NAAAP International Convention | Top 3 Tips for Aspiring Asian Professionals (Part 3 of 4)

Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori & filed under Leadership.

NAAAP Boston. Courtesy of Lisa Strack.
NAAAP Boston. Courtesy of Lisa Strack.

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In Part 3 of Schema Magazine’s four-part preface to the 2013 NAAAP International Convention (August 8- 10), the speakers get straight to the mentoring. Since good advice is at the the heart of good mentoring, we’ve asked the speakers to share some of their best advice for the up-and-coming Asian Canadian and Asian American professional—including advice on getting advice.

What would be your top 3 tips for aspiring Asian American/Canadian professionals?

Marco Mo: 

1. Appreciate that your ease of access to any career you want was paved by the persistence and endurance of previous generations who immigrated here before you.  Humility draws resources.  Hubris repels.

2. Think about creating a job before applying for a job.  Any work you can do for an employer, you can sell as a service.

3. Never be impressed with people’s job titles and years experience.  The only thing that matters is what they are doing now and if they’re happy.  Only ask for advice from folks who are doing what you want to do and doing it better.  Filter out everything else.

Lisa Strack: 

1. Build your network! Include people who are outside of the Asian community, and from the main stream majority.

2. Balance yourself: Career, Personal (family, friends, romantic relationships), Spiritual/religious, Self Improvement (formal training/education & interpersonal), Health.

3. Always continue learning—that is how we grow. Change will always be inevitable—you make the choice to embrace it and grow or not.  (I did not coin that idea- original is: ‘Change is inevitable- growth is optional’, John C. Maxwell.)

James Cheng (right) performing with Darrel Gamotin from Asiansploitation at a Procter & Gamble celebration of Chinese New Year 2012 in Toronto

James Cheng (right) performing with Darrel Gamotin from Asiansploitation at a Procter & Gamble celebration of Chinese New Year 2012 in Toronto.

James Cheng: 

1. Cultivate the skills you need to do your job well.  You have to be competent so the more you develop this, the better.

2. Work on Communication Skills.  I find many Asians to be more thinkers than feelers and will often think, giving the impression they’re not engaged.  Work on finding and expressing yourself and your emotions at work.

3. Do something you both love and are good at versus your peers (or something that you will become good at).  Passion is evident and going through the motions is not going to help in the long run.


David Lum (centre)

David Lum (centre)

David Lum: 

1. Learn to change, grow, and adapt.  Each level of your career has different demands on you in the areas of technical knowledge, social skills, interpersonal relationships, and business acumen.

2. Learn to question your values and attitudes, including those that Mom & Dad taught you that you thought were always right, and change them as you need to in order to make it work for your life.  Surprise!  Sometimes Mom & Dad can be wrong too.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate!  Go to Toastmasters and complete the Competent Communicator level (10 projects) at the very minimum.  Once you do this, you’ll realize that your foreign accent was never the issue, and that self-confidence was all that was needed.

Byron Abalos:

1. Recognize that you’re Asian and that people will inherently have prejudices based on how you look.

2. Don’t let your ‘Asian-ness’ define you. It’s an important part of who you are but it’s not all of who you are.

3. Excel. Do the best job you can do. Talent and skill can’t be overlooked forever.

Teja Arboleda (far left) as lead singer of a band in Tokyo

Teja Arboleda (far left) as lead singer of a band in Tokyo.

Teja Arboleda:

1. Recognize that Asian is larger than ‘East Asian’.

2. Debunk and fight the stereotypes, especially the Model Minority assumption.

3. Embrace the strength of being part of the fastest demographic change this continent has ever seen.

Susan Chuang:

1. Know your rights, know who can help you if you need it (what services or programs are available)

2. Don’t just work hard, make your connections with various people and get to know them. This will help you navigate the organizational system better.

3. Seek opportunities, even make them if there are none. One never knows where a small contribution of effort can direct you to bigger and better things!

Paul Kay: 

1. Always continue to build a trusted network

2. Education is the ultimate equalizer

3. Find a mentor who can guide you in your journey

Fabian De Rozario:

1. Really understand what ‘leadership’ means in your work—and work to be seen as a leader.  Leadership is likely the most ‘improvement needed’ quality that Asians in North America are characterized with.

2. Courage—many negative stereotypes I’ve heard about Asians have precipitated from either the lack of confidence, deference, or respectfulness that people may have—so, assert yourself.

3. Participate—engage in meaningful activities and programs to gain positive exposure.  Apply to serve on a board for a community group (not necessarily an Asian one).  Stay after work to attend an office ‘after hours’. […] Be seen as a meaningful contributor beyond what your job description indicates.

Real gems to live and work by. In Part 4 of this series, the speakers give tips on how to get the most out of attending the NAAAP International Convention.

For more information visit NAAAP Toronto’s website.

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