Archive for October, 2011

Sick Leave Policies

October 31st, 2011
By



Wow. When I first saw this on the news, I thought it had to be a typo. Do Hawaiian Tel workers really get 26 WEEKS fully paid sick leave each year? But even 26 days seemed like a lot to me. I can't recall ever working for a company that provided more than a week or two at most for illness or personal days.

Yet here is what the official statement from Hawaiian Tel says: Employees currently may take up to 26 weeks fully paid sick leave each year. The company's offer provides up to 8 weeks fully-paid sick leave annually, with an additional up to 18 weeks of temporary disability paid at 58% or base wages, plus adds company-paid long-term disability and long-term care insurance.

Am I nuts or does even eight weeks sound extremely generous? My wife used to run her own small company, which offered good benefits. But if she had to pay for up to 26 weeks paid sick leave, her business would have been devastated if one or two employees took advantage of that policy.

Am I missing something here? Can any Hawaiian Tel employee explain why they need 26 paid weeks of sick time? In other words, they could miss half a year of work, still collect a regular paycheck, and the company can't replace them. That seems insane to me... and one reason unions have been getting a bad rap of late.

I have been a long-time supporter of unions, but the existing Hawaiian Tel policy makes if far too tempting for workers to abuse it at company expense... which ultimately gets passed on to consumers, who then stop doing biz with that company, resulting in layoffs when losses mount due to having to pay workers who aren't showing up for long periods of time.

Anyone out there have similar sick leave policies where you work? Sheesh, I remember one company that used to give us one whole extra personal day off, paid, if we went the entire year without calling in sick or showing up late. But it was more of a pride thing to accomplish that goal. I guess we were naive or chumps to think you only called in if you were really, really ill.

******

Our new November show premieres on Thurs., Nov. 3. But you can still watch or record our special Halloween episode on  OC16, Weds. 2 pm or watch videos from it on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Please visit www.CareerChangers.TV for daily viewing times and other useful links. Mahalo!

Big Ideas

October 25th, 2011
By



Over the weekend, 60 Minutes had an insightful piece on Steve Jobs, which was followed by a segment about how the iPad is helping people with autism communicate in ways they never could before. I wonder if even Jobs could have imagined the myriad of applications and uses his inventions have inspired. To me, that's the real genius of what Jobs did: he gave people the tools to create things that could help solve problems, be it small or big in scope. He gave ordinary people the ability to express themselves artistically, and share stuff that could be sublime or silly.

That's what is missing in our current leadership at every level of government, and in most businesses. Great leaders don't simply dictate agendas. They inspire others to contribute their own ideas to provide solutions for both big and small problems. I read somewhere that Jobs preferred working with well-rounded individuals who had a wide range of intellectual interests and personal experiences, because true creativity comes from being able to make connections between disparate subjects. Finding simple, elegant answers to complex questions takes a flexible mind that isn't bound by conventions and self-imposed boundaries.

When Gov. Abercrombie took office, I wrote in this blog that I hoped he would pick a team of free thinkers from different backgrounds -- inventors, artists, academics and entrepreneurs. Instead, he stuck with the status quo. Even the new blood he brought in from his campaign were pretty much cut out of the same cloth as the older suits in power. So why should anyone be surprised there hasn't been much in the way of new ideas that inspire or give us hope in these difficult economic times?

I'll give you a perfect example: the controversy over the rail project. From the start, the supporters did a lousy job of creating a Big Picture that people could get excited about. It's not really about just building rail. It should be about master planning communities for the future. This was a chance for government and civic leaders to work together on a vision for the entire state that would make rail just one part of a much bigger goal. We could have been talking about building more affordable rental housing around transit terminals, and opening up commercial zones near those new housing areas while preserving ag lands. What we got instead were pencil-pushers and accountants coming up with rigid, fixed plans and politicians squabbling over who gets what first. No wonder even supporters of mass transit don't like what's come out of the process. They don't feel invested in it, because they don't see a Big Picture that makes sense in the long run. They only see taxes and how much it's projected to cost.

The funny thing about Steve Jobs is he said when he was poor and working out of his garage, he didn't worry about money because he didn't have any. When he became rich, he didn't worry about money either because he didn't have to. So he focused his energy on creating things that could improve our lives. His Big Ideas begat literally millions of small ideas that collectively changed the world we live in. And that led to wealth creation for Apple, plus thousands of other entrepreneurs who focused on making things that fulfilled a need -- not just worrying about money.

That's what we need right now. More visionaries. Less skepticism and cynicism. In my upcoming blogs and Career Changers TV show, I'll be telling you about people who are moving in that direction, despite all the negativity and pessimism you hear in the daily news media. To tell you the truth, I've stopped watching most national news because it has become a negative feedback loop that has poisoned this country's mindset.

*******

And now for something completely different, to borrow a Monty Python phrase, here's the link for www.CareerChangers.TV to find OC16 viewing times, along with other useful job-related information. You can also watch videos from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Got a thought or response to my rant? Go ahead and post it in the comments section below.

"New Day" Rejection Letter - Finally!

October 20th, 2011
By



With all the attention that was given to the departure of high level advisers to Gov. Abercrombie, little mention was made of all the other positions that thousands of people applied for back in November 2010 when the New Day Hawaii website was unveiled. Since I wanted to see how the job application process went, I submitted my resume and cover letter online... and never heard back until I got a form rejection letter about three weeks ago.

That in a nutshell, is what is wrong with government. Good intentions die young, due to lack of follow-through. I wasn't expecting a personalized response right away. However, better-run companies and organizations usually have an auto-reply to let you know they received your application, then let you know your status in a few weeks. But taking nearly a year to get back to you? Sheesh.

What's more troubling is Neil touted the use of social media during his campaign, and implied his New Day staff would be communicating in an open fashion with constituents. You know, through Facebook, Twitter, regular email updates. As producer of the local Career Changers TV show, I tried contacting him and his aides via Facebook, Twitter, emails and even this Star-Advertiser blog. I wanted to interview the Gov or one of his people about their plans to create jobs in Hawaii. Never heard back from anyone. Granted, I'm small potatoes compared to the TV news -- but OC16 does reach over 300,000 cable subscribers, and our CCTV YouTube videos have been watched by thousands of local viewers. So what the heck is going on with Neil's PR people?

Anyhow, the offer stands. I'd love to have either the Gov or one of his staff go on camera and talk about specific things they are doing to spur economic growth in the islands. No hard feelings about getting the rejection letter almost a year after I applied. Oh, btw, the letter from Transition Director William Kaneko says they reviewed more than 3,600 applications for "the few exempt positions available" (didn't say how many). That's a lot of voters -- or former supporters -- to alienate in a few short months by ignoring them.

******

Speaking of politics, I haven't seen anything in the local press yet about a 26-year-old candidate for City Council named Martin Han. I was interviewing him for a sponsored segment about Remington College success stories, when he casually told me he was running for the District 7 seat currently held by Romy Cachola. My initial reaction was, um, yeah... good luck with that. But after learning more about Martin's background and spending some time around him, I have to say he's got a lot of energy and charisma.

He also has been building up a network of support that taps into young voters through his role as Marketing Director for MMA Hawaii, which is the local news source for all things related to mixed martial arts fighting and events here. He says their website has gotten over 7 million hits and the MMA Hawaii magazine has a distribution of 30,000 per issue. Born in the Philippines, Martin went to high school in Chicago and was a sports star in track and football. He says he turned down a Division I football scholarship offer -- he knew he'd have a hard time with school, primarily because English wasn't his first language. At Remington, he says he was able to learn at his own speed with the assistance of faculty who worked with him to overcome his education obstacles.

The other reason he has to be taken seriously is money. His parents own an electronics manufacturing company on the Mainland that apparently has done pretty well. They bought him a house on Hawaii Loa ridge when he moved to Hawaii. But he's also finding financial supporters in the local Filipino community and from businesses associated with the MMA scene. Still, it's a big jump for any 26-year-old to run for City Council. Too bad there aren't more young people with that kind of drive and desire to serve the public.

Here's a link to Martin's website.

*******

Don't forget to check out the current Halloween edition of Career Changers TV. For daily viewing times, visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch videos from the show on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Mahalo!

"The Oldest Oppression"

October 12th, 2011
By



Last week, the newly-formed 808HALT coalition launched its campaign to educate the public about human trafficking in Hawaii. Through my Career Changers TV program, I was brought on board to produce a series of videos about the subject. You can view it on the www.808halt.com site or CCTV YouTube Channel (links at bottom of post).

It's a sobering contrast to our current October CCTV show, which has a fun Halloween theme. But the real life stories I heard from sex trafficking survivors are truly scary. We've altered their voices and concealed their identities in the videos because the pimps who beat them and threatened to harm their families, are still walking around Honolulu free. In part, it's because government budget cuts result in some cases just being put aside.

Although the sex trade is probably the most visible aspect of human trafficking, it's also happening in other areas. The Aloun Farms case brought attention to bigger agricultural operations. But it's happening on small farms too. Again, due to lack of funds, less inspections are being carried out so it's hard to say how widespread the problem is here. I also have heard that it's happening in local restaurants, where dishwashers and cooks are brought to Hawaii under false promises of long-term visas and good paying jobs.

One occupation I didn't associate with trafficking are those kids who go door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions. Turns out many of them were coerced and physically threatened after being told they could earn money while traveling around the country. I remember seeing ads for those jobs years ago when I was fresh out of college, looking for opportunities to see the world. I even went to a seedy hotel room in Times Square to interview with a shady character named "Mr. Venus" for one of those magazine sales jobs. Hard to believe that stuff is still going on.

During the interviews we filmed for the first HALT video, Kathy Xian, the director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, noted that prostitution has been referred to as "the oldest profession." She said it should be called "the oldest oppression" and refers to survivors as "prostituted persons" instead of labeling them as prostitutes, which implies they voluntarily chose to sell themselves. In most cases, she says the women were forced into working in brothels, massage parlors or put out on the streets. With APEC coming to town next month, expect to see a major influx of women brought in by pimps.

To find out more about the HALT project, please visit the website by clicking here. You can also view a larger version of the video on the CCTV YouTube Channel (click here).

*******

The premiere of the October Halloween episode last Thursday was preempted by high school volleyball, which pushed back the starting time about 15 minutes. If you recorded it and missed the second half of the show, which included segments on two costume shops and an interesting piece about Argosy University's Marriage & Family Therapy program, you can tune in this Thursday night at 8:30 PM to see the rest of the show. For other viewing times, you can check our schedule at www.CareerChangers.TV.

Posted in Career Changers TV, human trafficking | Comments Off

New Show Starts Thurs. Night

October 5th, 2011
By



DSCF0015

While out on shoots the past week, it occurred to me that it's starting to seem like Halloween every day. Case in point, the photo above was taken at the Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience (HEXXP) last Friday and Saturday at the Blaisdell. That's Kira Cowles and Selina Sonoda, both 20-year-olds from Kailua, who came as characters from an anime they're into. We'll be running a segment on that event in our November show. Lots of cool stuff to tell you about!

Prof PBut first, you gotta watch our special Halloween episode, which premieres Thursday night, Oct. 6, at 8:30 PM on OC16. The lead-off segment on Eric West, a.k.a. Professor Pandemonium, will have you shaking your head in disbelief when you see his sideshow feats of wonder, which are likely to make you go ewwww.... Good fun. He's more of a performance artist really, and his loft reflects his commitment to helping promote other creative types in Chinatown as well.

Then there's the segments on Yvette LaFontaine's Costume Closet shop in Kaimuki, where we did the segment intros with host Theresa Tilley, news about Goodwill's big costume contest, and a fun piece on Kharolina's costume business. Some of her outfits (and one of her friends) appeared in the Hawaii Five-O episode that involved a guy dressed up as a superhero at a costume ball or something. To be honest, like most of the forgettable 5-0 plots, I can't recall what that episode was about.

If you DVR the show Thursday night, don't fast forward through the Diversified Exterminators commercials! I added some special sound effects  to fit the Halloween theme.

You can find daily viewing times at www.CareerChangers.tv or get a sneak peek at segments from the new show by visiting the CCTV YouTube Channel (click here). You'll also see new videos posted for the www.808HALT.com project on human trafficking in Hawaii that I'm producing videos for. It's sobering stuff, which I'll be writing more about next week.