Henry Ong Interview Transcript

Masami: [00:00:00] Number viewed right on, man. It’s so good to have you on and just trying to put this set up together for awhile, but yeah, man, thanks for jumping on the podcast today.

Henry Ong: I’m happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me. I’m just glad it worked out. Cause as you said, we were going back and forth for a while.

Masami: And just to catch up with you for a quick second, just to talk about all this stuff, that’s, I don’t know. You’ve moved, I’ve moved a lot. Life changes and, making things, that’s a part of this industry too.

It was like, we don’t have justice, not just our job. We have a whole life to take care of, to take care of our mental energy or physical energy, like all of that needs to flow in. I hope that you’ve found a nice balance for yourself and so feel good, right?

Henry Ong: I do. Absolutely. I do. I think the way that I look at it is there. So there’s like number one, I don’t define myself by the role that I have, that some people do, I don’t and in life we have all these different buckets of [00:01:00] responsibility or things that we need to fill in. One is. That for some people, it gives you purpose.

There’s also being part of a family, right? Whether I be a son, a husband, a fulfilling those requirements, and as well as taking care of yourself and making sure you’re protecting your energy and your mental health especially during this time that we’re experiencing right now.

But the other bucket that I’ve been to fill too, is. And being of service and being helpful. And for me, I’ve really stepped it up this year, at least in my opinion of just trying to be, I want to consider myself a leader is just more of a person that is standing up to be an example of how to give back.

Masami: Yeah. And giving and giving feels good, even though we have. There’s an emotional time and energy on that. It’s honestly, that recharges me as well. Like I think it just feels right.

Yeah. Yeah. I’ll introduce you to [00:02:00] all of our listeners here and comes on just like I, we met on clubhouse and it was so easy.

And so easygoing, so couldn’t get store and we had a good chat after a good while, but I feel like most people don’t know who you are yet. I’ll introduce you real quick bit, you’ve worked for Marvel and Disney and places like that, and you had great, amazing story, but I’d like for you to introduce yourself we’re calling from hometown you don’t have to go into everything, but I would love to have your yourself.

Henry Ong: Yeah, not a problem. My name is Henry Ong. So Cal kid born and raised a son of a Vietnamese immigrants who came to this country, escaping a war. I also content and brand marketer. And as you said previously at Marvel and Disney I am also, an international keynote speaker, as well. As on

Masami: Okay.

Henry Ong: time, I love to mentor and also volunteer at an AAPI non-pro.[00:03:00]

Masami: Yeah. And so cat, what kind of, what area were you part of?

Henry Ong: Oh, San Gabriel valley the heart of all where all the Asian people live. But I actually, I live in a, I grew up in the city of El Monte, which I consider at that time, just right at the outskirts of?

the bubble. So I actually grew up in a more in Hispanic dominated community.

Masami: And you said you were born to parents of immigrants who fled Vietnam guest.

Henry Ong: That’s

Masami: Yeah. How do how do you feel about in Vietnamese parents of immigrants? Like how you find that power in yourself and what do you find power in that? Your identity?

Henry Ong: That’s a really great question, David. I think I never really thought of it that way, but let me digest this for a quick minute.

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: I think I would say the power, is to see the resiliency of my parents. They came to this country not together. just came with their own families.

They didn’t meet until they got here and seeing how, my [00:04:00] father, for example, who had barriers. Anything, any money and really work his way up to be, even though he’s a blue collar worker, but to see how he worked so hard to rebuild his life and he rebuilt it twice, he rebuilt it once a scaping, Vietnam, and being at a refugee camp on an island near Malaysia.

And then from there coming to America two years later, Again, restarting in a brand new country in the Midwest and then come to California, just hustling. when one of the first things he said, mind you, he’s a teenager who was a teenager at that time, he was like mowing rich people’s lawns and was really that day labor and just putting in that hustle.

And when I look at that, I have no excuse myself. When to chips are down And things are tough. I look at what my parents went through and that channels, that [00:05:00] energy of me to, straighten up my back, put my head high and just continue to move forward.

Masami: And what about your mother?

Henry Ong: Her story was similar in ways, but she went to Hong Kong and was in Hong Kong for a while, and then was finally able to make her way over here through plane. But it’s interestingly now my parents had me at it. Young age. My mother was 19. My father was 23. So you had children raising a baby here.

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: And actually I was the first one in my family to be born here. At that time, my dad, in his early twenties, he decided once he had me, was that okay, I’m going to stop what I’m doing now. he was working at a drum factory and decided to be a mailman applied because he, in his mind, he’s I need to make sure that my family’s fed and protected he needed something that would was a little bit more Yeah.

I’m already losing words because it’s a Friday afternoon, [00:06:00] a little bit more permanent.

So it was really important for him, to sustain that. So to see that sacrifice of my family in such a young age, that’s something that really, I think sets my foundation of who I am in life and how I react to certain things.

Masami: Yeah. I feel that same range as respecting our elders and where they came from is done through all the prompt you a lot. Yeah. And has that has your relationship with your identity changed over the years? Have you ever felt not means enough or like you’re sensing it? I feel like that’s happened to you before, but what about yourself?

Henry Ong: It’s evolved. It’s evolved a lot. I think many of us have gone through that journey of trying to understand who we are for me. I think I’ve figured out much later in life. I consider it. But in my teens and in my early twenties it was a huge evolution, I would say, at least in my teens, it was very much I was part of that Asian pride bubble.

And I think [00:07:00] quite frankly,

Masami: Okay.

Henry Ong: think it was just a mixture of so many different factors of a sense of belonging and finding certain groups that you connect with. But then that Asian pride stuff was, a little bit more militant. And the storyline here is about figuring out your identity. Growing up as a kid, my parents chose that I would only speak English. I would never speak a foreign language. So growing up. You felt Okay.

we want to be American. You want to simulate, you want to feel like you’re a part of everyone. And I went through high school and going through that situation and then going through college where I was exposed to a wider range of different ethnicities and races

Masami: Okay.

Henry Ong: was enlightening, and now.

What was my first foray of really understanding what the world was and what it could be, and being outside of that bubble was a great education for me. I remember that’s when I met Pacific [00:08:00] Islanders for the first time and really understanding their culture. So that was really exciting.

So going through that evolution was really important for me and then start realizing my worth and my value as I went to the workforce and got older and then start understanding, these terms of ceiling and all that. So really. At the end of the day, it was a long journey for me, but now I’m so happy because now that I’m in my thirties, I finally can accept who I am.

And I’m proud to say who I am as an Asian American here trying to for our community wherever I can. It’s a blessing in disguise in a way from this long journey. And it’s very real.

Masami: Yeah, I think there’s a lot to our identity. When we evolved over time, we see how we’ve changed and how we can start to give back people who might not get it yet or are on the cusp of it. And then as they see. Embraced it and what, and learning [00:09:00] from others and learning from other cultures, here that’s, what is one part of America’s melting pot is on salary.

Henry Ong: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Masami: Yeah. Couple months ago we had our first phone call just to chat and check in. I wanted to see, what’s Henry up to what’s, this who’s Henry. He told me this amazing story of your early years before for Disney getting into it. Although all the shade travel

love do I think it’s really, it would be really for share that to the audience.

Feel like sometimes one know the story, that company, different podcasts that you’ve been on, people who also struggle who also are in spaces that they don’t think they can go into this kind of industry coming from different backgrounds at you, such a unique store that I don’t hear from.

If you would, I’d love for you to share that story.

Henry Ong: Oh, yeah. Happy to. I guess we’ll have to start back to my days in high school, and I think as part of me being Born in my family. I didn’t really have an older sibling that I can look up to that gave me any guidance. So you kind of trial by [00:10:00] fire, right? When you’re learning through life.

And at that time I wanted a sense of belonging and I ended up gravitating towards some bad apples for a variety of reasons and hung out with them. And then at 17 years old we were racing on the freeway as young rebellious kids do. We’re on our way to six flags magic mountain local amusement park here, about one exit away the car that I was in spun of control from the slow lane, across four lanes and myself side hit the concrete divider. And I remember my friends telling me that they stopped traffic and they all thought I died. And they cause just the amount of blood that was coming on my head. And when you look at the wreckage, you’re like, this is insane. And they carried my body across a freeway to the shoulder. And then I find myself waking up in the hospital not knowing why I was there and I was [00:11:00] all alone. And, when you’re 17 years old and you go through that event and not knowing why you’re there, it gets it gets a little crazy, gives you perspective. And the first person I saw was the lady who handed your meal for the day, she comes through the door she looks me straight in the eye.

And the first word she said to me was, it’s so good to see that you’re alive. We didn’t think you would make it. Those words, David. It changed my life. It just permeated through my body, to my brain, to my heart. And I started to realize that I wasn’t happy with who I was. I wasn’t happy the group I was hanging out with.

And it forced me to start realize that I need to be my best version of myself. And that was the promise I made to myself that day. But at 17, as it’s too late for you to apply yourself at school and try to get yourself into a good college [00:12:00] at that time. I’ve already applied some community colleges.

Truthfully at that time, my goal was really just hanging out with my friends and chase card. And to make my parents happy. I applied to a local university. I got in and then I decided, let me turn lemons to lemonade and just do the best I can with it. So then I went to the university, working multiple jobs really putting.

My head down and just doing the work and trying to change myself and long story.

short, I was lucky enough to get a big break at the Walt Disney company. As an intern came in and really ran with that opportunity was able to work there for quite a while and then was able to make the jump to work at Marvel.

So was looking back and taking those sacrifices and doing the work. I’m very lucky to say that it w it has rewarded me with [00:13:00] quite a career.

Masami: Wow. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. It’s troubling story, it’s, it makes me think about driving safe. Not

Henry Ong: sure.

Masami: generally, in that nothing is, I think some of us get reckless and young and do things, but you change it around and you solve it.

Henry Ong: Yeah, I think for me, what my friends have told me is, you share the, I ha I should share that. Sorry, even though I’m reluctant many times to do that, but I’ve been encouraged to, because it shows to the younger generation that even when the odds are stacked against you, it’s possible that you can change your fate.

It’s possible that if you put the energy and the hard work, you can do it.

And if I can be an example to just inspire one person, to do, to follow their heart and follow their destiny and be their best selves, then I think mission accomplished. I find fulfillment from that. And I think that just ties into my whole thing of mentoring and helping others and [00:14:00] stuff like that.

been something that I very passionate about.

Masami: Yeah. And making hard decisions, right? I’m sure you have. Make some sacrifices leave friends. We’ve known for so long,

Henry Ong: yeah. You, it’s one of those things that you learn and you write about that. Sometimes it’s lonely at the top. It’s a lonely journey. And through that, it certainly was, I wanted that fresh start. was what’s really important for me. So it was. Cutting ties with your old friends and just you.

And that was definitely a hard few years. But for me, in my personal experience, just in my case, it was necessary. I’m easily pulled in, going back to my old circle of friends. If I didn’t have that focus, I just knew that I would be easily distracted. And I think maybe that’s just part of my add, I think. I just appreciate you allowing me to share my story here on your platform

Masami: [00:15:00] Yeah. And thanks for sharing. I’m very young,

Henry Ong: for

Masami: You now going to a little morbid entertainment career, being Asian American is such a, I feel like it’s, I feel like now it’s being more talked about and we’re getting into it and we’re actually having the conversation within Hollywood which just isn’t happening within Asian America circles, but not in the wider context and not really being taught publicly.

That was just like within ourselves. No, I would love to know how has your identity helped or hindered your experience working in the industry has ever been a moment that you feel like, I didn’t feel good about this because maybe it maybe felt I was, they assumed I was this. Or or maybe you felt really good.

Like they actually saw them and they said, yeah, we need your help because

Henry Ong: Yeah.

Yeah.

I think my experience might be unique to others, but as I was always behind the camera. I was never in front of the camera. Who would want this guy in front of the camera, but.

Masami: Yeah.[00:16:00]

Henry Ong: In my experience I felt like I was seeing, did feel like. Granted I was working for some of the biggest entertainment companies in the world that is mainstream.

So it might be just a different environment, but I always had a voice. I always had the opportunity to speak up and share my ideas. I think that. As you continue to climb the ladder and more responsibilities are given to you for me, I do think it’s important to look at it, a lens of a, through a API, but just for minorities in general and in my work, if there’s opportunities for me to influence it, that was really important for me.

So for example, if I’m working on marketing art, and I’m starting to look at the main cast, I wanted to start thinking about do I elevate. The minorities in the cast, do I give them a, can I give them a bigger size, bigger presence in the poster?

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: justify it with the storylines for the season and really push for [00:17:00] that.

And that was really important for me, where you can influence it. That’s really cool. I remember working on podcasts where be giving a mail list. Here’s the wishlist of all the talent we want to bring. then I would pause and go have you thought about this person, they do play a secondary character for their key let’s bring them on because they might be able to bring a fresh perspective on two

Masami: Okay.

Henry Ong: be beneficial to the content. So trying to take the lead and think of those things as yours. Was to me really important,

Masami: Yeah. And I think that’s a really great point to make is that, even if you’re not in front of the camera or behind the camera, even further behind the camera and

Henry Ong: right?

Masami: Post development, and marketing, like that makes a difference, your representation in those circles to think of it. More minority groups, either underrepresented groups to say, Hey, have you thought about this?

We can elevate. This is my chance. I feel connected in this way. And how can we make that [00:18:00] decision to push further doing that? And without that perspective, not being, having that lived experience of being underrepresented and trying and focused on helping those under other underrepresented communities, it’s not gonna.

And so I think it’s not important. We have representation on screen and that’s great. That helps, especially from the society’s point. But if if it’s on screen, if there’s no good ones marketing behind it

Henry Ong: Right.

Masami: elevate those stores, we’re not going to see that. And there’s no hero.

Henry Ong: Yeah.

I think what we in the world of entertainment and David, you probably would agree with me for good or for bad media shapes perception.

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: I’m very cognizant of that. as a marketer, I do feel it as a marketer and as a minority, it is duty where I can to influence that in a positive way, and give [00:19:00] representation and it’s, and when I’m talking to my partners and thought, I don’t really just say, we need to get representations by diversity.

about really positioning it in a strong way where they it’s undeniable that they need to do it. And it feels natural,

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: subtle, but it’s about just. Being proactive and having that voice in the room and saying that in enacting that change versus just doing the work and not thinking about that.

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: Yeah.

Masami: Yeah. Now I feel like often Asian Americans are the only Asian. Sometimes the only person of color,

Henry Ong: sure. Yep.

Masami: have you ever felt what you mean in these big areas and not even specific in advance, when have you ever felt that being the only Asian in the room?

No hinders, but it gets glossed over and just, I don’t know. I feel like sometimes it never comes up. And then we started to forget, or has it or have you had the opposite experience where, [00:20:00] because you’re the only Asian you were able to, have influence when somebody is talking about an agent you don’t have.

Henry Ong: Oh, yeah, that’s interesting. That’s a great question. I would say in my own personal experience, it was very much I felt like there, I can think of examples where I felt like I did have a voice in the room because I was Asian American and I, and even an example. Where we? We were working on a marketing asset with a partner and they just sent me the video and it’s oh it’s a Caucasian man teaching people how to create an authentic Chinese dish. And I watched it and I was like the first problem was This should have been brought up much earlier in the process, because the way that I looked at it was when I was looking, talking to my partner was if you brought me in earlier, we wouldn’t have been able to get this at a really good place.

However, you [00:21:00] shared it when it was already baked, it was already filmed. And here it is. And I was very adamant that I felt that was going to be insulting to the community. And I actually stood up. And voiced it amongst the room. And even though they didn’t understood it, they didn’t understand it.

I voiced it and I said, this is unacceptable. You, the reaction to this could be very bad. And as a person who repre, I, as a person who’s not represents, but is part of the community. can at least tell you, this offense offensive and it’s not on top. When you, when I looked at the video, the dish is not even authentic, like when it was positioned authentic and you watched it and you’re like, it’s so way off the mark,

what’s even worse.

You, I would have.

had help that it was going to be raw, it was accurate, but it wasn’t. So at the end of the day, though, I voiced it and gave my reason was supposed. [00:22:00] Everyone backed me up. And and the video never solved the day of light. So it was just something of, standing up and really voicing your opinion where, when it does matter.

And that was really important for me. I felt like was not an asset that I wanted to see to represent the company I was working with at that time.

Masami: Wow.

Henry Ong: Yeah,

Masami: incredible. Like just hear that. And then he stood up and he actually responded and do that. I feel like that’s rare. You feel like that’s a common thing that people do listen, or do you feel like that’s, that was gonna be not at one time instance for yourself, but do you feel like that’s conflict?

Henry Ong: certainly don’t feel like it was a one-time instance. I think for me, maybe in, just in my case, I was able to build that credibility within the company

Masami: Hmm.

Henry Ong: and within my team. they had that level of trust. And certainly that wasn’t, that was my experience. Also. I am very opinionated and vocal, so maybe I’m just a little bit different from others in the community, [00:23:00] it was just something that I’ve learned really quickly that’s how you survive in a core corporate world. And being vocal though is not about being aggressive. You don’t need to be aggressive, not at all. I think you can still be confident and deliver your message with tact. And that’s something that I’ve, I think I figured out what worked for me and I was able to use that, quote unquote superpower in my experience.

Masami: Wow. Yeah, I think that’s a. It’s a blessing wherever we take home. It’s just speak up, but also understand your position. Understand how to have that attack. Cause I think I’ve definitely come off really hot and crazy sometimes, but like to know, understand like the way you want to have that impact on the people to have them see your side.

You can’t just come in with guns, ablazing. Yeah. Give a little in that scene.

Henry Ong: Yeah. I feel like sometimes I would hear advice given and I can, I certainly understand [00:24:00] the merit of the advice, right? Because it just addresses the larger thing where in API community, the stereotype is where we’re timid and You would hear that myself we need to speak up, we need to be confident and you need to be aggressive.

And I’m like, look, I get the point of a lot of that advice, but sometimes you’re too aggressive. You turn off people. And if you’re not in a position where you’re either in a C-suite or a top, that makes it very difficult for you to be successful at your job. When people are turned off by you. And at least in my world, in the entertainment industry a lot of my successes is due to the quality of the relationships I was able to build during my time there.

Masami: Yeah, I think that’s a great professional advice. Yeah. Tell me about your your mentorship and programs in this way. What, who were you mentoring? What are you mentoring them on? And why do you find it important to take on this huge.[00:25:00]

Henry Ong: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think it goes circles back my point of didn’t really have an overdose sibling. I didn’t have a mentor growing up. I really didn’t even have a mentor until I start working. And. I thought it was really important to give back some shape way or form. I think that’s part of the reason why that led to me to being a public speaker, even though I hate hearing the sound of my voice, but it was due to a meeting with one of my friends and telling her, Hey, I got invited to South Korea to speak at a marketing conference.

And I don’t know if I really want to go. And then she told me how dare you. People like us rarely get the invitation to stand on stage and share our journey, share our story and share our thoughts to be a thought leader. And you have the opportunity right here in your hands. And if you can just be an example for our community and help inspire that one individual, [00:26:00] and that goes back to our earlier conversation, you’re doing good things and that’s why I stepped into. Cause I, she was the one who motivated me to do all those kinds of things. Cause I thought that was really important. I think back to your thing about mentorship. I in last year during spring, I saw. I saw, I wouldn’t say disturbing posts. I saw posts where you knew was really tough on a lot of our people.

Especially those who are graduating to a very tough job market. I would say non-existent child market and felt that it was really important to support them in some shape way or form. So I actually offered my link and just posted it up on there and said, Hey, any students of color, you need someone to talk to and you need a mentor, hit me up, there’s no messaging on LinkedIn or anything like that.

And any need of flattery. I think just getting to the [00:27:00] point of, if you need help, let me know and click this link while the reaction was overwhelming. And if my count is right, I had about 80 students that I mentored last year,

Masami: Okay.

Henry Ong: Having those conversations and listening to them of where they wanted to go and try to give my best advice. And as we head towards 2021, wanted to find a way tie their match, that number, or even be a bigger contributor. Right now I’m mentoring I could say at least one individual from Mexico, this college student from Mexico who had big dreams of working in the entertainment histories, I’m mentoring her right now.

I continue to mentor actually I’m part of this ad week rising mentor program and Up and coming marketers. Who’ve been in the game for a little bit, who spent a few years, but now is trying to move up in and I’m helping them, but I’ve also stepped up volunteering at an nonprofit to see if I can spend that [00:28:00] energy try to help at a bigger level right out of bed.

And that’s been really good too. So I think a lot of that has already been eating my time on top of my day. So I, but I feel very blessed to have this opportunity. And like we talked about before, I feel energized every time I talk to them. So it’s been good.

Masami: Yeah, no, I think thank you for that work. I know it’s not Thank by the students, but thank you for helping the next generation, get there. It’s really hard. It is people of color and children trying to get their feet wet. It’s really entertainment. Knowing their parents.

Aren’t always supportive. Uh it’s the schools are always super helpful. Like it just gives you some theory. No, nothing like a real job. So to get them mentor that. Thank you.

Henry Ong: oh, that’s very nice of you, man. Thank you.

Masami: You guys that yeah. And what are you’re teaching? You’re mentoring them in, why is it professionalism in the job?

Is it yeah. Tell me what would you say if I was a student? What would you teach me?

Henry Ong: I really cater to them. I [00:29:00] don’t come off from a place of this is what I think needs to happen. I think there isn’t a set curriculum it’s really taking the time to listen to each, every individual to their needs and wants and desires. And sometimes it’s about relationship manager.

And building, sometimes it’s talking about redefining their north star and figuring out what they want to do in life. it’s talking about protecting their mental health and giving them my of how I do it, while you’re working in the entertainment industry. So it’s a variety of topics, but really at the end of the day, it, I can’t say there’s one that stands out.

It’s just more about to their personal needs.

Masami: I’m curious in your mentorship and you already get people who come to see you, the Asian Americans who, who joined and. Are you seeing a common theme? Somewhere that someone saying, I can’t don’t feel like you need imposter syndrome or something. Is there something that you see as common [00:30:00] that you maybe see yourself in it?

Henry Ong: Oh, yeah. Most definitely. I think the common threads I have is. How do you convert yourself from an introvert to born of an extrovert? How do you build relationships with people? Because it’s a lot of it in our soft skills. You just don’t learn at school and you can be super book smart, it’s not something that you learn from a curriculum you learn from trial and error, and just putting yourself out there talking to people.

Those are really common things.

Masami: Okay.

Henry Ong: And then I would say just for 2020, especially a lot of it?

was mental health, I can look towards my parents. As we talked about earlier, as inspiration of going, I have no excuse to power through the difficult times. But not everyone has the same examples too, that they can use at their life to leverage.

Talking about how. It’s okay. To get, to give yourself permission to take a break. Okay.

To give your permission that you don’t know all the answers [00:31:00] right now. okay. And the biggest thing I would share with them is, the way this is, the way I look at it that Everyone runs their own race at their own pace. It’s not a competition. We sometimes get so stuck at ourselves to others. Right. Oh we’re the same age, but they did great things. And I tell them is. You may not have made the same life decisions as they did. You may have not met the same people that they did, so that may have led to open different doors, but you have your own race to run, about focusing on yourself and what you want to do.

And just getting there, and start focusing more on the end goal and the finish line versus comparing yourself to how far behind you are to others. that. doesn’t help That doesn’t do anything other than bring negative energy. That’s the way I look at things.

Masami: Yeah. And we all start from different places too. And you [00:32:00] can’t compare that. And even someone who’s, you might think you owe more than like they gave him a different spot too. They had other struggles and we had to take up a second job to help their family. I understand my privilege. I grew up in a general suburban development household and mothers, why we’re ah, we had just this sense of things are challenging.

Okay. So it feels like America. I can’t, I even can’t compare myself to people. I sold to prep myself, but it’s not we’ll do more, but I also know other people struggle and money is going. I can’t assume. That they’re in the same position because we have to do this. Always, everybody is different.

Everybody comes from a different story, a different background. We have to not only respect that, but acknowledge that everybody has their own tie and, champion that when they’re big gives me right

Henry Ong: Yeah.

Masami: now. What do you see in. Asian America in the [00:33:00] entertainment industry in general that you would like to change then you would like to see it in, in this new era, in this new, this, I feel like we’re now jobs are starting to open up again.

I was opening up again. What do you want to see change from good and B the next thing also, what things do you want to see? Not come back. Would want to see what.

Henry Ong: Wow. I think for me, my first thing, my first answer would be, would love to see more Asian Americans in entertainment marketing. That would be really cool. think that would be my first thing I would have come front of mind. I like to see if we can, given where we at right now, I would love to see for us to continue invest in ourselves, to bet on ourselves and create content that puts us [00:34:00] in the forefront. And I would love to see if we could be less reliant on waiting for a big studio to do the work for us. It’s still important to see the diversity from that end. I would love for us to bet on ourselves and put that energy in trying to create projects that puts us out there. we have, I’m not saying it’s not happening, but I would love to see more of it.

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: I have been in rooms where we hear actors and actresses and they’re talking about, we’re not getting those opportunities. And in my mind, I’m thinking why don’t we just create the opportunities for ourselves? Why are we waiting for others to save us? Let’s do it.

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: we have the access you’re talking to now.

We have so many Asian-American advocates in our community that are not only strong voices, but also certainly, have the funds to help support, who are interested in building these stories who are interested in that. So it’s [00:35:00] like, how do we just connect with one another? You And start these big projects that would really spotlight us in the way we want it to be spotlighted waiting for others to do it for us.

Masami: Yeah, I totally agree. And how do you see marketing Asian, Asian Americans in marketing positions to support that? Cause I feel like, we have the writers, the directors, the actors who often do that, but in the marketing, I feel like that’s a really important role. If you I always say like you add a million dollars for mark Walberg film or something, but you had no budget for marketing.

No, one’s going to see that. It’s just no one here.

What do you see? You said you wanted more agents in marketing positions. How do you see that? Working in that, that next goal?

Henry Ong: Yeah, I see it as something I’ve talked about it before earlier, which was take it upon your responsibility of looking at a lens of representation and how do you support that and what you [00:36:00] do, and it goes back to you. When you’re looking at marketing concepts, when you’re looking at ideas, do you plus it up by featuring the minorities in a bigger way, and having that conversation to me, having that conversation, just to have the conversation thinking that way, I think is already moving the needle, Because it’s funny.

Sometimes you would hear, like, when you think about what’s been happening recently, I started seeing on LinkedIn where you have a lot of executives who say no more. Am I going to sit down and not say anything? I will be vocal. And it makes me think. What have you been doing if you weren’t like, now it’s you’re not vocal, you’re vocal now, which is great.

You understand that now, but it’s also I would love to just start pushing you more to start thinking about what now, fold that into your work life and how do you influence the work that you do to incorporate that? That would be great.

Masami: Yeah. [00:37:00] And taking it back to your other example, too, when you had to talk about the video of the Caucasian dude making Asian food. Now you brought that video afterwards. What would have someone in the marching position have to do to talk about it before? I feel like marketing people think. Do you get the show and get the product and then you market it?

That’s a more common thing to think about when I know it’s not true. The thing is you start the marketing early in the beginning process.

Henry Ong: Oh, you absolutely do. Yeah. Like in my experience, it was you’re coming from ideation to execution. So if that, for that example, for that kind of video, it must have had, outline Of saying what was going to happen. And when you can fold in people like me early in the process, it’s about workshopping the idea.

It’s like, How do I make this idea work for the needs of the partner, but how do I also at the same time, sure that it makes sense, but also is respectful in what I was [00:38:00] trying to achieve. And, if I was there earlier in the process, we would have caught that, we probably would have looked at options of What was the wording?

What would the phrasing be? Maybe it isn’t making authentic dish. Maybe it’s literally being inspired by, so then you’re making it less, because I think that’s a trigger word when you hear and it’s not, but if you said

Masami: Okay.

Henry Ong: by, or it’s a fusion, I think people are like, Okay.

I get it.

Fusion, food exists. It’s all over the place. We’ve seen it fine. Or we would have looked at, maybe we just look at a different chef who was a. And swapping that out and making sure it comes across a little more accurate to what it is. But yeah, I think what it is being early in the process is important.

And in the world of marketing that I’m in, you gotta be proactive. It’s not a reactive thing. You’re

Masami: Hmm.

Henry Ong: thinking about things.

Masami: Yeah. And what would you say to these studios and advertisement companies who are looking for, more diversity in their advertisements, more authentic [00:39:00] voices to build that, but don’t know where to start. Where, what would you say to them and why it’s important that those, if they’re.

Henry Ong: Yeah. I think that we’ve learned that we will and just across the board doesn’t necessarily mean just as just for marketing, but bringing diverse from different backgrounds can give you fresh perspective at things that you probably wouldn’t have thought about before. And I encourage companies and brands.

If they’re not diverse, start looking at it. And start hiring those people from outside from outside your typical bubble of what you’re used hear those fresh voices, because they could bring a lot of great value to the organization and really support you guys in big ways, especially if the intent is to appeal to two people.

I

Masami: Okay.

Henry Ong: we see this and you see how so many large organizations have specific teams that are multicultural marketing. It’s a thing, and that’s important. And I’m so happy to see [00:40:00] that, but to you get to see that more widely adopted across the industry would be a beautiful thing.

Masami: Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s a. That’s the next thing. When we start to see more companies who have had that, and we’re going to see the difference in what’s coming into our advertising is our banners,

our

Henry Ong: yeah.

Masami: billboards, and all of that, because or where it’s being put, I always say, it’s where you bringing in what language?

I think that’s important too.

Henry Ong: And if they can’t afford to, hire a permanent team to come on board hiring a consultant, all I would say is seek for advice, seek

Masami: Correct.

Henry Ong: versus doing it on your own would be my point.

Masami: Yeah. Don’t assume as we start to wrap up here a little bit, what advice would you give to the next generation of Asian-Americans leaders?

Yeah.

Henry Ong: Ooh for those who are interested in entertaining. [00:41:00] I think let your parents’ stale career advice force you to be a doctor or lawyer or whatever. I think, follow your heart, do what you want to do. I think that’s really important. Know what you want to do? I think, do your homework. I’ve met a lot of Asian Americans.

Like I want to be in entertainment. I want to be a marketing. And then my first question back to them is like, What facet of marketing are you interested in? And they’ll be like,

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: And that’s totally fine. And I’m like, your homework and pull yourself out there and ask them right questions.

think that’s really important. And don’t be afraid to seek mentors that can help grow you. And I think if you just start that start there, that will do wonders in your career. Indefinitely lasting last but not least is, think about your soft skills.

Masami: Yeah.

Henry Ong: critically important.

Just because for the majority, not majority, but a lot of people in our community we’re introverts, whether it be because of our culture and how we’re taught and how we were raised. But if [00:42:00] we can figure out how to break through and find your voice, that’s gonna, that’s gonna definitely get you far. And then.

Masami: Jumping off that, what would be some advice to develop those soft skills? I think it’s easy to say, be confident or don’t do that. Do this, but what’s something that people can take away that didn’t say I can do that.

Henry Ong: I’ll tell you how I went through it. I did I worked in the restaurant industry and fast food and retail. So customer service there, you see the worst in people and you’re going to learn how to handle. You’re going to learn how to talk to people. I think putting yourself in those kinds of situations, I think that’s the fastest way for you to learn.

Yeah. That’s the way how I picked it up.

Masami: That’s honestly, great advice. I remember my first jobs was working at Starbucks. I

worked with like three years. Yeah. It’s you just learn how people, other people would treat you,

And how you want to be treated. And then you go and say, oh, is that what you mean is how I will treat other people?

And my plug here is that, I think that you can’t, you [00:43:00] shouldn’t be able to have a driver’s license until you can you have a ear job.

Henry Ong: I like that. I like that perspective. That’s a good one.

Masami: That has been the last thing. No, what’s next for Henry? What do you, what are you doing next? I know you just got a new job, but what’s good.

Henry Ong: Yeah.

What’s next for me? I think this is where I’m a little different from others. I’ve learned in life. Instead of chasing title, I chase fulfillment. And because I have an unquenchable curiosity, I just look at opportunity whenever opportunities come, my way that I find interesting. And I know I can a great impact and I find it challenging and I’m going to grow.

They’re the ones that tend to attract me and I gravitate towards, so the answer is, I hope I can continue. Being a marketer and hope I can do great things because at the end day, I just want to be able to be an example to energize future [00:44:00] Asian Americans, to join marketing. And that will be exciting. And hopefully I can accomplish that mission as I get older and get hopefully wiser.

Masami: You’re well, on your way. Yeah. Just thank you. Thank you for being on the podcast today. And I’m so glad we got to have this conversation. Like we had our call and our a couple of clubhouses, again, real depth. What are you doing and how you receive life? I so appreciate time.

Henry Ong: chorus brother. Appreciate it. Appreciate it. Appreciate it.

Masami: And where can people find you in your handles and Erin and get in touch with you?

Henry Ong: Oh, the plug.

Masami: Yeah, that is a bug.

Henry Ong: So if you’re interested in listening or reading my thoughts and just the world of entertainment and business, you can find me on LinkedIn, linkedin.com/ . Henry Ong. And if you’d like to see my quirky humor you can find me on Instagram, Mr. Henry, Ong as the handle.

And if you’d like to see me at clubhouse, but never really talking, [00:45:00] you can find me at Henry on, on there too. Those are the places you can engage.

Masami: Perfect. And yeah, I’ll be an extra plug. Is that you’re going to and link Instagram profile, go to his LinkedIn. The bio is couple other podcasts and live streams that are also informative as well. Yeah. Again, Henry, it’s so good to chat with you and just, take care out there and stay safe, eat well.

And I’ll see you soon. We’ll be catching you here in LA right here, right?

Henry Ong: Yes, sir.

Masami: Yeah. All right.

Henry Ong: sir.

Masami: All right, brother. Thank you so much.

Henry Ong: Yeah later.

 

Masami: He was positive.

 

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