Get Smart: How To Do Everything Better in Honolulu (and Beyond)

You, dear reader, are a sharp cookie. We know that. Still, there’s always a better “you” out there. Someone who can work better, whip up a tastier meal or even rock harder at karaoke. Start with any one of these 32 local classes or tips and see what happens. We won’t tell anyone how you became so awesome.

illustrations: valentino valdez

Give a Great Speech

Public speaking coach Pam Chambers has been helping nervous speakers since 1985, curing sweaty palms and stagefright. Here are some of her tips for shining at the podium:

1) Believe in yourself. Trust that what you have to say will help at least one person in the audience.

2) Respect your audience. The alternative is to fear it, and that’s not useful.

3) If you begin shaking or trembling, grab the seat of your chair and pull as hard as you can. If you are already standing, dig your toes into the floor for several seconds. This releases excess energy from the adrenaline rush.

4) Make eye contact with friendly faces in the audience for two to three seconds. Don’t gaze over your listeners’ heads.

5) Throw out a few questions during the talk for audience interaction.

Public speaking classes, Oct. 10-Dec. 19, 6-8:30 p.m., $450-$495,,

illustration: thinkstock

Finally Get That MBA

For many professionals, an MBA may be crucial to advancing in your career. On the other hand, dropping out of work for a few years to get one isn’t going to help. UH has a solution: an executive or part-time MBA course geared toward people with demanding jobs. Working professionals can get an executive MBA in less than two years by attending class every Tuesday and alternating Saturdays. There’s an evening schedule, so you can head over to class straight from work. You can apply online, but this is a serious graduate degree; you will need to submit college transcripts, GMAT scores and a few more things. The full application checklist is at


Have a Plan for Serious Disasters

Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes—any natural disaster that damages our ports could leave the Island stranded for as long as a week, nearly twice as long as if a similar disaster struck a Mainland city, according to the Hawaii Red Cross. Be prepared, at home and at work (where it’s entirely possible you may be stuck with your colleagues, huddled under desks, for days. Long, long days.)

1) For businesses, Red Cross Hawaii offers the web-based Ready Rating program, which can help you assess how prepared you are, develop a business continuity plan and position your business to be able to help others during a crisis.

2) For families, Red Cross recommends making a family communications plan, assembling a kit of nonperishable food and other disaster supplies to last a week (kits are available through the Red Cross) and getting basic first-aid training in advance.

3) CPR skills can make you a hero even in the best of weather. CPR Class, Hawaii Red Cross, $70-$110.00,, 739-8123.



Stop Paying and Do It, or Fix it, Yourself

A cornucopia of DIY classes are available in Honolulu. Here are just a few:

1) Make Home Safe

Learn how to install motion-sensor security lights and eliminate fire hazards by detecting smoke, fire or carbon monoxide. It’s also smart to map out a reliable, fire escape plan, so you’re prepared when bad stuff actually does happen. Safety and Security, Home Depot, Saturdays, 1-2:30 p.m., free,

2) Jazz Up Your Walls

Do your rooms seem a little…lacking? Give your walls some character with crown molding. Learn fool-proof installation techniques and about proper materials and tools for the look you want. Crown Molding, Home Depot, Sundays, 1-2:30 p.m., free,

3) Bicycle upkeep

Keep your bike in shape on your own, by avoiding flats and keeping your brakes in working order. Teacher Ryan Lopez holds one hour, DIY workshops every Thursday, covering topics such as gears, wheels and hubs. DIY Workshops, Island Triathlon & Bike, Thursdays, 6-7 p.m., $10,

Swim, Don’t Sink

It’s shocking how many people in our Island home can’t swim. If that’s you, it’s time to dive in. YMCA private instructors will teach you proper swimming techniques. If you feel up to it, you can even take the next step and get a lifeguard certificate. Private Swimming Lessons, YMCA, $90-$112.50,, 531-9622.

photo: thinkstock

Defend Yourself, Women

“One assault tactic on women is called ‘the hook,’” says Steve McLaughlin, self-defense instructor at Kupale. “Someone asks you for the time or $2 for the bus. What they’re looking for is to see if you’re gullible.” Women, protect yourselves by taking this single, four-hour class. McLaughlin will cover 30 different topics on defense techniques. He has 38 years of experience under his jujitsu black belt, and spent three years researching criminal assaults. You will also learn the practicalities of making a police report, working with sketch artists and recognizing date-rape drugs. Self Defense for Women’s Assault Prevention Course, Kupale, Oct. 20, Oct. 28, $60,, 595-7175.

Be a Better Cook

The Kapiolani Culinary Arts Program doesn’t just educate Hawaii’s professional chefs of the future, it offers classes to the public. Recent courses, many of them just a few hours long each, have included “Basic Knife Skills,” “Cooking with Fish” and “Taco Night.” For course descriptions, registration and schedules, visit

Be a Better Cook, Vegan Edition

You’ve gone meat-free, but you’re tired of eating the same old beans, tofu and tempeh. Kick up your diet with free monthly cooking classes at Down to Earth by Saradha Johnson. Past recipes include okonomiyaki, kimchee quesadillas and Greek baklava. Vegan cooking classes, Down to Earth Lifestyle Center, first Saturdays, 11 a.m.-noon, free,, 947-3249.

Frost like a pro

Your kid’s birthday is coming up. Or you just feel like baking, and you want your cake to look good enough for Martha Stewart. Impress friends and family with floral icing designs like rosebuds, plumerias and sunflowers, thanks to this four-day workshop by Cake Creations. Cake decoration lessons, Cake Creations, Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 5:30 -8 p.m., $200-$300,, 988-3200.


photos: david croxford


Be More Charming

Your body language reveals more than you think. Instructors Malia Gurney and Mary Lou Hardisty will teach you to make good first impressions through two-hour classes at the Art of Charm School for both men and women. From table manners to personal grooming tips, brushing up on basic social skills never hurts. Classes are also available for teens, if there’s a teen in your life stubbornly refusing your perfectly good advice that they stop slouching. Etiquette Lessons, Art of Charm School, $50-$350,, 358-9591.



Flex Your Green Thumb

Every month, the Urban Garden Center brings in crack volunteer gardeners for demonstrations. For October, instructor Julia Cabatu will teach you how to grow and cook fresh herbs and produce from your own backyard. Second Saturday in the Garden, Oahu Urban Garden Center, Sat., Oct. 13, 9 a.m.-noon, $5 donation,, 453-6055.

Take Back Local Fashion

You don’t have to dress like your parents or tutu to wear aloha attire. For men, Reyn Spooner is doing aloha shirts geared for men under 35 (at left) and Tori Richards and Mu‘umu‘u Heaven have introduced fitted, sexier mu‘umu‘u for ladies. And if you haven’t looked into what Sig Zane has been doing with the aloha shirt, you’re missing out.

Train Your Dog

Your puppy was adorable until it peed on your carpet and chewed up your leather sofa. What’s a frazzled owner to do? Schedule your dog and yourself for a class with Hawaii Dog Training. Discipline training and behavior consultation will help your puppy become your best friend. Dog Training Classes, Pro Dog Hawaii,, $180, 988-6596.

Control Road Rage

It’s easy to lose your cool when you’re navigating through hours of traffic from H2 into downtown. Don’t get aggressive during your commute. Take this class and drive smart to avoid accidents, which will ultimately save you more time. Defensive Driving, Leeward Community College, Sundays, Oct. 7, Nov. 11, Dec. 9, $89,, 455-0477.

Born to be Wild? Safety first!

It’s always been your dream to ride a motorcycle around the island. Your smartest way to start is the Basic Rider Course, offered at Leeward Community College. The class provides motorcycles, on which you will learn the proper way to ride. Passing the course is the same as taking the state’s road test, so it’s an instant path to getting your license. Plus, your BRC card can get you up to 15 percent off your bike. Motorcycle Training, Leeward Community College,, 455-0477.


photo: david croxford

Sing Like a Star

Friends kept taking the mic away from you during last year’s Krazy Karaoke party, just to save their ears from your … well, it wasn’t quite singing, was it? Now you’re too ashamed to sing at your child’s birthday parties. Fix this by taking karaoke lessons at Sen Music Studios. You’ll learn projection, diction, rhythm and the correct way to hold the mic. Karaoke Lessons, Sen Music Studios, $10-$15,, 845-7751.

“The mic should always be in the direction of your hairline, not further than two inches away. The sound quality is the best at that distance and angle.”–Gary Shimabukuro, Sen Music Studios instructor.

Bon Dance with the Best

Once summer begins, practically every weekend in Hawaii is scheduled with bon dancing. Don’t be the one dropping your tenugi (towel) or worse, standing alone at the sidelines. Practice and learn bon dancing at Waipahu Soto Mission Temple. Bon Dance Class, Waipahu Soto Mission, $2 donation, 671-3103.

photos: thinkstock

Get Musical, Local Style

Stop putting it off and learn how to play the ukulele. Insurance: you can already sing (see above), so amaze everyone at your next family barbecue with a few simple chords taught at Roy Sakuma Ukulele Studios. Sakuma also founded the annual Ukulele Festival, where you can celebrate your newfound talent. Ukulele Lessons, Roy Sakuma Ukulele Studios, $16-$25,, 732-3739.

Finish That Marathon

It’s on your bucket list: the Honolulu Marathon. Just remember, the first guy in history who ran a marathon died. Don’t let this happen to you. Train. Whether you plan to walk the whole thing or run like a pro, Brian Clarke’s 20-week Honolulu Marathon Training course will whip you into shape. “Nobody gets left behind,” promises the course description. Marathon Training, Brian Clarke Endurance Training,, 737-4340.

Start Hemming—Learn How to Sew

Having pants hemmed at a tailor can cost $10 or more. Do it yourself with sewing classes by Uakea Egami, a preschool teacher with serious seamstress skills. She’ll teach you basic sewing techniques in a four-week series at the Hi-Fi Coop. Soon you’ll be making fun, modern clothes that look store-bought. Do-It-Yourself Sewing Class, Hawaii Fashion Incubator COOP, Fri., 5:30-8:30 p.m.,


photo: steve nohara

How to Look Hot in Photos

Professional photographer Linny Morris knows how to make people look good. She takes our staff photos, so we know. If someone points a camera at you, here’s what you can do for better results:

1) Stick your chin slightly forward and tilt your head down to create a strong jawline. It’ll do wonders.

2) Never face the camera straight on—it’ll look like a mug shot. Always have some slight angle. If the photographer is shorter or below you, ask them to either stand on a ladder or sit.

3) Artificial lighting tends to wash people out. Use make-up concealer to hide blemishes and undereye circles. Powder will also keep down shine.

4) Always take off your glasses.

5) What may seem to be your flaws can make your face unique. A big nose makes your face different from everyone else’s. That said, play up the features you want to emphasize.

Linny Morris,


illustrations: valentino valdez, thinkstock

Be a Smarter Investor

Money may be tight, but what you have can probably do more work for you than you think. Brian Chang, a representative with Linsco/Private Ledger, the nation’s largest broker/dealer, will demystify mutual funds, college saving plans, estate planning strategies and reducing your taxes. You can also bring a spouse to plan your financial future together. Personal Financial Money Management, UH Manoa Krauss 012, Oct. 15-29, Mon., 6-9 p.m., $25-$60,, 956-5666.

Be a Budget Master

Your departmental budget isn’t a chore, it’s a tool. Use it. Learn how with this must-take course for both project managers and team members. Controlling Project Risks and Costs: How to Stay within Budget … even with Unplanned Events, UH Manoa Campus Center 203E, Dec. 11-12, Tues.-Wed., 8 a.m.-3 p.m., $795-$895,, 956-5666.

Retire Well

It’s fun to dream about retirement, but the reality can get complicated, with tax laws, insurance coverage and investment strategies to contend with. Attend this workshop for a leg up on constructing a foolproof plan to preserve your standard of living. Retirement Planning Today, UH Manoa Pacific Ocean Science and Technology 127, Oct. 13- 20, Sat., 9 a.m.-noon, $69,, 956-5666.

Resolve Conflicts

Got a troublesome colleague you don’t know how to deal with? A Mr. Conflict, disagreeing with everything you say, because that’s his agenda? Before you start yelling, take a deep breath and register for this class. Moving from Conflict to Collaboration, UH Manoa Campus Center 203E, Nov. 16, Fri., 8 a.m.-noon, $115,, 956-5666.

Learn the Language

Be a better kamaaina by understanding the Hawaiian language. At Kealaleo, individuals can take immersion workshops. Be prepared to take this seriously. Once you enter the school, you won’t hear a word of English. There is a variety of programs available, for both individuals and organizations, and all start with a one-year minimum commitment. Hawaiian-Language Classes, Kealaleo,

Excel at Excel!

Excel worksheets can be as painful as math itself, with formulas, charts and data sheets. Get Microsoft Office smart and simplify your work life with little-known, advanced Excel skills like analysis techniques and worksheet sharing. 2010 Excel Advanced, Hawaii CTS, Oct. 22, Mon., 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., $256.54,, 441-3400.

Strategize with Social Media

In the old days, people used to hire someone called a press agent to spread the word about their accomplishments and businesses. Now, with social media, everyone can be their own PR department. Learn how in this course. Social Media Marketing: Developing an Effective Strategy, UH Manoa Krauss 012, Nov. 29, Thurs., 6-9 p.m., $55,, 956-5666.