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Hey graduates, teens: How to be a superstar

By Staff | Jun 11, 2015

Up to their noses in lei, graduates celebrate their achievement.

KAPALUA – Graduates get a lot of advice, and we could all use some from time to time. “What if you want to be a bum? That’s okay; but be the best bum you can be.” That startling comment was just one of many interesting ones offered up by four highly successful Hawaiians in a session called “Imagine: Steering Your Own Canoe.”

When leading citizens were brought together to talk about how young people should approach life, they said refreshingly amazing things that any five- to 15- or 20-year-old ought to pay attention to. The advice actually applies to all of us.

Although being the best bum is nothing to strive for, the panelists’ real point was that if your goal is to be the best student, the best clerk, the best carpenter or like these successful people, the best bookseller, best luau manager, or the best business person, you should go for it. Try to be the best at something, whether it is small or big, was the message.

Kawika Frietas, general manager of Old Lahaina Luau, grew up in a humble shack he says was so decrepit Bishop Museum should have come to photograph it as an example of Hawaiians living in poverty.

He described the house as having a 180-degree view of the ocean (there were no walls, only screens, because the family could not afford lumber).

“We had pets.” (Mongooses walked through the house all the time.) “We had an outhouse,” he explained.

Frietas worked for restaurants and a wedding company for 20 years and showed what can be achieved when he landed his position as manager of the luau. “It’s a dream job,” Frietas enthused, because “you get to be around guests who are happy, and that is who I want to be around. It is about doing something you love.”

Frietas appeared at a session held at the Celebration of the Arts at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua along with Trustee Hulu Lindsey with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; Kumu Hula Kapono’ai Molitau, owner of Native Intelligence, a wonderful store in Wailuku that specializes in things Hawaiian; and Maile Meyer, owner of Na Mea Hawaii Native Books and Hawaiian Things in Oahu.

The general consensus was that in achieving your goals, it doesn’t matter what they are. You need to have a strong drive and say, “I want to be the best. I am committed to making sure my goals are achieved.”

Panelists in the lively session made these other points:

“Don’t make excuses. Don’t say you had a poor upbringing or rough life. Ignore it if someone calls you stupid (some young people believe this). Move on, set a goal, and be the best at it you can be. At a young age, get involved with something.”

“You are who you hang around with. If you are with naughty boys, you become naughty, because you want to emulate them.”

“The day you stop learning is when you die. All knowledge is not learned in a schoolhouse. Don’t make excusess. Continue to learn.”

“When you achieve and go above expectations, that success is out of this world. It is amazingly huge.”

And what does the columnist say? “You are likely to have a long life. You can be in terrible shape mentally or physically, but do not despair. You can get help, and you can change yourself or your circumstances for the good.”

The columnist, suffering from depression in the 1970s, knows. I’ve made it back and for a long time.