Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurs’ Category

Dev League Computer Coding Scholarships

April 9th, 2014

While filming our segment about the first-ever Honolulu Mini Maker Faire at Iolani School last month, I heard about Dev League's coding boot camps and introductory programs for kids who have an interest in computers. We just had a brief mention of them in the piece that's running on the current episode of Career Changers TV, but that led to Russel Cheng calling me to talk more about what they're doing... and I'm glad he did, because it's directly related to many topics we've covered on my show.

We've done a number of stories about startups, business incubators and accelerator programs, which all have one thing in common: they need people with computer coding skills to set up websites, program software and create apps for smart devices. Yet there were no intensive hands-on training programs in Hawaii to teach coding in a concentrated time span, according to Russel, until they launched Dev League's boot camps a few short months ago. He believes graduates who complete their 12-week course will have a good chance of receiving high-paying job offers from big companies that he and his partner, Jason Sewell, are working with -- and that's the key to justifying their price tag of $10,000 per student for the program.

It sounds like a lot of money... and it is, but if you compare it to college costs for courses and degrees that may not lead directly to any kind of employment in that field, it seems like a much better deal for anyone who wants a career in high tech. What's more, if coming up with the tuition is a challenge, you may be able to qualify for a scholarship or financial assistance. I'm copying excerpts from the Dev League press release below. We'll be doing a segment on them for our May episode, but you can find links to our Mini Maker Faire video on the CCTV YouTube Channel and daily viewing times for Career Changers TV by clicking here.

BTW, there's still time to sign up for their next "part-time" 26-week course,  April 28 - October 25 Wednesday & Thursday 6 - 10pm, Saturday 9am - 8pm

From Dev League's press release:

Dev League to Advance 21st Century Technology Competency in the Islands Announces Scholarships and Tuition-Assistance for Coding Courses
In its groundbreaking business initiative to bring technology competency to the Islands, Dev League today announced two scholarships: a tuition-assistance loan plan and a federally-funded workforce development program to help motivated individuals learn professional web development at its coding boot camp. Located at the Manoa Innovation Center, the 12-week program aims to ready students for jobs in entry-level web development both here in Hawaii and on the mainland.

According to LinkedIn, the top 25 hottest skills of 2013 required coding skills. Technology skills are highly valued. Web programming was number 13, right between number data engineering and algorithm design.

The Women Who Code scholarship is 25 percent off cost of tuition for a single selected applicant to a qualified female applicant. The low-income scholarship is 100 percent off cost of tuition for a single qualifying applicant. Both scholarships are sponsored by Dev League to increase diversity and opportunity in the tech industry.

Dev League’s partnership with is a tuition-assistance plan that enables applicants to finance their tuition over a term of five or 10 years based on future income. This unique loan program helps match qualified “upstart” individuals with “backers” who make offers to help fund an individual.

Oahu WorkLinks job development program enables qualified applicants up to 80 percent tuition assistance to Dev League via its federally funded job training services as part of the Workforce Investment Act program. To learn more about the scholarships, tuition-assistance programs and to apply, visit the Dev League web site at The company has posted three new courses on its web site (click here).

Makers Movement and More

April 1st, 2014

Makers pix

PROGRAM ALERT: The new April episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., April 3 at 7:30 PM on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012). For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over 200,000 views and is climbing each month. Contact me directly if you're interested in advertising on the show or being a featured sponsor!

Above is a photo of my videographer, Stanford Chang, shooting b-roll of the first-ever Honolulu Mini Maker Faire at Iolani School on March 15. Despite the obsolete spelling of "faire," it has nothing to do with medieval times or making miniature fairy sprites -- although they did make mini-robots and small 3-D printed objects for demo purposes. There were also knitters and do-it-yourself types who work in all types of mediums, from film and virtual reality to woodworking, metal and molded plastic.

So what is the Maker Movement all about? Watch the show or view the segment to find out! We also did a separate piece on the Hawaii Inventors group, and three of the products they had on display at the event. BTW, hats off to Iolani School for hosting the Mini Maker Faire, which was actually spread out over two floors of the Sullivan Center for Innovation and Leadership. What was cool is the faculty and students seem to have a creative flair themselves, as evidenced by their homage to Frank Sinatra... in the elevator of all places!

Sinatra elevator

Above is the back wall of the elevator, which plays Sinatra music and has other visual references to his recording career, courtesy of #iolanihackers. While we were filming, there were a number of students who were working on various high tech projects that weren't a part of the Makers fair. I also saw younger kids who signed up for Makers workshops that taught soldering. So one thing you can say about the Makers Movement -- and Iolani School -- is that they both take an eclectic approach to creativity.


In the same episode, we have a segment about the fun and quirky Hound & Quail shop on Kapiolani. Never visited it before? Actually, it's not that easy since they're only open three hours each week on Monday due to the partners' full-time professions. Mark Pei is a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines. Travis Flazer works for the theater department of Punahou School -- er, "Theatre" I mean... another old-timey English spelling like "Faire." No wonder foreigners think English is confusing. Here's the link to that video.

Anyhow, if you're wondering what the story is behind the name, there really isn't anything specific -- other than their interest in taxidermy, including mounted birds and other animals that had me thinking about Norman Bates in PSYCHO. But Mark and Travis are really nice, intelligent, normal guys... well, just a tad off center, perhaps.


WAIMEA VALLEY NEWS: On Sat., April 5 at 10 AM, they will be officially dedicating the renovated amphitheater to Rudy Mitchell. "Uncle Rudy" has been an integral part of the valley's history and vision, according to Richard Pezzulo, Waimea Valley Executive Director. You can learn more about the restoration of the amphitheater (not "amphitheatre") and other new developments by watching the piece we did back in February (click here).

Waimea Valley Closed for Repairs

January 7th, 2014

One of our show sponsors, Waimea Valley, temporarily closed down the park as of Jan. 6 and plans on reopening Sat., Feb. 1. They will be doing rock slope scaling near the front entrance as a safety precaution while checking for stability of other rock formations and slopes that may require scaling measures. In addition, Executive Director Richard Pezzulo showed me some other things they're working on for the new year, which we'll be on the February episode of Career Changers TV.

First, the Proud Peacock restaurant should be open in February now that they have hired a new manager to run the once-popular eatery. He says it will be somewhere between casual and fine dining, with an emphasis on fresh local produce and meats. They're still working on completing the renovations, so we weren't able to get any photos or video of what the completed restaurant will look like yet.

Another new thing they're going to unveil is a hula competition in their recently renovated amphitheater. The twist is men and women will be competing against each other, which is how they used to do it there at Waimea Valley years ago. Besides that, Richard says they're looking into starting a North Shore film festival. Plus, they'll be continuing the summer concert series, which turned out to be a big hit with locals and visitors last year. Instead of taking the "Generations" theme approach though, they will use specific musical instruments as the theme for the three concerts. I'm guessing slack key guitar, ukelele... not sure what the third will be. Hawaiian steel guitar, perhaps?

During the temporary closing, their Haliewa Farmers' Market will continue on Thursdays from 3 to 7 PM in the front part of the park instead of the Pikake Pavilion. One of Richard's major goals for 2014 is to get locals to book the pavilion and other facilities at Waimea Valley for special events such as weddings, baby luaus, graduation parties and even business meetings or retreats. So far, he says it's been a bit of a tough sell because many people haven't considered the valley as an option before, and a lot of big family gatherings are planned long in advance. But if you or someone you know has a large party coming up, give them a call -- they're now offering all-inclusive packages to fit different budget ranges without nickle and dime add-on charges for every little thing. Here's their website link.


Don't forget to check out the new January episode of Career Changers TV! Really good stories on the Hawaii Youth Symphony, Ashley Merryman's "Top Dog - The Science of Winning and Losing" book, plus  a piece on Roberta Oaks and her cool, retro-ish fashion boutique in Chinatown. For daily viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

The "D" Word

January 3rd, 2014

HYS photo

It's a new year, and the new Career Changers TV episode premieres Sat., Jan. 4 at 8:30 PM on OC16 (which is now channel 12 or 1012 if you have high def). The common theme that runs through this show -- and all our success stories for the most part -- is a word that rarely gets mentioned, but is often the underlying reason why some achieve their goals and others slide back into old habits or just give up. That word is discipline. For many, it has a negative connotation. You think of being disciplined as a punishment. Or it conjures up images of military-like rigidity and conformity. Yet when one becomes disciplined in the study of arts, sports training, mastery of a craft, what that constant practice and repetition actually does is free your mind and body to be more creative when confronted with challenges because you don't need to think about doing the basic mechanics.

In our January show, we have feature segments on the Hawaii Youth Symphony, an interview with the co-author of "Top Dog - The Science of Winning and Losing," and a piece on Roberta Oaks, a self-taught fashion designer who has a boutique in Chinatown that is doing quite well. In all three stories, it's easy to see how discipline pays off for individuals in their chosen professions. What many parents may not realize is how getting their children involved with music education at an early age can lead to all kinds of side benefits that aren't necessarily related to a potential career in music. The kids we met, and watched in rehearsal and concert performances seemed focused, mature, well-mannered, but were obviously having fun too. Here's the link to the YouTube version (looks and sounds much better on TV though!).

In the "Top Dog" segment, Ashley Merryman shares some fascinating insights into research on competition -- for instance, why kids in rural areas score higher on standardized tests... the difference between how boys and girls learn to play as kids, which carries over into adult life... the way "home field" advantage actually can affect business negotiations and raise requests. What it boils down to largely is whether you perceive a competitive situation as a threat or a challenge. If you see it as a threat, your physiological response is different than when you take it as a challenge you can rise to.

I was thinking about that when I watched Johnny Manziel lead his Texas A&M football team in an incredible comeback win over Duke in the Tuesday night bowl game. It wasn't just what he did on the field though. The cameras showed him on the sideline getting in the face of not just the players on offense when they were down by 21 points in the first half -- he then got into the defense, yelling at them that the game was theirs to "take" after he led them on one touchdown drive. Then he stood on a bench and began exhorting the faithful fans, the vaunted A&M "12th Man." He told his team mates at halftime to forget about the score, and not even look at it. He didn't get negative on them. Heck, I'm no big Aggies fan, and to be honest, based on some off-the-field incidents involving Johnny Football as he's known in Texas, I thought he was kind of a punk. But during this game, I became a believer too -- and a fan of his. Can you teach someone to develop those kind of leadership skills and competitiveness? Not entirely -- some are just born with it. Yet Ashley contends research proves people can get better at dealing with nerves and perform better under pressure if they study the science of competition. (Click here for her story, which is actually Part 2 of the interview we shot at the American Psychological Association conference in Waikiki last year.)

As for our story on Roberta Oaks, she seems very much like a free spirit -- an artist at heart, who turned from photography to fashion on the Mainland before landing in Honolulu and starting her own fashion line of both women's wear and men's shirts (guys, check them out -- very smart, trim look so you need to be in decent shape to wear them). But it became obvious to me that she has a strong work ethic as well, and is very disciplined about how she uses social media and her personal network to promote her business. In fact, she tells me she was designing fashions for wholesale retailers on the Mainland before moving here, so she's had a taste of the big time as well. She also mentions her art work as an influence on her designs, and any artist will tell you it takes discipline to transform a concept to a finished piece no matter what the medium is. You can also see her segment on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now averages over 6,000 views per month.

We're looking for new sponsors and startup businesses that want to be on local TV and also get worldwide internet viewers at the same time. If that sounds like you or someone you know, please drop me an email at Our rates are very affordable, even for small biz, and most of our clients have been repeat advertisers who have been very happy with the results! For daily viewing times and other useful info, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

Save this date: Sunday, Nov. 24

November 6th, 2013

The Pacific Gateway Center is having their 4oth Birthday Celebration on Sun., Nov. 24 from 5 to 9 PM at Keehi Lagoon Memorial Hall. There will be Asian Pacific cuisine, entertainment and a who's who list of movers and shakers that have helped PGC in their mission to assist thousands of immigrants, refugees and low income residents find work or start new businesses over the years. As part of the 808HALT coalition on human trafficking, I've had the privilege of working closely with the PGC staff and can tell you they truly make Hawaii a better place for all of us.

The cost is $45 per person, but if you can't attend, please visit their website (click here) or call them at 851-7010 to make a donation. In light of recent cutbacks due to sequestration and the government shutdown, like many non-profits, PGC has had to tighten their belts and make changes in their operations. Part of that was moving their offices from the N. King street location to their Kalihi kitchen incubator site. They turned over their Lemongrass Cafe restaurant to Andrew Le, who is transforming the space into his first brick and mortar version of The Pig & The Lady, which has been a hugely popular food stand at the KCC, Blaisdell and Kailua farmer's markets.

Not coincidentally, my new November episode of Career Changers TV features a segment about Andrew and how he went from an interest in art to formal culinary training -- after working for free at restaurants just to get some hands-on experience before he committed to making a career out of his passion for food. For him, it really is art on a plate. You can watch the small screen YouTube version by clicking here.

In the same show, we also have a great piece on maestro Matt Catingub and the Hawaii Pops (here's that link). We included some brief musical interludes from their "Songs of Bond... James Bond" concert, but I wish we had more time to include performances by Cathy Foy-Mahi, Kristina Souza, Nathan Awaeau, and Sheena Easton. They actually had to add extra seats for late-comers who bought tickets at the door. I suggest you check out their site, and order tickets for the remaining concerts before those sell out too!

BTW, due to some technical problems, the Career Changers TV site still hasn't been updated for the November show. In the meantime, you can see segments from the current episode on the CCTV YouTube Channel (daily OC16 times listed on the website are still the same).