Traditional halibut hook inducted into Alaska Hall Of Fame

Annual Innovation Summit kicks off in Juneau

The hook on the first day of the Juneau Economic Development Council Innovation Summit was exactly that.


The halibut hook, a wooden fishing tool created centuries ago and used by Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes, became the first-ever item inducted into the Alaska State Committee for Research Innovators Alaska Hall of Fame at a ceremony Wednesday.

“There are many aspects of the hook that make it important,” Chuck Smyth, Director of Culture and History Department at Sealaska Heritage Institute. “It’s how everything all works together that make it work.”

Thomas George, a master fisherman, and his grandson, Thomas Barlow, both of Klawock, accepted the award on behalf of the northern Northwest Coast people.

“It is very important to our heritage,” Barlow, 14, said. “It is something I would like to keep alive.”

George echoed those remarks and added the importance to him personally.

“It is food on the table,” he said. “Anytime I put it out, it means fresh halibut.”

Johansson promotes summit theme

Frans Johannson, CEO of The Medici Group and author of “The Medici Effect” brought his enthusiasm and ideas behind this year’s theme “Diversity Drives Innovation” as the kick-off and keynote speaker of the event. Johannson, discussed how difficult it is to be successful in business because of changes.

“Serena Williams knows exactly what to do because the rules in tennis do not change,” he said. “What can others do when the rules change?”

He explained conventional thinking needs to be set aside when it comes to innovation.

“You need to tap into something inside you,” he said. “It is not something defined by experts.”

Johannson promoted getting out of one’s comfort zone and looking into outside industries and cultures from your own to gain perspectives. He encouraged company leaders and entrepreneurs to connect and contact people of different backgrounds.

“It is easier today because of this virtual social world,” Johansson explained. “It’s easier today because of these connections. If you can do that, you are better off.”

It is not as easy as it seems, despite technologies, he added.

“We see it all the time of companies going into these bubbles,” he said.

Johansson then went on about looking at the world differently and being prepared to fail. He described how Albert Einstein went through his own failures but followed through on his work.

“The people that change the world try far more ideas,” he said. “You don’t have to be Einstein or Picasso. You have to see ideas and push them through.”

One idea was the invention of “Icehotel.” He broke down how the inventor, Yngve Bergqvist, used different tactics in a way to make this unique experience appealing. The inventor had to sell the idea of winter, and it worked. He said every person in the room could have come up with something like that.

While the “Icehotel” was not planned just for Juneau, Johansson found it fitting.

“I use that all the time because it is so unique,” he said. “I can’t think of a better idea to share with Juneau. It just made sense.”

Johansson wrapped up his speech by encouraging the audience to use these examples to develop their own.

“The world is connected,” he said. “But it didn’t start that way. Somebody had to connect it, and somebody has to keep it connected. I believe it can be you.”

Brian Holst, executive director of JEDC, said Johansson’s speech truly what the Summit stands for.

“(Johansson) emphasized the increased role of diversity,” Holst said. “We have to seek it out and take advantage of it.”

The summit continues through Thursday. For a list of scheduled speakers and more information, visit

• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at or call at 523-2265.


  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback