FALL 2016 Issue 12 $3.99
THE COMMUNITY ISSUE
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IN THIS ISSUE FALL 2016
PAGE 3 Chien-Chi Huang, TEAM PAGE 7 Rachel & Helen Lee, The Indie-Activists PAGE 12 Tom Ferraro, PhD, The Japanese Power of Cute
PAGE 16 Hitoshi Tanaka, JINS
PAGE 19 Jamie Chung, Fall Cocktail PAGE 23 Maya Thiagarajan, Beyond the Tiger Mom PAGE 27 Elaine Chu, The Purgation
PAGE 31 KCON NY Photo Recap
Copyright (C) 2016 ALIST magazine. All rights reserved. Title is protected through a trademark registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Printed in U.S.A.
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PUBLISHER EXECUTIVE EDITOR
CAREER EDITOR ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR COPY EDITOR COPY EDITOR RESEARCH EDITOR LAYOUT MANAGER
MIRANDA WONG CATHERINE LAW
ALIST DIGITAL DEBBIE CHOY GRAGE JENNIFER YAMADA LAURA LI LISA SITA ANDREW JUNG ALYSON TONG
EXEC. GEN. COUNSEL ASSOC. GEN COUNSEL ASSOC. GEN. COUNSEL WEBSITE MANAGER
PETER WOO ALEXANDER KO CHRISTINE WONG BI YOO
MARKETING/PR DIGITAL AD MANAGER BRIE MANAKUL
CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHER DIGITAL ARTIST
ERIC BOTHWELL JACKIE HO ELYSIA SU JASMIN HUANG
WRITERS BRYAN CHEUNG TOM FERRARO, PH.D. NINA HUANG RUBAIYAT KHAN SVETLANA KIM BERNARD NG JENNIFER SUZUKAWA-TSENG SAMUEL TSOI SEE XIONG
EDITORâ€™S NOTE In this issue we have another 7 amazing articles that makes us think outside of the box. We have ChienChi Huang of Together Empowering Asian Minds (TEAM), Rachel and Helen Lee of The Indie-Activists, Dr. Tom Ferraro, Hitoshi Tanaka of JINS, Jamie Chung of What The Chung, Maya Thiagarajan of Beyond the Tiger Mom and Elaine Chu of The Purgation. Chien-Chi Huang is a Founding Member of Together Empowering Asian Minds (TEAM). They are focused on generating public awareness about mental health issues that are unique to Asian American female college students. Rachel and Helen Lee are the Founders of The Indie-Activists and they are the ALISTers to follow. These 18 year old identical twins are trying to make an impact in society by advocating for diverse causes. Dr. Tom Ferraro is a psychoanalyst and international known psychologist who has worked with Asian American and European athletes. He makes us think about today's world, especially this periods zeitgeist. A zeitgeist is a unique spirit, a nature or climate that sets it apart. Hitoshi Tanaka is the President, CEO and Founder of JINS. He is an entrepreneur who wanted to make affordable and functionable eyewear for everyone. Jamie Chung is an actress and blogger of What the Chung who shares her favorite cocktail to help us enjoy the fall season. Maya Thiagarajan is the author of Beyond the Tiger Mom and she wrote about the real life dilemas of being an East-West parent.
COVER PHOTO BY RAWPIXEL
Elaine Chu is the Writer and Director of The Purgation and she talks to us about her journey of her first horror film of which she prefers to call it a thriller film.
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What do all 7 articles have in common? They have a connection to a community, whether it's spreading the word about mental illness, fighting to stop taxation on feminine products. functional eyewear, luxury fashion with Japanese cartoons, a refreshing fall cocktail, EastWest parenting to watching a horror film. I hope you can find your connection to your community.
Asian Mental Health Means Something to Chien-Chi Huang
As founder of the Asian Breast Cancer Project and current Executive Director of Asian Women for Health, Chien-Chi Huang is a passionate community advocate for mental health issues in the Asian American community. She is also a Founding Member and a Project Manager of Together Empowering Asian Minds (TEAM). TEAM is a peer-led, Massachusetts-based coalition formed in 2010 to address urgent and unique mental health challenges faced by Asian American women and their loved ones. TEAM will leverage the powerful network of its local*, regional (East Coast Asian American Students Union) and national partners (National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association) to revolutionize how young Asian American women receive, process and use mental health information and services. *Lead partner Saheli and WGBH,Cambridge Health Alliance, Boston Asian American Film & Video Festival, the Breaking Silences Project, Asian American Commission, ASPIRE, NAPAWF Boston, QAPA, Genki Spark, Gund Kwok, Southeast Asian Coalition, Nepali Women’s Global Network, Families for Depression Awareness, AAWPI, NAMI, ATASK, Asian Boston Media Group, JB Line, Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research
ALIST Magazine: Why are Asian cultures behind on the discussion on mental health? Chien-Chi Huang: Shame and guilt are major factors that prevent Asian Americans from discussing mental health issues. Asian cultures emphasize the collective good and discourage airing dirty laundry that might disrupt the harmony in the family/community. It’s a combination of Asian pride (we are compelled to fit the “Model Minority” myth), erroneous health beliefs, and ignorance about mental health that result in misconceptions such as: • Depression is an excuse for people who are lazy with no motivation. • Only “crazy” people need to see shrinks. • People with gambling or addic-
tion problems are weak, with no self-control or have moral defects. Being gay is a phase or a fad; people will grow out of it. People with bipolar disorder are dangerous to others and to themselves. People with mental health issues are cursed or did something bad in their past life.
AM: How did you get involved with the organization Together Empowering Asian Minds (TEAM)? CH: I’m one of the founding members of TEAM, which was formed in 2010 to address the unique and unmet mental health needs of Asian Americans in Massachusetts. Ten years ago, when I was in treatment for breast cancer, I had a drug-induced manic episode. I still experience depression from time to time. Due to my lived experience, I have great empathy and compassion for those who may be going through the same thing. I am determined to find ways to give them hope and to lift their spirits! AM: How does this group benefit the community? CH: TEAM is important to all Asians because mental health impacts us ALL, regardless of one’s ethnicity, country of origin, gender, creed, educational and/ or socio-economic status. Although there is an AAPI national campaign on suicide prevention, HIV/AIDS and an-
ti-bullying, there is no public awareness campaign focusing on mental health. We believe by engaging, educating and empowering key stakeholders, TEAM can transform how Asian American women and their loved ones perceive, process, and receive mental health services. We envision a world where Asian Americans with mental illnesses can speak freely, share openly and experience acceptance and support without shame and judgment. The website just launched: www.teamasianminds.org Currently, the website is focused on generating public awareness about mental health issues that are unique to Asian Americans, particularly female college students. The ultimate goal for the website is for it to be a one-stop portal for resource sharing and information exchange. In our next phase, we hope to create an online community for peers, host webinars and trainings, provide a geo-locator to connect to providers, and to continue to curate additional multilingual resources. AM: Your website seems to concentrate on female mental health. CH: Female college students are a vulnerable and underserved population in the mental health field. They are particularly subjected to intense cultural pressures on top of racial and gender WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 3
discrimination and are at a higher risk for developing mental health problems. AM: What steps should one take to be in a healthy state of mind? CH: NAAPIMHA has a comprehensive program called “Achieving Whole Health” that I think is helpful: naapimha.org/achieving-whole-healthwellness-coach-training-program I have participated in the program and found it useful to help counter my negative thoughts and feelings: 1) Catch 2) Check 3) Change. AM: How do you begin a conversation with your family about mental illness? CH: There are many resources out there on how to start that conversation. Here are two sites to help: • www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/time-talk-tips-talking-aboutyour-mental-health • www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/ friends-family-members AM: How should an individual seek help? CH: Start by talking to someone who you trust and will listen without judgment. AM: What was the best and the worst part of this journey for you? 4 |
CH: The worst part of the journey was not about losing my hair, my breast or my life — it was about losing my mind. The best part was recognizing how strong I am and how lucky I am to have a loving family and supportive network! AM: Why do you believe that personal stories of individuals battling and overcoming breast cancer or mental illness is a strong message for others? CH: Too many people still suffer in silence due to language and cultural barriers. By sharing our stories, we can show others that recovery is possible and that they are NOT alone. AM: What advice would you give to our readers about mental illness and breast cancer? CH: A great friend and mentor once gave me this advice, and I have used it often as a mantra when I encounter adversity: You are loved by many. Things could be worse. This shall pass. Something good will come out of this! AM: You have partnerships with East Coast Asian American Students Union (ECAASU), National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, Saheli, Asian American Commission, ASPIRE, and many more – are you looking to bring on more partners to help spread the word?
CH: Our goal is to reach 150,000 people by April 30, 2017. We are always looking to add more partners as they help us spread the word and provide resources to sustain the campaign beyond our funding period. We are particularly interested in working with Asian student organizations, cultural clubs, sorority groups, mental health providers, college counseling centers, community and business leaders, media and mental health/health advocacy groups or advocates. AM: Your campaign on Asian American mental health begins in the fall. What is lined up and how can people help? CH: The TEAM campaign successfully launched at MGH in Boston with first half of the event simulcast to over 10 college campuses. After opening remarks by Dr. Justin Chen of MGH’s Center for Cross-Cultural Student Emotional Wellness, The Breaking Silences Project gave a moving performance about the struggles with depression and the effect of family and culture on mental health within the AAPI community. For more information on TEAM, please visit www.teamasianminds.org and for more information on Chien-Chi Huang visit www.asianwomanforhealth.org
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Rachel & Helen Lee
RACHEL & HELEN LEE
Our names are Rachel and Helen Lee, and we are 18-year-old Korean American identical twins currently attending UCLA. Leaving our small suburb in South Korea at the age of 5 and growing up in a beauty supply store our parents owned in downtown LA, we were given a moral lens at a young age to witness poverty and unequal opportunities firsthand. The bulk of our childhood consisted of following our parents to work, often staying behind the counter. With very few personal belongings and toys, we found value in using creativity to solve problems. Living in America, we became aware of the apparent lack of Asian American role models to look up to in popular culture. As a result, we aspire to highlight issues and problems that we felt are underrepresented in our society at large in inventive and creative means, and hope to one day become those very role models that are rare in our communities. We are currently redefining what it means to be a youth activist and we want to show that people should not be limited by age, sex or race to make a change in their communities at large. Last summer, we trademarked and started a grassroots movement called the Indie-Activists™ (www.theindieactivists.org) and started a petition on change.org to stop the taxation of necessary feminine products, such as tampons and pads, in California.
ALIST Magazine: What does being a youth activist mean to both of you? What should it mean to others? Rachel Lee: Being a youth activist means that you’re young enough to know that there are problems affecting our communities, wise enough to know that it needs to change and daring enough to stand for a cause that has the potential to bring positive change. And it should mean to others that certain problems affect a lot of us, regardless of age, and we can empower youth to come together to make an impact and contribute to a better society for generations to come.
AM: Why did you start Indie-Activists? Helen Lee: We believed that individuals could take action and take part in government to advocate for issues. We actually have had some prior experience with petitioning and political campaigning, and over time, we realized that many injustices were a reality, which is a shocking and unpleasant revelation, especially as youth. We also realized that it didn’t have to be this way, and individual efforts can help change a lot of that. We were initially outraged by the tampon tax, our very first petition, and realized that by starting a not-for-profit and non-partisan effort to change individual causes, we could quite literally be the change we wanted to see in the world. AM: Who came up with the logo? RL: Helen came up the concept of the umbrella from the notion that the Indie-Activists should be an umbrella term for our
we decided against being a single-agenda group to hopefully make an impact that is felt by many people. AM: Rachel, as your dream is to become an entrepreneur, who would you love to have as your mentor and why? RL: I would love to have Lori Greiner as my mentor. Her innovative nature is amazing, and the fact that she is an inventor and is knowledgeable in the realm of patenting would be of great guidance to me. She also was also a communications major in college, and she seems like she genuinely cares for the success and well-being of entrepreneurs. AM: How is your solar-powered, self-supporting phone charger project going? When can we see it in the market? RL: We’ve been talking to venture capitalists, but we’re most likely not going through with manufacturing. I came up with this
“We can empower youth to come together to make an impact and contribute to a better society for generations to come.” diverse array of causes we support, linked to a common goal. And I designed it. AM: Why did you decide to represent the diverse causes that you both stand for? HL: We wanted to choose a variety of things that affect many of us on the local level and
idea two years ago, and we spent hours and hours with a pad of paper, vellum and an ink pen. With new technology developing at a rapid pace, inventions are becoming outdated quickly. We’re currently working on a new project that better complements our design skills that is also fit for practical, WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 7
RACHEL & HELEN LEE
everyday use. However, our first patenting journey has been interesting, gratifying and extremely special. The concept of seeing my ideas scrawled out on paper, and many long nights of working, reworking and refining later, come to life as a tangible object, serves as an inspiration for me. You’ll see something in the market of ours soon, since this project fueled a fire to keep us going. AM: Is there a new project in the works that you can share with us? HL: Yes. My sister and I are currently rolling around a new idea for a practical, utilitarian invention that might revolutionize an everyday household item. From what it looks like right now, you haven’t seen anything like it, and quite frankly, neither have we! But of course, our main focus is on continuing the projects we already have in the works, such as bringing The Indie-Activists and campaigning at a nationwide level. AM: Helen, at 16 you trained as a paralegal – has this helped you when you were setting up Indie-Activists? HL: Definitely. Training as a paralegal has played one of the most important roles in 8 |
terms of becoming familiar with the nuances of the law and namely, whom certain laws affect the most. Experiences at the law office, such as reading civil and criminal law codes, talking to people in need of law services and annotating case briefs for licensed attorneys
non-existent doesn’t make it disappear. Environmental issues are also important to us because it’s easy to ignore that we share the earth with other living things that can be negatively affected by our actions. They get
“The concept of seeing my ideas scrawled out on paper, and many long nights of working, reworking and refining later, come to life as a tangible object, serves as an inspiration for me.” helped me grasp the bigger idea that laws govern people, but people have the power to change laws that perpetuate backward thinking. AM: What are three major issues that are important to you? RL: Mental health awareness is important to us because mental health is often stigmatized even though it’s something that we as humans all experience. Especially in the Asian American community, mental health is an afterthought and isn’t openly talked about in many families. Treating mental illness as
lost in our field of vision as we go about our day-to-day lives. Also, women’s rights are important to us not just because we’re women, but also because it directly affects more than half the population. Treating people unequally based on sex or gender identification is an indicator of an unjust society. AM: Do you have any Asian American role models that you look up to? Why? HL: Maya Lin. She is a fiercely creative, articulate, prodigal and unstoppable
for Team USA), but also having a genuine connection with vibrant and thriving cultures and becoming the best representation of the culture that brought me up. AM: What is the best advice someone has given you? HL: Our introspective, supportive and innovative best friend, Dan, has told us to embrace and not fear uncertainty because uncertainty is a huge part of trailblazing your own life and legacy. It’s great advice and comforting to remember, especially since there’s a lot of uncertainty in creativity. AM: What are you currently reading? RL: I’m a sucker for non-fiction. I’m currently reading “Art of the Deal” by Donald Trump and Tony Schwartz. It’s quite entertaining.
RACHEL & HELEN LEE
HL: I’m always in between books: “Regarding the Pain of Others” by Susan Sontag, “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller and “The Shining” by Stephen King.
visionary who stands up for her ideas and makes them come to life. I’ve watched clips of her in interviews back in the 1980s when her design for the Vietnam Memorial was chosen, and I’ve watched critics be stunned at her ability to stand up for her design. She is not only talented, but also intelligent and well-spoken. Through our work, we hope to embody those characteristics. AM: What tips would you give a person who would like to be an activist? RL: Start locally. Choose a cause you’re willing to stand firmly for, something you personally feel is unfair, and go from there. Don’t give up when it seems bleak and if you run into people that won’t necessarily see it the way you do. Keep fighting the good fight. AM: What do your parents think about you being champions of human rights and causes? HL: They’re thrilled that we’re champions of
AM: Who inspires you both? RL: Our parents. They tirelessly worked long hours in a small Beauty Supplies store in Downtown LA, spoke very little English and truly did the best they could. Our creativity sparked behind the counter of that small store. We were often bored and tired following our parents to work, but our mom
“Our dad's ability to bridge the language gap in a multiethnic neighborhood through his nonverbal mannerisms and kindness serves as an inspiration to us both.”
something! But seriously though, they were the first to sign our petition and the first to hear us complain about failed attempts and our successful trip and press conference at Sacramento. We are lucky to have such supportive and loving parents, and we owe it to them for cheering us on.
AM: What does being Asian American mean to you? RL: Being Asian American means to me not only craving kimchi while eating a hamburger, or rooting for Korea in the World Cup (while simultaneously hoping for the best
knew how to turn a tough situation into a fun environment for us to create worlds that often transported us away from that store. HL: Our mom inspires us to be adaptive and to have a positive outlook even in negative times. Our dad’s ability to bridge the language gap in a multiethnic neighborhood through his nonverbal mannerisms and kindness serves as an inspiration to us both. We hope to adopt his entrepreneurial spirit and hardworking attitude.
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The Japanese Power of Cute: How Hello Kitty, Pikachu, and Kaikai Have Become a Global Force
BY TOM FERRARO, PHD Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the position of ALIST Magazine, NAAAP and/or any/all contributors to this publication.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. . .”
period’s zeitgeist is the expression of its dominating ideals and values. In the 1950’s, when the United States was emerging as a world power, the Gateway Arch in St Louis, designed by architect Eero Saarinen and built in 1965, expressed this mid-century American zeitgeist. We know that architecture, visual art, literature, and film are traditional ways that a zeitgeist is symbolized. Charles Dickens’s masterwork, A Tale of Two Cities, captured the zeitgeist of democracy in 1790’s Europe by detailing two of its greatest cities, London and Paris. Germany’s guilt-ridden zeitgeist is still being worked through with the help of Gerhard Richter and his unsettling “blur” paintings. The job of art is to find, express, and work through a culture’s unfelt and unconscious mood. Does the world of 2016 have its own zeitgeist, and if so, where do we turn to understand it? Capitalism dominates these early
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Murakami is a world-renowned Japanese artist and founder of the Superflat movement who built his brand by using vibrant colors and incredibly cute, child-like cartoon characters. He has often been compared to Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons, artists capable of combining popular culture and high art. Murakami’s kawaii-based art was first noticed by Marc Jacobs, the creative force in charge of the Louis Vuitton brand, who invited Murakami to play around with the LV logo in 2003. troubling state of mind? The best the art world can give us is a giant stainless steel Balloon Dog (Orange) by Jeff Koons, which is all yours for the price of $56.8 million. According to Koons, it seems that it is all so
“Murakami's kawaii-based art was first noticed by Marc Jacobs, the creative force in charge of the Louis Vuitton brand, who invited Murakami to play around with the LV logo in 2003.” decades of the 21st century, and this ideology has remained unrivaled on the world stage since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent fall of communism. The values of capitalism are found in conspicuous consumption, tireless work, commercialism, and undying efforts to achieve some level of social status. All this hustling, bustling, and buying tend to result in a sense of exhaustion, depletion, anxiety, and sadness which is rarely admitted to but felt by most. So where do we find expression of this 12 |
may not know much about Japanese artist Nakashi Murakami and his adorable cartoon characters. Meet Mr. Dobs, Kaikai, and Kiki.
merry and bright. Recently, I have begun to notice an odd and surprising symbol which may be the best expression of the current global zeitgeist. It is not from the world of art, dance, or literature, but from the world of luxury fashion. Welcome to the strange marriage between Louis Vuitton and Nakashi Murakami’s cartoons. Everyone is familiar with the Louis Vuitton logo, one of the most expensive and profitable brands in the world. But people
The fact that Marc Jacobs decided to use Murakami’s art on his bags is not of particular interest, but the fact that the bags became so popular is. Why would the average status-seeking luxury bag shopper fall in love with this oddly cute, childlike idea? And fall in love they did. The Murakami and Louis Vuitton collaboration lasted 13 years and made both men hundreds of millions of dollars. The spirit of cuteness did not stop with Louis Vuitton; we can see the use of cartoon appeal in other global companies. Pikachu, the most adorable of all Pokemon figures, is now painted on the sides of ANA Airlines jets, and Hello Kitty, the pretty Japanese kitten with no mouth, is currently franchised to over 15,000 products worldwide, bringing in over seven billion dollars in profit to the Japanese corporation Sansoi. There seems to be power and profit in cuteness. American enterprise is ever fluid and caught on fast. Knowing a profitable trend when they see it, Coach, the ultra-American luxury brand, recently started using Los Angeles artist Gary Basemen’s cartoon images on their high-end tee shirts. That went so well
that they now use Rexy, the Peewee Herman Funhouse dinosaur, on some of their more expensive handbags.
So why did Japanese cuteness strike such a chord in the West? The kawaii syndrome in Japan refers to all things innocent, giggling, cute, lovable, nonthreatening, and childish. Murakami himself has said that the trauma of Hiroshima and Nagasaki created a tendency of the Japanese to present themselves as cuddly and defenseless in order to avoid any future threat of nuclear destruction. Murakami curated the art show Little Boy (referring to the H-bomb dropped on Hiroshima) in order to develop this idea. He supported many artists from otaku, or “geek culture,” to demonstrate this theme. Psychohistorians and psychoanalysts can have a field day with this idea. They would call the kawaii syndrome a national reaction formation to avoiding the threat of future atomic anni-
hilation. But the fact that extreme cuteness is now being exported globally is worth analyzing further. It is relatively easy to see how a country will unconsciously struggle with national trauma, and that this often takes many decades to work through. In the case of Japan’s atomic bomb trauma, it doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to connect the amazing popularity of the endless series of Japanese Godzilla films with the imprint left by the destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The kawaii syndrome may be a product of World War II, but when extreme forms of cuteness get exported to other nations, we have a phenomenon that reaches another level: a global trend where a certain character trait in one nation is being adopted by the global village. The world is now dominated by a capitalistic ideology characterized as aggressive, profit-driven, and embedded in the global corporation. The fall of communism in the early 1990’s left no other competing ideology. We now see Islamic fundamentalism trying to raise its voice against the secular capi-
talism of the West, but this is unlikely to halt the power and growth of capitalism, although it does suggest that the world is in a state of imbalance. Slavoj Zizek, Europe’s most well-known cultural critic, has stated that for the world to find stability there must be a balance of power. Only then can the world trend towards fairness and equity. The last time this
Thank goodness Marc Jacobs decided to hire Nakashi Murakami to brighten up his brown bags with some colorful flowers and cartoon figures. We all deserve a little cheering up as we pay our monthly credit card bills. In the final scene of Ghostbusters II, a giant Pillsbury Doughboy walks down Fifth Avenue to fight the evil slime monster growing in the bowels of New York City. This reminds
“Hello Kitty is ambling down Madison Avenue followed by Mr. Dob, Kaikai, Kiki, and Pikachu, all ready to grapple with the most powerful thing on earth: capitalism.” occurred was when the Soviet Union and communism was set in deep contrast against the United States and capitalism. Freud also discussed the need for balance in regard to drive states. He said that man has two drive states, libido and destrudo, and that these two drives must be in balance for us to survive. Destrudo, our death wish, has its seat in our muscles and gives us our killer instinct, power, and drive toward aggression, while libido, our life instinct, pleasure principle, and sexual desire, must soothe the death instinct and make it less aggressive. The ancient fable of Beauty and the Beast is a takeoff on this need for balance in a person. It is not too much to say that capitalism, with its impressive power, profit motive, and aggression, is dictated by the masculinity of the death wish. Capitalism represents the world’s masculinity, but if Zizek and Freud are right, the world does need to balance its death wish and its life wish. Since there is no global ideology, no nation, and no economic system that has been able to compete with capitalism, perhaps the world, or the consumer, has come up with a strange solution as it combines the brown world of Louis Vuitton with all those girlish Murakami cartoons. Who would have thought that our collective unconscious would find expression in a Louis Vuitton bag? That familiar look, with its deep brown treated leather and LV logo, is the dream of any weary shop-til-youdrop status seeker. The bags cost anywhere from $1,500 to $30,000, which is truly a depressing thought. The secret unwritten coda of capitalism is to find your measure of status in a multitude of luxury items, so it is no wonder we are all a little depressed.
me of what is happening now. Hello Kitty is ambling down Madison Avenue followed by Mr. Dob, Kaikai, Kiki, and Pikachu, all ready to grapple with the most powerful thing on earth: capitalism. “Ladies and Gentleman, in this corner is the undefeated champion of the world, the global corporation. And in the other corner, we have Hello Kitty. Okay, you two come into the center of the ring, let’s have a fair fight, no low blows, touch gloves, and come out fighting.” These are the best of times, these are the worst of times, these are the richest of times, these are the poorest of times, this is the age of innocence, this is the age of exploitation, this is the age of cuteness, this is the age of ugliness, this is the time for giggling, this is the time for crying. Welcome to the zeitgeist, where the only challenger to the global power of capitalism is found in the power of a cute Japanese cartoon character named Hello Kitty. Dr. Tom Ferraro is a psychoanalyst and internationally known psychologist who has worked with Asian, American, and European athletes. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and London Times, and he publishes across a broad number of areas including the psychoanalysis of fashion, economics, sports, and culture. His book, Yin & Yang: Tales of Neurotic Golfers, is published in South Korea. Dr. Ferrero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is drtomferraro. com.
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Taking Eyewear to the 21st Century with Hitoshi Tanaka President, CEO and Founder of JINS
In the past, eyewear served a medical function, but now it’s more commonly a fashion accessory as well. Upping the ante in this industry is JINS, a Tokyo-based eyewear brand that is expanding in the United States. Founded by Hitoshi Tanaka in 2001, JINS now has over 400 stores across the globe in Japan, China, Taiwan and the U.S. JINS launched its first U.S. store in San Francisco in April 2015, followed by opening a store in San Jose and two in Los Angeles. JINS is known for its affordable (prices range from $60-$140), high-quality eyewear created with the passion and spirit of the Japanese craftsmanship. The shopping experience in the stores is simple and speedy; your glasses are made in 30 minutes. At the flagship store in San Francisco, there is a lens edging robot named KANNA that can make 63 pairs an hour. The brand offers 1,200 different styles, including a line of smart eyewear called JINS SCREEN and JINS SCREEN NIGHT that filters blue light and reduces eye fatigue. As founder, president and CEO, Tanaka continues to expand his mission to make stylish, high quality eyewear more accessible for everyone.
ALIST Magazine: Why did you decide to start an eyewear company? Hitoshi Tanaka: I decided to start an eyewear company when I first visited Korea in 2000. I realized how inexpensive glasses were in Korea and was very amused with the pricing. In 2001, when I launched JINS, the price of glasses in Japan averaged between $300-$500 in Japan. But I knew that eyewear can be made much more affordable, and I felt that customers shouldn’t have to pay an up-sell in price. AM: How did you come up with the name of JINS and the design of the logo? HT: My name is Hitoshi Tanaka, and the character for Hitoshi is written like “仁” which means love and affection. The phonetic way of saying Hitoshi is “JIN,” and my nickname has been “Jin-san.” (In Japan, you say “–san” after someone’s name.) The logo of JINS is “J!NS” and I included an exclamation mark for the “i” to show that shopping for eyewear should be exciting, full of surprises and being happy. AM: What did you do before starting JINS? HT: I always had an entrepreneurial
spirit ever since I was young. After quitting my first job at a credit union bank, I felt I wanted to start my own business
that protect eyes from allergies and pollen. I launched JINS SCREEN in Japan in 2011, and at that time, many people
“I wanted to make glasses for people that don't just require vision correction but for those who want eye protection.” when I was 25. That’s when I launched my first business selling accessories and apparel, such as aprons and small items. But after my trip to Korea in 2000, I knew I wanted to start selling eyewear. AM: You created the market for “functional eyewear” for people who do not need to wear glasses specifically for sight problems. Why? HT: I wanted to make glasses for people that don’t just require vision correction but for those who want eye protection. For example, JINS SCREEN blocks harmful blue light emitted from digital devices. We also have Pollen Cut glasses
struggled with digital eye strain. I’m actually one of those who had terrible eye strain. When I asked my optometrist about it, he hinted that I may be staring at computer screens all day long that emits harmful blue light. At that time, no one really knew what blue light was. So I began a lot of collaborative research with other academic researchers and doctors on the harmful effects of blue light, and hence created and developed glasses that protect eyes from blue light. AM: Can you tell us a bit about JINS MEME? HT: We have been selling the wearable
JINS MEME in Japan since November, 2015. JINS MEME uses sensing technology called electrooculography to detect tiny changes in the body and mind movements so you can monitor your body for better safety, wellness and health. There are 3 electrodes on each side of the nose pad and nose bridge that detect blinks and eye movements, and six-axis sensors on the ear piece that monitor body axis and walking patterns. By measuring eye movement and blinks, we can understand our fatigue and concentration levels, and learn how we run and walk. I have great expectations for JINS MEME that we’ll be able to prevent certain body conditions or illnesses such as unique walking patterns or Alzheimer’s early on. I hope the JINS MEME can contribute to something very useful in society. AM: You launched your first U.S. flagship store in San Francisco in 2015. Did it meet your expectations? HT: We opened our flagship store in Union Square, San Francisco back in April and it definitely met my expecWWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 17
“At JINS, we help our customers see the world better, but we'd also like to make the world a better place to see.” tations. However, the launch and the store preparations were a long and challenging journey. U.S. regulations are very different from Japan and Asia, so we faced many obstacles. We are still learning every day about opening stores in the U.S. and it is very exciting. AM: Is there a particular reason your store locations are all located on the West Coast? HT: We opened three stores in the Fall 2016—one in San Jose and two in Los Angeles. One of the reasons we wanted to launch in the Bay Area was the proximity to Silicon Valley. With our launch of functional glasses such as JINS SCREEN, we wanted to target people in tech/startups as they are frequently in front of computer screens, and to educate people about the dangers of blue light. We also felt that San Francisco is a place of new discoveries and innovation and has a history of being the starting point of many paradigm-shifting organizations – we really hope we can be one of them. AM: You also have Cases for Causes, where purchases of special cases go 18 |
back to the community. Will each of your U.S. locations participate in different causes? How are the causes chosen? HT: Yes, the Cases for Causes is a big part of the social mission at JINS, where we partner with non-profit organizations in our communities. At JINS, we help our customers see the world better, but we’d also like to make the world a better place to see. Through the Cases for Causes program, we design eyewear cases inspired by the non-profit organization’s mission and goals. We currently have 6 NPO organizations we are partnering with in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. We plan to have the Cases for Causes in all of the cities we expand to. AM: What is the best advice someone has given you? HT: The Founder and President of Uniqlo, Tadashi Yanai, told me, “If there’s no will or ambition to get better long-term, the company will not grow.” That’s when I realized there’s no point in worrying about short-term profit and strategy.
AM: When you are not at work, what do you do to relax or have fun? HT: If I’m not at work, I like to go to my hometown in Gunma prefecture (two hours away from Tokyo) and help revitalize my old neighborhood and city. With so much of the population flocking to big cities like Tokyo, my dream is to put more energy and entrepreneurial mindset in the rural/suburban neighborhoods and communities. I am also on the Executive Committee of the “Gunma Innovation Award” program, where we award the best entrepreneurs in Gunma, and I manage the “Gunma Innovation School,” where we help professors and entrepreneurs become leaders. Recently I became involved in urban city planning of Maebashi, where I grew up and have many fond memories. For additional information on JINS, please visit www.jins.com and find them on Facebook at JINS Eyewear, Twitter and Instagram @jinseyewear
Jamie Chung's Cocktail Jamie Chung was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a Bachelor’s in Economics with an emphasis on Business. During college she was plucked from her work place to be on MTV's Real World San Diego. After graduating college she went on to successfully launch her acting career. After working her way up to bigger roles she landed a lead on her own miniseries "Samurai Girl." She then went on to star on "Once Upon A Time," "Suckerpunch," "Hangover II," and "EDEN." She'll be seen next year on J.J Abrams produced series "Believe," "Sin City: A Dame to Kill for," and "Rudderless" a movie directed by William H. Macy. Her blog, What The Chung, launched in 2013 as a creative outlet.
Jamie Chung dishes on what drives her success while enjoying her favorite Hennessy cocktail, The Hennessy Mule. She says, "there are so many stories that need to be told, so many characters that need to be played and so many dreams that need to be fulfilled. That is what I continue to chase; that is my wild rabbit.” The "simple to make, hard to forget" cocktail is made with Hennessy V.S and Ginger beer on the rocks.
Simple to make, hard to forget, the complimenting spice from ginger is perfect for the sweet spice of Hennessy VS. • 1.5 oz Hennessy VS • 3.5 oz Ginger beer • Garnish: Lime wedge and or fresh ginger slices • Glass: Rocks
Pour Hennessy and Ginger beer into a rocks glass with ice, garnish with a lime wedge and or fresh ginger slices.
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The Life Dilemmas and Decisions of a Tiger Mom with Maya Thiagarajan Growing up in both the U.S. and India, Maya Thiagarajan taught for a decade at schools in the U.S. before moving to Singapore to teach at the United World College of South East Asia. Struck by the differences in parenting and education between the U.S. and Singapore, she wrote the book “Beyond the Tiger Mom,” released earlier this year. The book draws on interviews with Chinese and Indian parents living in Singapore as well as Thiagarajan’s own experiences. ALIST Magazine: Why did you write "Beyond The Tiger Mom"? Maya Thiagarajan: Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book you want to read, and no one has written it, then you must write it.” Since I really wanted to read a book that reflects the real- life dilemmas and decisions of parents like myself – parents who have been exposed to East and West, parents who draw on multiple cultures when making decisions for their children – I began the long project of writing “Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age.” I think my own multicultural background also made me more open to a range of perspectives on parenting and education. I’ve always straddled different worlds, and the parenting advice that I got in India, for example, was always very different from the advice I got in the U.S. So my background sparked my interest in different ways of raising and educating children. Also, when I first left the U.S. and moved to Singapore, I was really struck by how differently parents here in Singapore thought about education and child rearing; the conversations that I had with parents, both in my professional life as a teacher and as a parent myself, were very different from the conversations I had in the U.S. I was really WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 23
interested in further exploring these differences. AM: Are you a Tiger Mom with your two children? MT: I think that depends largely
lots of time to play outside in nature, and a certain amount of freedom. My main goal as a parent is to balance opposing forces – to strike the right balance between structure and freedom, between work and
"I think that East-West parenting, or global parenting, is all about drawing from both cultural approaches and finding the right balance." play, between respecting elders and challenging ideas/systems; I think that East-West parenting, or global parenting, is all about drawing from both cultural approaches and finding the right balance.
on how you define “tiger mom.” I believe strongly that academic foundations are important for kids and that kids need some amount of structure and discipline. However, I also believe strongly that kids need unconditional love and affection,
AM: Did growing up with two different cultures help you write the book? MT: Yes. As a biracial/bicultural kid who lived in both the U.S. and India, I always straddled different worlds. Similarly, as a new mother, I got very different kinds of advice from my Indian family versus my American friends. For example, when my first child was born in the U.S., my American pediatrician and my friends assumed that I would keep him in a separate room at night and that I would “sleep train” him. In contrast, my Indian aunts assumed that I would keep him in my bed with me at nights and respond to his crying immediately. The cultural differences were apparent right from the start! I’ve always been fascinated
by how differently Easterners and Westerners view the world, and certainly my own background sparked my interest in writing this book. AM: Part of your book talks about guilt – where American parents give their children choices and the Asian parents tell the children what to do. Is there a way to compromise to benefit the children? MT: Firstly, I think that guilt is not a particularly useful emotion. I think that too many moms doubt themselves and blame themselves for every issue that their child might have. Instead of feeling guilty, perhaps what parents need to do is find a bit of perspective. Kids can work really hard – and parents shouldn’t feel guilty for pushing their kids to do their very best. However, there are times when parents push their kids too much, and as parents we need to be sensitive to when our children are genuinely feeling over-pressured.
What I found during my interviews with parents in Singapore is that parents here push their children
choosing careers outside of STEM? MT: I talk about this in my book a bit. With more economic security, the desire for STEM jobs decreases.
"I have always been fascinated by how differently Easterners and Westerners view the world." way, way more than parents that I worked with in the U.S. did. I think that American parents often underestimate how much their children are capable of, and how hard kids can work! In contrast, some parents in Singapore need to relax a bit and realize that too much pressure can backfire as well. Again, the key is not to feel guilty, but to really know your child and seek that perfect balance. AM: Why do you think that more and more second- and third-generation Asian-American students are
I think that a lot of Asian parents think that STEM jobs are easier to get and more lucrative, and so they push their kids into these fields. Also, math and science are universal languages; one doesn’t need to speak English fluently or understand Western culture to excel in these fields. While a first generation Asian-American may be more worried about economic security, language issues, and cultural assimilation, these are not really issues for second- and third-generation Asian-Americans. So the pressure to WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 25
restrict kids to STEM fields decreases after that first generation. Interestingly, many parents in Singapore spoke to me about the connection between effort and results in math; they said that math, more than any other subject in school, rewards effort and diligence. If a child practices math diligently, he/she will do well in math in school. Unlike English, the Humanities, or the Arts, kids can “get the right answer in math” and “score well.” I think this is another reason that Asian parents and first generation Asian-Ameri-
kept up with the reading. John lacks focus in class discussions and seems disengaged with his work.
struggle with writing. 3. Just be careful about the assumptions you make. Period.
AM: You said that a better word for failure is a “learning experience.” Can you give us an example from your life? MT: Well, I have learned a lot from my failures in all aspects of my life – my relationships, my parenting, my teaching, and even my writing. One example that still makes me cringe even after all these years: When I first started teaching, I had a student who was wonderful during class
I think that experience had a huge effect on my approach to students, and I learned so much from it. If we can reframe our mistakes and failures as “learning experiences,” then we can become better, more resilient, and more humble people.
"If we can reframe our mistakes and failures as 'learning experiences,' then we can be come better, more resilient, and more humble people." cans like math a lot – they see it as a “scoring subject.” AM: In your book, you said you perfected the art of “positive feedback,” which is similar to giving students candy. Please give your positive feedback to a student that is struggling and has problems paying attention. MT: The sugar candy version: “John is an enthusiastic and active student who brings lots of energy to our class discussions. In order to grow as a student, he could work on paying more attention to his homework assignments and completing them with greater care." The honest version: John has not handed in his last essay, and his homework generally comes in late. His essays have been carelessly written, and they reveal that he has not 26 |
discussions. She was enthusiastic and insightful, and I thought she was a really strong student. Then, when it came to the first homework assignment, she handed in an essay that was very sloppy and badly written. I assumed that she hadn’t put any time into her work, so I returned the paper to her with the comment, “You’ve got to revise your work. Don’t hand in your first draft.” She came to me in tears and showed me three drafts of the essay. “I worked really hard on that,” she said. I felt really bad, and I learned a number of valuable lessons: 1. Never make assumptions about how much effort a child has put into an assignment. 2. Don’t assume that a highly verbal child is equally good on paper; sometimes kids can have great speaking skills but really
AM: How long did you take to complete this book? MT: I spent about two years doing the research and reading for the book. I read hundreds of books and studies, and I talked to hundreds of parents in Singapore. From cab drivers to receptionists to teachers to businesswomen, I spoke with a very wide range of parents on this island, and that took a long time. But once I started writing, the process was quite quick. I wrote the book in about six months and then took another six months to get a publisher, work with an editor and get the book ready to go to press. AM: What does being Asian mean to you and why? MT: This is a hard question! I think I was very aware of my Indian-ness/ Asian-ness when I lived in the U.S. Here in Singapore, where everyone is Asian, I don’t think about my racial and cultural identity as much. But I think for me, being Asian is largely about family values. I feel very strongly that the Asian emphasis on family and respect are important. You can purchase Maya Thiagarajan's book on Amazon and for more information, please visit www.mayathiagarajan.info and you can find her on Twitter @Mayathiag
Elaine Chu Wants You to Feel Nostalgia and Fear with Her Movie 'The Purgation'
Written and directed by Elaine Chu, “The Purgation” is a horror film that was released on VOD and digitally in August. Protagonist Iris is an aspiring filmmaker who has been stuck directing TV episodes of a middling supernatural investigative series. When her boss sends her on assignment to a town with dark history and an abandoned insane asylum, Iris seizes the chance – and gets more than she expects.
what was left in the lower levels and discovering a chapel, glass doors and a bowling lane. While there is plenty of lore and urban legend surrounding the Wood County Insane Asylum, what really stuck in my memory was the friendships I had back then as a child. Kids have very simple relationships with each other, compared to the drama we deal with as adults. All I had to do was draw from my memories of exploring the unknown with my gang of misfit friends, and I had a solid story that was easy to run with.
ALIST Magazine: Why did you create "The Purgation"? Elaine Chu: The story comes from a childhood memory that I’ve always wanted to develop into a feature film. Without giving away too much of the plot, “The Purgation” is based on an actual insane asylum in central Wisconsin that was abandoned in the early ‘70s. By that time methods of treatment like electroshock therapy and ice water baths were deemed unnecessary, so a new modern psychiatric center was built and the asylum was shut down. When I was a kid, I convinced my friends to venture into the asylum ruins and shoot a mini horror movie. I remember going underground to explore
AM: What is your favorite horror movie and why? EC: Stylistically, I’d have to say “The Shining.” I always find something new when I watch it, and I seldom re-watch films. In terms of horror movies that actually scared me though, I would say “The Ring” (the American version with Naomi Watts). It’s the only horror movie that I actually lost sleep over because I was afraid to close my eyes at home. I put a brick on top of my laptop so nothing could crawl out of the screen when I was in bed. AM: Why are these types of movies popular? Do you think they are popular with the Asian community? Why or why not? EC: I love watching horror because it’s a relatively safe thrill; I assume it’s the same for most people. Horror is also one of the only genres where a strong female protagonist is common.
As for the Asian community, there is a theory that in Japan, which was forced to become a pacifist country after WWII, watching horror movies is a way for the Japanese population to experience a violent thrill without actually committing violence. The Japanese also have a rich history of ghost folktales. In many Asian cultures, it’s understood that spirits co-exist in the world with us. In Western cultures, spirits are considered enemies that must be destroyed. This is why most Asian horror movies rely on mood and tension building while American horror is action-based. So while I would say that horror is popular in Asia, the films that do better there are domestic and not the Hollywood remakes. AM: How would you convince a person who does not like horror movies to see yours? EC: I would tell them that “The Purgation” is more of a thriller than a straightup horror film. It’s not a slasher. While there is some gore, I’d say it’s a great excuse to watch with a date who can comfort you. I did have one person tell me that he felt like tearing his skin off during my movie. He was so disturbed by the content that it gave him an itchy feeling. So, if you like feeling disturbed, please watch my film. If not, then that’s OK too, I’m not trying to mentally scar anyone. AM: Is supporting the indie horror industry important to you? Why? EC: Most filmmakers, including myself, would love to be backed by a studio. WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 27
asm and work ethic won me over. Never underestimate the power of asking. On set, they had fun. We probably provided too much candy. AM: What is the best and worst part of indie filmmaking and why? EC: The worst part was having to spread myself thin: From picking up breakfast to scrubbing toilets, I did whatever I could because we were so short staffed. Everyone on crew had to wear several hats, which meant they couldn’t always focus completely on their actual jobs, and I’m sure it was frustrating for people who were used to union shoots. I always felt bad that we didn’t have the budget
of color there. And don’t tell me it’s because you’re writing from your own experience and all your friends happen to be white, because if that’s true, you have an even more serious problem. AM: Why did you name your movie “The Purgation”? EC: I found the dictionary definition fascinating and a little creepy. In Roman Catholic doctrine, purgation refers to the spiritual cleansing of a soul in purgatory, which really ties into what my film is about – being stuck in hell until you face the truth. Also, it’s an unusual word, so when you Google search it, my film is often the first thing that shows up. I
“We live in a diverse world, and I believe a cast should reflect that. For me it's less about casting Asians because I'm Asian and more about telling stories that include underrepresented groups.” Who wouldn’t want a huge budget to work with? However, I do believe independent films are important because they stay closer to the director and writer’s vision. Indies allow you to have more control over a story that you’re passionate about telling. AM: If you had the chance to be mentored by a director, who would it be and why? EC: Ang Lee. He’s one of the few Asian American directors who have been able to work on a wide range of genres, from a Jane Austen period drama (“Sense and Sensibility”) to a Marvel blockbuster (“The Hulk”). AM: How did you choose the kids for the movie? Did they enjoy their experience on set? EC: Three of the children got the part because of their brilliant auditions. One kid happened to be a student in an English class that I was teaching. He asked to look at my screenplay and talked his way into getting the part. His enthusi28 |
to provide more perks for the cast and crew. However, the best part was watching everyone come together and actually care about making my movie in spite of all the obstacles we faced. I’ve definitely made some new friendships for life with the amazing people that helped make “The Purgation” possible. AM: You consciously cast two Asian actors in your movie; by doing this, do you think that it will be a growing trend for other Asian filmmakers to follow suit? EC: We live in a diverse world, and I believe a cast should reflect that. For me it’s less about casting Asians because I’m Asian and more about telling stories that include underrepresented groups. Writers, directors, and producers should look at their casts, and if all the actors are white, ask themselves why that happened. I’m an Asian American who grew up in rural Wisconsin, so don’t tell me it’s because your story takes place in Middle America and there are no people
figured that some people would assume it was part of “The Purge” franchise. AM: Are you still doing improv? How do you go from improv to writing horror scripts? EC: Yes, right now I perform regularly on an improv house team at M.i.’s Westside Comedy Theater and with various indie teams around Los Angeles. Being part of the improv community in LA means I’m surrounded by some of the best actors and creative minds in this town, so I drew on that energy to keep me going while I was working on “The Purgation.” AM: With a very small percentage of directors being women and minority, why is it important for you to be a role model for other filmmakers? EC: To show that it’s possible, and that you’re not alone if you’re an Asian female filmmaker. If we want more content that gives us a voice, then we have to make it ourselves. The best way to do
that is to strengthen our community and share our skills. We must inspire each other to keep creating against all odds. AM: What tips would you give a person starting out in this industry? EC: Be willing to pay your dues. A handful of lucky people with connections and money will get the chance to rise to the top quickly, but for the majority of filmmakers, you have to start out on the bottom as Production Assistant and work your way up. Take advantage of every opportunity to be on set, that’s where you’ll really learn how to make a movie. Film school is advantageous because of the networking opportunities and access to gear you can use to shoot your projects. However, the money you spend on film school could also finance your first feature film, or be put toward majoring in a more lucrative degree. AM: What is the best advice someone has given you? EC: From MTV’s Daria: Question Authority. They usually know where the bathroom is.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t respect your elders or follow a hierarchy on set, because it is necessary for efficiency reasons to have a chain of command when you work on a film. However, don’t always assume that the people in charge know what they’re doing. When I first started working on set, I was in awe and just felt so lucky to be part of a shoot. The more projects I worked on, though,
AM: What is on your to-do list for the rest of the year? EC: Exercise more. Move into an apartment that allows cats. Finish my second screenplay and hopefully make it into my sophomore feature.
For more information about Elaine Chu and The Purgation, please visit www.facebook.com/ThePurgation
“You need to watch your own back and have the strength to say no to unreasonable requests, even if they come from a position of power.”
I began to realize that many so-called filmmakers were actually terrible at their jobs, that the idea of directors as these almighty geniuses with a vision was a total myth. It really annoyed me that idiots were helming these terribly disorganized shoots with Production Assistants being forced to work dangerously long hours and non-union actors not given proper breaks, etc. There is the Asian mentality that the people in charge know what’s best and will take care of you. This is absolutely not true in Hollywood. You need to watch your own back and have the strength to say no to unreasonable requests, even if they come from a position of power.
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