March 29, 2018

Valuable Lessons from NAAAP’s Leadership Academy

By Taoqu Chen
President of NAAAP Detroit

The getting is in the giving. That is my takeaway from the 3-day National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) Leadership Academy at the historic Dolce Hayes Mansion in sunny San Jose on March 9-11. The theme was InnovAsian.

NAAAP leaders from around the country and Canada gathered to learn and share best practices. The meeting started on Friday with a thought leadership session: “Disrupting the Landscape through ERGs.” Not only have NAAAP leaders been conducting the employee resource group trainings for many corporations, they have created an ERG virtual training program. This was a first and came in response to the immense need for cross-cultural leadership development, skill-building, and a virtual community.

NAAAP members can sign up for the training plus one year of complimentary LinkedIn training.

Then, global business executive and CNN contributor Ryan Patel delivered the keynote: “Startup to Sustainability – How to Create Lasting Impact. In the afternoon, corporate leaders from Facebook, Disney, Western Digital, and Snap had a panel discussion: “Leading with Diversity: Lessons on Driving Impact through ERGs.” This was followed by a panel of ERG leaders from Pacific Gas and Electric, Cisco, eBay, and Salesforce: “Best Practices: Managing Change and Maintaining Momentum.”

The discussions were lively and strategic. In the evening, we had a celebration of InnovAsian, with entertainment from San Jose Taiko and more.

Saturday, the NAAAP Leadership Academy started with the state of the union speech: “Asian American Professionals: The Invisible Majority. During “InnovAsian Incubator,” a venture capital panel and ideas pitch competition, I got so excited, and started to talk, that the next thing I knew I was elected to represent my group to present our ideas to the principal of GGV Capital and VP of WI Harper.

I really liked the fireside chat with a filmmaker and a couple of entrepreneur CEOs in “Industry Pioneers: Paving the Way.” Yes, it takes all of us to pave the way, young and old, successful or those who have learned some lessons. I found my reasons to get involved: to pave the way and pay forward.

Saturday’s skill-building-workshop: “Branding You! Commanding How You Show Up at Work” and a plenary session on “Crafting a Personal Vision for the Future” showcased how Hallmark partnered with NAAAP-Kansas and launched a line of culturally inclusive cards that led to a win-win. I am glad I made the trip, learned new tricks and made new friends.

Sunday, the chapter presidents and leaders had round tables, and we shared our best practices. I learned that, although we are newcomers who are laser focused on our mission, we are admired by many. Every state situation is different, and member demographics are different. So, planning strategically to do what fits our environment seems like a winning bet.

The national team and Boston chapter presented the tool they’ve been using, SilkStart, to manage membership and newsletters. They presented the “One NAAAP” vision. The Communication and Marketing Team presented the magazine: ALIST.
It is a non-profit quarterly dedicated to bringing mainstream attention and interest to Asian American leadership and excellence. As a publication initially envisioned and funded by NAAAP, it strives to share compelling success stories of Asian Americans who have succeeded in unique and outstanding ways with anyone who may be interested.

Here is a Link to the ALIST: ALIST Magazine 5th Anniversary Issue.

Page 90 features our new NAAAP national president, Elizabeth Yang, along with many other inspiring Asian leaders and pioneers. Happy reading!

I knew NAAAP is a national organization, but it took meeting the national team and other chapter leaders for me to realize the true potential of NAAAP. There is so much we can do together!

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