Archive for June, 2010

How To Be Good

June 30th, 2010
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Our new Career Changers TV show starts airing Thurs., July 1 at 8:30 PM on OC16. After that, you'll still be able to catch it daily at different times for the entire month (click here for viewing schedule on the CCTV website).

In this episode, we wanted to share some positive news and have a little fun as well. The daily headlines are bleak enough, right? So we did a segment on the great work being done by Goodwill Industries, and went out to their new career training center in Kapolei. Every day, they help clients who are dealing with mental or physical challenges, youth at risk, and folks who are just having a really tough time. If not for Goodwill's assistance, I think many of their clients could have wound up being among the homeless we've been hearing so much about of late.

We're also introducing a new feature we hope will make viewers smile: long-time humor columnist Charley Memminger makes his first appearance as a CCTV contributor. Sort of like "a few minutes with Andy Rooney" -- if Andy were 30 years younger and less cranky. Actually, Charley has a reputation for being somewhat curmudgeonly himself. In reality, he's a pretty easy going guy. He is also a talented screenwriter.

A few years ago when the Maui Writers Conference used to have a screenwriting contest that was judged by movie and TV producers, agents and managers, Charley took the top prize with his feature film script. I came in second place -- curse you, Memminger! There were about 600 entries from all over the country, and it was the first (and only) time Hawaii writers placed in the top three. As a result of connections he made through the MWC contest, he got a gig writing for BAYWATCH HAWAII. Unfortunately, "Babewatch" was cancelled before any of the episodes he worked on got produced.

Anyway, my blog headline is a reference to a very funny book by Nick Hornby (also wrote HIGH FIDELITY and ABOUT A BOY), which is narrated by a woman doctor who considers herself to be a decent person. Her husband is a cranky newspaper columnist, described as the angriest man in his town. His pieces remind me a little of Charley's rants... er, columns. Then the husband has an epiphany: instead of complaining about stuff that bugs him, he's going to actually do something to help his fellow man.

What he does is try to convince his neighbors to take in homeless people. In theory, as good Christians, isn't that what we're supposed to do? Of course, this does not sit well with his wife who tends to sick people all day. Nor does it sit well with neighbors who don't want homeless people living next door. The book makes you examine your own values and the limits of good intentions.

So next time you pass a Goodwill or Salvation Army store, think about the good work they do -- and how any one of us could wind up among the less fortunate due to circumstances beyond our control. Also, if you're looking for a fun read, Nick Hornby's HOW TO BE GOOD is available in paperback.

Lastly, please watch Career Changers TV! It's on every day, so you have no excuse not to DVR it. Besides, we promised Charley we would try to help sell his book on our show... won't you think of the poor unemployed writers in Hawaii?

NOTE: I'm taking a long weekend break, so comments will be closed to stop the onslaught of Spam I've been getting ever since it changed over to the StarAdvertiser.com site. The old Advertiser blog admins had a better filter or something to deter spammers... man, I hate those morons!

Stressed-out? Breathe!

June 28th, 2010
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Due to miscellaneous glitches and problems over the past week, I've been jonesing for a cigarette even though I quit smoking years ago. Never mind I went through rehab for my addiction to alcohol over 20 years ago, and know how insane it would be to take up an old habit again just because of a little stress...

And yet I could practically feel the phantom cigarette in my fingers. When I used to go out drinking (another way I dealt with stress), smoking gave me something to do with my hands. It was a crutch and a prop. But there are very real benefits too. Besides the nicotine boost, when you drag on a cig you are really taking a deep breath. Exhaling the smoke feels relaxing.

Ironically, what was contributing to my stress was a Career Changers TV segment we just filmed about tips on handling stress and avoiding deeper depression as a result of being out of work. The shoot itself went fine. However, to make it work for our show, we needed to add additional footage and we were up against a tight deadline. So we put that piece on hold, despite my desire to keep it in.

Part of the problem was the subject itself is pretty broad. Our on-camera stress expert was Joy Quick, the interim chair of Argosy University's Marriage and Family Therapy program. She noted there are physical, mental and emotional forms of stress. Each calls for a different approach to deal with specific symptoms. Ignore the symptoms and you could develop more serious signs of depression.

Joy also pointed out that the bad economy doesn't just impact those who lost jobs. Big companies and small businesses are asking employees to take on additional duties to make up for laid-off personnel. Doing more work for the same (or less) pay is tough for anyone to accept. So how do you handle those kind of negative feelings that build up inside?

The first tip Joy gave is to BREATHE. Simply stop and take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Repeat. I find this works too when I tense up while playing tennis. It sounds silly, but sometimes I get so intense during games that I forget to breathe regularly!

Another thing that seems like common sense, but gets overlooked, is to get out in the fresh air and do something physical when you're feeling down. Hey, as a writer I have to deal with rejection all the time. Although I have the freedom to leave my home office whenever I want, too often I will sit at my computer writing or reading stuff on message boards related to writing... I think it will help me get over the sting of rejection, when in reality I'd be better off taking a long walk.

Final thought for this post: we live in a world where too many choices can lead to stress from having to constantly make decisions. What cereal to buy, or TV show to watch, who to follow on Twitter, which Facebook request to accept or ignore. Whether you're employed or not at present, it seems like we're expected to do more and more in less time. Why is that?

How do you personally deal with stress? Seriously, am I the only one who feels like being on Twitter and Facebook is more like work than play?

Today's semi-related links:

Here's a NY Times article about overqualified job seekers who are just happy to have a job right now. Maybe the key to happiness is lower expectations?

Book review of THE ART OF CHOOSING, which suggests more choice can lead to less happiness.

Besides breathing deeply, to be happy and have less stress, perhaps we should try to "talk deeply" about the meaning of life rather than shallow, superficial things. Click here for that NYT Health column.

Our new July Career Changers TV show begins airing Thursay night at 8:30 PM on OC16. For additional program times and other useful info, please visit our CCTV website!

Story-Telling

June 24th, 2010
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Nice to see we now have a "View All Blogs" link on the front page box, and our own home page for bloggers again! The one thing that's missing still is the "About" paragraph to tell new readers a little about each blogger's background.

In my case, I'm a former newspaper reporter-turned-marketing exec-turned screenwriter. I'm also a big UH sports fan, played football and was a pole vaulter in high school, and now take my hacks on tennis courts or with Wii controllers (my wife constantly talks trash while playing tennis and Wii games).

The reason I'm sharing this is that I'll frequently refer to sports and movies in my blog posts, because people relate to stories -- especially uplifting, inspiring tales about overcoming odds and exceeding expectations. But you can find those type of positive stories in everyday life or work situations as well, if you look for them.

While my CCTV partner, Ron Darby, and I were shooting a segment at the new Goodwill career training center in Kapolei, I had a real chickenskin moment. As I was scouting locations, I passed a room where mentally-challenged Goodwill clients were getting ready for a trip to the beach. I met some of them in the hallway. Each one politely introduced themselves and asked how I was doing, showing a courtesy that is often missing in fast food places and retail stores I do business in.

Next to that classroom was a large kitchen where Goodwill teaches basic cooking skills to help make their clients self-sufficient. For able-bodied clients, there's a computer training room and a "child watch" room where kids can be left while parents attend classes that are meant to get them off welfare or unemployment. What makes Goodwill work is the staff. Every employee I met or saw seemed genuinely engaged and passionate about what they do there. They also teach good manners and "soft skills" that many of us take for granted.

The Goodwill segment begins airing next Thurs., July 1. If you'd like to make a donation to Goodwill, please visit their site. They do great work and deserve our support.

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In my last blog post, I mentioned the Envision Hawaii story-telling workshop I attended over the weekend. Pono Shim, president of Enterprise Honolulu, talked about how sharing personal experiences can bridge differences and forge better business relationships. Christina Kemmer, president of Communications Pacific, and two of her associates spoke about the media's role in community building. Their viewpoint: If you don't tell your story, someone else will.

Which is true. Unfortunately, most of the daily news coverage focuses on only NEGATIVE stuff that happens. So I stood up and asked, "How do you get coverage for positive things?" Garett Kamemoto, a former newsman who now works with Communications Pacific, answered: "You don't."

But he's wrong, actually. You just have to be creative -- and persistent. There are small TV shows like mine on OC16 and Olelo that are always looking for good stories. There are local blogs and websites geared to niche markets. Don't be afraid to toot your own horn if you think you have something that is newsworthy. Got an inspiring story about changing careers or starting a new biz? Drop me a line.

Here's my take-away idea from the Envision Hawaii conference (link has more on that event): If no one else is going to cover positive news that is happening around us, why not do it on Career Changers TV?

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Quickie Sports Riff: NO SPOILERS! When we were shooting at Goodwill, the topic of World Cup soccer came up. Without thinking, I said the U.S. match that aired around 3:30 AM had ended in a 2-2 draw. One of the Goodwill staffers made a face and said she had recorded it... she was going to watch it later with her sons, who were huge soccer fans. Oops.

Yesterday's marathon match at Wimbledon was incredible! I had DVR'd about 10 hours worth of coverage and started fast-forwarding through the action since I was not too keen on watching John Isner, the 6'9" human tree, or unheralded Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut. Then I realized something amazing was happening...

For non-tennis players, it's hard to explain how difficult it is to maintain your physical energy and mental focus for even a couple of sets. But these guys had already played four sets the day before when it was called due to darkness. Then the deciding fifth set went beyond 6 games apiece, because there is no tie-breaker in the final set at Wimbledon. You must win by two games. So they played on... and on...

It would eventually be stopped again at 59 games all, after it got too dark to continue. That one set alone lasted over seven hours! I prefer long back-and-forth rallies on points, and both players were acing a lot of serves, so it wasn't scintillating tennis in the traditional sense. But the drama kept building with each hold of serve. Who would falter first or drop from exhaustion?

There was Isner lumbering around, looking like he might topple over. Yet when he needed a big serve, the giant reached back and found something. Wiry Mahut kept scrambling on every point, insanely making diving attempts on the grass to return shots he had no chance at. As I write this, I don't know who won when they resumed today.

I do know this much: Sports -- remarkable efforts such as by these two players -- reminds us that it's all about how much you want something, and having the will to keep going when everyone else has already given up or called it quits. The same holds true in any endeavor or career you choose to pursue.

Networking 101

June 21st, 2010
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Quick, bookmark my blog or add it to your RSS feed before it disappears again from this Blog box! If you happened to visit the S-B site on Saturday, you may have noticed there were no blogs at all in it. I thought maybe they were going to fix it so that more than 10 posts would be displayed. Wrong.

Anyhow, in my post about Pam Chambers last week that vanished shortly after I hit "Publish," I mentioned we had taped a Career Changers TV segment with her. One of the tips she shared was how to make the most out of networking opportunities. This weekend I attended the Envision Hawaii mini-conference at ING Waikiki, which featured top business people from Communications Pacific, Enterprise Honolulu, as well as other companies. And using Pam's advice, I made some great connections...

The first thing Pam noted was most of us seek out familiar faces when we go to mixers, workshops or business events. She suggested you make a point of meeting new people -- specifically, the most important person in the room and the person you'd most like to get to know for business purposes. I'm sort of an introvert, so it doesn't come naturally to me. But once I got going, it became easier and I wound up talking with some of the most successful professionals in Hawaii. People who would probably not accept a cold call from me or reply to an email request for a meeting.

Later this week, I'll post more on the Envision Hawaii mini-conference. But in case you missed the info on Pam Chambers' upcoming Presentation Course in July, here's the link. It's once a week for five weeks, and with the $50 discount she's offering to readers of this blog, the total cost is $445. Yes, that may sound like a lot. However, the skills and confidence you can gain could translate to increased sales, commissions or raises... in fact, one of the people I met at the Envision event told me she had taken Pam's course years ago, and it made a huge difference in her life!

For new readers, you can find out more about the Career Changers TV show by visiting our website and YouTube Channel.

Blog Update: Bookmark this...

June 17th, 2010
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Sorry, readers. I'd really like to offer more tips and advice related to careers and job hunting, but my posts keep disappearing from the StarAdvertiser.com blog box shortly after they appear.

The problem is the box only will hold 10 blog links, apparently. Newer posts bump down older posts. Older posts vanish -- you can find the transplanted Advertiser blogs on the old Advertiser blog page though.

The alternative is to add blogs you like to your RSS feed, or bookmark individual blogs. Mine is: http://careerchangers.honadvblogs.com/

I've emailed the S-A webmaster and pointed out that this affects all the bloggers since some are posting multiple times in one day, while others are more sporadic. Also, for some reason I keep seeing double posts for some blogs. No response from management yet.

Hopefully, they'll expand the number of blog headlines or keep them in the box for at least a day or two. My suggestion was they have a separate Blog page link at the top of the box that readers can click on to view all blogs and post headers for the entire week.

Is it just me, or is the text on the newly added blogs appearing all the way to the left of your screen with virtually no margin space?

While I'm here, any suggestions on topics you'd like me to address? Besides blog problems, that is!