Sunday, September 19, 2010

What would you do if you couldn't fail?

House of Hong Restaurant, Seattle -  This was the question I asked at a recently held Women of Power Luncheon hosted by Assunta Ng, Publisher of the NW Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post newspapers.  Before I get to the answer of that question, though, let me first tell you that this luncheon, now in its third year, benefits one of NAAAP Seattle's partners, the Executive Development Institute (EDI). Twelve lucky auction winners from EDI's Inclusion Fusion held earlier this year got to lunch with some very powerful women. In fact, I had the privilege and pleasure of being seated at one of the tables. I'll introduce them one by one as I go through their stories.

Women of Power Luncheon (l to r) Martha ChoeDonna Giordano, Grace Chien, and Amelia Ransom Letcher (Not pictured: Sandra Madrid)

As the food arrived, Donna Giordano, President of the Quality Food Centers (QFC), shared what she thought were her keys to success(es); that was:
  • to listen and learn from others;
  • to take any job offered as it would lead people to know that you're the obvious choice when opportunities arose;
  • to know you are in the driver's seat of your career;
  • to know and articulate your value; and most of all,
  • to have a positive attitude as this will assist you in achieving results, both at home and at work. 
Next, the top Girl Scout or CEO, Grace Chien, made a point to stand firm with your commitments and define successes and failures in relation to these.

Martha Choe, Chief Administrative Officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and also a 2010 NAAAP100 recipient, talked not only about change, but about having it be sustained and lasting. She talked about how important it is to building lasting and effective relationships and used the term, "total leadership", when addressing one's well-being: mind, body and soul. Said another way, "When you're health isn't well, neither is your leadership."

When addressing work life-balance, "there is no perfect balance and it's a matter of balancing daily or weekly based on what is important to you. Put another way, if you are on your death bed, would you regret having gone to one more meeting?"
(l to r) Sandra Madrid, Carol Butterfield and Sandi Heddington
Now, Amelia Ransom Letcher, VP Corp Diversity Affairs at Nordstrom, rallied around people first and effective communication. Can you imagine the power in having people believe flowers grow in concrete? Getting to this level of effectiveness can help you become very influential.

Sandra Madrid, Sr. Advisor to the Dean, UW, shared a story about her own career transition. She was let go from the UW after 20 years of service. Her main point was to be part of a community because no one can do it by themselves. It was with the community's support that she got her job back at the UW.

As by now, I'm guessing you want to know what they said when asked, "what would you do if you couldn't fail?" I asked this question because throughout our careers we face fear and indecision and having gone through this themselves, they would give really good insight. Well, in short, the answer was not surprising. To paraphrase what each one of them said, "I would do anything".

Given that we're already on the topic of powerful women, I would like now to take a moment to let you know about the Women in NAAAP! program, which is our own program created and developed to build competent and confident women leaders within NAAAP and within the Asian Pacific community. If you don't already know about it, you can visit our website.

Special thanks to Char Grinolds of EDI and Assunta Ng, Publisher of NW Asian Weekly and the Chinese Seattle Post newspapers for creating a great meeting.

Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Where are they now? Andy Yip, NAAAP Seattle President 2007-2008

My name is Andy Yip, President for the National Association of Asian American Professionals – Seattle Chapter from 2007 to 2008. I am a registered principal at my firm Raymond James, with a focus on estate planning and investment portfolio management. In my past careers, I have led numerous leadership positions including being the state manager for Prudential Financial. In 2007, we were the number one firm for Prudential in the entire nation. After much hard work and teamwork in achieving that, I became independent and had my own operation in Mercer Island, WA with my business partner.
NAAAP-Seattle gave me the opportunity to get in touch with the Asian American community and since then, I have gone on to serve many other community organizations, such as:

Being on the board of an active organization also broadened my network, I was able to meet many young professionals that are passionate about their communities; found many mentors that have been where I was and formed many valuable relationship with key personnel across various industries.
It is exciting to see many new leaders are taking the lead at NAAAP-Seattle now, and I am proud to continue serving as a member of the Executive Advisory Board of NAAAP-Seattle, having input on the direction of the organization, and continue to bring resources to foster the next generation of leaders.

To those that are still on the fence of deciding whether to become part of this great organization, just know that NAAAP-Seattle leaders are all about giving back to the community while elevating their professionalism in their own career path. You will find many excellent mentors, great friends, fun activities, and top notch training.
i work, i play, i NAAAP!

Andy Yip
NAAAP Seattle President 2007-2008

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Career Transitions panel emphasized: Make your “someday, I’ll do this…” to “everyday, I'll do this…”

Over seventy people attended the “Career Transitions” panel on September 8 at the Seattle Design Center. State Farm Insurance sponsored the event and they worked with NAAAP-Seattle, NSHMBA, and National Black MBA Association to organize it. The panel was followed by professional resume reviews.

The panelists included: Albert Torres, CEO and publisher of Tu Decides Newspapers; Ted Yamamura, Regional Director at the Boeing Company; Jeffrey Taylor, State Farm Insurance Agent; and Norman Sigler, who has his own executive search and coaching firm.

The panelists represented a wide range of experiences.

Torres described growing up as a migrant farm laborer to working at Microsoft as a computer science engineer and then establishing Washington’s first bilingual Spanish-English newspaper with his wife and a group of investors.

“The only thing we regret is not having done it earlier,” said Torres. “We have this phrase, ‘someday, I’ll do this…’. Find something you love so that you can make your ‘someday’ an ‘everyday.’ It’s not where the dream takes you, but where you take the dream.”

Taylor grew up in Illinois, home to State Farm Insurance headquarters. He started his 23-year career with the company as a college intern and climbed the corporate ranks.

He was being relocated every few years between headquarters and the regional offices until he realized he wanted to plant his roots in one place and be connected to his community. That is when he decided to become a State Farm insurance agent himself. He owns an agency in Columbia City.

“Instead of asking ‘what do I want to do,’ you should describe your ideal work setting,” said Taylor. “When you do that, you’ll know your passion.”

Ted Yamamura started at the Boeing Company 30 years ago as an engineer; 15 years later, he moved to sales. For those who want to make a transition and move up in their companies, Yamamura stressed the importance of networking and personal branding.

“To be successful, networking is 70% and work is 30%,” said Yamamura. “If people don’t know you did it, it doesn’t matter if you did the work.”

Yamamura is a former NAAAP-Seattle President and the co-founder of the Executive Development Institute.

Like Torres and Taylor, Sigler decided to become an entrepreneur after years of working in corporate America. Today, he runs his own successful executive search firm.

Sigler said those considering career transitions should maximize their previous experience as they strategize the next step in their professional life.

“You have to know the business in order to help your clients and understand what they need,” said Sigler. “I went from working in corporations to finding executives for corporations.”

Audience member Toni Thomas said the panelists “knew how to answer audience’s questions and gave real answers.”

She said her take-home lesson was, “When you have a passion, you have to ask questions of yourself. You have to move on that passion and just do it. If you can’t answer the questions, just look for help. There are many opportunities for support and follow through.”

This event marked the first time this year NAAAP-Seattle partnered with the National Association of Black MBAs and the third time it has partnered with NSHMBA.

Thomas added she was impressed by the diversity of the audience.

Claims agent Emma Molinar said State Farm Insurance sponsored the event not only to potentially recruit those interested in starting their own agencies, but to also show “State Farm supports diversity, and that we reach out to diverse communities.”

For first-time attendee to a NAAAP-Seattle event, Shinichi Ogawa noted, “It’s great to see Asians step out and intermix more. It’s a great mix of cultures.”

Attendees also had ample time to network.

“I’m excited to meet both young professional and seasoned professionals to get their advice,” said Joshua Wei, a recent college graduate.

“I came because the topics look interesting, but I’m surprised by how friendly people are and how easy it has been to meet new people,” said Robert Ng, an engineer at Boeing and a first-time NAAAP-Seattle event attendee.

For more information on the NAAAP-Seattle Professional Development events and program, please contact NAAAP-Seattle Professional Development Chair Hang Chen at

Photos: (top, front left to right) Norman Sigler, Jeffrey Taylor, Ted Yamamura, Albert Torres, Stephanie Jordan; (center) audience; (bottom) Shinichi Ogawa and Joshua Wei.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Leaving a Mark on the University of Washington (UW)

Photos by Lori Call © Alabastro Photography
Mark Emmert after six years of having been the University of Washington President has accepted the honorable position of President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In a farewell event at Kane Hall last week, many acknowleged his contributions to the history of the university. He is leaving the University of Washington having many achievements including creating new colleges: the UW College of the Environment and the Department of Global Health, which was done in collaboration with the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health and with tremendous support from the Gates Foundation.

In words said at this event, President Emmert built a diverse administration based on merit and knowledge-based perspectives. In addition, his focus on social justice and responsibility led to the Long Journey Home event, in which Nikkei graduates of 1941-1942, who had been denied the opportunity to complete their higher-education at the UW during World War II, were honored with degrees .  This also served as an opportunity to recognize present and future generations of Japanese Americans and more broadly the Asian American community. The University of Washington was the first university to advocate providing honorary degrees to the Nikkei graduates of 1941-1942. Other universities, such as Berkeley, have since followed the leadership of the UW. (Note: You can read more about Japansese American history at Densho)

Photos by Lori Call © Alabastro Photography
Phyllis Wise will take on the role as President of the University of Washington. It's definitely a first, since she will be the first Asian American woman to hold the position. His wife, DeLaine, accomplished herself, will be leaving with Mark after having made contributions to the community in terms of environmental sustainability and wildlife preservation.

Congratulations to Mark, DeLaine and Phyllis on their new roles.

Thanks to the University of Washington, the Executive Development Institute, and UnionBank for organizing the program. Special thanks to community leaders Ted Yamamura, a former NAAAP Seattle President, Diane Adachi, Dr. Testu Kashima, Dennis Yamashita, and Dr. Phyllis Wise for their speeches.

Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Volunteers take pride in helping keep the International District clean

August 29, 10am--a team of 17 NAAAP-Seattle volunteers hit the streets to clean the organization’s adopted streets. Their efforts were especially needed because the International District Night Market took place the night before.

NAAAP-Seattle have adopted King and Jackson streets, between 5th and 12th Avenues, under City of Seattle-Seattle Public Utilities’ Adopt-A-Street Program. Every few months, Community Service Chair David Eam organizes volunteers to clean up the streets.

Eam said, “We wish to keep the streets clean to make the ID experience more enjoyable.”

Those walking by thanked the cleaning crews as they picked their way down King St. and Jackson St. Although many businesses do take the time to clean the streets, the ID accumulates a lot of litter because of the high number of transients and careless litterers.

Former NAAAP-Seattle President Ki Kim and current NAAAP-Seattle Vice-President Jen Phang were among the volunteers. The volunteers included: David Eam, Heng Sun, Lily Liao, Ki Kim, Jen Phang, Katie Phan, Andrew Liu, Jimmy Wong, Mikii Liu, Keith Couilliard, Sherwin Tsao, Ron Warkentin, Homan Leung, Amy Hsieh, and Angela Phan.

Of the 17 volunteers, nine were first-time NAAAP-Seattle volunteers.

Although Jimmy Wong has attended NAAAP-Seattle social events, the ID Clean-up was his first time participating in NAAAP-Seattle’s Community Service program.

Wong said, “I wanted to participate because I wanted to give back to my community and to join and help out some close friends who are passionate in helping others out.”

It made him appreciate the service NAAAP-Seattle provides to the community.

“The ID Cleanup event was a very needed event,” said Wong. “King Street from 12th Ave to 5th Ave was very dirty.”

First-time volunteers said they would get their hands dirty again to help out their community.

“I would like to volunteer again, it was great event,” Wong added. “The people that you volunteer with makes the event enjoyable.”

Another first-time volunteer, Katie Phan, said, “The event was so much fun. It was a great experience and I'm so happy I did it.”

“It was a great opportunity to help clean up Seattle and meet new people,” said Phan. “I enjoy volunteering, and I wanted to give back to the community, and meet other volunteers. I would like to volunteer again. Not only did I enjoy volunteering but it was nice that so many people stopped and thanked us for our hard work.”

The fun didn’t stop with picking up garbage though. The majority of volunteers continued to socialize over dim sum in the neighborhood. They washed their hands before eating.

Want to participate or lead a community service project? Contact David Eam at

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Take me out to the ballgame, me some Wasabi Sesame Popcorn

In lieu of its usual monthly mixer for September, NAAAP-Seattle organized an outing to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners play the Los Angeles Angels on the Mariners’ Asian American Heritage Night on September 1.

According to Mariners’ Director of Public Information Rebecca Hale, NAAAP-Seattle was one of six organizations that evening to help the Mariners sell the special Asian Heritage Night tickets.

Asian Heritage Night’s major sponsors include Gobo Enterprises, General Biodiesel, and Mulvanny G2.

“We find this event to be a great way to connect with different segments of our community,” said Hale. “We have a strong, direct connection with the local Asian community.”

NAAAP-Seattle sold 34 tickets. For every $16 Mariners ticket sold through NAAAP-Seattle, $8 went to benefit two local non-profits that serve Asian elders, Nikkei Concerns and Kin On. Hale said that $3,208 of the proceeds from ticket sales went to the two non-profit organizations.

The Mariners awarded NAAAP-Seattle for its marketing efforts by flashing on the reader board “National Association of Asian American Professionals-Seattle” at the bottom of the fourth inning.

Of the people who bought tickets through NAAAP-Seattle, a number were newcomers to NAAAP-Seattle.

Sandi Lin said she receives the NAAAP-Seattle weekly e-newsletter, but this was her first time attending a NAAAP-Seattle event.

“The baseball game seemed like an informal way to meet people and it was a fun activity,” said Lin. “I liked that it was on a weekday because weekends can be inconvenient for me.”

For some of the game-goers, the event marked their first ever baseball game.

“I probably wouldn’t have gone to a Mariners game if NAAAP hadn’t organized it,” said C.M. Chin, who has been attending NAAAP-Seattle events for two years.

“It’s a great way to celebrate APA Heritage,” added Chin.

NAAAP-Seattle also awarded two tickets to Leigh Momii for answering “Who was the first Asian to play for the Mariners” on a NAAAP-Seattle Twitter contest.
Momii said she follows the NAAAP-Seattle Twitter so “that I can be up-to-date on the latest NAAAP news and activities in the most efficient way.”

How did Momii know the answer was Mac Suzuki?

“I knew the answer to the quiz question because I am huge sports fanatic and I love my home teams!” said Momii.

As an added treat for the NAAAP-Seattle game-goers, resident celebrity chef Tanantha Couilliard of I Just Love My Apron fame prepared a NAAAP-Seattle exclusive snack: Wasabi Sesame popcorn.

Although the Mariners lost to the Los Angeles Angels 2-4, the NAAAP-Seattle attendees were already having too much of a ball to be disappointed.

Avid baseball fan Karen Lin, said, “It was fun to go with a big group. I just like watching baseball.”

To see more photos from the game, please visit NAAAP-Seattle on Facebook. For more information on NAAAP-Seattle social events or to help out, please email Social Chair Heidi Yan at

Photos: (top) Gene Liang, Sandi Lin, and C. M. Chan; (middle) NAAAP-Seattle Community Service Chair David Eam and Karen Lin enjoyed the “Wasabi Sesame popcorn”; (bottom) NAAAP-Seattle flashed on the Mariners’ Reader board.