Yoky’s Entrepreneur Series: Seeing the Real Me —–Life and Business Advice from Oanh Henry, CEO of Allegra Fairfax

Oanh Henry, CEO of Allegra Fairfax

Oanh Henry, CEO of Allegra Fairfax

Name: Oanh Henry

Occupation: CEO of Allegra Fairfax

Core principals: Be honest; Be true to yourself; Never blame on anyone else. 

Industry: Marketing, Printing, Mailing Solutions

There is a blonde living inside her.

Connect and start doing business with her using: Her Linkedin Profile and Allegra Fairfax’s official website, and her profile on the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce directory

I met this energetic, funny, and smart CEO from the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. I couldn’t pronounce her first name correctly until she gave me the tip: it is like the number one, “One” Henry. It made me smile. I was lucky that this successful business owner spent an hour on a Thursday morning and inspired me.

Power Interview with YokyOanh came to Virginia from Vietnam in her early teens. She went to George Mason University and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science. Before she started her own printing and marketing shop business, she worked at various companies such as FDIC, Freddie Mac, EMentun holding different positions such as IT Consultant, government employee, independent consultant, and director.

  • Her-self

Q: What makes you different?

A: Passion. I am passionate about having a business, raising children, being a life partner for my husband. I am a people person.

Q: What makes you a people person?

A: My parents influenced me. My dad served in the military. You might think that a lieutenant has to listen to the general and the general has to be bossy. That is not true with my dad. He was always among other people. When you are among them, people share things with you voluntarily. Both my mom and dad socialized with people and was respectful to everyone. I hope that I am one-tenth as good as him.

  • Leadership & Culture

Q: What was your challenge in leadership and management?

A: Responsibility. It was challenging because I don’t put blame on others. If my employee messed up, I take responsibility for it. And I accept my mistakes.

Q: Your thoughts on self-improvement?

A: I am always learning. I listen to audio-books. I want to know what causes people to be sleepless at night and how I can potentially help them. I listen to networking tips, ways to improve the way that I talk.

Q: One piece of advice?

A: Be true to yourself. Don’t fake anything. I was once shielded myself from realities and didn’t want to face what life can offer. It was when I parted ways with my ex-husband that I had my “Aha” moment. You get a sense of Zen when you are true to your feelings.

Q: What is Zen? How do you retain Zen?

A: Zen is being comfortable with your own skin. I retain Zen through interacting with people. I think I suck the energy out of people (she said jokingly).

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Q: How is it dealing with people in different races?

A: I have met all kinds of people, blue collar, white collar, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, etc. At the end of the day, people all have a family to go home to. People want to see things done and preferably done efficienly. People want compassion. They are just like you and me. 

Q: Culture shock?

A: When I first came here, I found that people are so much taller! People say whatever they want here. Asian culture encourage people to pretend. I learned how to communicate my feelings.

Q: How did you overcome the culture barriers?

A: I overcome them as I become more confident. When you hear a consistent message from other people’s feedback, you become more confident with yourself.

Q: Regret?

A: I should have started my business much earlier and make the most out of it. I want to try everything. Now I am close to retirement.

  • Starting a businessContact Information

Q: How did you get funding and support when you first started it?

A: I quit my job. My husband supported me using his income. We used our own money.

Q: How many years did it take to make a profit?

A: depends on the size of the business, for our size it was 5 years. If it is a smaller business, maybe 3 years.

Q: Have you ever thought of quitting?

A:  Never! It is so much fun. Having your own business is not like walking on a straight road, I want to try all sorts of things. Nothing is without risk. If you just want safety, you won’t go anywhere.

Q: Tips for other entrepreneurs?

A: Find your true passion and never give up on it. If your passion has changed, give up and find a new one.

  • Romantic Relationships

Q: Relationship tip?

A: Some people think that a relationship is an investment. It is correct, but you need to work at it. A relationship is about learning about and supporting each other. Don’t be afraid to dive in; if you are not in, you are not going to get what you put into it.

Q: How did you know that your current husband is the one?

A: He is a great communicator; we support each other. We have synergy. He compliments me and makes me feel confident. He compliments my cooking too.

  • Family

Q: What do you want to improve in life?

A: I want to spend more quality time with my parents and siblings, I want to play cards and talk on Friday night with my parents and siblings. I only spend 4 weekends a year with them because of how busy I am. My business requires me to sacrifice some family time.

Q: If you have a second chance to redo the past 7 years, will you do anything differently and spend more time with them?

A: No. I wouldn’t change a thing.

My husband and I hosted a kickoff party before we started the business, and we told everyone that “ I am not trying to ignore you, my husband and I will be very busy and we need your support.”

  • Business networking

Q: You are involved with many chamber of commerce and non-profit organizations. Has your time invested paid off?

A: It depends on your expectation. For example, in the Asian American chamber I expect nothing but simply giving; and in the Reston chamber I expected business. People want to feel like they belong to something. Networking is a continuous work and it never ends.

Photo Nov 06, 10 40 35 AM

Q: Anything else?

A: I want people to see the real “me” behind me. Here are some resources:

Interested in having Yoky write a post about you? Reach out to me at soundsgoodright@gmail.com . (2576)

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