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Success Secrets of 9 Top Leaders

(page 9 of 10)

H. Mitch D’Olier

 
Mitch D’Olier is a talker. Anyone who encounters him knows his ability to boil down a pound of ideas into an ounce of distilled wisdom in one brisk sentence.

But through two decades at three different companies in Hawaii, D’Olier has succeeded not by talking, but by listening. And learning.

Raised in Chicago and educated in Iowa, D’Olier moved to Hawaii and joined the law firm Jenks Kidwell Goodsill & Anderson (now Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel).

“When you graduate from law school, you know how to write detailed, long pieces explaining what the law is,” D’Olier says. “Marshall Goodsill explained to me that my clients would never read anything like that, whether I was right or not. I needed to be smart enough and work hard enough to express a complicated idea on one page.”

When he became Hawaiian Airlines’ president and CEO, he listened to investors John and Peter Ueberroth, the board of directors and employees. Times were turbulent. That’s how it always is in the airline industry.

 “That was like drinking martinis through a water cannon, because I had to assimilate so much because things were changing so fast,” D’Olier says.

As president and CEO of Victoria Ward, he attended multiple community meetings and listened to small businesses in Kakaako on their views for its future redevelopment. “One of the really interesting things is when the community says something and then you do it. That’s the best acknowledgement of someone else’s idea,” he says.

Today, as president and CEO of the Kaneohe Ranch and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, his focus is to listen to the Kailua community. A friend asked him about the absence of hula at a recent Kailua Town Festival. D’Olier listened, and then acted. He contacted Kailua resident and kumu hula Mapuana de Silva.

“Mapuana was kind enough to co-write with us a letter to the 11 halau in Kailua, asking them to dance at the town party. Ten of them responded within 24 hours, and we had seven hours of hula at the town party this year,” D’Olier says.

For 15 years, D’Olier has been a soccer coach in East Honolulu and he uses his coaching skills to this day when he deals with people making their way in the business world. He advises young professionals, including his former players, that they should work where there are possible mentors. “How much you get paid is a lot less relevant to how much you’re learning,” he says.

And once the lesson is learned, boil it down and get – as D’Olier prefers to do – right to the point.

– JU

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Dec 30, 2008 09:58 am
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