’19 MBA graduates co-author book for future leaders
Dressed in a tank top, shorts and slippahs, Nolene Gega ’19 scouted the streets of Kalihi, shopping around for a commercial printer. She finally found one that agreed to print a book, which she and nine other then-MBA Chaminade students co-wrote for their Island Business Po‘okela capstone project. “Hawaiian Values for Future Leaders: Definitions & Stories” was born from the idea that no reference book exists that highlights the importance of Hawaiian leadership values.
“The intent was to make a book that could be shared and approachable,” says Gega, a military veteran who was deployed to Kuwait from 2011-2012 and embedded as a civilian in Afghanistan from 2012-2014. “Every single book on Hawaiian values is so dense, and we wanted ours to be a sort of quick guide.”
Spearheaded by Gega, the 50-page book covers a series of key Hawaiian values, including Aloha, Cooperativeness (Kūpono), Humility (Haʻahaʻa), Helpfulness (Kōkua), Generosity (Lokomaikaʻi), Patience (Hoʻomanawanui), Hospitality (Hoʻokipa), Unity (Lōkahi), Courage (Koa), Responsibility (Kuleana) and Dignity (Hanohano). According to Gega, these 10 values were chosen based on the commonality of Lili‘uokalani Trust Trustee Thomas K. Kaulukukui’s journal Hūlili Vol. 10 and George S. Kanahele’s book Kū Kanaka–Stand Tall: A Search for Hawaiian Values.
“It’s a tool for storytelling,” said Gega’s fellow MBA graduate and co-author Shawn Uehira ’19, who tapped retired Hawaiian Electric executive and current President of the Collaborative Leaders Network, Robbie Alm, for his mo’olelo about Aloha, Lōkahi and Pu’u (sharing with future leaders). “We didn’t want our book to turn into a MLA-style manual. We even included blank pages in between the chapters so people could write down their own stories to share for future generations.”
In addition to Gega and Uehira, other contributing MBA cohort members included Tiana Brede ’19, Auli‘I Mafi ’19, Jeffrey Pi‘imauna ’19, Cliffton Pires ’19, Dan Scroggins ’19, Faisha Solomon ’19, Kim Spring ’19 and Xiao Yi ’19. Each was responsible for choosing one of the values and finding a storyteller who would be willing to share his/her perspectives regarding that particular value. Among the storytellers and community leaders are Cindy Asada, Director of Guest Relations at Four Seasons Hualalai; Esben Borsting, Chaminade’s Director of Native Hawaiian Partnerships; Ed Demello, owner of Emerald Isle Plumbing; Kristiana Kahakauwila, “This is Paradise: Stories” author; Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, O‘ahu Island Burial Council; Anne Matute, Cromwell owner; Elizabet Sahtouris, Chaminade professor; Lilette Subedi, Director of Resource Development for the Whitmore Economic Development Group; Ramsay Taum, owner of Life Enhancement Institute of the Pacific; and Michael Toyama, Senior Principal with Bowers & Kubota.
“I contacted Lilette, a Native Hawaiian practitioner and Indologist, whom I met while she was a Navy contractor,” Gega said. “We met in ‘Aiea under a tree, and we just talked for hours about what it meant to be a Native Hawaiian. It was truly inspiring.”
When asked about the meaning of Haʻahaʻa, Subedi offered an anecdote, relating to a past event during which she was asked to speak about her role as the Sex Equity Coordinator for the state of Hawai‘i.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God! I need to sound smart,” Subedi recalled. “I prayed on it and went up and spoke. It didn’t matter the number of people because you start don’t look at that, you speak from the heart and just be who you are. It was well received.”
After giving this talk, Subedi learned not to be shy. “I fought and changed my path,” she added. “I learned to be assertive, not aggressive. I learned to stand and be who I am, as who I always was. Not in the mindset of being Hawaiian, just being me!”
A common question posed among all the interviewees was: Is there anything you feel is important to share today with future leaders? While the answers varied, from individual kuleana to community lōkahi, all believed in sharing aloha.
“Aloha means so many different things for each person,” Gega noted. “There’s no one true definition. I believe Aloha is that thing when all of the right things happen at the right time, and the right place for our good and the good of others, which means it comes from within you. It is something you have to bring to the situation as much as you receive in the situation.”