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Leadership – May 28, 2020

Virtual Interview on COVID-19: Gina Cubero, Sales and Marketing Specialist, Ulu Hawaii Marketing

What has been your company’s latest pivot or innovation?

Our latest innovation was engaging other creatives to join my “Think Tank Talk” so we can explore ideas and find silver linings in this cloudy pandemic. We have found that by staying community centric and slowing down to communicate with one another we are opening new doors and bridging new opportunity.

For example, I connected with an old friend and as much as I love her, we had rarely talked in a while. Life had us so busy, we did not take the time to call. The pause allowed us the time to reconnect and we just partnered on an affordable housing real estate investment development deal that will build affordable housing units here in Hawai‘i.

People are getting more creative just by taking the time to connect and discover what each other has to offer. We are in the together and I feel people are getting closer because of this.

I recently interviewed a restaurant owner who was optimistic. He told me we need to be flexible and what saved his restaurant was that he had been community centered. His family owned business had supported the community for years with donated food. This community’s members are now his cheerleaders and they use social media to give back. He told me “everyone has to eat” and he said other restaurants will need to be open to change.

What has been your company’s latest opportunity or opportunities?

After the initial shock of everything closing down and almost everyone being stuck in front of a computer, we must learn to communicate with people on an equal playing field. There are no more borders and we are now part of an expanded community. Business in Hawai‘i has changed so the norm for us has been online communications. I have found that I am getting more work outside of Hawai‘i and bridging opportunity for Hawai‘i clients. There is no longer the gap that we felt before.

Learning how to do business is different and I am seeing that people like working from home. I know an interior designer who called me to ask my opinion on creating a COVID-19 compliant strategy for restaurants on the Mainland. After a few calls to discuss utilizing space and an affordable solution to protect visitors while dining, she is now able to offer her design services locally online.

How has your company’s experience been with any level of government during this crisis?

My opinion on this comes from what others are telling me. I think overall people have been more understanding than not considering many businesses have disappeared over night. The ones who seem to be suffering the most are the mom & pop stores, independent contractors and service providers. When I see ordinary middle-class people across Hawai‘i and the mainland in food bank lines it makes me think there is something deeply wrong with so called “regulations and support.”

In what ways do you think your business will be different at the end of this year?

I wish I had a magic ball, but based off the drive of people around me I see people working together in new ways. Shopping and cooking for others is a whole new industry. Innovation is booming and I have a mask to match everything I wear. By the end of the year, I feel people will discover the value in having a “community-centric” marketing plan. Finding ways to help each other will give our souls a much-needed hug and help us discover the deeper feelings of connectedness.

In what ways have you been able to support the broader community beyond your employees and customers?

I now spend a great deal of time connecting people to opportunity without asking for anything back. We need to help each other and learn from nature. We are so lucky to live in Hawai‘i and this gratitude should not be taken for granted. There is much joy in Hawai‘i and when we acknowledge the mana our hearts are inspired to create ideas for our community. Together we will revive our economy and find new innovative ways to become successful.

Virtual Interview on COVID-19: Bob Lietzke, VP, ...

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