Our Islands, Our Future

Pono Shim, President and CEO of Oahu Economic Development Board and a notable speaker at Maui Economic Development Board’s 3rd annual Hawaii Small Business Conference (HSBC), is a gifted storyteller and speaker in Hawaii and internationally. He is well-known for his belief that the majority of social issues facing individuals, organizations, and communities are symptoms of deeper problems that can and must be addressed today.

“A true leader works to bridge the members of the community, giving dignity to whom they are and what they have to offer,” said Shim. “I  believe that Aloha is the practical application of respect and reciprocity needed to restore personal and professional health, and drive entrepreneurship and professionalism forward.”

Shim shared Aloha insights with attendees at the HSBC and provided them with techniques he learned at a young age from Lahaina-born Auntie Pilahi Paki. In 1986, Hawaii lawmakers passed the Aloha Spirit Law (Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 5-7.5), which the late Auntie Palahi wrote. A visionary foreseeing a 21st century world in strife, Auntie Pilahi knew the world would look to Hawaii for healing. “Aloha would be its remedy,” she said.

In 1970 at a Governor’s conference, Auntie Palahi introduced Hawaii to the five values that make up the Aloha Spirit Law. A: Akahai, meaning kindness, expressed with tenderness; L: Lokahi, meaning unity, expressed with harmony; O: ‘Olu’olu, meaning agreeable, expressed with pleasantness; H: Ha’aha’a, meaning humility, expressed with modesty; and A: Ahonui, meaning patience, waiting for the moment, expressed with perseverance.

Shim noted, “A person cannot do one of the principles without truly doing all. If you are not doing one you are not doing any. So, to be living Aloha is to live all of the principles. Another deep spiritual meaning of Aloha which Auntie Palahi shared can be found in a 1917 quote from Queen Lili’uokalani, ‘To gain the kingdom of heaven is to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable—that is Aloha. All things in this world are two; in heaven, there is but One.’ ”

According to the Aloha Spirit Law, all Hawaii citizens and government officials must conduct themselves with aloha, which is a real commitment to accepting others.

Pono Shim, President and CEO, Oahu Economic Development Board