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The Melting Pot Or The Salad Bowl

With Joanne Tan

Published on: May 25, 2018

Comprised of many nationalities, cultural backgrounds, and a wide range of spoken languages, America is a melting pot. For Joanne Tan, she would rather be an ingredient in a salad bowl than being considered as a part of a melting pot, because in a salad bowl, tomatoes are still tomatoes and you’re still able to differentiate each other’s elements and keep your cultural background. Joan believes we rise by lifting others. It has been her mantra since coming from Beijing 36 years ago. With 10+ Visual Branding, which is expanding into 10+ Super Brand, her company offers businesses and professional massive brand upgrade and brand marketing services pre-sales, at sales, and post-sales. They develop, maintain, manage and protect business brands as their long-term business consultant, trusted PR advisor, and brand manager. Exceling at creating verbal and visual content, Joanne hopes to contribute to a better world one brand at a time.

America is comprised of many nationalities, cultural backgrounds, and a wide range of spoken languages used at home. Some would say America is a melting pot. Others would say it’s a salad bowl. Which one do you relate to? If you’re an immigrant and don’t see the benefits of keeping your inherit culture, you will not enforce, teach or transfer it to the next generation. Within one or two generations, your descendants will be a part of a melting pot of America. On the other hand, if you preserve the culture and keep good values from your family, your children will likely carry it forward. In this case, the characters, the spirit will remain theirs uniquely. Our next guest, Joanne Tan would rather be an ingredient in a salad bowl than being considered as a part of a melting pot in America.

Joanne was born in China. She moved to the USA with a full scholarship to Brandeis University. She had multiple careers working as an English teacher and journalist in China. In America, after she graduated from college, she worked for two large law firms, which inspired her to get a law degree. For Joanne, the hardest job in the world is raising her two sons in America. She sacrificed her career to stay home and raise them until they were teenagers and then moved on to do something different. She is an owner of 10+ Super Brand, a branding marketing company, working with businesses and professionals to help them find their unique brand, which comes from their own DNA. Her company also helps clients maintain, manage, and protect their business brand for a long term. Welcome, Joanne Tan.

Melting Pot Or Salad Bowl? with Joanne Tan

Our guest is Joanne Tan. Joanne, welcome.

Thank you so much.

Please share with us your story. Who or what have shaped you to become who you are today?

The time that I grew up has propelled me to take adventure, first leaving China in 1982 when China was a totally different world from today. Single minded, I wanted to go to America and I got a full scholarship and left a very good job in an English language newspaper in China. That was a combination of factors. Basically, it’s myself. It’s my own will and my will power. People say it takes a village to raise a child. I say that it takes many factors in our journey, the society we live in, the world we want to explore, and how strongly we want that. There are negative things in my life, there are good things in my life but it’s a combination of many factors, the social influences and all that and the determination. That shaped where I am now.

Who were your role model growing up?

Growing up, I don’t have any role models. It doesn’t mean that I did not have anybody who have impacts in my life, but it’s very simplistic to say I look up to one role model and was trying to be living my life according to that role model. That is a little too simple, too simplistic to answer. I admire a lot of people. Like Muhammad Ali, Douglas MacArthur. Those were early historical figures in my early twenties. I absorbed lessons and exemplary inspirations from a variety of people. I like Steve Jobs very much even though some people may simply label him this way or that way. I like his authenticity, his focus, and his mind. He has not just intelligence or genius, but he’s big minded way of allowing others to lead him. That’s the secret why he is such a good leader. The reason why I listened to a book by Richard Branson is I like him a lot. I’ve heard his whole book. They all have their flaws and that’s attractiveness of them to me because they are not perfect and therefore they are more inspiring.

Richard Branson and the people that you mentioned, are they your role models now?

They’re not my role models. I believe everybody’s journey is unique. I believe everybody’s life story should be unique. I draw inspiration from a lot more people than those I mentioned. I draw inspirations from average folks. Nobodies. When I work with my clients, I brand them inside out. I map the DNA blueprints for their business brand and I draw inspirations from every one of my clients. They can be successful, multimillion dollar companies. They can be immigrants. They can be average Americans who have dreams. I see the greatness in mundane ordinariness. I see genuine power in the way they are. I’m tremendously grateful for that privilege they extend to me by giving a part of themselves, about their life stories, about their vulnerabilities, about their strength and I act like their mirror. I act like their coach and spotlight and to shine the spotlight on them to let the world see their goodness and their unique power, authentic power. I don’t have a role model or three role models. I have “role models” from anybody, everyone. I have the opportunity to learn in-depth. Once I know them in-depth, they can all be my inspiration, one way or the other.

You came here in 1982, that’s about 36 years ago. What were the disciplines you have learned to adapt in America?

In the beginning, it was very hard. It was scary. It was almost parachuting from one culture, which is completely different from the west. Overnight you’re in a different world. Overcoming the fear and overcoming the cultural shocks, keep an open mind, and then be both comfortable under my own skin and be proud of my own heritage. At the same time, be open-minded and learn the best part of this culture, that is challenging but also extremely rewarding. I can see some Asians who came to this country, the first generations and they grew up in a different culture. Some of them are comfortable in their own original cultural bubble. Their mind never got expanded and they formed their own little community here, as if they bring their old country here in a micro manner.

That’s the way they are comfortable. That’s the way they feel like themselves. They also contribute many elements of authentic. They’re old authentic culture to here that we can all enjoy as a member of the melting pot or salad bowl. I like the salad bowl a lot better than melting pot because salad bowl, tomato is still tomato, lettuce is still lettuce. It’s not all messed up and you cannot differentiate what element from the other, and that’s good. I also think it is important to enjoy this American journey and American Dream by assimilating to the extent that is comfortable to each individual, and to be caring as a citizen of this great country and to be participant in this great democracy that is a luxury or not even existing in many other parts of the world. It is important that people continue to educate themselves, continue to be curious, and contributing whatever you would like to contribute about your cultural background but at the same time, be an active citizen. Be an American, be a member of this salad bowl. It’s very important and it takes courage. It takes mindset to do this.

What were your life priority when you were young? Maybe before you came here? Living here for 36 years, has your life priorities continue changing or has it changed?

At different stage of my life, there are different priorities. When I was young, I had no idea what it was like to raise my own children. I don’t think anybody can understand that part of the journey without becoming parents themselves. Once we become a parent, your priorities become different. My priority after I gave birth, when I was pregnant with my first son, was to be the best mother I can possibly be. That was my priority. I willingly stayed home for my two sons until they are no longer very young. When they were in their early teens, I started my own business, which evolved into the full-service branding agency. When they were small, I knew the most important time for me as a mother to give them the best I can give is my time and attention.

Those are the formative years I made that decision and it wasn’t that easy because that is the sacrifice of my own career. Given the choices I have, I’d rather never regret that I did not spend enough quality time with them. Also, I wanted to have some fun myself because when they were younger, they were so much fun to be with. They’re still fun to be with but now, they’re adults. When they’re teenagers they naturally want to be more independent. I figured when they need me the most and I enjoy to be their mom tremendously. I cannot say I’m a perfect mom and nobody can be perfect. I tried the best I can be and I wish I could do it better, but I don’t regret that I give them my time and my attention and they were my priority. Now, my priority is my work. My passion is about work. I truly enjoy what I do and the difference I make in individual’s life, and in the businesses, to see the results and it’s tremendously satisfying.

From your perspective, what do you think the role of an Asian woman is? As a mom, as a wife, as a business person?

I don’t see any difference between the Asian woman or Caucasian woman or African-American woman. We are all humans deep down. Asian culture has certain heritage that is being challenged by the globalization, by the modernization of every aspect of our life, the technology and education. That is a global phenomenon, it’s not just Asian. This question is as women, we have to make our own choices. We are created to be partners to the world of men. There are times we can act as their equals and there are times we act as their partners. We are the one who give birth, bear children, nurse them and raise kids. Men should raise kids, too, but they don’t know what it’s like to be pregnant or they don’t know what it’s like to be nursing when you bought around the clock and your only job is to nurse them and changing diapers. It’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s a lot more fun to have an office job and not all women nurse their own babies. That’s a sad fact.

We all have to make our own choices. It’s not what the trendy thing is, it’s not what others expectations of us that will shape our own journey. We, individuals, each have to make up our own mind and truth are parity and that’s not easy. There are plenty of women who will agree with me that being pregnant, giving birth, nursing children, raising them up is more challenging, less appreciated, mentally and emotionally draining than having a regular job. Go to the office 9:00 AM and be with friends. Do something that brings home a paycheck, and that is challenging in some circumstances, but there will be plenty of women who will agree with me that to fulfill a mother’s role is equally, if not more challenging to do a good job as raising your own children.

I have two of children myself and there are some challenges raising children while we have a professional career. 

People talk more about that women must be having the equal statures, equal status, equal pay, equal responsibility as men in the workplace. Yes, I totally support that. At the same time, to withstand the pressure and the temptation of proving or satisfying or both that we can do what men can do even more than what men can do at the at the sacrifice of raising your own children, that is a very hard choice. Each woman have to face they’re own priority, their conscious and their sense of duty. What is more important? Not what others think is more important. It doesn’t mean that stay home moms cannot take a part time job. I encourage stay home moms to part time job because among other things it’s mentally giving the moms a break. Raising kids is tough. You need a mental break. You need an emotional break. You need to have a sense of self? It’s a giving process but you need to keep a balance, so that is highly encouraged.

Visual Branding: As a woman, it’s not that simplistic to measure her accomplishment by how high she can rise in the corporate ladder.

Is woman’s accomplishment solely measured by how many glass ceilings she collectively they have broken in the corporate world. I don’t think that is the sole measurement and people can label me. I’m too conservative or too liberal. That’s too simplistic. I do not view myself as conservative or as liberal. I view the world in a much more wholesomely complex manner. The simple labeling, one way or the other, is the problem with our culture in America with our politics because the system is broken. Nothing can be done when people simplify. I’m either this or that. If I can be a Democrat, I cannot be a Republican. All this division is hurting us because at the end of the day, we’ve got to care and take care of our country, our planet, not as a Democrat or Republican, but as a human, as a citizen, as a caring citizen of the world. As a woman, it’s not that simplistic to measure her accomplishment by how high she can rise in the corporate ladder. That can be done and I can prove that. A different stage of anyone’s life, we have different priorities is a personal choice, is a personal journey.

You are still married, right?

I’m divorced right now.

Did you involve your husband in raising your two sons?

Yes, I tried the best I can but that’s his choice how much involvement he wants and willing to give. That has a lot to do with the way he grew up, but that’s no excuse for his choices. I don’t want to be too specific. I try to involve him as much as possible. I wish there could be more but that is a private matter I don’t want to discuss.

What does power mean to you? 

Power comes from giving power to others. There are different definitions of power. There are people who enjoy feeling great and usually they are deeply insecure and they want to feel power by either others affirming or mirroring back to them what they wanted to hear deep down that I’m great. Usually they’re close to narcissist. Try to fill up a big hole in their heart, in their psychological landscape. I don’t see power that way. Power is in genuinely caring about others and genuinely giving and empowering others. I believe that we rise by lifting others first and that is the level of power that is going to make the true difference. There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “Droplets of water can penetrate a rock. Overtime, that one drop after drop after drop consistent and unceasing effort of one droplet of water after another can penetrate a rock.”

What that means is what is seeming powerless and weak is the only power that can overcome and can change the hardest, the most difficult thing. That is another definition of power. It’s not something to overwhelm, it is not something to conquer, but to transform and to influence. That is something like our attitude toward our planet earth. We are the steward of our planet earth. We need to take care of our planet earth, one plastic straw, one plastic bottle at a time. We can save our planet. We have already created much pollution and damage and in the torrential manner because of our lack of effort and our bad choices. The power should be coming from within. One cannot empower others without first empowering him or herself first. That empowerment should come from self-improvement.

That’s what I offer in my coaching as well. For the audience out there, if you like to learn how to tap into your power, I’m offering 30 minutes free consultation. You can go online to my website RippleImpactCoaching.com and schedule a 30 minute session with me as a complimentary.

What makes you feel at peace?

I am a spiritual person. I’m a religious person. I’m a Christian and I’ve been a Christian for about 30 years. I believe that having a spiritual a foundation, being grounded in spirituality and practice that spirituality is fundamental for having peace with myself, having peace with the world, having peace. There are all kinds of things that make you feel anxious, feel worried and feel angry. It’s important that my spirituality give me this fundamental piece. I don’t mean to say that those who don’t have religious practices don’t have peace. That is not what I mean. I’ve met people who don’t practice any religion and they are sweet, peaceful and generous people.

Different people have different methods of obtaining inner peace and then live a peaceful life and be an inspiration to others. That is a journey in and of itself. It is not something that you always have, but you always have to strive to have. Contentment and gratitude are two important things before you can have any peace. Practice gratitude every day and be content every day contributes to inner peace and joy that will contribute to the world around me. Can be a small world or like family members and people I connect with and ripple outward to your larger community and to the world. I do believe having a discipline of visually practicing gratitude and contentment is important.

What makes you feel happy? 

To be creative, to help others and to see the visible result of my work that has contributed to other success and happiness. That is truly satisfying and happy state that I enjoy. I love to be creative. It’s something that almost like a necessity that if I’m not working, I’m being creative in artistic way. This artistry as an element of design because I love design. When I was working in a newspaper as a page designer, I learned the art of designing newspaper pages, layout every day, several pages a day. It’s exactly like architectural floor planning. Everything has to fit according to the importance, according to the size, where they can fit and artistically, and I process a lot of news photos. I jump started with my lifelong love for photography and the design element is crucial for making me an artist.

This design element is also crucial in creating stories, narratives, and mapping out the DNA blueprints of each brand for businesses. To be a designer is to be creative. This is really important in my life and of course raising my kids and seeing them growing up to be young men, it’s tremendously satisfying. Only mothers can relate to that. I still remember when they were so small, the innocent little kids and now they are grownups. It’s a happy realization that they grew up alright. They turned out to be okay. That kind of giving, that nurturing, I also feel that kind joy in taking care of my clients and to let them see the best in themselves and help them grow and help their business grow. There are a lot of things I’m happy with and I still have yet more things to create.

What are your top three goals in life right now?

First of all is to continue growing my company. It is growing rapidly over the past years. I’m adding another element to my business. After developing 10+ Visual Branding and the website is 10PlusBrand.com. That is the foundation of establishing and developing a brand for companies, for individuals, for professionals who want to rebrand themselves or to establish a new brand. That’s the whole nine yards and with deliverables based on the DNA, which is the hardest part, but the most challenging part. After that, they got the ball in their hand. They got to run down the football field to touchdown. They got to accomplish, and that journey, usually my clients, I find that they don’t have the discipline and or the guidance. I am starting another one called 10PlusSuperBrand.com and that is the journey of walk the talk. The initial branding company, which is a full service brand marketing and branding, the tagline is stand for something.

I help them figure out what their brands stand for. 10+ Visual Branding stand for something. Now, it is 10+ Super Brand Walk the Talk. That is the journey of continuously, consistently; massively get your brand messaging across. Push the advertising, push the blogs, and when there are new products and services, create new messages of verbal and visual to the world, to your target audience, to our businesses’ target audience. That is implementation and continuation of established brand and that’s the process of walk the talk. I’m giving several packages, platinum, gold and silver. The website will be launched soon. It’s called 10PlusSuperBrand.com. We’re designing it. That’s my next goal.

I also want to be writing a couple of books. A book on branding and then starting a book about my journey, it’s just managing time. I want to write screenplays and directed my movie. That’s another time management challenge because I have all these projects on my mind. I don’t have enough time of the day to get started. I need to be more patient with myself; I need to be, as I said, one droplet of water at time rather than having a huge chunk of time, which I never will have, just a little bit at a time. That is becoming my focus in the next stretch of my journey and I truly hope I can get them accomplished one step at a time.

That’s very ambitious goals in the next few years. To grow two of your companies and to write couple books and screenplay and direct a movie, very ambitious.

It’s not in a couple of years, it’s before I kick my bucket. If God allows me to live another twenty years, that’s my goal in the next twenty years.

Visual Branding: It is more powerful to talk about things they failed at because whatever the failures were, were the best life lessons.

 

What things have you done that you are proud of?

A lot of things. People don’t talk about things they failed at. It is more powerful to talk about things they failed at because whatever the failures were, were the best life lessons. There is nothing that is wasted. When I was young, I was proud that I tried the best to be the best student. I pass the national exam to be the youngest journalist in China in 1980 for the first national English newspaper in China. At that time there was a shortage of people who could speak and write English. I was nineteen years old. I already was full time professional teacher.

I was already a full time English teacher when I was eighteen, my students who are sixteen. After a year I passed the exam and became qualified with writing and speaking English for China Daily. When I left there, I was Editor. I headlined the new stories and I was a page designer. I was trained by professional journalists from United States, from England, from Australia. They trained me to be the page designer and that was the foundation of the rest of my life because I always loved design. When I gave birth to my second son, I wanted to have some mental break from being a milking cow. My vacation, my mental break was us sitting on the TV or going to the theaters. I went to take design classes in UC Berkeley Extension.

I took architectural design classes and I loved it. That was my mental break. I was proud that, I survived Brandeis University, which was very tough and give them my cultural and prior educational unpreparedness. I graduated from there and I worked as a legal translator for a large law firm in New York City and I was proud that I got my green card through work that was my choice, through employment. It was not because I did not have the opportunity to marry an American, to take the shortcut, I had the opportunity and that was genuine on their part, but I didn’t want to take advantage and stain my marriage in that regard. I made up my mind; I’m going to have my green card to do work. I had my citizenship through employment and there were things I was proud.

I was not enjoying law school after the first year. I wanted to be a designer. I wanted to be an artist. There were this stereotypical Asian noise, from our tradition is you have to be a doctor and a lawyer. You don’t want to be a “starving artist.” I was not enjoying the rest of the law school, but I basically helped my nose through it. The training from law school, the analytical skills, the ability to outline and distill mountains of information into its bare gist of it is what I’m doing for my clients that most other marketing agencies can never do. That is solid skill, solid intellectual process that I’m grateful now in hindsight that I tough it out in law school and got my JD and I’m proud that I’m an award-winning professional photographer.

I participated in a competition for the Bay Area Professional Photographers in 2014 and 2015. Later in 2016 I was growing my branding business, evolving it. I didn’t have time to participate in the competitions and I was in the illustrative category. That’s another thing I’m proud of because I know I’m truly a good artist and that is personally that’s more important because that’s what I wanted. I’m combining both the analytical skills, business coaching, and creativity as an artist in video production, directing, producing videos and photography. It’s a lot of things and you handle on my plate. Time is always a stretch. I hardly ever have enough time to do everything I want to do.

What are your top three advices that you want to share with women in this community? In the Asian Women of Power podcast? In the Asian community? 

Number one is believe in yourself. Women have more psychological and practically realistic obstacles to overcome. We have to be taking the initiative to evaluate our own unique blessings. What is my purpose in this world? What makes meaning to my life? This question is different for every woman. It’s an individual question. It’s not just Asian women. It’s an individual question for men, too. We have to figure out that DNA of our own and then we can be completely comfortable with the way we are and then align our unique talents and gifts and our unique being with whatever the roles that are demanded of us and make a satisfy, fulfilling life out of it.

This is something that we need to face and be honest, be authentic with ourselves. As a result of that retroactive understanding and reflection, if a woman comes to the conclusion that her journey is to be an oil painter, to be a stay home mom, to be a computer programmer, even to be navy seal, auto mechanics or the President of the United States, it doesn’t matter what role that is going to be as long as it truly is the calling of your authentic self, and then be happy with the choice you’re going to make. Don’t let the world dictate what the choice each individual should make. Because our value is not supposed to be measured by what the world thinks. Because our happiness has to be from within, has to be in the alignment of what you believe yourself to be with what the roles you’re going to play in this world. That’s the way to be content and to be happy, to have a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Number two is never stop learning. Never stop expanding our horizon. Never stop being curious. Never stop challenging ourselves and also never stop giving ourselves permission to enjoy life, which I need to work on right now because I’m enjoying my work too much, and taking care of ourselves. We need to be good to ourselves because once we are mothers; most of those tend to be focused on our children and the family. If we have a career we enjoy very much like me, I hardly have enough time to sleep, and I sometimes do have sleep problems. I need to learn to be more disciplined and to give yourself permission that yes, I have dreams, I have books to write, I have movies to make, but it’s okay if they cannot be realized within the next few years. It’s okay that I may never realize some of my dreams but as long as I am on the path and I’m enjoying this life, enjoying what I’m doing, and have a spiritual, solid foundation to accept whatever we can do, that’s important.

The third one is the balance, the balance of family, balance of career and community. We all want to have it all. For some women that is possible. For a lot of you can only handle one thing and you can only do well by focusing at different stages of our journey, at different times of our life, at one thing at a time. I do believe that it is a balance and for Asian women, we have some cultural heritage that some part is time tested, good value and from our ancient culture. In my case, the Chinese culture. There are lots of virtues that are taught by our traditional culture. Unfortunately, in the communist China, they substituted all those traditional virtues with communist doctrines. That was a vacuum. I hope nowadays they will restore some beautiful part of that traditional culture even though we have a modern lifestyle. Time-tested values are universal, time-tested virtues are universal, there are cross cultural boundaries. They’re timeless. Just because of a modern convenience does not necessarily mean the lifestyle that is grounded on values and virtues are no longer relevant.

I find that relevancy in my spiritual practice, I find that relevancy in the beauty of traditional virtues and women need to be aware and to be a curious learner. Hopefully if that works for you, practice because that does give you the long-term freedom, the long-term piece of mind, the long-term focus, because life is short. It shouldn’t be spent on regretting the bad choices we make before. It should be based on the wisdom of the traditional and the modern. The lifestyle choices are nowadays too open and we need to learn to and to know the value from our own cultural heritage as well as the universal truth.

Thank you. If you listener want to reach out to you. Where do they go?

They can email me at [email protected].

Thank you, Joanne.

Thank you much. I’m honored. I appreciate that you invited me for this.

I hope you enjoyed this interview and able to use the tips Joanne shared. I know one of the tips that I can use right away and that is count your blessings, especially when things don’t go your way. What are the ideas or breakthrough you got from this interview? We want to hear from you. Please share with us. Until next time, live life loud.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Quotes

"I see the greatness in mundane ordinariness. I see genuine power in the way they are."

"Power is in genuinely caring about others and genuinely giving and empowering others."

"Our value is not supposed to be measured by what the world thinks."

About Joanne Tan

I am Joanne Tan, one of the very fortunate doing what I love with several skills and diverse experience. My teams and I brand businesses and professionals inside out, from mapping out their DNA, to developing comprehensive business visions and strategies, to marketing their brands’ messaging, on and off line, digitally and in print, with brand narratives, videos, websites, imagery, social media, and more.

I came to the US from Beijing China in 1982, 36 years ago, with a full scholarship to Brandeis University near Boston. Before then I already had two careers: teacher of English, and the youngest professional journalist for the national English language newspaper in China, as editor and page designer. After college, I worked in New York City at then the largest law firm in the US, Skadden Arps, doing business and legal translation work. Then I worked in a large San Francisco law firm, Thelen, Marin, et. al., and went to law school and earned my law degree. I also have business school’s training in marketing, accounting, insurance, organization behavior.

I then married an attorney and did the hardest job in the world: raising my two sons in Lafayette, CA. When they were no longer small, I started my photography studio since I am also an award-winning professional photographic artist. Then my business evolved into video production, and further grew into a full service brand marketing agency. (See my company’s 1-sheet for details.)

Currently, 10+ Visual Branding is expanding into 10+ Super Brand, offering businesses and professional massive brand-upgrade and brand-marketing services pre-sales, at sales, and post-sales. We develop, maintain, manage and protect business brands as their long term business consultant, trusted PR advisor, and brand manager. We excel at creating verbal and visual content.

“We rise by lifting others.” by contributing multidisciplinary skills, insights and experience to crafting and promoting brands’ authentic power, by adding value to my clients’ success and happiness, I hope to contribute to a better world, one brand at a time.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanneztan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/1page3minute
FB business page https://www.facebook.com/10PlusVisualBranding/
Facebook photography URL: https://www.facebook.com/PoemAndArtStudio
YouTube 10+account: https://www. youtube.com/c/Joannetanvisualbranding

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