Diane Yoo, winner of Miss Asia USA 2008 and now a successful venture capitalist, compares beauty pageants to the dark Korean hit Squid Game. She says the tireless work ethic and steely confidence required to win pageants at the global level are just as effective in the intensely competitive, male dominated world of venture capital.
Diane’s inspiration is her father, a Korean immigrant who spoke sparse English but worked night and day to support his family. The family of four lived in a one bedroom apartment and had to rely on an unreliable car, which taught Diane two lessons at a young age. First, nothing comes without working for it, and second, to never underestimate what she could accomplish if she worked harder than the competition.
We asked Diane Yoo about the links between winning beauty pageants and winning in business.
Competing in beauty pageants is not what most people view as the beginning of a business career. What did you learn competing in pageants that remains relevant to you as a businesswoman?
Diane Yoo: Competing in beauty pageants helped uncover a self realization that I operated with the mentality of an entrepreneur. Purely competitive, independent, and a self-starter, pageants further propelled my appetite as I traveled to globally compete. Like Squid Games, titleholders are sent to compete with entirely new groups of people, in hopes to win big. When dealing with the cream of the crop beauties across multiple countries and regions, my inner self morphed into a savvy fighter that outperformed and, at any point, swiftly outmaneuvered. Most ironically, it is not the most beautiful who wins beauty pageants. It’s the uncanny ability to win over people under the facade of glittery lights. It’s more about portraying the mentality of a champion and that you already conquered the competition. This is how judges quickly sift through the talented beauty holders in the industry.
Likewise, in business, you must learn how to be quick, pivot and innovate. No matter how lonely it gets at the top, you are constantly learning how to survive and then thrive. I honed my skills for over a decade by repeatedly going head-to-head with the global beauty elites, in addition to adeptly absorbing cultural differences. These powerhouse women did not win by chance or beauty, they were killer professionals.
The world of beauty pageants is exhilarating and extraordinary, filled with the most jaw-dropping, gorgeous women who have been perfected to compete in lifestyle and beauty. Just as some women use this as …….