Welcome to a brand new episode of the ¿Quién Tú Eres? podcast, where we explore the conflict we often face between "professionalism" & being our authentic selves.
In this episode, we invited Eric Toda, an award-winning Marketing Executive who currently works at Meta as the Head of Meta Prosper & Global Head of Social Marketing, and who is also on the boards of the Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Center, The Asian American Foundation, and Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change.
While Eric does not self-identify as a Latino, we thought it was important to bring stories such as his forward because our Latino community is just one of the many marginalized communities fighting to break stereotypes, biases, and misconceptions. And by listening to stories from similar communities, we can build empathy that brings us all together and feel inspired to be more of our authentic selves.
So in this conversation, we dive into some of Eric’s stories as an Asian American. We learn about the types of aggressions he experienced, what it was like for him in the workplace for the first couple of years, and how he found the courage to speak up and stand for himself and his community.
These are some of the episode highlights:
“I had relatives telling me that in order to survive in tech you can't look a white superior in the eyes, you gotta keep your head down and work hard.” -Eric Toda
Telling this to Eric was meant to serve as advice because these were the survival tactics his relatives learned. But while we can remain grateful for our older relatives and ancestors who had to survive for us to sit here, we now know it is no longer necessary to follow their same survival tactics.
Today, we live in a different world where we have bigger platforms and we don’t need to survive anymore. A world where, if we choose to do so, we can be our authentic selves and thrive.
“I felt like I had to assimilate and chase a version of me that will be more accepted.” -Eric Toda
When we first enter the corporate world, many of us are hungry for opportunities to grow, and it can be nerve-wracking to speak up in a place where no one else looks like us, and where everyone is predominantly white. So to not lose opportunities or have anything against us, we assimilate and become a version of ourselves that would be more accepted.
This experience is how it was for Eric at first. But some years later, when he was 27 years old, he discovered that being his authentic self, his sports lover self, was the thing that would start to unlock many big opportunities for him.
“When I speak out, I know why I'm doing it and that it's going to unlock more people to do the same thing.” -Eric Toda
Speaking out for Eric didn’t come easy. He knew he was entering a burning building. But despite his fears, he knew it was necessary to speak out about the violence against the Asian American community and the injustices in the marketing and advertising industry, where about only 15% is represented by Black, Latinx, and Asian communities.
And even though we’ve made progress, there is more to be done and more light to be shed, so Eric chose to be one of the people running into the fire to bring more awareness and inspire action. And he does this because he wants to fight for his kids and create a better future for them, and he wants to fight for his community as a whole and be the fighter he didn’t have growing up.
Eric’s courage to speak out inspires us to stand up for our communities. Listen to this episode to learn more:
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