I heard about the 2012 Visionaries Conference today, the day of, and found out RSVPs were closed, I did everything in my power to get in. I knew that this was an event close to my heart and not to be missed. So, I emailed them, wrote to them on the site, Tweeted them, called the venue to try to speak to someone at the conference. All to no avail. Then I decided to actually go to the conference, held at Webster Hall and see if I could talk my way in. Which I did.
Visionaries Conference, an event to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, featuring a panel of Visionary Asian Americans in Fashion, Sports & Entertainment- Industries I love, and want to be in myself.
We were in the main level for complimentary refreshments & hors’doeuvres, which were displayed beautifully. There were pulled pork and regular burgers with all the fixings (such as bacon, onion, tomato, cheese, etc); cucumber tomato feta cheese salad; imitation crab salad; raw tuna on fried wonton skin and assorted fruits.
After the initial networking period, we all moved to the Grand Ballroom where we got to meet the host and guest speaker. XiXi Yang, entertainment TV personality was charming, energetic and polished. There were 3 guest speakers: Joe Zee, creative director of ELLE magazine; Jamie Chung, Actress (was in Hangover 2) and Mark Munoz, UFC Fighter.
XiXi asked some really great questions about how the guest speakers got to where they are now, what being Asian American means to them, how their families reacted to them being in nontraditional roles, how they differentiate themselves in their fields, some embarrassing stories, and what advice they can give us.
I really liked Joe and Mark. Hearing them speak was truly inspirational. They really knew what they were talking about and their great personalities shined through. I was not impressed by Jamie; she didn’t have a lot to add to the conversation.
Joe started by telling us years ago someone told him he will never make it in the Fashion industry because 1) He’s not white; 2) He’s not blond. Yet, 20 years later look where he is- Creative director of ELLE, a major fashion magazine and host of TV show, “All on the Line.” And along the way he has worked for Allure, Details, W and Vitals. His ‘slogan’ if you will: “Don’t tell me no” because that’s what gives him the push and inspiration to get to where he is. The way that he tries to stay ahead of the game is to always tell something new.
Joe also shared with us an inside story about when he was first on the job market and didn’t get the position at WWD. He wisely said, “Every role you don’t get, you can’t wallow in it,” and that down the road there is a bigger plan. He also urged us that it doesn’t have to be a traditional route to get there (whether it be fashion, entertainment, etc), and if it’s not handed to you, create it.
And then there was Mark, who is an amazing person, beautiful inside and out. Mark told us, “Your experiences shape who you are. Whatever struggle that strikes you, whatever adversity, trial, mistake you make — You can rise above it.” He also urged us to go out and accomplish what we’re passionate about, then mentioned the 5 D’s that he tries to live with everyday:
Direction – You need short term goals that lead to long term goals.
Diligence – Hard work.
Discipline – In the choices you make everyday… Your character will show through when in front or behind the camera.
Dedication – Need to be devoted to your desire.
Mark also told us that he fights for everything he loves, and that can be summed up in 3 F’s:
Mark also talked about failure. Here’s his take: “Who cares if you fail? TRY, do it. Don’t be afraid of failure because that will make you into the champ you are.” His final message was to be walking testimonies of doing what we love, and to leave that legacy. Truly a man after my own heart.
What a wonderful Visionary Conference, and I am so glad to have been in attendance.