Simon Tam: Entrepreneur, Author, Musician, Activist, & Troublemaker

Simon Tam Highlights

Simon Tam Highlights

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My Native Admission Statement: I’m a self-proclaimed artist, activist, author, and troublemaker who likes to shake things up with unconventional conversations fueled by compassion. I’m known for starting the world’s first and only all-Asian American dance rock band, winning a landmark case at the U.S Supreme Court, having the world record for most number of TEDx talks, being a serial entrepreneur, and relentlessly fighting for marginalized communities. I believe all of our actions should be grounded in our values and that apathy is not compatible with love. My biggest success so far is inspiring another generation of Asian American artists and activists through my work. Also, getting shout-outs from Ruth Bader Ginsburg. My aspiration is to never be complacent in the face of injustice. I would be honored to be able to continue doing the work that I do.

How did you get into the industry?

I first stepped into the worlds of involved with arts and activism when I made the decision to start The Slants, an Asian American band that would provide a bold portrayal of our community’s culture. Little did I know that this would resonate with so many others. That got me involved with numerous organizations which taught me about public policy development, social justice, and grassroots community activism. That eventually put me on the path to the Supreme Court, to fight for civil rights and civil liberties. Running a band is also like running a startup: you have to find your target audience, raise capital, build a brand, find distribution, and so on, so it was also a great lesson in entrepreneurship as well. I leveraged that experience to start multiple other businesses, both in and out of the entertainment industry. This helped me learn ideas like strategic philanthropy, purpose-driven companies, and addressing problems with unconventional solutions. If you ever want to learn how to be a jack-of-all trades, just go on tour with a punk band: you’ll learn survival techniques real quick.

Barbara Wahli "Barb Rocks": Music Manager


My Native Admission Statement: I believe to focus on doing what makes you happy and to discover new music, you might just find your next favorite artist. I started in early 2016 with a random challenge to book local bands at her favorite live music venue. Fast forward two years and I’m hosting events at every reputable venue San Jose has to offer, all due to my reputation of booking quality shows that pay bands fairly. Around the same time, one of my favorite bands asked me to manage them, which led to my business focus changing from booking shows to artist management. In my 13 year span of working in the Bay Area music scene, I have managed some of most successful local rock bands, produced two music festivals, curated my own showcase in Austin, produced a live music oriented pop-up dining event with my brother Chef Baudi, and landed a few speaking engagements, including a SXSW mentorship. I love seeing how many women in music organizations are out there championing gender equality in this male-dominated music industry, which will lead to more and more women in power roles.  Music will also be a driving force for the artificial intelligence and virtual reality sectors to grow, and blockchain/metadata will continue to gain popularity to ensure a fair trade music format.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

I have an RV that I take on trips regularly.  I'll have an overall destination in mind but I also go with the flow and see where I end up.  I've discovered some amazing spots just by stopping and asking locals what to go see, or by accidentally stumbling upon a cool place. I'm always ready for the next adventure!

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Wendy Day: Rap Coalition Founder

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My Native Admission Statement: I am a woman who has built a career on helping rap artists while living my dreams. I fell in love with rap music in 1980, and in 1992 built Rap Coalition, a not-for-profit artist advocacy organization to help educate and support rap artists, and break unfair contracts in the music business. I enjoy building millionaires. I’m in the process of building an incubator for rappers so I can positively impact more careers. I am most proud of my Youtube channel. Most people can’t afford to hire me, so in 2016, I started building a Youtube channel with free how-to videos about succeeding in the music industry. The channel is My clients have gone on to sell over a billion albums during my 27 year career. I want to make an even bigger impact with rappers—help them fund, market, and promote their music and help build even more successful careers.

My Biggest Success?

(I’ve been fortunate to have done some of the best deals in urban music. I’m best-known for negotiating the $30 million Cash Money deal at Universal. But the truth is that I’m more proud of some other deals that I’ve done that empower rappers and teach them how to run their own companies. I’m also proud of my relationship with my husband, Tony. We met while he was incarcerated—at the end of a 17 year sentence he was serving in the Feds. Most people would have looked past him but he’s such an amazing person and after 7 years, I’m as in love with him as I was in the beginning of our relationship. I’m grateful everyday to have him in my life.

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Brad Serling: Founder,

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"A Johnny Appleseed of online concert recordings," according to The New York Times, Brad Serling has been active in the digital media space for 20 years. Established artists ranging from Phish to Metallica to the Grateful Dead turn to Brad for advice on digital distribution of their content. Serling started in 1993 as a way to share the tapes he was making of Grateful Dead and Phish shows

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