The Key to Winning People Over -- A Lesson From the Mayor of Seoul

Whatever stage of life, position, or industry you are in, you know that people run everything. Companies, institutions, governments, firms, whatever that may come to mind--even the smallest of groups--are all run by people. Remember when Steve Jobs talked about how life is all made up of people no smarter than you?

With the countless greetings and introductions, supplemented by a mountain of business cards, it may be hard to keep track of everyone you meet. Even harder is following up with everyone you meet and trying to maintain those connections that were made through a handshake and a short conversation that probably lasted no more than five minutes.

Waiting for the conference to begin..

Waiting for the conference to begin..

This Monday (September 22), I attended the 2014 Financial Hub Seoul Conference, a conference co-hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the Financial Supervisory Service, and the Korea Society. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon took the podium to present Seoul as a global financial hub to almost two hundred financial executives and investors. I, as an intern for the development/external affairs division of The Korea Society, worked on organizing the event itself and was present at the conference to assist with registration and escorting the VIP guests.

VIP Luncheon

VIP Luncheon

Mayor Park Won-soon addressing guests at the VIP Luncheon

Mayor Park Won-soon addressing guests at the VIP Luncheon

After the luncheon, Mayor Park Won-soon was exchanging greetings with the other VIPs in the room (many of them were senior executives of global consulting firms, international banks, and political figures). A long line formed to greet the mayor, and he was on his way out of the room after countless greetings when I walked up to him, smartphone in hand.

"Hello, I'm a student studying in New York. Could I get a picture with you?"

Seoul government employees were trying to persuade the mayor to leave the room for his next event (he had an interview with the Wall Street Journal right after), when the mayor stopped in front of me. Stretching his hand, he slightly grabbed my name tag on my jacket to take a closer look.

"Tae Young, are you an intern here? You live in Seoul?"

Surprised at his question, I immediately responded, "Yes, my parents are in Seoul and I am here attending university."  The mayor then smiled, tapping me on the shoulders and saying, "Great job, working hard away from home." My "Could I get a picture with you?" was greeted by an immediate "Of course, of course," and he let me stand next to him.

Picture was taken right when the mayor was about to say something... bad timing :( but a photo nonetheless!

Picture was taken right when the mayor was about to say something... bad timing :( but a photo nonetheless!

After thanking him for the photo, I quickly said "I will see you at the conference in the afternoon!" He smiled, gave me a nod, and walked away with his staff to his next interview.

During that 10-15 second personal interaction with the mayor, it felt exactly that--personal. For those few seconds that we exchanged words, I could feel that the mayor's complete attention was on me. I was a college student helping out with an event attended by financial corporate executives holding global influence, but the mayor gave me the same degree of attention as he did with anyone else in the room. I can point out exactly what the mayor did in those few seconds that captivated my attention and respect:

1. Hold eye contact

The mayor, from start to finish, looked straight into my eyes as he spoke. Sometimes, when meeting someone for the first time, it can be quite awkward to look right into the other person's eyes so many of us tend to look elsewhere. However, looking into the other person's eyes shows him or her that you are not only acknowledging their presence, but also giving all of your attention. 

2. Ask questions about the other person

"Are you an intern here? and you live in Seoul?" The mayor asked me two questions that were both about me, and both were derived from inferences he made from seeing me for a few seconds. Asking questions is the best way to start a conversation, and it also helps others to talk about themselves (who doesn't like doing that?).

3. Use humor

As soon as I stood next to the mayor to get a picture taken, he jokingly said, "People who take pictures with me tend to run for the national assembly (as a political representative)," as if he was saying that I would run for office in the future because I took a picture with him. Everyone around us laughed, and it made the mayor seem much more human than just a political figure--after the picture was taken, he smiled and tapped me on the shoulder again.

Politics aside, the mayor gained my respect (much more than I had previously!) in that short moment when I was able to personally interact with him. The mayor used the three methods mentioned above to truly make it a personal interaction, and he made me feel much more welcomed and at ease. Through that short moment, I learned that authenticity, and paying close attention to the person in front of you, really helps in winning a person over.

Indiegogo Campaign - Postponed

To all friends, fans, and supporters of our campaign,

First, thank you so much for being part of this journey to fuel the dreams of students who you've never even met before. I've learned so much not just from opening and running this fundraising campaign, but also from interacting with each of you who were so supportive of the campaign and the hope seen within the campaign.

After consulting with various travel agencies, potential corporate sponsors, education specialists, and many friends, I have decided to postpone the fundraising campaign and the trip for the students. Various scheduling issues with the students (they will become juniors--2nd year of high school--in 2015) as well as questions from the students' parents have made me think about what would really work for the students, and decided that January 2015 would not be the best time to have the students over to the United States.

A special thank you to those who supported the campaign by funding the Indiegogo campaign--when the fundraising campaign automatically ends on August 14, I will be receiving the funds from Indiegogo within a few weeks and will contact each of you to give you a refund. The raffles and prizes will be similar (if not better!) for the next fundraising campaign that I will launch hopefully soon, so please stay tuned on this website and on our Facebook page.

Once again, thank you so much. I hope you stay supportive of the campaign, and will reach out to you all very soon with better news.

Best,

Tae Young Woo

Website: www.dreamtripfund.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dreamtripfund

Indiegogo Campaign - Part 2, Why Indiegogo?

(My first post, an introduction to my own Indiegogo campaign, can be found here)

For anyone hoping to raise funds for a cause, idea, or new product, crowdfunding is one of the best ways to raise money and publicize your thoughts and ideas. Reward-based online crowdfunding (when producers give out rewards or "perks" for specific amounts of money invested) has become immensely popular in the past few days, and a select few crowdfunding companies have become giant platforms for people to raise money on.

                                                                                                                                               image from fundstlouis.org.

                                                                                                                                               image from fundstlouis.org.

Why, then, am I using Indiegogo instead of other popular platforms that are perhaps bigger in size, both in funds raised and audience number?

Indiegogo.com homepage.

Indiegogo.com homepage.

1. Large Platform and Flexibility

There's no doubt that Indiegogo is one of the biggest crowdfunding platforms in the world. According to its website, 9 million people from across the world visit the site every month. These visitors come from 224 countries, making Indiegogo a truly global platform. This means that someone from a country far away might find your project after exploring the website, then spread the word to friends in that country who might become an unexpectedly strong support group for your project!

1st Funded Baby?!

1st Funded Baby?!

Also, Indiegogo does not limit much on the type of projects producers can start. While other crowdfunding sites focus on specific things, like Kickstarter on creative projects (films, games, music, art, design, technology, etc.) and GoFundMe on personal projects or situations, Indiegogo has categories for just about any project people would like to start. This allows more people to relate to the platform and easily access it; therefore, a wider audience range can interact with your project.

2. Low fees

When I launched my first crowdfunding project in 2013 (through a Korean crowdfunding platform) that raised ≈$32,000, I had to pay the platform about 10%-15% of the funds raised as a fee. Kickstarter charges a 5% fee from the funds collected, and GoFundMe collects 7.9% total. Most platforms charge at least 5%, and some even collect up to 15%-20% of the total funds raised.

Chart detailing fees for Indiegogo.

Chart detailing fees for Indiegogo.

Indiegogo charges 4% for all funds collected, the lowest of any crowdfunding platform I've seen online. There is a 3% for PayPal transactions and 3% for credit cards, but these additional charges also apply to other platforms. I was very surprised that Indiegogo charged such a low fee, but perhaps that is one of the reasons why so many people are eager to start projects on Indiegogo.

3. Reference/Recommendation

A very recent project on Indiegogo that I actually funded was the Bad Rap documentary project, a fundraising campaign for a feature documentary about Asian-American hip hop artists in the United States. I know Jaeki Cho, the producer of the film, personally, and was very interested in the project when he first reached out to me about it. He and the film director put out some great perks and reasonable prices for the campaign, including signed albums and limited-edition products for fans of the artists involved in the documentary. This project ended up raising a lot more than their goal of $25,000, finishing the campaign at $33,911. The day after the campaign ended, I actually saw posts on Twitter asking the film team if contributions could be made although the Indiegogo campaign was finished. Now that's good fundraising.

For more information about Indiegogo, I highly suggest you visit the platform website. For an introduction about my project and what I am hoping to do with Indiegogo, take a look at my introduction post

Stay connected!
Website: www.taeyoungwoo.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/taeyoungwoo

Indiegogo Campaign - Part 1, Introduction

Hi! I'm Tae Young. I'm a rising third-year student at New York University, and I want to tell you a story about six students that have changed my life.

After starting college at NYU in the fall of 2012, I studied for a year and then took a semester off to take a break and work back in my hometown Seoul, South Korea. I took this opportunity to volunteer as an English teacher at a World Vision community welfare center more than an hour away from home. Every Wednesday, I took the subway for about 2 and a half hours roundtrip to go teach six 9th graders who were preparing for final exams coming up in December.

World Vision Community Welfare Center in Seongnam, South Korea

World Vision Community Welfare Center in Seongnam, South Korea

Because of the rigid and competitive education system solely based on textbooks and exams, I couldn’t “waste time” telling my students things like real life in America, the importance of confidence in learning and speaking English, and other little things like fun stories in college and the amazing opportunities and people you can meet here in the US. I did try to make English a bit more appealing to them, but to my students, English was just another obstacle that they had to plow through in order to produce high-enough numbers on papers that would dictate their future.

Middle School (9th grade) English textbook I taught with. Pages and pages of grammar structures and vocab words to memorize..

Middle School (9th grade) English textbook I taught with. Pages and pages of grammar structures and vocab words to memorize..

Having been educated in America for the past 13 years, I know that the best teachers are the ones who not only teach their subject well but also give students new experiences and opportunities. One of my favorite high school experiences was when, with the help of my school and a generous alumnus, I was able to take twelve students to Philadelphia for a business leadership conference. Managing a budget for thirteen people, arranging transportation, managing schedules, and overseeing a group trip from beginning to end are not things you can learn through books and test through exams, especially all at once.

13-student group I brought to Philadelphia for the FBLA Business Leadership Conference in 2011. I'm third from left in the back row.

13-student group I brought to Philadelphia for the FBLA Business Leadership Conference in 2011. I'm third from left in the back row.

I am so thankful to those who gave me those opportunities to grow as a student and as a person during my high school years, and I would like to pay that forward, starting with my six students from Korea. The fast-paced streets of New York City, the beautiful college towns of Boston, and the historic sites of Washington, D.C. will not only be amazing sites to see for the students, but also a symbol of a greater world, and the opportunity for the kids to see potential within themselves to strive for a greater self and a greater world. 

I’m hoping to bring my six students to the US next January, for a total of 8 days. Four days in New York City, two days in Boston, and two days in Washington, D.C. will be our entire trip. As you can imagine, the flight and housing costs for eight days in America for six students are very high, and I am planning on launching an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the trip.

Indiegogo homepage, found on indiegogo.com

Indiegogo homepage, found on indiegogo.com

Instead of just launching a campaign and promoting the campaign as soon as it launches, I wanted to share the entire process from beginning to end on my blog. I may make mistakes along the way, but I believe that these posts will not only help me polish my campaign better but also (hopefully!) help others who are thinking of launching a crowdfunding campaign themselves. 

Updates on the projects will be uploaded consistently to this blog, so please check back often! 
You can also email me at twoo (at) taeyoungwoo (dot) com if you have any questions/suggestions about my Indiegogo campaign. Thanks!

NYU, NYC. Photos

Finals week is here, and my schedule is packed with readings from the international politics textbook, works from Plato and Locke, and more (just to name a few). I'll get back to writing substantial content after finals are over, but for now I wanted to update some photos of my school and the surrounding areas that I've taken. For photo updates, follow me on Instagram.com/taeyoung1025

NYU

NYU

Transient
our classy, lovely shuttle that brings us to our dorms

our classy, lovely shuttle that brings us to our dorms

early morning walk in Chinatown

early morning walk in Chinatown

Washington Square Arch

Washington Square Arch

view up 5th Ave

view up 5th Ave

"andante" - short essay

In high school, my AP English Literature class was assigned one final assignment after the AP exam--writing a "This I Believe" story. Based off the essays from the organization This I Believe, these essays were supposed to describe a belief we had regarding anything. Our teacher handed out copies of everyone's essays (everyone in my class) to us at the end of the year, and it was very interesting to read the different stories each student had written. Although this is not related to much of the things I write about on this blog, I wanted to share this story as this is, of course, my personal blog. A short one-page essay I wrote (which somewhat went off course from the directions of the "This I Believe" essay, but I had so much fun writing this) in one sitting, reflecting on my experiences throughout high school.

andante

Check.

Now that’s done, what’s next?

For as long as I can remember, every day was a checklist. Except that every checklist was slapped onto my brain instead of glowing in front of my eyes, of course. Sometimes even my brain couldn’t keep it from slipping away, and that was when my right hand came in handy. Must record all. Quick, before it leaves my head.

One ironic summer evening, I ran out of tasks to check off. My toothbrush, my awkwardly-thick jacket, my passport, and my school mindset were neatly packed in the large luggage bag that rested by the door. I had woken up extra early that day to pick up my violin from the repair shop, and even arranged my transportation route so that I could say my final goodbyes to my grandparents before returning home. Heavy rain had defeated the usual scorching sun, and the only image I had in my head was a blue plane piercing through needles of water falling through the air. My plane ticket sat on my desk.

I peeked through the crack into the master bedroom, which glowed with darkness—my ticket to freedom. With only an umbrella, I walked down the fourteen flights of stairs to the first floor of the apartment. The elevator had been my best friend for months as each second used traveling meant time lost work, doing more “productive things.” Not today.

I found a bench that always sat next to the screen door entrance to my apartment building. I never realized its existence for the months I walked past it, but it opened itself to me as if it had always welcomed me.

Two security guards rattled their cigarettes as they tossed playing cards on a blue mat underneath a matching parasol. A third guard greeted a young couple walking past the small office. Water dripped from their beautiful green dress and the newly tailored suit, but the rain could not drain out their linked arms and laughter. They made way for a sprinting dog followed by a child’s thunderous footsteps that moved quickly but spontaneously. Even the dog was happy.

I jumped, believing too much time had passed since I left my house. I had no watch, no phone, and no clock in sight. I ran to the security office and yelled for the time. Five past ten.

The clock in my room had said 10:00.

Each checklist, each mandatory task I created for myself chained me more and more to time. The overabundance of technology and a desire to feel connected to an outer world distanced me from what I needed most: a break. Time.

Controlling time in life is important. Perhaps now is the time to tune that rapid tempo of your life down.

Attending Colbert Report 4/1/14

After my Facebook and Foursquare updates at the Colbert Report yesterday, a number of people have asked me about attending the recording/getting tickets for the show. My experience may be different than others who have attended in the past, but here's a summary of what the experience was like:

On a random day in February, I was on the Colbert Report website (www.colbertnation.com) when I suddenly had the urge to get a ticket for the show. Tickets are FREE, but they are not always available. Luckily, as soon as I clicked the "tickets" option on the top of the website, there was one ticket remaining for the April 1 show (I was on the website on Feb 8). I quickly entered my information and was sent an email confirmation, which I printed and brought with me to the studio.

ColbertReport

The email says "you cannot join the line after 6pm" but make sure to go MUCH earlier if you want (good) seats! Colbert Report overbooks in order to have a full audience, and you actually may be cut from the line if you are too late. I was thinking of arriving by 5:30pm but after reading a number of Yelp reviews (yes, Colbert Report is on Yelp and yes, Yelp saves my life a lot), I ran downstairs, took a cab, and headed to the studio (thank God for Uber on unexpectedly crowded NYC Tuesday afternoons).

outside, before going into the waiting area...

outside, before going into the waiting area...

I arrived around 4:20, showed my ID (government issued ID!) and confirmation email, and was shown into a line. There is a tent above the line so no worries for rain/snow/wind but we had to wait until around 5:30 to walk into the waiting area. I was #38.

blue ticket, with waiting number on top right

blue ticket, with waiting number on top right

5:30 comes, and we walked into a waiting area after passing through a short airport-style security check (metal detector, bins to take belt and coats off). The waiting area has funny portraits of Colbert on the wall and show re-runs of past episodes on monitors, so the waiting wasn't as bad as standing/sitting outside. Small restrooms are available in the waiting area, and we were told that this was the only chance to use the restrooms as we would not be able to use them after entering the studio (which turned out to be true). Around 7ish, we were told to turn off all digital devices (no pictures inside the studio!!) and were called into the studio by our ticket numbers. VIPs received a red ticket and were let in first, and then the blue tickets were called by number. (People tried to stand closer to the studio door in order to go in faster but everything was done by ticket number.)

The studio was a lot smaller than I expected, and the seats were raised pretty high each row so that every seat had a clear view of the desks that appear in the show. After sitting and waiting for what seemed like a good 20 minutes, Comedian Paul Mercurio came up and engaged with the audience. He was great in interacting with specific members of the audience--even pulling some of them out to talk with them--and got the audience pumped up for Stephen's appearance. He also introduced the VIPs who were attending: Robert Kraft (owner of the NE Patriots), Philippe Dauman (CEO of Viacom), and Indra Nooyi (Chair & CEO of PepsiCo).

One of the producers of the show (seemed like the main PD but never introduced himself) came out, introduced himself, and introduced Stephen onto the stage. In character (at least for the first few seconds), Stephen ran around the stage, giving high-fives to everyone in the first row before coming to the front and introducing himself. He (out of character) gave us an opportunity to ask a few questions. After about four or five, he ran back to sit down behind his desk and the filming began almost immediately.

It was amazing to see how Stephen could go in and out of his character so well, and he really did "suck up" the energy from the crowd as he made the hilarious jokes and references that made us all laugh watching it back home. The producers and staff constantly encouraged us to "engage with the show, not just sit back" because the show was exactly delivered to the television without much edits (no audience tracks or clap tracks are used--all the laughter and responses are purely the live reactions of the audience at the studio, fed into microphones hanging in the air). 

Colbert

The recording ended around 9:20, Stephen came out to answer one last question before disappearing into a waiting area behind the studio. There was no time to meet him in person or take pictures with him (although two members of the audience told him it was their birthday and he told them to meet him after the show), and security/staff was swift in getting the audience out of the studio.

The entire experience was amazing, watching a show that I loved since middle school live in person (the show itself was 18+ entry... maybe I wasn't supposed to watch during middle school?) and because I have always wanted to learn about how American TV programs worked on studio. The staff are very friendly and swift in taking care of confirmation and security issues, and I would encourage anyone interested to take a chance at a ticket and attend the recording of the show. 

NYC, Writing, and more..

The sun is finally exposing itself over the towering structures of Manhattan, and I am also finally taking out some time out of a class day to update my own website! An update has been long overdue, and I don't know if it was the constant stream of school assignments or the laziness which accompanied the seemingly never-ending cold that took my mind off my own website until now.

I was in Korea from last May (end of freshman year) until this January, and came back to school for the spring semester. This was the first time I spent more than the summer-vacation-length 3 months in Korea ever since I moved to America back in 2001, and the unbelievable roller-coaster that took place for the eight months is indescribable in one post (hopefully I'll get to my past break in a series of posts). With that time so close yet so far away from me, I'm planning to stay here in the US for at least a full year (another thing which I've never done before).

This is my new website, thanks to Squarespace (love the clean design, but probably will get my hands all over the CSS soon)! I've updated my About Me (in both English and Korean), included some photos of the past break in Korea with very special people, and listed media appearances/interviews on the "press" section. One of these days I'm just going to pick out a full 24 hours to restructure the site to just the way I like it (such a neat freak...). Hopefully that day will have some sunlight with a good chocolate drink (no coffee for me) that doesn't have any homework assignment to sit on top of. NYC has some amazing views and I really want to find my own spot, perhaps a family-owned café or a public space somewhere with an outlet. I really do need to fix my "condition: replace soon" battery...

Due to my extended stay in Korea, I feel like I've only been updating my social media (almost said "SNS") accounts using Korean and haven't been using English to communicate online much. I decided to limit my Korean updates as I came back to being "American" and a "New Yorker" this past January, but then I started a personal project that is making me read, think, and write in Korean (project details will be revealed later this year!). Hopefully I will continue to update this blog in English and continue juggling my ABC's in my head and my fingertips. Let the writing begin...

(I should change the design layout to make my website seem less.... white.)