Reflections on Aside 15, May 2017

Challenges, Failures, Success… Is it possible to ever have one without the other? What do these words mean to different people? There are thousands of quotes on the internet from Sages, Scholars and other well-known people about this very thing.

Aside15 April 29 2017

When we see famous or successful people, we may think, “They’re so smart” or “They’re so lucky” or “Their life is so easy”. We don’t spend much time thinking about embarrassing flops, setbacks or changes of direction they might have experienced getting to where they are.

The theme of our last Aside 15 was Nightmare Challenges. Each of our 3 speakers had different areas of expertise, interests and life experiences. They shared with us their vulnerabilities, challenges and how they moved forward despite of them.

Starting the night off was Jet Wu 吳彥杰. In 2012, he started WeTogetherStudio 共玩創作, the first Stop-Motion Animation Company in Taiwan for TV and Advertisement. His team’s soon work won recognition and awards in many domestic and international film festivals. But life isn’t always so smooth. Jet talked about how changes in the economy/industry forced him to make difficult business decisions that did not align with ideals of his team. He shared the pain of how they left one by one and also how he got so badly conned by a businessman in Hong Kong. It was at one of his lowest points when he realized letting go of his ego was crucial to moving forward in providing for his family. His idea to incorporate education into his work is now finally reaping rewards. His company provides workshops for amateurs, children and retirees. He also distributes animation production software & curriculum to Taiwan’s educational institutions.

Faye Angevine, successful businesswoman and purveyor of fine antiques, was our next speaker. In fact, the lovely antiques that grace Red Room space are from her Bai Wen Collections. Having lived in Taiwan for more than 40 years, she’s had more than her share of ups and downs especially while doing business in China. Faye spoke about challenges related to 2 of her passions – antiques and animals. She shared a light hearted version of the nightmarish tour she had during an antique sourcing trip with the “Housewife Sallys”. Taking a group of western women into less civilized areas of China was wrought with incidents – which prompted a promise to herself never to do it again. Due to her love of animals, Faye has generously adopted and rescued many, many dogs over the years. Trying to create more awareness and compassion toward animals, getting Government regulations changed and raising funds to support animal welfare continues to be an uphill battle.

Everyone took a short break and got to sample Chef Zoe’s amazing offerings of fresh vegetarian bites. Citrus Herbs & Greens, Pumpkin Kaddo Bourani and Roasted Sweet Chili with Chocolate were both artistic and delicious.

Stephen Rong 榮忠豪 was the last speaker and rounded out our night. Starting with a serious health challenge during his teens to overcoming his mom’s objections about his decision to move to Taiwan and pursue a singing career in 2009, Stephen really impressed on me his motto of “Never give up”. Even when he was told he couldn’t sing, he wasn’t good looking enough and he’d never make it, Stephen continued to pursue his dream. At one point, he had only NT$500 left in his pocket after some he trusted stole all his money. He failed in winning singing competitions in Taiwan and Hong Kong; as a travel host, he was once abandoned in Malaysia with only $10 for food and there were many other nightmare examples in his life. After all these pitfalls, he picked himself back up, learned from his experiences and worked hard at improving himself in every way that he could. Stephen is finally living his dream. He has been in several commercials, film and stage productions; hosted TV shows and recently held his own concert.

As was shared during the evening, life is not always easy, it comes with twists and turns and bumps on the road. It’s wise to remember is that each challenge is a learning experience. Life can be quite amazing if you believe in yourself and persevere. It has certainly made me think about my life!

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” ~馬雲 Jack Ma

by Sharon Landon on ASIDE 15

29 April 2016, Aside 15 @ the Red Room

This Halloween, get your “trick or treat” fix at Red Room’s Aside 15.

The theme for this upcoming Aside….Nightmare failures. Have you ever noticed that the best success stories often begin with failure? Why are those embarrassing flops, setbacks or radical changes of direction seem like the “required” first steps on the road to fame and fortune?

Here are some examples of famous “Nightmare Failures”:

Stephen King‘s first horror novel Carrie was rejected 30 times and thrown in the trash before becoming the prelude to hundreds of successful published books.

Ang Lee failed Taiwan’s college entrance exams – twice. He tried to go to acting school, but they said his English wasn’t good enough. Unemployed for 6 years living off of his wife’s salary, he had a bank balance of US $26 at the birth of their second child.

Thomas Edison was told he was “too stupid to learn anything” and it was only after 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing a light bulb that he finally succeeded.

Jack Ma failed his exit exams several times in elementary & middle school; failed college entrance exams 3 times; applied to Harvard 10 times and was rejected every time. Out of 24 people who applied for KFC when they entered China, he was the only one rejected. Out of 5 people who applied for a job on the police force, he was the only one rejected. His first 2 business ventures failed and then came Alibaba …zero revenue for the first 3 years.

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.”

~ Jack Ma

Come join Red Room on Saturday, October 29, 2016 as three of Taiwan’s own share their horror stories of personal and/or business failures. Listen to how they handled and overcame multiple obstacles to be where they are today. Be inspired if you happen to be facing insurmountable challenges in your life. RSVP here.

“I’ve had dreams and I’ve had nightmares. I conquered the nightmares because of my dreams”.

~ Jonas Salk

By Sharon Landon

Photos from Aside 14 can be viewed here:

Aside 14 August 13 2016

Meet our partners: Bai Win Antiques

faye-baiwin-2I am sitting at a small table in Bai Win Antiques situated next to a stately bed overflowing with wrapped Christmas wreaths. Faye Angevine, recovering from surgery, sits across from me in a wheelchair; throughout the interview she rolls back and forth ceaselessly, still not accustomed to holding still. At one point she pauses and looks back at a couple inspecting a recreation of a Taiwanese kitchen. “Do you need help?” She asks them. “I’m being interviewed believe it or not. It doesn’t look like it, I’m eating a sandwich, but I am.”  She is a busy woman. In addition to running Bai Win Antiques, she dedicates a great deal of time to issues she cares about.

Bai Win primarily sells antiques and recreations, but Ms. Angevine also owns a series of small connected rooms packed with clothes, jewelry and art.  “I’m not into clothes,” she confessed to me. “So I had to open the showroom for a purpose.” Consequently, all or most of the money made from sales in the showroom go to a cause. Scattered around the room are demonstrations of her many passions: here information on an animal sanctuary, there jewelry made by women survivors of abuse. On one black table sits a plaque with information on the Red Room.

If you’ve been to the Red Room in recent months, you’ve probably found yourself lounging on the pillow covered dynasty bed, or plucked a book from its shelves. You’ve probably also wandered to the back of the room from time to time, to scoop up a delicious snack from the wooden table with splayed legs. What you may not have realized is both pieces come from Bai Win Antiques, one of the oldest antique stores in Taiwan. Naturally, all the pieces featured in the Red Room from Bai Win are either Taiwanese antiques or recreations and, according to Faye, are a unique and display of Taiwanese culture and skill.

So how does a purveyor of Taiwanese and Chinese antiques come to be involved with a community like the Red Room? “Roma Mehta!” she tells me when I ask her, throwing her hand up in the air with flourish. Roma, she said, had always been there to support her and her passions, and she felt she needed to support Roma’s. When she heard Roma speak about Red Room, she showed up. There she discovered a community which allows “artists to come and perform and create” and quickly concluded it was an “important”, and even necessary, part of society. She’s continued to attend Red Room events over the last half decade.

“Red Room kind of reminds me of my hippie days in the 60s– 60s and 70s,” she laughs before launching to an account of meeting other hitchhikers, playing music, and talking while traveling through Europe. “Wild times, I’m telling ya,” she pauses and looks away, a nostalgic grin on her face. “The Red Room actually reminds me of that era, that period of my life.” I ask her if she has a favorite memory of a Red Room event and she quickly launches into the story of an adventurer she’d once brought to a Red Room event:  “He was in World War II [and], I mean, he invaded Mussolini’s mother’s village. [Now] he had tales to tell.”

Half a decade has afforded her a lot of time to explore the different facets of Red Room and she’s developed a taste for certain Red Room events, particularly StageTime & Juice, for the community’s creativity and enthusiasm; and Aside@TheRedRoom for the polish curated events offer. Faye has been present at many Red Room events, but she’s never been a watcher. So, when Red Room moved to a new space, she gladly provided furniture for Red Room to use and showcase.

Like many others Red Room, for her, is so much more than a space. The Red Room community accepts other communities, Faye declares, and that’s why she plans on joining the Red Room in organizing future events dedicated to animals (another one of her passions). Ultimately, for Faye, most things worth pursuing contribute to the community around them and Red Room does exactly that.

As for the pieces at the Red Room, all of the antiques currently at the Red Room are available for purchase, and she’s assured me that all of them can easily be replaced lest we miss them. If you’d like to hear the story behind the wonderful antiques showcased at the Red Room, or about Faye’s work as a dog rescuer, please visit Bai Win Antiques in Taipei’s Shilin District!