Recapping the Kollaboration EMPOWER Conference
I’m new to this sprawling city. In fact it has only been about two months since I officially moved here. Naturally, being the new girl, I’m always on the lookout for things to do and learn. Enter Kollaboration’s inaugural Leadership Conference.
Quite honestly, I did not know what Kollaboration was until I came to Los Angeles. I had heard about it in passing a few times, since it does exist across the country (14 cities to be exact), and I understood it to be an Asian American talent competition. It is an annual talent showcase but over the years Kollaboration has morphed from a platform for Korean American artists to share their talents to a pan-Asian Pacific Islander movement that unites and inspires aspiring artists to pursue creative careers. Kollaboration is all about challenging the status quo, creating change (not just talking about it) and dreaming big- and as cliché as that may sound, that’s exactly what my move here to LA and my life in general is about.
Needless to say, Kollaboration brought together a great group of speakers and perspectives from all corners of the entertainment and media industry. It was also nice to have like-minded individuals- people who challenge expectations, are curious about possibility and aren’t afraid to talk about fear, in the same room. It was a pretty empowering way to start my weekend, to say the least.
To do a summary of each session would be overkill, so instead, here are some quotables and highlights from the conference.
Jim Kwik, memory expert and founder of Kwik Learning, started the conference with some handy tricks on memory, particularly remembering names. He left us with a few mnemonics but the key message was that “Reasons reap results.” Basically, all behaviors are belief driven whether it’s with memory or with following through with your thoughts. If you can believe that you will, you can. Also, “Practice means progress.”
Bing Chen, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Victorious, a new media company, philosophized about the effects of technology before moderating a panel. Something he said really struck me: “It’s incredibly hard being yourself in 2015.”
Chris Pan, founder of MyIntent.org, asked us a very profound question: What is your (life) intention? We all had to think of a word we wanted to focus our energy on or have more of in our life during a moment of silence. We then got this word stamped on a bracelet (or necklace) as a reminder. My word was Trust.
Tamlyn Tomita, actress known for her roles in Joy Luck Club, The Karate Kid Part II, and Teen wolf enlightened us with seasoned advice: “Acknowledge your fear and be fearless. Leave people thinking oh my gosh. What was her name? All I can leave people with is the energy you give them.”
Christine Chen, Producer at Wong Fu Productions, when asked what she wish she knew when she was 21 said: “You get what you put in. This life is ready to bless you but no one is going to hand it to you. Check your ego at the door.”
Paul PK Kim, founder of Kollaboration (which is now in it’s 16th year) among many other accomplishments, spoke on the importance of focus. “If you chase two rabbits you won’t catch either.”
Eric Kim, Vice President of Current Programs at CBS Television Studios, where he oversees all phases of production for the network’s television programming said that in this day and age “you have no excuse not to do what you want to. The technology is readily available. If you’re a director, go direct something.”
Sunil Malhotra, writer, producer and actor spoke on the importance of “Be[ing] a human being.” No matter what it is your doing or who you’re talking to, it’s key to maintain perspective and treat each other like, a person.
Alex Hwang, Lead singer of indie folk-rock band, Run River North, spoke about the difficulties of being a musician. But the things he knows for sure: “Believe in the product. Relationships mean a lot.”
Travis Graham, lead singer of New Heights mentioned Trust as an important factor of creating. “I think the main concern with working with someone in LA, is if you vibe. There has to be trust for the best work.”
Peter Hong, label executive, musician and producer never saw the kind of music he wanted to hear, so he did it himself. “I’ve always been the guy to create my own work.”
There was so much more (I had difficulty choosing between sessions) but you get the idea. It was a conference that reconfirmed and reminded me of the things that I already knew- the things that maybe we’re afraid to talk about out loud, but should talk about more.
One thing became very clear as I sat in the audience listening to these stories. These panelists are just like us. They have hopes, dreams and fear. But the difference and why they were on the stage giving us advice was that they not only started somewhere, believed in something, and worked for/towards it. They tried and failed but kept going and lived, so to speak, to tell the story of what they created.
The fact is, you can do it too. You just have to find out what your voice is. Like Beau Sia, Tony Award winning poet and performer put it, “Thank G-d all of you are out there doing you and sharing your story. It’s all about getting together but honoring each person’s unique way.”
I don’t know about you but hearing things like this make me want to keep doing, keep dreaming.
Give yourself a pat on the back if you were there that Saturday like I was, and if you weren’t it’s ok, everyday is a day to begin again and…. Kollaboration has many more events to come.