Below, find out why when I talked with Honolulu’s Contemporary Art Museum director, and co-author of Little Hawaiian Cookbook, Georgianna Lagoria in August, she was reading about people with vast amounts of wealth.

What I’m Reading | Georgianna Lagoria

Director, Contemporary Museum

Q&A with Christine Thomas

–What are you reading?

I’m reading a book that came out recently called Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank. It’s nonfiction of course, and it’s a redefining of wealth in the United States. It’s looking at that demographic and how this group is so different from previous generations. What interests me about that is it is sort of a snapshot of success in America and it’s an interesting look at people who have succeeded financially—most of them are self-made. It gives me a window into these individuals as philanthropists as well. It’s fascinating.

I also read–it took me five seconds–The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Golden; he’s a marketing guru. The concept of “The Dip,” which is what interested me, is how to determine whether a roadblock in a project you’re working on is temporary, if it’s something you need to push through or if it’s a dead end. It was interesting how that sort of dip was defined. Whenever you want to accomplish something it’s always exciting when you start out and then a challenge presents itself, put if you’re willing to push through it’s worth it in the end. That applies to business and life.

I always get behind in books I want to read so especially in the summer. I’m trying to read books that came out in the past that I didn’t have time to read or books I didn’t get to in my formative years. So I’m reading Memoirs of a Geisha. It’s really like an anthropological study. I’ve also read recently “In Cold Blood” and Lolita.” One of my favorite writers is Tom Wolfe, and I’ve read everything by Dave Sedaris and Anne Lamotte.

–How did you discover the first two?

Richistan I heard about on The Daily Show. And The Dip—I was recently on the mainland and we were in Colorado and driving somewhere, and this fellow was just interviewed and it caught my attention. It’s one of those little books that just has some really wonderful nuggets in there.

–What do you like most about Richistan?

It tells the story through profiles of individuals and that’s what’s interesting to me. These are individuals that have taken their own ideas and run with them…they’re very smart and want to see results. It helps me understand, as a Director of a museum, particularly of contemporary art—most of our benefactors are individuals, we don’t’ get a lot of help from large institutions. … And these are also individuals who really do care about the larger world and social issues.

–Does this book facilitate your development of stronger donor relationships, especially with those who want to help people see the world with new eyes as contemporary art tries to do?

It’s really important, particularly with a contemporary art museum, to develop relationships with people who collect art and find contemporary art fascinating and want to share that with other people. It’s about education, bringing new artists to a broader audience. And there’s a link between entrepreneurs and artists—both don’t go from assumptions, they look at the world differently and create new realities. … This book helps me understand, for in my work you’re building something that takes a long time to build, whereas entrepreneurs are focused on the shorter term. When you build a museum you build it forever. So you can use some of these strategies to change with the times and evolve.

Photo from the Honolulu Advertiser – Mahalo!