Welcome to another great episode of Startup Junkies!
On this episode, hosts Caleb Talley, Jeff Amerine, and Grace Gill sit down with Yang Luo-Branch, founder and president of the Arkansas Association of Asian Businesses, the first Arkansas-Asian Chamber of Commerce in the Natural State. Yang shares about her experience as a first-generation immigrant from China and overcoming struggles that many immigrants face, such as public speaking and adjusting to an individualistic society. Throughout the episode, Caleb, Jeff, Grace, and Yang discuss what it means to be a global citizen, create meaningful connections through conversations, and how problem-solving is a lot like eating with chopsticks.
(1:12) Introduction to Yang Luo-Branch
(1:51) About the Arkansas Association of Asian Businesses
(8:13) Yang’s Origin Story
(10:51) What’s Next for the Arkansas Association of Asian Business
(14:04) The Association’s Reach in Arkansas
(18:41) From Global Citizen to Northwest Arkansas Resident
(21:11) Being Welcomed in Northwest Arkansas
(24:44) First-Generation vs Second-Generation Immigrants
(27:02) Global Challenges
(32:38) Tangible Outcomes of the Association
(38:40) Advice to Younger Self
(39:24) Closing Questions
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“We have an analogy in my culture—we use chopsticks to eat everything, right? The rice, the noodles, the soup, whatever. We just have this mindset of problem solving and using chopsticks to eat everything versus using different shapes of knives, you know, utensils. Very specialized. So that’s how I approach things in life, too, I feel, doing art, doing nonprofit, doing data analytics at Tyson which is the company I work for. To me, it’s just approaching life. Solving life’s whatever needs to be solved and if I can play a role in this whole context, I feel I’m pretty lucky.” - Yang Luo-Branch (10:24)
“We have members writing to us long paragraphs telling their stories from east Arkansas, from south Arkansas, from north Arkansas, definitely outside of these population-dense areas. They just feel passionate about, ‘Hey, there’s something like this existing in Arkansas.’ And they care about us in south Arkansas, too.” - Yang Luo-Branch (14:59)
“I think global citizen, I mean it sounds fancy or sounds like a big word, but to me it’s really just making the best of living wherever you are, wherever you find your place on this earth. That’s just about participating in life wherever in the world. That’s my definition of it. So, today I find myself in Northwest Arkansas, you know, with my husband and my daughter here and all my family is still in China, so what do I do? I need to participate in life in Northwest Arkansas. And I feel probably many residents in this area share that same kind of attitude, no matter if they’re local or from other parts of the world. I think my message would be, ‘Hey let’s all come out and let’s all give back and we can all bring something to the community and make the most of it for ourselves too.’” - Yang Luo-Branch (18:41)
“If I can help [immigrants] to create a channel out to help them connect their little enclave or bubble with the rest of the community who’s so willing to help, if I can be that channel, I’m willing to.” - Yang Luo-Branch (24:54)
“Personally I feel there should be more talks between people to people connection, community to community connections, the geopolitical things. I can see why on an intellectual level but I feel we’re missing out if we just stop talking to each other, if we just stop socializing because the ‘big guys’ are not playing along very well.” - Yang Luo-Branch (28:50)
“Every connection starts with a conversation, so I just see people get connected on LinkedIn due to our event, or people write thank you notes to us and say, ‘Hey, we’ve carried on the relationship after your initial introduction.’” - Yang Luo-Branch (33:40)