Hello, my name is Gar Au, and I graduated from an amazing EDI class in 2014. I currently work at Boeing as one of the lead design engineers for the 787-10 Flight Test 1 and 2 Linings Commodity.
My friends and I have worked on developing a board game titled Betabotz for the better part of the past two years. We are finally ready to launch our Kickstarter campaign on May 10th, 2016.
My current entrepreneurial interest and ambition largely stemmed from a very special panel during one of my EDI classes. I was highly inspired and motivated by many of the speakers, including Chee Chew, who at the time held the position of Vice President of Engineering for Google. I stayed in contact and sought career advice from Mr. Chew subsequent to the panels, and one quote in particular deeply impacted and stuck with me: “follow the intersection of what you are great at and what you love”. Following Mr. Chew’s advice, after some self-reflection and long discussions with those who know me best, I decided to pursue tabletop game development.
We started the game development process by interviewing the gaming community and identifying what others look for in a tabletop game. We anchored the gameplay to the most consistent answer we received: easy to learn, hard to master. Through countless play testing, social events, and development sessions, I led a team of nine friends through the entirety of the gameplay development phase. In addition to the mechanical gameplay aspect, we found an amazing artist at a gaming convention in Columbus last June, and have collaborated with her on the card illustrations since.
Developing a game and owning my first company (Zagar Games LLC) certainly presents many challenges and bumps in the road. Capital constraint is one of the toughest hurdles to overcome, as we have no prior published games to support our current development. We chose crowdfunding, specifically Kickstarter, both as an avenue to raise the capital and as a way to showcase our game to the public. Similar to capital constraints, as first time developers, product marketing also presented inherent difficulties. From our research within the gaming community, we realized that word of mouth is often the most time consuming, but most effective way to market new products. As such, in collaboration with our friends in different geographic regions, we hosted numerous Betabotz events in gaming stores and conventions across the country to put our product on the map. Though we have received amazing feedback from nearly everyone who played our game, we still need to reach additional potential backers and supporters to ensure that we reach our Kickstarter goal and ultimately use the funds to complete gaming production.
Our Kickstarter will launch on May 10th and run through June 22nd. Please help introduce our game to your friends and family who love board games, or just want to try something new and interactive. Crowd funding is still a bit unfamiliar and even a bit uncomfortable to me, but every backer is valued and needed to help us achieve our dream of owning and developing our own game. If you would like and are interested to learn more, I would gladly come and demonstrate the game for you as well. The following link directs to a preview of our current Kickstarter page!
Finally, I would like to thank EDI for such an amazing experience and for helping me find my passion. Regardless of whether our venture succeeds, I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had and appreciate all the support I’ve received from EDI.
I was fortunate to select positions throughout my career that highlighted my communications degree from the University of Washington. I started working at KOMO TV/Radio immediately after college. Then I continued my media career at KJR Radio and lastly, I worked at Clear Channel Outdoor. In each role, I gained strength in techniques and developed my self-esteem every level. I was extremely shy so I had to find ways where I could comfortably find myself breaking down this negative barrier. I knew that this was not a great leadership skill. So, I decided to work on networking. I loved being with people and found strength in networking where I was confident in interacting with others.
After my extensive years in the media/communications field, I have decided to move into the healthcare field. I am currently the Regional Director for Multicultural Initiatives at the American Heart Association. I work with organizations with a goal to improve cardiovascular health of all Americans and decrease deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020.
My duties will include working with high risk communities by focusing in the areas of hypertension, nutrition, obesity and physical activity. In addition, I will work on health equity strategies that focus on development, advocacy and marketing/communications opportunities. My role will include serving as internal consultant to the region/territory on all diversity-related initiatives. The emphasis will be on diverse communities.
Throughout my career, I had high expectations in my performance, which led to the development of strong ethics and leadership skills that came along the way. However, I had failures along the way and they helped me realize how I can make or do things better.
In my earlier years, I was fortunate to meet a wonderful mentor that portrayed the charisma in great leadership. He knew how to communicate and network with people. I would watch him meet people in a room, and he was great in displaying leadership skills that I wanted to adapt to my personality. He allowed people to show or work on their leadership skills. That person was EDI’s founder – Ted Yamamura. I joined the former NAAAP (previously known as Asian Management Business Association). Ted helped me to grow and develop my leadership skills, and always made me feel like I could be a leader in anything I did. When he started the EDI program in 1994, I volunteered my time with him in developing the program that has cultivated so many emerging diverse leaders since then.
Ted always surrounded himself with wonderful leaders on his team. In this respect, I also made sure that I surrounded myself with people who I appreciated and admired. Ted taught me to not hesitate to ask for help or ask for referral.
When I went through the EDI program in 1996, I was very fortunate to have many people who helped/mentored/inspired me along the way. Even now, I am always inspired by my alum family. I looked up to my EDI alums that includes many friends: Char Grinolds, Vanna Novak, Mae Numata, Marci Nakano, Tommy Leong, Marie Chow, Darryl Hue, Dom Amor and Ador Yano. In addition, I had my wonderful family and boyfriend who always supported me in both my professional and personal life.
The most inspiring person to me is my young mentee, Julie Pham, who I decided to mentor many years ago. She has since become a graduate of EDI in 2010. Julie wanted advice on how to succeed and network with community leaders. I helped, guided, and inspired her along the way, but I think I was inspired by her. I watched as she worked hard on whatever she wanted to accomplish. However, I was the lucky one since as the mentee, she really helped her mentor. When I needed help to start a LinkedIn profile, she did not hesitate to help me. When I sought assistance on finding my next career path, she was sending me referrals and providing inspiration to me. As a mentor, this is the proudest moment because I am thankful that I was able to inspire and help her to succeed in whatever ways I could. Julie was there when I needed guidance and social media assistance. To this date, we are still both helping each other professionally and personally.
My advice for others is to ALWAYS think positive and surround yourself with good friends who can help inspire, mentor or help you when times are difficult. Remember that it is a two way street – you need to return the favor.
Also, network, network… and work on networking early than later. When I made my career switch to the non-profit sector, my networking techniques really helped me to find my position. I asked for help among my colleges so I could discover my next passion, which is now at the American Heart Association.
It's also important to find or discover a non-profit organization where you can be passionate about. The EDI program gives you an opportunity to work with a non-profit organization for your team project. I find that volunteering at non-profits will often strengthen your potential leadership skills.
I am always motivated when I can mentor inspiring fellow Asian Pacific Islanders. I want to share what I've learned with people who need help developing their leadership skills!