Saturday, July 31, 2010

Want to know the secrets for success? Entrepreneurial equations

Aside from NAAAP-Seattle, NSHMBA, Tutta Bella, Chen Communications also helped organized this panel.

Want to see more photos from this event? Join NAAAP-Seattle on Facebook.

Some fifty entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and those who just wanted to be inspired squeezed into the back room of Tutta Bella on Stone Way on July 29 for NAAAP-Seattle’s second collaborative event with the National Society of Hispanic MBAS this year, which was entitled, "Entrepreneur Panel, Secrets of our Successes."

The three guest panelists who founded their own companies included Murthy Kalkura "MK" of 4AM Corp; Rachel Valdez of 16 Copenhagen; and Beto Yarce of Cinti Fine Mexican Jewelry. The session was moderated by NAAAP-Seattle President Gil Gido, who also has his own company, Ulysses' Social Media.

For an hour, the panelists shared their secrets and stories with the attentive audience. Before starting their own business, they had all worked in the corporate world.

Yarce came to Seattle from Guadalajara, Mexico seven years ago. One day at Westlake Center, he passed by Something Silver jewelry store and thought, "I can make jewelry too!"

He asked his mother to send him silver and beads from Mexico and he began to sell his jewelry to his co-workers at the restaurant where he worked as a bus boy.

Yarce's parents were visiting from Mexico and sat in the front row. And Yarce also now sells his jewelry wholesale to Something Silver.

Valdez said that she started her own full-service design agency after decades working in the corporate world because she wanted to spend more time with her family and her relationships.

Because Valdez is responsible for all the creative, financial, and technical strategy for her company, sometimes running a business can get stressful.

"My own mental state can be measured like a speedometer," said Valdez. "On one end, there's possibility and on the other end, there's panic. Sometimes when you feel like you in panic mode, you have to conscientiously work yourself back to possibility."

Kalkura also said he decided to started his own company because he wanted to be there to see his last child grow up. The very name of his company reflects his dedication to his family: four members have names that start with the letter "A" and his name starts with the letter, which together forms "4AM."

Kalkura, who has a degree in chemistry, said, "I like to think of things in terms of equations."

"The key to your personal success is very simple," said Kalkura. "There are three 'N's": Niche + Network = Network."

He advised everyone to get "Linked In" with each other by the end of the evening, because "you never know where you'll get business from."

The entrepreneurs also talked about how they manage their own team of employees.

"I try to encourage a fun atmosphere at work," said Yarce. "You have to listen to what your team needs so that they can be creative and productive. If they need a refrigerator so that they can store their lunch, get them a refrigerator. If they would like a little bit of wine while they work, it's not so bad to have some wine...within limits of course!"

The audience was sated with stories and secrets of success and slices of Tutta Bella pizza.

Ed Alipio, former NAAAP-Seattle board member, and Flora Li, NAAAP-Seatttle member, said they found the panel to be 'inspirational and educational."

Carolina Martinez said, "I really liked what Rachel said about passing on your passion and experience, so that people can believe in your cause."

Inspired by her long time friend, Beto Yarce, Martinez too wants to open up her own business, which would be a organic/local food restaurant.

NAAAP-Seattle member, Heidu Yu, is already an entrepreneur, with her own IT outsourcing company.

"It was a great, easy way for people to learn about being an entrepreneur," said Yu.
"I think it's inspiring, especially for new immigrants, to see their success."

Yu added, "I like being an entrepreneur because of the flexibility and money!"

Yan Xiang, a NAAAP-Seattle member, said, "You can read a book and get theoretical information, but it's great to hear ideas and stories from real people."

The audience also impressed the panelists.

"Everyone was very enthusiastic and attentive," said Kalkura. "And they wanted me to repeat my message, which means they were listening!"

This won't be the last time NAAAP-Seattle and NSHMBA partner.

"Our partnership with NAAAP has been terrific. At NSHMBA, we value team work and collaboration among different groups coming together to roll up sleeves towards achieving a common goal," said Geraldize Rodriguez, NSHMBA Board Member – Community Relations. "In this case, working with NAAAP allowed our entrepreneurs and those aspiring to connect outside of their traditional circles of network and create new partnerships and clients. Working with allies helps an organization disseminate a message to a larger and diverse audience, reinforces positively the importance of team work, diversity of thought and efficiency."

Come join NAAAP and NSHMBA at the next event they co-host, "Career Transitions Panel Event Speaker Series" on September 7. National Black MBAs Association will also help organize the event, which will be sponsored by State Farm Insurance.

Photos by Julie Pham: top, Richard Cheng, Heidi Yu, and Yan Xiang; middle, Geraldine Rodriguez, Rachel Valdez, Beto Yarce, Murthy Kalkura, Gil Gido, Richard Velazquez; bottom, audience at Tutta Bella Stoneway.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Conversations worth having

(L to R) Rachel Valdez, Beto Yarce, Murthy Kalkura, and Gil Gido

Last night at Tutta Bella on Stone way NAAAP Seattle and the National Society of Hispanic MBA's (NSHMBA) hosted a conversation with local entrepreneurs and members sharing the Secrets of Success.  I had a front row seat since I  had the priviledge of moderating.  On the panel were business owners: Beto Yarce of Cintli; Rachel Valdez of 16 Copenhagen; and Murthy Kalkura of 4AM Corp.
My overall experience from walking in the door to leaving can only be described as time well spent. Many who came either had a business or had an interest in knowing what it takes to start and run a business and this brings me to why I am writing - conversations. Conversations, I believe are key ingredients when it comes to running a business and even more so, leadership. Conversations can either be worth having or not having.  For me, those not worth having don't convey action. In fact, conversations lead to some result in business; for example, starting a business. They can end in no, maybe or what we would all like to hear, YES! It seems simple enough, but yeses move businesses; so as an entrepreneur, it's important to know when you are having a conversation that will lead to a yes. For example, yes, to a sale; yes, to accepting a new contract; and yes, to opportunity.
So what else can lead to a yes?  Well, I overheard and was engaged in many conversations last night and each had an element of authenticity, passion and free exchange of thought. There seemed to be no judgements or disinterest that I heard. As an entrepreneur, you get skilled in being authentic, passionate and inclusive and you start listening for opportunities that you can yourself use or pass onto your friends, clients and collegues. For me, it surely is a different experience when hearing, no, right?
Great! Since I want to provide you with short and timely information that you can use now, I'm going to end here. I know that I can't cover everything in this post. So, if you want to know more on having conversations that lead to yes, then you'll want to hear what Jack Canfield, a well-respected success coach, says, "it all starts with asking."

With that, I want to give a special thanks to Christine Chen Velazquez of Chen Communications, Geraldine Rodriguez of NSHMBA and Hang Chen of NAAAP Seattle for organizing the event and giving folks an opportunity to have conversations worth having.
Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Join us for the 24th Annual National Leadership Convention and Diversity Career Fair presented by Macy's

The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) cordially invites you to attend the 24th Annual National Leadership Convention and Diversity Career Fair in San Francisco on August 12-15th. In the spirit of our vision "We make leaders!", the conference will address your present needs to prepare you for the realities of the future. You will also have an opportunity to participate in innovative workshops, listen to inspirational speakers, network with a diverse group of accomplished professionals, and find that dream job at our Diversity Career Fair.

Register now at

NAAAP Seattle Board of Directors

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Engage Seattle

Engage Seattle Initiative Launch Event
(l to r) Gil Gido (President), Julie Pham (PR/Marketing Chair),
Kevin Chang (Membership Chair)

Seattle, Wa - The Office of the Mayor of Seattle launched Engage Seattle today, an initiative aiming to get people involved with the city in meaningful ways and make Seattle a great place to live. Mayor Mike McGinn kicked things off with a committment to providing people with multiple pathways to engage in Seattle. At a high-level, there are three pillars to this initiative: 1. Improving Access to Government, 2. Volunteer Services, and 3. Developing future leaders. Now to help fund the initiative, the City of Seattle was awarded a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in the Cities of Service program, in which ten cities were awarded $200,000 leadership grants.

Improving Access to Government
For the first time ever, the city is bringing its outreach and engagment staff together for better coordination in neighborhoods and created new standards for deeper, more inclusive public outreach and engagement. A new online public calendar was released to list opportunities to engage with City staff having features that enable views via map or lists, provide event searches by location down to a 0.1 mile radius, and integration with personal calendars.  Check it out at: (Contact Sol Villarreal, Civic Engagement Coordinator: or 206.233.2656)

Volunteer Services
The service plan initiative is focused on education and youth development priorities identified through the Mayor's Youth and Family initiative.  Please join the effort to ensure every 3rd grade student can read at grade level, every middle school student is supported through the transition to high school, and every vulnerable child has a traned and committed mentor. (Contact Lynda Petersen, Chief Service Officer: or 206.684.7020)

Developing Future Leaders
Want to be more effective in the community? In a short series of workshops, community organizations can give participants the tools they need to be organizers for change within and aross Seattle's communities. Projects will be assigned between sessions to help participants develop their skills. The series are offered three times a year beginning in january, July and September. (Contact Sol Villarreal, Civic Engagement Coordinator:  or 206.233.2656)

Watch the Video:

If interested about engaging with Seattle, please contact the either Sol or Lynda.

NAAAP Seattle Board

Saturday, July 24, 2010

NAAAP-Seattle volunteers put their sales skills in high gear for Farestart’s 35th “Guest Chef at the Waterfront”

Among the 1,200 attendees at the sold-out “Guest Chef at the Waterfront” at Bell Harbor Pier 66 on July 14 were seven NAAAP-Volunteers: John and Jen Park, Dan Hoang, Tom Michael, Leigh Momii, NAAAP-Seattle Community Service Chair David Eam and NAAAP-Seattle Membership Chair Kevin Chang. Another NAAAP Volunteer, Mikhaila Gonzales, came the day before to help prep for the event.

This is Farestart’s 35th year holding “Guest Chef at the Waterfront (GCOW),” which raises funds and awareness for Farestart. GCOW allows FareStart to spread the word about its training programs, Guest Chef Night and the importance of helping disadvantaged and homeless people in our community. With the funds raised at this special event, Farestart can increase the number of people its serve and improve the quality of the services it provides.

According to the organizer of this NAAAP-Seattle community service event, Jenafer Park, NAAAP volunteers were responsible for collecting guests information for a free drawing and to get people on Farestart’s mailing list.

“It sounds easier than it actually was,” said Park. “Some of us were greeted with smiles and willingness, while others received snarks here and there. Yet everyone worked tirelessly to get as many people as they could to sign up. All in all, we were successful in getting at least 600 people to sign up (about half of the attendees)!”

Other NAAAPsters, including NAAAP-Seattle Secretary Claire De King, were spotted at the event as attendees.

The volunteers admitted it was difficult to stave off the desire to snack on the smorgasbord of culinary delights that surrounded them. Food vendors included: 35th Street Bistro, Assaggio Ristorante, Basil's Kitchen at the Hilton Bellevue, Brasserie Margaux, Columbia Tower Club, and Crush.

One volunteer confessed, “I want to be the other side next year, as an attendee!”

Although GCOW was new to all of the NAAAP-Seattle volunteers, Farestart is no stranger to NAAAP. GCOW marked the third time this year that NAAAP-Seattle has organized a community service event for Farestart.

GCOW was Park’s first time taking the lead on an event for NAAAP.

Park added, “I really appreciate that David Eam, the Community Chair, gave me this opportunity to organize. I would do it again in a heartbeat and look forward to hopefully organizing more events in the future.”

NAAAP-Seattle community service events are ideal for busy professionals who want to volunteer when they do have some spare time but who do not have time to seek out volunteer opportunities on their own.

A chance to volunteer for “Guest Chef on the Waterfront” drew Tom Michael to his first NAAAP-Seattle event.

“I really enjoyed feeling good by doing good,” said Michael. “The opportunity to volunteer for a worthy cause and meeting NAAAP members at the same time was an experience I hope to repeat again in the near future.”

Farestart Volunteer Coordinator Carlene Deits told the NAAAP-Seattle volunteers, “Guest Chef on the Waterfront (GCOW) this week was a terrific success for FareStart! The joy of our guests, chefs and winemakers that came out at this event was a direct result of the energy, time and love you put in!”

“Thank you for volunteering at FareStart’s 2010 Guest Chef on the Waterfront! I hope you will consider joining us again next year,” said Deits.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who moved my cheese?

Leaders are agents of change. They look at change in a positive light responding to the needs of their organizations to grow and be successful.  And they are really good at managing change, too, ensuring those impacted will understand and accept the benefits of the change.  Now if you are undergoing change and need some information on dealing with change, you will want to read, "Who Moved My Cheese?"  It's a really great primer on change.

Visit the Red Tree Leadership and Development website for more:

Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Politicians, Presidents, and Butter Miso Fish star at 2010 NAAAP member appreciation and membership drive picnic

As the final game of the World Cup games aired on July 11, 2010, approximately sixty people chose to come out for NAAAP-Seattle’s annual member appreciation and membership drive picnic at Lake Boren Park in Newcastle rather than watch Netherlands and Spain battle it out on the soccer field.

Included among the picnickers were 41st District State Senator Randy Gordon, King County Assessor Lloyd Hara, and 11th District State Representative Bob Hasegawa.

Senator Randy Gordon said he wanted to show his support for NAAAP-Seattle. As a state senator, he said, “I want to be a representative for everyone.”

The guest who has the honor of traveling the farthest to attend the picnic was National NAAAP President Brad Baldia, who had flown in from Philadelphia the night before.

It was Baldia’s first trip to Seattle. He was impressed by NAAAP-Seattle’s enthusiasm and energy.

“The Seattle chapter is very involved with the minority community and the presence of politicians here today indicates that,” said Baldia.

Baldia said he wants to connect with local chapters throughout the United States because he knows that through local chapters, people get connected to NAAAP nationally.

The real star attraction at the picnic this year was the food. NAAAP celebrity chef Tanantha Couilliard of I just love my Apron fame designed a menu featuring tender chicken and tofu terkayi sandwiches, butter miso with red vinegar fish, and vermicelli salad.

“I think people really appreciated the food was homemade,” said Couilliard, who noted it took a team of four volunteers two days to prepare the meal.

Murmurs of delight over the food were expressed throughout the picnic.

King County Assessor Lloyd Hara was overheard saying, “This is good fish!”

NAAAP Seattle member John Hay of Burien Toyota renewed his membership at this year’s picnic.

“I’m having a lot of fun at this picnic,” said Hay. “I get to grill…and I think I’m pretty good at it too!”

Membership Chair Kevin Chang reported approximately 15 people signed up for new memberships and renewals at the picnic.

“Thank you to everyone who made it to Lake Boren Park and to all the volunteers who made the event possible,” said Chang. “We could not have pulled off the picnic without their time and energy!”

Photos: (top) 41st District State Senator Randy Gordon speaking to picnickers.; (middle) John Hay, right, and Don Lee, left, at the grill; (bottom) NAAAP-board members with NAAAP National President. From left to right, Claire Ke Ding, Casey Huang, Brad Baldia, Gil Gido, Julie Pham, Stacia Loo, David Eam, Hang-Ping Chen, Kevin Chang.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Rice Raised from the Walk this year

Asian Counseling and Referral Services’ annual fundraiser “Walk for Rice” went into its 20th year on June 19, 2010. And this year’s NAAAP-Seattle team raised more than three times compared to last year’s year, with $1166.50. ACRS raised a total of $184,245.

Walk for Rice raises money for the ACRS Food Bank. Over 1,000 community members come to walk or run the 2.5-mile trail at Seward Park while raising money and awareness about hunger in King County. Among them were ten NAAAP-Seattle walkers, including Student Relations Chair Amy Duong, Professional Development Chair Hang-Ping Chen, and President Gil Gido.

NAAAP-Seattle did not just walk the trail. They also came out at 7am to help with the setup of the event, direct traffic and parking, and provide information for participants.

Nartia Ghumman, the development coordinator for ACRS, shared with Community Service Chair David Eam:

“We greatly appreciate NAAAP’s continued support for the event. Your organization has shown great leadership and support of APA community events, year after year. The enthusiasm from NAAAP volunteers at 7:00 a.m. at Walk for Rice is certainly inspiring! Rain or shine, we know that we can count on, thank you and your members for their support their local community fight against hunger.”

Because “every grain counts,” you can still visit ACRS website to make a donation.

Photo: NAAAP-Seattle member and volunteer Tai P. Chainarong holds a sign to direct Walkers.

Monday, July 12, 2010

NAAAP President, Brad Baldia, visits Seattle members

NAAAP Seattle Summer Picnic (l to r) Claire Ding (Secretary), Lloyd Hara (King County Assessor), Bob Hasegawa (11th District House Representative), Gil Gido, Vanessa Diego (member), Brad Baldia (NAAAP President)

Brad Baldia, NAAAP's President based out of Philadelphia, paid us a visit making a special appearance at our annual member appreciation and membership drive picnic at Lake Boren park. His day-long visit was packfilled with meetings and phone calls including meetings with potential speakers and sponsors. Luckily for him, Seattle showed him alot of sun :).

Being President takes alot of preparation, you know, and from my witnessing of his actions, Brad's qualified. Brad's background includes attending The Hill School, an elite private boarding school in Pottstown, PA; receiving a  BA in English and Biology from Bucknell University and a Masters in Public Health from Temple University. In 1995, Brad served as a White House Intern in the Office of Presidential Personnel.

He currently works as the Director of the Southeast Philadelphia Collaborative. In addition, he works extensively with Asian community organizations on a local and national level, such as the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs and the National Association of Asian American Professionals (Brad is Founding President of the Philadelphia Chapter and was elected in August, 2006 as Executive Vice President of NAAAP National and National President & Chairman in August, 2008).

At the picnic, Brad spoke to our members on the benefits of being a NAAAP member and showed the bigger vision of NAAAP.  At the end of it all, it was exciting to have him here at least for a day and we wish his return soon.

Read about the event at the NAAAP Seattle Blog:

Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pivoting on People, Process, or Tool.

If you're like me, you're probably sitting on a problem right now. They're all around us. It's a natural occurrence in life.  Now what I'd like to offer you is a simple, yet effective means to problem solve and help you start thinking differently about your approach to problem solving.  And I say, "simple," because as you know the answer to the age old question of "how do you eat an elephant?" is not all at once, but rather a "bite at a time."

Once you realize you have a problem, you're going to size it up determining what's the impact to you and others and start thinking about solutions.  You're going to see if you've experienced a similar problem or if this problem is completely new. (Of course, I like the new problems :) )  You'll also start to think about what it'll cost and how much time you need. You'll also ask yourself, "what will it look like when the problem is solved?" Moreover, problem solving requires Creativity, Communication, Commitment, and Critical thinking --- the 4C's as I like to call them.

Starting to solve a problem is I think the most difficult part. At this point, your canvass is usually quite big with so many options to choose from, so what you can do is pivot on three areas: People, Process, or Tool.  This actually narrows your options very quickly. For example, when your problem deals with People, you can immediately take your problem to the person (s) that is (are) the cause of the problem, even if it might be you. Likewise, when your problem deals with Process, you can immediately review it and see if there are opportunities to make improvements. And when your problem deals with a Tool, you can immediately determine whether to fix, improve, eliminate or substitute it.

When you've identified the area you want to focus on, you will want to set goals and create a plan to solve (or resolve) it. I suggest you have many conversations with people to see what they think about your plan, too. You'll soon see your plan take shape building momentum. Continue then to take action on your plan. If you need additional resources, ask for them within your organization. If you hit a barrier (another problem) rethink your plan and again pivot on People, Process, and Tool. Before long, you'll have a resolution to your problem.   (If you want to know more about planning, then I've written about it in an earlier blog called, "Structures For FulFillment." You can read more about it there.)

In summary, I think problems can be difficult, but problems shouldn't necessarily be seen as a bad thing. As we grow and develop, we're likely to take on bigger problems that are matched up with our skills to solve. If you're not solving a problem matching your current skills, then you might consider taking on a bigger, more complex problem. If you've been tackling a problem for awhile now and haven't come up with a solution, give this approach a try.  See for yourself how quickly you can get past a point where you've been stuck.

Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle