Long Doan has a story that would impact anyone who listens. Originally from Vietnam, Long came from a well-educated family. His mother and father both got scholarships to study at the University of Florida, and both graduated with high degrees. Unfortunately, everything changed when America pulled out of the Vietnam war in 1975. In a communist country like Vietnam, they were threatened by those who could think for themselves. Because of this, when Long was eight years old, his father was arrested and sent to a reeducation camp. He wouldn’t see him again until he was 32. Now the man of the house Long was responsible for collecting his family’s rations every day. His mother and grandmother wanted a better life for him, so after three attempts to escape on a fishing boat with over 150 other people, he made it out onto international waters. Unfortunately, he was not safe yet. In the current state of the world and the tough economy, fishermen had been known to turn to pirates, and target boats like the one Long was on. Thankfully, one day shy of running out of their resources, the boat he was on came across a larger fishing boat that contacted the closest refugee camp, which happened to be in Malaysia. On the camp known as “Hell Island,” all of the emotions Long had just endured would finally catch up to him. The following day, he decided that he would no longer feel like a victim but realize he was the victor. This new mindset would shape the rest of his life. After college Long got into the mortgage industry and then decided to get into real estate, which he has now been in for fourteen years. Currently, he has a real estate company with a roster of over 650 agents.
Long explains what it was like to figure out his why in life. “I remember thinking back and digging for myself until I found it, and that’s when I realized that moment and night on the beach was my why.” Now he is always looking to help other people hoping they will never have to feel the way he felt that first night at camp.
He goes on to discuss the considerable impact his father had on the world, “They finally negotiated the release of my dad, the US, all the pressure around the country, but before then I kind of become the poster child for human rights…I would get flown by organizations all over the country, to Canada, to meet with congress members, senators, in Washington DC, all over the place on my dad’s behalf. As a matter of fact, I accepted several awards on his behalf…a lot of pressure for someone between the ages of 16 and about 20. Finally, my mom and my brother came over, and she took over and helped out.” Eventually, his father agreed to leave Vietnam, and he moved in with Long.
When asked what some of the lessons he learned from his parents, Long says, “It is better to do the right thing than what is easy or popular.” He also mentions how his father taught him that to achieve your goals in life takes a lot of sacrifices. When speaking about his mother, he has a lot of admiration for her hard work and determination. “The things that she has had to endure, I hope no one would have to go through it.”
“Mindset is so powerful…there are three ways we learn as humans… by imitation… the second way we learn is the hardest way to learn, and it’s by experience…and the third way, which is considered the most noble, is by reflection.” Long explains that his goal every day is to be a better version of himself and use those three tools to grow as a person and help others succeed. “MAP to success: M is for mindset, right? We talked about if you have the right mindset, anything can happen, which leads to action, which is A. Action comes in everything you do.. and then P is purpose; without purpose, you won’t keep going. For me, that is always me reminding myself of the map to success which leads to the other acronym Mike, and I have that’s called LIFE. Learn, Implement, Fail, Evolve.” Long explains that this is his process and what motivates and fuels him. He pays close attention to detail and constantly wants to surround himself with people that are better than him.
When asked what, in his opinions, makes a great leader Long responds with, “There is a difference, as you know, a lot of us kind of know, that there is a difference between a manager and a leader, right? A manager manages results like they are there to manage if this is working so you can achieve this goal that goal; a leader inspires people to reach those goals. So that is the difference between the two. Great leaders that I learn from that I read about, and I see out there, including you, constantly inspire people to be better, and to be there and to help them and to show them unconditionally and without judgment.” He explains it is important to support people and make them feel comfortable enough with you to admit when they make mistakes without the fear of letting you down. As a leader, he is constantly analyzing every possibility and questioning if there is something that he can improve on without ever making a knee-jerk reaction.
“Communication, at the end of the day, I don’t care if you have the greatest idea if you can’t communicate it correctly, people won’t listen to you or be open-minded… learn about their style of communication.” He explains that in order to inspire people and get them to listen, you have to adapt to what works for them and be a master communicator. Not only with your words but your tone and body language as well. “At the end of the day, I think that if you can effectively communicate with people, they will be more open to receiving the message and/or find other ways to bring in people to help you get that message across.”
Lastly, Long discusses how breathing is an integral part of building your “fight muscle” instead of resorting to your flight response. He explains that when faced with a challenging situation, he stops to center himself with breathing techniques, which helps him react more logically.
“At the end of the day, it’s not where you come from… it’s where you’re going.”
If you would like to connect with Long Doan, you can find him at www.facebook.com/LongDoan2