In this episode, Sequoia Houston talks to Jay Kim,President and CEO of AAAZA, Inc, a multicultural marketing agency based in Los Angeles, CA. They discuss their joint passion for multicultural marketing and its importance, the origins of the Model Minority Myth and how Black and Asian communities can work together to overcome bias.

Show Notes

About Our Guest

President and CEO of AAAZA, Inc 

Jay has over twenty years of experience with traditional, interactive and online marketing, as well as direct response, customized events and CRM programs. Not only has he worked with IMG Media, Direct Partners and Open Circle, he has also led projects and campaigns for AT&T, MoneyGram, Diageo, Lexus, PlayStation, DIRECTV, UnitedHealthcare,, LPGA Events and Bowflex. Jay is the immediate Past President - and currently serves as board member - of 3AF (Asian American Advertising Federation) and is very passionate about diversity, multicultural advertising and leadership. Before transitioning into the marketing field, Jay was a biochemist working on HIV and Lyme disease.

3 Key Points:

  1. Sequoia enquires, “Having worked in biochemistry, have you found any significant differences between people of different races. Is there any reason to believe that one race is genetically superior to the other?”
  2. Sequoia and Jay discuss the assumptions that people make because of what they see or hear in media.
  3. Sequoia asks about Jay’s perspective on - Asian-American don’t vote or get involved in politics; they are a tight necked community.

Episode Highlights:

  • Jay shares how in Oregon, he faced racial discrimination. He also shares about his journey from biochemist to marketing. 
  • Jay also shares about his stint in a rock n roll band. He adds that being an Asian American, one is expected to fulfill two dreams. One of the parents and the other personal dream.
  • Sequoia recalls the privileges she got while growing up.
  • Jay denies genetic superiority in people coming from different races. There was age diversity when he was working with a biotech company. 
  • Sequoia talks about an article published in Harvard about race and genetic research.
  • Sequoia asks, “How was your transition from regular marketing and advertising into multi-cultural marketing and advertising?”
  • Jay shares his difficulties and challenges while shifting from English to different regional level marketing.
  • Sequoia points out when you go to different places and see different people, that can be interesting. 
  • Jay says it is the unconscious bias that comes into the picture. At some level, we all have it.
  • Jay talks about his awkward encounters in meetings; he walks in some people by default greet in Chinese or Korean. 
  • Sequoia and Jay agree that it is ok to acknowledge who I am but to treat me differently is wrong.
  • Sequoia enquires, “When you got into multi-cultural marketing, you never really thought about some of the things that you think about. What are some of the things you do to promote diversity?”
  • Jay talks about one of his associations; on the very first day of his joining, one of the contractors sent him a picture of a baby with a dog in his mouth. This was sent to Jay in a retrospective of him being a Korean.
  • Jay was taken aback as this was a direct joke on his culture, and he shares how sensitive he is about these things.
  • Jay talks about the LA riot and a critical incident that ultimately led to the riot. 
  • Sequoia points out that a lot of times, people have a set mindset about the American culture when traveling abroad. It is because of what they see in television. 
  • Talking about danger Sequoia asks Jay to share his views on the topic “Anti-Asian Violence.”
  • Jay talks about being personally and professionally affected by Anti-Asian Violence.
  • Jay shares about a heart-melting talk he had with his kid, when he tried to educate them about their origin.
  • He talks about his daughter’s homework which was about “What kind of superpower would you have and what you want to be?” Her superpower was Ninja, and she would appear and stop it. This incident motivated him to take part in anti-hate campaigns. 
  • Sequoia recalls the similar stories that she has heard in her home. 
  • “Apart from campaigns, are there any other things people can do to support someone?” Sequoia ask Jay’s opinion.
  • Education, learning about racism, showing respect towards each other, acknowledging your mistakes are some of the key points highlighted by Jay.
  • Jay shares his thoughts on model minority myth and how culture-driven Asian countries are.
  • “It is not good to be handed the receipt after dinner to calculate tips and half, because you are good at math” Jay shares a classic example as to why model minority is not good. 
  • Jay shares his view as how there was no concept of loaning in Asia, unless you have a house or something. Their mentality was basically to save up money. Bank was more for saving money purpose, credit card came in lot later in the picture. 
  • Sequoia talks about the relationship between Black-Americans and Asian-Americans.
  • Jay clarifies his stands and viewpoints about Black-Americans and Asian-Americans and urges not to look at the 20% issues but to focus on the 80%.

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “Not necessarily better or not, but we are all different.” – Jay Kim
  • “The culture cycle has been handed down from generation to generation.” – Jay Kim
  • “One should learn from their mistakes, if it comes out then there is nothing much to do but learn from it.” – Jay Kim
  • “Don’t be that nail that sticks out.” – Jay Kim
  • “Moving from one culture to another culture is not easy, it takes lot of hard work, sacrifices and effort.” – Jay Kim
  • “No culture is a monolith”. – Sequoia Houston

Resources Mentioned:

Jay Kim: