7:30 PM on a Thursday night and Anderson Auditorium was filled to capacity. No it wasn’t for a finance symposium, nor was it for an info session, it was for the 9th annual Mr. Business Pageant hosted by the Asian Business Association. This charity event gathered together business focused fraternities and clubs from around UC Berkeley to compete to see which organization had the member most qualified to be called: Mr. Business 2012.
The organizations involved this year were: The Asian Business Association (ABA), Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi), Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), The Haas Business School Association (HBSA), The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), The Latino Business Student Association (LBSA), Net Impact Berkeley (NIB), and Phi Beta Lambda (PBL). The representatives competing from these organizations were: Kevin Lee (ABA), Michael Jee (AKPsi), Victor Chen (DSP), Corey Elliott (HBSA), Sean Drimmel (IABC), Victor Santos (LBSA), Ian Zhu (NIB), and Ivan Zhou (PBL).
Judging for this event were professors David Vogel, Alan Ross, and Bill Fanning. Administrators Erika Walker and Tenny Frost were also part of the panel. Following opening words from hosts Ana Duong and Evelyn Siu the competition began.
The Formal segment came first. The contestants entered the room and sat down at a table beside their “date” for the evening. In this segment each contestant was given a dating scenario in which they had to provide an answer to their “date.” While some of the responses were witty others would have easily spelled disaster if used on an actual date. To be fair to the competitors the situations were tough, and being in a room surrounded by people waiting to hear your response only added to the pressure. Still, despite their answers each contestant spoke confidently and proved they were Mr. Business material. After all the answers were given the contestants stepped out of the room.
Following the Formal segment was the Special segment where each contestant came back dressed as an (in their opinion) “extraordinary gentleman” as per the theme of the evening and answered a “gentlemanly” question. Michael Jee entered dressed as Jack Dawson from Titanic explaining that he chose Jack because he was the “first gentleman I saw on the big screen.”
After Michael, Corey Elliott burst into the room dressed as Batman, when asked who he who he was dressed as Elliott replied in his best Christian Bale voice, “I’m the goddamn Batman!”
Following Elliott, Victor Chen strutted towards the stage flanked by two women. The polo shirt and golf club he was wielding sent whispers though the audience; they all knew what was coming. When asked who he was Chen informed the audience he was dressed as Tiger Woods, asked why Tiger was extraordinary Chen responded “Because I play 18 holes on and off the field.”
After Chen, Ian Zhu arrived; dressed in a black turtleneck and blue jeans he was none other than the late Steve Jobs. To explain why he was extraordinary Zhu gave a presentation in the same style as the Apple product unveiling presentations Jobs was known for.
Coming in after Zhu was Kevin Lee dressed as Jeremy Lin, he chose to come as Lin because his parents are Taiwanese immigrants, he also planned to give the jersey to his mother following the pageant, a response that drew more than a few aww’s from the audience.
Sean Drimmel followed, dressed business casual and with a magnificent silver beard, he was the most interesting man in the world, and why did he chose the most interesting man in the world? “Because he’s the most interesting man in the world” Drimmel explained.
After Sean came Victor Santos as Bruno Mars, explaining why Mars (or maybe Santos himself) was extraordinary, Santos replied, “I can play guitar and make love to you at the same time.”
Finally Ivan Zhou arrived dressed as Sherlock Holmes, but he wasn’t alone, Zhou brought with him an adorable little dog he’d named Watson. With all of these extraordinary gentlemen properly introduced it was time to progress to the Talent segment.
Michael Jee was first up again, his talent: Guitar. Jee played “Who Says” by John Mayer. The song got quite a rise out of the
audience; even HBSA’s President, Tala Beigi, could barely contain herself. Corey Elliott followed on the electric guitar playing “Grow Old With You” by Adam Sandler, it was a wonderful rendition of the song, and even judge Alan Ross seemed to enjoy it, grinning from ear to ear as Elliott played. Victor Chen came in after, performing a very well done mash-up of “Hey, Soul Sister” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on the Ukulele. Ian Zhu was next with a stand-up comedy routine that carried with it a strong message on acting ethically, which may or may not have scored him points with Vogel and Ross.
Sean Drimmel’s mind reading act was brilliant. He started off by handing a sealed envelope to a random audience member and passing out newspapers to strangers in the audience. He then had Ross choose a student with a newspaper, Ross chose and Sean asked the student how many pages were in the paper. The student responded 12, then Tenny Frost was asked to pick a number between 1 and 12, she chose 8. The student with the paper was asked to go to page 8 and choose any word on the page, the student chose Sunday. Sean then had one
student from the audience choose a card suit and another choose between a face card or non-face card. King of Hearts was chosen. Sean then had the sealed envelope opened, it contained several smaller envelopes until at last there was a small piece of paper that read: Page 8, Sunday, King of Hearts; the crowd went wild.
Kevin Lee held his own following Drimmel; he came on stage with a guitar that he quickly traded for two members of ABA who formed a human motorcycle that Lee rode. The trio then broke out and performed the “Evolution of Dance.” Victor Santos came on after, playing his Haas version of “Billionaire” and “Lazy Song” on guitar. Even though Victor’s vocal skills carried him sufficiently, his fellow LBSAers helped take it home, joining him in song.
Finally, last and certainly not least was Ivan Zhou who approached the stage with a briefcase. The room grew quiet with everyone wondering what he had planned. Zhou claimed that he was going to teach the audience “how to be a con man.” He opened his briefcase and revealed a pile of fake dollar bills. He commented, “Every con man needs a catalyst,” and pulled out a fake bill. “Mine is fire,” he said as he revealed a lighter and set the bill ablaze. He put the bill out and it
became a genuine dollar bill. He did this twice more creating a five-dollar bill and a twenty. He then borrowed bills from the audience and turned them into hundreds, finally turning a dollar from Vogel into a thousand dollars. The audience was practically begging for him to continue making more money. However, because of our greed, he explained he would have to end his presentation there and got up and left with his briefcase of fake money along with the money he’d borrowed from the audience, what a con man.
After the Talent segment there was a brief intermission followed by the Business segment where each contestant came back on stage and answered business related questions. These questions ranged from how Goldman Sachs should deal with the recent op-ed article that came out against them to an evaluation of the Occupy movement. The answers provided were both witty and insightful.
The Mr. Business hopefuls were then lined up and the three finalists were announced: Sean Drimmel, Kevin Lee, and Ivan Zhou. This led into the last round where each finalist was given the same question to answer while the other finalists remained outside to keep them from hearing how the others responded. The question:
If you were Dean of the Haas School of Business, how would you pitch the “case for support” for the Haas School’s need for a new building?
Each candidate made a strong case for the new building, making it difficult to predict a winner before the votes from the judges were tallied.
Once the votes were put in the awards were given out. First was for Mr. Congeniality, which went to Victor Santos, the Mr.Popular award, chosen by votes from the audience went to Kevin Lee.
At last it was time to announce Mr. Business. In third place was Ivan Zhou, the runner up was Sean Drimmel and the winner of Mr. Business 2012: Kevin Lee.
With that, the evening drew to a close. Dreams were crushed, titles were given, and the audience was thoroughly entertained.
Special thanks to Amy King for providing pictures that were way better than the ones I took with my phone.