Episode 113

Katie Soo ·  Inspiring the Next Generation of Leaders With Asia Society

“Supporting each other and more importantly, just knowing that you're not alone and share it more broadly, create something that could become a destination, a home, a long-standing network of women, supporting women, offering mentorship, offering programming, and change the way that women see themselves in the world around them.”

Katie Soo is an award-winning global media and tech marketer with a proven track record for breaking trends, forging new technology partnerships, and launching large-scale, disruptive business models and brands. In her current role as CMO of KiwiCo, Soo oversees global marketing across consumer, brand, media, growth and acquisition, and campaign strategy. A strong sense of purpose and a passion for inspiring the next generation of leaders led her to join the innovative ecommerce company which provides hands on learning experiences for kids that spark curiosity and teach creative confidence.

The former Senior Vice President of Growth Marketing for HBO Max, Soo led a 170+ person team to build a core growth engine that enabled end to end consumer marketing, powering subscriber growth through break-through media campaigns, social stunts, and a reimagined editorial experience. This revolutionary approach helped grow the streaming service from 33M domestic subscribers to 47M at the end of second quarter, bringing in more than 14M subscribers since the streaming platform’s launch. 

Soo previously served as Head of Marketing at Warner Bros. Digital Networks where she led marketing and digital transformation efforts across the portfolio. Before her work at WB, she held senior positions at Fullscreen Media and Hulu. She was also an early employee of Dollar Shave Club, where she built the marketing roadmap to shape the subscription business model for years to come.

She has received numerous accolades for her work in both creative storytelling and digital products. Most recently she was recognized on Ad Age’s “40 Under 40,” PR Week’s “The Innovation 50” and was named on Goldhouse’s A100 list honoring the most impactful Asians in culture.

Soo is a West Coast native and sits on the Advisory Board for both Pinterest and California State University Entertainment Alliance. She’s also on the Asia Society’s Board of Trustees and is the Co-Chair of Asia Society Southern California and serves as a member of Vox Media’s Brand Council. 


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Katie Soo

[00:00:00] Maggie Chui: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! Today, we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Katie Soo. Katie is an award-winning global media and tech marketer with a proven track record for breaking trends, forging new technology partnerships, and launching large scale disruptive business models and brands in her current role as CMO at Kiwi Co. Soo oversees global marketing across consumer, brand, media, growth and acquisition, and campaign strategy. A strong sense of purpose and a passion for inspiring the next generation of leaders led her to join the innovative ecommerce company which provides hands on learning experiences for kids that spark curiosity and teach creative confidence.

The former Senior Vice President of Growth Marketing for HBO Max, Soo led a 170+ person team to build a core growth engine that enabled end to end consumer marketing, powering subscriber growth through break-through media campaigns, social stunts, and a reimagined editorial experience. This revolutionary approach helped grow the streaming service from 33M domestic subscribers to 47M at the end of second quarter, bringing in more than 14M subscribers since the streaming platform’s launch.

Soo is a West Coast native and sits on the Advisory Board for both Pinterest and California State University Entertainment Alliance. She’s also on the Asia Society’s Board of Trustees and is the Co-Chair of Asia Society Southern California and serves as a member of Vox Media’s Brand Council. Katie, welcome to the show. 

[00:01:35] Katie Soo: Thank you for having me. 

[00:01:38] Bryan Pham: Katie you are a legend in the industry, and we’re so happy to have you here on the podcast today. Before we talk about your legendary career, we wanna learn more about you. What was your upbringing like and where did you grow up?

[00:01:49] Katie Soo: So I grew up in the bay area, a very traditional upbringing: immigrant parents, high exposure to my culture, heritage values loved the food. And so I felt very insulated in a lot of ways because I always grew up around diversity. I always grew up in a community-oriented setting. And so very young, I didn’t really see myself as different.

Not until I probably started going to school and realizing that I was different than other kids. And it was very clear that was the case, but I had wonderful grandparents who raised me and wonderful parents who did as much as they could to help me feel a part of the community. And because of that, I think it just gave me a lot stronger of a foundation going into it.

[00:02:40] Bryan Pham: Wow, that definitely gave me a lot of warmth. Knowing that your grandparents were there for you and really made you proud of who you are. And we’re so excited to have you in the podcast, you’re so badass. Just by your intro alone. Thank you for everything that you do.

And on top of that, having you in the podcast is, very reminiscent of Maggie’s childhood as well. Cause you guys both grew up in SF. Both grew up in the bay area. You guys both went to the same school, you’re highly involved with the Asian community, and more importantly, the women empowerment community. I want to hear more about that. What’s spurred that sense of determination, the pride that you have. And how did you formulate that into action? Because a lot of people are still figuring out how to be more involved, how to take more leadership, how to speak up.

And not only for speaking as a person of color, speaking it as a woman of color, that’s so important for us to realize and emphasize them more. 

[00:03:27] Katie Soo: Yeah, that’s a great question, Bryan. I think one of the reasons why. I was inspired to develop a community of like-minded women was because when I was growing up, I didn’t have one.

And I remember distinctly looking around leadership and looking at industries, I was interested in, or careers I wanted to pursue, and there just wasn’t anyone who looked like me and I couldn’t figure out why in the beginning. And I think when I was early on in my career, I just thought. Eventually, this will fix itself.

Eventually, this will get better, but you’re so young, and you’re green, and you don’t know what some of the complications are. You don’t understand systemic racism, you don’t understand that some of the systems weren’t built for you. And it wasn’t until I got a little bit further in my career. I realized that no one is coming to save us. No one is going to make that change. And so if not you, then who? And I was very fortunate at the time, I came across, wonderful women in my community, a lot who felt very similar. Janet Yang is the chair of Asian woman empowered, and she’s incredible. She’s been a cornerstone of gathering exceptional women together for potluck and for Majong nights, just to give a sense of CA community. And after joining that. We just realized that it was such an important piece of what was missing and how could we take that? How could we take that, feeling that lightning in a bottle that you get sitting around a table and sharing the challenges that you face supporting each other, and more importantly, just knowing that you’re not alone, and share it more broadly. Create something that could become a destination, a home, a longstanding network of women, supporting women, offering mentorship, offering to program, and change the way that women see themselves in the world around them. Because to me this program, this initiative or not, I would love to get to a place where we don’t need these anymore.

That we’ve completely normalized. The fact that these board rooms, executive leadership rooms, creative positions, leadership positions just have. People of color and a lot of women in them. And statistically, it’s been proven that having a woman in leadership rooms actually increases your revenue.

So it just makes sense, but when you’re fighting sometimes, and you’re fighting alone, you don’t feel you’re able to make an impact. But if you join hands with a handful of people who share the same mission and values as you, then suddenly you can begin a movement. And so that’s actually what inspired us to go and embark on this journey.

[00:06:12] Maggie Chui: I love that. And you put that so eloquently and it’s just supposed to show how much we need diversity. And I think there are a lot of corporations out there that want to recruit more women just because they feel they need to just because they feel, It should be the right thing to do because we do need more diversity.

But the real thing to do is to recruit people who can do the job the best. And that goes for both men and women. We have such different views and perspectives that we can all bring something to the table. Men can bring something great to the table, as well as women, women can all also bring great things to the table.

And I love the way you put that. I do want to know, when you had just started out your career, I know you were doing some writing and producing, and I think some women would find this answer very helpful. I wanna know how you were able to maneuver yourself into leadership roles.

I think a lot of us, we deal with a lot of imposter syndrome and it’s very hard for us. Especially women, inside corporate meeting rooms with a bunch of male, who might not be minority. And it seems really daunting for us to even speak out. And for us, it might be very hard for us to see ourselves jump from a more junior level to a more leadership position.

So I wanna know what was going through your mind internally. And if you had any internal battles while you were trying to go up the ranks and go through leadership positions, 

[00:07:24] Katie Soo: Oh, absolutely. This is a great question. I don’t think anyone, at least in my circle, doesn’t face some degree of imposter syndrome.

I think a lot of it’s cultural as well. I think growing up as Asian-Americans specifically, you’re just taught that A+ is not good enough. So do more, put your head down, do really great work. Don’t take credit for your work and just continue going forward.

And I think very early on, I did do that. I just felt this was super important. I wanted to do something that was self-fulfilling. And as long as I did a really great job, people would know that I did a really great job. And that is not the case at all, as and so it came to a head when I remember distinctly this moment in time meeting a group of women.

And realizing that we had been contributing so much of the work and progress of the industry, of hiring the most diverse teams, of driving change and impact, and yet we weren’t really being recognized for it. And the recognition isn’t as important as the fact that recognition sometimes allows for more conversation.

And the more conversation is had around a specific topic, the more awareness there is, and perhaps then it drives change. So it was right around the time of Crazy Rich Asians. It was about to become this movie sensation. Lots of organizations were rallying behind it. And I remember going to watch a screening and thinking to myself, oh my God, this is the first time that I saw a norm that just had people who looked like me.

And that was such an incredible feeling. And leaving that theater, I was so emotional, and I couldn’t even understand why I was emotional for that matter. I remember having this conversation with many of my girlfriends in this Majong club, and the consensus was, Katie, you are in a position where you should take up space, you should speak up.

You should actually continue to drive positive change and just show up because the more you do that, the more you open the door for other people to follow suit and, my advice to a lot of people is sometimes, that could feel very heavy. You feel like you’re carrying the weight yourself, and you may ask the question as to why I’m just one person, what change could I make?

And to Bryan’s earlier point, you can make so much change as one person, because sometimes you don’t even see the changes that you make. I remember, when I started to embark on this path of building internal organizations that foster diversity hiring people who had lived in experiences instead of just having multicultural in their title.

And I remember working with agencies, requiring, and asking them that one of the mandates is that you have to have a diverse team to work with us because you can’t market content or market to those communities if you don’t know what the stories are, what’s important to them and the values. And I think I was able to do that because I was different and I wasn’t just looking at it from one side.

I was seeing it through the eyes of somebody who did grow up with immigrant families and did face a lot of adversity as a kid who was bullied. And I just remember having this moment in time when confronted with these challenges, there’s a saying that I learned on a panel from a wonderful woman who is super inspirational. And she just said, each of us represents the seven generations who came before us and the seven generations who come after. So every decision and choice that you make does affect change. So instead of thinking about what is good for me, think about what it is that you are leaving behind. What is your legacy?

What is that change that you wanna drive? And then just do it and have the courage and resilience to not be afraid of the consequences? Because so often we are the ones in our own way, self-doubt or imposter syndrome or whatever it may be. My encouragement is, all it takes sometimes is one person. And if you can be the person to open that door, then the rest of the people can actually continue keeping that door open. And what an amazing thing that is when you start rallying people around that. 

[00:11:47] Bryan Pham: I absolutely love that. And. Wow. I can’t speak outta line cuz at the end of the day, I’m still a guy. But it reminds me of the early days of Asian Hustle Network. Because at the very beginning, we had 70% male and 30% female and we did not like that. That’s when I turned to Maggie, and said we need to create more programs and staff the team with more powerful women in leadership positions.

And that’s exactly what we did. And thanks to that, we’re able to discover you, you were so badass that your names came out several times during our meeting. It was, Hey, we gotta reach out to Katie. And we did, I was kinda scared to ping you up first. What if she doesn’t talk to me?

 But you’re absolutely right. We have to continue opening up the door for people, and we have to be aware of everything. A lot of the programs that we have in Asian House Network is about women empowerment event because we realize the significance of having that voice inside the room, because we know from first-hand experience, our team, by having more women leaders in the team, things run a lot more smoothly. No offense to my male team members but a lot of things run more smoothly.

I appreciate their thought process, essentially being the leader that we all need. I have a lot of questions for you, the first question is how can a woman in the workplace navigate her edge? Because I think Maggie has told me a couple of experiences in her meetings that. She felt invisible. No matter how much she spoke up, she felt no one was listening to her. They overtalked to her and it’s difficult. And the fact that you guys have a lot in common, you guys went to the same school and everything. How can someone who never had such an edge or footing inside the workplace step up more and be more without– I don’t know how to say this correctly, but there’s honestly a negative connotation against female workers that speak up a lot louder. It’s like, you’re now you’re being too loud and you’re being too annoying. That’s not true at all. How can a person navigate those politics at work and really make themselves be heard? 

[00:13:32] Maggie Chui: Yeah. So I can also speak on that talk topic as well, just kinda echoing what Bryan said about my experience in the workplace. I worked in tech in the Bay Area, and so when I was in tech, I was working in the marketing department, and ironically, I was the only female Asian there. And the majority were white males, I think a lot of tech companies are predominantly white males as well.

. But I felt like I never really had a voice. And every time I felt I was trying to get my voice heard, my manager would always tell me, you need to find your voice. You need to find your voice, but every time I would say something in a meeting room, and if someone else had said the same thing I personally felt they would listen to that person rather than my comment. And it almost felt I wasn’t in an environment where I can thrive. And just doing Asian Hustle Network and reiterating the mission for Asian Hustle Network, being a part of all these events for Asian Hustle Network, speaking in front of hundreds of people, and telling our community what we’re trying to do with AHN, I actually felt I really did have a voice. I don’t want to make it a race thing, but I definitely feel finding an environment where you can thrive is super important.

 Just going back to Bryan’s question, what would you say to anyone who is trying to get their foot in the door, trying to find their voice, but having trouble doing so. And I wanna know based on your experiences, what would your advice be?

[00:14:49] Katie Soo: That’s a really great question. And I would start by saying there is no right or wrong answer to this. Every single person approaches it very differently. I love what Bryan was saying earlier, which is this idea of allyship,, when he looked around the room and he realized we don’t have enough women, you went and you made that change.

You were the one who made the call. Promoted the change and then executed against it. And now you have a thriving network where there is diversity and it’s no longer a topic because it exists. That is what you look for. So I think on one hand, you definitely wanna look for rooms where allyship is possible, because I have been in many’s situations where allyship has been critical.

And you need that support network, and it doesn’t always have to rest on yourself. That allyship network may be very small and it may be very, limited, but the most important thing is sometimes knowing that you’re not going at it alone on a personal level. I would always encourage people to just be fearless, have the courage to speak because a lot of times, the example Maggie you described is that when someone already says something, there is a moment of self-doubt where you’re like, that person’s voice matters more than me. I’m telling you no, it doesn’t. But sometimes we are in our own head a lot. And we believe that what we tell ourselves is true. When you know, you’re contributing value, you may be the expert in what you were talking about, and you are the best person to represent that. But you have to believe that is your value and your contribution. I don’t really have a lot of fear, when it comes to sharing my opinion and thoughts. Obviously with respect to my peers in the room, and what we’re trying to do decisions against, so much of the best work comes from gaining alignment and helping people understand why a decision or a choice or an initiative is mission-critical.

And I think if you are in those rooms and you have an opportunity to drive change, whatever it may be. It’s important to push for it because what’s the worst thing that can happen? Somebody says no, or they don’t agree with you, then you have a choice, you can either present a series of facts and debate it, and get to something that is better than where you started.

Or you realize that maybe that room isn’t the right room for you, and that would lead me to the next comment, which is I’ve been in many situations in my career where you. Again, when you get further along, you realize this isn’t a room that values me, this isn’t a room that sees me, this isn’t a room that understands my contributions.

So do I still want to be in this room or do I wanna go, and invest in myself? Make a bet on me and find a room that actually sees me. And so that is also another path. I think a lot of times, many people feel stuck because they’re just trying to make something work. And, listen, there are really great people and really great leaders, and there are some that are just not, and we have to be okay with admitting that at ourselves, because your own personal happiness, mental health, and ability to grow and thrive in an environment is so much more important. 

And I think that just comes with time. You realize, okay, this is the moment. It’s time to pull the ripcord. This is it. I’ve done my best. I’ve pushed as far as I could. And I will now find the room so that I can continue to thrive and grow my career. And that’s perfectly fine.

Give yourself the permission and the grace to do that. You don’t owe it to anyone but yourself. And the more you’re able to do that, the more courage and momentum you gain, and eventually, you’ll set an example. The others will follow. 

[00:18:32] Bryan Pham: I love that. And I don’t know why, when you were explaining that, I was just thinking about relationships if you can’t find a partner that values you, you just move. I’m kidding. but yeah. 

[00:18:42] Katie Soo: Hey, listen. So much of it is a relationship, right? You wanna be in love and you wanna be happy. You wanna thrive. You be able to know that in this short time period we have on earth, cause life is short, what do you want your contributions to be?

What do you want your legacy to be? I say this a lot with some of my friends. I look back in life. I don’t want people to go, oh my God, Katie, what a great marketer, oh man, I have totally failed. I want people to remember the choices I made, the purpose I stand for, and the things that mattered from a values perspective and why I fought for those things.

And maybe that legacy just continues on and a younger, stronger, smarter group of young women then take it and change it into something significantly better. Something that I couldn’t even dream of. That to me is leaning into your power. 

[00:19:37] Bryan Pham: Wow. That’s so powerful. And I guess before I ask the next question, Maggie, do you have anything to say?

[00:19:42] Maggie Chui: Yeah. I just wanted to say, that is super important about leaving your own legacy, working hard is important too, but then we also have to think about, what type of legacy we want to leave for the next generation. What do you want people to remember you as and you mentioning you finding your own community when you were trying to get into the community, were you finding that person or that community to open up the gates? And , if one person could open up the gates and others, meet other people who could actually be an influence to them. That influence can go a long way, and it reminds me of the event that I went to, where Katie spoke at for Asia Society, and I had invited a friend, she’s a female, and I wanted her to meet people at this event.

And I didn’t think that, we would be meeting a lot of people because I didn’t know what the program would be, but she ended up, thanking me and saying, I met so many great people, and I’m going to, create relationships with these people. And it just really touched my heart, because I underestimated how much power is in community.

And I start to realize that through Asian Hustle Network, through Asia Society, someone’s influence can go such a long way and it could just go trickle down generation after generation. 

[00:20:50] Katie Soo: Actually, we should talk about that for a bit because what you noted, that was what we wanted, years and years ago a handful of us, so Janet Yang, who was also at the event. We flew to Hong Kong, and we had presented this idea to the board of trustees. And I subsequently ended up joining the board of trustees, but then, it was just a pipe dream. We knew it was important. And so the three of us really pitched this concept of creating community on a local level, but also at global scale, because we knew that there were many women not being spotlighted for the contributions they made across all industries, not just entertainment, Her background is in FinTech and crypto, and we knew we had to join all these different interest areas and think about how to create a platform for women to discover each other.

And so that launch event you’re talking about, you could feel the energy in the air. It was so heartwarming. It was so emotional. It was actually totally exactly what we had hoped it to be. We just didn’t know it would actually be that way. Cause you never know sometimes. But I’m so happy to hear that and that your friend enjoyed it because that is not just the power of community.

That’s the power of women supporting women and wanting to reach out and wanting to have, space to do that for each other, and that makes me so happy to hear, because if for nothing at all, just a small group of people being impacted in that way that would’ve made this whole thing worthwhile.

[00:22:19] Bryan Pham: Thank you, Katie. Take all the credit for it. All of it happened because of your ambition and your dreams. So we want you to take a lot as much credit as you can on this podcast, because we feel you absolutely deserve it, and going back to your point earlier too, now’s the time to speak up and take out space, and this is one way to do it, and we’ll support you any way that we can.

So I wanna shift the conversation down to your career at Warner Brothers and HBO Max mainly because we hear a lot about the entertainment space and how there’s a lot of misogyny and all these other bad reps being in the entertainment space. And for you to navigate that and become a very strong leader, we wanna hear any sort of story that you’re comfortable sharing with us about your experience.

[00:23:00] Katie Soo: Yeah. There are so many I can start by saying that I was incredibly fortunate because when I was brought on board to join WB, it was at a time that a lot of positive change and eye towards technology was happening. And I definitely had one of the most diverse leadership rooms. And so it was so incredible to me to see that, and believe me, I don’t think I would’ve joined it if I didn’t feel or see that reflected and I’ll never forget, and I hope she listens to this podcast, but there was a woman. Her name is Diana Mogo young, She is the GM of stage 13, their focus is a lot of diverse storytelling and multicultural storytelling. And so they actually do a lot of incredible short form content that is looking for undiscovered talent and there are so many things that they’ve done. And I remember when I was going through the process of meeting everyone and deciding whether or not this was the right opportunity she had called me, and she’s just super fierce, and a total badass.

And I think her a takeaway was just, Katie, don’t you wanna join this? Don’t you wanna join this and not regret this? You can be a force of change. You can be a change agent here. You can do the things that you wanna do, it won’t be easy. Or do you wanna sit on the sidelines and wait to see what happens?

And I was just, oh my God, this woman is incredible. And I was so inspired by her and then fast forward, years later she’s become a really good friend of mine, and it was so much of what we talked about earlier. It’s women empowering women and giving each other the confidence to say, I will take this leap of faith.

This seems totally bizarre and outside of what I typically would choose, but I’m gonna choose it because by doing so, I’m choosing myself and I know I can drive the positive change that I wanna see in the world around me. And if she could do it, then I could too. And so from that point, I embarked on this journey. And yeah, there were so many challenges along the way. I definitely came at it from a very logical perspective, I specialize in transformations. I do push a lot of change. Businesses, brands, and the organization at large. And I think what people just came to realize was that I was one of the few people who could just work cross functionally because I didn’t grow up in entertainment.

I didn’t have a dog in the fight in the same way. I just really wanted to do great work and I wanted to win because I knew if we could win as a business, we could continue making the stories that mattered. We could continue filling the rooms with people who represented the world around us. And above all else, that was the most important thing. Subsequently when I got a chance to join HBO Max, I was able to bring all that to fruition. I had one of the most diverse teams in the company, and actually one thing I’m incredibly proud of is the fact that I know without a shadow of a doubt in my mind that the people who were on my leadership team, and who joined that team, They will go on to be the change agents in the industry. They will go on and continue carrying the mission in their own way. That makes sense for them.

And that to me is the most important thing. And so yeah some rooms were difficult. Some rooms could be challenging. But you just can’t give up because it’s so much bigger than just what is happening in the room. Your job is to make changes so that the system flexes and changes so that perhaps other people following you into the rooms afterward, don’t have to endure what you did. And if I focus on that, it was a lot easier for me to just push through every time things got hard. 

[00:26:40] Maggie Chui: That’s super powerful. Thank you so much for sharing that, Katie.

I do wanna know I’m, this question is tied back to your original answer just now. I think a lot of us talk a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion in large corporations, and there are DEI groups within large corporations that talk at the ERG groups, employee resource groups that, try to promote events or programs, or campaigns that try to promote diversity.

And we do a lot of trainings as well. I think a lot of corporations try to do trainings to bring more awareness, to promote more diversity in our teams, but then I feel there are a lot of DEI groups that talk about it, but it’s harder to get those points through to leadership. We do talk about it in ERG groups and DEI, but how do we make sure that we peel off the layers, and make sure that change is not only within these ERG groups but also it gets relayed back to the lead leadership positions. Cause I feel like there is that gap, and there are so many layers that we have to go through, and sometimes it is people in leadership that’s preventing change from happening. And I know you mentioned that there was so much diversity in your teams that you were leading. So I do wanna know, how are you able to push for that change when there are so many layers to get across in such large organizations and corporations that you were working at?

[00:27:57] Katie Soo: That’s a great question. I just did it. I didn’t ask for permission. I didn’t wait for someone to tell me to join a group. My team and I, a handful of also really strong leaders came together, and I became the sponsor and the champion of a program I launched through my own team called Bold, which was building organizational leadership through diverse cities.

And perhaps there would’ve been tie-ins with ERG groups and larger teams across the company. And that was always the intention, but we knew with growth marketing, and with every consumer touchpoint that we were responsible, for every dollar we were spending in market, every trade we were curating in editorial, we already had a responsibility on a customer consumer-facing level to do something that was right, to always hold ourselves accountable and lead by example. And so that is the reason why we created that organization. And to this day, that organization still goes is thriving, and has plugged into the larger, diversity groups pushing leadership to think more holistically and strategically about implementing positive change.

And I’m incredibly proud of that. So what I would say to anybody thinking about that is don’t wait for permission, don’t wait for someone to tell you here’s an existing program and a playbook. Make your own cause whatever is out there, it just might not work. And if you already know what it is that you want, and the change that you want, go build it. That’s what we did. That’s what I did. That’s what I still do. There’s no point in trying to wait for a set of rules to be given to you. I think the whole point is you should know the rules of the engagement, and then you just go and break the rules. 

[00:29:44] Bryan Pham: Wow, I love it. That’s our model here at Asian Hustle Network. We just do it, once you, this is a whole different topic too, because once you start breaking down fabric of who makes these rules, everyone has certain biases that helps them make their decisions, but unfortunately, it doesn’t benefit us as a society.

And mostly these game changers are people who usually just go for it and just do it and just break all the rules because once people realize that’s not the right way to do it, This new better way is a better way. The adoption rate is gonna be really high, right? And that goes for a lot of things in history.

It’s about awareness, it’s about taking action, it’s about understanding that, Hey, wait a minute, something’s wrong here, I need to do more, And a lot of times, people don’t want to break the rules or just conditioned to just follow the rules. But the people who actually do break it are the ones that are pioneers in the new space, take ownership, leadership, and all this stuff that creates positive change.

So shout out to you, Katie. So I’m curious You’re obviously a very successful leader. And you do a lot for the community. How do you take care of yourself and how do you take care of your mental health?

Because I’m sure that, there are times when people, I’m pretty sure people keep on coming to you, Katie, I need your help with; Katie, I need advice; Katie, I need this and that. But at the end of the day, you’re still a human being. So how do you take care of your mental health? I know you mentioned earlier, you just push through the hard times, but what kind of mechanism or routines or self-care that you do to wake up every morning, be like, I’m Katie, I can do this. And we all need a boost of that for ourselves. 

[00:31:15] Katie Soo: Yeah. That’s such a great question. And so timely on so many levels. I think a lot of it, for myself, I love meditation. I practice it a lot. You quiet a lot of thoughts and noises, and you always just have to remember that you can only give as much as you can. But your goal is never to deplete yourself because you’re in a marathon, not a sprint, right?

 You want to actually continue contributing and giving for a very long time, across many efforts and initiatives that matter to you. And if you just burn out fast, it’s not beneficial to anyone. And listen, there were moments in my career and in personal life where that was hard. I remember when, the rise in, Black Lives Matter, as well as this Stop Asian Hate was happening.

 It was very traumatizing, not just to our communities, but for a lot of people like us, and even like Asian Hustle Network, a lot of times you feel you’re on the front lines, you have to lean in and support each other, and bring on the power of unification, and because only then can you drive positive change?

But the thing that people forget is we are also human. We are experiencing the trauma and thousands of, years of legacy weighted on our shoulders, and heritage, and culture. And that is a lot to unpack. I remember during that period of time, I was sitting in a lot of leadership rooms, both in work and also personal because of all the organizations and foundations I’m a part of.

And, sometimes we just gave each other grace,and we would just listen to each other’s stories, and was present for each other because a lot of times, you cannot find a solution if you don’t first take care of yourself., And there is no one size fits all solution, right? This is going to be all of us on this podcast, our life’s work.

And I actually think knowing that in giving yourself this space, and the time every day, every week to just focus on your own personal needs is critical. I would probably say that was something I learned a little bit later in life. I wish I learned it a little bit earlier. I think a lot about my grandparents. I love my grandparents. They confronted war at a very difficult time. They walked to find freedom and because of the choices they made. I got to grow up in a society where I had the choice of choice. So shame on me if I don’t take care of myself, and that I don’t give back, and that I don’t take the work that they had done so that I could be here today, sitting with the both of you talking about this.

That if I didn’t take care of that, and I didn’t put myself at least in the mix of how is Katie doing today? Is she gonna be okay? Is she going to be able to address all of these topics or should she just pull back, and give herself some space? I think that’s perfectly fine. And by the way, in the world of social media, you’re always giving you were constantly on. And my advice is don’t have fear of turning off. It’s extremely healthy. You just have to do it at the times that you need it. And don’t wait too long. Give yourself some sort of usual cadence that you always say, once a week, this is my time. Pick that one hobby. That one thing that brings you joy, that nothing else can and just do it because who’s gonna say no.

[00:34:40] Maggie Chui: Absolutely. I love that. I agree with everything you said. I think a lot of Asian leaders, during the pandemic, and during the rise of Anti-Asian Hate, I think a lot of us felt we were being at the forefront, and it can get really exhausting, it can get daunting. I think we often forget that we’re just all human. We’re very similar, therapists have their own therapists, coaches have their own coaches. And we all have to remember that we all need someone. And you have to fill your own cup before you’re able to fill other people’s cups. 

[00:35:05] Katie Soo: Absolutely. Absolutely. 

[00:35:07] Maggie Chui: So Katie. Talk to us about KiwiCo, we love to switch gears and hear what you’re working on at Kiwi Co and what your vision is for the company. We know that your CMO there and just really excited to learn more about what you’re doing at kiwi Co. 

[00:35:23] Katie Soo: That’s such a great question. I’m so happy you asked it, because everything that we’ve talked about led me to taking this opportunity at Kiwi Co, being at the center of shaping people’s, perception of storytelling, and how they experience content films, and TV shows was so incredibly rewarding.

And I look back on those points of my career with nothing but pride, but now I get to wake up every day, and work in learning and development, helping kids find creative confidence so that they can be the tinkerers and innovators of the future. 

[00:36:01] Maggie Chui: That’s incredible. You wanna talk about a mission driven purpose driven career.

[00:36:05] Katie Soo: This was what I was seeking, right? It’s kids and family entertainment. It’s investing in those things. And I’ll use this example, because I was just talking to a friend about this. I remember launching DC universe in San Diego Comic Con, and having such an incredible time, building these universes, and then having a bunch of fans come through and experience it for the first time, and just the bewilderment of them going through swamp thing or walking through a living comic book.

It was just so cool to see that all come to life. Juxtaposed now with watching kids learn, play, create, and build these steam learning kids and crates, and like looking at, if I’m gonna build a mechanical hand or if I’m gonna figure out the science of ice cream or. Or how I develop these motor functions and the minute it clicks the spark and joy that you see in a child’s eyes.

There’s really nothing like it. There’s nothing. And I think that probably is what brought me here because I knew that I could make a greater impact by doing something that could positively affect the next generation to help. Rethink the way we look at education to rethink the way we learn, especially in a world that is so inundated with all the things that we just talked about.

How do you prepare a child to face the things that the three of us have faced? And how do you prepare a child to think strategically and to dream bigger and to just pursue the things that perhaps when we were younger, we were afraid to, because we didn’t have that confidence. The way I think about it is this in terms of the vision, you could think about it as, if a seven-year-old wants to be a founder and they wanna change the world, they should absolutely do that. There is no reason that they shouldn’t pursue it and that there is no reason that we should stop that from happening because that creative confidence could enable that child to become an inventor, an innovator of the future and build something that could change the world.

And that is a very noble mission that I would probably spend a lot of my life doing. Versus anything else I’ve ever worked on because that could actually have a material impact on the way we, as we get older experience the world around us. And that’s just super exciting. That 

[00:38:34] Bryan Pham: Sounds amazing. I don’t know this entire podcast, I feel we’re so aligned with certain things, especially this, because my team knows this. It’s funny too, that I obsessively talk about the future all the time. I keep on saying we need to have half our team younger because we need to prepare for the future, and really understand the generational differences and bridge the generations.

And here you are talking about developing the bright mindset tomorrow, because honestly in Asian culture you get told, know a lot and your options are very limited in what you can or cannot do. And nowadays, I feel you are the one and we are the ones working together to break through that barrier.

And it’s so refreshing to hear this right, because we don’t talk about the future generation enough in the bright minds of tomorrow. We always think about ourselves. Tomorrow, if we don’t think about we think about ourselves in the past a lot, but you don’t think much about tomorrow and that’s really refreshing for me to hear.


[00:39:23] Katie Soo: That’s the most important thing, actually, Bryan, I think you would be a huge fan of our Eureka line and you should check it out because it’s just building, it’s just tinkering and tactile hands-on experiences. And t hey’re rooted in Math , learning, engineering, and Science.

That’s so cool. When I was younger, I was told, the best thing that could happen was to go to college, get a degree, get a good job and stay in that job for a long time. And now no, don’t do that. Go dream big, go change the world. 

[00:39:54] Bryan Pham: Yeah. I completely understand.

[00:39:59] Maggie Chui: So Katie, we have one last question for you, and that is if you could give an advice to the next generation of leaders or a young woman entrepreneur, what would that one advice be?

[00:40:17] Katie Soo: That is always such a tough question, Maggie, because every entrepreneur, and every single person, and what they’re facing is so different. If I could give one singular piece of advice, I would say, be fearless, pursue the thing that you love. And that brings you joy and fulfillment, because if you don’t. You will not be happy and you will spend your life trying to fill that void with everything else.

And so don’t have fear of wanting to do what it is that you love, have the courage to go and pursue it so that other people may look up to you and realize that it’s actually okay for them to do too. 

[00:40:59] Maggie Chui: Love it. I just got chills hearing that. Thank you so much, Katie. And for our listeners, where can they find out more about you online?

[00:41:09] Katie Soo: Oh my gosh. I mean your typical maybe LinkedIn Instagram. Find me email me. Sometimes I can be slow to respond, but I’m always happy to connect people and support, our community as well as anybody else is just looking for guidance. And if I can’t do it, I will always find a way to connect you with somebody who can help.

[00:41:29] Maggie Chui: Amazing. Thank you so much, Katie. It was is amazing having you on our podcast today. Thank you for sharing your story with us. 

[00:41:36] Katie Soo: Thank you for having me. I think the work you both are doing are incredible and good for you, Bryan, for changing that room. I’m so proud and I’m so happy to be a part of your podcast and your journey.

[00:41:47] Bryan Pham: Aw, you’re so sweet. Thank you so much, Katie. You’re a complete badass. We’re so happy to have you in the show today. 

[00:41:54] Katie Soo: Thank you.