mar 30, 2024

Vivian Shimoyama

Vivian Shimoyama is the founder, CEO of Shimoyama Enterprise – a recognized thought leader advocating for small businesses and economic development with a focus on economic inclusion. She is a celebrated and renowned glass fusion artist, promoting advancement of women and people of color.

Episode Highlights

– Introduction (00:00 – 02:12): Nitin introduces Vivian Shimoyama, a thought leader on entrepreneurship and economic development, with a focus on equity.

– Early Life and Inspiration (02:12 – 05:30): Vivian discusses her upbringing, her parents’ influence on her work ethic, and her early experiences with entrepreneurship.

– Career Journey (05:30 – 09:45): Vivian shares her career journey, including her work at the U.S. Small Business Administration and the National Women’s Business Council, highlighting her focus on supporting small businesses.

– Equity and Economic Development (09:45 – 13:20): Vivian talks about the importance of equity in economic development and shares strategies for supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs.

– Promoting Small Businesses (13:20 – 17:40): Vivian discusses her work in promoting small businesses, including her involvement with the National Small Business Week and efforts to break down barriers for women and minority entrepreneurs.

– Key Achievements (17:40 – 20:15): Vivian shares some key achievements, including her work with the Small Business Administration and the National Women’s Business Council, and her advocacy for small businesses.

– Closing Thoughts (20:15 – 21:30): Vivian shares her final thoughts on entrepreneurship and economic development, emphasizing the importance of equity and inclusion.

– Conclusion (21:30 – 22:00): Nitin concludes the interview, thanking Vivian for sharing her insights and expertise.

– Statistics and Achievements Mentioned: Vivian’s work has impacted over 3.5 million small businesses, and she has received numerous awards for her advocacy and leadership in entrepreneurship and economic development.

Show Transcript

Transcript - Full Episode

[00:00:00] Nitin Bajaj: Hey everyone, welcome to the industry show.

[00:00:02] Nitin Bajaj: I’m your host, Nitin Bajaj, and joining me today is Vivian Shimoyama. 

[00:00:08] Vivian Shimoyama: Thank you so much for inviting me to join you today. And I’m looking forward to our conversation.

[00:00:13] Nitin Bajaj: Thank you. The pleasure is all ours, and I’m really looking forward to this. So let’s start with who is 

[00:00:19] Vivian Shimoyama: well, I will say to you that I’m a thought leader. A thought leader in economic development economic inclusion and small business advocacy. I. And then personally that was professionally kind of a bigger picture is someone once asked me, what do you think that is your superpower? And so, you know, I think personally as part of my superpower is, is I’m a giving spirit. I like to make a difference in other people’s lives. I’m a daughter, I’m a sister and a Auntie Viv to many.

[00:00:49] Nitin Bajaj: I love that Vivian, and looking forward to getting to know more of your superpowers here. Let’s start with what is Shimoyama Enterprises Give us a sense for the mission, the vision, and more importantly, as I like to ask, why do this?

[00:01:06] Vivian Shimoyama: Okay, great. So Shimoyama Enterprise has two sides to it. The vision is to advance women, girls, and people of color. And so that is really the main thrust of my life’s work. The other part is, is that is, you know, it does not only has a consulting side to it where we work in economic development, economic inclusion, as I mentioned to you, and advocacy for businesses. But it also is about making sure that we open up doors of opportunity, that we look at the full potential of every individual, getting them to realize that full potential. And then also being able to take it that next step where we are looking at the breaking of barriers. Making sure that people get to, we utilize the resources of each individual. So that’s on the consulting side. On the other side is we have this umbrella where I have a, I’m a glass artist and so I have a Shimoyama studio and I work with glass art. And I’ve designed, I’m the original, original creator of the glass ceiling. And what it does is the glass ceiling is this invisible barrier that. People bump up against in all walks of life. And so the pin was designed to encourage people, oh, I should have been wearing one of my pins. The pin was designed to encourage people to break barriers that there are no barriers out there, and to break barriers and not only for themselves, but for other people. And so I’ve been very focused over the years on glass ceiling and advancing women, girls, and people of color. So that’s the vision and the vision. And why do I do this? It’s because what I recognize, you know, I’ve been in the corporate world, I’ve done work in the public sector. What I’ve realized in working in many of these institutions is that we still have a ways to go. We have a ways to go to make sure that not only that we’re fully utilizing the potential of each individual, but that. There shouldn’t have to be these institutional barriers that people have to move around or breakthrough in order for them to be able to contribute in order for them to have opportunities. So, you know, my vision and objective is to remove those barriers.

[00:03:18] Nitin Bajaj: Vivian, thank you for doing what you do. It’s extremely important, and the notion of the glass ceiling is close to heart. As we all come here as immigrants more so even for women, the opportunities are limited. There is restrictions, and you’re right, the, the barriers still exist and we can and should be doing a lot more to remove them, to help people realize their potential. And it’s also smart as far as business is concerned because the more people realize their potential, it helps the economy. We are all more successful because of that. I also want to acknowledge the, the work you’re doing as a glass artist has been very well recognized, and I’ll invite you to brag a little bit about that. I mean, you’ve been felicitated and honored by many of folks including Madeline Albright, so maybe 

[00:04:16] Vivian Shimoyama: Okay, well, I, I’d be happy to do that. Is you know, over the years my pin I can say glass ceiling pin has graced the lapels of, you know, heads of state. And, you know, Madeline Albright is one of them, former Secretary of State. She wore the pin, not only when she, it was, would travel around the world. But it was, you know, as many people know, she wore pins to also be a symbol of what she was thinking about and how she was trying to communicate things. And so during that time, she also wrote a book and she, my pin was included in the book and it was also included in an exhibit that went around the country. It was called Weed, my Pins. And that PIN traveled not only was in its Smithsonian. It was here at the Bowers Museum in California, and it’s at many museums around the country. So the Penn has a life of its own, and it’s, it really is about this whole idea of how do you get people to recognize that, you know, there are these invisible barriers, one, but let’s find ways that we can break these barriers. Let’s find ways to communicate to people that, you know, they can’t have their own breakthroughs in their lives. Right. And that that’s what this pin is a symbol of. And, and then recently I was asked by the, the institute, there’s an, an institute that’s just been named after Marilyn Albright. It’s for global women leaders. I was asked to do a special edition piece for them. And so there were 80 women global leaders young women leaders around the world who now have these special edition pieces. And since I was commissioned to do that, I will be doing that for the years moving forward. So the pins moving around the world as it always has been.

[00:05:57] Nitin Bajaj: That is so amazing. Again, congratulations and thank you for doing this because it is important. So really, really happy for you. Now, let’s talk about, you know, in the work you do in helping others, but also as an entrepreneur yourself, what’s the one big challenge you face?

[00:06:20] Vivian Shimoyama: Okay. So you know what’s interesting is I think the one big challenge that I face is that. There’s so many times when we walk through life and we think this is the way it is, and that’s what we call that institutional racism or that institutional way that people are held back, right? Is that’s the way that this is. And so what I find the biggest challenges. Is getting people to really think beyond that. Getting them to think beyond not just wanting to be the first, you know, the first African American person that did this, the first Asian American that did this. But to go beyond that and think about how we can get many people, I. To be able to progress and move forward. And we’re not speaking in terms of the first anymore. I wanna honor those people who are the first, but then I also know that the challenges, the big challenges is getting us to multiply our efforts. And one of the ways that I, I. Believe we could do that is, is if each person every day really thought of not only identifying where barriers are, especially it, it could be in their industry, it can be in the work that they can do, it could be in something that they see for their daughter or their son. I. And try to do one thing that they feel would chip away or break through those barriers. And so, you know, it is more about people recognizing that, you know, just because it’s always been this way does not mean it has to be that way moving forward. And so I, I’d like to see more people, recognizing and doing something about breaking these invisible barriers. So that’s the biggest challenge I think that I face, is because, you know, having a vision like that means you need people to almost take a huge new look at the way that they’re doing things and a new look, new look at the way that they might be able to contribute each person, whatever effort that they make. We’ll make a difference. So that’s my biggest challenge. I, the other thing is, is that is, you know, we met through, I’m gonna give you one specific example. We met through a summit that we had for the Long Beach Accelerator and. One of the things I would say, so giving an example on the institutional side is, is what I’m sharing the Long Beach Accelerator. What we’re trying to do is get more diverse founders to be able to get access to investor funding as well as access to resources and education. And so one of the challenges that I’m finding is, is that because institutionally it has always been a more focus, which it should be on return on investment, is some of that return on investment is not inclusive. I. Of women and people of color. And so what the challenge I’m saying to you now is, is that, you know, we have to find more ways to engage not only investors, but resources that can help these accelerators in our community to recognize return on investment does be mean, being inclusive of diverse founders. And it also means making that investment in these diverse founders. ’cause when we do that, we help to create jobs in our community. We help to retain jobs in our community. And we also. Make their put a link in for generational wealth and you know, those are the kinds of things that we wanna see for the long term. This is not a short term fix, it’s more of a long term fix. So those are the challenges. 

[00:09:43] Nitin Bajaj: Big challenges, but I’m glad they have big shoulders to pick on.

[00:09:48] Vivian Shimoyama: Oh, thank you. Vivian, on the flip side of challenges come opportunities, what’s the more, one most exciting one that you’re looking  Oh, okay. Well, you know, I have several opportunities that are on the horizon for me. I’ll tell you about two, only because one of them is, is, you know, just like you are having an opportunity to meet with various leaders, to talk with them, to be able to present something that’s more in a 24 7, 24 hours day, seven days a week. Format is last year I started doing interviewing of individuals. So I could do a podcast. It’ll be breakthroughs to no glass ceilings. You see, it’s the same thing. And it’s not only been individuals who I have known and done work with over the years who’ve done groundbreaking work. And breaking these barriers, but also getting them to share their vision so that others can see, you know, it takes these actions and it takes some steps. And so I will be launching my podcast in the fall of this year. What I’m finding for me personally right now is it’s more about the time, the focus of keep putting the time into that, that whole new endeavor, but also doing it over a long period of time. Because this will be a medium, a way to be able to, not so much have people tell their stories, but to link people up with resources. And also, I’m really, really hopeful that it will inspire, engage many leaders no matter what age, no matter what background walk of life they’re coming from to do what I was saying to you. Let’s do one thing each day. Let’s identify something that we can do. That will break these barriers. So that’s that, that side on the, on the, the personal side. And then also it’s interesting. I’ve been doing this work in economic development and economic inclusion. I will continue to do that work. I’m gonna be working with the city of Long Beach. I have been the vice chair of our City of Long Beach Economic Development Commission. So I’m looking at ways to help our city, move economic inclusion forward is impact. But also what I want to be doing is spending more time with my art in my studio. You and I have talked about some of the things that, you know, we feel good about and some of the things we’re passionate about. And, you know, I have somewhat, even though I’ve been able to create a whole line of jewelry and artwork around glass ceiling, is, is I have put some things on the back burner with. Some of the other causes and themes ’cause all of my glass artwork has causes behind them. So I have some, some new things that I’ve been designing around freedom and democracy. And then the other thing is, is about global unity around the world. And so those are some of the art lines that I want to move forward in this year. 

[00:12:36] Nitin Bajaj: We’re super excited to get to see some of them pretty soon. And congratulations on the upcoming podcast. Can’t wait to see what comes on that. And, you know, as we look forward, I wanna take a moment and look in the rear view mirror, and I’d love for you to share two moments with us. One where things did not work out as you had expected. It was a failure, maybe a lesson, and another one that blew your own expectations and became a success beyond your imagination. 

[00:13:07] Vivian Shimoyama: so, you know, it’s interesting because. I was asked to speak at a forum in New York and a woman asked me the same question, like, tell me about your, your failure and what, what did you do to move out of that? And I shared it and she said, she goes, well, that doesn’t seem like a failure. So, so sometimes, you know, we’re, we’re thinking about some, some things that we think right, our failure and it, it’s all our own perspective. And so what I wanna share with you more is being an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur. Let me just tell you, taught me, I. Not only about failure, but but also how to pick myself up very quickly. And it’s because there’s so many things I did wrong with my business and there’s so many things that I really impacted my life personally because you know, you’re working really hard at something and. All of a sudden something comes from another. You know, it’s, it, it, it’s something that’s unexpected. It happens to every entrepreneur. And so what you’re trying to do is, is you’re trying to pick yourself up from that failure. So I think to answer that question is, is that I have learned so much about myself personally. I have learned so much about how important resiliency is and how to figure out not just solutions, but how to pick myself up right away faster. Faster in order to get to that next step. And then the other thing I’ve learned from failure is, is that, you know, we have so many wonderful people in our lives and I. That there’s always support out there because I can’t tell you how many times, especially even in, in my business or personally, if I was willing to be vulnerable and share, have having some challenges here right away, the universe delivers someone who is there to be of support and help. And so so you know, that’s what I’ve learned from, from failure is, is that we’ve always got support out there. We’ve got to be able to. To reach out, reach out to people. And then the other side of the question that you had is maybe a story around success. Recognize success. Well, you know, I’m gonna bring it back to being an entrepreneur is, is, um, my hat is off to small business owners, entrepreneurs, startup tech confounders. Because when you’re in those shoes, you realize. That, you know, you have to surround yourself with other business owners because they will be the only ones who will realize why you stay up all night to do something or, or why, why you go to the Y degree, right? For the quality of something. I mean, they get it. Small business gift. But I’ll tell you what’s interesting is one of my accomplishments that I was in the midst of, and I didn’t realize how important it was, was I received an award from the, uS Small Business Administration and the US Congress, and it was the National Women in Business Advocate Award. And so I was very proud of it, but I was in the midst of something within my business, and so I thought, oh my gosh, I, you know, now, now I’ve gotta go to Washington dc. So I went out there to accept the award and they only recognized like one, one person for the Women in Business Advocate Award each year. Right. So I didn’t recognize the magnitude. I went out there, of course I accepted the award. But I was so busy thinking about everything going on in my business that I’m not sure that I really got a chance to. I. To be in the now of that moment. And so you know, I’m sharing this because I think whenever people get a recognition, you know, try to force yourself to be in the now and recognize the moment because that was really if you wanna say an accomplishment, it was. A recognition of the work I had been doing to advocate for other women in business. It was the work that I had been doing advocating for at the local level, state, national level for women owned businesses, women led companies to help them get more opportunities, access to funding contracting opportunities. Some of the things that, you know, we wanna see for companies that. Typically are not at the table, those kinds of things. And then also it was a recognition of the importance of continuing to do that work. So that’s why I consider that to be an accomplishment. 

[00:17:21] Nitin Bajaj: Well, first off, again, congratulations on that recognition, and two, you’re 100% right that we need to be in the moment, whether it’s success or something that did not work out in our favor, because if you’re not in the moment, you’re going to miss the. The accomplishments, the acknowledgement, the, the recognition. But also as you’re thinking through what did not work out, it’s not going to really allow you to take what you need to learn from that and go on to achieve newer heights. So very important to think about that now as we. Get ready to get onto the next part of the show. I wanna ask you, what do you do for fun to de-stress to detox? 

[00:18:09] Vivian Shimoyama: I, I do these interviews with you. That’s what fun, fun for me. That’s one I, the other, the other part is, is, you know, I’m a person who likes I I garden. I, I love plants. I mean, I love plants. So whether it be indoor plants, I garden, you know, I like to cook. Not bake. I’m trying to ba be a better baker, but I love, love to cook and so I like to have people over entertain. And part of that, having people over entertaining is also about the conversations, right? I like to be with family. I like to be with friends.  That’s fun for me. And many of the conversations, whether it be anything around what’s going on in today’s world or, if it’s the right group, it could be politics these days. You know, it, it depends. Sometimes it used to be you could talk about politics with all people, and now sometimes it doesn’t work that way. But I, I like to make sure that what we’re do, what I’m doing when we are together is is we’re thinking about how. Things are impacting us, whether it be in our neighborhood or our world, and how we can make the world a better place. That, that, that’s fun to me. And then the other part, as I mentioned before is, is working in my art studio, , just working with the glass, working with that medium. There’s other ways that I’ve been doing some with multiple mediums. And it’s just the artistic side of design of color and really being able to be creative. You know, it’s a whole nother side of our brain that we use when we’re creative. And so I love working in my studio. That’s fun to me.

[00:19:39] Nitin Bajaj: It sounds like a lot of fun. So now onto my favorite part of the show, Vivian, I would love for you to share a few of your life lessons.

[00:19:50] Vivian Shimoyama: Okay, that’s, that sounds good. So a few of my life lessons are be kind to others. And I’ve found that throughout life is people have been kind to me and they’ve shown me consideration and they have helped me, supported me, mentored me, and so I’ve always felt like we never know what somebody’s going through on a particular day, at a particular moment. So I’d like to, I’d like for people to think about that and be kind to others. We talked about resiliency and perseverance. I think I’ve shared my Japanese proverbs seven times. I fall eight times I get up. But I would say to people is really push yourself to get up really quickly because the faster we do that, and I’m just saying this from learning this, the faster we do that, the closer we get to other solutions. And so pick yourself up, dust yourself off and. Go at it again. Okay. I have always been a good listener and I learned that from my father. So I think good listeners win all the time. And the reason why I say that is because, you know, when you’re listening to the thoughts, the thoughts of other, the voices of others giving them the time, the the, the air to be able to. To voice, whether it be an opinion or an idea or thought. We we’re learning, we’re learning from other people. And also it’s a way to build a relationship because. I know we know about ourselves already. It’s about knowing about other people. And so good. I believe a good listener wins all the time. And then I’ll give you one more and it’s, I would say go take action is, you know, there’s so many times when we have good thoughts about something, and I say this to people who wanna start a business who are entrepreneurs. And we can either get into that point where we’re in analysis, planning, whatever that is, that’s kind of holding us back from really making things happen. And I’ve just found that we get to a certain time where I tell people, you know, why don’t you go and share this and verbalize it with someone? ’cause when you verbalize something, then you. Are committed to doing it. And so I would say go and take action because I have found, you know, I’m a very action oriented person. Yeah. I do the analysis, I do the planning, but when I get to the place where yes, it needs to be done is I’ll figure out every way to get it done. And so go and take action because those actions. They immeasurably change your life. You surround yourself with people who you may not have met. You are working towards something that even if you decide, Hey, you know what I’m gonna shelf that don’t quite wanna be doing that, that you tried. And so I, I think that going and take action says a lot about commitment and people.

[00:22:40] Nitin Bajaj: Vivian, thank you. You. I agree 100% with each of those lessons, and thank you also for taking the time to share your journey, your story with us. Thank you again for being you, for helping people realize their best version. And for doing what you do to help uplift the economy, our local community, and for being such a wonderful person. And I agree with you that we should do more of these because we laugh so much and then we talk a little bit. So thank you 

[00:23:16] Vivian Shimoyama: And, I wanna thank you very much. Thanks for inviting me to be on your show. Thanks for the work that you are doing in the community. And also I am looking forward to, you know, hearing more about and not, and visiting more, you know, your shows, the Industry show to make sure that you know, internationally, globally, people get access to this information. So thank you for leading and doing the show.


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