Diversity Matters has become so widespread that we forget its underpinnings are often incremental and unobvious — absent of the spotlights, fancy posters, and overt headlines. My third grade ESL friend was reduced to “that kid who doesn’t have friends because he doesn’t speak English” — when we forget that third-grade reading ability is critical to fourth-grade reading comprehension, which becomes the single greatest determinant of graduate rates and eventual economic success.
As I grew older, I met these ostracisms again and again. My “friend” once joked that I was a F.O.B (“Fresh Off The Boat”) and I had to materially alter my behavior to confirm that I wasn’t. It felt like being included but not welcomed. These isolating moments didn’t disappear as I entered the workforce where I had to endure awkward happy hours where borderline racist jokes were made and uncomfortable meetings where I was the only Asian leader (and in many cases, the only person of color).
Like so many of our diverse colleagues, we face subtle biases with profound implications on our long-term success. These subtleties, at once, welcome us but keep us at bay; we are included but not integrated. Asians are relatively well-employed, though are the least likely to get promoted to management in the country (Harvard Business Review). We are nearly 1/3 of the Silicon Valley workforce but half of that in executive ranks–and it’s just as dire in financial services.
To that end, we face two options: we can climb the corporate ladder and wait for a seat at the table — or we can build our own table. There are more than 2 million Asian-founded businesses in the U.S.–39% of them are founded by women. In fact, nearly 20% of the unicorn businesses founded in the last decade (i.e. more than $1 billion valuation) were Asian-founded: Twitch, Snapchat, Stitch Fix, Sweetgreen, and Pinterest, are among them. But we don’t just make–we consume. We are the fastest-growing immigrant population in the country and over-index in our economic contribution, whether it’s in online media consumption or theatre-going (we are the second most-frequent moviegoers in the country).
That’s why we built Gold Rush: we realize that diversity isn’t just beautiful — it’s smart business. It’s odds in our favor. Gold Rush is a promotional system that includes a quarterly flash sale that delights consumers with exclusive and discounted products and once-in-a-lifetime gifts; provides intimate access for Asian founders to venture capitalists and industry leaders for strategic guidance; and convenes a cohort of like-minded, promising founders who can help each other grow. Rushes occur every quarter to align with the Solstices and Equinoxes as an homage to our ancestor’s commitment to nature (Lunar New Year, anyone?) and focuses on real Maslowian needs: fashion and wellness; food and beverage; shelter and experiences.
I was inspired to lead Gold Rush because I wanted to create a tribe of founders who could grow together. In Sanskrit, there’s a word known as Muditā (मुदिता), which means the pleasure of finding joy in the happiness and success of others. We know why we haven’t–it’s a remnant of our collectivist mindset paired with competitive immigrant mentality. But we must collaborate instead of compete with each other; we must follow Asian founders on social media to celebrate other forms of beauty; we must spend a dollar (hopefully more!) on an Asian-founded company to inspire others.
The first Gold Rush occurs a week before Black Friday from November 20-22 from Noon EST to Noon EST at goldhouse.org/GoldRush and features passionate fashion icons like Phillip Lim and Prabal Gurung; beauty founders like Soko Glam and Musely; as well as wellness startups including smart vibrator Lioness (sexual wellness is wellness!) and a plant marketplace called Rooted. It’s a mosaic not dissimilar from the diversity within our diaspora of dozens of ethnicities and hundreds of dialectics. It’s a new ritual that hopes to bridge a diaspora, spread across oceans, through a rising tide. Let’s rush!
About Gold House
Gold House is a nonprofit collective of diverse leaders dedicated to forging meaningful relationships that empower Asians to have more authentic, more successful, and healthier lives, and in turn, advance all of society. Gold House spearheads impactful initiatives such as #GoldOpen (a viral community movement that helped propel the box office success of Asian-led films) and the A100 (an annual mainstream award celebrating the 100 most impactful Asians of the last year).