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The Power Of One Person

Kelli Abe Trifonovitch

On one of the plain white walls of my office is a smallish bulletin board. In the corner of that corkboard is a postcard size, black-and-white copy of a photo that has become an icon for democracy around the world. In 1989, a young man in Beijing's Tiananmen Square stared down a column of PLA tanks, halting them in their tracks. He is a modern-day symbol of the power to make a difference, embodied in one person.

Sure, the man was pulled out of harm's way moments after the picture was taken and China is still not a democracy, however, the behemoth has opened dramatically, particularly in the marketplace. Now the race is on for the Asian giant to prepare to host the Summer Olympics in four years.

The power of one to make a difference is an important idea. There are more than a jaded few in our community, who believe that we don't really matter and can't change things even if we try. That is wrongheaded and untrue. In our democratic society, every person has a chance to make a difference with one vote. Just look at what happened in Florida four years ago in the presidential election. There's a corollary for the business community. You have the ability to vote with your pocketbook when you select and purchase goods and services. You can also vote with your time and how you elect to spend this resource on different people and causes.

This issue of Hawaii Business deals with personal power - the authority and ability to get things done. Yes, some of this year's power brokers occupy high-profile positions, but position isn't everything. Each of these power players has proven that he or she can make things happen. People desire "audiences" with these folks in pursuit of various causes and strategies.

PROFILE IN COURAGE: Proof that one person has the power to make a difference. Photo: AP/Wide World Photos

Next month, we'll take a look at a very important subset of Hawaii's power base when we feature the Top 20 Wealthiest Landowners. There have been some big changes to the list and you won't want to miss them. In the meantime, please exercise your individual power in an informed manner, both in the voting booth and in the marketplace. 2004 is the 15-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre (or "incident" as the Chinese government likes to refer to it). Thankfully the civic exercises of voting and buying things do not require the same intestinal fortitude as planting yourself in front of a line of army tanks.

CORRECTIONS:

Dave Shoji is the UH Wahine volleyball coach, not the men's coach as he was referred to in the September issue. Jeff Kerr and Jan Michaels had their identities switched in the caption for a story on Kerr Michaels Design. The company is currently at work on a $9.5 million home in Kailua and did not complete a home there last summer. Also, Kerr did not start Gold Coast Real Estate. He joined the company as a real estate agent two years ago. Hawaii Business regrets these errors.

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