From Island Boy To Industry Icon – How The Heck Did That Happen?

For some of you who don’t know my background, I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and one of my most fond remembrances of my years growing up there was driving out to the Honolulu International Airport and watching the jumbo jets take off and land.  I often wondered about the people that were traveling to Hawaii. I'd ask myself: "Where did they come from?  Why did they choose to visit Hawaii?"  And I wondered what life was like living on the mainland and if I could ever leave the islands and pursue a business career in the States.
It seems like that was just yesterday, yet it's surreal that there's been decades in between those days and today. Where did the time go and how did I end up here?  How and why was I singled out by NBTA President, Kevin Maguire and the NBTA organization to receive their exclusive "Industry Icon Award." industry icon?! Certainly, in my opinion, there are others far more deserving of this award.

In fact, this award should go to everyone who I have come to know throughout my life and career! I’ve been privileged to meet so many wonderful people, some who have graciously taken the time to mentor me, others who have become friends and supporters. One thing I have learned first-hand is: life is nothing without your friends and family. No one ever wins any kind of award or recognition as a solo act, people achieve things because of a network of people in your work, industry or life that believe in you and support and help you along the way.  I am no exception to that fact, and there’s no way I could ever list all of the people in my life who have helped me and cheered me on. One thing is for certain, I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the collective effort of everyone in my life, good, bad or otherwise... and I’m sincerely grateful for the support, friendship and love that I’ve received.

So as the annual NBTA convention approaches, I'm excited about seeing a ton of friends and associates, and I’m especially appreciative and humbled by this Industry Icon Award that I will receive. 

Receiving this award has got me a bit nostalgic, too. Like the Vanessa Williams song, “Oh How The Years Go By,” I marvel at how quickly the years have flown, and what a journey it's been. If you were to ask me as a young man growing up in Hawaii watching jets take off and land, did I ever envision that the industry that I cherish and am passionate about would one day designate me as an Industry Icon, I would’ve laughed and said “No Way.” 

But reality and life is strange, and to sum up a philosophy that I strive for and live by, I’ll share with you what I have posted on my Facebook page: “If you want respect - respect others, When you learn something - share it, When your friends and family need you - be there; love and live life unconditionally and without regret.”

From Island Boy to Industry Icon...what a journey! But I’m far from done and there’s more mountains to conquer ahead of me. So a heartfelt "Thank you" to everyone in my life who has helped me get where I am today.  I’m looking forward to the next stage, and I pray that you’ll stay with me!

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.