John DeFries has dedicated most of his professional years to promoting the islands of Hawaii. For the past 28 years, he has been directly involved with the State’s visitor industry. Today, John sits as president and CEO of Hokuli’a Development, a 1550-acre master plan community on the Big Island.

John owes his career inclination to the exposure that he has had with various cultures, which has also made him realize the value of his own customs and traditions.

“Engaging with people who come from different places in the world is probably an education that I value greatly even to this day,” he said.

John’s mother, who took care of him and his siblings as they grew up, continues to be his inspiration. But what made a profound impact in his outlook is the passing of his father when he was 28 years old.

“I realized that there needed to be seriousness about my future,” John said. “It’s very easy for me to maintain a carefree attitude because I don’t have roots to speak of even within my own hometown.”

“But the loss of my father had a profound impact to the responsibility I had,” he added. Along with the help he has received from mentors, John struggled though the rough path to success with determination.

“Along the way, several mentors, typically higher executives in the company took the time, took the patience, saw some potential and invested their time, energy and expertise in grooming me,” John said. “I am extremely grateful for that. I find myself reaching out in the same way to others that I meet.”

John is well known for his work in bringing cultures, communities and business together. He is member of the board of a number of community organizations including The Five Mountain Medical Community, Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, and Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program – Bishop Museum.

Listen to this interview and find out more about John’s rise to personal and professional success—all these and more only here on Greater Good Radio.

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