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Exclusive live talk – Pauline Nguyen from Red Lantern

Posted by Emily Tatti on Jul 25, 2016 9:30:00 AM

At our live event last year, we were fortunate enough to have Pauline Nguyen share her inspiring story with us. When she was a child, Pauline escaped Vietnam on a boat. After settling in Australia with her family, she started working in a restaurant before she was even enrolled in school.

Today, her sheer passion and determination have led to many achievements as an entrepreneur and restaurant owner. Along with her brother and husband, she owns Red Lantern, the most awarded Vietnamese restaurant in the world. She also travels the world as a speaker, inspiring others to change their mindset. 

Now, you can hear her story for yourself. Here is her talk in full. It's a must watch for all restaurant owners. 


What have you been up to since our live event last year? I saw that Red Lantern has a fifteen-year anniversary coming up, which must be exciting.

It is exciting, especially in the Sydney dining scene, where it’s all about what’s new and what’s hip. Being in such a fickle industry, it’s a big accomplishment for anyone to be open for that long. It puts us in the top 4% of businesses in the world that have survived for over ten years. I think the biggest reason is because we never forget where we came from and we never forget who we are, and we have an incredible amount of grit.

At the event, you spoke about how important it is to help your employees with their personal growth. Do you have any suggestions to help hospitality businesses out there?

Oh, absolutely. Look, first and foremost, it starts with self-awareness, right? When we better understand ourselves, we can then better understand others; our employees, our customers, our bosses, our friends, our lovers. It all starts with self-awareness, which leads to self-actualization. So many people are still asleep, you know? The human condition is living in error-detection mode and judgment mode. And once we’re aware that this mode is probably most people’s default, we can make adjustments.

I think my favorite part of your speech was what you said about not being afraid to share your story. Do you have any advice for hospitality owners who might want to take the extra step and pen their own book?

I think, with most hospitality owners, it’s all about the customer. And sure, it is all about the customer. But it’s also about the server, and the owners and the establishment’s philosophies. Everyone loves to feel a sense of belonging. So if you can share a story that resonates with people, that will help you acquire and maintain raving fans. And those who can relate to your story will remain loyal to you as well.

Would you recommend hospitality businesses attend Typsy Live in October?

For sure. We haven’t lived like this for a while, but when you’re first starting out, it’s very easy to get caught in the business. And you’ve gotta get out there. You need to connect with other people in the hospitality industry and hear from other professionals. Because we’ve all been there. We’ve done the hard yards, we’ve learnt the lessons, and we don’t want you to make the same mistakes we did. Connections are what give our lives meaning and purpose. So get out there and attend the event because it’s a beautiful space to learn and share.

The theme this year is innovation. What does that mean to you?

Innovation is taking something traditional and changing it up a bit. I think when you speak of innovation to a lot of people, they assume it belongs in the realm of technology or being a futurist in some way, shape or form. But for me it’s about taking the traditional and tweaking it. Thinking differently, disrupting, changing the status quo and just that constant and never-ending evolvement and improvement.

What are you up to next? I saw that you’re working on another book.

It’s currently called Grace Under Fire – The Way of the Spiritual Entrepreneur. And it’s slowly becoming more and more about life hacks. I’m on the road speaking quite a bit these days and picking up lots of new ideas on how to live my life and how to live a better life. I’ll be adding those things to the book as well.


Hear from other inspiring hospitality speakers at the next Typsy Live, which takes place on October 5th at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney. The theme is 'Hospitality Innovation'. You can find out more about the event here.


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Topics: Hospitality career tips, Hospitality managers