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NOVEMBER 2021 NEWSLETTER

Be inclusive, be a pair of chopsticks

Dear readers,

I was recently invited to be a radio show guest at the “Network of Executive Women (NEW)” on the topic of “Acclimating to the US as a foreign-born professional,” representing the AAAB and Tyson Foods. I was joined by Diana Figueroa of Visa and Bhagya Subbareddy of SAP – I came from China in 2009, Diana came from Mexico and Bhagya was from India – the three of us make a good representation of the major labor exporting countries to the United States. 
Towards the end, the host, Sarah Alter, CEO of NEW, asked what leaders should be doing to become more inclusive in a large corporate environment, and I responded, “To become more like a pair of chopsticks.” Here is why:

In my opinion, being inclusive to others’ perspectives and ideas begins by being inclusive to ourselves – our own thoughts, potential and interests. On one hand, we may consciously want to be more inclusive, recognizing the business benefits by considering different viewpoints and being open-minded towards new opportunities. On the other hand, subconsciously, our mind is greatly shaped by the system we operate in. Here is where the analogy of a pair of chopsticks comes in, as brilliantly illustrated in the image below by 32-year-old Siyu Cao, a Paris-based Beijing-Born graphic designer. 

Compared to the various utensils used in western dining, a pair of chopsticks used in my native cuisine, which is Chinese food, is designed to be used for much broader purposes, compared to each single piece of the utensils’ specialized purpose. I think the utensil phenomenon is more pronounced in mature corporations, with clearly defined divisions and teams than a startup environment, where people tend to wear multiple hats. 
Of courses, the “utensil system” has its pros: A structured team can be highly efficient in the modern complex world by developing specialty tools like the folks and knives of different sizes. The value, however, of using this chopsticks analogy is to nudge ourselves to recognize that, subconsciously, we could be greatly influenced by simple habits, such as the dining habits in different cultures, which can have a ripple effect on how we think and behave generally.

If you think this is a reasonable analogy for becoming more versatile and inclusive, here is how you can become more like a pair of chopsticks in a large corporate environment:
  1. Believe you have a lot more to offer than what your job title says;
  2. Become a real person in every conversation and interaction with colleagues, and thus to rebrand yourself not as a tool but as an individual that can grow in multiple directions;
  3. Trust that you can be a specialized powerful tool when the focus is needed, thus don’t think you need to abandon your old identity altogether;
  4. Look into opportunities for becoming more well-rounded, such as, starting a side business, exploring a creative field or a foreign culture, or rotating to a different functioning team in your organization;
  5. Seek to see the improved business results. Does it make you a more pleasant person to work with, and thus get more customers or collaboration opportunities? Does it paint you as a versatile team member with technical as well as people skills, and thus more promotable? Does it make you more impactful in innovation and creativity? If any of these is true – congratulations!
When it comes to becoming a more inclusive organization as a whole, it is easier to achieve it when we hold ourselves accountable. My challenge to you this coming month, December of 2021, is to start being more like a pair of chopsticks or at least try to eat a meal with them!
 
Happy becoming a pair of chopsticks,

Yang Luo-Branch
Founder and President, AAAB

AAAB MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Chicot Hibachi Express
Membership Type: Small Enterprise

"Chicot Hibachi Express" is a local Asian restaurant brand with multiple locations, one in Fayetteville, two in Little Rock, and one in North Little Rock, Arkansas. With a goal of connecting Asian food to America, Chicot strives to provide affordable hibachi while keeping the same high quality that customers love.

The business is owned by Hendry Sanusi, an Asian business owner from Indonesia. With a passion for providing food and beverage to the Arkansan community, Hendry believes that "food is an excellent bridge to learn about Asian culture", and he demonstrates this belief with his successful restaurant business. Outside of his work, Hendry contributes to the community through church activities and volunteering. 

Check out Chicot Hibachi's menu and info at their website!
Would you like an opportunity to be spotlighted as a member? Contact us or
Join the AAAB Membership

AAAB ACTIVITIES

Upcoming event: Q4 "Arkansas-Asia Briefing"
8 am CT on Dec 9, 2021, the AAAB will host its fourth quarter's "Arkansas-Asia Briefing" event. The event will feature three topics, beginning by Yang Luo-Branch, the president of the AAAB, giving a review of the Arkansas-Asian business community in 2021, followed by Mary Zunick, Honorary Consul of Japan for Arkansas and the Cultural Affairs Manager at Visit Hot Springs, providing an update on Arkansas’ cultural and economic exchange with Japan, and Ruhul "Andy" Kumar, the owner of multiple businesses in Arkansas, sharing his experience in leading the Indian business community in Arkansas and beyond. Register here

IN THE NATURAL STATE

Gov. Hutchinson promotes economic ties between Israel and Arkansas during trip - Fox 16 News
Governor Asa Hutchinson is the first Governor to visit Israel since the beginning of the pandemic.  He was a keynote speaker at a conference on Smart Mobility which the Governor was able to tout Walmart’s new driverless fleet which came from actions of the 2019 Regular Session.  He said he was glad to be able to get back out promote the state. “I’ve not been able to market Arkansas the way I would’ve liked.  This is the first opportunity since we’re having international travel to really sell the state of Arkansas,” Governor Hutchinson said.  Learn more
Walton Family Foundation names general counsel - Walton Family Foundation
 The Walton Family Foundation appointed Christie Yang as general counsel. Yang will lead legal operations to advance the organization’s goals and impact. Most recently, Yang served as the foundation’s interim general counsel. Before joining the Walton Family Foundation, Yang was associate general counsel at the Brookings Institution, where she advised top-ranked research programs and navigated complex issues across multiple foreign offices and strategic partnerships worldwide. She was a litigator at Morrison & Foerster LLP, representing numerous Fortune 100 tech and financial services clients in high-stakes, high-profile litigation and investigations earlier in her career. Learn more
Honors student Adam Jackson launches cloth mask company - University of Arkansas
As the pandemic surged in March 2020, and companies halted typical operations, honors student Adam Jackson and his mother, Lisa Ferrell, a lawyer who represents the Little-Rock-based clothing manufacturer TY Garments, decided to repurpose her client's machines to produce cloth face masks. Together, they formed a company they named ARClothMasks and began selling masks immediately. Initially, the goal was to make 100 masks that they would share with family friends and other members in their community. However, demand convinced them to expand their business. Learn more

AROUND THE WORLD

Biden, Xi stick to their positions but turn down the heat in three-hour talk - Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden pressed his Chinese counterpart on human rights in a video call lasting more than three hours, while Xi Jinping warned that China would respond to provocations on Taiwan, according to official accounts of the exchange. The contentious issue of whether the United States will send White House envoys to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February did not come up, the U.S. official said. Learn more
Samsung chooses Texas as site of new $17bn chip plant - BBC
It is the South Korean electronics giant's biggest-ever US investment. The plant is expected to create 2,000 technology industry jobs, with construction starting early next year. Samsung, like several of its rivals, is racing to expand chip making in the US to tackle supply chain issues. "With greater manufacturing capacity, we will be able to better serve the needs of our customers and contribute to the stability of the global semiconductor supply chain," Kinam Kim, chief executive of Samsung electronics device solutions said. Learn more
Thai retail deal adds to questions on market dominance - Swift Headline
At a time when Toshiba, General Electric and Johnson & Johnson are breaking up, Thailand’s big family-controlled conglomerates are building out their sprawling business empires. Charoen Pokphand, the country’s biggest conglomerate with an imposing presence in food, retail and telecoms at home and in nearby countries, recently said it planned to expand into preventive healthcare, renewable energy and cryptocurrency. CP’s expansion has made it one of its region’s largest conglomerates, a national champion with operations around south-east Asia and China as well as a dominant presence in Thai life.  Learn more
Indonesia and Foxconn in talks over electric vehicle investment - Nikkei Asia
JAKARTA/TAIPEI -- Indonesia and iPhone assembler Foxconn have held talks over electric vehicle investment in the Southeast Asian country, though the two sides differ on what was decided. Both sides in separate statements confirmed investment discussions took place recently. Any such entry into Indonesia by Foxconn would be huge boost for a country that aims to position itself as a key player in the global EV supply chain. Indonesia said that Foxconn "plans to build" electric vehicles and batteries there, though the Taiwanese company stopped short of confirming that any such plan was made. Learn more
Ex-Microsoft exec Harry Shum leads ‘digital economy’ research center in Shenzhen - TechCrunch

The International Digital Economy Academy (IDEA) quietly opened last year, perched among ultramodern office buildings on Shenzhen’s side of the river border with Hong Kong. While geographically separated from Hong Kong, technically, the research institute is located inside a special area straddling the two cities: the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Cooperation Zone. The name is self-explanatory. It’s a joint effort by the governments of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, with support from Beijing and favorable policies, to collaborate on scientific and technological research. Learn more

ANYTHING ASIA

Michelle Wu wins historic Boston mayor’s race, marking a new era for the city - Boston Globe

Michelle Wu, the 36-year-old daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and a Boston Public Schools mother who pitched a once parochial city on an unabashedly progressive agenda, captured the Boston mayoralty by a wide margin on Nov 2, shattering barriers to mark a new era in one of the nation’s most durable bastions of white male political power. Learn more

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The AAAB mission
  1. To support the professional growth of those Arkansans of Asian descent and to promote Asian-owned businesses in Arkansas;
  2. To provide assistance to Arkansas companies looking to explore Asian markets;
  3. To provide resources for companies and professionals from Asian countries looking to explore business opportunities with Arkansas;
  4. Overall, to be an advocate for entrepreneurship that is related to Arkansas and Asia.
AAAB Board of Directors
Katie Thompson | Mimi San Pedro
| Young Chun |  Yang Luo-Branch | William "Goose" Changose |  Mark Young 
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