Monthly Archives: April 2015

For Our Consideration @WalkingDead_AMC #TWD

One of the fantastic perks about being in LA and knowing people who work in the Industry is having nights like last night. Pre-Emmy voting season, the Academy hosts evenings where an episode is screened and cast members, along with producers and/or directors, will have a Q&A panel. Last night, we attended a For Your Consideration event for “The Walking Dead”.


The event was held at the Egyptian Theater, right in the heart of Hollywood Blvd. I actually had forgotten that it was next to the iconic restaurant bar that I used to frequent in my 20s called Pig and Whistle. It also sits less than a block away from one of the more notorious sites:


Blogger’s note:  if you haven’t watched “Going Clear” the HBO doc about Scientology, you should.

We waited in a long line but what I noticed was this crowd looked a lot less like industry people and a lot more like fans who attend Walker Stalker Cons or SDCC. I only saw one person in Cosplay, dressed as Michonne, but I definitely saw and heard chatter from die-hard TWD fans. My daughter brought something other than her earbuds and phone to kill time in line, while I answered work email.


She just started “Lord of the Flies” for school. That made me very proud. I had her do a ton of homework over the weekend so she could attend this event with me, I did not make her bring the book, though.

Once we got in, check-in was a smooth process and the theater quickly filled up. We actually walked to the theater early just so I could feel comfortable with where we were going. I’m glad we did because 90 minutes before the screening was to start, the line was halfway down the block already!   I also saw my friend from @walkrstalkrcon, LeAnn. She’s been with the con since the very beginning and we met at WSC ATL 2013. I adore her.

LeAnn and her friend, who happens to work with Soneiqua Martin-Green, scored third row seats. Her pics kick butt on mine 🙂


For this event, they showed S5 finale and the cast came out for Q&A. When I saw the number of chairs on stage I said to myself, “Damn, I’m glad I’m not moderating.”  Check out this stage:


Kirkman, Gimple, Nicotero, Lincoln, Reedus, moderator from Deadline Hollywood, Yeun, Gurira, McBride, Coleman, Martin-Green and Cudlitz. How could they all possibly have equal time to respond to questions?  Well, they didn’t. The moderator asked a few, the audience asked a few and some came via Twitter. I tried to capture a few of the responses, sorry the video is crappy, I sat in the cheap seats towards the back.

Chad L Coleman talks about Tyreese’s death scene, after we saw a clip, and Andrew Lincoln follows up with his comments about it. Loads of well-deserved praise for Coleman’s performance in Lincoln’s comments.

It is really fun to hear the actors talk about how much they support one another. I think audience members don’t realize that on a show with a cast this size, there are times when they may not shoot together. Or, they may never work on the same day. So when a big scene is going to happen, many times the other actors will come to the set to show their support and watch filming. Obviously, they are also The Walking Dead fans.

Norman Reedus added his perspective on that day, as well. There was a lot of Tyreese death scene love love.

Melissa McBride fielded a question from the audience about why she is so mean to children.

Finally, Steven Yeun had an opportunity to speak *swoon*.  He is such a #SHAG (smoking hot Asian guy.)

After the panel, we all went outside for a reception. Free booze and pupus on a Monday night in Hollywood, just another day in the life of a DiversityNerd.  

Us with #SHAG  

This last photo is the cast’s POV on us! 

Brain Drain and Pain – Why Inclusion Matters

When a human being is born, their brain weighs one pound. If you are reading this blog, your brain probably weighs about three pounds. Through normal human development and physical growth starting as a swaddled infant to toddling around as a toddler to tip-toeing through life as a tween/teen and eventually, achieving adult status, your brain gained two more pounds. Every life experience, jump rope jumped, schoolbook read and to a lesser extent, television show watched, has contributed to your brain’s development and weight gain. Every human being is unique because no one has had exactly the same life experiences. Even identical twins bring diversity to a conversation because genetic make-up aside, they are not exactly the same person.

That was the gist of the first two minutes of a presentation I heard this week by a woman who is a UCLA professor in the Psychology Department and the Anderson School of Management. Because my career has been focused on creating work environments where people can bring their full selves to work and contribute freely in a safe environment, I became intrigued with every word Dr. Iris Firstenberg spoke. Diversity is so much more than race and gender, that I understood and tried to communicate in all of my presentations and interactions at work. But to learn about how neuroscience creates diversity in each and every human being was truly a “mind blown’ moment. And I do not find myself shocked or surprised by much at this stage of my career. Pi’ilani’s mind went kaboom.

Here is what I learned about the brain.

 

 

Near the center of the brain exists the Limbic System. According to Wikipedia: “The limbic system was originally defined by Paul Broca as a series of cortical structures surrounding the limit between the cerebral hemispheres and the brainstem: the border, or limbus, of the brain. These structures were known together as the limbic lobe. Further studies began to associate these areas with emotional and motivational processes and linked them to subcortical components that were grouped into the limbic system. The existence of such a system as an isolated entity responsible for the neurological regulation of emotion has gone into disuse and currently it is considered as one of the many parts of the brain that regulate visceral, autonomic processes.”

So, what does that actually mean? The limbic system is responsible for both emotions and memory. Consider an experience from your life that was highly emotional, maybe you were PISSED at your best friend for borrowing your favorite sweater or perhaps your favorite pet passed away unexpectedly and you cried for days, aren’t those memories burned into your mind? In your brain (and every other human being’s brain), the emotional center is right next to the memory center. That means that highly emotional experiences are highly memorable experiences. Much to my delight, I also learned that food and alcohol directly impact the limbic system. That satisfaction and gratification can elicit an emotional reaction and create lasting memories. For an Asian Pacific Islander like me, every social gathering must revolve around food and drink. For example, holiday get-togethers in my family consist of multiple rounds of food starting with loads of appetizers, followed by a hearty meal with both ethnic and American dishes , ending with delightful desserts and all accompanied by fine wine, hand-crafted cocktails or fancy sodas for the kids and/or teetotalers.

Another thing to consider is that people need to constantly stimulate their brains. Because your brain is constantly sculpting itself and growing and changing through experiences such as traveling, reading, dancing or playing music. This sort of on-going learning stimulates growth in your brain and can help stave off Alzheimer’s, even if you have a genetic disposition for the disease. So encourage your elderly family and friends to read, do crosswords, play cards, exercise and stay social to keep that brain sculpting going.

But what about when people are experiencing stress? They are being driven by their emotional brain – fear, danger, nerves, anxiety. When there are lots of connections going up to that area and not enough connections coming down to placate that brain, the emotional brain is overwhelmed.  Emotion trumps logic every time. Human beings absolutely need to calm that brain down to think logically. Think about when you’re arguing with your partner or sibling or child and you’re both so sure that your point of view is the right answer. As you build your argument and elevate your voices and blood pressure, it becomes harder and harder to truly hear the other person’s point of view. If you are trying to end the argument or calm the situation down, remember this little tip. Louder is not better. The limbic system hears in a nonverbal manner. So take a breath and sit next to the person, not across from one another, to make it easier to calm them down. Feel free to give them a drink or some food. Because a sense of touch is calming, it may be appropriate for you to gently touch the other person, place a hand softly on their shoulder, or hold their hand in yours. This can all help calm down the limbic system and allow the disagreement to begin to dissipate.

So how does this relate to one’s work environment? You risk charges of sexual harassment if you place your hand on a work colleague. And it is rare that a disagreement would escalate to a yelling match at the office. But what happens when you don’t include people at work. Maybe you walk around and look at your shoes or your phone because you’re a bit of an introvert like me. Or perhaps you really are so busy that you forget to say Hello to someone in the hall or people who sit near your desk. Exclusion, even when it is not done with any intention of hurting someone, can directly impact morale and productivity. In fact, neuroscience has proven that being excluded or rejected can be as painful as being socked in the stomach, people elicit the exact same brainwave patterns in each case. Whether it is a person who never gets invited to lunch or a person who just got dumped by the love of their life, it all hurts the same in their brainwaves.

Consider a time when you felt social rejection as a tween or teenager. We all have stories of being rejected or excluded and we probably all remember how much it hurt, despite our well-intended parents telling us that “you’ll get over it” or “this too shall pass”. These rejections stay with us as adults and definitely impact our decision making and socialization.

I grew up in a fantastic neighborhood where I could walk to my elementary school and all of our neighbors were very friendly. I was lucky to have kids across the street who were close to my age, who cares if they were mostly boys, I learned how to throw a tight spiral in 5th grade. Around the corner, my best friends lived and we roller skated and played together all the time. But one thing was missing, there were no other Filipino kids in my neighborhood. My besties were also children of Asian immigrant parents but none were Pinoy. At around 12 years of age, I wanted to learn more about Filipino culture and asked if my mom would take me someplace so I could learn Filipino folk dancing.

The national dance of the Philippines is called the Tinikling, which pays homage to the movements of a much-loved bird, and is a graceful and athletic challenge of dancing and jumping in between bamboo poles that are being struck together to keep rhythm. It looks similar to playing jump rope, except that the dancers perform the steps around and between the bamboo poles, and the dance becomes faster until someone makes a mistake and the next set of dancers takes a turn. It looked like fun and I really wanted to connect with my culture so my mother took me to the Filipino Community Club across town so I could join their youth group.

I walked in wearing my Izod polo shirt, jeans, and Birkenstocks. The other kids from this neighborhood were in baggies, MaryJanes and Chucks. All of girls wore lipstick and used hairspray and looked so much more feminine than me. They were polite to me when the supervisor walked me around to let them know I was going to join their dance classes. However, as soon as we were left alone, one of the girls stage whispered to her friend, “What IS she wearing? Hippie shoes, ugh, gross.” At that moment, I decided that I wouldn’t come back and I never told my mom why. It became really hard for me to make friends with other Pinay girls after that because I thought they would all reject me in that way. Thankfully I had awesome cousins who were like my best friends so I did get large doses of my culture that way. But unfortunately, I never learned about Filipino folk dancing until college.

Inclusion is fundamental to all human interaction. When you include people and treat them with respect, they feel engaged and trusted. People need to be welcoming and honest to build friendships. Leaders have to be vulnerable for employees feel trusted. When someone feels excluded, the brain reacts to it in the same way as when the body is kicked in the stomach. Do your best to behave inclusively in all of your relationships. And keep in mind that logic cannot be achieved if emotions are running high.

Letter of Resignation

Sorry to start off this way but I have to apologize. I have been neglecting this blog of late. Work and life have reached a frenetic pace, once again, and I can’t even carve out free time to play with my newly acquired MacBook Pro to learn how to produce a podcast. My body clock had been thrown out of whack so badly that my acupuncturist took one quick glance at me, and said, “I haven’t seen you for a while, you look really pretty, I like your haircut.” She then took a hard look into my eyes and at tongue (I still don’t get why Chinese doctors read patient’s tongues) and followed up with, “Oh, but you look completely worn out. In all these years of treating you, I have never seen you look this bad.” Thanks, Doc, as if I didn’t already feel like shit when I staggered through the door. I say all of that to explain why I have been absent from posting to this blog for almost two full months. I haven’t been writing much, aside from the numerous communications at work but no one wants to read that, right?

Very recently, I wrote a letter of resignation. I haven’t crafted one of these in almost 20 years. My career has taken me through many twists and turns but when it is all said and done, I have worked for different affiliates of my current company for almost 17 years. Prior to this, my employment was through an employment agency so no formal letter of resignation was required when I have moved on to permanent employment.

So as I sat at my keyboard with the intention of typing a brief letter to announce my resignation, I realized that I didn’t know where to start. To the Internet I raced. A quick google search brought me to websites with advice and coaching on how to write a cover letter and create a resume that will “pop” and catch a recruiter’s eye. Don’t believe what you read on the internet. If you are applying for a job via a website, use key words in your resume and cover letter that will be read when your materials are scanned by a computer. Rare is the case that a human being will read your cover letter and resume when it first arrives. You need to have the electronic scanner bot approve you before a live organism such as an HR recruiting team member touches your resume and cover letter.

The guidance on resignation letters felt impersonal and dry. Essentially, I gleaned that one should not burn bridges when leaving a place employment (#noduh) and showing gratitude for the knowledge and experience acquired at one’s soon to be past place of employment is important.

Just to be clear, I haven’t left my current employer. I have resigned from the Diversity Collegium. The website describes the organization as such: “The Diversity Collegium is a group of 25 professionals that has been meeting for more than two decades for the purpose of advancing the work that has come to be known as the field of Diversity and Inclusion. The Collegium members meet to discuss current issues in the field. In the process, they conduct research and prepare papers on current and cutting edge questions. Membership in the group is by invitation only and is managed so that a balance of diversity is created among its members including such dimensions as race/ethnicity, industry, gender, and how one practices in the field. The Diversity Collegium is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Washington, USA.”

As I reflected on my time with the organization that I chose to resign from, I realized that the experience I gained has have impacted my professional life tremendously. My connection to men and women who founded the field and study of diversity and inclusion kicks ass on any PhD. We had dialogue and debate on issues that crossed race, gender, sexual orientation, global diversity, people with disabilities and when I joined, I wanted to explore generational diversity and personality style (introvert/extrovert) to the conversation.

My involvement with developing the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks (as an expert panelist) is what I am most proud of in terms of a tangible deliverable from my time with the Diversity Collegium. The Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organizations Around the World, was co-authored by Julie O’Mara and Alan Richter, Ph.D., along with 80 Expert Panelists. 



The Diversity Collegium does not charge a fee for anyone to download or use this tool. If you’re a practitioner with interest in this tool, go to their website to download The Global D&I Benchmarks tool.

One of the other highlights of my time with Diversity Collegium was having a quiet conversation about generational differences with the legendary R. Roosevelt Thomas over wine and a brownie. Moments like that are priceless. I wrote my letter of resignation with a smile because the friendships that I made through the Diversity Collegium have filled my life with luster and laughter. Hopefully, the next letter of resignation that I write will be completed with smiles and sweet memories like brownies and wine.