Archive for the ‘sports careers’ Category

Seeds of Hope

September 3rd, 2014
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new September episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012). For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over half a million views!

August was crazy busy for me so I didn't have time to weigh in on the elections (no surprise Neil got trounced -- I've written in this blog that right after he got elected, he and his "team" promptly alienated supporters by ignoring them), Kawainui Marsh plans (I live next to the marsh and can tell you the same objections being raised now were raised over 10 years ago by residents -- and ignored by the bureaucrats who get paid to do these pie-in-the-sky fantasy park plans), or UH athletics/football problems (again, same old obstacles ignored by the State Legislature and public at large).

And yet, my latest show is about people who are doing positive things without government help or involvement! What started as a short feel-good piece on Seed Restaurant in Kaimuki, near Big City Diner, grew into something much bigger once I started talking to the couple behind the venture. I was a bit leery when I first read that it was affiliated with a religious ministry because I consider myself an agnostic and have issues with organized religions in general. However, Jordan and Sonya Seng, the couple behind Seed and Bluewater Mission in Palama Settlement are... well, different than what you might expect. They met at Stanford University. His background was in academia -- he wound up at Harvard, writing papers on nuclear proliferation/WMDs and warned about meddling in the Middle East back in 2001 before we invaded Iraq (his analysis was quite prescient). She studied music, sang professionally  (Jordan taught himself to play instruments so he could back her up) and acted in commercials, TV shows, musical theater productions. Jordan's stories about growing up on the run with his fugitive father is pretty incredible too.

None of that stuff is in the two-parter we're running this month. I'm saving their personal back story for a future show because I want people to hear why they started Seed Restaurant and understand that this is how change happens. They had no experience whatsoever in the restaurant biz. But they were trying to help the homeless, survivors of domestic abuse, sex trafficking and prostitution, ex cons... people who have largely been left to fend for themselves without the tools or resources to rebuild their lives. And here they are half a year later, with a thriving restaurant that sticks to their core principles of "justice." They are accomplishing more with far less money than city, state and federal agencies have spent on countless studies and pilot programs. Yes, it's on a small scale -- but that's how you tackle big problems: one person, one step at a time. I love what they're doing. Check out my show, and I think you'll be impressed too. Maybe even moved, like I was.

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Speaking of tackling, I have to get in some last licks about the UH home opener against Washington. Months ago when it was announced season tickets were at an all-time low, I used that opportunity to upgrade our seats at a decent price. We've been there at Aloha Stadium, rain or shine, win or lose, and stuck with them through the tough times, which made the winning seasons even more special. When Ben Jay commented that football might be dropped, I knew he was talking about a hypothetical scenario set in the future -- not something imminent. But I hoped it would light a fire and make people realize you can't take things for granted. Sure enough, there was a much bigger crowd for the first game than was projected. And the stadium management blew it.

My wife and I got there around 2 PM for the 4:30 PM kick-off and we could already see the parking lots were nearly full. Traffic was backing up around the stadium. Hundreds of people waited hours to get into the lot, then waited in lines for tickets, or gave up and went home. Not a great way to entice fans to come out to future games. Inside the stadium, it was obvious the management expected the dire predictions of a small crowd. There were fewer concession stands open than we've ever seen at a UH football game, including during the Von Appen Era.

This is what negativity and pessimism does. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. The team is expected to be bad, so people won't come, so we'll plan on them not coming, and then when they come, we won't be ready to handle the crowd, so they'll have a bad experience... and then the future crowds will meet their initial low projections. Sheesh.

My one gripe about the UH effort on the field was a moment of indecision by the coaching staff during the first half of a tight game: fourth and one inside the Red Zone. The Bows had Washington on their heels. Joey Iosefa was plowing over people. We had already scored twice on the Huskies defense. Now, if this was Navy or Georgia Tech, which runs triple option, they don't hesitate. They line up with the QB under center. Sometimes they snap it quick. Other times they try to draw the defense offsides to get a "free" first down. If the defense doesn't bite on the hard count, they'll call a time-out or take a delay of game penalty, then kick the field goal.

So why didn't we at least try to draw Washington offside BEFORE calling the time out, instead of running a trick play AFTER the Huskies had a chance to regroup? That's also what I don't like about the shotgun in short yardage situations. It literally limits your options on running plays and takes away the QB sneak. Heck, even back when I played high school football, the quarterback and center always had an "automatic" tap on the butt play to snap the ball if there wasn't a defensive lineman covering the center. With a running QB like Woolsey, that should be part of the short yardage package.

Anyhow, I still liked that they went for it on fourth down instead of just settling for the field goal. Like the folks who started Seed Restaurant, sometimes you have to take chances and have faith in people to make things work.

UH Sports = Bad @ Math?

March 3rd, 2014
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OC12 SCHEDULE CHANGES: The new March episode of Career Changers TV was preempted by high school wrestling this weekend, but now that we have new time slots on OC12  (er, OC16 which is shown on channel 12/high def 1012) you have additional viewing options each day. Click here for the new times under "When to Watch." On this month's show, we have segments on the Job Quest job fair and Farmlovers Farmers' Markets -- btw, despite the rain there was a great turnout for their Cacao Fest in Kailua on Sunday!

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Diehard sports fans love to play armchair quarterback (which really should be "armchair coach" or "backseat coach" since QBs rarely call their own plays anymore, unless it's an audible at the line). That includes me and my wife, who had an interesting suggestion when the UH men's basketball team was leading Long Beach State by one point with about 18 seconds remaining in the game last Thursday. LBSU had the ball and called a timeout. It was obvious The Beach could hold out for the last shot to win or lose the game.  She said, "They (UH) should foul!"  I agreed.

Here's why: UH had committed seven team fouls, putting them in a 1-and-1 penalty situation; odds favored LB getting off a decent shot and even if it missed, there's a good chance the player could be fouled while taking that shot. Give average players two foul throws, most will make at least one. If the game is tied at the end of regulation, the home team -- Long Beach State -- usually has the edge in overtime. If UH had fouled right away before LB got off a shot -- possibly a 3-point attempt -- the player would shoot a 1-and-1. Make the first, you get a second foul throw. Miss, and the edge goes to UH players who have inside position for a rebound. Worst case scenario, foul and LB makes both foul shots; UH down by 1 with around 12-15 seconds left. Best case scenario, LB player misses first foul throw, UH rebounds, gets fouled and the advantage shifts to UH...

But apparently UH head coach Gib Arnold decided to let LB take the final shot without fouling. Time ticked off, and the LB player was left wide open to hit a 3-pointer. UH goes down by two points and had to rush a shot to tie or win with around 8 seconds left. Gib still had a timeout in his pocket, but they had already decided not to use it since that could have given LB time to set up a defensive play. The UH guard made a desperate attempt at putting up a prayer of a shot... it missed. Worse, it looked ugly because the ball wasn't in the hands of their best shooters at the end. With that loss came a lot more second-guessing about coaching decisions, particularly in close games decided in the final minute or two. Some of it just comes down to luck. In at least two or three UH losses this season, had the ball bounced differently on the last shot of the game, they would have won.

What's frustrating for fans is we've seen bad clock management and examples of bad math not just in basketball, but in football and also questionable baseball odds strategy as well (eg., when to sacrifice and bunt runners over in low-scoring games). In b-ball, there have been opportunities for the Bows to play 2-for-1 shots in the final minute before halftime. You hear ESPN announcers say it all the time -- since there's a 35-second clock in college, if the team with the ball gets off a shot and leaves at least 40-secs, odds are they will wind up taking the last shot. Do the math. Put up two shots in less than a minute compared to the opponents one shot, and you're more likely to come out  ahead. But if you use up the 35-seconds to get off just one shot and leave your opponent time to score, you go from a chance of a 6-0 scoring run to being down 0-3 in that final minute.

UH football clock management was downright awful at times this past year. I think part of the problem is the head coach is expected to make the calls on timeouts, but with so much going on, you really need another brain calculating the numbers stuff. For instance, I have seen very good coaches and players fail to realize that the opponents were going to let them score so they could get the ball back and have a chance to tie or win the game. In those games, the running back or quarterback should have just taken a knee at the goal line so they maintained control of the ball and could run the clock out. But the players got so excited, they high-stepped into the end zone, not realizing they were giving their opponent a chance to snatch victory from defeat. However, it falls on the coaching staff to alert their players about those possibilities in the waning moments of a game.

Anyhow, maybe what the UH sports teams needs is an assistant coach to be the Designated Screamer -- someone like us fans who yell at the TV screen or shout from the stands advice on when to call timeout or purposely foul an opponent. In the end though, I keep reminding myself it's only a game... and no one feels worse about losing the close ones than the coaches and players themselves.

 

Ben Jay = Brand Bland

May 3rd, 2013
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PROGRAM ALERT: The May episode of Career Changers TV premieres Sat. night at 8:30 PM on OC16. Tetris empire builder Henk Rogers tells how a heart attack changed his life "missions," and we also take a look at his Blue Startups accelerator program to help launch new businesses from his Downtown Honolulu headquarters. You can find details on daily viewing times and links to segments posted on YouTube by clicking here.

H v BowsThere's some revisionist reportage going on about the lack of fan response to the June Jones decision back in 2000 to excise the Rainbows from the UH football team nickname. True, there weren't any rallies or organized protests back then. But many longtime supporters DID vote with their dollars, and the dwindling attendance figures over the past few years shows what happens when a state institution turns its back on the very people it's supposed to serve.

The numbers are deceptive because for awhile, winning overcomes all kinds of negativity. Read Scoreboard, Baby - A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity, a book about the University of Washington's 2000 football season under coach Rick Neuheisel. Hmm, come to think of it there were similarities between him and June -- both had huge egos, a kind of swagger and a sense of certainty in whatever they did to achieve the ends they desired. However, winning doesn't necessarily build long-term loyalty as evidenced by the exodus of fair-weather fans who jumped ship once the "Warriors" football team began their descent into mediocrity. At even their lowest points though, you could still see old-timers walking around Aloha Stadium in their faded Rainbows and "Go Bows" t-shirts and hats.

What I really want to address is UH Athletic Dictator -- er, Director -- Ben Jay's rationale for dropping Rainbows from all UH men sports, while curiously retaining it for the Wahine... even though he says it has nothing to do with claims that homophobia is the real reason the boys should be called Warriors. Jay says it's for the sake of uniformity, branding and marketing purposes. He said it was to end "confusion" amongst the media and fans.

Really? First, there was NO confusion until June changed the name on his own accord. In fact, the "brand" had been so ingrained in the minds of national sportscasters that they continued to call them the Rainbows or Bows even as recently as last year when doing football games on ESPN. And I don't recall any of them ever snickering or belittling the name... although calling them the "Warriors" when they were being shellacked by actual brand name schools did sound sort of ridiculous. Anyhow, back to my main point: unless I am mistaken, Ben Jay was not hired to be the UH Marketing Director and/or Director of Public Relations -- we already pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to other UH staff for PR and marketing mismanagement.

Moreover, when I hear anyone toss around terms like "branding" I have to laugh. That's a buzz word which was in vogue about a decade ago and is best used when referring to old school marketing for things like pizza and toothpaste. It may work for big corporations like Microsoft or corporate-like institutions such as Ohio State, but the new trend is really anti-branding -- take Apple, for example. It's about expressing what is unique, different and cool about your product or who you are. It is about identity.

The Rainbow has always been about more than a school nickname or logo. Ask anyone on the Mainland what image comes to mind when they think about Hawaii, and right behind the ocean and beaches, you will probably hear rainbows mentioned. Why? On sportscasts and travel shows, in countless photographs snapped by millions of visitors, the ubiquitous symbol never fails to inspire awe and wonder when it seems to magically appear above our valleys -- or over Aloha Stadium and the Stan Sheriff Arena in Manoa. The Rainbow is bigger than June Jones, Ben Jay or the University of Hawaii. It represents the islands of Hawaii, the many hues and colors of the people who call this place home, who work hard and take pride in rooting for the teams that are supposed to represent us -- not some marketing plan made up by Mainland transplants sitting in an office.

Didn't June even used to play Bruddah Iz's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" during warm-ups before the game?

Lastly, if you want to make the argument that eliminating the Rainbows from merchandise and marketing will somehow help increase sales, do the math. Less product diversity and choices equals less sales for nearly every type of product or service you can think of. Less isn't more in this case. What Ben Jay is offering is Brand Bland: one jagged "H" design in your choice of basic black and moldy green -- and that's it, folks. Meanwhile, in places like the University of Oregon (and every professional sports franchise, for that matter) the actual marketing pros are cashing in on apparel that comes in a wide array of colors/designs, as well as retro merchandise that appeals to both old and young fans.

Anyhow, my wife and I never stopped cheering for the Rainbows even when the cheerleaders were instructed to stop using that name by June and the UH athletic department higher ups at football games and men volleyball matches. Sadly though, without the school's backing, the "Let's Go Bows" chant at games has been drowned out by the din of commercials and drunken profanities shouted by the new brand of macho Warrior fans.

'Bows Should Try Hypnotherapy

December 31st, 2012
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Watching the UH men's basketball team shoot fouls has been painful. Missed free throws has already cost them games and the Bows nearly lost another one this weekend when they only made 16 of 31 from the so-called "charity line." The Wahine hoopsters might have beaten Alabama this weekend, had they sunk a couple more foul shots too. Since it's a given they probably take hundreds of shots in practice, what's the problem?

I think it's mostly mental. Studies have shown that positive visualization in sports can lead to improved performance. "See" the proper tennis stroke or golf putt in your mind, and brainwaves show the same activity as if the person was doing it for real. Perhaps, seeing other players miss shots in pressure situations becomes contagious because the next guy to shoot is subconsciously altering his own mechanics to avoid putting up a brick. Throughout the young season thus far, the Bows have gone through patches where no one seems to be able to get the ball to fall through the rim... it's like a magic shield goes up around the basket. Fans begin to expect them to miss, and you can hear the groans in the arena when the contagion causes them to blow wide open shots and easy lay-ups.

A few years back, Riley Wallace used to have two sports psychologists work with his teams. I don't know if they ever employed hypnotherapy or visualization techniques, but Coach Arnold should consider giving it a shot (pun intended). Hypnotherapy isn't hocus pocus -- it's even used in medicine to treat pain these days, according to Mindy Ash, who we featured on Career Changers TV in July. Here's the link to that segment. Give her a call, Gib! Heck, when a Division I team barely makes 50 percent of their free throws, trying something new can't hurt.

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On a related sports note, former UH football great Ashley Lelie is getting married today. I got that news firsthand while I was filming a new segment for CCTV sponsor, Argosy University at their Downtown campus on Bishop Street. He was there with fiancee Noza Yusufbekova, an Argosy grad student in their clinical psychology program, who we first interviewed in this segment. Noza is smart, charming, and very attractive, to state the obvious. And I have to say Ashley is a genuinely humble guy. Congrats to both of them! One thing is for sure: it will be much easier for me to spell Noza's last name in the lower third graphics that go on screen.

Our January episode features new pieces on architects, the fashion biz, art and more. The 2013 kick-off show premieres Saturday at 8:30 pm on OC16. For daily viewing times throughout the week, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Happy New Years!

Help Wanted: Creative Thinkers

October 11th, 2010
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Maybe it's just me, but do the political ads and commercials this year seem really, um... boring? Don't we want to see signs of intelligence and creativity in leaders, whether it's in the business world or government? Instead, we're getting the same old promises of "change" from both sides packaged in patronizing tones as if the candidates were talking to kindergarten kids: Rise and shine, Hawaii...what, is nap time over?

You'd also think the candidates could show more variety in their ad campaigns. But the current dictum is to stay on point and keep on message, ad nauseam. Which is perhaps one reason so many people are turned off and apathetic about elections. Neither party is providing a product that generates much excitement or interest. With so much at stake for our future, it shouldn't be that way.

There's no excuse for the lack of creativity in government and politics. All one has to do is look at the private sector -- or even sports -- for examples of how effective leaders are nurturing and harnessing the power of innovative thinking in their day-to-day operations. I've been clipping articles and bookmarking web pages that have a common theme: the first step to finding better ideas is simply making the effort to be around creative people. The "lone genius" is really a myth. Good ideas come from collaboration. It's about bringing together small groups in an environment that welcomes divergent views and isn't afraid of "failure." Successful inventors, business leaders and artists recognize that sometimes you have to fail repeatedly before you find the answer you're looking for.

Yet when was the last time you heard of a great idea coming from an elected official or bureaucrat? Recently a national magazine published a list of who they considered to be the most creative people in the world... and none of them were in government. Politicians are so fearful of appearing to be too radical or "different" that they govern to the center in such a way that mediocrity is the best we can hope for. Real change requires a certain amount of risk -- and that scares the heck out of most people.

But government leaders can take cues from sports on how to manage risk and reward. I happened to be skimming topics on a local sports message board and came across a post on Boise State football coach Chris Petersen. Anyone who follows college football knows about the incredible success that school has had over the past few years. Although they're extremely disciplined, they also have a knack for pulling off trick plays and doing the unexpected. In the article, Petersen talks about how he became part of an eclectic group of eight creative and innovative leaders in Boise known as "The Gang."

At first he resisted the notion that spit-balling ideas with non-football types would help him as a coach. Then it hit him like a blindside tackle that adding "wrinkles" to their routine could make them a better team. Here's the link to the USA Today article.

And here's another good interview that appeared in Wired magazine about "Where Ideas Come From"...

I wish our new mayor and the next governor would read these pieces and form their own think tanks of people who do NOT come from government, politics or insider groups. Bring in artists, inventors, innovators who have demonstrated an ability to come up with imaginative solutions to both small and big problems.

In my next post, I'll continue the discussion and talk about creative advertising -- and why I love the Mad Men television series so much. Meanwhile, check out our current Career Changers TV show on OC16, which just happens to feature creative thinkers and local inventors. Here's our website link for daily viewing times, and you can also check out our YouTube Channel link on that page as well.

Got thoughts on encouraging creativity in the workplace and government environment? Post your comments below!