My Library and Courses
Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Capitalize on What You Know

Tranh Quoc Lam spoke no English when he arrived in Hawaii from Vietnam.  He had no money. All he knew was how to bake bread.  Today he is the owner of Ba-Le Bakery and has well over 200 employees!  H was named Small Business Person of the Year from the state of Hawaii.   More...

Key Question:


Tranh Quoc Lam and Mildred Council had little education. Rather than complain about what they didn't have, each fine tuned what they had and what they knew how to do.  And today,  each of them has built a substantial business because of it.

Why did success seem to come so quickly to Tranh?

We think it is because he chose to do what he knows. He knows things you could never learn in a book about baking traditional French breads. This is why he makes it all look easy to others. Of course you can learn what you need to know to be successful. We're simply saying you can succeed faster and with fewer heartaches if you stick to what you know. Trahn did not arrive in Hawaii and decide he wanted to get a Ph.D. in English! That could have taken ten years and he probably could have found a job teaching English to native-born Vietnamese but instead he built on strengths.

What does the phrase "success breeds success" mean to you?

People who accomplish one goal are likely to accomplish the next goal they set. Success builds confidence and this quality is absolutely essential for a small business owner. If you don't have confidence that your idea will succeed, you will not attract employees or customers. Sometimes confidence appears as arrogance to others. Gerhard Von der Rhur, founder of CritiCare, told us that a small business owner needs a strong ego, not a big ego. He said that a person with a big ego is arrogant and doesn't see the value of others, whereas a person with a strong ego has deep belief that he can accomplish the task at hand. A strong ego is attractive to others while a big ego is off-putting.

Think about it

What can you be doing with your knowledge and experience that you're not now doing?

Clip from: The Winners - SBA Awards

Every State & Territory of the USA: Each year the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes one owner from each state and each territory for their creativity and tenacity and for creating jobs. The SBA is the only agency in the federal government chartered to help turn dreams into realities. And it could be argued, this agency is closest to the intent and the results of the American revolution, that is, to make it possible for businesses to grow.

Since 1963 the President of the United States has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of Small Business Week.

In this episode of the show you meet the Small Business Person of the Year from Hawaii, California, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. You'll also hear from winners from Maryland and Montana. You'll also see  winners from Delaware, Guam, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Montana, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...
Go to the hoomepage for this episode...

Ba-Le Bakery

Tranh Quoc Lam, Founder / CEO

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Capitalize on What You Know

HECTOR: Ladies and gentlemen, for the year 2002, the Small Business Administration proudly selects the Small Business Person of the Year from the beautiful state of Hawaii, Mr. Tranh Lam. Please join me in congratulating him.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) A new American from Vietnam, Mr. Lam arrived in this country in 1979. He is the founder of Ba-Le Sandwich & Bakery. Today, he delivers delicious French bread products to some of the world's largest companies, including the Hilton, Sheraton, Delta and American Airlines.

TRANH QUOC LAM: (Voiceover) I'm very, very happy. It's a wonderful country. Give me opportunity to work hard because Vietnam is not freedom. I was put in jail for two weeks, no reason. One of the Vietnamese officer talked not very nice to the girl who lived next to my house, and I told him that that's not very nice to talk to the girl like that, and he put me in jail for two weeks.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Like so many immigrants, he found the way to make his dreams come true.

TRANH: Because I told my wife that in America, I don't have any skill, like professional skills, carpenter or something, and I don't have high education. The only thing I think make more money is to own your business. Then I decide to start my business in late 1980. '84, December 16th, '84, we opened the first sandwich in Honolulu, Hawaii, and I start to make my own bread on May 1st, '85.

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!