Be Yourself: Winning Advice From The Miss Universe Pageant

Miss Universe 2012 – Olivia Culpo

Last week, Miss USA Olivia Culpo captured the Miss Universe 2012 crown.  Her win culminated two weeks of pageant events, including a preliminary competition that I had the honor to judge for second year.   My favorite part is interviewing all 89 contestants from around the world.  I get to speak with young women from so many different countries, languages, and cultures.  Amidst this global diversity, one common piece of advice emerged from many of the interviews:  “Be yourself.”  Whether you aspire to be Miss Universe or explore the universe as an astronaut (or both!), it’s a life lesson for becoming a WIN GIRL.

WIN Against Bullies: Lessons from a Homecoming Princess and TV News Anchor

Photo of Stop Bullying Whitney Kropp Facebook Page

Stop Bullying Whitney Kropp Facebook Page

In just the first week of October’s National Anti-Bullying Month, two courageous women emerged to show that bullying can backfire. In West Branch, Michigan, high school sophomore Whitney Kropp went from victim to fairy tale princess after vindictive classmates nominated her to the school’s homecoming court as a cruel prank.

Across the Great Lakes, in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, local morning TV show anchor Jennifer Livingston gave a searing on-air editorial response to an email bully who complained that she had a “community responsibility” to lose weight to be a role model for young girls.

Who Were Olympics WIN GIRLS?

Gabby Douglas – 2012 Olympic All Around Gymnastics Champion

For me, a WIN GIRL is a woman who wins in life with intelligence, confidence, and authenticity.  She shines who she is and speaks her mind.   And she can do it all while still embracing her femininity, style and personal beauty.  There’s neither a professional obstacle nor a fierce pencil skirt she doesn’t love.   As a gay man, I have spent a lifetime befriending, advising, and cheering on WIN GIRLS.   (In my book, WIN GIRLS can be any age.  I hereby invoke my inherent gay man’s license to use “girl” as a term of affection and empowerment – whether the lady is 8 or 80.)

Lessons I’ve Learned From Oprah

Photo by PR Photos 2011 is turning into the “Year of Oprah.” After 25 years, Oprah is ending her acclaimed talk show this spring with much fanfare. If that were not enough, a publicity wave announced this month’s launch of her OWN television network – which aspires to more thoughtful television. Oprah calls herself a teacher. I count myself as one of her long-time students and someone who would love to follow in even a few of her big media footsteps. Perhaps because it is the farewell season, I recently found myself watching Oprah even more and gleaning sage advice from her talk show. Oprah’s genius is that her messages carry meaning not just for her predominantly female-audience, but for everyone. That includes me and the rest of the LGBT community. In honor of this “Year of Oprah,” here are some important life lessons that I’ve learned from Oprah.

National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day: A Day For Everyone To Live More Authentically

October 11 is National Coming Out Day. The day was founded in 1988 by Dr. Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary in an effort to raise awareness of the LGBT community among the general populace and to help put familiar faes on the LGBT movement. After all, if more people knew LGBT persons in their lives, acceptance would eventually come – and the first step towards acceptance is coming out. Now, National Coming Out Day should be a day for everyone – gay, straight or anywhere in between.

Vietnam’s Mid-Autumn Festival

Vietnam’s Mid-Autumn Festival: Lessons From The Moon To Win In Life

On September 22, the Vietnamese culture will celebrate 2010’s Mid-Autumn Festival, known as “Tết Trung Thu.” (Please don’t ask me to say that 3 times in a row.) One of the most important holidays in Vietnamese culture, Tết Trung Thu is a harvest festival dating back over 3000 years. It is also celebrated in China.

JimmyWin’s Ways To Win In Life

JimmyWin’s Ways To Win In Life: Alumnus of the Year Speech given at 2010 Mt. San Antonio College Graduation

Watch Jimmy deliver this speech at Mt. SAC’s 2010 Commencement Ceremony While I was attending college at UCLA, I also enrolled as a student at Mt. San Antonio College and competed for 2 years at Mt. SAC’s speech and debate (forensics) team. Those 2 years are among the most defining of my life, and since then, I have spent many years helping coach Mt. SAC’s forensics team. In 2010, I was honored to be selected as Mt. SAC’s alumnus of the year. I had the thrill of speaking in front of some 7000 people at Mt. SAC’s Commencement, and this is what I had to say.

I’m from Saigon, Vietnam

(Written for the “I’m from Driftwood” website) Last fall, I experienced a very sudden (at least from my perspective), very painful implosion of a 6-year relationship. It was the end of dreams for a life spent with the man I asked to married me – and it happened on my birthday weekend no less. Coping with emotional pain and piecing my own life back together was challenging enough. But perhaps the hardest thing about the break-up was having to tell my parents.