There’s no such thing as perfectionism. There’s always room for improvement, updates, and upgrades!
Many successful people are perfectionists. At the same time, they have the ability to say “Done is Better Than Perfect” and just complete and wrap up a project. What is the best way to overcome the stalling and procrastination that perfectionism causes? How does one overcome the fear of potential critique or the fear of not being successful? In this interview series, called “How To Get Past Your Perfectionism And ‘Just Do It’, we are interviewing successful leaders who can share stories and lessons from their experience about “how to overcome the hesitation caused by perfectionism.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Nguyen.
Linda Nguyen is the COO of SOUPPLY (soup-lee), a premium phở bowl dedicated to preserving the essence of traditional Vietnamese flavors in one convenient, elevated package simply prepared for anyone to enjoy any time, any place — an essential for people with demanding lives. She thrives on bringing people together and creating long-term relationships that grow networks, expand business opportunities, and increase returns. Her everyday goal — cultivating meaningful connections and impactful collaborations.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
As a young girl, I have always had an interest in entrepreneurship and fashion as I scoured fashion magazines and attempted to line objects I found around the house on the stairway to sell in my makeshift “store”. So fittingly, I attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and majored in Merchandise Marketing. After a few years as a Fashion Stylist in Hollywood, I decided to take a job in healthcare during a slow season from photo and video shoots. Life has a funny way of taking you in directions you had never planned because I ended up staying at the company for over 8 years!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito,” by the Dalai Lama. Many people think they need a lot of money to make a difference in the world but there are other ways to make an impact — a smile to brighten someone’s day, a compliment to uplift someone’s spirit, or sending a simple text to someone to let them know you’re thinking of them. You’ll never know who needs it the most that day. I surely appreciate every midday text message I receive from a friend who messages just to say hello during a time I’m under extreme pressure and need a smiling face on the other end.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
How to Win Friends and Influence People is a classic and its principles still apply today in a professional and personal world. One principle that stands out to me is “Let the other person save face.” This is a characteristic of a great leader. Don’t criticize or condemn in a public setting. You will earn more respect and achieve more by addressing issues privately.
Another principle I like is, “Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.” No one ever wants to let you down when you think highly of them. With my team, I entrust them to execute their tasks and they always go above and beyond my expectations. They are given the freedom they deserve to perform their job in an environment where they are free to be creative and self-motivated. I remain on the sidelines to provide guidance.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Commitment — I worked hard every single day and never watch the clock. Each day never feels like work for me. That’s how I know I have a passion for entrepreneurship and executive leadership.
- Patience — As with any company, we want to scale fast. However, I make sure that processes are in place for current projects before taking on a new project. Taking on too much at once leads to burnout and lack of productivity.
- Resilience — Despite challenges and operating in a chaotic start-up environment, I continue to forge ahead and not allow setbacks to deter me from achieving our goals.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s begin with a definition of terms so that each of us and our readers are on the same page. What exactly is a perfectionist? Can you explain?
A perfectionist has a need to get things right every time on the first try or appear to have it all together. If they happen to make a minor error or realize there is a possibility for improvement, they are hard on themselves for missing it the first time.
The premise of this interview series is making the assumption that being a perfectionist is not a positive thing. But presumably, seeking perfection can’t be entirely bad. What are the positive aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
Perfectionists are ambitious, self-motivated, and detail-oriented. They persevere in times of adversity and strive towards achievement. Perfectionism is necessary in environments where there is no room for error such as building a spacecraft, especially if lives are at stake.
What are the negative aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
Perfectionism can lead to time management issues as one continuously ruminates over the same task looking for ways to improve when there are other pertinent responsibilities to be completed. They become moody, stressful, and unproductive as they spend time reflecting on their downfalls and mistakes as opposed to striving to move forward.
From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common reasons that cause a perfectionist to “get stuck” and not move forward? Can you explain?
Perfectionists become stuck because they feel they’re not putting their best work forward. They fear failure. The high standards they set for themselves become unattainable as others continue to climb the ladder. They waste time focusing on unimportant matters which gives others the opportunity to achieve success quicker as they focus on the bigger picture.
Here is the central question of our discussion. What are the five things a perfectionist needs to know to get past their perfectionism and “just do it?” Please share a story or example for each.
- Ask for help. Have someone with different skillsets review your work to see if they have a different viewpoint to contribute.
- Delegate. Done is better than perfect. You can review their work and update it as needed.
- Just start. Plan your steps and simply begin. You don’t need to have all the tools in place to proceed.
- Look at the bigger picture. Focusing on the unimportant details will not get you to your end goal quicker.
- There’s no such thing as perfectionism. There’s always room for improvement, updates, and upgrades!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Going back to the Dalai Lama, he has a commitment to spread compassion and kindness across the world to 7 billion people. I would like to spark that movement by challenging every person in the world to perform one act of kindness each day.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Beyonce! She found success as both an entertainer and businesswoman. She has remained humble and level-headed under the pressures of the entertainment industry as well as the uncertainties of entrepreneurship. I personally need to channel my inner Sasha Fierce!
How can our readers follow you online?
Visit my personal website at lindanguyen.com. It includes my social media links.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story and insights!