WEC23: Lead with power

Blog > Industry News

WEC23: Lead with power

By Jason Hensel, Journalist | Apr 17, 2023

In all areas of her life, mastery is what makes Pauline Nguyen’s soul sing. It’s an important mindset in which she operates.

“Every next level of your life is going to demand a next-level version of you,” Nguyen says. “And so, I do not subscribe to ‘goal setting’ but rather ‘soul setting.’ In this mindset, I am not goal oriented, but mastery oriented. Mastery is a never-ending process of discovery and evolution, is it not?”

Over the last couple of years, Nguyen says she got busy reinventing herself. The world had literally stopped for many people, who then decided to embrace an evolution within themselves. She saw the pandemic as a tailwind and not a headwind and reaped many rewards from this way of thinking.

“During the pandemic, I pivoted hard in all my businesses,” she says. “And what does it mean to pivot? To pivot is simply a redirection of energy. I put all my energy into reinventing my personal life as well as my professional life.”

Pauline Nguyen1

Compassionately assertive

Nguyen is a keynote speaker at MPI’s 2023 World Education Congress (WEC) in the Mexican Caribbean, June 13-15. Her topic, “The Four Essential Ingredients for Evolving Leadership,” will showcase four pivotal components of leadership: competent vulnerability, diversity an inclusion, self-leadership and self-mastery. She will share how true leaders hold others accountable while also being “compassionately assertive.”

When talking about what it means to be compassionately assertive, Nguyen says that hurt people hurt other people, and healed people heal others.

“Healed people are not afraid to speak their truth, question the status quo and declare their boundaries in a state of dignity, grace and poise,” she says. “The healed leader knows how to lead compassionately with deliberate calm, emotional mastery, civility and decorum. Compassionate assertiveness in leadership means we are not only leaders of solutions, but also leaders of sanity.”

Sometimes, confrontation at work is needed, she says, to help create harmony.

“In any workplace or business, your people must feel that they are allowed to bring up any issues or question the status quo without being attacked by the egoic defense mechanisms of an unskilled leader,” Nguyen says. “Leaders can help create safety in all areas, not just psychological safety. The best way that leaders can create this is to lead by example. They’ve got to walk the walk. Congruence is key.”

Teach what you’ve learned

Nguyen is an award-winning businesswoman and best-selling author. As a toddler, she escaped war-torn Vietnam on a boat, survived a Thai refugee camp and finally settled in Australia. There, her father started a food and beverage business. Nguyen and her brother took it over, and Red Lantern became the world’s most awarded Vietnamese restaurant.

She published her memoir “Secrets of the Red Lantern” in 2008 and was awarded the Newcomer Writer of the Year by the Australian Book Industry Awards. In 2012, she won the Australian Telstra Business Award for Medium Business. Her latest book, “The Way of the Spiritual Entrepreneur: The 7 Secrets to Becoming Fearless, Stress Free and Unshakable in Business and in Life,” was published in 2019.

Nguyen holds a BA in Communications from the University of Technology, Sydney. She is one of Australia’s top 50 influential female entrepreneurs and is included in Blackwell and Hobday’s list of “200 Women Who Will Change the Way You See the World.”

Combining western business practices with eastern spirituality, audiences enjoy her story told with humor and warmth.

“The life we live are the lessons that we teach, so we all have the responsibility to teach what we have learned,” Nguyen told Entrepreneur Magazine – Middle East in 2022.

In an episode of The Spirit of Business podcast in 2022, Nguyen said that it’s time for humans to connect with each other.

“We have a duty to share our thoughts, share our feelings,” she said. “Why? So that people can resonate, so that people can relate.”

Reframe fear

Fear of change or stepping into the unknown is one of the biggest challenges facing the workplace today, she says.

“Ninety percent of society is driven by certainty. What is certain in this world? Zero,” Nguyen says. “Uncertainty and change are going to happen at a much more rapid pace than ever before.”

She suggests that we learn to reframe fear and see that the function of the emotion is to take action and do things differently, to course correct.

“The quality of your life and the quality of your character is directly proportional to how much uncertainty you can handle,” Nguyen says. “We would be wise to learn how to reframe fear as a tailwind and not a headwind.”

In “The Way of the Spiritual Entrepreneur,” Nguyen addresses an overwhelming sense of fear while growing up.

“I know what fear smells like. Fear dominated every day of my childhood. Fear followed me everywhere that I went. Fear stayed with me every day,” she writes. “I cannot remember a time when fear did not lurk over my shoulder. Fear seeped through every window, rose up from each shiny floorboard and spilled through the dead cracks in our walls. It hovered over our beds while we were sleeping.”

Though afraid of her father’s violent outbursts, Nguyen and her siblings developed a ferocious work ethic that helped set her up for success.

“I learned so much in those years. We all did,” she writes. “Mentally and physically, we were strong. Emotionally and spiritually, however, we were a mess.”

The positive side, Nguyen writes, is that she quickly became self-sufficient.

“Mini entrepreneurial skills began to develop,” she writes. “Discipline, responsibility, accountability, reliability, persistency, courage, resilience and grit were some of my closest companions.”

WEC23_logo with CTA (1)

Leaders are always watched

One idea Nguyen offers to audiences is how to lead with power and not force.

“Leading with power requires the skill of self-leadership and self-mastery — a constitution of deliberate calm, dignity, grace and poise,” she says. “A leader who leads with power can move mountains with the gentlest of touch.”

She says that leading with power also requires the skills of calm courage, charisma, compassionate assertiveness and influence. Leading with force, though, falls into the realms of coercion, histrionics, manipulation and melodrama.

“Your people will always follow the most-calm and composed leader,” Nguyen says. “As leaders, we are always being watched.”



Jason Hensel, Journalist

Jason Hensel is a freelance writer based in Dallas.