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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 7, 2010

Reaching out to youths rewarding

By Alan Okami

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Alan Okami talks to first-graders at Kaimiloa Elementary School's Career Day about his 'ukulele company.

Photo courtesy of Alan Okami

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Online bulletin boards can be brutal. So much so that I am banned by my family from being the official presence on them. With my fiery personality, it's probably a good idea.

In the 'ukulele world, fans are ferociously loyal to the brands they love and even more to 'ukulele as a whole. In fairness, most of the comments are nice and fluffy, but there are times when our good intentions are labeled not as good intentions, but as "good marketing."

Over the years, we have come to understand that it will not deter us from being active in our community.

One way we get out is via career days at schools. This entry is a little more close to my heart since it was with my son's first-grade classes. I have been there for three other career days, but this time, my little brother joined me in the sharing.

Paul runs the shop and talks shop while I try to stimulate creativity and open thinking. How? You'll have to invite me to your school to find out.

An added bonus was having our dear friend, Herb Ohta Jr, join us. He shared about being a professional musician and played some songs as well. Quite possibly one of the best career days I have been a part of.

It was a busy morning as we were one of the five different parents that spoke about our jobs and were able to visit with all of the 120 children in the first grade. Whew! That was a bit of speaking. Mahalo to Ms. Metivier, Ms. Jung, Ms. Chun, Mrs. Ushiroda and Mrs. Kano for opening your rooms to us. Mahalo also to Mr. Tanabe, Mr. Joslin, Mrs. Evans and Ms Galbisco for taking time out of your schedules to give these young minds a glimpse into your jobs as well.

Let the speculation and comments fly on the bulletin boards. We won't stop doing this, assuming we get invited back. Good marketing? Maybe. Good feelings? For sure.

Alan Okami is the vice president of KoAloha Ukulele. He manages the company and coordinates its marketing efforts. Read his blog at http://kaleookalihi.honadvblogs.com.