Archive for June, 2011

Sand Castles and Songs

June 29th, 2011
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What's your dream job? And how far would you go to get it?

For some, it's building sand sculptures around the world. That's the premise behind the Sand Masters television show on the Travel Channel, which just featured the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on last Sunday's episode. (You can catch the rerun on July 17.)

It's a nice promotional piece for the Pink Palace, and mentions their recently completed multimillion dollar renovation project. We shot our Career Changer TV segment introductions for the May show at the Royal Hawaiian, and that's when I heard about Sand Masters filming in their lush green courtyard. The series producers do a great job of raising the stakes and ratcheting up the tension: The team is building a special sculpture for a gathering of VIPs -- and they're doing it on sacred ground... then parts of the elaborate piece collapse with just an hour before the big event! Uh-oh. I won't give away what happened.

Essentially though, these sand sculptors found a way to get paid for doing what they love to do. Playing, in other words. Another new reality series I've gotten hooked on, has a similar theme. Platinum Hit on the Bravo channel follows a group of talented young songwriters as they compete for big prizes while going through elimination challenges in each episode. There's also a Hawaii connection. Or was, I should say. A Honolulu resident named Melissa Rapp got cut after getting snippy with the judges. Not a great career move to call out Kara Dioguardi on national TV, especially when your fellow contestants haven't had much good to say about you.

Personally, I like Platinum Hit much more than American Idol because this format truly tests their creativity. They have to come up with catchy hooks in minutes, then craft lyrics and melodies in a few hours. On Idol, they just sing. What's more, most of the PH contestants actually are pretty good vocalists and can play instruments too. They are the whole package. As a writer, I appreciate how difficult it is to come up with original ideas and write new material on tight deadlines. The songwriters have to work in teams as well, which is important because music, TV and movie projects are largely collaborative efforts. If you don't play well with others, you're not likely to last very long in the entertainment biz.

Whether it's building sand castles or writing songs for a living, however, there's pain and sacrifice involved. You have to give up the security of a regular paycheck, while enduring rejections or having to watch your creations fall apart... then start all over again. But I think the hardest part is the self-doubt that creeps in when success eludes you, and you wonder if it was worth chasing the dream.

Have you ever regretted pursuing a seemingly-unattainable goal? Or do you wish you had taken more chances in your life, and gone for it all?

Here's the link to the Sand Masters web page about the Royal Hawaiian Hotel episode. Click here for the Platinum Hit series info.

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We're wrapping up shooting and editing for the July show this week, but you can still catch the current program until next Thursday. Please visit www.CareerChangers.TV for daily viewing times, or check out videos from past and present episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel.

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Quality Control

June 24th, 2011
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Mistakes happen. As much as I pride myself in catching typos and errors before we output the finalized version of our Career Changers TV show, stuff slips through. Such was the case in the current episode when I misspelled the name of a local author/children's book publisher. Even though I had her business card on my desk while I edited the piece, I added an "e" to the end of Kerry Germain's name in the lower third on-screen graphics.

The problem was I discovered my mistake after we had already delivered the finished show to OC16 for airing. I had probably reviewed that one segment at least two dozen times, and my eyes just skimmed over the extra "e" ... until I uploaded it to the CCTV YouTube Channel and realized her name didn't look right. Without going into all the specifics, it would have taken hours to make that one small correction and redo the entire output, then ask OC16 to hold off on running the new show until I could deliver a revised file. My alternative was to tell Kerry the truth before it aired and apologize profusely. So that's what I did.

Perhaps because Kerry is in publishing and knows how even experienced proof-readers can miss a typo, she was gracious and told me not to worry about it. But to be honest, that entire morning I had a sick feeling in my stomach. It bugged me, especially since I expect people I work with to use the same kind of critical eye when I hire them to do something. Yet lately I'm finding a real lack of quality control in everything from local contractors to national big box stores.

I've been largely silent about my home remodeling projects the past month -- actually two months now, since it took over four weeks to get one small bathroom semi-finished, and the upstairs bathroom isn't even halfway done. The windows that were replaced by another outfit were all right (after finding out there was a $300 delivery charge that wasn't included in the original price quote). We also had our kitchen tiled... half looks good, the other half looks like crap because the tile we got had a lot of "fill" and black spots in it.

This is what I mean about quality control. Neither the contractor nor the tile guy he brought in seemed to notice that there were a number of "bad" tiles in the batch we bought from the big box home improvement store. Which might explain why that tile was on sale to begin with. The tiles on top that showed through the box looked fine. Inside though, were the ones with major imperfections. If you were laying tile for someone, wouldn't you stop and show it to the homeowner or contractor who hired you?

We had similar problems with other products that were made locally. A counter top for the bathroom vanity and cultured marble wall panels for the downstairs bath, both had black specks and obvious color imperfections. Yet the contractor still installed them without bringing the flaws to my attention. I also noticed a black speck on the rim of the new toilet we bought from another big box store, which I thought was dirt at first. But it was in the porcelain -- it looks like a tiny fleck of dried poop! Did the contractor spot it when he took it out of the box? Guess not. Did the plumber notice it when he hooked it up? If so, he didn't say anything. I don't mean to sound like a nit-picker, but when you spend thousands of dollars to upgrade your home, I think you're entitled to get what you paid for.

It's gotten to a point where I don't even want to think about hiring local contractors to do any more work around my home, and I'm wary of buying any product from any store unless I can take it out of the box and examine it from top to bottom before I pay for it. The sad thing is I think this is a reflection on the state of manufacturing and customer service in America at large. Instead of taking pride in superior workmanship and making quality control job number one, it seems like buying American -- or local for that matter -- is settling for just being "okay."

And to think adding an extra "e" on a name for a segment we did for free, made me feel like I really screwed up big time. Silly me. In any event, you can see the feature on Kerry Germain and Island Paradise Publishing through next week on OC16. She recently published a charming children's picture book called "Plenty Saimin" by my writer friend, Feng Feng Hutchins. It's a very nice story about two moms, who turned their writing dreams into reality.

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For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV or check out videos from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a nice weekend!

Small Colleges Give Back in Big Way (Updated)

June 21st, 2011
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In today's tough economy, I understand why some colleges promote the idea of getting out fast as one of their key selling points. People want to earn their degrees quickly so they can start working in their chosen fields ASAP. But that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice an important part of the college experience: extracurricular activities.

Personally, I learned more from non-credit stuff I did at Montclair State in New Jersey than I did in the classroom. I wrote for the college paper and became a part of the campus community, covering the student government and higher education issues, as well as social activities (such as dorm parties and underage drinking). But like the University of Hawaii, MSC was mostly a commuter college. The majority of students just took courses and went home, or had to go to work when classes were done. They didn't have time -- or make time, I should say -- to get involved with clubs or activities that would connect them with others in a broader context (such as sports and partying).

So I was pleased to see that two of our college sponsors encourage their students to give back to the local community in different ways.  At Argosy University in Downtown Honolulu, their small student body is continuously striving to raise awareness -- and money -- for important causes. They've helped out with the Hawaii Foodbank, Toys for Tots, AIDS education campaigns, and blood drives.

Remington College also has an ongoing program that combines hands-on business experience with assisting community groups in learning things like money management, and how to raise funds for charities. It's called SIFE, which stands for Students In Free Enterprise. I talked to Remington graduates who said participating in the SIFE regional and international competitions greatly enhanced their learning experience. But what it really comes down to in both cases is the sense of personal reward students get back from giving their time and helping others.

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DSC_1206When Dr. Warren Evans came to Hawaii a little over two years ago to become president of the Argosy Hawaii campus, I don't think he expected to be judging local beauty contests as part of his duties. Yet there he was, interviewing five contestants for the Miss Oahu Filipino title a couple of weeks ago. As it happens, he was asked by a Heald College recruiter -- Dee Dee Melchor-Paguyo -- if Argosy would be interested in offering a scholarship to the winners because Heald wasn't able to do it this year. Since a number of Heald graduates have gone on to get their 4-year degrees at Argosy, Dr. Evans was happy to step in with $24,000 in scholarships.

He also recognizes the Filipino community in Hawaii is a vital part of our ethnic mix and growing in numbers, as recent population studies have confirmed. Participating in the pageant was just another example of how the Arizona transplant is spreading roots here, and expanding Argosy's outreach programs  -- not just on Oahu, but also at their campuses on Maui, the Big Island, Guam and Saipan.

Dr. Evans said he was greatly impressed with all of the Miss Oahu Filipino candidates he interviewed. And he was especially pleased to share the news that the winner, Leonevi Mabiog (pictured with Dr. Evans at left) had accepted the scholarship offer to attend Argosy.

UPDATE: I was informed Argosy actually offered scholarships to all five finalists, totaling $24,000. The winner received $10K; first runner up, $6K; second runner up, $4K; plus $2K "Cultural Award" scholarships to the other two contestants.

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Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth at the Father's Day cook-off/car show put on by Fresh Catch restaurant and FC Sauces! We had a great time, and the motor cooler scooter was a big hit with the crowd. We'll have more on that in a future Career Changers TV show. To find daily viewing times for the current episode, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV or check out video segments on the CCTV YouTube Channel.

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Inflatable Surfboards and Paddleboards?

June 17th, 2011
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c4-isup-brochure-page1-jenkokiI'm surprised the local media hasn't picked up this story yet. C4 Waterman, a leading manufacturer of stand-up paddle boards, announced last month that they are partnering with Dr. Rob Yonover to create inflatable paddle boards and surfboards. We've been featuring the Hawaii Kai inventor's Life/Float inflatable ocean rescue device on our Career Changers TV show and website because I really believe it's an affordable product that can help save lives.

But Dr. Yonover discovered there was another use for his Life/Float that it wasn't designed for: fun. Because it's so sturdy and can be towed, it wasn't long before someone got the idea to pull riders, water-ski style. He doesn't advocate anyone does this... not with the L/F, anyway. However, C4 recognized there were recreational applications for the inflatable board concept. Since it can fold up into a compact 15-pound bag, you can take it places where carrying a regular paddle board isn't feasible. Same with the inflatable surfboard idea. Here's the link to C4's official announcement.

ebooksMeanwhile, Dr. Yonover announced that his how-to book, HARDCORE INVENTING, is now available as an ebook via Google. I've read it and can vouch for its usefulness. Anyone who is trying to create or market new products should check it out. In fact, you can read the first two chapters for free by clicking here.

He also has a brief cameo appearance in the opening of the latest After the Catch, the spin-off of The Deadliest Catch television series on the Discovery Channel. Well, actually it's his patented RescueStreamer® signaling device that can be seen as a helicopter films his speeding boat with the captains on board. He doesn't appear in the episode though -- it's mostly just the Deadliest Catch guys sitting around a bar table, knocking back beers and talking story. Still, it's a great example of creative marketing to get his product additional exposure.

You can meet Dr. Yonover in person this Sunday at the big Aloha Stadium cook-off/car show that's being put on by the Fresh Catch restaurant guys. Career Changers TV will also have a small booth there to promote Mark Bell's motor cooler scooter thing (name still pending!) and the Life/Float. I'll also be selling personal RescueStreamers® at a special one-day only price at the event. But what I'm really looking forward to is meeting viewers and readers of this blog. I want to know what you think of the show, and hear your ideas on what you'd like to see.

So if you're looking for an alternative to a fancy restaurant brunch or dinner for Father's Day, drop by Aloha Stadium for a couple of hours. You can get the scoop by going to the "Up In Smoke" website . (Warning: turn your computer volume down -- loud voice-over immediately comes on, which is a pet peeve of mine.) Have a great weekend!

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For daily viewing times and other useful links, visit www.CareerChangers.TV ... or watch video segments from past and present episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel by clicking here. Mahalo!

Catching Up With Jonah Souza

June 14th, 2011
By



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In my post about the "Up In Smoke" cook-off/"Nobody Cares" car show on Father's Day this Sunday, I wrote a little about Jonah Souza and Reno Henriques. Reno is a chef and owner of the Fresh Catch restaurants. Jonah is his partner in the FC Sauces business they started earlier this year. While Reno spends most of his time in the kitchen, it's Jonah who is running around organizing and promoting things like the cook-off, as well as marketing the sauces.

The first thing you notice about him are the tatts. He's got Polynesian designs covering both arms, which piqued my interest since Souza is a Portugese name. Turns out there was a business-related explanation for the tattoos. His mother is Tahitian and Hawaiian, and Jonah used to own a mobile "journey through Polynesia" show that performed at parties and social events. He laughed and said that before he put on some pounds, he used to dance and play drums as part of the traveling troupe.

That was just another one of his entrepreneurial ventures. Right out of high school, he started an auto detailing business. I'm not sure what the exact timeline was, but at some point his sister got married to Reno, which is how Jonah wound up working for RRR Recycling -- started by Reno's brother to cash in on the HI5 redemption program. The Henriques' parents owned Rolloffs Hawaii, a waste removal biz, so RRR made perfect sense as a family spin-off company. Somewhere in the mix, Jonah got hooked on the sauces and ran with that.

He said a Longs Drugs exec was eating at the Fresh Catch Waialae restaurant, and liked the sauce so much that he suggested they bottle and sell it. So they rented a bottling machine and tested their product by giving out samples at the Longs in Kahala. It was an immediate hit with customers. Longs made a deal with them to sell their product, and within three months, Jonah said they had so many orders to fill that they decided to buy their own machine to bottle the sauces. They are coming out with new poke sauces soon, and expect to be in Costco by the end of the year... then Japan and other Asian countries after that. Oh, and they're also going to be packaging smoked meats as well.

Right now though, Jonah is busting his butt to pull everything together for the big cook-off/car show at Aloha Stadium on June 19. A couple of things you should know if you're thinking about going: you can save money by buying your tickets in advance at the Fresh Catch restaurants ($5 per adult before the event, $7 if you buy that day). And if you want to sample the smoked meats for the People's Choice Award, you better be there early! Gates open at 9 am and cook-off competitors only have to provide 200 samples for judging purposes, so first come, first serve.

We'll also have a Career Changers TV booth where we'll be selling Mark Bell's cooler scooter and Dr. Rob Yonover's ocean rescue devices, which we've featured on our OC16 show. So stop by and say hi if you're there!

For more info on the Sunday event, click here.

Don't forget to check out the new June CCTV show! For viewing times, visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch video segments from past and present episodes on our YouTube Channel by clicking here.