As Jeremy “Linsanity” Lin continues to captivate the world, it’s time to take a moment to see what this really means to the Asian American community and how we need to establish our professional identity or brand image. Linsanity embodies much of the struggles we’ve experienced for generations: stereotypes, racial slurs, rejection, and a lack of role models. It’s gratifying to see these issues discussed on the big stage, raising the level of sensitivity and awareness to these issues. Not since “Bruce” have we seen an individual who has captured the imagination of so many.

Even if you’re not into the game of basketball there’s much to learn from the experience of Jeremy Lin. One lesson is our need to find acceptance, be able to perform, be recognized in our given profession and survive in the work world. Like Jeremy Lin, what challenges have you encountered as you either seek a job or build a career? Like Jeremy Lin, Asian Americans face unique circumstances that can frustrate if not close doors on young aspirations.

An interesting comment Lin made during an interview on ESPN Sports Channel was his need to be himself and play more aggressively than he did in his previous games. That he did. He revealed what we now understand as Linsanity, an aggressive player who can lead and make others look good. He established his point guard identity. What are you doing to establish your identity, an identity that makes you marketable and attractive to an employer? Not everyone can be a six-foot, three-inch 200-pound athlete who just happened to graduate from Harvard and can establish their own individual identity or brand image.

Failing to establish your identity or market your skills leaves employers to draw their own conclusions about you. Unfortunately, these may be stereotypical: an inability to communicate well, too quiet, socially inept, book-smart but politically immature, lacking confidence, or possessing limited English skills. Now Asian Americans don’t have the exclusive rights to these qualities but certainly these labels at times have been cast upon us.

Whether seeking employment, a promotion or transfer to another team, ask yourself what others may be saying or concluding about you. Many of us who played competitive sports understand that development and the ability to get better can only come when there’s an opportunity to play. Lin’s unique breakthrough in the Big Apple only occurred after several players sustained injuries and a coach who supported him. But for those series of events, the NBA, New York City, the U.S., the world and Asian America may never have enjoyed this new dimension in professional sports. Basketball will now start evaluating player criteria differently. However, the question remains. Will the NBA, college or high school teams realize that Asians can “hoop” with the best of them?

Be aware that many in the work world who recruit or make hiring or promotional decisions do so with a perception that Asians may not be suitable for specific positions (underscoring suitable). This is not to say we’re not qualified, but there has never been an Asian in certain roles or positions and no one wants to be the first to hire or promote one. That was quite evident with Lin’s basketball career, which ironically is also the reason for his popularity.

Establishing your identity or your individual brand image will help people feel more at ease and will allow them an increased ability to assess your suitability for a position or promotion. For instance, are you a high achiever but hard to get along with; are you a team-player but bring little in terms of individual talent; do you possess the traits to survive in an environment where your culture is not a priority or even valued; or do you exhibit the values of the organization you desire to work or currently belong. Who are you?

Be honest and ask yourself, what is your identity or brand image and then ask others if they agree. I believe Jeremy Lin has done this and it just so happens his identity or brand image coincides with many of the values American’s stand for, thus LINSANITY.

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