Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurs’ Category

Perks of the Trade

July 2nd, 2014
By



bayview zipline

PROGRAM ALERT: The new July episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM, July 3 on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012). For daily viewing times, visit our website. You can also watch segments from past shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel.

One of the fun parts of my job as producer is I get to do stuff I ordinarily wouldn't try... or if I chicken out, I get our host Theresa Tilley to do it. For instance, when we did a story on the Aloha Live cirque type acts, I had her stand between two performers who were flipping bowling pins in front and back of her as she did the intro. Those pins are heavy and could do serious damage if the jugglers were just a tad off on their toss. That was a little hairy.

Two weeks ago, we got to do the Bay View Mini-Putt and Zipline for our July show. I had never been ziplining before, and until recently this was the only one on Oahu. The Kaneohe zipline is about 400 feet, which is short compared to the ones on the Neighbor Islands. But it's a nice rush, and if you've been nervous about trying the big boy versions, this is the perfect way to get a feel for it. Plus, if you're old enough and weigh less than 250 pounds, you can get the kama'aina deal: three rides for $25. Add a round of mini-putt and you can make a day of it for the whole family.

In fact, the owner  -- Kenn Yuen -- has been doing company "family day" parties there, and is offering special discounts if you mention you heard about it through Career Changers TV. However, you should watch the segment because his  personal story tells you a lot about the man. He had to overcome a personal tragedy, then went through a few years of soul searching and career changes. At one time he was a manager for comedian Frank DeLima and musician Dan Ho.

On this month's episode, we have two other interesting stories. Right down the street at Windward City Shopping Center, we shot a segment about the new Massage Envy spa that opened in Kaneohe -- which was necessitated by how quickly the Pearl Highlands Massage Envy grew. The owners, who worked for Wells Fargo financial services on the mainland prior to starting the franchise here, said their Pearl spa was named the 2013 Massage Envy spa of the year -- out of over 900 locations. It's the fastest growing spa in franchise history. They're now planning on adding a third in Kapolei, and are considering other locations on Oahu and the Neighbor Islands. What's more is the co-owners -- Nate McFarland and Lari Jarvis -- are loving life and their new careers in Hawaii.

Oh, and they offered free one-hour body massages to my cameraman, Stanford Chang, and myself to better understand why their spas are doing gangbusters business in the islands. The only problem was the massage relaxed me so much, I had trouble conducting the interview afterwards. Took me awhile to get back into my normal Producer go-go-go mode since we usually do run-and-gun video shoots to save time and cut our production costs.

Rounding out the new show is a piece on the man behind those full page "A Doctor's Confession" ads in the Star-Advertiser. If you subscribe to the print edition, I'm sure you've seen it and possibly were curious about his laser treatments. Prior to filming, Dr. Jeremy Alosa sent me the book he wrote: "The Laser's Edge." And I have a confession to make as well... I was skeptical, but after reading it and seeing all the testimonials from patients who say it gave them relief from pain (mostly related to arthritis) I came away impressed. The Class 4 laser he uses is the same type that professional sports teams have been employing to treat millionaire athletes.

He offered me a free treatment, but I had to run off to another shoot that day. In any event, next time I have a physically strenuous story to do for the show, I know where I can get a nice massage at a good price -- or if Theresa ever gets clocked by an errant bowling pin, perhaps Dr. Alosa's laser therapy can help ease her aches and pains.

 

Posted in Career Changers TV, Entrepreneurs, Inspiration | Comments Off

Chinatown Tour - Part 4

June 10th, 2014
By



Erdman cover

Took awhile to get to this final installment of my Chinatown tour series, but hopefully, you'll see how it all comes together. At the end of the Honolulu Exposed Red Light tour in mid-May, my wife wanted to pick up a copy of Hawaii Business magazine because an old friend of ours, Dave Erdman, was featured on the cover as their Small Business Person of the Year (click here for that article). Isabel worked with him in marketing at Tropical Rent A Car, back when I moved here in 1985.

Dave co-founded the Direct Response Advertising & Marketing Association of Hawaii (DRAMAH for short) and that's how I met Isabel -- my future wife. The guy I replaced at Oahu Bindery & Direct Mail had been talking to Dave about starting this direct marketing association, so I stepped in for him (Paul Hilker, who became a minister). Dave roped Isabel into it as well since she was assisting him at Tropical, which spawned a bunch of successful entrepreneurs before that company bit the dust. He went on to create the PacRim Marketing Group, which focused on the Japanese visitor market initially. Dave is fluent in Japanese, even though he came from the Philadelphia area. Isabel wound up starting her own small publishing company, which put out the very successful Japanese Guide to Hawaii (eventually sold to Duane Kurisu, who owns a number of Hawaii publications and businesses -- including Hawaii Business magazine). Another Tropical alumnus, Jeff Hendrix went into advertising, and formed his own award-winning agency (Hendrix Miyasaki Shin, which merged with Core Group One).

It was a fun gang to hang out with, especially since Tropical RAC had great company outer island trips because they had a lot of "trade" with travel-related partners and sponsors. I was meeting with Dave and Isabel regularly to plan our DRAMAH seminars, which brought in internationally-respected direct marketing experts through Dave's connections -- primarily his dad, the late great Ken Erdman, who was one of the best direct mail copywriters in the business. Ken's books, articles and seminar talks taught me just about everything I know in regards to copywriting. Plus, our post-DRAMAH meetings pau hana sessions at bars and business mixers Downtown, led to me getting romantically involved with Isabel. So I hold Dave largely responsible for my marriage, now going on 29 years.

DRAMAH was an important and influential development in the local advertising and marketing scene. You had the major ad agencies, smaller marketing/graphics outfits, a few independent consultants, all vying for limited advertising dollars. Direct marketing represented a major shift in thinking from mass "branding" type saturation ads (mainly print and TV commercials) to targeted data-based approaches that emphasized tailored ads and pitches. DM people really were the first to use computers and build databases that could identify markets by key demographics -- right down to income, education levels, interests and so on. Needless to say, traditional Mad Men type ad agency people were skeptical... even resistant to much of what was espoused in our DRAMAH seminars. Why, you ask?

Well, the core tenet of direct response marketing is called A/B testing. To see what message works best, you create alternate ads and in the old days, mailed out test packages to similar sample groups. For big companies, a small test mailing might be 5,000 out of a mailing list that could have hundreds of thousands of subscribers or product buyers... or donors. Ready, fire, aim. You analyze the results, fine tune, test again, and eventually do a roll-out to the entire list. But for traditional ad agencies that spend the bulk of the client's money on big ad buys in the newspaper or on TV, they really can't afford to produce multiple commercials or print ad campaigns and pass that cost along to the client. Instead, they may rely on smaller focus group testing or just present a couple of options to the client and let them guess which will work best.

Now here's where DM enters the modern age. Remember I mentioned donors lists? The man behind some of those early mailing lists, Richard Viguerie, became a major player in politics -- specifically the Republican Party. They were masters at the targeted message and building databases for fundraising, which gave them a huge edge over Democrats until the Obama campaign brought in people who understood A/B marketing. If you were on the Obama email list, you no doubt received a number of donation requests -- each one maybe slightly different in what the headline or subject line said. That's because with today's powerful database tools, they can do instantaneous testing to see which appeals generate the most response simply by tweaking a few words or images. More and more online advertisers are doing the same. And it all began with direct mail.

Anyhow, we couldn't find a single copy of that Hawaii Business magazine with Dave on the cover in Downtown Honolulu! The only magazine shop on Fort Street Mall that had it in their window was closed for the weekend. Longs didn't have it and it was just mid-month. In Kailua, we couldn't find it in Safeway or Foodland either. We had to drive to Ala Moana and get a copy from the Barnes & Noble bookstore there. When my wife used to publish her Japanese visitor guide, she would often check the street racks in Waikiki to make sure they were being kept in stock by her distribution person -- because that's what the advertisers are paying for.

So the business take-away from this simple walkabout in search of a magazine is that you can have the most sophisticated online computer tools at your disposal for market research and advertising... but if you don't get out of the office and check things with your own eyes and ears, chances are you may miss the real reason your business isn't doing better.

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For daily viewing schedules of the new July episode of Career Changers TV, please visit our website. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, now approaching 350,000 total views for over 200 pieces we've produced. Contact me directly if you're interested in being a sponsor!

Happenstance in Chinatown

May 24th, 2014
By



A writer friend I've collaborated with on a couple of screenplays posted on Facebook that a word you rarely see these days is "ubiquitous." Which seemed ironic to me, since social media forums such as FB can turn a forwarded video, photo, comment or cause into something that millions of people will see on computers, smart phones, then later on national TV shows, even local morning news spots about today's "Viral Video" or "Trends & Talkers" segments. It's everywhere you look -- ubiquitous, in other words.

And since I'm in the media biz, writing scripts for TV/movie projects, plus producing a local OC16 television show that often features newsworthy people, my life is filled with moments of convergence... a surreal blend of real life merging with online interactions, nationally-broadcast TV shows, and live local news programming. One day I'm interviewing a subject for Career Changers or blogging about it in the Star-Advertiser, the next day or on the evening KHON News, I'm watching that same person talk about their biz or responding to complaints (like the new vertical wind tunnel at The Groove Hawaii, which is on this month's show). Then I hit play on my DVR, and see another familiar face appearing on a Food Network or History Channel show after we had them on Career Changers awhile back. A week or two later, I run into the same person(s) while out and about looking for my next story, completing the Circle of Media Life.

That just happened to me again this past week. I bought discounted Groupon tickets for the Honolulu Exposed Red Light Tour because I had never heard of it before, and it sounded interesting: take a walk through the seedy side of history in Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown. Having researched stuff like opium dens, brothels, small pox outbreaks and other unsavory elements of Hawaii's past for scripts I was working on, this sounded like something right up my alley. Also, I wondered why no one else had offered this type of tour -- there were ghost tours, walking tours that focus on architecture, straight G-rated history, but nothing that included places like Club Hubba Hubba or the infamous Glades (btw, local filmmaker Connie Florez is producing a documentary about that... click here for details).

Now bear with me, because this trip down the rabbit hole interweaves a few seemingly-unrelated threads that all come together in the end. Last Saturday, my wife and I arrive at the Hawaii Theater where the Red Light tour starts at 9:30 AM. But we're early and having driven from Kailua after a couple of cups of coffee, need to find a restroom. Back in January 2012, my show was the first to air Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock's plans for a badly-need public restroom, which her Chinatown biz organization had raised money for. However, the experimental toilet program didn't receive enough funding to continue, ergo no place for us -- or other locals, visitors and of course, the ubiquitous homeless people -- to relieve ourselves. The closest coffee shops weren't open at that time, so my wife wound up walking down to the police station.

While waiting for Isabel to return, I nervously observed a rail-thin, wasted-looking woman growling and yelling madly at whoever walked past her across the street from me. She was scary, to put it mildly. On the way to the theater meeting spot, my wife and I had to stroll past smelly, filthy homeless men and women on just about every street and occupying every open space around the Hawaii Theater area. I'm not making any judgments -- just telling you what we experienced. What the solution is, I don't even know where to start. Wait, check that. I do know where to begin: by talking about creative approaches that involve partnerships between private interests and public services. I'll eventually get to that.

Anyway, our walkabout in search of a simple toilet answered one of my questions. Q: Why didn't anyone do a Red Light tour before? A: Who the heck wants to come down to stinky, dirty Chinatown in the morning, when you can't even find a public restroom or place to sit peacefully without mentally-ill people accosting you and getting right in your face! Still, having lived in New York City years ago, I've seen worse. Later, the tour guides said hotel concierges won't send visitors to the Chinatown area because of the homeless problem, so that's a major obstacle for their new venture to overcome.

First tour coincidence: the couple who run the Honolulu Exposed tour (click here for their Facebook link) arrive while Isabel is still on her bathroom run, and tell me they just moved here about four months ago and used to work for the Seattle Underground tour. I'm stunned because I had just pitched a TV series idea to the writer friend I mentioned up top, about how the Seattle Underground came into being after a huge fire destroyed much of downtown Seattle, which was originally built at sea level and prone to flooding. This was in the late 1800s. So city leaders figured it was a good time to rebuild the area higher. But cash-strapped biz owners who couldn't afford to go along with the plan, continued running their businesses while the new streets and sidewalks were constructed several feet above their storefronts. Eventually, to stop pedestrians from accidentally falling off the newly-elevated sidewalks, the city built right over the old buildings, creating an underground city where the dregs of society settled. Criminals, prostitutes, scammers, the homeless, all congregated down there. Meanwhile, the Yukon gold rush resulted in many fortune seekers coming to Seattle to deposit their newfound wealth -- making them ripe pickings for crooks. I learned all that from watching a Travel Channel show called "Hotel Secrets and Legends."

As it happens, when I told Clinton and Carter (she's an actress, although the name combo sounds like a Dem presidential ticket from the past) about my TV series idea, they looked at each other and said Clinton was working on a screenplay about little-known stories related to the Seattle Underground. However, he hasn't had much experience writing for TV or movies... and I have won a few awards, was repped by a semi-famous Hollywood manager, had scripts optioned, etc.

In fact, last week  I got word I'm a Top 10 Finalist in the Industry Insider contest, which spawned two prior winners who have gone on to major success: that new sci-fi series "Extant" starring Halle Berry in the ubiquitous CBS commercial spots; and a movie in the works called "The Disciple Program," starring Mark Wahlberg, landed on the vaunted Black List for unproduced scripts in 2012 after winning the Insider contest. So I'm in pretty good company just to make the finalist cut, and I'm thinking this Seattle Underground connection timing could be fortuitous if I happen to win and get some Hollywood heat. The tour hasn't even started, and already things look promising.

Just then, Isabel returns and says, "Look who's here!"

To be continued...

 

 

Fun and Games

April 30th, 2014
By



Groove medium

PROGRAM ALERT: The new May episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on OC16 (Oceanic cable channel 12/high def 1012). For other viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel low res video segments, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

While thinking about what I was going to write for this preview, it occurred to me that there was a common theme to the four stories. The lead-off segment is about The Groove Hawaii on Ala Moana, which features a go-kart racing track, plus other types of games and fun activities -- they also plan to add a vertical wind tunnel soon, and possibly a wave pool down the road. The next piece is about the Dev League computer coding bootcamp that recently started up at the Manoa Innovation Center. That's followed by a profile of a professional handyman -- "Mr. Tinker" in MidWeek ads -- who moonlights as a musician. And the closing segment is about LinkedIn being a game changer for recruiters/job seekers.

So, can you see the connection to the theme I alluded to? Each one involves work and play. Most of us need to work for a living, but without some kind of fun and games, life would be pretty dreary. Hence, the need for speed, sports, games to suit any age -- the kind of stuff you'll find at The Groove Hawaii. Then you have video games and virtual worlds that exist because of computers and the internet revolution -- that's where Dev League's coding programs come into play. In the analog world, people still enjoy making music and doing things with their hands, be it Mr. Tinker or the Makers Movement we did a segment on in our April show.

But where does LinkedIn fit into the work as play/play as work paradigm, you ask? Well, essentially LinkedIn is the grown-ups' version of Facebook. FB began as a crude way for some nerds to rate college chicks, then added text and more substance to the postings. Eventually, FB became a way for friends to share links to interesting or funny articles, videos, and addictive games that transformed a simple idea into a billion-dollar enterprise. Yet it still left room for LinkedIn to fill the business network niche... a more serious adult-oriented form of social media geared to career goals. Like FB, LinkedIn has expanded their technical capabilities -- and global reach -- enabling users to post their own videos, papers, links to projects, whatever might help make their personal profile more attractive to potential employers, job recruiters or business partners.

When I look back at how job hunting and relationships with employers have changed over the past three decades, the generational shift in attitude towards work and play really strikes close to home. My parents were in their 30s during the turbulent 1960s and very much subscribed to the work-is-work mindset of sticking with one company for as long as possible to get good benefits and have a secure retirement. Play was something you did only if you had lots of money and time to fritter away. I didn't become a teenager until the Seventies, but I identified with the '60s counter-culture movement that had sprung up -- the generation that eschewed corporate bondage and flipped the Puritan live-to-work ethic to the pursuit of individual self-fulfillment, whatever that might be. Which put me and my siblings at odds with the folks, who frequently reminded us that "life is not about having fun!"

Except it is. I watched my parents age and stop playing games with us once we got a little older (and to be fair, we pulled back from them as well). Since they devoted so much of their life to work -- to support us and provide for us too -- they didn't have time or energy for play. They had a comfortable nest egg when they retired, but had lost interest in play... they didn't have any hobbies, didn't care about sports, didn't want to go to Vegas or travel. I think a lot of older folks from that generation are similar in that regard, maybe more so on the Mainland than in Hawaii -- like in that recent movie, Nebraska. Talk about bleak and depressing.

The irony is that much of the stuff I loved to do for no recognition or reward as a kid, now seems so far removed from my original idea of "fun" because grown-ups have turned sports and games into such serious business. It becomes all about proper technique, winning and losing, accounting balance sheets, political correctness, posturing, ego, and most of all, money.

Anyhow, it just reminds me that life is short. Go out and have fun this weekend! Play games, find something that gives you enjoyment. Pick up a musical instrument or a paint brush. Do something, create something with your hands or mind. Work can wait...

 

Must Sea TV

April 23rd, 2014
By



Haven’t had time to post here recently since I’m currently editing the next Career Changers TV episode for May. But I wanted to take a moment to recommend you watch a couple of other shows for completely different reasons.

On Thurs., April 24 at 8 PM, PBS is airing There Once Was an Island, a documentary by Briar March.  It’s about the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on the people who inhabit a tiny atoll off the coast of Papua New Guinea.  As you watch the villagers debate what to do – leave or rebuild, even as the next storm threatens to destroy their homes again – there’s a sense of déjà vu because we’ve heard these same arguments in Hawaii and elsewhere. Some say these are simply acts of God, or nature at work; others contend global warming is the culprit.

I got to meet the filmmaker through my show’s videographer, Stanford Chang, and his wife, Shirley Thompson, who has edited a number of PBS projects. Briar is a petite, charming, fair-skinned woman from New Zealand, who lived on that remote island for several months while filming the story. Yet she seemed to have no trouble adjusting to village life or fitting in despite the cultural differences. In part, I think it was because they shared a common desire to find some answers to the villagers’ dilemma.

On the opposite end of the cultural spectrum is the new HBO show, Silicon Valley by Mike Judge. A lot of people know him for his animated series, Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill. I wasn’t a big fan of either, but thought his movie Idiocracy was painfully funny in portraying the demise of Western civilization as being the result of stupid people out-breeding more intelligent couples who choose to have only one or two children. At times, the movie's satire is so spot on, it almost seems like a documentary.

He also wrote and directed Office Space, which is kind of a 1999 foreshadowing of the coming high tech revolution in which workers reject their corporate overlords to start their own anti-corporate companies with funny names like Yahoo, Google, Twitter -- and "Hooli" in the new HBO series. Since I’ve been doing my own Career Changers segments on local startups, accelerators, incubators and entrepreneurs, I had to laugh out loud when I saw amped-up versions of those types in Mike Judge’s semi-fictional Silicon Valley world.

WARNING: there’s a fair amount of profanity, bad sex gags (the geeks and high tech superstars still reek of testosterone even if they’re nerds) and the coding jokes will probably go over most peoples’ heads… but it is also right on the mark when it comes to dissecting a society that cares more about how fast we can download music files, than how fast our islands and shorelines are disappearing because of climate change.

If we didn’t laugh, we’d have to cry.

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Speaking of  startups and entrepreneurs, the current episode of Career Changers TV features segments on the Honolulu Mini Makers Faire and local inventors. For daily viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel, please go to www.CareerChangers.TV.