[00:00:05] Kim Ades:
Hello, hello. This is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching™ and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast, where we invite leaders from all over the world to come onto the podcast and get coached live and in-person.
Today my guest is Menop Nguyen and she comes to us all the way from Las Vegas. She is the President and Founder of a company called Secured IT Solutions. Menop, welcome.
[00:00:32] Menop Nguyen:
Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
[00:00:35] Kim Ades:
So, tell us about who you are, what you're doing in the world, and just talk to us, fill us in on what you're doing.
[00:00:45] Menop Nguyen:
So, a little bit about myself. As you mentioned, I'm from Las Vegas, Nevada. I am the CEO of Secured IT Solutions, which we provide IT and cybersecurity services to a multitude of organizations from those in the Federal Government, Federal Government Agencies and local government, city states, educational, and then also private sector to include those that are in various industries, such as in Las Vegas out here. So hospitality, gaming, financial health.
So, when I'm not running and operating that, operations and the company itself, I actually instruct. So, every month to every other month, lately it's been every other week, I instruct internationally to cybersecurity professionals and leaders who are operating in different capacities, in a leadership role with organizations that again, same range of clientele that I have.
So those individuals are those that even come from government agencies, like the CIA, NSA, DOD, DOE, as well as the private sector. So, I do that as well as run and operate the firm. And so I'm continuously trying to grow myself and really reflect on some of the things that I have challenges on, vulnerabilities that I have, and try to, I think I could say that lately in the last couple years, I've been better at trying to embrace my vulnerabilities and be more open to them.
[00:02:15] Kim Ades:
Yeah. So before we jump into that, I just want to say that I actually took a moment to read your LinkedIn profile and thought the feedback that you got for your instructing and teaching, and they were, you know, really over the top positive reviews about your services. So I was excited to talk to you about that so way to go, congratulations on that.
[00:02:42] Menop Nguyen:
[00:02:43] Kim Ades:
Let's jump into your challenges. What do you want to talk about? What do you want to share with us today? What's going on?
[00:02:50] Menop Nguyen:
Yeah. So some of the challenge and balance that I have to take myself and I had to kind of reflect on myself is, you know, how do you-- there's a difference between comparison and benchmarking, right? So there's a saying about comparison is the distiller of all happiness and so understand it, embrace it, but then there's also a need to benchmark.
For me, I look to benchmark myself to see where I'm at and, am I doing better? Can I do better? Or am I falling behind? In comparison to individuals who are my peers, colleagues, other firms. And so my challenge is I'm finding myself going to that negative space, despite the positive talk that I continuously try to train myself in. It's easier said than done.
It's hard to not have this benchmarking and seeing that "wow, why does so-and-so get this? Or how is this coming to a fruition for them and not for me?" And then you see opportunities that come through that's not provided in the same space in my side. So then that kind of bridges out to two fronts, one it's it grows a chip on my shoulder.
That chip on my shoulder has been a chip that I've acknowledged that sometimes it's reality, and sometimes it's also something that I have to be careful about, that's not a reality, my side. Let's be honest, being a minority female, there has been a glass ceiling that I've experienced through my life.
And so being in that perspective, I've had challenges and I've had struggles, but are those struggles something that I need to take on and not look at the world with that same tint in my lens? Or do I need to take caution? Right? 'Cause there's that reality in space, so I see that branch out.
And then the other side is it makes it very difficult for me to see about other individuals, other peers, other companies who would have any type of relation... experience or can resonate with my experience or understand where I'm coming from.
And I'm not saying just from a "Hey, this is a minority woman owned firm", but the challenges that we have all in generality. So that causes a lot of different difficulties with me going down a path of trying to benchmark and take into other individuals to help me grow as an organization and strive to grab all the lessons learned from everybody else.
Because there's a little bit of a component that taints me in saying "oh, well, they're a little bit different. They don't have that same challenges I do. Oh, they don't understand because they're in that stage of their operations or they're in that stage of their business".
So things like Vistage or other associations or groups are mine thinking it's very difficult because I feel like it's not the same. And I'm happy for those individuals, but there's a sense of me going like "you know, why don't I get that same opportunity?" Or there's a need for me to feel the pursuit because as I grow the business, I'm pursuing others, I'm pursuing businesses, that there's a need for me to feel that pursuit myself. And that's what I'm finding.
[00:06:02] Kim Ades:
So, need to feel like you are being pursued.
[00:06:06] Menop Nguyen:
[00:06:06] Kim Ades:
Okay. It's very interesting because I belong to many, many mastermind groups of my own-- not of my own, but I belong to these groups. Let's not name the organizations. And I have personally felt a lack of connectivity.
So what you're saying is like, "they don't really get me". Right? "They don't really understand me. They don't really know where I'm coming from. Their vantage point is different. They don't understand me. They don't understand my business". I have felt that. So what you're describing isn't so shocking or new or different or anything like that. But I want to discuss a few things.
So let's discuss that first. It's the feeling of being connected, the feeling of being amongst your true peers. And what you're saying is "I'm in this room full of peers", but then you're saying "but they're not really my peers", right?
[00:07:01] Menop Nguyen:
[00:07:01] Kim Ades:
Am I kind of capturing that?
[00:07:04] Menop Nguyen:
Oh yeah! Absolutely. Yes.
[00:07:06] Kim Ades:
Okay. And so the question becomes is, okay, so they're not really your peers, what's the benefit of being in the room? And for you, you're using it as a benchmark, but in the back of your mind, it's not really an accurate benchmark.
And so I want to talk about benchmarking in a minute, but first I want to talk about this whole idea of who are your peers. And what you're doing is you're putting yourself in this room of people and you're assessing "am I better? Am I worse? Do they get me? Do they not get me?" And all that chatter is weighing you down and it's preventing you from extracting what you need and running with it.
So that's thing number one is understand the purpose of being in the room, and it's not the benchmark, by the way. That's not the purpose of being in the room. The purpose of being in the room is to be a sponge and is to soak up everything you can and go run away as fast as you possibly can. And so that's thing number one is understand, like, if you start to realize what your purpose is here, then it becomes a lot easier.
The second part of it is that if these are not your peers, and this is something that I've experienced, "these are not my peers". There's a lack of connectivity here. What I've decided to do is create my own mastermind group with my peers. People who truly get me, people who come together, blend of personalities, blend of experiences, blend of cultures, etc., and allow me to truly feel comfortable in this spot and feel completely understood.
And so that's the other part is if these are not your people go find your people and build your own group. Right? So thing number one is understand why you're there and, you know, milk the experience. And right now you're not milking the experience. What you're doing is you're stewing in the experience. And when you understand that your job is to milk, rather than stew your purpose becomes different.
Your job is to go and learn everything you can from each person in the room and say "how does this apply to me? How does this apply to me? What can I use here? What can I take and adapt?" You know, I'm hearing. And so your job is to learn. It's not to show up, it's not to be pursued, it's not to be seen in a specific way. It's exclusively to learn. But now let's talk about benchmarking. Okay?
[00:09:29] Menop Nguyen:
Great. Thank you!
[00:09:30] Kim Ades:
I think where people really, really struggle is, what are they actually benchmarking? What is the criteria that they're using to compare themselves -and I'm using that word on purpose- to others? So what are you benchmarking? Are you benchmarking revenues? Are you benchmarking profit margins? Are you benchmarking...?
[00:09:55] Menop Nguyen:
Growth. Yeah. And so, I mean, I look at benchmarking and... like I said, I think growth. And I look at things like LinkedIn, so if I had someone there like "Hey, we're hiring a lot" and I'm looking "well, we're not really hiring a lot", you know, here's the organization. Or I look at the fact that they are a little bit more of a risk taker.
So I know that that's been an issue with me because I don't feel that comfort level. Like you you're saying, I must be stewing a lot, but I'm not taking on that risk. So I am very adverse to having like, venture capitalists or anybody invest in the firm. I want to take it all and work throughout myself.
And I see others like, make an announcement like "oh, we just got our series A or we just got all this stuff and we're hiring a whole bunch", and I know that that's a... you know, they're priming their pump. And so when they're priming their pump, they're able to generate more opportunities, generate more business revenue. And so of course they have more needs.
And so that becomes a lot more for me like saying "where am I failing here? Why can't I do this on my own? Why can't I just go--
[00:11:01] Kim Ades:
Okay, so let's back up. Are you actually failing? You're not failing. And so here's the thing is that people pick arbitrary things to compare themselves to. Right? So does their series A increase our quality of life and happiness and better relationships and create a more fulfilling life? It's our imagination that that's the case.
[00:11:26] Menop Nguyen:
[00:11:26] Kim Ades:
That's not actually the case.
[00:11:29] Menop Nguyen:
[00:11:30] Kim Ades:
Right? So you're benchmarking against arbitrary things that you have determined have value. You have a belief that that kind of risk, getting on investors, etc., is a more worthwhile, more valuable way of life. Is that true? No, you just made it up.
[00:11:53] Menop Nguyen:
[00:11:54] Kim Ades:
You invented that.
[00:11:55] Menop Nguyen:
[00:11:56] Kim Ades:
Right? You invented that because they're more risk-taking, because they're hiring more people. That means something that's more valuable than you. And that's sheer bullshit.
[00:12:11] Menop Nguyen:
[00:12:12] Kim Ades:
[00:12:14] Menop Nguyen:
[00:12:14] Kim Ades:
And so the question becomes, what should I be looking for? And I hate the word should, but we're gonna use it here for a moment.
[00:12:21] Menop Nguyen:
[00:12:22] Kim Ades:
What is truly important to me? And am I living according to those values? So if my value is growing my business and not taking on investors, how am I doing at that? Hell, it sounds like you're doing great. Right?
And so, for example, I'm going to ask you a question. Have you benchmark yourself against the best ballerina in the world?
[00:12:52] Menop Nguyen:
[00:12:53] Kim Ades:
[00:12:55] Menop Nguyen:
Right. Because she's not, or he is not doing what I'm trying to do. They are dancers and I don't dance. [Laughs]
[00:13:02] Kim Ades:
Well, and you're not interested in dancing and it's not a value to you, it's not important to you, it's not the field you're in. And so suddenly you're going "yeah, but everything that these guys are doing, I should be able to do". And I'm like, "says who?" Should you also be an amazing ballerina? Should you also be an astronaut? Should you also be a great mathematician?
So, your job is to say "what is important to me in my life? And is that reflected in my business?" And I would say to you that your business is a reflection of what's important to you.
[00:13:42] Menop Nguyen:
[00:13:43] Kim Ades:
Because when you say "I want to grow on my own, so I'm not raising funds", your business is a reflection of your values. Does that make sense?
[00:13:55] Menop Nguyen:
It does. And what brought to mind right there, when you were saying it, what kind of like, led to me is there's something that you're saying, like, I should be doing some of the stuff. Well, I believe that is also a challenge for me with regards to that is if I believe that if I can do it, anyone else can do it.
So that's probably why I look outside of what I'm doing to benchmark, right? So I'm like "oh, what I'm doing. If I can do it, you can do it". So that's why it doesn't become a benchmark for me to look at, because I'm looking at myself, I'm like "oh, if I can do that mathematical equation, you can do that mathematical equation. It's not that hard". I think that's why I don't benchmark according to what I'm doing right now.
[00:14:36] Kim Ades:
Well, so for me, again, what's important to me? Is it important to me to have the most revenue generating coaching company? I like to generate nice revenue, but what's really important to me is to deliver outstanding coaching experiences. That's really important to me, and that's why my company runs the way it does, and that's why we do what we do, how we do it and use the process we do. Right? And my company is a reflection of those values.
[00:15:09] Menop Nguyen:
[00:15:09] Kim Ades:
Okay? So it's very important for you to say "what are my values and is my company a reflection of those values?" And I'm going to come back to what you just said. Okay? So the problem arises when you have values that are clashing with what you're doing.
So, for example, you said "well, all my peers are raising money. I'm going to go raise money because my peers are raising money and I want to benchmark against them". But everything inside you screams "no". That's a problem. And those are the problems we really want to address.
Now go back to "Hey, if I could do it, everyone can do it". A) we know that's not exactly true. Again, we're making things up, but what I want you to start the benchmark is "what is valuable to me?"
So for me, if I see someone who has an amazing relationship with, let's say their husband, I go "wow, that's interesting. I want to learn more about that. How do they do that?" That's important to me, that's something I want. And I have a pretty good relationship with my husband. But I want you to start to pay attention to, rather than a comparison, go look for examples of what you want, not examples of what you think you should have.
"I should be raising money. I should be growing. I should be hiring people". That's all fictitious. It's invented. Think about what you want and go look for examples of that. And when you find what you want, then go learn from those people.
[00:16:36] Menop Nguyen:
[00:16:37] Kim Ades:
Does that make sense?
[00:16:38] Menop Nguyen:
Absolutely. Yeah, that makes sense.
[00:16:40] Kim Ades:
It's an upside down way of viewing things, right?
[00:16:42] Menop Nguyen:
Yeah. Definitely different.
[00:16:47] Kim Ades:
The other part of it is we often assume that people are much happier in their lives when they're growing their businesses, when they're taking on risk, when they're raising money. And my personal experience, I've worked with many of these leaders who are stressed out of their minds, who are not sleeping, who are not having sex, who are not spending time with their families because they have decided that what they should do in order to be important and valuable in the world is go grow their businesses and raise money and take on all this risk.
Does it increase the quality of their lives? Not necessarily. And it's not to say that we shouldn't do those things. We can, if those things excite us, if those things bring us joy. If they don't, if they only bring us stress...
[00:17:43] Menop Nguyen:
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. I needed to really benchmark of it if I'm happy with my life, the quality of my life versus, and if that's where I want to go and not try to stretch myself so much.
[00:17:54] Kim Ades:
It's okay to stretch yourself, but ask yourself "what do I want in my life?" And then go find examples of those things out there, and then go hang out with those people and learn from those people and extract from those people.
"What do I want?" And very often we forget about what we want and instead we focus on what we think we should have, on what other people have, on what they want. And then we think well, "if they want it, I should want it too. I should have it. Why do they get it, and not me?" I'll tell you why they get it and not you: 'cause you don't actually want it.
And I'll tell you something, I see you as a person who if there's something you clearly want, there's nothing gonna stop.
[00:18:41] Menop Nguyen:
Thank you for that. No, I think that's a good perspective, to start, like, making sure I adjust my lens a little bit better. [Laughs]
[00:18:49] Kim Ades:
I think it's important because at the end of the day, I believe your life becomes richer when you can see your life clearly and experience it with a sense of peace, ease, exhilaration, and joy. And when you see your life with a cloudy lens, what happens is you always feel like you're not enough, like you don't have enough, like you're not doing as well as others and the quality of your life actually diminishes. Are you okay?
[00:19:25] Menop Nguyen:
Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah.
[00:19:29] Kim Ades:
Amazing. You know what? I just want to thank you for sharing this because I think that you were vulnerable. I think you were really brave to do that. And I mean, it's an amazing conversation and I don't think you're alone in the world.
For those of you who are feeling like you look at other people and you're not moving far enough, fast enough, you're not alone in the world. Right? But start to benchmark what matters to you and when you find out what really matters to you, look for it outside of yourself, then go learn from those people.
[00:20:05] Menop Nguyen:
That's fantastic. Thank you. I appreciate that.
[00:20:08] Kim Ades:
I want to say thank you for being on the podcast with me, for sharing your story. I want to also say to you don't hang up after we go, 'cause I have a cybersecurity question that maybe you can help me with.
[00:20:19] Menop Nguyen:
[00:20:19] Kim Ades:
How do people find you if they're interested in learning about your work?
[00:20:24] Menop Nguyen:
So, they can find me on LinkedIn or they can find me on my website. So my LinkedIn is www.linkedin.com/in/menop. So, the whole LinkedIn URL, or they can go to our website at www.secureditsolutions.com.
[00:20:43] Kim Ades:
www.secureditsolutions.com. Amazing. Menop, thank you for being on the podcast with me today.
For those of you who are listening, if you have a challenge that you want to share on the podcast, please reach out to me.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there is a challenge that you want to talk about but maybe not so much on the podcast, please reach out to me as well.
Again, it's email@example.com.
Thanks everybody. For those of you who are listening, please share, please like, please comment, please give us some feedback and we will see you next week. Have a great day.