Archive for the ‘Hawaii job opportunities’ Category

Chinatown Tour - Part 2

May 27th, 2014
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Before I resume my story about the Honolulu Exposed Red Light Tour, I wanted to share this comment on Part 1 from reader John Reid:

I hope the folks doing the Chinatown tour can find someone who can tell them about the strip bars next to and across the street from the Hawaii Theatre back in the 1980's (Club Darling which was next door on property that is now the park, and The Harbor Lounge located across the street that is now a French restaurant). Both of these were frequented often by a couple of local motorcycle clubs and have colorful histories. In addition, there was another straight bar down a small alley next to the theatre owned by Bill Mederios called the Alley Cat. They also don't want to leave out the site of the oldest bar in Honolulu, called the Pantheon over on Nuuanu and Bill Lederer's on Hotel Street where HPD has their Chinatown office. Visitors will also be interested in learning that live sex acts were performed in the basement of a building on the short street connecting Bethel Street to the Fort Street Mall called the Theatre of Venus. The then-president of the Devils Breed Motorcycle Club and his wife performed live sex in front of large crowds of Japanese visitors who were brought down in tour buses. This one was shut down by a prude prosecutor of the City and County of Honolulu. I was the owner and operator of Club Darling and the Harbor Lounge during most of the 1980's.

Interesting, huh? The current Honolulu Exposed tour focuses more on older history, but I'm going to pass along this info to the tour owners, Carter and Clinton. When I left off in the last installment, my wife had just returned from her search for a public restroom in Chinatown, and said: "Look who's here!"

I turn and see two guys I know -- local inventor, marketing maven, serial entrepreneur Mark Bell, who I've featured on my show three times (including his adaptation of the Scooter Cooler, which has had thousands of views on the CCTV YouTube Channel); and Kenny Kaminaka (also goes by Kurt or KK) who turned his house into the ArtZone, where aerial performances, plays and other works of art/entertainment have been staged. We did a segment on him way back in 2010, and KK is planning on building ArtZone 2 now. (Note: those are two older clips that were posted before YouTube allowed high def uploads, so they're kind of blurry.) Mark and Kenny were there with Alan Arato, who has been working with local concert producer/promoter Tom Moffatt for a long time and is a well-known entertainment producer in his own right.

The reason Mark bought the tour Groupons was those three are starting their own unique tour experience called Saving Paradise (here's their Facebook link) which, from what I understand, will be an interactive experience combining actors who portray characters, fun facts about Hawaii, food and drink. In effect, they were checking out the competition. But by the end of our tour, we were all talking about working together on one thing or another. That's what I love about living here. Being on a small island, where everybody knows each other or knows somebody who knows the person you don't know, there's a lot of collaboration. As I told Clinton and Carter, to succeed in Hawaii, you need to form partnerships with like-minded people.

Getting back to the homeless situation in Chinatown, I think we need that same kind of cooperation between private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. For the past three years, through the federally-funded Rescue & Restore program, I've been involved with the 808HALT.com coalition to address human trafficking in Hawaii. I've seen what can be accomplished when stakeholders from the private and public sectors, along with NGOs (non-government organizations) are brought together to share ideas, as well as resources. Homelessness is a social problem, but it's also an economic issue that needs to be tackled head on. It takes creativity too, and thinking outside the box -- or traditional public restroom model, for that matter.

For instance, in Europe I saw pay-for toilets with attendants who made sure the facilities were clean. Their presence also deterred vandalism. Why not build restrooms, staff them with unemployed homeless people who have been living in those areas, charge small fees for use of the facilities and put that money toward housing for the attendants, who are homeless? I've seen prototypes for housing trafficking victims that converts shipping containers into decent living quarters -- could that be part of the solution? I think it's going to take a variety of approaches, and some of those will fail. But we have to do something besides complain about it.

As for the tour itself, even though I've lived here since 1985, there were a lot of stories about Downtown Honolulu I had never heard before. Just walking along, looking up at the building facades while listening to Carter's entertaining talk, I noticed details I've missed all these years while hustling around to meetings (or bars back in my drinking days). Despite the lack of restrooms and the homeless problem, it's still worth taking the trip -- if nothing else, to remind ourselves what it's like seeing Chinatown through the eyes of visitors, who drive our economy for better or worse. What I saw was great potential amid the dirty faces and littered streets. There are new restaurants, shops, businesses springing up even as older ones shut down or move out after giving up the battle against crime and constant hassling by drug dealers/addicts/mentally-ill people. Ironically, things like tours and documentaries that recall Chinatown's darker side, could rally residents to save and preserve the best parts of the past while moving forward.

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Oh, one more coincidence: my wife and I were watching Pawn Stars on the History Channel last month, and who do we see walking into the Vegas shop with an item to sell -- Mark Bell! He offered them a test piece from Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose, the mammoth wooden airplane that barely got off the ground before it was grounded for good. Asking price: $10,000. As it happens, Mark's dad worked for the famously reclusive tycoon, which is how he obtained the unusual wooden structural sample (click here for the Pawn Stars link or check out Oceanic Time Warner's entertainment on demand channel for that episode). In the end though, they only offered $200 so Mark took a walk. Still, it was cool to see him on one of the weird shows I regularly watch.

But wait, there's more! In Part 3, I'll tell you about what happened right after the tour and how the guy on this month's Hawaii Business magazine cover -- Small Business Person of the Year, Dave Erdman -- was responsible for introducing me to my wife, Isabel.

For daily viewing times and more info about my Career Changers TV show, which airs daily on OC16, please visit our website and click on the YouTube link to check out segments from past episodes.

 

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...

 

Dev League Computer Coding Scholarships

April 9th, 2014
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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 Upstart.com 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 http://devleague.com/apply. The company has posted three new courses on its web site (click here).

Small Packages Lead to Big Box Plant

March 10th, 2014
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Rengo (medium)

One of the Job Quest job fair stories that didn't make it into this month's Career Changers TV show is posted on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which has now topped 180,000 total views and averages more than 28,000 views per month. But many of our business-oriented stories fly under the radar and don't get much attention because they don't have a built-in following from social media or they shy away from publicity.

Such was the case with Rengo Packaging. Never heard of them? Neither did I, so when I spotted their booth at Job Quest, I went over to investigate who they were and what type of jobs they were looking to fill. Turns out this was the company that sprung up after Weyerhaeuser closed the Honolulu box plant in 2008... well, actually, there were some important interim steps along the way. First, 13 former Weyerhaeuser employees formed Hawaii Box and Packaging to act as a distributor, but weren't producing the boxes locally. Then in 2011, they were acquired by Rengo, the largest corrugated box manufacturer in Asia. Rengo decided to build a new plant on Oahu that was scheduled to open this month and start making boxes by June 1. Here's the link to the video segment. They are looking to hire 30 to 40 new employees -- no small thing in Hawaii's job market.

The reason I took a personal interest in their story was back in 2008 I was deeply involved in the beach access movement because some residents in Kailua put up a locked gate on a "private" beachside lane that neighbors had been using for years to get to the beach. I met Scott Werny, who was the Surfrider Oahu co-chair at the time, and he helped me organize the statewide Groundhog Day rallies that generated a good deal of media attention for the cause. His day job was being a packaging engineer at Weyerhaeuser -- which fascinated me since you don't often think about what goes into designing something as simple as a box. Yet there's a myriad of factors that a designer has to take into account for each product.

After Scott got word the old W plant was closing shop, he told me about the small group that was going to form their own company to continue as a distributor. But he acknowledged it was risky, and it was no sure thing they would succeed. A few months later, Scott was hit with more unexpected bad news. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Friends rallied to support the young father of two kids, yet he asked us to make donations to the National Parkinson Foundation on his behalf instead of focusing attention on him. That's the kind of person Scott is.

It had been a couple years since I last spoke to him, so I asked Rengo's Operations Manager Glenn Masaki if Scott was still working for them. Yes, he said. Scott is their one and only packaging designer, and his Parkinson's is under control. Later, I caught up with him on the phone and he sounded great. His personal life was in transition again (divorce, moving to a new place) while his professional life is doing well now that Rengo has given them the capital and resources to build their new plant at Campbell Industrial Park with about 4 acres under roof.

So, next time you get a pizza delivered or buy a box of locally-made candy, chances are Scott and his co-workers at Rengo were the folks who are responsible for the packaging. It's a testament to the resilience of hard-working people in Hawaii, who didn't give up when a big company decided to pull up stakes... or when personal challenges confronted them. If you would like to make a donation on Scott's behalf, here's the link to the National Parkinson Foundation site. Progress has been made in treating the disease, but there is still no cure.

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For daily viewing times of the new schedule for Career Changers TV, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

 

March Makeovers, Part 2

March 4th, 2013
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Picking up where I left off in my last post, the second twist in Alanna's makeover for the current Career Changers TV show (airs tonight at 8 PM on OC16, which is actually channel 12 or 1012 on high def) came after Nordstrom Rack provided her with a new outfit for job interviews. Before I get to that, gotta thank Stella Porter, the store manager, who went the extra mile for Alanna by adding accessories and shoes. There's a reason the Nordstrom name is synonymous with great customer service, and you can see it in their staff's efforts from the top person to the assistants on the floor.

So we head over to the Paul Brown Salon at Ward, and Paul hobbles out, bent over slightly. He was having back spasms and had just recently recovered from a bad case of the flu while he was on the mainland. Yet Paul was committed to doing the makeover. The show must go on, as they say, and Paul is definitely a showman as well as a top notch stylist. Somehow, he blocked out the pain and focused on giving Alanna his full attention -- check that, not just his attention, but his entire staff. Again, superior client service from top man to newest employee. They had specialists for her hair coloring and make-up, and it turned out one of the assistants was a familiar face...

In my prior post, I mentioned we met Paul while filming a fashion show put on by students at the Paul Brown Institute, which is now part of Remington College and no longer run by Paul himself. However, he takes an active interest in the cosmetology school that bears his name, and he scouts new talent at events such as these. The show we filmed is part of this segment (click here) and was put together by Kalipo -- who is now working for Paul at their flagship salon in Ward Center. Another unsolicited testimonial for a major sponsor, Remington College. As I noted before, "for profit" colleges on the mainland have gotten a bad rap, but I've seen good results at both Remington and Argosy for students who applied themselves and took advantage of real job opportunities those schools offer. You can see the Nordstrom Rack and Paul Brown segment of the makeover by clicking here.

CORRECTION: Remington College changed to non-profit status last year, so technically is not considered a "for profit" school.

tatt removalAwhile back when I was just starting the Career Changers TV show, I wrote half-jokingly in this blog that if I was looking for future business opportunities to franchise, I would go into tattoo removals... I mean, look at all those young girls who get tramp stamps and guys with face/neck tatts that seemed like a good idea at the time. Flash forward a few years, and that dainty butterfly now looks like a whale tale, and Mr. Cool Face Tatt doesn't seem so hip when Mr. Employer has already mentally crossed this inked-up dude off his list of possible hires. Not only that, the military has stricter policies on tatts; and some companies such as Hawaiian Airlines have a no-visible tattoos rule for certain jobs.

Little did I know that tattoo removal has, in fact, already become a big biz -- and there are different methods that are available. I had heard about lasers being used, but didn't realize that it doesn't work for all colors and can be pretty painful. Laser removal generally requires multiple visits and may result in scarring too. But there is an alternative method, which is offered by Joelle Johnson at her Kapahulu Ave. location at Hee Hing Plaza. She's a career changer herself, and you can see her segment tonight at 8 PM on OC16 or the low res YouTube version by clicking here.

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For other daily viewing times, visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel. BTW, did you catch KGMB this morning? Coincidentally, they had one of their reporters go out to SeaBreeze (now called H2O Sports) to try out their jet pack, which I just blogged about a couple weeks ago in this post.