Beaze Featured on DojoLive!

Our CEO, Vivian Lim, has been invited to guest-speak at DojoLive on September 22, 2020. Each week, DojoLive brings together a broad roster of technology luminaries, business and thought leaders from a wide range of software companies and startups. Vivian will be discussing how to grow your client base during COVID (including how to avoid excessive 1:1 video meetings).

Update (September 22, 2020): Here’s the interview entitled “Networking During COVID: Don’t Leave Money on the Table“. Special thanks to Carlos Ponce and Tullio Siragusa of DojoLive for hosting!

Real techies paintball in tutus

“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business owners are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re chatting with Vivian Lim, CEO of Beaze, a platform that provides continuous lead flow for service providers. She discusses tactics on succeeding as a visible minority, a mother and an entrepreneur in technology.

Vivian Lim, Co-Founder & CEO of Beaze

So, Why Beaze?

I’m a huge fan of entrepreneurs and their courage to strike out on their own. I enjoy building solutions that help people save time on the things they loath, so they can spend more time with the people they love. Time is the one commodity you can’t buy, so it’s essential to spend it wisely. 

Ever since I was little, my parents instilled in me the importance of controlling my destiny. Building your own company is one way of doing that. I want to be a significant part of helping others succeed if and when they decide to head down that path. An idea is only as useful as the team that executes that idea. Having paid my dues on my journey through tech, I sincerely appreciate all the intricate details accomplished by the front-line making incredible things work. Smart people are everywhere, but those who can find creative solutions and compromises in a business landscape full of obstacles are the hardest to find and retain. Beaze aspires to make this search both easy and enjoyable. 

How did you break into B2B?

I spent most of my career in enterprise, including at Microsoft and AWS. However, my last stint at Google in brand advertising was the most intriguing space I had ever seen in my career.  I had the privilege of working with Fortune 100 companies and travelled the world to see what it takes to establish and maintain a brand presence. 

That’s when it hit me. If you knew that BILLIONS of dollars spent annually on advertising came from 2% of the world’s companies and that each of them spent millions every month on ads, do you honestly think any small business owner could successfully compete? I have so many friends and acquaintances who were small business owners and struggled with bootstrapping sales. While all of them were brilliant at their specialties, they weren’t necessarily as well versed in sales, marketing and advertising. Some went belly up within a few months from lack of market presence, and it was a crushing moment for them, both financially and emotionally. I never want anyone to feel that kind of failure.

What’s your philosophy?

Those who can should. Don’t let anything stop you.

I plan and prioritize religiously. It’s important to know why you’re doing something and what the payout will be. If it’s not going to produce a big return, maybe it’s not worth doing. To get primed each day, I wake up at 5:30am and go for a jog. It’s so much easier to get stuff done in the quiet moments of the morning before the rest of the world catches up; it’s my meditation.

Tell us about how you give back and why that’s so important?

I support 22q research at UC Davis. In 2015, I lost my son to Tetrology of Fallot and DiGeorge syndrome, both rare diseases caused by a congenital heart defect from erroneous deletions on the 22nd chromosome.  I donate every year in memory of my son and all families who have been affected by 22q11.2 deletions. I was elated to hear about Jimmy Kimmel’s son who had received a successful surgical intervention. Unfortunately, my youngest daughter also has a heart defect, albeit a less severe one, and I’m thankful every day that she’s doing well. 

Dr. Tony J. Simon and the UC team are clinically addressing children’s social interactions with these disorders. In past donation years, I’ve asked them to consider gene injection therapy in utero to prevent kids from being born with the deletions entirely. I might need to wait a few years before they can embark on such a challenge.

What does success look like to you?

Enabling every family to live comfortably. Both of my parents came from lower working-class backgrounds. My parents paid for two grandparents and five siblings to emigrate to the US and raised three daughters. I consider myself very fortunate to have had parents willing to sacrifice so much so we could have such opportunity. Today, my family includes the folks at Beaze. As a team, we celebrate milestones together because enabling sales for every small business owner is merely hard work. So, to keep things interesting this past November, we went skydiving. This quarter, we’re thinking of going paintballing while wearing tutus and bee wings. It’s a COVID-friendly activity with social distancing built-in.

#battlefairy | Photo credit: Jacob Miller

What words of wisdom can you share?

1. Dream big. Every great accomplishment started as a seemingly impossible dream. 

2. Persevere. Everything can and will go wrong. Life is not fair and that’s ok. Two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward.  

3. Prove them wrong. The best payback is to live an amazing life.

Who inspires you?

There are so many great examples out there, like Anne Wojcicki from 23andMe; she’s a genomics pioneer! Among other accomplishments, her team helped to develop safer, less invasive prenatal sequencing that do not pose risks to developing fetuses. Then, there are upstarts like Elon Musk. I love how he simply doesn’t recognize commonly defined limits, and his punny humor slays me every time. 

What’s it like being a woman in technology?

It’s hard being a woman and a visible minority in technology. At conferences, I’m often mistaken as the help. The world continues to judge women of color more harshly, so it’s critical to over-prepare for everything to the Nth degree. People tend to see us as less competent than our male peers who might be at the same or lower competence level. The hardest criticism comes from other moms who think working moms favor careers over kids. 

Every working woman out in the world is an ambassador for every little girl wanting a shot at success. We have to bring our A++ game (because, you know, A is an Asian F :P). I look forward to the day half of all CEOs are working moms, and everyone considers this normal. 

What’s it like being a working parent?

It’s all about balance and multitasking. In French, we say “au fur et à mesure”. I trim the proverbial fat whenever possible and do the things that give me the most satisfaction. Presenting in a boardroom and attending my kids’ end-of-year performance are not mutually exclusive. My daughters need to know that they can have both a career and a family. I’m thankfully home a lot more these days and not just because of COVID. I help the kids with homework in between video conferences with clients. We’re all more confident and happy when we’re together. 

When all is said and done, what do you hope for Beaze to achieve?

I’d love for Beaze to enable more IPOs than any other company on earth. Bill Gates, I’m coming for you.

Building towards loftier goals means having deeper foundations

“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business owners are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re chatting with Valerie Thiel, founder of SAGE Architectural Alliance LLC, a Seattle-based architecture firm. She shares her secrets on driving design innovation for the most critical stages of life as a woman leader.

Valerie Thiel, founder of SAGE Architectural Alliance LLC | Photo Credit: SAGE Architectural Alliance LLC

Why SAGE?

At the age of 55, I opened Sage Architectural Alliance, a reasonably daring venture leaving steady employment as a working mother. This was after graduating from MIT, 30 years of working in the architectural industry and having kids in my 40’s. I believe that more women and senior-led projects help create a unique working environment with experienced viewpoints. Creating a diverse team helps remove the limitations set by society. The door opens up for so many different outcomes, and so the richer our projects become from planning and spaces, to connections and support.

What’s your design philosophy?

Celebrate life in all of its stages; each stage brings its challenges and beauty.

As a baby boomer, I feel the last stage of life is paramount. My grandparents had died in pretty abysmal nursing facilities. Because of this, I focused on transforming senior living design so that my mother could enjoy more attractive, more enriching options. Many nursing homes have to struggle with the support of limited Medicaid funds.

Senior-focused entrance design @ Foss Home and Village (Seattle, WA)  | Photo Credit: SAGE Architectural Alliance LLC

However, these facilities need warm, welcoming, and elegant main entries and gathering areas, so that family and friends enjoy visitations; these factors are vital to the well-being of families. Just as Starbucks has capitalized on the corner coffee shop, the presence of a bistro-cafe (even with self-serve coffee), is the first step toward creating community vitality. 

Senior-focused cafe-bistro design @ Cristwood Park (Shoreline, WA )| Photo Credit: SAGE Architectural Alliance LLC

Residents come for the coffee but also enjoy comfortable seating, a variety of lighting levels, and lots of people-watching. They’re incentivized to leave their apartments and enjoy hanging out in the commons to connect with other people, and that is a major driver of residents’ health. Even staff retention improves with more aesthetically, pleasing surroundings.

Senior-focused bedroom design @ Columbia Lutheran Home, Seattle, WA | Photo Credit: Chris Roberts Photography 

Do not let limitations set by others withhold you from accomplishing your own goals and aspirations. Women in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s have such different expectations handed upon them compared to when I was their age. Growing up in Bellingham, I had never known any professional woman (let alone what a professional woman in architecture) could accomplish. When I attended the University of Washington, I was the only woman in my engineering classes. For generations, society restricted women by stereotypical gender roles that limited their opportunities and contributions. I experienced this quite a bit within the architectural industry. Working for others, I felt like a backroom technician who had no voice. I needed to express my ideas, and I felt severely repressed working for others. It was as if my male bosses had all the ideas; my role was only to implement them. Starting my firm was the right choice for me.

Who are your biggest advocates?

While most of our clients are non-profits, we focus on finding projects that are mission-driven and will have a positive impact on the community. Some of our favorite architectural projects supported senior citizens. We’ve built numerous senior living residential projects to help both seniors and their families. We’ve also worked with the State of Washington, various community centers and grass-roots community organizations fighting high resident displacement from gentrification. Currently, we’ve started working on homeless and behavioral health projects also.

How do you give back to its community?

Giving back to our community is one of the pillars of SAGE.  We recently sponsored a community event that was aimed at showcasing how fearful high school students were about losing their homes. We prioritize supporting the younger generations in order to help them realize their potential. 

What’s been your greatest life lesson? 

Opportunities may present themselves; while they may not be what you wanted at the time, they may be the most impactful and rewarding.

When I first started the firm, I thought focusing my expertise in senior housing projects alone was the best way to help the community.  Instead, I was able to take elder-care expertise and principles to other vulnerable populations (like to low-income families) which benefited our firm’s architectural outputs and the community even more than my initial efforts with the elderly. Women and minority architectural leaders should be designing more of the affordable housing and shared spaces; the city would achieve more economic balance and diverse self-expression.

When all is said and done, what do you hope for SAGE to achieve?

To inspire and support women and others of diversity to find their voices and pursue their passions.

SAGE Architectural Alliance LLC is a preferred partner on Beaze.

Business: Keeping it in the family

2-minute read

“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business owners are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re chatting with David and Jennifer Pfahert, CEOs of Silent Stream Media, a video production agency, on how great family values translate to great business practices.

David & Jennifer Pfahlert of Silent Stream Media. Photo Credit: Beaze, a B2B vendor procurement marketplace
From left to right: David & Jennifer Pfahlert of Silent Stream Media. Photo Credit: Beaze

So, why Silent Stream Media?

David: Media is in my blood. My grandfather started his own illustration company, where my father was the director, and my uncle was one of the graphic artists. I had my hand in all avenues of media content. Both my grandfather and father had taught me the business ropes while my uncle guided me with his vast artistic knowledge. What I have seen with raising my children is that they don’t teach you how to be entrepreneurs in school. They inform you mainly how to work for someone else. You don’t get “out of the box” ideas or experience even only remotely what it takes to own your own business. You need drive and passion as well as continually evolving with the times.

Jennifer: My passion has been with the interworkings of a social/psychological aspects of media and how it connects and tells a story with the community. At university, I worked three jobs and went to classes and managed to stay in touch with my friends and family by documenting my life on social media. With this stream of using many technologic devices, I can start conversations, let my family know what I’m up to and keeping up with the latest trends.    

Who inspired you?

David: My mom. She managed a household while obtaining a master’s degree and working. She’s now retired as a Microsoft executive. I look up to my mom and hope that one day I could look back and achieve just as much as her.   

What is your biggest claim to fame?

David: I had started multiple businesses, including one in audio engineering where I had the pleasure of working with celebrities such as Incubus, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Tori Amos. Working with such high profile clients meant managing a super strict schedule and high expectations.

What is your secret to success as a working couple?

David: Listen, divide and conquer based on our mutual strengths. She works on social media and engagements, and I focus on the design and fresh content. 

Jennifer: Being present and not focusing on financial gain. If your heart is in the right place, then everything will fall into place. The universe will provide what you need, and that will provide intention.  

What important lesson would you want others to take away?

David: It doesn’t matter where you’re currently at, what matters is that you’ve started. Make sure you’re 110% passionate about what you’re doing and that you can do it 16 hours a day.  

Jennifer: Teamwork and preparation are also essential in managing your business. You need to know who to call before things go south and have your resources lined up (from plan A to Z). Partners should include your local chamber of commerce, banks, insurance and legal. You never know what life is going to throw at you. We also partner with talented folks like LogoUNLTD.com and Qivugraphics.com; they’re both amazing at creating luxe marketing swag which is a must-have in our line of business. 

What non-profits do you back up and why is it important?

David: Having two dogs of our own, we support a non-profit called Homeward Pet in Woodinville. In 2018, they adopted out 1,754 cats and dogs and that number historically grows exponentially every year. In the past, we had a rescue of our own and have found Homeward Pet in-line to our beliefs. We had the opportunity to help this organization by doing an event for them and raising funds to sponsor dogs and also helped in finding current adopters.  

When all is said and done, what do you hope for Silent Stream Media to achieve?  

Jennifer: We want to foster connections between real people and businesses. We’ll keep making marketing solutions accessible to all local businesses, not just big brand corporations through education, creation and coaching.

Silent Stream Media is a preferred partner on Beaze Beta.

Startup Mode Requires Fists of Fury

2-minute read

“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business owners are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re chatting with Raise Your Media, a digital marketing agency that focuses on brands. This diverse power couple, Dominika and Marcus Thompson, discuss survival tactics when pursuing your own startup.

Dominika and Marcus Thompson of Raise Your Media. Beaze, a B2B vendor procurement marketplace.

Left to Right: Dominika and Marcus Thompson of Raise Your Media. Photo Credit: Beaze

So, Why Raise your Media?  

Dominika: A while back, my sisters and I were already involved in the media production, sales and marketing of several theatre and dance projects in Poland, Israel and Japan. Earlier in my career, I was in marketing, sales, and management for consumer goods. I specialized in working with small businesses developing relationships and making sure that marketing solutions worked on the retail customer level. Starting a small business-oriented marketing agency was a natural progression for us. 

Marcus: I had many jobs in the customer service industry, from restaurants to retail to real estate. The one thing they had in common was the relationship with the customer. It’s so humbling and yet rewarding to have clients ask for me by name. It’s been an absolute joy connecting with people whether it was interviewing celebrity chefs or attending premier events with clients. I decided a long time ago that working my life away for someone else wasn’t going to cut it anymore. So far, I’ve met all kinds of entrepreneurs with dreams and ambitions beyond my wildest imagination and I find myself equally inspired to reach for the sky. I was already doing the leg work, why not me too?

Who inspires you?  

Dominika: My father is my inspiration. He was a business owner during my childhood and always involved my sister and I. Seeing how that business was a part of the community it spurred me to one day start a business of my own. He allowed me to sell cherries when I was 7 years old and that taught me how to earn money at a young age.

Marcus: Bruce Lee. His desire to leave a legacy and pursuit of perfection inspired him to overcome his limitations daily. He never compromised in the face of discrimination and achieved his dreams/goals one step at a time. Being a minority growing up in the South, I’ve faced my share of discrimination. Knowing what Bruce overcame inspires me to take on all kinds of challenges.

Fist of Fury. Beaze, a B2B vendor procurement marketplace.
Fist of Fury, featuring Bruce Lee. Photo Credit: Golden Harvest

How did you survive the startup phase?

Dominika: When we first started, we were the cliché struggling start-up. We had to get our foot in the door by doing free social media content and management of social media accounts. This stage of our business didn’t produce much revenue; to pay the team and bills, Marcus worked as a real estate agent and other jobs on the side. Now those clients that we did free work for have been our loyal customers with monthly retainers; they’ve also recommended new customers to us. It only took that initial investment on our part, but the payout was worth it.  

Marcus: While first impressions are essential, don’t judge a book by its cover. When people first met Dominika, they greatly underestimated her abilities. People said things like, “What would a person from Poland know about marketing in America.” She understood their apprehensiveness and proceeded to blow them away with her knowledge and experience. She had answers for questions they were going to ask and issues they didn’t know they would ask. She proves doubters wrong all the time. Being confident and doing the prep can go a long way.  

What is your secret to success? 

Marcus: Under-promise and over-deliver. Always put value first, even in small instances, like making your client laugh during a meeting when they’re not having the best day. It all counts and plays a tremendous role in creating a customer journey. 

Dominika: Be genuine about who you are and what your business has to offer because trust is the foundation of a great business relationship. The market grows fast and is extremely competitive. In order to stay successful, you have to constantly invest in your knowledge. 

Any tips for businesses that are looking to market themselves better? 

Dominika: Make your content count; get up-close and personal. For example, a bakery can share photos of their cakes, but after a while, the content gets stale. When you have the sous chef take video and pictures of what it’s like in the bakery and the process, it tells a story about the bakery that illustrates the team dynamics and who they are. This makes for a more organic story, and it’s what people like to hear and see. By creating content revealing who they are it creates a face of the business and can be relatable to everyone. Don’t get caught up in counting your likes on social media platform. You can get that by engaging your team and getting everyone involved. 

At the end of the day, what do you hope for Raise Your Media to achieve? 

Dominika:  I want to help other companies to elevate their brands in a disruptive way, no matter the clients’ budget. 

Marcus: I want us to be a media company for the people. We want to be world-renowned for still being down-to-earth and approachable to any business, big or small.

Raise Your Media is a preferred partner on Beaze Beta.

Use poker and piano to read clients

3-minute read

“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how the leaders of vendor companies are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re chatting with the co-owners of CMIT Solutions of Bothell & Renton, a Microsoft Silver Partner in managed IT services. This power couple, Michel Abraham (President) and Amal Alissa (Vice-President) took some time out to talk about tackling diversity in B2B.

CMIT Solutions of North Seattle, Bothell, Lynnwood, Sammamish, Issaquah and Redmond. Beaze, an IT vendor procurement marketplace.
From left to right: Michel Abraham and Amal Alissa from CMIT Solutions North Seattle. Photo Credit: Beaze

So, Why CMIT Solutions?

Amal: We both worked at Microsoft for most of our professional lives. We had so many friends who owned small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs); they came to us often with questions and issues. We found out that because of their size, they couldn’t receive personalized support from any large corporations because they prioritized enterprise businesses. These SMBs were left behind. 

Michel: I received many support tickets from SMBs while working in a large corporation. Often, the problems had straightforward solutions but would get ignored for 6+ months before being fixed even though the fix itself might take a trivial amount of time. I kept thinking about how not resolving them was harming their productivity (which has a much more significant impact because they were under-resourced compared to larger organizations). They needed the right enterprise-level approach to SMB. That’s what we decided that jumping into CMIT would be a better way. 

How did you break into technology?

Amal: I started in technology at Microsoft. It was a massive shift from being a musician with the Syrian Symphony Orchestra. While music was and continues to be a major passion for me, I was offered a position as a technologist and native speaker of both Arabic and Russian speaker. 

Michel: My dad bought me at a Commodore 64 when I was 14. It was mind-blowing how much time it could save doing math calculations for school. I could see how computers could save people time and accurately as well.

What’s your philosophy?

Michel: Deal with customers as if you’re dealing with friends. Be vested in their businesses and help them succeed.

Amal: We believe in karma. Whatever good you do comes back to you.

Tell us about how you give back and why that’s so important?

Michel: I’m a big advocate of Wonderland Child & Family Services based out of Shoreline, WA. They provide a considerable array of services, including occupational and physical therapy, speech-language pathology, special education, and infant mental health. They provide early interventions, and that makes all the difference when it comes to development in children with disabilities. We’ve offered them IT services at a deep discount so they can continue supporting the community. We also promote their organization with our clients to help get the word out. 

Amal: The war in Syria is terrible.  Imagine your hometown, which contains thousands of years of history and culture, being reduced to a pile of flaming rubble from bombs landing overhead every other day. Being a refugee from the Middle East makes it especially hard to immigrate to the US. We support Syrian refugees through donations in the form of money, computers, school supplies and clothing. In 2015, we did a fundraising event that raised $20K with the office of the state governor. More recently, it’s through Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM) (a Seattle-based non-profit). Child refugees and their families in Amman in Jordan, Turkey and Seattle receive school supplies and computers. SCM also has a program to settle the refugees in Seattle. I’ve also performed in a piano concert with Nadar Kabbani (VP of Amazon Flex) to fundraise on behalf of SCM. 


Syrian orphans of war. Photo Credit: Salaam Cultural Museum

What does success look like to you?

Michel: Making a difference to a client. We had this one non-profit client that had terrible infrastructure by every metric possible. We helped turn things around 180 degrees to the point that they are now officially HIPAA compliant. We gave them way more IT vendor services than they had paid for, and it was so worth it to both us and the families they support.

What can’t you live without?

Michel: The right team with the right motivation. You need to trust and delegate because time is scarce. You have to find the right people to help you with your business and that means finding vendors who care about providing value and returns. Money chasers are a huge turnoff.

Amal: Two things:

1) Solid infrastructure. Humans tend to be the weakest link in any operation. 

2) Best practices. Update them often and ensure everyone follows.

What’s it like being part of a minority group in business and technology?

Michel: We’ve always been part of minority groups, both as Christians in Syria and as Syrians in the US. It’s taught us to be more careful; people tend to hold grudges more. It’s best to always proceed with an open heart and mind. We do our best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and be supportive at all times. We teach our kids the same.

Amal: As a woman, it’s about being consistently underestimated. Unconscious bias is still alive and well, unfortunately. I use it to my advantage by allowing others to think I’m less qualified than I am, and then impressing them with better ideas and solutions than they thought possible.

What’s it like being a working parent and a spouse team?

Amal: Seeing our kids growing up, we want to do better. We feel a compulsion to match their success and make them feel proud of us. We also want to make them happy. When they see our drive, they know how difficult it is to be successful in life. They understand the importance of hard work. Success doesn’t just fall in your lap; it teaches them self-reliance. We want them to accomplish more than we have in our lifetime.

Michel: I feel so lucky to have someone like Amal. We complete each other. At home, without her, the house will collapse. I’m able to relax about our home life, whether its about school work, ballet or football. Because of her, I’m ready to focus on work. At work, she’s our resident strategist. She’s also excellent at reading clients and situations. As an IT vendor company, communication is 90% non-verbal and what people say with their faces and gestures is often more informative than their words. I would never want to play poker against Amal.

When all is said and done, what do you hope for CMIT Solutions to achieve?

Michel: We want to have contributed to the growth of every single client and with zero IT problems to boot.

CMIT Solutions (of Bothell, Renton, Lynnwood, Sammamish, Issaquah and Redmond) is a preferred managed IT and software development vendor on Beaze Beta.

The best marksman is sometimes an Asian mom

3-minute read

Beaze: Meet the Team is a series on the respective individuals building out Beaze, a vendor procurement marketplace that replaces traditional advertising. Today, we’re chatting with Joanna Hamai, our Chief Operating Officer (COO), on navigating the business landscape as a military veteran, mother and visible minority.

Joanna Hamai, COO of Beaze | Photo Credit: Beaze

So, why Beaze?

Historically, I’ve always sought out projects that have both a creative and practical side. I also love the idea of helping the business community at large and meeting new business owners. It’s important to find new and interesting ways to stop wasting time and money, especially when it comes to vendor procurement.

How did you break into tech?

Way back in high school, I took an animation course. At the time, that class’ professor had a mysterious way of disappearing into his office for long periods of time; no one knew what he was up to in there. I also had an annoying lab partner, Kyle. To keep things interesting, I decided to focus the plot of my animation sequence on what the teacher was possibly doing in his office. In my mind, he was sunbathing; then, when Kyle came to him looking for help, alien visitors captured him for their own research purposes. The professor adored the fact that Kyle got kidnapped in the kit. Kyle decided his animation would be of me getting run over by a lawnmower. You win some, you lose some.

What is it about technology that inspires you?

Simple technology, done well, can save lives.

While deployed in Iraq, the front vehicle in our convoy had broken down while under fire. Our super-high tech MTS (movement tracking system satellite technology) was on that vehicle but we had to keep the convoy moving towards the nearest marine base while minimizing additional civilian casualties. We had a choice of trying to save our MTS and risk the lives of those civilians or blow up the truck with the MTS and stick with old-school communication, i.e. the walkie-talkies. We decided in favor of the latter and were able to make it safely out of that town. It was the right call because without the walkie-talkies we wouldn’t have been able to coordinate across the convoy.

What’s your philosophy?

1. Work your hardest even when no one is looking. That way, you can live your life with no regrets.

2. Be prepared for anything. If your ducks aren’t in a row, you don’t have the capacity to help others.

My dad raised my sister and I as a single-parent who then turned to my grandmother for additional support.  It was very hard growing up in a strict household of an immigrant family. I was expected to get straight A’s, cook and clean at home and translate everything for my grandmother.  Serving in the US Army also drilled into me the importance of integrity, honor and again, hard work.

Wait, does that mean you speak another language?

Yes, I’m fluent in Korean. I was also a translator in Fort Lewis.

What does success look like to you?

I like when things go smoothly and to completion. It’s important to prepare for any possible detour. I wear many hats that require different skill sets and it can be hard to focus if I’m thinking about other tasks. So, every morning, I go through the laundry list of things we need to tackle. I ruthlessly cut out the ones that aren’t urgent or impactful. Then, I get to work. Luckily, I also have a great team with me to help me work through problems and tackle them from different angles. Sometimes when I get blocked, I just context-switch for a while, let my subconscious do some of the heavy lifting and come back to the problem with fresh eyes. I also like a good plan B comprised of smart, competent consultants for those occasional peak demand times. Good vendor partnerships are hard to come by; I work every day to build out more.

What words of wisdom can you share?

1. Dream big. Every great accomplishment started as a seemingly impossible dream.

2. Persevere. Everything can and will go wrong. Life is not fair and that’s ok. Two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward. 

3. Prove them wrong. The best payback is to live an amazing life.

What’s most important to you?

Compassion towards others. 

Other people, often complete strangers, helped me get to where I am today. When I had first left Hawaii after joining the military, I was switching to Ohio to attend Kent State University in the dead of winter. I was grossly unprepared for this, there was 3 feet of snow on the ground and I was basically wearing flip-flops and shorts. This military recruiter graciously picked me up at the airport and took me shopping for a hooded parka and boots so I wouldn’t die of frostbite. Then, while I was living at the school campus, my unit was actually 2 hours away by driving and I had no transportation. This major who happened to live near my company, drove me to and from campus almost every month for a year out of his own generosity. During this time, he also invited me to his home with his 2 kids and his wife to stay for the weekend. It was like having an adoptive family.

I want to pay it forward to small business owners everywhere so they can have some shelter in the storm.

What’s it like being a minority-visible minority woman with a career?

It’s been really humbling. I had to work twice as hard as the men in my military intelligence battalion to be accepted.  I always volunteered to do extra duty or training or another certification which is why I’m certified to drive all kinds of vehicles, including buses, 18-wheelers, humvees, 2-tons – basically, everything short of a tank. As a sergeant, I gave safety briefings on weapons and taught marksmanship. Like when you’re holding a rocket launcher, it’s important to say “Back blast area all clear!”, which is also a nice euphemism for flatulence (in addition to just fitting in with the crowd).

It empowers me to know that at that time I could change the perception of women in the military for a few people. People are often surprised that an Asian woman like me could’ve possibly served. I relish when their jaws drop upon hearing about my experience.

Seems like being in the military changed you.

There is comradery with being a veteran that doesn’t translate with civilians. 

Being a veteran, there are values that everyone upholds and experiences that everyone went through. For example, the portrayal of drill sergeants in basic training comes off as ridiculous, aggressive and stereotypical for the benefit of their own amusement at the belittlement of a trainee; in reality, however, it teaches new recruits real-life survival skills. I saw a new recruit being yelled at to not jump but he jumped anyway. He then unluckily acquired the exclusive attention of 3 drill sergeants who were yelling at him so ferociously, spit was flying in all directions. Most of us couldn’t help but laugh (and then wound up doing hundreds of pushups as well).

Also, since my tour in Iraq, I still check my shoes for giant camel spiders.

Camel spiders. Photo Credit: US Military

What’s it like being a working parent?

Being a mom has actually made me stronger. Without my son, I wouldn’t have taken a risk in changing careers. He’s helped me put into perspective what’s important.  He motivates me to do better so that I can be a role model for him in the future. I want him to see the value of hard work and to be smart and thoughtful about it.  

Tell us about how you give back and why that’s so important?

I work with a wildlife animal shelter named PAWS located in Lynnwood, WA.  I rehabilitate injured/sick animals (including triage, vaccination, giving fluids) and educate new foster parents. Inexperienced foster parents often don’t know how to deal with traumatized animals in their homes, especially when the animals have already acclimated to the shelter. I help answer any questions that might come up and provide additional medical attention whenever necessary.

When all is said and done, what do you hope for Beaze to achieve?

I just want the underdog businesses to prevail.