THOMAS P. NGUYEN
CEO & Co-Founder of Peli Peli Restaurant Group
Describe your legal background and your current role today.
I received by law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and worked for three years doing commercial litigation. Today, I am a co-founder and CEO of the Peli Peli Restaurant Group. We are currently rated top 10 in Houston on both Tripadvisor & Yelp and have been featured on the Food Network and CNBC's Restaurant Startup. We have four locations in Houston and two more opening in 2018.
What three words would you use to describe your role?
Innovation, inspiration and relationships
What inspired you to pursue your current career?
I hated being a lawyer as it just was not for me. I love the hospitality industry and having an opportunity to make people smile through our concept and our non-profit work. I feel like I was not able to make an impact as an attorney. My current role allows me to increase happiness for thousands of people.
Name one movie or song to describe your career.
How has your legal education/background shaped the way you perform in your current career?
My experience in litigation has definitely helped shape how I now handle marketing, branding and public relations for Peli Peli.
What lessons learned or unexpected challenges did you face in your current role?
Managing people is just as important as managing the business itself. Especially if you have a multi-unit concept, your people will only run the business as well as you allow them to. You will not be able to do everything yourself.
What advice would you give to those career pivoting or pursuing a career beyond the practice of law?
If you are going to leave law and go off on your own, make sure its something you are willing to risk everything for. Don't do it just for money. Do it because it will improve your quality of life and allow you to spend your time on something you can be passionate about. If not, it wont be worth it.
What is your personal motto, mantra or favorite quote?
Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? This simple quote really changed my perspective in many different ways in my personal and business lives. I used to focus too much on being right, not realizing that sometimes being right can result in not getting what you want. Nowadays, I don't care if I am right or wrong, I care if I get the desired outcome for all parties.
Thomas Nguyen is the CEO, Co-Founder, and Chief Marketing Officer of Peli Peli Restaurant Group. After leaving the legal field, he instead decided to pursue his passion in business and marketing. Previously, he was named one of Houston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” for his accomplishments in philanthropy and brand development. For more information on Peli Peli, check out their website.