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Have You Ever Seen a Person Die?
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Is the Experience of Aging Anything Like You Had Imagined?
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Writing Example 1
I was asked to write a branding story for the adventure loving couple who started this business of hand building yachts and offering premium catamaran tours in Hawaii:
Love, Passion, and Sailing
Have you ever dreamed of sailing into the sunset, leaving everything behind?
Kevin and Marcie, founders of Holo Holo Charters on Kauai, made it happen.
They met at a party 26 years ago. They were both members of their college Swim Club.
Kevin swooped in and was attracted to the stunning Marcie who doesn’t look any different than her college days. Marcie says about her husband Kevin, “He liked the red bathing suit.”
Kevin’s dream was to sail away with his bride Marcie and immediately after their wedding on the boat they went on their first trans-Pacific crossing from California to Hawaii for a 24-day honeymoon.
Remarkably, they’ve crossed the Pacific Ocean 5 times on their personal sailing adventures and are planning to sail to Tahiti this summer from Hawaii.
One would think after what they’ve survived and thrived through they’d be weathered but no, Marcie was glowing in a knit dress that showed her sporty athleticism and sparkly spirit. Kevin is keenly self-assured, dedicated, and intelligent, with an attitude of I'll take care of it. And he does know how to take care of it. Kevin loves to build big catamarans and racing boats. It runs in his blood, he’s a 3rd generation master boat builder.
Every bolt and board is meticulously engineered on the12 boats he’s built and even more that he has repaired. He builds boats for the specific waters that each boat will be sailing in. “Waters are rough on Kauai,” Kevin says.
It’s a humble way of saying that you can’t just take any boat to sail off Kauai. It has to be the right boat for these waters. Kevin’s extensive expertise in sailing and building distinguishes Holo Holo Charters from their competitors in Hawaii.
Their company is the only one that crosses the channel (daily) from Kauai to Niihau Island and sails more nautical miles than the other charter boats. Niihau is a forbidden island, where only Native Hawaiians live. It has a mystical aura and it takes skill and experience to sail to.
If you’re going to cross a channel in Kauai waters that can change in a heartbeat you’d want to be in a boat that was built by a master.
One of the ways that Kevin and Marcie's passion ignites Holo Holo to excellence is this: they delegate and trust the reins to talented, trustworthy, and qualified people.
“Our captains go out on tour 300 times a year and it’s always different, the animals are different, the light is different.” Kevin's captains and crew are the cream of the crop.
On the Napali Coast sunset tour I went on, the captain expertly guided a 65-foot catamaran into a huge sea cave. My eyes popped out of my head, it thrilled me to the core.
Their commitment and dedication make going on their boat tours an amazing adventure; the boat itself is gorgeously designed and crafted, and the captain and staff make you feel that your presence is a gift.
Kevin knows what he’s good at, building exceptional boats. Marcie says, “He builds the boats, and I sell the tours.” It’s easy to see why she’s good at it. Her love (for Kevin) and passion for sailing makes it easy. Her zesty nature inspires Holo Holo and as she says about her favorite facet of sailing, “It’s about embarking on a new discovery, exploring new horizons. I love sailing into a new port for the first time.”
Kevin holds the record for being the fastest boat to race between Oahu and Kauai. There’s no other boats like theirs, people are curious when they see his boat’s distinctive features, particularly their personal sailing catamaran, Kalewa, a sleek green and white boat anchored at the yacht club where we’re sitting.
Kevin is well known for yacht building mastery; enquiring minds want to know exactly how he makes his boats.
But it hasn’t all been easy for this couple’s journey that could be a first run feature film. After they sailed to Hawaii, Kevin was building Trilogy boats on Maui and Marcie wanted to start a family. “The only thing we ever planned was Ayla.” Marcie says about their daughter.
Ayla was conceived on the boat and when hurricane Iniki struck Marcie was 7 months pregnant. Kauai was destroyed after the hurricane and 2 months later Ayla was born.
They rented a house with the 2nd story roof blown off but Kevin brought water guns to aim at the mice who also wanted to live there.
Sadly their boat was destroyed in the hurricane, leaving only the hull. But Kevin rebuilt it.
Last summer, one of their commercial catamarans on Kauai was stolen. It was recovered, badly damaged on the reef after crashing. Kevin repaired it by removing a 40-foot section of it and making it new again.
“It was 6 weeks of misery,” Kevin said. But he rebuilt it better than it was before.
Their current goal of sailing to Tahiti from Hawaii is a journey they embarked on before but had to turn back after 11 days of gigantic waves and the fact that a hurricane was coming.
And the self-steering broke.
After arriving back in Hawaii they thought they were, “done with the ocean” and considered buying a ranch.
They didn’t do it. Their love of the ocean won out and when Ayla was 13 years old they went on a 30-month sailing journey from Hawaii to Alaska, the West Coast of California, and the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
It’s clear that adversity made them stronger.
Courage takes practice. If you’re afraid to try something new in your life, imagine Marcie and Kevin sailing to Tahiti and maybe your challenge will look a little more possible.
The truth is their incredible lives show that following your heart and living your dreams is something we all can do. It’s not easy. Or fast.
But life is short, so why not live each moment like Marcie and Kevin exploring new horizons and cruising to new countries?
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Writing Example 2
Suddenly while traveling in Buenos Aires, I heard about a home for neglected people in Obera. Instantly I offered to go there to see how I could help. One thing about direct experience is you can't invent how you'll feel living with people who had been abandoned or left to die by their families.
Here's the story I wrote for Santa Theresa Del Nino Jesus to raise funds for their foundation. This piece was published in The Word magazine.
Writing Example 3
I was contracted to write a branding story to be used for a biotechnology company. This specific project was to raise money for a drug to improve hearing without hearing aids:
Imagine not being able to hear your child’s laughter or your lover’s whispers.
The truth is some type of hearing loss affects 360 million people worldwide. It’s the 2nd largest disease globally and yet...
The biggest myth is that only aging people suffer from hearing loss.
The fact is there are a billion teenagers at risk of cumulative damage from listening to loud music with ear buds entrenched in their ears, cell phones, and personal headphones.
Your mother was right. Loud music damages the ear.
What is the solution?
365 days a year, Dr. Jonathan Kil, co-founder, chief medical officer, and CEO of Sound Pharmaceuticals, is dedicated to helping people with hearing loss. Ever since he worked as an undergraduate in clinic at Georgetown University and won the Ralph Girard award for his research on children’s different types of hearing loss he’s been changing people’s lives by improving their hearing.
“Seeing people hear for the first time was exciting and amazing. It’s not easy to get it right. There are no inner ear drugs to help people with hearing loss on the market,"
Jonathan says about his work in clinic.
It’s a new industry and Sound Pharmaceuticals is at the peak of the research on it. They’ve been developing drugs for hearing loss, regeneration of auditory hairs in the cochlea, and ototoxicity since 2010.
Dr. Jonathan Kil and Dr. Eric Lynch, co-founder, president, and chief science officer of Sound Pharmaceuticals are now researching SPI-1005, an oral drug soon to be in FDA stage 3 clinical trials.
How does it work?
They discovered that ebselen, a synthetic molecule, induces the activity of Glutathione Peroxidase. GPx is the dominant enzyme that protects the auditory hairs from damage caused by loud sounds or noise.
“It’s like Viagra for the ear,” one investor called it.
It’s an incredibly long path from the lab to your medicine cabinet. And costly.
“$200 million is a typical investment to bring an FDA approved drug to the US market. There is quite a lot of education and effort with Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors and investors. They want to see extensive data before investing. Having Jonathan being able to navigate the clinical strategy
is a key advantage. He’s an expert. With his understanding of clinicians and PHD’s, he knows how to move this forward,” says Paul Riley, CFO of Sound Pharmaceuticals.
Gradually over time people suffer from hearing loss from rock concerts, ear trauma, and any noise above 80 to 90 decibels for more than a few minutes.
For example, 100 decibels is the explosive sound of a motorcycle engine. And if the sound continues for 5 minutes it will start to damage your hearing.
In a nutshell, sound waves flow into the ear and vibrate against the ear bones, hammer, anvil, and stirrup. Then the sound enters the cochlea.
If the sound is high decibel noise it begins to destroy the tiny hairs of the cochlea and hearing will diminish. http://soundpharma.com/otology/
We only get 20,000 or so auditory hairs in the cochlea and once those are damaged, that’s it you don’t get any more.
The important thing for people to know about hearing loss is that exposure to noise is reported by the NIDCD as the number one reason. Hearing loss is now increasing worldwide so the on-going
work that Sound Pharmaceuticals is doing today is even more critical to help people tomorrow.
Dr. Lynch explains, “To restore hearing is hard, slow, and expensive long-term. The challenges are gaining mastery and building the right teams. Taking a drug to market has a multitude of moving parts. If any of those moving parts stop moving, everything breaks.”
And he continues, “I’m the pessimist, Jonathan is the optimist, which is good as you need both in a company.”
What is the most important contribution you bring to Sound Pharmaceutical?
Eric explains, “Ability to bring together different bodies of information, communicating with the FDA and investors, short term goals, long term goals.”
Big challenges for the company’s testing in the next five years to get SPI-1005 to market are, “Doing everything you can to map out a statistical analysis plan. Testing the drug in a very rigorous way. You have no control. You have to sit back and wait for the data to come in, and the drug can’t have side effects – people won’t tolerate side effects." Dr. Lynch explains.
SPI-1005 is projected to help people with Meniere’s disease, which is moderate to severe hearing loss from drugs, antibiotics, and chemotherapy.
Meniere’s is known to cause a loss in hearing ability, especially of lower sound frequencies.
This distinguishes it from several other conditions such as noise-induced loss of hearing or natural aging; these generally impair capacity to hear higher frequencies.
This disease affects the inner ear and causes bouts of vertigo due to fluid that fills the tubes of your inner ear. On top of the dizziness and nausea, flare-ups can also cause some loss of hearing in one or both ears and a constant ringing sound.
Often, an episode of vertigo is accompanied by a temporary increase in hearing loss. As Meniere’s disease progresses hearing ability tends to decrease gradually, with most patients suffering some degree of permanent hearing loss.
You might not be able to drive, work, or do regular daily activities at times, though this chronic condition varies greatly from person to person.
“So many people suffer,” Dr. Kil says. As the CEO, his work at Sound Pharmaceuticals is
remarkably intense. He designs experiments, talks to investors, approves employees, and is at the epicenter of the challenges of research and development.
You have to be patient in dealing with the FDA and then there is the fact that to get SPI-1005 to market, funding will be at the minimum $200 million.
Paul Riley, CFO, is securing the funding. “I find it fascinating and enjoyable to help people and change people’s lives. Trying to discover things that help people is very rewarding. And it’s exciting when you’re able to collaborate as we’re doing with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation who are matching
funds with Sound Pharmaceuticals.”
Patients are craving help, since there is nothing but devices for them to improve their hearing and the disregarding, “Learn to live with it,” that they’ve heard so often.
Yes it may be three to six more years of research and development but the team at Sound Pharmaceuticals is committed. Their dedication, expertise, and compassion for the stunning number of people who suffer from hearing loss are important contributions to this worldwide problem.
Explains Dr. Lynch, “We’re doing something no one has ever done.”
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