"What do you do?" I dread that question because the answer is complicated. People often ask this question in order to place the subject into a neat box. I don't fit a handy little box, and I suspect you don't either. Yet the idea of putting everyone in a category based on their occupation persist. A person who works as a doctor, a teacher, a software engineer, a pro surfer or a painter brings to us an image of who that person "should be".
This gets even more convoluted -- based on your gender and physical appearance, more expectations are piled on you even before you open your mouth. Being a relatively small woman of Asian heritage, people a have a definite idea of who I am supposed to be before they know anything about me.
Emmanuel Itier, director of the documentary movie, FEMME, asked me to write about his movie, and his theory on how to solve the energy crisis. Full disclosure, I have a small role in the movie. FEMME is a story about women and men, and how we have the potential to move from our current degradation of the planet to a world of increasing harmony and sustainability.
FEMME is about the underutilized power and transformative contribution of women in the world. I was asked to appear in the movie because of what I've done in my life. Yes, mostly because of what I've accomplished at work.
Having managed and led several global companies, Nike, Reebok and Aveda, I have been able to leverage those positions to improve the wellbeing of the people and countries we worked with. Whether it was to upgrade the labor standards of factory workers internationally, or to assist indigenous tribes to regain autonomy and their culture by growing their native plants for organic dyes for color cosmetics and hair color; I am grateful for the opportunity afforded me by my positions. And those strategic decisions were good for the bottom line too!
Since I left the corporate world, I have developed four diverse companies, written books and speak and consult globally on how organizations and people can prosper, thrive and be happy and healthy at the same time.
My achievements were inspired by my experiences and the hardships I witnessed as a child in Hong Kong. I came to the USA as a teen; alone and driven to get an education so that I can help others achieve a happier life
Today we all have chances to make a positive difference. The world is increasingly integrated like never before. What happens in one area of the world ripples rapidly everywhere. Regional economic downturns impact financial systems globally, and climate change knows no political borders. Social unrest is becoming more contagious, creating and feeding into political disturbances in other nations and causing supply chain disruptions worldwide.
But there's hope. We have an underused resource -- women power. In the past, the human race has relied mostly on men to govern, lead and formulate our values. It has brought us to this point, but what brought us here may be less than optimal or effective to get us to the next level. There are few unexplored territories to develop; we are converging on a finite earth and resources.
Time to think differently and to call upon all available talent to help us make a paradigm shift - we need one to be able to survive and thrive in an era of natural limits. We need to fully engage 100% of humankind in order to utilize all available social, intellectual and problem solving capacity. FEMME outlines the challenges and offers solutions. One of the biggest answers to our problems is education -- educating girls and women would unleash the brainpower that has yet been fully drawn upon. A huge part of the solution to the current trials in the world is waiting for us to harness.
Take it from a former neglected resource. If I can achieve what I have, coming from being called a waste of a pregnancy, the world may have a much better chance of pulling back from the projections of dire consequences once we fully engage the feminine power in all aspects of leadership and governance. We need all hands on deck on spaceship earth.