Archive for July, 2012

Kailua Business Ban

July 27th, 2012

Yesterday I was at Sea Life Park filming segments for the next Career Changers TV episode that will begin running in August. They had a "soft" opening of the new Hawaii Shark Tank exhibit, which isn't completely finished yet, and have been making other improvements that locals will appreciate -- including special deals like the $12 entry price with a Foodland Makai Card (or get four tickest for just $40).

Sea Life Park's marketing manager, Claudette Springer, told me business is booming this summer. Attendance is averaging around 700 people a day, and individual spending is up -- probably because many visitors are adding on things like the dolphin, seal and shark encounters, in which you get to have an up close and personal experience with these magnificent sea creatures. They generate additional revenue from hosting weddings and parties on the grounds. That makes perfect sense when you consider the beautiful surroundings and location.

Naturally, a lot of visitors continue their sightseeing tour by heading into Waimanalo or Kailua, where many of the Sea Life Park employees also live. Who wouldn't want to work close to home if you have that option? And yet, that is precisely the double-edged sword tourism represents. Sea Life Park isn't in a residential area, so it's an ideal fit for the Windward side. But there are many other kama'aina who would love to work in Kailua, instead of having to commute to Downtown or Waikiki every day. However, since many Windward working folks do have to make the daily trek over the Pali, the reality is most of the shops and restaurants here depend on tourists for business during week days.

So I have mixed feelings about the proposed ban that would prohibit all commercial activity on or near the beaches. As someone who has fought for public beach access, I'm the first to say something needs to be done to regulate and control the proliferation of stuff like kayak rentals. On the other hand, when friends and family from the Mainland come to visit, I also have taken them to Twogood Kayaks to rent a couple of tandems for a day. Bob Twogood has been a supporter of public beach access, and he's a friend of mine. About two, three years ago though, it started to become obvious that maybe there was too much of a good thing going on, between the various kayak/windsurfing rental businesses and guys walking around the parking lot hawking cheaper rental rates to anyone within earshot. Bob himself will tell you he agrees there needs to be limits placed on commercial activities.

The problem is a total ban may do more harm than good in the long run, and doesn't address the root cause of the biggest problem -- overcrowding. Somehow, lost in all the finger-pointing at the ocean activities businesses, is why that beach area is so packed. Take a walk toward the north end, and there is about two miles of nearly empty beach. The reason is limited public beach access, due to all the gates and "NO TRESPASSING" signs put up on both public and private roads along Kalaheo Avenue. Instead of walking to the beach nowadays, most Kailua residents get in a car and drive to the only two beach areas with public parking lots.

It's a shame that State and county government officials haven't done more to take a long view of community planning, including things like regulation of all shoreline activities and creating more public beach park areas. Think about it: what is our most important resource? It's our beaches and ocean that attract visitors, who help fuel our economy, whether it's Sea Life Park, hotels in Waikiki, or a mom and pop store in Kailua. Yet there is no single governmental agency that has the authority or foresight to come up with comprehensive shoreline management plans to ensure we don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

Instead, everything is done in piecemeal fashion, with the State DLNR and county councils wasting time rehashing the same old problems over and over, while our beaches erode and tempers simmer over access to what is left. There are no easy solutions, but creating a joint State-County Coastal Commission to implement long range policies and enforcement strategies might be a good start. Shutting down all the ocean activities and other businesses that operate around the beach will be a temporary solution at best that will put more people on the unemployment line. It could also hurt small businesses and shops throughout Kailua that have been benefiting from the influx of tourists, for better or worse.

I'm not optimistic about anything being done. As long as there is split jurisdiction between the State and the counties over the shoreline, neither will take complete responsibility for management of Hawaii's most valuable asset, and we will continue to see these beach battles throughout the islands.


The Sea Life Park episode won't premiere until Sat., Aug. 4 on OC16, which means you still have a week to catch the hypnotherapy and Business Law Corps segments on the current Career Changers TV show. For daily viewing times, please visit our website. You can also watch videos on our CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a great weekend -- and if comments are closed below, it's because I get tired of deleting all the spam-bot fake responses I have to manually remove. Sigh.

Blinded by the Light: My Springsteen Story

July 16th, 2012

When I saw the news story about Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney having the plug pulled on their London concert this weekend, I had to sit back and laugh. Long before he became a rock icon, I saw him perform in the Christian Brothers Academy gymnasium in New Jersey, not far from where he grew up. It was 1973, and I was a junior at St. John Vianney (ironically, I now live near a different SJV in Kailua) and used to hang out with the jocks in my high school. A group of us bought some beer, got a little drunk, and paid $2 apiece at the door to hear Bruce's new group... the E Street Band.

His first album, "Greetings From Asbury Park," was getting some air play on NYC radio stations. Most everyone in the crowd -- about 200-300 kids, all standing around or sitting on the floor since there were no seats -- had heard "Blinded by the Light," but his prior bands were known for covering other rock songs, including the Beatles' hits. The jocks I was with weren't big fans of his, nor were they the type of guys who were likely to break out into spontaneous dance as if they were on Glee... but about half an hour into the set, we were all dancing and jumping around like fools.

I remember hearing "Rosalita" for the first time, which was about to come out on his second album, and to this day I still get a tingly thrill whenever I hear the opening notes of that number. He played for more than three hours. Me and the boys were sweating and giddy when the concert was supposed to be over. But Bruce wasn't finished. They launched into the longest version of "Twist and Shout" that I think has ever been played. At some point someone turned on all the gym lights to signal it was time to stop the music. Yet everyone kept dancing, so Bruce and the E Street Band played even harder... until finally, they actually cut the power to the stage. Little did I realize I was witnessing the birth of a rock and roll legend right before my eyes. I thought for sure there were probably a few accounts recorded for posterity, but this link was one of the few references I could find online. If you click on the photos from the CBA yearbook, you'll see how scrawny he was back in the day.

I wonder if that skinny kid with the big grin could have ever dreamed that some day he would actually perform the very same Beatles tune with Paul McCartney himself -- or that someone would pull the plug on him again after all these years! You know what's really cool though? That he's still performing with the same passion as when he first started out. The article about the London gig (click here) says he had already exceeded the curfew by half an hour when Paul joined him on stage.

That's one thing I continue to see in people who are successful in life. They find something they are passionate about, and they keep at it because it never gets old for them. For some, it's easy to figure out what it is they love to do. Some never find it, which is a shame. Worse, they wait too long before they even ask themselves what it is they truly want to do. All I know is that night in a hot, sweaty high school gym, when I heard "Blinded by the Light" sung by this scruffy young guy from Freehold like his life depended on it, I believed my future was going to be wide open because anything was possible. And I suppose that's why I keep writing, whether it's these little blog posts or screenplays and books that have yet to see the light of day. For better or worse, it's like the Boss sang:

Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun

Oh, but Mama, that's where the fun is...


Check out the July episode of Career Changers TV on our new days and times! Daily viewing times are listed on our website. You can also watch segments from past and current show on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Mahalo for watching -- now put on some Springsteen tunes and turn it up!

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Newsy Tidbits

July 13th, 2012

People ask me where I get my story leads for Career Changers TV. Sometimes they're literally right under my nose. We'll be shooting one segment, and often that subject will introduce me to another person who has agreed to be the "talent" for b-roll shots (background footage) or to be part of an onscreen demo. Interestingly, the people that volunteer to help out, usually are entrepreneurs themselves who tend to say "yes" when opportunities arise to promote a friend's business -- or their own company. They know an age-old secret of success: the more you give, the more you get in return.

For instance, on the current CCTV episode, when my cameraman (Stanford Chang) and I arrived at the office of hypnotherapist Mindy Ash, I was pleasantly surprised to see her client for the b-roll session filming was someone I had met at a Hawaii Inventors Club meeting: Kathy Custer. If her name sounds familiar, it's because she was recently selected for the Pacific Business News "Forty Under 40" special edition. Just 27-years-old, Kathy is the founder of Keiki Sitters & Ohana Helpers, which is a great story in itself. But she's one of those serial entrepreneurs who aren't content with merely launching one successful biz. When I first met her, she told me about a new venture... indoor skydiving. You may have seen those vertical wind tunnels on TV before, where people put on specially-designed jumpsuits and "fly" inside the padded enclosures. Very cool -- and very expensive to build.

Kathy had to raise $6 million to bring this new activity to Hawaii, which meant she had to nail her presentation when she went in front of investors. She credits her hypnotherapy session with Mindy as one reason she felt so confident when she made the big pitch. But it was Kathy herself they were really investing in and her "can do" attitude. I mean, here's this dynamic business owner with close to 400 employees, and she's making time for us to film her sitting on a chair in a demo session, or she's making time to attend inventor club meetings and networking events. Kathy is a great role model for anyone who wants to change their life, and we'll be doing a feature on her in an upcoming CCTV show.


Another tidbit I picked up at the Pacific Gateway Center prior to a human trafficking project meeting, is related to fashion designer Andy South -- a literal relation. Andy's mom, Nora Sisouphanthong, is a caseworker at PGC who has been helping immigrant farm workers that were victimized by recruiters in Southeast Asia, then abandoned and left to fend for themselves in Hawaii. (You can see the project video that includes Nora by clicking this link.)

I asked her how Andy was doing, since I hadn't heard any news about him recently. Turns out Andy is opening a new showroom in the Downtown area, and has also been investing in equipment for a clothing manufacturing business he's starting to produce other designers' fashions, as well as his own. The showroom will give him more visibility, while the manufacturing operation will help expand his revenue stream. Smart move.


The last tidbit comes from an interesting lunch meeting I had with Andrew and Christine Lanning, the husband and wife team behind Integrated Security Technologies, based in Aiea. I met Christine while Stan and I were shooting a segment on Matt Myers, a sports massage therapist and MMA fighter, which will be in our August episode. She was the b-roll client for Matt's demos, and after explaining how she used his services because she was doing triathalons, Christine casually mentioned she was CEO of a security business that has worked with Kaiser Permanente, the City and County of Honolulu, plus other large commercial installations.

I wanted to know more, especially since high tech security is a growing field. That's the reality of life in post-9/11 America. Unfortunately, there also seems to be a rise in property-related crimes due to the recession -- break-ins, burglaries, robberies of tourists and residents alike. One area that has been largely overlooked are school campuses. Well, Andrew and Christine have been working with Punahou School on a new security system to help protect students and the campus facilities, which will be going into effect next semester. They're also hoping to win a contract for a local college that Andrew believes could become a nation-wide model for campus security. You'll be hearing more on that in a future CCTV show too.

You can watch the current episode Saturday nights at 8:30 pm on OC16. For other daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV or watch segments from past and present shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a great weekend!

New Show Time Correction

July 7th, 2012

Lest there be any confusion, the new time for my Career Changers TV show on Saturday nights is 8:30 PM -- not 9:30 as listed in the OC16 banner ad that appears in the Star-Advertiser print edition television schedule on the back page of the Today section.

Anyway, that presents an opportunity for me to plug the premiere of the July episode again, since my last post did not stay very long in the Star-Advertiser front page blog box. In case you blinked and missed it, here is the link to that entry about hypnotherapist Mindy Ash and the Business Law Corps segment:

"Hypnotic Effect"

I'm not sure why the S-A blog box is set up to only include the ten most recent posts, but what happens is individual bloggers will sometimes have two or three entries that are just a few lines long on different topics -- which is typical of many blogs. However, it results in those blogs leap-frogging other new posts and basically pushing other bloggers out of that little piece of internet real estate. My suggestion would be to limit the box to 10 most recent posts from DIFFERENT blogs to avoid that blog-eat-blog situation.

If you can't tune into the show tonight, you can find other days and times by visiting www.CareerChangers.TV, or watch the low res versions on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Mahalo for watching!

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Hypnotic Effect

July 5th, 2012

Mindy book

PROGRAM ALERT: The July episode of Career Changers TV will begin airing at our new time, 8:30 pm on Saturdays (go to www.CareerChangers.TV for our weekly schedule).

The lead-off segment is about hypnotherapist Mindy Ash, which was interesting to film. We also had some fun playing off that theme by adding hokey hypnotic effects throughout the show that really don't reflect what she does. She doesn't dangle watches in front of her client's eyes or make them do the kinds of things you associate with hypnotists who perform on stage. Which I have actually experienced first-hand. More on that in a bit.

As you'll see on the show, it's really about the power of the subconscious and how we use words to reinforce positive or negative feelings. She's also written a book about that subject, "Say This, Not That" which you can purchase through Amazon.

Mindy says all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, meaning it's something each of us can do if we want to make changes in our behavior. She got into hypnosis because of her former career in advertising sales -- and anyone who has been a sales professional knows that self-help motivational programs are widely-used tools to boost individual performance. Remember Tony Robbins? She contends that much of what he taught was self-hypnosis, and I concur. "We become what we think about," is how the old power of positive thinking mantra goes.

I could go on and on about this topic, but you should watch the Mindy Ash segments yourself. In the second part, one of her clients  -- Kathy Custer, the owner of Keiki Sitters -- tells how sessions with Mindy helped her with an important presentation that led to her raising millions of dollars to launch a new venture, which we'll be doing a future CCTV story on. It's pretty amazing stuff.

In the same episode, we have a feature on the Business Law Corps, a new nonprofit that connects start-ups and small businesses with attorneys who provide free legal help to those who qualify. Two recent UH law school graduates teamed up with longtime corporate attorney and law professor, Greg Kim, to launch BLC because they view it as "economic justice" and a way to help encourage local job creation. As Greg pointed out, it's difficult to start a new biz if you don't have the money to hire a corporate attorney to help with all the necessary legal paperwork. In the same segment, two such start-ups tell how BLC was instrumental in getting their new businesses off the ground.


Regarding my own experience with hypnotists, way back around 1987, my wife and I took a deferred honeymoon trip to Reno and Beverly Hills. Isabel was in advertising sales at the time (and knew Mindy Ash when she was selling ads for "This Week" magazine) and got us free hotel stays through "trade" with her ad clients. Anyhow, we were both in our 20s still, and neither of us had ever been to Reno or Vegas. We were so green that we bought our own drinks in the casino, not realizing the waitresses would bring them over for free when we were playing slots or blackjack.

This was pre-rehab for me, so I was a little drunk when we went to the casino show, which featured Pat Collins, "The Hip Hypnotist." She began her act by having everyone stand up, and then instructed us to raise our arms, etc. Within a couple of minutes, she told us to open our eyes... and there I was, along with about 10 others who were still standing with our arms raised. Everyone else was already sitting. Apparently I was one of the more susceptible ones, and wound up on stage.

To this day, I'm not sure if I was hypnotized or not. I recalled everything that was going on -- what she was telling us to do, what I did, how I followed her instructions to do silly things on stage. Yet I felt like I was in total control of my actions. Until the end, that is. For her finale, she chose me as the one that would be suspended in mid-air with my neck and feet resting on the backs of two chairs, nothing supporting my torso after they removed the middle chair. I remember my whole body going rigid and shaking because I was sure I'd crash to the floor. She put her hand on my chest and joked, "His motor's running!" Then she had her assistants lift me off the chairs right away, perhaps sensing that I wasn't totally under her spell.

Afterwards, I spoke to the others who were on stage. None of them remembered anything. I told Mindy about it and she says it varies for people -- some blank out, while others have total recall. Our CCTV host, Theresa Tilley, said she had an experience with hypnosis too... but hers involved "past life regression," which is another fascinating story. However, when it comes to the past life idea, I'm in the skeptic camp.

For our new OC16 viewing schedule, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also see segments from past and current shows by going to the CCTV YouTube Channel. Mahalo for watching!

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