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Nurturing Global High School Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley with Julie Song

Spirit of Math Podcast Episode #11

This week Kim Langen and Nathan Langen, interview Julie Song, a former NY teacher, who while teaching at a public school during the week, launched her first education program in Brooklyn, NY – a “learn-through-play” language immersion class on the weekends. Within a few short months, the program became a raving success among parents and students. Encouraged and emboldened by the experience, Julie went on to complete her studies at Teachers College, Columbia University and then operate a learning center in South Korea. In Asia, she founded a Success Academy that helps students discover, experience and unleash their inner potentials as innovators. She returned to her roots in Silicon Valley to launch GATSVI to help students learn 21st century core skills through entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2019 summer, she coordinated a pre-collegiate research and innovation program at University of California, Irvine. To find out more about GATSVI and GATI visit:  
Julie Song

About Julie Song

Julie Song is the founder of GATSVI (Gifted and Talented Silicon Valley Innovators) and Director of GATI (Gifted And Talented Institute) based in California, USA.She has always valued global education and innovation and nurtures high school entrepreneurs so they may impact the world.


Welcome back to another episode of releasing the genius where we

interview extraordinary people. We find out exactly how they

got there, so our next guest Julie song she was able to

present at our releasing the genius conference last year. The

spirit of math conference as well, and we thought, OK, this

is a perfect person.

Becase we need to get her on here to explain what she does.

So Julie song is a former New York City public school teacher

and she is the founder of GATSVI, which is the gifted and

talented Silicon Valley Innovators and director of

GATI, the gifted and talented Institute. She has always valued

global education and innovation. Once teaching at a public school

during the week she launched her first education program in

Brooklyn, NY. A learn-through-play language immersion class on

the weekends. Within a few short months, the program became a

raving success among parents and students. Encouraged and

emboldened by the experience Julie went on to complete her.

Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University and then

operate a Learning Center in South Korea. In Asia, she

founded a success Academy that help students discover,

experience and unleash their inner potentials as innovators.

She returned to her roots in Silicon Valley to launch GATSVI

to launch to help students learn 21st century core skills through

entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2019 summer she coordinated a

pre collegiate research and innovation program at University

of California, Irvine. Now, I know that since then you’ve done

some. Other things, so first I just want to say thank you for

joining this podcast. This is great to have you here and I

just wanted to say that first of all I I meant Julie. Last year

when we were are actually a couple years ago, but last year

she came to our conference and then what she says and what

she’s done is just incredible. As you listen to her she started

as a teacher and she has been able to go beyond just a regular

teacher Ann. She saw the needs that were out there. The

possibilities. That were out there and she has changed the

world for for many kids because of this and she’s also not just

change the world for the kids, but I think also she’s allowing

other people to see that there are other types of possibilities

with a variety of different types of programs that you can

think of that’s taking us into this new world coming forward

and her insight and her foresight. I think Julie is just

incredible because. You have set many of these students up for

success. The world has changed massively over the last several

months. An people are now starting to talk about much more

well. What is the innovation? What is the entrepreneurship and

so on? But you saw this along time ago before that, and so I

like to just first of all say welcome to you. And yeah, and

this is great to have you here. I also I think it would be

really nice to hear from you about what else.

You are doing right now and to share how you why. Why did you

start this as well? So first of all, what you’re doing and why.

OK, well thank you. First of all to inviting me an I know Nathan

just introduced me as one of the extraordinary people you guys

invite. But I mean I’m an ordinary person who helps you

know, raise extraordinary people. That’s how I like to,

you know, view myself an I want to encourage other people that

you don’t have to have, you know Kim or Nathans geniuses to to be

able to be on this release the genius show. So I mean.

Yes I will. I would go ahead and talk about what I do now, but

before that I just wanted to say, you know, release the

genius is really what rings true to my Koran. What I believe what

I believe in and what I do so you know when they can first

mention releasing the genius. I instantly loved the name right?

Because it really describes my job and my goal as a CEO of

given account Institute. And you

know, Gatsby. And a program director of several

precollegiate programs is to actually help students release

their geniuses. Gatti was also built on this belief that when

every student discovers and releases his or genius, no

matter how young they are, this world will be a better place. So

that’s how you know I started these organizations and

programs, and we encourage our students not to be an isolated

genius. But to become stronger together and make a bigger

impact in the world together. So before we start every

program, my partner, David, always challenges or students

to imagine how the world will be a different place if Trump

and Xi Jinping had met at a program like ours, you know,

when they were young.

And if they learn the power of combining their geniuses and

releasing them together positively, or world, may you

know look little different, so you know, that’s where I stand

where Gaddy and guess we stand. And I mean I have a lot to say

about gifted and talented Nishan. Now I would like to shut

some light on, you know, the gnu perspective on gifted and

talented Ness. But you know what? Yeah, could you tell us

what your programs?

Hard like what exactly happens when the kids come and that

would be great. I think for our viewers, just just to understand

what you’re doing. Right, right, right? So? So we have our major

programs take place in Silicon Valley through Gatsby, which

stand for gifted and talented Silicon Valley Innovators. And

the other program at UCI.

We have other programs, but these are the main main programs

that we run at the time.

And to go into gaseous and entrepreneurship program for

high school students.

Right, the Silicon Valley is the hub of startups, and it really

embodies the value of entrepreneurship. And when I

came back to Silicon Valley from Asia three years ago, I thought

hard how I can release my genius right, and how I can put my

talent to use for the world of Education. And, you know?

Having this, having had some frustration and classroom

settings, you know, like how can I provide students the right

stimulus, right? Motivation and context so that they can

navigate their own learning and future success. And I realized

entrepreneurship education is the right tool for them.

Also, you know coming to the Bay Area, I was encouraged to be

more entrepreneurial myself and start something from zero, and I

learned so much myself that I wanted to share this experience

with. You know, the students. If if I had this kind of experience

early on, I think I would be at a different place. Not that I’m

complaining about where I am.

And I also met a lot of great people. You know who

are eager to share their geniuses with the the future

generation of entrepreneurs. So I decided to start an

entrepreneurship program for high school students with

these great mentors and people. So the kids come

from around Silicon Valley. Or do they come from where

do they come from?

Most of them came most of the brilliant people came

from Canada.

They all came from all over the world, you know.

From Canada from Korea, China, Italy we had. I mean, I’m just

talking about Gatsby. I mean if we talk about Gatti at UCI,

we even had students from Turkey, Burkina Faso.

Where else blinking? Else really neat. So do they get

together so they come? They actually go there. I guess

this year you did it virtually, is that right?

Yeah, we did. So they get to meet each other as well. Is

there a qualifications or what happens? Sorry you can tell us

qualifications and what happens when they actually get

there. What is this entrepreneurship look like and

who helps them with it?

Great question. So a lot of students these days

surprisingly have a lot of great. I’m not surprisingly

that they have a good idea and they all have great

ideas, but surprisingly they want to start businesses. I

think entrepreneurship became like a buzzword

around the world.

Everyone applies to our program thinking that they had the

greatest idea. Like you know this tech idea. This app idea?

Oh, it’s so can Valley. So I’m going to launch a tech business

and they come to our program.

And then share their ideas. They end up developing their ideas

with their peers, make it presentable, they actually

their. Their goal is to pitch their business idea to real

investors for real investment and launch a real business. Now

we we emphasize this realness because businesses reality a lot

of high school entrepreneurs come go to these

entrepreneurship programs thinking that they’re just going

to put this on their resume. But will we believe?

About entrepreneurship is that that real hardcore?

Reality check you know? I mean, yeah, that’s really that’s so

important and I think one of the things that we’re looking at two

in terms of.

Open countries are not just developing countries, but around

the world. For for high school is how do we integrate

businesses and business people and real businesses and business

people? Then on the high school range and this is for me one of

my passions is what do we do because we have to change the

thinking of high school kids. So what kind of ideas could you

perhaps tell high schools around the world like what could they

do? How are you getting these businesses integrating with

these kids? So it’s real world.

What what are you doing that’s different like what?

How are you doing this?

OK, this is secret to our business. I’m just kidding. No,

it’s not. It’s really not so. We emphasize Silicon Valley mindset

a lot, which is, you know, paying it forward a lot of our

mentors are willing to share a lot of their own experiences.

You know, a lot of their failures that they they’ve had,

so that you know these students can learn from them as well. Now

how our program is different from just learning the process

of preneurship? I mean, sorry launching a business or.

Just learning a lot of theories is that first of all they

themselves have to learn how to get out, get out of their

comfort zone, and earn their first dollar. You know, with

their idea, I mean oftentimes they think about great ideas,

but they don’t know how to make that first dollar with their

business. And then at the end of the day, no matter what kind of

business you found, whether it’s a for profit or nonprofit

organization, you have to be able to sustain yourself, right?

So we do help them think outside of that that.

Rigid framework of entrepreneurship that they are

exposed to and say OK go out and raise this money with your

idea and we give multiple mission even before the program

start and they have amazing testimonies of their missions.

You know then making over $800 out of lollipops. You know it’s

just, you know they. They then thinking of strategies

themselves. What can they sell, you know, is it just the product

that they have to focus on our or is it the story that they

that you have to create? So I mean, that’s just one way that

we help students kind of open their eyes. I guess in the light

of entrepreneurship, real entrepreneurship and they

pitched a veces. How nice are the VCs to the kids? You know? I

think they really high school students definitely have

advantage because I mean it’s

not. Like Shark Tank where they get smashed and you know but but

our students do expect to get smashed OK but even before

sending them in front of the investors and BCS we just go

through succession of critical like a criticism like really

harsh criticism so that they wake up and they say Oh shoot

this is not going to work so we pivot, pivot pivot and that

pivoting process is really really hard for them initially

because it’s almost like killing their own babies.

You know I had this idea. You are saying my air pod is not

gonna, you know, succeed. So I’m gonna move on to let’s say a

coffee business, you know. But you know, we really encourage

him to think beyond product but think of impact that they can

make as high school students. I mean they can’t compete with

you, know, these giant Silicon Valley companies on these

product ideas, but they can definitely appeal to societal

cause, right? I mean they their impact as high school students

as Gensys? Are completely different from what the startups

adult startups can do, so we encourage them to think about

what they can do right now from where they are. So are there any

maybe? Social impact businesses that you wanted to

highlight from your program that that that your students


OK, well to begin, so we’re not really social impact on their

ship program, but but we don’t discourage it. So with that

said, this year you know a group of students founded

biodegradable straw company. OK, nice right? But the business

model there isn’t to just get the most profit out of selling

straws, but what they’re trying to sell. I don’t know if I can

say this. What they’re trying to sell to these businesses is that

the the the image, the branding they collaborated with. Another

business in Bangladesh. So we had a participant from

Bangladesh who already had like water water filter prototype. So

you know this this US based straw company partnered with the

Bangladesh startup bounded by our our member.

And that you know what, whatever profit we make out of these

straws will donate to your company so that you can purify

water for your communities. So that’s the kind of yeah that is

really cool. And it got a lot of great feedback from actually the

main DC we had. So partnerships that are really powerful. And

that’s a global partnership. So so if you were like a big part

of what you’ve just talked

about. Is the mentor ship and the people who you attract to

this? If someone wanted to start this somewhere else in this

world, what would they? How would they tracked these

mentors? How did you do that? ’cause I think this is key to

what you’ve done is is pretty incredible to get some really

good people there working with you too. What did you do?

OK, so I think having people is important, right? Good people we

there’s is a term that we use all the time faceless leaders.

So I mean no good curriculum is important I guess, but not as

important as having a lot of faces. Leaders who are willing

to become true mentors. These to these people. But what’s great

about these days is that virtual connections and interactions are

becoming a norm.

Before people were hesitant to connect over the Internet

and, you know, be mentor that way. So now I think it

became more scalable and more possible no matter

where you are. What parts of the world you are to start?

You know this kind of entrepreneurship program

because you know there are people all over the world

just one click away.

So before I guess you know everyone, try to start their own

physical entrepreneurship program in their community. But

now this can be all you know, connected virtually and join

forces. But I have to admit that we haven’t really gone global

yet. In that sense, we try to bring the globe to us. You know

at this point, but you are in a way, because you’re affecting

the global, the whole global length communities in Bangladesh

with clean water, right? That’s huge. Yeah, that’s huge.

I think you know what would be really interesting is finding

out a little bit about you when you were growing up. What were

you like because you’re really pushing the boundaries here and

you’re the other thing. I I’m really impressed with is the

fact that you’re not scared to get something very different

going and to ask people to be part of what you’re doing and

influencers and and universities being part of what

you’re doing. So you as a child. What were you like?

How much time do I have?

It’s not, you know.

Where was I like? Well, you know, I I. I was born in San

Jose, CA but I moved to Korea because of, you know my family

situation and I grew up in this southernmost island in Korea

called Chitu, right? And it’s a very peaceful island and you

know, whatever I did I stood out not because I’m I was smart, but

because you know I was.

Uh, you know good at taking tests. I was cool, smart. I was

a, you know, very respectful child. I guess likable so but

but then you know right when I was fully enjoying my social

life, an academic status at school in Cheju my parents that

hey, it’s about time to go back to the States and study with you

know study or like. OK so I stayed with my uncle starting.

8th grade OK. Apart from my parents and all that I took

pride in as you know, like Pride and such as like my grades, my

popularity, family support. All of that was gone. I mean, I felt

humiliated when I showed up with my funny clothes that was

trending in Korea back then. You know I didn’t know where to eat

lunch so I went into bathroom stall and ate there. I was no

longer this advanced, gifted and

talented. Student, but I was rather a disadvantage ESL

student. Now I think that transition made a huge

difference in me that you left a lot of impact on me and.

But then I I developed a lot of inner strength then because I

could. You know, I could no

longer take. Pride of my academic rankings or social

status, right? So it was my vision and.

You know that that really drove me. Also, I was pretty

optimistic child things too small fixes. Sorry. What was

your fine vision?

OK so I was. I was taught to dream big all the time. You know

my dad always said you know you have to aim high.

And my my dream was to, well, there are three

dreams. One big dream was to become a Minister of

Education in South Korea. Second was to build a school

in North Korea one day and third was more realistic,

which is to go back to Treasure Island an you know

share share what I learn in the states with the students

who don’t have a chance.

So, so that really drove me. So why northern North North Korea?

Why would you want to start something up there? Why would

that be for a child, Ann, just to get your understanding from

your point of view?

So I had this huge heart for North Korea growing up, not

just because my grandparents are from there but also, you

know I’m a person of faith and I really, really wanted the

light of love in North Korea. Even as a child like I don’t

know why, but I wanted to share that and the best way to share

that light and Love is through education I thought, and I

wanted to build the best International School in North


Because I also met this really amazing person from a Pyongyang

Science Technology University, and that’s like a missionary run

secretly missionary run.

You know that person really just show me how it’s possible to

transform people’s lives through education and through good news.

Interesting, OK, so so you’ve got some really a different

perspective. Having grown up in South Korea, comeback going

through that experience. Great is one of the hardest times to

actually, you know, go through that because that’s when a lot

of peer pressure starts in an an yet you were able to overcome

that. Decide that hey, it’s not just about this is a tough time,

but I can, you know I’ve got this vision and to keep hold of

that. And you stayed with your your uncle. There’s a lot of

students who come from overseas that stay with other family

members or friends just to get some education in Canada or the

USI know it happens in both places. So your ideas now you’ve

seen around the world. You also move to New York for schooling

for awhile right? So you’ve moved quite a bit as well. If

you were a student now growing up in high school, what would

you recommend to them?

To be able to get ready for this this new world that’s upon us

and also just for themselves, so that they can release the genius

in in this world.


I think you know.

This is maybe set it.

Overly many times but.

Really, learning from failures, right? And what I mean by

failure is, you know, for example, being humiliated or

being stripped off of what you used to enjoy. And I actually

recommend. I mean, I congratulate those who are

living abroad with, you know their relatives. I mean they are

getting this rare chance to test their own self discipline and

you know a chance to develop great empathy. And I mean I have

to say, you know.

Living with my uncle was one of the biggest, you know. Life

lessons I got. I learned how to read peoples mind. Actually, you

know, am I upsetting them? Am I being burdensome to them? For

some teenagers that might not, you know, settle well ’cause it

says you’re right, it’s a very sensitive age, but you know, I

guess for me it really work that well and I I grew this

adaptability which became a huge asset later on an which helped

me grow wherever.

Whether it be New York, you know, or I mean I haven’t been

to any drastic extreme places yet, but I have confidence that

I will be able to find something to release my geniuses. And

it’s, you know, so I think for high school students I would. I

would love for them to just take a step back, examine their

situations, what they can possibly get out of it, no

matter how negative it seems.

That’s that’s really good for everyone. I think just to

listen in here, especially those people who are looking

at working with teenagers and.

Excuse me, I’ve got a little bit of a frog in my throat as they

say right now but but I think it’s so important to understand

that this growth requires some tough stuff. And even when you

were talking about giving the tough stuff to the kids in the

entrepreneurship program so often what education tries to do

is make everyone feel good. Oh, that’s nice. That’s nice. And in

fact it’s something that.

It drives me crazy when I hear that because when you’re saying

something is nice when it’s not really excellent, people need to

hear how to get to the excellence. And it doesn’t mean

that it’s going to be a nice ride all the time. And in fact

you need that tough stuff. It’s like, how do you make a diamond?

Well, it requires a lot of pressure and at the end that

pressure creates something absolutely beautiful. And humans

are the same way. We need some pressure. We need to be pushed

in certain directions and we would never have understood it

otherwise. I even feel sometimes, like you said, that

you were. Is hard to come from a place where you’re popular where

everything was going really well and somewhere else where you

were ASL student and you didn’t belong. And so how do you learn

how to belong an you also then have like you were talking about

the empathy for others because you know what it feels like now.

And that’s not a bad thing. It’s a bad thing if you try to go

down a path where you’re feeling sorry for yourself and then that

causes problems. But instead to have done something without

blaming others without feeling sorry for yourself and really

reaching up to this next level and saying, what can I do? It’s

pretty profound and I think this is so good for others to hear as

well. I would like to just hear you’ve got these two different

programs and I just very quickly here this because I know that

we’re coming to the end of the podcast and then I have one big

question to ask you at the end.

OK, so if you can just differentiate between the two

different programs that you run in the summer time so that

people understand that an then perhaps just describe how they

can get in touch with you or where they can look for these

programs so that they can also maybe use some of your ideas and

maybe even contact you and get some help or get some ideas.

OK, well so the second program that I run with in partnership

with the University of California, Irvine, is

convergence of Sciences and we focus on research and

innovation, right? So?

Program is called being and it stands for bio engineering AI,

an medicine and this program is mainly for those who want

University research experience, but you know, but it’s the

really the only kind of pre collegiate program that combines

many fields of Sciences as well as innovative entrepreneurship.

We there, there you go again like there needs to be that

entrepreneurship aspect because the current doctors are in

researchers are saying hey the world is fast changing.

Our jobs are going to become obsolete, but why are you

studying the same thing that we used to study? You know so to

really survive little, let alone innovate in the future, students

need to adopt entrepreneurial mindset and skillset.

So you know our program. They not only work with with a

University faculty research left, but also they go through

the entrepreneurial experience and many of the students are

surprised themselves to find that they’re actually interested

in entrepreneurship. You know, it’s very relevant to their

future careers, so they are no longer just bound to be

conductors and researchers. It’s our secret agenda to crush their

dreams, actually, to become

doctors. I mean become more multifaceted person right?

Miss you.

So how you can get in touch with you is, you know we have these

websites for our programs. Should I leave them with you or

will put them in the descriptions so everyone can

access them? What are they really quickly? Gatti, and Gatsby dot or G OK, can you spell those please?

GATI and got the you know, G ATS VI

dot or G OK Fabulous OK one more

question. And this has got to do with releasing the genius. So

was the one thing that you think that will help.

Anybody working with others release the genius in

another person?

Cool. So people like me right to help other people.


I think being the mirror to them really helps them release the

genius. I know that’s little abstract, but what really sets

extraordinary people from ordinary people is not the

smartness, not the intellect. Obviously you guys know that

right, and I think the extras are there. Emotional, social,

emotional, inner string.

But oftentimes students don’t focus on that. They often just

mistaken or equate, you know, talent. I mean, sorry

achievements with talent.

But their achievements don’t

really. Not necessarily mean that their talents. For example

Nathan, if you win like #1 and spirit of math competition,

right? That’s the result. Like that’s the achievement an you

win nothing in English and you can easily think as a high

school student that you are talented in math but not in

English. But that’s not true. You have to look deeper into

what attributed to your achievement. Is it. Your

diligence? Is it your personality that asks for quick

answers? Or is it your family value is that?

You know a lot of.

Things play into this achievement that you made, so I

think people if you want to help others release their geniuses,

help them think about these factors that attribute to that

achievement instead of Justice. Focusing on achieving more and

more. That that makes sense. So so wise, and I think that we’ve

just started to touch the tip of the iceberg of what’s inside

your brain, because what you’ve just said is really really quite

deep, and it must be wonderful. If you were, excuse me, if you

were a student working with you, I bet you go really deep with

them too. That’s that’s pretty pretty nice. Thank you so much.

This is being really amazing and I wanted to say thank you to

everyone listening. Will put the Gatsby and Gatti in the

description and also again, thank you Julie for joining it

was really insightful to talk about. How are you impacting the

world even though you might say that you might not be. But

really, we all think you are. And then let’s let’s try to keep

this conversation going as well. How can this continue and grow

and we ask her audience as well to join in on that conversation.

This is wonderful. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for

this. Yeah, thank you so much for this opportunity. I

had a lot of fun.

OK, Alright and then hopefully we’ll see you soon. OK, so an

listening you guys for even more of what we’re going to be doing

later. This is just a great example for you all of what

people can do if they’re looking for more than just the shallow.

I’ve got a high score that this goes much deeper an it’s helping

people understand how this world works and economically not just

for education, is integrating the economics with.

Education and I think today is becoming much more clear that

this is even needed even more today. So once again thank you

so much Julie. This is been a

thrill. Thank you.

Nurturing Global High School Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley with Julie Song
Spirit of Math Podcasts
Nurturing Global High School Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley with Julie Song

~End of Transcript.

Spirit of Math Podcasts
Episode #11