(This book cannot be returned.)
Richard McCombs oversaw one of the first American companies to return to Vietnam after the embargo was lifted. Keep Smiling is about his experiences living and working there while negotiating and operating a joint venture with the government of Vietnam.
Richard went to Vietnam because he was the only person at American Rice (ARI) who volunteered to go. ARI was the largest rice company in the United States. ARI had been invited to form a joint venture (JV) with the largest state-owned rice company in The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In Vietnam, rice was the most valuable and politically sensitive commodity. ARI's goal was to process rice using ARI's technology and marketing strength and export Vietnamese rice to ARI's global customers. Vietnam's goal was to improve their rice production and expand their exports. Neither entity was clear about how the values and practices of socialism would mix with the business practices of capitalism, but therein lies the story.
Vietnam's communist government had almost no experience dealing with capitalism and foreign investors. There was a lot of speculation about how Americans would be received, given Vietnam's recent history. This book explains how this project was perilous, both personally and professionally, and offers an insight into the struggles Richard had living and working there as well as the struggles Vietnam had with opening the country for business with outsiders.
As Ambassador Pete Peterson (first U.S. Ambassador after President Clinton lifted the embargo) stated in the Foreword to Keep Smiling "Keep Smiling is a thoughtful and informative compilation of an American businessman's personal and professional experiences in the early days of Vietnam's open-door economic policy.
"Readers will especially appreciate how the author cleverly weaved into the story a delightful illustration of Vietnamese culture, cuisine, and infrastructure as it was in the early 1990s. Once you pick up Keep Smiling you will not put it down until you reach its final page. "
Richard's background was CEO of the second largest winery in California and CEO of MBA Polymers, the leading plastics recycling company with factories in China, Austria, and the UK. He graduated from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Amherst College. He was a Conscientious Objector during the Vietnam war.