Oh Tepmongkol-Wheaton on overcoming prejudice and discrimination

Tune into our podcast here with Oh Tepmongkol-Wheaton.

Oh is one of Forbes’s next 1000 honoree and is the CEO and co-founder of Ohzone (a 3D fashion tech startup that has been awarded Top Fashion Tech 2021 by Retail Tech Insights.)

Oh’s initial goal was to create a social shopping experience as if you were all in the same place at the same time. Oh places a lot of emphasis on inclusivity and the importance of embracing family values.

As a woman and an ethnic minority, she has often spoken about the attitudes and perspectives she has encountered along her journey in numerous work environments. Oh explains how it is possible to go above and beyond the expectations of others and prove them wrong:

  • She wanted to show how women invent; in a largely male-dominated field, which technology and fashion predominantly is, she wanted to show how women can achieve in the same way that men can.
  • Through creativity: Oh has a unique perspective on creativity. She purports that creativity is how you solve a problem based on experience. As an under-represented minority with a unique background, she is able to bring the experience of how she survives and even how she succeeds. She then uses her inventiveness to solve a problem and innovate for the future.

An example of the prejudice and discrimination that Oh has confronted as a woman and an ethnic minority:

Between 1989-1996, Oh worked at Hewlett-Packard, the computer hardware company. She describes how her boss approached her when she first started as a research and development engineer. He expressed his gratitude for hiring Oh to work at Hewlett-Packard because she ticked two boxes as a company employee: she was a woman and an under-represented minority in the company. He explained that he usually needed to hire two people, but that because of her, he only needed to hire one. This was only the beginning of Oh’s discrimination throughout her life. Despite the abhorrent workplace discrimination displayed at HP, Oh made it her goal to prove people wrong and express what women and minorities can achieve in society, and now more precisely in fashion.

Why should hard work pay off?

Oh describes how hard work has aided her throughout her life with a powerful anecdote. After failing her college entrance exam in Thailand, Oh relocated to the United States. She grafted in almost every aspect of school life, but most specifically in mathematics, despite having very little know-how of the American school system. Through a lot of hard work and dedication, everything seemed to fall into place. Oh needed a breath of fresh air, and mathematics provided it. In the face of prejudice and discrimination, Oh returns back to maths. She says that in times of hardship and difficulty, one must find an activity that feeds your ego and something that you know you through hard work, you can do well in. 

With the use of your technology, do you see this platform taking over traditional fashion shows? 

The whole premise of Ohzone is to become more inclusive and accessible. Oh’s use of 3D technology is designed to make fashion more inclusive; she wants her technology to include people who have been left behind or who have been unable to be a part of traditional fashion shows. She feels that her technology is democratising virtual fashion for the better. This demonstrates Oh’s commitment to allowing small and/or medium-sized fashion brands to participate in the next wave of fashion.

The fashion industry is exclusive, or rather focuses on exclusivity. Through this new form of fashion, it will open a whole new world for people who haven’t yet been able to experience it. Oh divulges that it is finally time to hear different voices from a younger generation! 

What is one piece of advice you would give to the younger generation?

Apply yourself; failing to try is the first step toward failure. It’s fine to fail, but failing to try is unacceptable. You must strive to succeed in life!

Byron Dempsey: why it’s important to fail before you succeed?

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This week on Insights with Experts, we were fortunate enough to have an interview with Byron Dempsey. Byron is the founder of Stream Digital Marketing, a content creation agency and the host of the Driven Young podcast, a podcast that aims to educate and to inspire the younger generation.

From a very young age, Byron had a particular focus at school. His primary focus was on creating videos, with much of his motivation stemming from his desire to become a filmmaker. Byron’s passion was palpable throughout his childhood, and he believed that ATAR and the university system would be futile when pursuing a career in creative video.

Byron’s biggest fear for Generation Z:

Byron values the importance of finding a niche. Having a niche, in any form of life, is important because it allows for you to be memorable. He is quick to point out, however, that the educational system downplays the value of such a quality. In the interview, Byron explains how there is not enough focus at school on finding what we are good at. He does, however, present the problem and propose a solution, which is an important aspect of podcasting.

Byron Dempsey: on how to be successful → 

There is no one formula; there are a number of common traits found in successful people. 

1) Network: “Who you know, rather than what you know.’ Outside of the classroom, it’s all about making connections, meeting new people, and working your way up.

2) Real world experience: It is important to get out into the workplace and try a selection of new things. 

3) The fundamental value of taking risks: Stepping outside of your comfort zone is a truism that is extremely relevant. Byron believes that between the ages of 18 and 25, we have a window of freedom to take risks and try things we wouldn’t normally do. During this time frame, the ability to recover will never be easier. So if you fail, pick yourself up and go again! 

Byron is a firm believer in surrounding yourself with high-quality people. As a result, he believes in the resulting idea that if you surround yourself with four idiots, you will become the fifth idiot. Whereas, if you surround yourself with four winners, you will be the fifth winner.

As a student, how do I network?

  • The 1000 door concept: behind a single door, may be another 1000 doors. But, behind each door is a room with more doors. And behind THOSE doors will be other rooms with EVEN MORE DOORS. If you keep opening doors, you will end up on an amazing journey that is filled with new experiences, new people and new cultures. 
  • Volunteer: go to volunteering events, put yourself out there and most importantly be curious.
  • Be genuine: the value of sincerity cannot be overstated. Too many people nowadays are only waiting for their turn to speak, rather than being genuine and appreciating what others have to say. If you truly listen to others and care about what they have to say, you will have a different perspective on life; one that is enriched and genuine.

Do you have any advice for young people who are starting podcasts or making videos?

If you want to start a podcast, start a podcast. Ignore any criticism or hate that you receive. It is important to be resilient and persistent, otherwise you will fall at the first hurdle. 

Whether you succeed or fail, you are going to grow. That is an important mindset that you have to adopt. Embracing failure is essential; it is a fundamental building block for growth.

Jonathan Aberman’s golden rules to become a successful entrepreneur!

Jonathan Aberman is the current Dean and Professor of Practice at the School of Business and Technology at Marymount University. Over the course of Jonathan’s life, he has experiences as a venture capitalist, lawyer, investment banker and entrepreneur. As an expert in the intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship and policies, Jonathan shared with us the most important advice to anyone entering the entrepreneurial world. 

From an early age, Aberman always knew that he wanted to make a difference. Against a template of wanting to make a difference, wanting to be in charge of his own destiny, Aberman has ended up where he is today as someone who has a myriad of professional expertise. While, Aberman’s life might seem like a linear progression, he is quick to assert that rather ‘life is a random walk.’ At best, there are north stars, long-term goals or things that drive you. 

Aberman’s perspective on career progression:

  1. He believes that the 20’s and 30’s are about creating core competencies; within Aberman’s career his focus was on financial transactions, law and how businesses work. 
  1. The next period of life, the 40’s and 50’s are about driving the core competencies to a position of prominence. 
  1. Finally, the 60’s and 70’s are about living on and passing on all of this to another generation.

If you want to move forward in life and accomplish your goals, you must learn to develop the necessary skills.

Is there ever an age where it is too early to become an entrepreneur?

When you ask the question of what age you can become an entrepreneur, you are missing the point. Aberman states that an entrepreneur is a person who has the skills and the passion to wake up every morning and challenge the status quo. If you feel the need to ask the question, then you most likely are not an entrepreneur. 

Aberman’s golden rules to becoming a successful entrepreneur

  • The winning strategy → the extent to which you go to get your own way.   
  • A self-starter skill set that consists of resilience, courage and optimism. Self-directed
  • Entrepreneurs grow through failure. People learn through adversity, this is because it forces them to confront why they are failing.
  • Although most successful entrepreneurs won’t admit it, the dirty secret to anyone’s success is luck.

Entrepreneurship is all about self determination, it’s about autonomy. If you are going to do it, you have to be self-aware. This strong inner drive will help him/her succeed in every realm of life.

What piece of advice would you give to students if you could?

Figure out what makes you happy as a person. Once you master this, you will become happier and more successful.  

‘You can’t control whether you will be rich in life, that is a function of luck. You can control whether or not you like the journey’

Jonathan Aberman

Shaun Gold: Serial Entrepreneurship and Admitting To Failure

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Shaun Gold, currently based in Miami, is a serial entrepreneur, bestselling author and a guest speaker. Shaun is involved in many other things in his life which makes him the ultimate guest to give advice on finding a pathway and dealing with rejection.

Shaun started off the interview with exploring the question “What comes first?”, comparing it to the scenario of the chicken and the egg. Shaun cannot pinpoint a time in his life when everything started taking off. In many cases, an entrepreneur and the drive comes with the person, so Shaun has always had this passion and drive.

Shaun was very popular for his work in the Miami party scene. He was coordinating and hosting events of all different scales, locations and times of days. He worked in this scene for 15 years starting at the age of 17. You can find out more about his adventures and stories from the Miami nightlife through his books: https://www.amazon.com/Shaun-Gold/e/B00ZJ2DWP4

Shaun’s experiences led him to create the YouTopian Journey, which is the first comic book for mental health, self-improvement, and self-help. It is read by founders, investors, and dreamers from around the world. You can sign up to the free substack here. https://youtopianjourney.substack.com/

  1. Don’t be scared of failure – something great might come around if you let go of the familiar. 
  1. Jump into new opportunities – don’t try to find mentors or guidance, it will come to you through networking and exploration. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear…” – Lao Tzu
  1. Choose growth over safety –  being an outsider and observing patterns is very helpful to leaping in and going out of your comfort zone.

Mentioning Shaun’s writing, it is focused on entrepreneurship, building ideas and networking. In one of his books he talks about ideas and the lack of them in modern day society. People tend to box themselves and try to fit into categories that tend to not diversify themselves because they are afraid. Social media is fake and that one idea you have, can give you the life you dream of.

What piece of advice would you give to young students if you could?

Be bold! Go after what you want to go after.

‘Don’t box yourself’