The Proven Entrepreneur

How a Vietnamese refugee, educator, and businesswoman is changing the way we think about training and development in America.


Lan Pham is an acute success as an entrepreneur. She launched her business, community of SEVEN, at the peak of the pandemic. The company, which has grown to 200,000 followers in under a year, was built entirely from her home computer. Lan talks about her business journey on this podcast and gives excellent advice on how to make it anywhere.


Lan is a Vietnamese refugee. Along with her parents and two siblings, she fled to America at the height of the Vietnam War. The family found themselves in a studio unit apartment in the Mission District in San Francisco. Life was hard in a strange city. Though Lan’s family knew no one, a local church “adopted” her family. Lan experienced her first sense of community here.

Like most immigrants, Lan’s parents worked hard to give their children bright futures. Lan’s mother saved tuition money by working as a hairdresser. Lan’s father, who believed in the value of education, took every opportunity to teach his children what he deemed important life lessons. He taught them motivational quotes often, so they could learn at every opportunity.

Lan went on to earn her degree and Master’s at Stanford and Harvard, respectively. She focused on teaching and curriculum, because she knew that education was at the core of all self-improvement. Over the next few years, she worked as a counselor for kids in street gangs and as an educator.


While she loved her work, Lan always felt like she had more to offer. She got her first taste of entrepreneurship when she opened a booking agency, which quickly grew to an events planning business. In fact, Lan and her team were the ones responsible for some of the first renditions of Coachella and Bonnaroo. Lan also did a stint in real estate investment, before finally entering corporate.

Lan transitioned into corporate because she was looking for financial security. After years of hustling, she wanted the comfort of a 9-to-5 job. Things were going great at work, and she was excelling as expected until COVID-19 hit. Lan was fired within a month of the start of the pandemic. And so was her entire team.

Lan had never failed at anything before. She spent the next week crying on her couch until her daughter Morgan reminded her that everything would be okay.


The concept for community of SEVEN came to Lan in a fever dream. Lan launched her company the very next day. Like other great entrepreneurs, she aimed for consistency. She published posts regularly. She engaged with potential clients as much as possible. And pushed through with seminars even if the turn-out was low. Sure enough, people started to take notice.

In early 2021, the company got its big break with Carta, a California-based equity management company. The project with Carta required Lan to train 300 employees across three continents. The seminar was a resounding success.

If Lan has learned anything from her experience thus far, it is that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one”. As a young entrepreneur, she went after every opportunity simply because she could. She treated each business as a learning experience. And no lesson was beneath her.

These days, Lan is a lot more deliberate about her energy. When she decided to start her own company, she knew that there was no turning back. It has been an amazing couple of months for Lan. Each day, she comes closer to changing the very way training and development are done in America.

Lan Phan – Refugee to Successful Entrepreneur.

Lan Phan – Refugee to Successful Entrepreneur.


Lan prides herself on being an educator-entrepreneur. Teaching is her first love. But being an entrepreneur allowed her to live out her dream in the best possible way. Her training approach is also unique because she utilizes micro-learning, which teaches skills and lessons in short, quick bursts. When she isn’t running these sessions, you can find Lan building networks on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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