Hoku Scientific (2001) founder Dustin Shindo was ahead of the solar energy curve. I spoke to him in August 2008 when he, and the rest of his company, was working hard and working Saturdays to make Hoku rise and stay on top. [They still work Saturdays]
What I’m Reading | Dustin Shindo
Founder, Advisor and Former CEO Hoku Scientific
Q&A with Christine Thomas
C.T.: What are you reading?
D.S.: The book I just finished reading is actually a pretty easy-to-read book called “Mentor: The Kid and the CEO” by Tom Pace.
C.T.: How did you discover it?
D.S.: Various people mentioned it as a good book for the airplane, an easy read. It’s not a long book. I tend to not be able to read very long books—I don’t have the attention span for it.
C.T.: Why is it so easy to read?
D.S. The chapters are very short. There aren’t a ton of words on each page. I read it in a couple of hours. It’s also very interesting, too. It’s a book that can apply to almost anyone. It has a business-ish title but it’s really a book that almost everyone can apply to their life. I gave it my wife and she read it and a few of my co-workers are now reading it.
D.S.: First, from the broadest perspective, it’s very inspirational. It really captures the human drive to do all that you can with what you have. Reading stories like that are uplifting. But it has very tactical things as well. Few books, especially this brief, can be all encompassing and inspirational, as well as very tactical.
It talks about specific things you can do to better yourself—there are business things in it as well, but how to be a better person. To give you some examples, on the bottom of every page is an idea that’s unrelated to what’s on the page, and every single page has one. Like for instance, “Do important things first,” or “Impact the lives of others,” “Be polite.” Very simple but tactical things you can do to be better.
C.T.: Does it remind you to stay grounded even as Hoku continues to be adaptable in changing with new solar technologies and business ventures?
D.S.: I work 100 hours a week and sometimes get bogged down in all these others things. But to succeed I almost have to shut everything off around me. Reading this book in particular is refreshing because it reminds you not just of the ideas that frame why we even started the company but the other things that are around us beyond the deal we’re working on or the near-term business things we’re focused on.
C.T.: What does it remind you to do?
D.S.: Give time to people—my wife, my daughter, and my family but also the employees and partners and the things that aren’t necessarily captured in a number or report. We’ve always had a big focus on people and relationships at Hoku.
I like to think the way we’ve done things helps average people to be good, good people to be great, great people to be exceptional. As we grow, it would be easy to forget those things. This book is a healthy reminder of the importance of helping people and developing relationships. And that’s one of the concepts in the book. Everyone is a mentor and everyone has mentors.