THIS PAST FALL, POPTECH, AN ANNUAL CONFERENCE HELD IN CAMDEN, MAINE, DREW 600 OF THE WORLD’S MOST PROGRESSIVE INNOVATORS AND INDIVIDUALS INVESTED OR INTERESTED IN THE 18-YEAR-OLD NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION’S MISSION: TO CATALYZE SOCIAL IMPACT. THIS OBJECTIVE AND ITS RELATION TO THE 2015 CONFERENCE’S THEME, “HYBRID,” WAS CELEBRATED BOTH LITERALLY AND PHILOSOPHICALLY THROUGHOUT THE THREE-DAY EVENT. TOYOTA INTRODUCED MIRAI, ITS NEW HYDROGEN-CELL HYBRID VEHICLE, AND THE COPENHAGEN WHEEL OFFERED HYBRID HUMAN-ELECTRIC RIDES. SPEAKERS PROPOSED HYBRID SOLUTIONS TO WORLD WOES AND EMBRACED HYBRID ETHNICITIES. OVERALL, THE DEFINING MESSAGE WAS: WE LIVE IN A MANIFOLD WORLD, A DERIVATIVE OF MULTICULTURAL AND MULTINATIONAL PASTS AND PRESENTS. THESE INFLUENCES DEFINE US INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY AS HYBRIDS: UNIQUE COMPOSITES OF HISTORY – AND THEY SERVE AS OUR BRIDGE TO NECESSARY EMPATHY AND INNOVATION.
Tim Yu typifies this progressive breed of being and doing. He was born and raised on the East Coast but has lived on the West Coast, as a resident of Portland, Oregon, for the past three years. By his own accord, he projects a laidback exterior that belies a racing mind. Tim's parents are Korean, but he grew up in a predominately Caucasian town in Connecticut, where he excelled on the soccer field. His on-pitch feats served to collapse his dual outsider-insider status, and demonstrated the boundary-breaking power of sports. The experience eventually fueled Tim’s path to Nike, Inc., where he works as a Director of Global Communications, amplifying the social impact of athletics through multimedia means. His personal hybrid status is activated daily as he deftly navigates international on- and offline worlds, strives for essential simplicity in a complex world, dreams of future adventures and balances the roles of in-demand professional and young parent to daughter Simone, who — just over one year old — is already a hybrid, herself, chattering in both Korean and English.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY?
My third birthday cake, which was in the shape of a teddy bear. I'm not sure if I actually remember it, or if the memory was created through seeing old photos.
WHAT WORD BEST DESCRIBES YOUR CURRENT MENTAL STATE?
WHAT DO YOU DO BEST?
I try not to boast.
IF YOU COULD RELIVE ONE DAY OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
When I was 13 our house burned down. If I could relive that day, I think I would've been more helpful and grabbed a few key things I'm still missing today. But, you know, I don’t actually feel like reliving that.
A SONG YOU HAVE LISTENED TO 10 TIMES IN A ROW
A SONG FROM THE FIRST ALBUM YOU OWNED
A PICTURE THAT WAS ON YOUR WALL AS A TEENAGER
WHERE YOU GREW UP
A SONG YOU HAVE DANCED TO AT HOME
A SUMMERTIME SONG FROM WHEN YOU WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 13-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Celebrate your heritage and customs.
WHERE WAS YOUR FIRST KISS? WHO WAS IT WITH?
I kissed this girl, Helen, when I was in second grade — at church, of all places. But my first (French) kiss was with Shannon Crandall in sixth grade. It was in the middle of the woods and real dark so it was more like a (French) kiss on the side of the mouth and cheek. We started "going out" after that.
WHICH OF YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ARE YOU MOST SIMILAR TO AND HOW?
Like father, like son. We look similar and have the same temperament.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Let’s be clear: Success if very different than fulfillment, but I think a lot of people get the two mixed up. Success, to me, is reaching a set goal and peace of mind.
YOUR DREAM CAR
A NOTE IN YOUR PHONE
IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE?
My girlfriend and daughter.
WHAT IS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.
WHAT IS THE WORST VACATION THAT YOU'VE EVER TAKEN?
I once spent the night in a "motel" outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia, where the room was so cramped you couldn't stand up straight. There were no windows and there were rats running around in the walls and underneath the floor. When we complained the front desk gave us a free bottle of water. But we only paid $2 for the night, and the rest of the vacation was amazing.
A FIGHT SCENE
Any of the color scenes from "Hero"
A SONG YOU'RE EMBARASSED TO LOVE
A ’90S HIP HOP SONG
YOUR LOVE AT 18
A TERRIFYING SCENE
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN NEW YORK?
It's not a restaurant, but the best food in all of New York City is made by my grandmother. You better ask somebody.
A MEAL THAT REMINDS YOU OF HOME?
Rice mixed with a little soy sauce and butter — kimchee and seaweed on the side.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST EMBARASSING ENCOUNTER WITH A FAMOUS PERSON?
Nothing comes to mind, and I hope it stays that way.