7 Business Skills and Tendencies Learned in Hawaii at Age 11


7 Business Skills and Tendencies Learned in Hawaii at Age 11

Mark Derho’s true story about moving to Hawaii at 11 and learning business lessons.

Hello my name is Mark Derho.

I thought you might want to know a little bit more about me; and personal insight into how I’ve become the person that I am.

I was an 11 years old child of a single mother and her name was Margo.

My mother was at Woodstock, she was a free-spirit to say the least.

In 1977 she met a nice man with a Tom Selleck mustache, and decided that we will move from California to Honolulu, Hawaii.

She introduced me to the Selleck stand-in and he and his mustache moved-in right-away. He drove a cab at night and he traveled light. We proceeded to sell all of our possessions at a garage sale. Within 2-weeks we were on an airplane flying to Hawaii. This was my first time on an airplane. (*1)

My mother and her new boyfriend were nocturnal by nature. He drove a cab long-hours. She was out. We lived in hotels. I would be home by dark and spend time with her before she would leave for the night. I would always wake her wake her before I left for the day to say goodbye. She would kiss me and confirm that I was having fun in Hawaii. I was never bored or scared. She would give me $5 or $10 dollars for the day and sometimes more. Taking care of myself all day was an early opportunity to set my own course. (*2)

After the first month, I had already explored much of the island. Most everything was within walking distance. I guess most people either didn’t notice me or assumed I was just another tourist kid. I never went to school.

I realized that there were things that I didn’t have enough money to do. Attractions or events that I could not gain access without paying. And renting a surfboard every day was taking most of my money. (*3)

I set out to visit the hotels and ask if there was something I might be able to do to earn a few dollars. And that I would help out doing anything and wouldn’t be any trouble. And that I would be reliable and could be trusted. (*4)

It was a different time certainly but I did quickly find two-different hotel managers that would let me help out the staff for a couple of hours and give me usually between $5 and $10. And I would get a terrific free meal.

That would take care of lunch. Next, I go surfing and play in the ocean.

Then off to the next hotel to do the same thing; which would also take care of a great dinner. (*5)

That’s the $5-$10 a day my mother would give me. Plus the $5-$10 a day each hotel would give me. I was earning between $10-$20 daily from the hotels. Plus still receiving $5-$10 a day from mom.

Back then $30 a day of walking-around-money was a lot for a kid not paying for housing or food… in 1976. Even in Hawaii.

Soon I had saved enough money and I told my mom I no longer needed money from her, and that I had a job. This made her very happy and proud of me. (*6)

I stopped renting my surfboard and I bought my first surfboard. (*7)

I lived in Hawaii for close to 2-years before my mom and her boyfriend split. We moved back to California and that same week and I stepped right back into school comfortably although I had not attended a single day of school in Hawaii.

This is not the place or time for a referendum on parenting (not required). It was the 70’s.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. – Albert Einstein

How do the skills and tendencies introduced in this personal story relate to this business role?

Embrace Change and New Things

I readily (1) embrace change and new things. Be ready to take on a new role and lead teams in new directions, based on experience and research and emerging trends. That doesn’t signify that I can’t commit to a company long-term. It means I am flexible and willing to try, and easily accept challenges.

Independent and Strong-Willed

I’m (2) independent and strong-willed. Although I can follow directions and will. Handling pressure and responsibility requires character and tenacity. It is imperative to work well and respectfully with others and to value other opinions, while being willing and prepared to champion your own. And to rely on yourself and strong enough to make a mistake and-to acknowledge that mistake and-to learn.

Honest Self-Assessment and Solution-Seeking

I value (3) honest self-assessment and solution-seeking as key to my personal and professional growth and success in my career. The willingness to seek solutions will most-likely include making changes to myself, or the way I do things. I love to learn. You can’t learn if you are not willing to know, what you don’t already know. I know I can learn something from you and everyone on the team.

Take Reasonable Risks

I have learned to (4) take reasonable risks and ask for what you want since very little of value is ever given without asking for opportunities and proving results in competitive spaces. At least that is my professional experience. Doing the research and examining the landscape and making a plan are all necessary before taking risks. Smart measured risks must be taken if you’re ever going to exceed (or even meet) expectations.

Hard-Work Works

Competition is hard on purpose and that’s why it’s fun when you win. They say “don’t work harder, work smarter”. I say (5) hard-work works, and work hard while using the best available tools and relying on data. I’m all-in for a positive work-life balance. And out-working your contemporary in the competitor’s office… the one trying to take your customers, or market share, or top SERP ranking.

Seek Responsibility

It is in my nature to (6) seek responsibility (but not personal credit) for performance and outcome generously with peers. That extends to the workplace and professional responsibility and is amplified by the mantle of leadership. By taking responsibility I can increasingly prove my value through action, and therefore the ability to handle more responsibility.

Spend Money Wisely

Measure twice and cut once. I prove to do more research when I spend the budget of my client or employer than when I spend my own hard-earned money. I strive to (7) spend money wisely and that is vital while determining when-and-where to spend the marketing budget. Successful results start with being judicious with the budget.


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