What’s the most important skill for founders?

Son Le Thanh (Son)
2 min readFeb 9, 2022

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When I was 10 years old, my morning routine was carrying vegetables on a bicycle from a family-run farm to market for my mom to sell.

In between school hours, I was doing other tasks like selling cut fruits on the streets, collecting recycle items and selling them at merchants, collecting wood from the surrounding places for cooking lunches and dinners. Those experiences were helpful to equip me with survival skills when I grew up.

Last night, I was talking to a Vietnamese founder who pivoted from a speech-to-text idea into a data-labelling startup. He shared with me that he barely left with VND 59,000 (equivalent to roughly USD 2.6) in his bank account after paying the salary and bonuses to his staff before the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

IMO, survival is the most important skill for founders

Survival skill is also recognized as an essential skill for kids in a recent parent-student workshop conducted by John Tan, CEO and founder of Doyobi school. In that workshop, my kids were guided to play a game on how to choose the most essential items to survive before they left the house and met zombies.

Forget about everything shiny things, focus on how to survive not for today but for years to come first.

I used to work for Deskera in the period of 2013–2015. There were months I keep getting my salary at least a week late. It was a startup and I could empathise with the CEO that perhaps cash flow was tight so I was willing to work hard to help the company close a multi-year long project for a Singapore-based client. That was the first time in my life that I received a less than SGD 200k cheque from the client’s chief accountant and handed it over to the chief of sales at Deskera.

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Son Le Thanh (Son)

I am a geek, my background was in software development but I enjoyed building community and creating useful content. I am the father of two boys.