Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Life in the slow lane

September 16th, 2016

Most people aspire to have a fancy sports car that goes from zero to 60 mph in three seconds. I currently aspire to the '98 Toyota Tercel - in a metaphorical sense.

My life went so fast when I was anchoring in TV news. The morning show was a blur. The day was a blur. My existence was a blur. It all eventually ran together indistinguishably.

These are my feelings about a particular work schedule at a specific time in my life. It was a unique situation. It took all elements of my life to come together to create this perfect storm.

Now my imaginary Tercel is puttering along in the slow lane. I'm audacious enough to even drive five miles under the speed limit and irritate all the other commuters on the road.

I get up when I want, I do what I want, and I feel no obligation to do anything most days. If I want to figure out how to delete songs off my iTunes for two hours, I do that.

If I want to take Inca to the beach in the middle of the day, I do that. I spent an hour looking at Katy Perry music videos once.


What I do a lot of, which I find peaceful, is staring at nature. I sit on my balcony and look at the trees, the mountains, the clouds, the birds. I think about the Earth spinning slowly on its axis, and feel like I'm spinning slower and slower on mine.

I see neighborhood cats wandering around, I hear chickens, and I observe the geckos.

I am, to my surprise, way more familiar with gecko behavior than I ever expected I could be. I watch them defend their territory, fight (they stand up sideways on one front and one hind leg to appear bigger), and mate.

I am familiar with the pets' morning routine. Apparently, Inca developed an annoying habit of barking at precisely 8 a.m. until our neighbor comes over with a snack. Inca has Vicki well-trained.

Our cat eats breakfast then scoots over to Vicki's to steal Pretty Boy's leftovers. She doesn't return home until midday, when she goes into the loft for her nap.

I know when the flowers bloom on the Manila palms and I watch the bees come pollinate every morning. Sometimes there's one large anole lizard who creeps among the buds to quietly sun.

Bulbuls, ringnecked doves, Japanese white-eyes, red-crested cardinals, Java sparrows, and the occasional pigeon live in the trees around us. I like to listen to them and watch them at all times of day.

I like that these are the things I know about now. I feel quiet and calm. Gecko fighting is all the drama I want to witness.

Nothing lasts forever. This phase will pass. For now, though, I've pulled my figurative car into the scenic lookout and I'm enjoying the view.

Posted in Career | 7 Comments »

The Coach of Nothing

September 12th, 2016

If you noticed, I capitalized Coach and Nothing in the headline. That's because it's a title I'm giving myself. It's my new job path.

Some people are Life Coaches. I'm going to be a Nothing Coach. People can pay me... for nothing!

There's a new-ish competition in South Korea that rewards doing nothing. The person who can space out the longest, wins.

I'm not sure what they win, but in a culture that values competitiveness, I'm sure bragging rights is just fine.

It started in 2014, and according to, participants "adhere to rules that disallowed phones, talking, checking your watches and dozing off." There's even a panel of judges watching to make sure you follow the rules.

I know this will go over big in America. First, I need to organize a contest for the US to raise awareness for this new sport. I will call it "Spacing Out: The Final Frontier- presented by Diane Ako, Coach of Nothing."

If nothing else, I've learned from my PR days to make sure to work my sponsorship into the official name. Ha! Now you have to say my business name every time you report about it!

My company mission statement: "Why be a hero when you can do zero?"

You can get people to do anything as long as you call it a contest. Think of the weird ones that already exist: The Beard and Moustache Contest, Worm Charming Championships, Baby Crying Challenges, Toe Wrestling, Bee Wearing, and Nailympia, "the Olympics of Nails," to name a few. I don't make this up.

The Korean rules sound reasonable. I'll borrow that, but I'm going to add a level of difficulty. The second phase will include distractions to tempt you, like snacks, drinks, or the Olympic Tongan flag bearer.

My coaching technique will borrow from my own life experiences. It will include making you babysit a room full of toddlers all by yourself for a week. You will have lost your mind and then you will need a long stretch of space to do the Thousand Mile Stare while you recover your energy.

You will be still sitting on the lawn staring into space when the organizers are taking down the event signs and the judges' table. Someone will go back out there the next morning and find you still sitting there.

In keeping with the contest theme, we will not give away a prize. You win... nothing!

So, who's with me? Team Ako! Here goes nothing!

Posted in Career | 3 Comments »

The World's Third Coolest Mom

September 7th, 2016

The latest ratings are in, and I've apparently fallen in the rankings from World's Coolest to World's Third Coolest Mom. I'm... stunned.

It started this way: I told Olivia if she is really good for a month, she can have a bona fide slumber party with more than one girlfriend over! She got very excited.

Slumber parties were a big part of my childhood. I mostly remember having them at Steph's house in Connecticut. There'd be five or ten girls with sleeping bags strewn about the den. We'd stay up late, try to summon Bloody Mary, and talk about boys.

Steph's birthday. Rocky Hill, CT

Steph's birthday/ sleepover. Rocky Hill, CT

I think eight is a good age to start having them. The kids are old enough not to miss their mom at night and need to be driven back home. They're old enough to follow directions (mostly) about cleaning up their mess.

But I was very tired when she was eight, because I was working an early morning shift. I needed absolute silence by 7 p.m. when I was lying in bed.

Yes, even on the weekends. The body doesn't get a memo that it's Saturday, you know.

So now she's nine, and I'm off that shift and committed to normalcy for the rest of my life (speaking in terms of work schedule; let's not get too optimistic), and I can do this for her. Olivia is very motivated to earn this reward.

We sat around and planned the event. Food, dessert, activities, sleeping arrangements, guest list. Six or seven girls, I tell her.

And here's where it glitches up. "I can come and tell you ghost stories or we can paint nails together!" I gush.

We can do nails!

We can do nails!

Olivia paused. "Only if you're invited. We'll have to vote you in."

Invited? Vote? ?!?!?!

"But--? Aren't I-- the coolest-- mommy? You said so-- the other-- night?" I sputtered in pain.

"Jordan's mom teaches fourth grade now, so that's even cooler than a mom who was on TV," she shrugged. The message: delivered so matter-of-factly without any sensitivity!

That's cold, Dawg. She's like a mini Jason Bourne. She kills me.

"What if I were still working on TV? Would that make me the coolest?" I queried.

Olivia at my old job

Olivia at my old job

"No. She has a job at school. That's awesome," insisted Olivia.

OK, relief. I don't have to go get my old job back.

My old job

My old job

"I'm #2 then?" I confirm.

"Actually, you're #3. Jaycie's mom works in the cafeteria," she corrected.

Oh, my heart. I'm number three. Just like that. Fame is so fickle.

I'm going to work really hard to get back to #1. My idea is to present an ice cream bar to rival the delicious spreads over at those yogurt shops: the many flavors of yogurt, the two dozen toppings.

You shall all toast to my coolness!

You shall all toast to my coolness!

All the girls will witness my coolness when I unveil this with a flourish at the slumber party and they'll convince Olivia her mom is the coolest. This actually means I'm the one who wants to have the big sleepover now.


I! Will! Return! To! Former! Glory!


Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Sean Ibara!

August 24th, 2016

One of my dear friends, Sean Ibara, got married this summer. It was a beautiful ceremony at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, and I was tickled to be invited.

Benika & Sean Ibara

Benika & Sean Ibara

This could not have happened to a nicer person. I've known Sean for about twelve years, when he first came to KHNL and was my producer and then my weekend assignment editor. We kept our friendship when I wasn't in media, then continued our professional relationship when I went to KHON, where he'd migrated to continue at the assignment desk, newscast producing, and an added role as the Consumer Alert (Mondays at 5 p.m.) reporter.


He's earnest, sincere, honest, dedicated, and level-headed. He has a heart of gold. Everyone likes Sean. Nobody doesn't like Sean.

KHON2's Taizo Braden caught the garter!

KHON2's Taizo Braden caught the garter!

He met his bride Benika when they were at UH ten years ago, and after time and distance turned their friendship into a pan-Pacific relationship, they finally created the circumstances to marry.

She is beautiful, accomplished, sophisticated, and intelligent, and from what I've encountered of her, kind, sweet, loving, and caring. What a wonderful pairing of two good people.

In an era of so much strife and struggle, it's always a delight to pause and celebrate goodness and joy, love and optimism. She gathered her friends from England and her family from Japan.

He invited family, of course, and his friends from the local Japanese community in which he's an active volunteer, and from the local media, in which he has a solid reputation and a great deal of respect.

Back: Minna Sugimoto, Marisa Yamane, Howard Dashefsky, Randy Ennis, Rich Meiers, Kristine Uyeno, Mari-Ela David Chock. Second row: Craoline Julian, me, Tasha Tanimoto. Front: Benika and Sean.

Back: Minna Sugimoto, Marisa Yamane, Howard Dashefsky, Randy Ennis, Rich Meiers, Kristine Uyeno, Mari-Ela David Chock. Second row: Caroline Julian, me, Tasha Tanimoto. Front: Benika and Sean.

There were a few tables for the TV folk. I loved seeing all my former colleagues and friends.

Emi Aiko, me, Sean, Minna.

Emi Aiko, me, Sean, Minna.

Me, Kanoe Gibson, Sheryl Turbeville.

Me, Kanoe Gibson, Sheryl Turbeville - all formerly of KHON2.

Most of my deep friendships come from KHNL, simply because of time and circumstance: I was single and childless for much of my time at Channel 8, which meant loads of time to socialize and form bonds.

At KHON2, the morning shifters were so tired after work, people mostly kept to themselves and did a lot of sleeping. Because of this, I didn't also get to hang out with the other crews.

With Senator Glenn Wakai, formerly of KHNL.

With Senator Glenn Wakai, formerly of KHNL.

Travis Nishida and Daralyn Young.

Travis Nishida and Daralyn Young.

Every time I see these friends I appreciate more how much they meant to me, and how special this period of my life was. It's a gift, really, to find a harmonious situation and to develop meaningful bonds with those you work with. One cannot take this for granted.

KHON2's Ken Mashiyama shot the event.

KHON2's Ken Mashiyama shot the event...

...with the teensiest bit of help from me, so he could be in some of the shots. Ha ha!

...with the teensiest bit of help from me, so he could be in some of the shots. Ha ha!

Former Honolulu Advertiser photographer Greg Yamamoto shot the stills.

Former Honolulu Advertiser photographer Greg Yamamoto shot the stills.

So my heart is full - both for the happiness a good friend has found in his new wife, and for the event that brought us together to toast it with him. Cheers to Benika and Sean!

Posted in Career | 2 Comments »

The new IT Director

August 22nd, 2016

When Olivia was eight, she taught me how to put together a PowerPoint presentation. She proudly showed us her class project, and I was very impressed by the fancy wipes, transitions, fly ins, and what not. She even used a built-in laser pointer function to point to the text or images as she spoke to it.

Holy cow. I asked her to teach me how to do that. Schooled by a third grader.

I can edit video on Avid, I can work fairly well on Word and Excel, but for some reason, I've never had to put together a PowerPoint. When I was a PR director, I, um, had people for that.

I don't know when I'll ever need to do that again but I like to always build my skill set. So one Sunday afternoon, she sat down with me and worked with me on a sample demonstration that I put together myself. Yay, Mommy!

"Or I can just do it for you if you need. You can hire me," she offered. "I'll only charge you $5."

Five bucks. What a bargain! Done!

Realizing I've come to the age where the young mind is more in tune with technology than I am, I asked her to fix some other tech issues for me. I need help with my iTunes and I seem to have maxed out the storage on my personal iPhone.

"Yep, I'll look at that for you," she stated with all the confidence of a tech professional. And I truly believe she will fix it.

So she's now our household Director of IT. I actually like it.

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