. But anyways, I should have saved my money at that time because like I said, you know, when you're when you're an entrepreneur, you know, the tomorrow what tomorrow is going to be these are unpredictable. So I should have saved my money.
Number two, you got to live like a local here. No more expensive cheeses. You can just eat the whole grilled cheese, no more imported wine, drink the drink the local wine, cook at home. OK, what it really boils down to is being in control of your finances and you can dine out and spend one hundred dollars, two hundred dollars easily here. But you don't want to do that.
You want to cook at home. You you want to embrace yourself with a community that is has value. You want to embrace yourself in a community here that is positive minded and educated. You don't want to you don't want to surround yourself with people who have escaped from something. You must be able to provide value within the society, and you're you want to sort of you are not here to take in all of the pleasures that this country can provide for you.
That's a part of it. Don't get me wrong. That is a big part of that. But you don't want to. You don't want to. Your mindset should not be one hundred percent pleasure.
It should not be that you need to work and be disciplined. Yeah. Yeah. Those are the lessons that I think I may have missed out on. And then those lessons I didn't follow.
And that's why I experienced a great downfall about four, five years ago. OK, OK. I guess the lesson on the entrepreneurial aspect as well as the easy temptation we can get, we can fully Indonesia, especially when we come from the West. Everything is new, everything is beautiful, and we need to kind of keep that little voice inside saying we can still have fun, you can see enjoy. But we also have to be more like preparing stuff and for the for the for the more holiday that may come when they want less. Well, for the audience, my partner right now really grounded me and I find that, you know, that was really if if I did not find my partner, I think I would still be kind of, I don't know, know the movie Apocalypse Now of Baby swinging the whiskey very well.
But yeah, I was doing push ups and listening to the doors and, you know, with a cigaret in my mouth, I don't I think I think my partner grounded me and, you know, she was more much more mature that there is an age gap difference. But but she was more mature than I am. So you don't want to find someone who is as immature as you. You might want to find someone who can balance you out, have a partner who can balance you out. And, you know, that is going to be a good addition to who you are, not someone who's going to drag you down if you're the type of person who drags yourself down in the first place.
You know, because I have a lot of, you know, imperfections and and you want to find someone who can, you know, elevate you. Yeah. So that's that's what I want to give my partner right now full credit for taking me out of this whole nonsense in my head. Is it religion I'm outof? Yeah, religion is really important. I think.
I thinkyeah. Religion is really important because you want to keep yourself grounded. You don't want to become too crazy. The whole aspect of faith and justice, being cool to people, being healthy, not abusing your body, not abusing your mind and living a just a balanced life is a really important aspect of just life in general, not just Vietnam, but just living in general, I think.
Yeah. OK, thanks for the sharing that something coming from deep inside I think. Good that you able to share this for the channel. You can check into the description. You will.
I will lead the linkov of the channel. So if you want to have a look to have a piece, you'll need to get in on what he was showing before. And probably another video we're going to make on his schedule. No doubt your life in two thousand twenty one. How was Vietnam for for like this special year in Vietnam? Now you can have a look in the description.
OK, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you. And thank you. Thank you.