Apr 15, 2019
This week on Creativity School, I’m talking to self proclaimed troublemaker Simon Tam, founder and bassist of the first Asian American dance rock band The Slants, author, TEDx speaker, podcaster, and the David that went up against the Goliath that is the US government in a fight for freedom of speech.
Simon is a strong believer in creating work from your values and making the things you want to see in the world, in order to make an impact and create positive change. In this episode we talk about why he is committed to making the work he does, even when it puts him on a difficult path, and how he overcame incredible obstacles in the music industry that discriminated against his band simply for being Asian American.
Simon and his band have extensively been in the news because of his 8 year lawsuit against the US Patent and Trademark Office over the right to use the name The Slants (the USPTO argued it was racist), and we discuss what happened when his landmark case went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2017. (Spoiler alert - they won!)
We talk about making work that you know you have to make, despite the odds, despite the rejection, despite people not believing in you, and despite having to fight giants like the US government. Simon offers so much wisdom about why overcoming all those obstacles was worth the fight.
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Mentioned in this episode:
How to take action on the things that you want to do
How Simon learned survival instincts – perseverance and persistence – from watching his immigrant parents
How he finds the time for all his creative pursuits and juggles them all
His advice on how to create connection with people and get them interested in the work you create
Why he started the first Asian American dance rock band and why he chose the name The Slants as an act of reappropriation
How he deals with rejection
Why it’s important to embrace who you are and not let anyone stop you
Living in alignment with what you believe is right
How starting your creativity journey can lead you to unexpected places
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