Editor’s Note: Doing Well By Doing Good

December, 2004

Our cover subject, Walter Dods, needs no introduction. It is fitting that we feature him prominently on the eve of his retirement from First Hawaiian Bank and BancWest Corp., because of who he is and what he represents – the kind of leadership that cuts across the for-profit and the non-profit sectors and ends up benefiting the whole community.

It seemed too much of a coincidence for this issue, that two of my interview subjects – one, the executive director for the oldest family foundation in the nation, the other, a corporate attorney about to “go virtual” with his practice – both spoke so passionately about social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Then, a week or two later, I attended the 2004 Economic & Financial Literacy Conference, where the keynote speaker, social entrepreneur and Project Hope CEO John Bryant, had the crowd saying “Amen” to his proposal to wage a “Silver Rights” war on poverty and economic illiteracy.

Alfred Castle, the executive director of the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation, says foundations should be innovating socially. He says, “The Weinberg foundation does fabulous work, Atherton, Cooke, Charles Wang foundations – everybody’s doing wonderful work in our own areas, but we’re really doing our work best when we take those social risks on behalf of the public good, without having to wait.”

Attorney Greg Kim told me of his son’s venture into social entrepreneurship. Earlier this year, River Kim and friends organized and conducted a fundraising concert called Malama Jam, to benefit Hawaii’s homeless, which grossed $20,000. Greg Kim intends to keep focused on our community as he launches his virtual law firm, Vantage Counsel LLC. He says, “I think our mantra is going to be, ‘Make a difference.’ I want everyone to be focused on that, with clients, but also with the larger community.”

An Internet search for “social innovation” revealed that Stanford University’s graduate school of business has a Center for Social Innovation. There’s also a Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. It’s Web site, www.schwabfound.org, defines social entrepreneurship as:

o An approach to a social issue. It is not a field of discipline that can be learned in academia.

o An approach that cuts across disciplines (medicine, engineering, law, education, investment banking, agronomy, environment, etc.) and is not confined to sectors (health, transportation, finance, labor, trade, and the like).

o More related to leadership than to management.

The last point is something that we should all take to heart, as Walter Dods steps down and as we head into 2005. It has particular resonance, given our mission at Hawaii Business, as we look forward to our 50th anniversary year. When you see our January issue you will notice some design innovations as we continuously seek to refine and improve the way we serve our readers. Behind it all, Hawaii Business remains committed to making positive contributions and making a difference.

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Kelli Abe Trifonovitch