Honoring Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (Part 4 of 4)

May 2024 | By ALULA

It was an honor to explore the story of Nainoa Thompson here, and we’re thrilled you’re following our series on what today’s leaders and workers can learn from AA and NHPI people whose work demonstrates a profound commitment to behaviors with a lasting positive impact.  

Vicki Draves, the first Filipino American diver to win an Olympic gold medal, has so much to teach us. Her journey is an enduring reminder of what it means to stay humble and grounded 


Born Victoria Taylor Manalo, she faced discrimination and segregation in 1940s America yet remained focused on her goals. She practiced during the limited time she was allowed in public pools, and then she used her maiden name Taylor to join the swimming and diving club recommended by her high school coach.  

By age 19, she was training with Coach Lyle Draves, who she would eventually marry. Her path to 5 US diving championships was a classic case of returning to square one. 

Draves’s commitment to staying humble and grounded paid off as she relearned fundamentals until, as she put it, “I realized how much I didn’t know and why I was doing what I was doing.” The reward was a record two gold medals for platform and springboard diving in the 1948 summer Olympics. 

Staying humble and grounded remained core to her legacy for other swimmers and divers, including her children, who are grateful for the humble example she set and the impression it left on them and their family. 

Humility endows variety, and Graves made star appearances in water shows that toured internationally before organizing a swimming and diving program with her husband in California.  

Graves is an example of what’s possible when we stay humble and grounded enough to re-learn what we think we know. This is no small feat in the workplace, where people often feel obligated to demonstrate what they know. 

However, we have an opportunity to ask each other what skill, activity, or routine we can re-learn for greater success.  

Thank you to everyone who has been sharing this series with their teams and colleagues. Doing so is a great way to reflect on our collective leadership behaviors and the positive impact they can generate. Please consider encouraging someone new to read from the beginning here.


Topics: Behavior, Leadership


Written by ALULA