Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurs’ Category

Success and Happiness

December 4th, 2014
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TT and Surf Santa

PROGRAM ALERT: The new December episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., Dec. 4 at 7:30 PM on Oceanic Cable channel 12/high def 1012. You can find daily viewing times on www.CareerChangers.TV and watch segments from past or current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Plus, we have some gift suggestions from our sponsors that would make great stocking stuffers!

For our Christmas show, I got to interview Martin & MacArthur CEO Michael Tam and Pictures Plus/Plus Interiors CEO Kent Untermann, as well as magician/professional Santa Mike Ching (pictured above with CCTV host Theresa Tilley at M&M's Ward location). We also did an update on Mermaid Kariel's latest spin-off venture -- custom made mermaid tails. Turns out there is a big demand for functional tails from aspiring professional mermaids, who are willing to pay upwards of $3-5K to shake their waterproof money-makers in pools or aquariums all over the world!

What they have in common is they're successful at what they do, and you really get the sense that these are people who are genuinely happy with their occupational choices. Yet each has had to overcome challenges, difficult business climates at times -- recessions, 9/11, changing social norms or personal tastes -- and evolve to stay in the game. Where they find their individual motivation and strength varies, but they all exhibit the same characteristics: discipline, perseverance, and a a clear vision of their long range goals. For instance, Kent cites lessons he learned as a football player at UH as a major reason he was able to weather ups and downs in growing Pictures Plus into Plus Interiors. And he's not shy about commenting on the current state of the UH athletic department in the piece we did on him (click here).

However, as a former football player and ultra-competitive person myself, I know it can be hard to be "happy" when you're driven to win in sports or business for that matter. If you're not number one in what you do, every loss seems like a nagging reminder of mistakes made or personal shortcomings... the dreaded could'a/would'a/should'a self-talk that pervades your daily life. So what is the key to being successful and being happy at the same time?

A recent scientific study I read says happiness is exceeding expectations. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. The more you expect, the harder it is to be happy. That seems like such a no-brainer you wonder why they even bothered to do research on it. But when you think about the current perception of UH sports, for example, it makes perfect sense. We've seen what UH teams and athletes are capable of doing, and our expectations have grown. I remember going to my first football game at Aloha Stadium in 1986, not long after I moved here from New York City, and the Bows were playing Big Ten powerhouse Michigan. To this day, I will never forget hearing that "RAIN... BOWS!" call and response chant filling a stadium of over 40,000 fans as Dick Tomey's underdogs stood toe-to-toe with Michigan for three quarters before finally succumbing late in the game. They lost, but no one expected them to be even close -- so it felt like winning.

Kent had graduated by then, so he wasn't on the field for that battle. Still, he remembers the feeling from his own UH football days and he believes we shouldn't lower our expectations by dropping sports or going to a lower division. And that's the paradox of life I think... on one hand, unless we strive for achieving more than others expect of us, most of us won't be happy just settling for what we know we're capable of doing. On the other hand, it hurts like hell when you reach for the stars and fall flat on your face.

As a writer, I'm constantly torn between wanting to be successful, i.e. sell screenplays that become big movie hits, and staying true to my artistic aims of producing original work that is at least different than the usual cookie-cutter formula movies making money at the multi-plexes these days. So to keep myself sane, every month I write two quotations at the top of my desk calendar: "Write with no attachment to outcome" and a zen saying, "When you cease expecting, you have all things."

Anyway, check out the new Career Changers TV show this month! Hopefully, watching it will exceed your expectations.

 

Kailua Labyrinth Restored

November 13th, 2014
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Kailua labyrinth group

 

Folks who jog, bike or walk their dogs on the levee next to Kawainui Marsh (along with scofflaws that ride motorcycles back there) may recall the mysterious gravel and dirt labyrinth pattern that appeared in a turnaround area for maintenance vehicles back in 2001 after 9/11. I live right next to the marsh, so when my wife and I first saw it we were enchanted and wondered who was behind it. I had a vague idea that it was associated with meditation practices, but that's all I knew. Over time, the forces of nature and human interactions caused the pattern to erode, then disappear except for a faint outline of the concentric circles.

It was gone, but not entirely forgotten when I joined Cynthia Yamasaki's monthly leadership walk after meeting her at the Honolulu Small Business Fair. She was one of the featured speakers (click here for the video on that event) and we did a segment on her as well. You can see her profile on the Career Changers TV YouTube Channel by clicking here. I was so impressed with her background and energy, I suggested to my wife that she connect with Cynthia since Isabel was looking to expand her professional network (i.e., thinking of making a career change). When we found out Cynthia's "Leaders Who Walk the Talk" was practically in our backyard on the second Saturday of each month, we decided to tag along. And we're glad we did.

Each time we've met fascinating people with varied backgrounds. These seemingly random introductions often led to discoveries of mutual friends and experiences... such as the origins of the labyrinth, which was the spot where we ended the walk to reflect on the theme we were discussing that day. While we were looking down at the weeds, someone said, "We should fix this up." Except none of us knew what it was supposed to look like -- how many circles, where the turns were supposed to be, etc.

I remembered seeing an article about it years ago in the old Honolulu Advertiser, so I did a quick Google search and found this link. I forwarded it to Cynthia, who put it out to her network of friends. Next thing you know, one of the women on the walk -- Lisa Jacobs of Better Way Divorce (interesting concept!) -- recognized a name: Beth Davidaan. Lisa put Beth in touch with Cynthia, and we all met at the marsh last Saturday to restore the labyrinth.

As we yanked up weeds and raked the stones back into place, Beth and Chandra Peters (program coordinator at Punahou's Luke Center) explained what the significance of the design is and put it into historical context for us. Many people, myself included, mistakenly think of a labyrinth as being the same as a maze. In fact, they're completely different in intent and form. A maze is meant to confuse you with many dead ends and turns that lead nowhere. A labyrinth though, has just one path to the center, allowing you to focus on the steps you take toward your goal. Mazes can be stressful -- did you see the news stories about people getting lost in giant Halloween mazes and calling 911 in a state of panic? But walking the circles of a labyrinth creates a state of calmness. It can also be an emotional experience.

It's funny how life's twists and turns often bring you back to the same starting or end points. That morning it had been raining in Kailua, and being the natural worrywart that I am, emailed Cynthia with a weather report, thinking we'd have to postpone our plans to fix the labyrinth. She replied cheerfully that rain or shine, they were going to proceed as scheduled, and added: "I made brownies too!" That's the difference between men and women. Men would argue about logistics and the weather conditions for doing a project like this. Women make brownies, then hope for the best. As it happened, the rain made it easier to pull weeds and kept the dust down. The sun eventually came out, and when we were finished, I walked around the circles... I thought about the people I've met in the past four years of doing my Career Changers TV show, and how our lives have intersected. We've become friends and business associates. We've shared professional aspirations and personal dreams.

And because one person simply said, "Let's fix this thing," we came together to create something special. Time and events will wear away the labyrinth again. But someone else will come along and be inspired to take up where we left off. It gave me hope. Plus, the brownies were delicious.

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Reminder: Despite forecasts of rain, it seems every time Waimea Valley schedules a big weekend event, Mother Nature cooperates and blesses them with good weather on the North Shore. So if you're looking for a fun family event -- cheap too! -- check out their Makahiki Festival on Sat., Nov. 15! Here's a video preview we did for them.

Free Concert Saturday at Waimea Valley

October 3rd, 2014
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Program Alert: The new October episode of Career Changers TV is now airing daily on Channel 12/high def 1012, and features master storyteller Lopaka Kapanui. His special "Chicken Skin" tours for this month will take ghosts -- er, guests -- to places he can't publicly reveal in the media due to legal liability issues, he says. For the details of where and when those excursions into the dark side will be conducted, you'll have to contact him via the Mysteries of Hawaii website!

Looking for something fun to do on Saturday? Waimea Valley is hosting a FREE concert on their beautiful lawn. Below are details from their press release:

Waimea Valley is excited to host the HTA Aha Mele Concert this Saturday, October 4, 2014 from 11am – 4pm. Come enjoy the sounds of Waimea Valley’s Ohana Three, Fresh Ea, Kaiholu, and Kapena along with a hula performance from Ke Kai O Kahiki while relaxing in the shade of the hundred plus year old monkeypod trees on our Main Lawn. The Kalaimoku Group has organized this concert as a part of the HTA Aha Mele Monthly Concert Series sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) “The Ahamele: Monthly Hawaiian Music Series brings people together to celebrate Hawaiian culture through music,” said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO. Waimea Valley’s Na Mea Ono Snack Bar will be onsite with Ono snacks from the grill, and ice cold drinks. Vendors onsite will include jewelers such as April Island Designs, Kaleimaeole, Kiki Sunrise Shells and Solomone Jewelry. Hawaiian Fresh Farms will have fish and chips, fish tacos, shrimp baskets and more along with their Country store serving up goat cheese cheesecake, local honey’s and kombucha on tap. Stollers, blankets, beach chairs, and umbrellas or welcome, no coolers permitted.

Wish I could go, but I'll be attending the UH weekend workshop being given by filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton (writer/director of SHORT TERM 12 and I AM NOT A HIPSTER). Destin's topic will be "From Shorts to Features" which can be a practical means of getting attention for proposed movie projects, as opposed to the conventional route of writing a screenplay and hoping it somehow gets greenlighted through the "just say no" maze of Hollywood gatekeepers, who are loathe to take chances on original material.

Destin's career got a huge boost from winning a Nicholl Fellowship, which I can tell you is incredibly difficult. The annual screenwriting competition is run by the Academy Foundation -- yep, the Oscar folks -- and draws upwards of 6,000 to 7,000 entries each year. Since many of the former fellowship winners have gone on to write hit movies, the finalists are often contacted by the top agencies and management firms in Hollywood. I've been a quarter-finalist three times (top 5 percent out of about 6,000 scripts) but never made it further than that. So now I'm considering going the same route Destin took -- produce a short film that can be expanded into a feature if it clicks with people in the movie biz.

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To see video segments from past and current Career Changers TV episodes, visit the CCTV YouTube Channel -- now over 600,000 views worldwide and climbing! If you have a product or service you want to advertise to locals, we're now booking slots for our special holiday shows. Just drop me an email to find out how we can produce high quality video segments for you at a very reasonable price!

Tetris Movie in Works?

September 30th, 2014
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UPDATED OCT. 3: The public relations contact for Tetris got back to me after I email Henk Rogers, and has confirmed the details in the linked article are true. So the Tetris movie is for real!

I was going to post a program alert about the new Career Changers TV episode that will premiere Thurs., Oct. 2 at 7:30 PM on Channel 12/high def 1012 (a.k.a "OC16") but I just saw a movie biz news item that says the Tetris game is being turned into a live action feature film. According to this article, "The film is being developed by Threshold Entertainment, best known to gaming crossover fans as the studio behind the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie. That film, which grossed $70 million, was one of the first to take a video game license to the silver screen..."

Followers of my show may recall we featured Henk Rogers in a couple of segments that told how he got the worldwide rights to Tetris, and about his interest in things like Burning Man. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2. Fascinating guy! I just sent him an email to ask if the Tetris movie deal is for real, and if he had a hand in negotiating the film rights. It's supposed to be a big sci-fi epic. While I'm happy for Henk, it's another sign that Hollywood seems to be out of original ideas for films that might actually appeal to adults with functioning brains.

Speaking of which, my Industry Insider Top 10 finalist script wasn't chosen as the winner... so no all expenses paid trip to L.A. for me to meet with A List screenwriter Sheldon Turner, who provided the premise for the contest, and the industry execs affiliated with that competition. Sigh. I was bummed, but felt my screenplay was one of the better things I've written. So I submitted it to the Black List, which was started by an agent who informally asked other agents and movie execs what their favorite scripts were that year. It became a big thing to have a script on the BL. Many of those BL scripts got produced and became hits with critics and the box office. For writers who weren't on the A List or still waiting for their breakthrough sale, getting on the BL could be a tremendous boost to their careers.

The creator of the BL, Franklin Leonard, began a commercial version to rate unproduced scripts from screenwriters like myself, who might be seeking representation or hoping for an outright sale to professionals who have access to the posted screenplays. The paid BL readers who evaluate the scripts for $50 a pop, rate each submission on a scale of 1-10 in different categories that agents/producers care about. Anything over an "8" is deemed worth considering and represents the top 5 percent. Thousands of scripts have been rated over the past couple of years since it began. In effect, BL acts as a filter for busy movie execs who rely on professional readers (and certain contests) to separate the crap from the diamonds in the rough.

Anyhow, the script I wrote for the Industry Insider contest scored an ''8"... which puts me on the hot list for recommended screenplays in Hollywood. It's called BLOOD MOON, and is based on the "inugami" curse -- kind of like a Japanese version of the werewolf legend -- which I first read about in the late Glen Grant's "Obake" collection of local ghost stories.

As fate would have it, I got to know Glen's protege -- Lopaka Kapanui -- who continues to uphold his mentor's legacy by retelling stories he first heard while working as an assistant to him. Lopaka finally got the rights to use the "Chicken Skin" name for his own ghost tours, and has some special events he'll be doing for the month of October. You can here more about that, plus his recent marriage to Tanya, by going to the CCTV YouTube Channel where we've posted segments from the new episode. Strange how it all comes round, huh?

Healing Hands for Arthritis Day at Massage Envy

September 10th, 2014
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National Sponsors - Arthritis Foundation

On Weds., Sept. 17 from 8AM until they close at 10PM, Massage Envy Hawaii in Kaneohe and Pearl Highlands will donate $10 from every appointment to Arthritis Foundation Hawaii. Last year, the national Massage Envy franchises raised over a million dollars, according to Nate McFarland, co-owner of the local spas. We featured Nate and his business partner, Lari Jarvis, on my Career Changers TV show recently and he mentioned they were planning to expand to Kapolei in the near future. (Click here to see that segment.)

Well, they've signed the Kapolei lease and Nate says they plan on opening early next year in January or February 2015. It will be their largest spa to date with 14 rooms, plus a "Quiet Room" for relaxation, and will be employing about 20 more licensed massage therapists -- which is why we did a story on them in the first place. One of my show's sponsors is Remington College, and many graduates from their Honolulu massage therapy program were hired to open the first two Massage Envy locations on Oahu. (Here's the Massage Envy testimonial piece about Remington.)

If you watch the videos, you'll see that Nate and Lari have a real passion for what they're doing even though neither of them had any background in the highly competitive massage spa business. Yet in their very first year, the Pearl spa was the fastest growing Massage Envy franchise ever -- and there are over 900 of them throughout the country. But Nate says they will take their time before adding more spas on Oahu or the Neighbor Islands because he wants to do it right. That means making sure their employees also reap the benefits from their success.

But when he called, it wasn't to talk about the Kapolei news or how well their business was doing. He just wanted people to know about Healing Hands for Arthritis Day, and hopes they can totally book up the Kaneohe and Pearl Highlands spas to raise money for this worthy charity event. You can visit their website to find out more about Massage Envy hours and rates.

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More 'Bows Woes

On an unrelated note, my wife and I suffered through a terrible first half of football at last week's UH loss to Oregon State. Although special teams and the defense made the final score much closer, the offensive woes left us wondering if the current starting quarterback and receivers can get the job done. We knew Joey Iosefa could carry the load for short yards on running plays... and then he got injured, taking out the most effective part of the offense so far this season.

Here's the thing I don't get: why was Iosefa even on the field for that fourth and long play? He's not the type of back that catches passes down field or is expected to be a breakaway threat, which is generally what you want in passing situations. So Woolsey winds up dumping a short pass to him that had virtually no chance of picking up enough yards for a first down, and they lose Iosefa for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Sure, freak injuries can happen on any play or even in practice. But it was another instance that makes you question what the coaches are thinking and how they use their personnel.

I had a bad feeling about that game the moment I saw the team come out in those funeral black uniforms. Yes, when June first turned the Rainbows into the "H" Warriors, the tough guy all-black look was in vogue. But it's passe. Oregon's flashy uniforms showed that teams can wear any color if they play like they own it. This UH team hasn't really created their own identity yet. The closest they've come under Coach Chow was when they wore the retro Bows uniforms with the brighter shade of green, and displayed some of that old school grit longtime fans were used to seeing back in the day.

One thing I wish wasn't old school though is the halftime UH marching band show. Really, tributes to Elvis in the year 2014? Sigh.

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This month's Career Changers TV episode features inspirational stories about Seed Restaurant in Kaimuki, along with segments about the Hawaii Small Business Fair and Cynthia Yamasaki, a leadership and life coach. You can find daily viewing times at www.CareerChangers.TV or watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over 600,000 views. If you'd like to advertise on our show, drop me an email or give me a call at (808) 262-5073!