Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ 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.

Depressing Times: UH Sports, Politics

November 4th, 2014
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new November episode of my Career Changers TV show will premiere on Thurs., Nov. 6 on Oceanic channel 12/high def 1012 (a.k.a. OC16). You'll hear about an unusual interactive walking tour in Waikiki called Saving Paradise that just started, plus we have an interesting profile of Jordan and Sonya Seng, the couple behind Seed Restaurant and Bluewater Mission in Palama Settlement. For daily viewing times, visit www.CareerChangers.TV or check out video segments posted on the CCTV YouTube Channel -- now at over 700,000 views worldwide!

I know this blog is supposed to be about career-related stuff, but both sports and politics are now big business when you get right down to it. And business stinks. It's getting harder and harder not to be cynical about either when each day you hear about the enormous waste of money being spent to win games or elections. Then you see the dismal returns on our collective investments -- tax dollars, donations, ticket purchases -- which would ordinarily result in people being fired for inept management in the real business world... instead, those people are walking away with hefty paychecks for NOT working or doing the jobs they were hired to do. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Which is how I feel today about the elections and the UH football and men's basketball programs. On the former, yes, I voted by mail -- and I don't understand why everyone doesn't take advantage of it. Even if you feel uninspired by the choices, we still should at least attempt to show that votes can't be bought via 30-second commercials. Honestly, does anyone actually rely on those advertisements to choose who they want to represent them? If so, democracy is as dead as the mindless zombies who respond to negative ads.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the case in the national elections. Remember how bad things were just six years ago before Obama took office? Yeah. Record unemployment. The stock market on the verge of collapse. Serious talk about the next Great Depression. Wars raging in the Middle East with no end in sight. A country in fear after 9/11 exposed how unprepared we were under Bush for terrorist attacks. There has been an enormous turn-around since Obama won: unemployment way down, stock market way up, most of our military forces back home, no major terrorist attacks on his watch. And millions of Americans finally have health insurance thanks to Obamacare, which even "red" states have now embraced, albeit under their own disguised names for the same program. For all that, Obama and the Democrats are still portrayed as weak "socialists" and will probably lose control of both the House and Senate due to public perception or indifference... or just downright hate by Republicans and whites who can't accept a black president.

With sports though, fans usually vote with their wallets based on actual team performance measured in wins and losses. On that basis alone, it's hard to argue that Coach Norm Chow's tenure has been anything but a sorry failure. By any standard, he hasn't achieved his own goals or those set by the UH administration. Unlike the stock market, the UH sports budget situation is going from bad to worse. His brand of run-and-punt football isn't drawing more fans to games, and is obviously turning off the few remaining season ticket holders. When he or anyone else implies it's not his coaching scheme or play-calling that is at fault, and losses were because of "mistakes" by players or lack of talent... well, whose responsibility is that?

Star-Advertiser sports writer Dave Reardon pointed out that UH fans could raise money to buy out Chow through crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter, which has worked for people I know who were launching new businesses or making film projects. However, the similar grassroots effort of "We Get 'Em" (click here for link) has only raised $21,100 thus far. I think the reason is the same as why people vote the way they do (or don't vote). Passion, i.e. hate or anger, is more powerful than logic or reason. People are more likely to vote AGAINST something -- like Chow continuing as head coach -- than to show their lukewarm support in a positive way, such as hoping the money will be used to improve UH sports facilities. "We Get 'Em" might have raised a lot more money had they called their site, "Fire Chow Now!"

The last straw for me though was what happened in the Aloha Stadium parking lot when we were trying to leave the Utah State mess behind us. By the middle of the third quarter, a large number of fans were already leaving because they had no faith in Chow's offense scoring 21 points to come back and win it. But whoever manages the parking lot, did what they always do and kept certain exits blocked off until the "official" end of the game! This happens at Gate 4 all the time. They open the far lanes from the Upper Halawa lots closest to the stadium, while keeping the gate down on the Lower Halawa lot -- which is where we park because it's closer to the Kahuapaani St. exit that takes us to H3.

So cars were streaming out from the upper lot, and cars exiting the lower lot were being told by parking lot staff to use the Salt Lake Blvd. exit, which is going in the opposite direction! To get back to Kahuapaani and the H3 ramp, cars had to cross Salt Lake Blvd. -- which is dangerous when it's busy -- or drive around the stadium. Mind you, this was on a night with the lowest number of attendees all year. There was no traffic to manage! It was the same idiocy coming into the stadium. They had closed one of the entrance lanes at Gate 4, which meant that cars going into the lower lot were getting backed up every time a driver stopped to ask questions about where they wanted to park or didn't want to go into that lot... and this happens every game. So why did they close one of the middle lanes? To save money? There were parking lot staff standing around with nothing to do!

Here's a suggestion for Aloha Stadium: make your top people go through the same experience your paying customers go through on game day, from entering the stadium to trying to leave. As I told my wife after that experience, I'm done. If Chow is back next season, I'm not. And even then, I'm not sure it's worth the hassle when the stadium won't even let you out of the lot when the game is well out of reach. Bottom line: it's over when the fans say it's over -- not the stadium management, coach or UH administration.

Lucky Golf Ball Drop Wins $1K+

October 17th, 2014
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My wife, Isabel Figel, just made a career move herself and will become the Program Director for the Friends of the Library of Hawaii, a nonprofit organization that provides support for the state's  50 public libraries. Although she doesn't start her new job for a couple of weeks, Isabel has already hit the ground running and wants folks to know about their Helicopter Golf Ball Drop on Friday, Oct. 24 at Kapolei Golf Club.

For a $10 per ball donation, you will have at least a 1 in 1,800 chance (the limit for how many balls can be carried by the chopper) of winning $1,000 if yours is the first ball that goes in the designated hole. The winner's library of choice will also receive $500. Second ball in wins a 50" LED television, on which my Career Changers TV show would look great. (BTW, don't miss our Halloween Special featuring master storyteller Lopaka Kapanui with news about his October Chicken Skin ghost tours!) Third ball gets a $250 Maui Divers Gift Certificate, while the fourth and fifth balls win $100 Gift Certificates.

You need not be present to win, and you can enter online at the Friends of the Library website (click here) or call them at 536-4174 and contribute by credit card over the phone.  Enter as many balls as you like!

It's all part of their 21st Annual Links to Literacy Golf Tournament in Kapolei, which will be followed by a banquet with silent auction. And it's all for a great cause!

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On the current episode of Career Changers TV, Lopaka said he could not divulge the name of a location where he was doing Halloween tours this month only. It can now be revealed that the haunted building is the beautiful Hawaii Theater in Downtown Honolulu. They decided it's okay for him to tell the stories of ghosts that are said to make their presence felt in the grand old theater. You can make reservations for the two remaining Thursday night events on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30 by going to www.Mysteries-of-Hawaii.com.

To get a sampling of Lopaka's other stories and tours, you can find our daily viewing schedule on www.CareerChangers.TV or see the lower res YouTube versions on our CCTV YouTube Channel... now approaching 700,000 views worldwide!

Posted in Career Changers TV, Networking, Uncategorized | Comments Off

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!