Patrice Tanaka is no settler. Throughout a career spanning nearly four decades, Tanaka has solidified her reputation as a best-selling author, PR whiz and, above all, a person who believes that life is fully lived through pursuit of one’s passion.
Tanaka is Japanese American, born in Hawaii and graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1974. Shortly after graduation, Tanaka moved to New York City, where she quickly immersed herself in the bustling world of public relations and journalism. One early career highlight includes leading a management buyback that led to the founding of PR firm PT&Co., which would later lead Tanaka to create CRT/tanaka.
Throughout her pursuits in PR, Tanaka has prioritized making a difference and pursuing a fulfilling life. In 2002, Tanaka found herself feeling depressed in the aftermath of 9/11. She was also facing the difficulties of the difficult career transition that was building her own firm as well as caring for her ill husband, who battled a brain tumor and subsequently lost his battle the following year.
Usually a happy, cheery person, Tanaka found found she felt a bit lost in all of the tragedy and stress that had befallen her. But instead of succumbing, she fought through.
Later on, Tanaka would join the consulting firm Joyful Planet LLC as the Chief Joy Officer. She also authored the book Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO. The book addresses Tanaka’s love of ballroom dancing and is a nod to how intermingling business and pleasure can lead to a more complete life.
In addition to her career pursuits, Tanaka is also an active philanthropist. Tanaka primarily focuses her philanthropic energy on organizations that empower women and girls, and is also an active supporter of organizations such as Asian Women in Business.
Staying true to her ballroom roots, Tanaka is also a trustee of the non-profit, Dancing Classrooms, which supports social and emotional learning (SEL) by introducing ballroom dancing in elementary schools.
Among Tanaka’s accomplishments are several awards and accolades recognizing her involvement in the public relations industry. She has been recognized with the Entrepreneurial Leadership Award by the Asian Women in Business organization, received the Woman of Distinction Award from the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York, as well as the Distinguished Alumni Award from her alma mater, the University of Hawaii.
Above all else, Tanaka’s greatest pursuit in life has been one of joy and happiness. It is fitting, then, that her most recent endeavors with Joyful Planet LLC seem to be a full-circle journey for the accomplished businesswoman.
“I believe if everyone is living their life’s purpose – and by that, I mean, leveraging their expertise, talent and passion in service of people and planet – we could, together, create a more joyful planet,” Tanaka wrote on the Joyful Planet website. Indeed, this statement summarizes the concept of Tanaka’s career. Built on the concept of whatcanbe, Tanaka’s previous pursuits in public relations focus on the idea of “what can be” created from a vision and a purpose. It is that larger-than-life thinking, the idea that anything is possible with the right tools, has been the foundation of a lifelong career for Tanaka
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