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Friday, February 27, 2009


From the album: final photo project

This is why you read other people's blogs, they have better stuff than you. I saw this on Your Scrumhalf Connection and I love it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I attended the monthly meeting of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association today. The presentation, by a panel of Angel Investors, focused on the process and the criteria that angel investors use to evaluate businesses and business plans for possible investment. The presentations and the panel of angels were excellent.

A lot of what they had to say I had heard before, but there were still some interesting and informative insights. Since I am definitely not a “high net worth” individual, I am not an angel investor (or any kind of investor, unless buying beer can somehow be considered investing). These people are successful, smart, and talented. Most of them are entrepreneurs themselves, and obviously successful if they are high net worth individuals.

One thing I’ve always wondered about is when, exactly, do angel investors invest in a company. I mean, at what point in the evolution of the company? When it’s just some whiz kid’s idea, when the company is up an running but doesn’t actually produce or sell anything yet, or once it’s already sort of a “real” company? Well, all of the above. Angels typically invest after the founder(s) have exhausted their own funds and tapped out their friends and family, but before they are farther along the growth and maturity scale where they can attract venture capital funding or can fund themselves through their own operations and sales.

The presentation was officially made by the Hawaii Angels organization, but how that works and how angels in general work can be a little confusing to the uninitiated. With the Hawaii Angels, the organization has a process for screening business plans and inviting companies to present live. Business plans are accepted and they go through a first screening. Apparently about half of them are immediately rejected because they are just so bad; amateurish, poorly written, or just plain ridiculous. The ones that pass the first screening are reviewed a little more closely. Still, standards are high and maybe only ten percent or less are invited to give a live pitch to the membership at their monthly meeting.

If the company makes a good pitch and some members are interested in investing, a committee is formed to investigate the company in more detail. I didn’t get all my questions answered, so from that point on I’m a little fuzzy, but I think that the committee then makes a recommendation to the organization to invest or not. But with angels, they are free to invest on their own at any time, and even if the organization (Hawaii Angels) invests, they can still invest more of their own money as an individual.

Investors put their money in a company based on the expectation that they will get it back, plus interest. They expect a return on their investment. Since the companies they invest in are inherently risky (small and new), they expect a pretty high return. To feel better about their risk, they have certain criteria for the company. Of course, each investor is a little different, but they’re all looking at some key areas.

One criterion is the company has the potential to be a big hit. That means could it possibly become a large, profitable, and self-reliant company very quickly, could it be bought by someone else, or could it be taken public (through an IPO, or Initial Public Offering)? Another criteria is that there is a good team leading the company. Investors are wary of a company that doesn’t have a strong team running it. That means that one or two individuals aren’t trying to do everything themselves. For a company to attract funding there has to be experienced or highly competent people in key positions, such as CFO (Chief Financial Officer), Marketing, CTO (Chief Technology Officer), and the CEO. Sometimes, to attract funding the founder has to step down as CEO and hire someone with more experience and ability.

All very interesting, and lots of information I can use when I review business plans and advise entrepreneurs (which I do). I’ll be volunteering as a coach for this year’s UH Business Plan Competition, and I can bring some of these insights to my coaching.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Make me another

Is making mai tai's a manufacturing operation?

Manufacturing jobs in Hawaii dropped 2.2% this past year. The fact that manufacturing jobs dropped should be no surprise given the dire economic news lately, but in Hawaii??

I worked in manufacturing for many years, and whenever I'd go to the mainland for APICS meetings and tell people what I did I'd always get the same response - there's manufacturing in Hawaii?

People think of sun and sand when the think of Hawaii, but there's a thriving economy beyond the beaches (well, maybe not thriving right at the moment, but usually). According to an article in today's Star-Bulletin, there are 1,211 manufacturing companies employing 24,911 workers. Not huge by mainland standards, but hey, we're a small island in the middle of the Pacific with just over 1 million in population.

The majority of manufacturing is in the food industry, but surprising to me is that a significant portion is in the printing and publishing industry. I guess if you think about it that shouldn't be too big a surprise. Newspapers, magazines, and tourist publications are pretty numerous. I worked in jewelry manufacturing, food manufacturing, cosmetics manufacturing, and wood/gift products manufacturing and am a member of the Hawaii Food Manufacturing Association.

Still, I wonder if you counted the production of mai tai's as manufacturing how many manufacturing jobs you would have...

Oh, but because of some important bills in the legislature at the moment, let's not forget high tech manufacturing. Hawaii is the home of a vibrant and growing high tech community. That includes many different distinct high tech segments, but high tech manufacturing is one of them.

As Jay Fidell used to say; "Think Tech Hawaii".

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hawaii Youth Rugby

Some Hawaii Youth Rugby players where in the US U18 (under 18) squad that played in San Diego recently. Wow! Congratulations to the players, coaches, teams, and Hawaii Youth Rugby (especially Kevin Perry).

Don't forget the Hawaii Youth Rugby Tournament March 26-28th at Kapiolani Park.

Hawaii Rugby Results

I've been quite lax posting the weekly results. Here's last week's (just before tomorrow's games):

Kahuku 7 Try - Keni / Con - Keni
UH 0

Harleguins 14 Tries - Mike, Steve / Con - 2Setu
Islanders 51 Tries - 3Moli,Toa,Ray,Neti,Vaa,Anothony / Con - 4Andy / Pen - Andy

Raiders won against Tama Sulu Ie by forfeiting


I just read an article in Inc. magazine (December 2008 issue, yes I’m behind in my reading) that ties into a conversation I had yesterday. The article is titled How to: Conduct Annual Employee Reviews. My conversation included why annual reviews are mostly useless and how a proper Performance Measurement system should work.

I’m doing some work with a small non-profit arts organization. The art is great. The business side needs a little work. Part of my discussion revolved around measuring the performance of the administration; Executive Director, Artistic Director, and the Board. Many non-profit arts organizations struggle financially and administratively. It almost goes with the territory. In that kind of environment, an annual review is irrelevant. Performance needs to be monitored constantly, as part of everyone’s daily work. To do that, it has to relate to something. Performance has to relate to progress towards defined goals.

The Goal Attainment System includes the Goal Attainment Plan, where the goals of the organization as a whole are defined, the Action Plan, where the map of how the goals will be achieved is developed, and the Performance Measurement System, where the performance and actions of everyone are tied to the defined goals and work towards achieving them.

With this arts organization, everyone should know where they stand at all times. The Executive and Artistic Directors will know almost daily how they’re progressing and how they’re moving the organization towards its goals. The Board meets monthly and should know prior to each meeting how the organization is progressing, and how both the Executive and Artistic Directors are doing in progressing the organization towards the goals. Any other paid staff and volunteers must be included in the system too.

When looking at performance and performance measurements for your organization, look at one industry where measuring performance is critical to success – the sports industry. I was thinking of an example while reading some of Wendy’s blogs at Your Scrumhalf Connection. Wendy is a top athlete, but she’s had a couple of injuries lately that have temporarily hindered her progress. Think about what kind of impact an annual performance review would have on her and her rugby club, rather than a dynamic and ongoing measurement system. A year ago Wendy might have been in peak condition and at the top of her game. A performance review then would be very high. But if you relied on that review to assign her work and give her rewards for the entire next year, that would be a mistake.

In rugby, whether at the local club level or at the international level, players are selected each week or just prior to each game. You can’t wait for an annual performance review or rely on last year’s to select players for the next game. You have to rate their performance right now, how they’ve been performing the past few weeks or months and how their fitness is right now. The club or team has defined goals for where they want to be. Each individual, whether player, coach, or administrator, must help to get them there. They must know at all time how they are performing and how they are helping the organization to progress towards the goals.

So chuck the annual reviews and start developing your Goal Attainment System and Performance Measurement System. And Go Wendy!

Monday, February 9, 2009


I quote; “You don’t understand because you’re a man.”

What I’m accused of not understanding, again I quote; “Sometimes vegetables cause me stress.”

Apparently, women are stressed with worry about vegetables going bad before they can be eaten.

This does not cause me stress. Hence my lack of understanding.

‘Nuff said…

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Preaching to the Choir

I was speaking with a colleague the other day and we were talking about our business and the current tough economy, how it's effecting businesses, and how we can help. Basically we were ranting, or "preaching to the choir" (each other).

In these tough economic times organizations have to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. Their performance has to be exceptional. But my argument is that this is how organizations should operate at all times. Sure, in this kind of economic environment there are some actions that have to be taken that wouldn't be considered in normal times, even in tough normal times. But for the most part, organizations should always be examining how they do things (their processes) and working to make things work better. To me this means working towards defined goals. Develop a plan with defined goals for the organization, develop an action plan that will get you to those goals, and develop a performance measurement system that ties everything that everyone does to those goals. I call this Goal Attainment.

This should be done in the best of times, but it is imperative that it be done now. You can't afford not to.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hawaii Youth Rugby Tournament

Hawaii Youth Rugby is getting noticed. Many thanks to Kevin Perry for all his hard work and vision for youth rugby in Hawaii.

Hawaii Army National Guard & USA Rugby Announce Support of the Hawaii Youth Rugby Invitational Tournament

The Hawaii Army National Guard and the Hawaii Youth Rugby Association is proud to announce the Hawaii Youth Rugby Invitational Tournament, the largest youth rugby venue ever held in the great state of Hawaii. In addition to the local island clubs, teams from US Mainland and Canada will be in attendance. All are invited to join “Hawaii’s Own” and share the “Aloha Spirit” in cheering on fine young athletes and future leaders to victory at Kapi’olani Park March 26, 27, 28, 2009.

USA Rugby and The Hawaii Army National Guard officially announced the extension of its partnership agreement with the Hawaii Youth Rugby Association for the 2009 season. Through the Rugby Kit Campaign, USA Rugby and the Hawaii Army National Guard have provided field equipment and uniforms to several qualified Hawaii rugby clubs. This gesture has afforded much of Hawaii’s youth an opportunity to participate and enjoy the sport of Rugby. More importantly, it has helped to establish the solid infrastructure and stability necessary for rugby to continue to grow throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

The National Guard partnership will build upon the foundation of rugby in the State of Hawaii, allowing players and coaches to become better in their sport and in their communities. This program will continue to create better leaders with the strength of character and mental toughness that embodies the values of the Hawaii Army National Guard, USA Rugby, and the Hawaii Youth Rugby Association.

For more information contact SFC Dana L Mueller or David Maafu Wendt at

Good Rugby

I got to watch one game yesterday. Islanders vs Tama Sulu Ie. It was a great game, the best one I’ve seen here. The Islanders won 3-0 in a tough fought match. The teams were pretty evenly matched and played pretty much the same. There were a couple of breaks throughout the game, but defense was good on both sides, and a little more discipline could be had on offence for both. Missed opportunities from either not passing when they should or passing when they shouldn’t. Pretty common in the level of rugby I always played, but can be overcome with practice.

Tama Sulu Ie played noticeably better than the last time I saw them play last year. They have new uniforms too, but I’m sure their playing has more to do than just new jerseys.

I have to say that the Union (Hawaii State Rugby Union) has really made an impact. This game, while very physical as is typical here, was well played. The push for clean, disciplined play is taking hold. Also, spectators are kept back away from the field about six feet or so, which adds a level of control over the whole game and field. Union officials are also on-hand to monitor and keep things under control. Good job guys and girls. Union Secretary Shelly was on the ball, keeping tabs of things and taking notes for future improvements.

I also have to mention the refereeing. The two referee clinics that have taken place recently are really paying off. Ikuna, who is also a player for Kalihi Raiders did an exceptional job, not only of calling the game, but keeping it well under control. The touch judges, who were both trained and qualified as referees added an extLinkra level of professionalism.

Keep up the good work everyone, and good luck to all the teams.

Adopt-A-Rugger Hug-A-Rugger