Doing the Right Thing
I don’t remember the exact date, but it was sometime in 2012 or 2013. I received a call from one of my District Managers. He shared with me that one of our newly hired managers had cancer. I had met her, but I had not spent that much time getting to know her. I remembered she had 2 young children- a boy and a newly born baby girl. The company had spent almost a million dollars to build our first store in San Francisco. It was a big deal for us. It was a market that was very challenging. We opened it without a manager for almost a year because I refused to settle on talent. We had a great team, but I felt we did not have the right leader to lead our people.
After the call I was devastated. This was the first time anything like this had happened in my career. She was young, bright and full of passion. I was so thankful that we had found the right leader to develop our people. Without consulting with my boss or our HR department, I made the decision that she didn't need to worry about her job. I reassured her that her priority was to get well and be there for her family and whenever she was healthy, her job would be there for her.
Little did I know, the business world does not operate on this premise, especially in the state of California. By the time I shared my decision with our HR department, they were not so happy. With the cost of healthcare coverage and the unknown condition of her cancer, the cost for the company could be be in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. My job was on the line because I did not follow protocol. This was not my first “ know the rule so you know when to break it” moment. I kept this hidden from my wife.
My boss is my mentor and thank God he had my back. Together we united on my decision. In short , she fucked cancer and she was back with our people and continued to lead them all the way to the end of her career, even after I was laid off.
Like most startup companies,Kekoa needs working capital to invest in our product and marketing. We have been searching for investors for the last 6 months since all of us have put every penny towards this dream. This is not an easy task. On one hand we need the money, but on the other, we do not want to compromise our values and our mission. Our business model is not your typical: we will grow the company this $$ and then you will get $$$$$$$ in return.... most of these men do not train jiu jitsu, so they do not truly understand our cause. They have made millions by the traditional route of investing, thus they expect the same deal. Many of these conversations end very quickly and gratefully; my partners feel the same.
On a fluke luncheon at Piggy Small, we had lunch with a Jiujitero whom we like and respect. We thought he would fit perfectly with our culture. We see him as someone that we can play, roll, surf and travel with. He was our first investor that we really respect.
Long story even longer, he brought a dear friend to the deal. Over emails, my curry and croissants we shook hands. We made the deal. We haven’t finalized our agreement in writing, yet he wired the funds in our account. It was a significant amount!!!
If my lawyer brother was alive, he would not believe it. All I can remember was my father’s teaching- your word is your bond, and you are nothing in this life without honor.
Every time I step one the mat, I bow. I was taught from my professor, Furao and master Carlos that we honor everyone on and off the mat. Honor prevails at all costs.
Since we launched Kekoa, Day by Day, MOSKOVA, ATH and as of late Wantvsneed are our partners. We have not and did not sign any contracts. We shook hands, we rolled, and every one of these men have carried and helped us during the toughest times. They have placed relationship before the dollar bill.
I guess the lesson here is- without honor, what kind of men are we?
Back in the day business was being done by just a hand shake. We want to help bring it back. I know we are crazy and full of hope for humanity. Please stay by our side, because we need you to also believe.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’ s going to know whether you did it or not.” -Oprah
You know who you are, and one day I will reveal your identity. Mahalo nui loa for believing in our cause.