Thursday, October 21, 2010

3 Things I Learned at [re]Think Hawaii

10/21 UPDATE: Big mahalo to Ricky Li (@rickyli99) for sending me this pic of the conference speakers. He was the designated photographer, so be sure to watch his site for official photo coverage of the event.


Thanks to Joan Pan (@trulyjoannies), I had the privilege of attending yesterday's [re]think Hawaii Speaker Series at the Regal Dole Theaters. It was a full day, but I thoroughly enjoyed the lineup of presenters. The event certainly had a "one from every village" feel to it, with a nice mix of talent sourced locally and from abroad. Here's a glimpse of what I took away from the event.

1) Less is More
Each presenter was given just 10 minutes to talk about what they do. When you think about it, this isn't a whole lot of time to discuss that which you are most passionate about, but they each did an excellent job of condensing their presentations to fit within the allotted time. This also helped move things along at a nice pace.
The less is more theme was echoed in some of the presentations as well. Cheyne Gallarde (@thecheyne) of Firebird Photography emphasized "nearsighted creativity" and the importance of "finding new uses for old things." His success is based on his ability to reinterpret his surroundings, finding perspectives others may have overlooked; it isn't because he's got the latest and greatest equipment in his camera bag. Chef Ed Kenney (@edstown) talked about the importance of reducing the distance between farm and table. One of the tragedies of living in Hawaii is that most of our food travels thousands of miles before being consumed. The more we can grow locally, the better off our island community will be.

2) Connectivity is Key
Being that the event was centered around entrepreneurship, this was a logical topic. I particularly enjoyed the insights shared by Shaherose Charania (@shaherose) and Neenz Faleafine (@NEENZ). Shaherose talk was about empowering women through the use of technology. She talked about how mobile telephony changed the lives of women living in Bangladesh. She also established Women 2.0, a networking incubator created to foster the ideas of women entrepreneurs. Neenz, on the other hand, focused more on the importance of using in-person relationships to reinforce the connections made online.

3) Technology is Just a Tool
A lot of organizations make the mistake of thinking technology, on its own, will move them forward. They forget that it is incapable of crafting vision, lacks tenacity, and cannot replicate the human element. Granted, when used properly, technology has the potential to do great things for a business. Speaker Bear Woznick said going digital for his business has given him a lot of freedom and opened up countless opportunities. Overall, however, I was surprised by the lack of technical jargon and geek speak, given the nature of [re]think and its target audience. I was reminded of a quote I heard at a data governance conference last year: "technology is an enabler." Sure it is necessary for some of us to do the work that we do, but it isn't meant to replace it.

This was a tremendous experience and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to attend. Special thanks to organizers Christine Lu (@christinelu), Chris Noble (@cfnoble), and Shuchi Rana (@autkast) for planning and coordinating the event. I enjoyed the organic, laid back feel. It gave me the impression that the presenters were there to learn just as much as we were.

If you missed out on [re]Think, check out Ed Morita's (@nctrnlbst) gallery on Nonstop Honolulu.


  1. This is a great recap and a great top three of what you took away. I loved the talk about nearsighted creativity and really did take something away from each talk. Such a fabulous experience!

  2. Hi Stephenie,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. It was a great day of presentations, wasn't it? So many wonderful little nuggets of wisdom, it's hard to process it all. I hope I have the opportunity to attend again next year.

  3. Good write up Mike, I really liked Neenz's speech at the end, Brian Wong & Shaherose's presentation were inspiring though at the same time made me feel old. One thing I missed at this year's rethink that they had the last time, was the "fast pitch" like shark cage/dragon's den business pitching session.