Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Career Days Are Awesome

For a number of years, I’ve visited schools across Honolulu to talk with students about STEM and being an engineer. I’ve talked with everyone from 1st graders, to high school, to community college students. I’ve probably talked with hundreds of students at STEM events like Lacy Veach Day of Discovery, to career talks in classrooms, to symposiums. I am passionate about the belief that if I can be a software engineer anyone of our keiki can. Every once in a while I receive an indication that my efforts make a difference and it is really what keeps me going. 

At the high school level, I often pass out my business card to students with one stipulation - any student that takes my business card must contact me in the future.  I’ve been contacted by a few students that made good on their promise. This particular contact just happened via LinkedIn and its pretty remarkable. So here is the story….

The exact Pearl City career day where I met this extraordinary student

Hi Aaron,
I meet you back in 2014 at Pearl City High School’s job fair and we also did a job shadow too. I tried to contact you, but I found out you're now at DataHouse. Can you please provide an email so I contact you?

Hi! It's great to hear from you. Are you studying programming at school?

Yes, I am studying computer science with a minor in math and entrepreneurship! I am sophomore now and I completed almost two years of CS classes. It has been a few years since we talked in the job shadow Ms. Kat helped me with. 

I just want to first thank you for inspiring me to pursue in coding. It has not always been an easy road, but I enjoy it too much to ever give up. Its pretty crazy, but I been holding your business card in my wallet to one day share what I have done thus far. What better time to get in touch with you as I begin building my portfolio/resume. 

I will be heading back to Portland on Saturday but when I get back in the summer do you have any suggestions that I should pursue?  Also Congrats on the new company by the way!

Thank you for sharing your story with me. I believe in you. Us Hawaii kids can do it. We can be right there with everyone else in STEM. And little by little, one engineer at a time we can pave the way for more of us believing.

My Thursday and Friday afternoon is currently open. If you want to come by DataHouse (by Ala Moana) to talk story you are more than welcome to. However, let me know ASAP so I can reserve the time for you. Otherwise, we can definitely stay in touch and chat.

Student (after coming by DataHouse to talk story):
Hi Aaron. Thank you for lunch and all of your advice! I continue to be inspired by your story and I am thankful for your support! Definitely a highlight of my break and I can't wait to build through opportunities and grow as a software engineer. Look forward to staying in contact with you as well.

Wow. What a great story. I am really proud of this student for what he’s doing.  It is amazing what Career Days and a little outreach can do. We have remarkable kids in Hawaii, kids that really can do anything they set their minds to, kids that can compete globally, kids that really do make us proud. I believe in them.   

I am determined to reach more of Hawaii's students. Please let me know if you have students I can talk with. I would love to talk with new schools and even schools on the neighbor islands. Career Days Are Awesome!

Update: as I wrote this blog I've been contacted to do 4 Career Days in the up coming months!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

I am a Software Engineer! Its an Awesome Job! You can be one TOO!

For a number of years now I've gone to elementary, intermediates, and high schools to talk about being a software engineer.  The message is simple, "I am a Software Engineer! It is an AWESOME job! and You can be one too!"  I feel so lucky to be working as a software engineer in Hawaii. It really is a great job. I love solving problems, being creative, learning, and working as a team.  I love my the lifestyle that working as a software engineer provides. I am able to surf, coach my son's baseball and soccer teams, travel and spend lots of time with my family and friends.  I truly am very lucky.

I teach the students about what software engineers do. Where they work. What they get paid. How many jobs there are. What they do for fun. What kind of companies employ software engineers. What kind of technologies software engineers create. Why software engineering is a great career.  And MOST IMPORTANTLY that every single one of them can be a software engineer if they want it bad enough and are willing to work hard.

When I'm done with my presentation, I ask the students, "who wants to be a software engineer?" and nearly all of them raise their hands. Its great to see the hope and excitement on their faces. I know they can do it. Heck if I can make it they certainly can.

My last talk was at Holomua Elementary in Ewa Beach. I talked to 4 classes at Holomua and I just recently got a package with 44 thank you notes from the students. Here is what one of them said,

Dear Aaron Kagawa,
Thank you so much for being so nice and kind!
Ever since you taught me all about software engineering, I want to be one some day!
You told me that in order for me to get there I have to work hard in school. Even if you're not the smartest I can still get me there!
Thank you for taking your time to to teach us all about your job!
From, (A Holomula Student)

It was very touching to read all of those letters and especially letters like this one.  I am thankful for being able to share my passion of software engineering with the students of Hawaii. I believe anyone can make it in the world of software if they work hard and believe in themselves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LiveAction Company Retreat in Monterey California 2015

Back in August 2015, LiveAction had its second company retreat in beautiful Monterey, California. (Our first retreat was last year on the famous North Shore of Oahu. You can read more about that here: The primary task at our retreats is always very important; hang out and continue to grow our relationships with our fellow employees. At this year's retreat we had a blast. We played volleyball and football, had a private lunch and wine tour in Carmel, serious camp fire relaxation, and some intense games of werewolf (http://www.playwere Our other retreat task is to check-in, validate, and verify our company culture by sharing what's working and what's not. We had lively discussions and debates and in the process we brought our team closer together. We eventually solidified our Mission Vision and Values 2.0.


Revolutionize the network by establishing LiveAction as the visualization and analytics standard.


Our Vision is for LiveAction to be the kick ass solution to simplify the network while providing our team members an awesome personal and professional life.


  1. Determined to win together 
  2. Create remarkable experiences for our customers, partners and team 
  3. Open, honest communication 
  4. Kick ass innovation 
  5. Empowered 
  6. Hold each other accountable 
  7. Respect each other, our customers and partners 
Flying everyone out to Monterey, California for a retreat is pretty damn cool. (btw, Monterey/Carmel is super nice. If I was a sea otter I totally would think that Point Lobos is paradise.) My engineering team spent extra time in San Francisco, Big Sur, and silicon valley and we had an awesome time as well. However, all the sights and sounds of the retreat would mean absolutely nothing if we didn't genuinely and thoroughly enjoy spending time with one another.

I've been working on LiveAction with a bunch of engineers for about 8+ years now and these people are more than my coworkers. They are definitely lifelong friends; we’ve shared so many great experiences together. Every day I come to work to our Honolulu Office, which has awesome view of Diamond Head, and realize how lucky I am to be engineering a product with people that I really respect and cherish that is used all over the world by some of the largest companies in the world. LiveAction is a kick ass and revolutionary network visualization and analytics solution. And yet, it is so much more. LiveAction is a team of wonderful people that are committed to do our very best for our customers and for each other.

I am so fortunate to be working for this company and with these people. I am so thankful. It has been an EPIC ride and I'm ready for more.

Oh and by the way... our next retreat is on Maui next month, December 2015! AWESOME.

here are some pics from the retreat

Thursday, December 23, 2010

how about a teach kids tech series

if you haven't seen it by now there are bunch educational videos for parents that google has put together.

i just sent my mother a "tech care package" to hopefully educate her about using the computer. it was a joke of course.

this whole thing got me thinking about teaching people about tech. perhaps google should make a video series for kids. (if they already have one let me know... haha i make like people read my blog). maybe the videos showed kids how to use various google tools like google docs, email, web development, etc. schools could use this as classroom material. then all these kids would be techies already and we won't need this teach parents tech one generation from now. awesome!

Monday, November 8, 2010

shoyu flakes

while i was eating some cold tofu, ginger, and shoyu i had an idea.... the idea is called shoyu flakes. its like shoyu that melts in your mouth. it would be an awesome garnish on top things like tofu, sushi, or even something like salad. it could be like bonito flakes but of course it would be shoyu favor instead of fish.

what do you guys think? maybe @chefmorimoto might like it and i'd be rich and famous.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

a couple lame ideas

(its been a while since i blogged. i've been meaning to get back into it. so here is my first attempt)

idea one: email/wiki page
email is great. haha. well, this idea kinda is about how email sucks for discussions. i don't know about you but it sucks when ideas from email threads. its hard to trace through how the idea evolved, hard to make sure you see everyones comments and concerns. things get lost.

a great example, is my family's football game potluck emails. an email goes out week for people to sign up for potluck, people don't respond to all, format the response funny, etc, etc. by the end its hard to know who is bringing what unless you read all the emails.

enter. wikipages and google docs. some people know that some things are better to collaborate on in wikipages or google docs. good job to those people. but its out of the way. its a separate place. usually when its separate its hard to get people to use it consistently. not to mention a very low percentage of people actually know what google docs is.

anyway... the idea is that we could better integrate google docs and gmail. actually, perhaps its like a distributed wikipage. where there is a document structure thats possible and threaded discussions. i like that... hm. let me think about this more.

idea two: twitter filter
i like following people on twitter. i hate following people that tweet any more than 5 things a day. i tend to ignore anyone with a few thousand lifetime tweets. i just don't want to see that much information. i know there are probably a lot of external services that can do this, but i really just want a way to filter tweets from specific users. perhaps the filter understands the users "tweet rate" and gives me a down sampled view. or maybe the filter just picks a "popular" tweet from that user.

anyway, thats a simple idea that would really be awesome.

(these ideas were kinda lame. but i just wanted to write something down for a change)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

abercrombie tech discussion

on tuesday april 6 i attended a discussion on the hawaii technology industry hosted by neil abercrombie (see the discussion was moderated by burt lum of bytemarks and the panel included; jay fidel, dan leuck, dr. pat sullivan, and neil abercrombie. this discussion was said to be not part of abercrombie's campaign in anyway. it was purely a discussion for the betterment of the industry. there were about 20 people in the audience and it was broadcasted live on the internet. (see some pictures of the event here

some of the discussion points were the following (note i'm not quoting anyone i'm just trying to paraphrase the discussions):
  • problems and issues with the current industry; capital formation and the brain drain
  • that we've made a lot progress in 25 years.
  • that its now or never for the tech industry
  • the need for a tech advisory panel to help aid the future governor and legislature
  • the need for a CIO to reform the state IT infrastructure
  • talked about the progress that act 221 made and some of the issues associated with that
  • talked about how the different industries are related; like hotel and tech.
  • talked about hawaii has a unique diversity and potential to make disruptive ideas
  • etc, etc...

    there were a bunch of good discussions. and i really do appreciate the fact that it was held. i abercrombie a lot of credit for hosting it. and a big thank you to the moderator and panel. BUT i have some comments/suggestions/qestions

    where were all the engineers?
    i convinced two other engineers from my company to come because i think this is important. but i think we were the only full time engineers in the audience. the tech industry is made of business people AND ENGINEERS. engineers need to stop being lazy and come out to these events. or how about students!

    what problem?
    several times in the discussions people attempted to put a finger on what the problems were. i was really interested in what the panel responded with. but... that was from their perspective. it was problems that dan sees or problems that pat sees. valid for them. but maybe not applicable to the larger industry.

    i left the discussion still wondering what the problem was. i first asked myself do we even have a problem? to know if we have a problem one must know what the expectations are. i don't know what that is, so i can't tell you if we have a problem. and for those of you following THAT IS A PROBLEM. what are the expectations? yes, i agree tech isn't as big as it should be. but, what have we done to expect more? have we committed more money to reach goal X? i'm not sure we have. we lack a baseline of to evaluate our status.

    lets say that we use the number of tech jobs as a scorecard (i'm not saying this is a good measurement). well, then we have something to evaluate. we can frame our discussions around that. only when we have goals and expectations can we evaluate our progress.

    jay and neil mentioned that this seems to be now or never (i'm paraphrasing) for the tech industry. hmm. i don't know what to make of that. now or never for what? i don't get what that means with respect to our lack of goals.

    anyway... you get my point. actually, i just wanted to throw out there that i feel good about my little area of the tech industry. i'm really happy with my company, career, and role in the tech industry.

    other cities and states?
    i was hoping some one in the panel said something like, "new mexico and north carolina has similar problems as we do with regards to technology. their state government is doing these 5 things. we can learn from their progress and failures. and i think we can try this." to me it kinda felt like we were trying to figure this out by ourselves. there has to be other examples that we can learn from.

    thoughts about the brain drain
    one of the real problems that i see is the brain drain problem. everyone talks about it. everyone agrees that it occurs. but there doesn't ever seem to be a discussion about it. why is it happening? what can we do about it? so... here is my take on those two questions.

    cost of living. plain and simple. its too expensive for a lot of new grads to start their life in honolulu. hawaii typically doesn't pay as well as the mainland and its more expensive than most cities. what can we do? hm... well how about we do more remote working? maybe these new grads can live somewhere where the cost of living is cheaper. and still contribute to a local company. we could provide tax incentives or something for that. thats probably a lame idea, so you think of something.

    competing with mainland companies is definitely a problem. i know for a fact that local kids that move away to college have a hard time looking for jobs in hawaii cause its so hard for them to know what hawaii has to offer. hawaii companies need (maybe even with assistance from the government) make much bigger attempt to lure our top notch students back to hawaii. we need to market hawaii tech companies to our own kids.

    we need to educate students on what type of job their education targets. the panel mentioned that we have a great Department of Electrical Engineering that attract many mainland company recruiters. i wonder if the career people in the department tell the students that most of the jobs they are studying for are on the mainland. if i was a student and i knew i wanted to live and work in hawaii, i would want to know the number of hawaii jobs available. teach students about our local industry. allow them to gear their studies to compete for local jobs. if the students don't realize what jobs we have, then their will always be a mismatch. there will always be a drain, because they have no choice.

    this was a great event. i don't think the discussions were ground breaking, but i think its awesome that this could be the start of a lot of great things. i really appreciate the leadership that is needed to want to hold such an event.

    to summarize. i want real goals. i want someone to say, we need tech to grow by X amount this year and this much in 4 years. here is how we are going to evaluate it. and here is the plan to accomplish that. or maybe its not that simple....