Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Guam (and use my passport for the first time) to be the keynote speaker at the 2012 AMA Marketing Symposium. A crowd of about 125 participated in the discussions throughout the day and I have to say that my experience was very refreshing! They were eager and sought knowledge, not gimmicks to leverage social networks and media publishing tools. They wanted best practices and solutions without so much concern about the number of friends, fans, followers, and whatever eff words social networks label its users these days.
One of the key insights that I discovered was that, like Hawaii, Guam’s island culture already provides the edge needed to build online communities. For those of us that were raised on islands or even in rural small towns, it’s easy to strike up a conversation or be helpful and thoughtful of one another’s cause or business. Building communities using technology still comes down to one’s ability to relate and communicate with others. Like I shared with AMA Guam Chapter President Ernie Galito, there are emerging leaders in the social sphere in Guam, they just don’t know it yet!
Besides spending time with the people of Guam, one of the highlights of my time on the island was visting Lina’la’ Chamorro Cultural Park. The walking and interactive tour gives visitors a glimpse into life of the Chamorro people 500 years before any contact or influence of other cultures. I choked up as I watched I Nina’ Huyong (The Story of Creation) because I thought about how much of their culture has been diluted and then how much of my own Hawaiian, Samoan, even Korean culture has been infused by other cultures. If you’re on the island, you must make time to experience this cultural park and then have dinner at The Beach at Gun Beach. Trust me, you will not want to miss this.
I also had an opportunity to talk story with Governor Eddie Calvo. Now, for my friends and family that are connected with me in local and national politics, I do know that Governor Calvo represents the Republican party. However, I couldn’t say enough about how open and receptive he was to discussing the importance of building communities through communication and collaboration. You see, in the end, I’ve come to learn that it’s not about my political party preference, it’s about what the people of Guam desire in a leader. And, my brief time with Governor Calvo showed me that not all stereotypes fit, even in politics. Plus, he has a great sense of humor!
I’ll admit, it took a lot for me to return home to Hawaii when I did. I enjoyed the extreme “city life” of Tumon balanced by the rural lands of Piti and the breathtaking views from Adelup. I wanted to stay just a bit more and fly my family in to experience the isle with me. I look forward to my return to Guam and especially to indulging in finna’dene sauce!