Archive for April, 2010

Discrimination is Discrimination

April 30th, 2010

In the workplace, you can't discriminate against an employee because of their race, religious beliefs or gender. I mean, not legally. We all know it still occurs. But morally, most of us would agree it's wrong. So how can anyone deny equal civil rights to people based on their sexual orientation?

Thankfully, many forward-thinking companies and even some states have recognized that simple truth and given same-sex couples the same benefits that hetero-married people like my wife and I receive. As far as I know, those businesses haven't suffered and the sky hasn't fallen yet in states with civil unions.

Yet look at Arizona, which is now being boycotted for its law targeting illegal aliens -- foreigners, in other words. More specifically, foreigners from certain countries south of the border. I doubt any white European visitors will be questioned by police on the grounds of "reasonable suspicion" that they might be illegals. Arizona is already losing convention business and tourism dollars thanks to their attempts to legalize racial and ethnic discrimination.

Imagine if Hawaii tried to impose a law that gave police the power to question anyone who might look like an illegal foreign worker! Ridiculous, right? The majority of people in this state would be considered suspects in Arizona. Yet where are the Tea Party protesters when it comes to protesting about the loss of liberty in this instance? Nowhere, because "foreigners" are convenient scapegoats for lost jobs -- jobs most of us would not want to do. In Hawaii, we're blessed to have a multi-cultural society that has assimilated immigrants from many countries. I'm not ashamed to embrace the rainbow as a symbol of what these islands represent.

I bring these issues up because apparently none of the other Advertiser bloggers or journalists over at want to go there. And also because there are very real economic impacts associated with discriminatory practices, whether it's based on race or sexual orientation.

Travel industry professionals know the gay market is a highly desirable demographic for any visitor destination. On average, they make more money and spend more money. Also, they tend to dress nicer and have better manners than a lot of the yahoos who applaud Arizona's closed door policies for people of a certain color or language accent. I suggest those folks should bypass Hawaii (too many foreigners!) and spend their vacations in Arizona, since that state is going to be losing mucho dineros in tourism revenue.

On the other hand, if Gov. Lingle truly cares about helping improve our state's economy, she would be wise to sign HB 444. We could use a boost in tourism not just from gay travelers -- but all foreigners and Americans who still believe this country was founded on principles of equality and fairness for all. It would also show Hawaii is still a place that welcomes diversity.

It's not just a matter of doing what is morally right. It makes good economic sense to practice what we preach. "Live Aloha" shouldn't just be a saying on a bumper sticker.

Today's relevant link:

Awhile back at the Star-Bulletin, I wrote this piece about diversity and the upside of being "different." Here's my column on The 10 Percent Theory ("We're Here, We're Weird, Get Used to It").

Procrastination and Motivation

April 27th, 2010

National Procrastination Week was last month, and I meant to post something about it, but... yeah, didn't get around to it. While working on writing projects and the Career Changers TV show, I get easily distracted by emails, articles I'm reading on the internet, or message boards related to screenwriting.

To stay on track, I keep to-do lists in front of me. Some have been there for months, others are there for a day and no more. I get satisfaction from crossing off even the most mundane tasks.

However, the biggest motivator for me is reading. It could be a random article, a few lines in a blog post I come across, or a chapter in a book that was recommended to me. Believe me, when you're self-employed or struggling to make it in the creative arts, investing daily time in staying motivated is crucial to your mental and emotional well-being. So here's a couple of books that are currently on my desk that you might want to check out...

THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield - One of my blog readers suggested I get this since it's all about overcoming "resistance" and procrastination. As it turns out, the forward is written by Robert McKee, the author of Story -- an influential book on screenwriting I had read a long time ago. The book also draws parallels between overcoming addictions with overcoming creative blocks. Interesting, and more importantly, it inspires you to get moving!

THE SPIRITUALITY OF IMPERFECTION by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham isn't really a motivational career-related book -- unless you're in the business of story-telling or treating addictions. Yet I think non-addicts can get a lot out of it because it deals with an obstacle many of us have: the desire or need to be "perfect." Isn't that what stops many from pursuing their passions or attempting new things?

This book explains how accepting our own imperfections makes us better at accepting imperfections in others -- which can help in recovery or improve workplace relationships. By telling and listening to personal stories, we find meaning in everyday experiences. In a way, that's what I try to do in these blog posts.

The Spirituality of Imperfection was recommended to me by William Cope Moyers, when he was in town to speak at a fundraiser for the Hina Mauka treatment center. He's the son of journalist Bill Moyers and is a recovering addict, like myself. His memoir Broken tells how drugs derailed his career as a CNN reporter, and eventually led to his current job as a spokesman for Hazelden, perhaps the most well-known treatment center in the world. You can tell he loves what he's doing now -- there's a sparkle in his eyes when he talks about recovery. He didn't have that same sense of purpose when he was trying to follow in his father's footsteps.

When people say they're feeling burnt-out or unmotivated, I think it's often an indication they're not doing what they really want to be doing in life. So they unconsciously sabotage themselves by underperforming, or over-compensating to the point that either they will be terminated, or have to quit from the stress they put on themselves. And yes, I've been there too.

So what do you read or do to stay motivated? Any other recommendations?

Today's relevant links:

Here's a Lifehacker piece on procrastination with practical tips on how to beat the time-waster blues.

This U.S. News article poses 10 questions to determine if you really have a bad case of job burnout or just the blahs.

On the Career Changers TV site, we have a link to a motivational speaker who's the father of Erin Gerwig, owner of Dogwalkers, etc., which we profiled on one of our shows. You can sign up for John Chappelear's weekly positive thoughts emails too!

NFL Draft, Sports Careers and Bad Breaks

April 23rd, 2010

Came across an interesting article about the Wonderlic intelligence test, which is used by the NFL to evaluate future professional football players. At draft time, it's not just a matter of physical skill when teams make their selections. It takes intelligence to learn all the offensive and defensive schemes, as well as the ability to make split-second decisions. You'll find the article link below.

But if you can't make it as a player, there are many other career opportunities for those who have a passion for sports: trainers, doctors who specialize in sports injuries, sports marketing, merchandising, retail, sports media, and coaching too. The UH has been going through a bunch of coaches lately, and in a future blog post, I'll give my two cents on how the new basketball coach can win back old fans who jumped ship, while attracting younger ones at the same time. (HINT: CHANGE THE PRE-GAME RITUALS AND MUSIC!)

Oh, also wanted to add a postscript to my high school football story in which I recounted my mom's advice to go back just one more day when I was ready to give up. Although I finally was named a starter on the varsity team my senior year, that very same day in a practice scrimmage, I broke my leg...

Having spent the last four years working towards the goal of playing varsity football, I was in deep denial when I heard my leg crack. I limped off the field and refused to get x-rays until the next morning because the pain was so bad. The nurse came out and said, "Well, there goes football for this year." My right fibula, the weight-bearing bone, was snapped clean through.

As my father drove me home, I cried. He suggested I could play baseball instead, but I stunk at that sport. Since there was no chance I'd ever play football at the college level due to my lack of size and speed, my football career was over in effect. Then I looked at the calender and realized the cast would come off with still two games remaining on the schedule...

One thing sports teaches us is how to deal with adversity. It was foolish to think I could wear a cast for a month and a half, then resume playing a contact sport at full speed, hitting guys who outweighed me by 50 to 100 pounds. Yet I began lifting weights down in the basement, and used a "Bullworker" exerciser to stay in shape for the next six weeks. At least I could try to make a comeback.

After Dr. Allegro (great name for a leg specialist!) removed the cast, I asked if it was completely healed. He said, "Yes. Just don't do anything crazy on it." I told my dad, and then my coach that the doctor said it was okay to play.

My right leg had atrophied, so it looked like a thin stick compared to my other leg. But I had the trainer put extra tape around my ankle for support, and limped it back into shape. My first week back at practice was painful. When the team jogged around the field to warm-up, I was bringing up the rear with the heaviest, slowest linemen.

Needless to say, I did not play in the game that Saturday. By the second week, I was jogging in the middle of the pack during warm-ups, and able to cover deep passes from the safety position. So I got to start my first and last varsity game on the same day. I didn't make any heroic plays or screw up too badly, and we won handily. Could I have done serious injury to myself by coming back so soon? Perhaps. Yet the risk was worth it to me. You only get one chance in this life to do certain things.

And when I look back at other decisions I've made in life -- including my career choices -- I feel like the risks were worthwhile, because I pursued my passions. Have you?

Today's relevant links:

Article on NFL draft's Wonderlic test.

Speaking of bad breaks, here's a good U.S. News & World Report piece on what to do if you hit some career "potholes" that disrupt your journey in life.

And lastly, if you think you've had a rough go of things, check out William Donohoe's story of perserverance on our YouTube Channel. It's also airing on this month's Career Changers TV show (click here for schedule).

Have a great weekend!

Phoning it in...

April 20th, 2010

We've all done it. You're tired, stressed out or just feeling lazy, so you do your job in a perfunctory, half-a**ed manner. Actors and entertainers would say you were "phoning it in." As a blogger, there are times when I'm busy with other projects and think it would be a lot easier if I could just post some food pictures or a link to a funny/weird article and type: "What do you think?"

But the writer in me says, no, don't take the easy way out. Because you never know who is reading your stuff. If you can inspire one person to do that little extra to find work, make networking connections, or go above and beyond the call at their current job, then it doesn't matter if I get many comments. I've accomplished something worthwhile.

It's easy to get depressed when you're out of work or stuck in a dead-end job. So I'm going to share some advice my mom gave me when I was a high school freshman trying out for the football team. Being half-Japanese, I was on the small side (5'5", a whopping 115 pounds). Yet I hit the bags hard as anyone, and worked my butt off on the practice field.

However, after nearly a week of grueling two-a-days in muggy 90 degree Jersey summer weather, the coaches still wouldn't give me a uniform. They didn't think I was big enough or fast enough. I told my mom it was pointless, and I was giving up. She put my dinner plate in front of me and said, "Why don't you go back one more day?"

So I did. And that afternoon I heard the coaches arguing. The assistant coach said I deserved to be on the team because of my effort. Grudgingly, the head coach finally agreed to give me one of the last uniforms left. I vowed that I would make him eat his words that I was "too small" to play on his team.

By my sophomore year, I became captain of the junior varsity team as a starting defensive back... I was also the punter, a punt returner, second-string quarterback, and on the kick-off team. The head coach promoted me to varsity and put me on the kick-off team (they called me the "Kamikazee"). At the start of my senior year, weighing all of 135 pounds, I was named the starting safety for a varsity team that was ranked in the Top 10 of that county.

Since then, I've had to deal with rejections and disappointments -- especially in my screenwriting career. In effect, agents and producers are telling me I'm not good enough to make it as a writer. I keep thinking about quitting and getting a "real" job. Sometimes, when I'm working on a script I feel like phoning it in -- nobody's buying my stuff, anyway... and then I hear my mom's voice telling me to go back just one more day. Write one more scene, one more page, one more screenplay.

You never know what tomorrow will bring. That could be the day good things happen, all because you decided to do your best right now instead of just going through the motions.

Today's relevant link:

From U.S. News & World Report, 7 Things Never to Say to Your Boss, which sounds like stuff that might spill out of your mouth when you feel overworked or under-appreciated.

Latest Squashed Gecko (my writers blog) post on Celebrity Rehab, also linked on our Career Changers TV site.

"Old School" Ads for Colleges

April 15th, 2010

In my last post, I mentioned the University of Hawaii's new TV ads that cost $75,000 to produce and another $25,000 to air so far, according to a Star-Bulletin article. Have you seen the commercials yet? (If you haven't, there are links at the end of this post.)

Basically, they created four nice-looking image ads that feature interesting shots of students (or faculty?) doing all kinds of exciting things! They're scuba diving! Hiking through forests! They're in observatories on top of Mauna Kea! They're dressed up in awesome costumes for some reason! Um... is this really what most students experience at UH?

By contrast, the local private universities and for-profit colleges that advertise on TV and in the newspapers, pretty much stick to traditional old school marketing: here's what we offer, here are the benefits and advantages of enrolling in our college, and here's some typical students to give testimonials. All in 30 seconds or less.

Considering that college is perhaps the second biggest investment most people will make in their lifetime -- homes being first -- shouldn't their advertising present honest, useful information instead of flashy images that tell us nothing of practical value? Okay, I get that the UH is trying to spark interest... but where do you go for more info if you are interested?

In the case of UH, if you go to the website address at the end of commercial, you get to see an exciting... well, no. Their site is boring as can be. No videos posted about students or faculty. No virtual 360 photo tours. Nothing creative or different. It's blah.

One of our sponsors, Chaminade University, has been posting videos on YouTube for some time and has gotten thousands of views for their more popular majors, such as forensics. The "CSI Chaminade" piece was produced by my CCTV partner, Ron Darby. That one profiles Dr. Lee Goff, who has been a consultant to the hit show, CSI, and has even had his name mentioned on it.

What we've been trying to do on CCTV is show parents and prospective students true life experiences of both young and older people at their respective schools. Our stuff isn't slick or fancy. The students and graduates talk honestly about why they chose that college and what they got out of it. We interview faculty and administrators too, so audiences get to see what they're like. Since our sponsors paid for the segments, you could call it an infomercial -- but does that make the information part of the story any less valuable?

Anyhow, I bring this up because the UH director of communications told me they did not think our show fit their target market: local teenagers and their parents.

Hello? OC16 is the only station that carries high school sports and surfing shows for teens! I know for a fact that their parents are watching high school games and other OC16 programs of local interest. And you wonder why UH isn't doing better as far as attracting more support from local residents? Just saying, it all starts with understanding who your market is. Or at least what they're watching on TV. Sheesh.

Here's the Star-Bulletin link. Why hasn't the Advertiser covered this?

This is what UH spent $75,000 on to create four 30-second spots:

"One Day" ; "Exploration"; "Innovation"; "Experience the World"

And here's our Career Changers YouTube Channel link, where you can see 4-6 minute feature stories on Heald and Chaminade -- which each cost less than $2,000 to shoot, edit and air daily for an entire month.

You tell me, who got the better deal? If you want more CCTV ad info, just go to our site!