Having lived in some of the most celebrated places on the planet, Lynette has created a lifestyle enriched with the cultures surrounding her. An avid supporter of local artists and organizations, her lifestyle encompasses a business style founded in promoting sustainable growth, while being at home in the world.


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the Art of the Village

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

-Audrey Hepburn

“It takes a Village.” While many of us have heard this proverb at some point in our life, this particular ideal became reality when I moved to Guam.

When I first joined DFS in 1994, Guam and Saipan were two of the places I visited. These two small islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean were full of unique character with a fascinating blend of history and culture. My journey came full circle with the opportunity to actually live in Guam and Saipan 20 years later.

Guam and Saipan are two of the original islands that helped create the foundation of DFS Group. Today, DFS Group is a US $4BN Luxury Travel retailer headquartered in Hong Kong. As the founders of Duty Free Shoppers expanded business throughout the Pacific Rim, Guam and Saipan, were key to capture the emerging Japanese tourism market, which had just started to travel. For the long-term employees of DFS Group, these two heritage locations are respected for their critical role in creating the future success of DFS Group, as we know it today.

When I moved to Guam and Saipan, I acquired 700 new family members overnight. I quickly realized these 700 DFS employees were somehow related to everyone else on both islands. My newly extended family was actually an entire village spanning across two islands. As an only child growing up with a small family in Minnesota, I considered this a fascinating accomplishment.

Everything is easier when you have a village community. There is an extended network of friends and family at your fingertips. People help each other and have fun together. People work together to create a successful business while serving each other, celebrating what you are creating, while determining how you can improve the quality of life for everyone. Any problem you have becomes everyone’s problem, and it will promptly and collectively be solved.

Sustainable growth was the foundation of our village community. When you are a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, your families depend on it. Tourism brings visitors from Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, to both islands, and the collective community focuses on creating demand for others to keep visiting. My appreciation for sustainable growth has grown over the span of my entire career, but it is here, in Guam and Saipan, where I thought about it every day.

When you are tasked with creating sustainable growth for a village community, that has become your family, it is personal. When your personal and professional interests intersect and become a collective priority, it changes everything. It broadens your perception of what you do, and it broadens your perspective of what you can achieve. It creates a balance with the goals you intend to achieve and the sustainability of how you intend to achieve them.

The culture of Guam reflects rich traditional Chamorro customs along with strong Spanish influences and other American, European, Asian, and Micronesian visitor influences. The community of Guam is a wonderfully diverse blend of Chamorro, Filipino, American, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Micronesian islanders. (Including, four Minnesotans at the time of my arrival with our Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo also proudly growing up in Minnesota.)

The blend of all of these cultural influences is expertly captured in the unique Pacific Rim food. One of the true “Arts of the Village.” Key staples in the menu include: Red rice, barbequed chicken, pancit (Filipino style noodles), kelaguen (chopped barbecue chicken or shrimp, fresh grated coconut, peppers, onion, lime juice), finadene (a sauce made with soy, garlic, lime juice, peppers, vinegar, onions), and dinanche. Homemade dinanche is my favorite Chamorro accompaniment: a unique blend of peppers, coconut milk, onions, garlic, lime juice, and a variety of family ingredients.

The signature gathering of the Village is the Fiesta or Barbecue, where skilled grill masters and family chefs come together to create the ultimate feast. Family recipes are handed down over generations and a variety of fresh island ingredients are blended together into an art. Each family dish is uniquely theirs, so the gathering of everyone’s dishes together is a delightful array of flavors to experience. It’s a privilege to attend the many Fiestas and Barbecues that encompass the island as families and friends celebrate together throughout the year.

My first BBQ at my home, hosting 50 team members, was a true Fiesta. This is where the “Art of the Village” excels to the benefit of all. It starts by humbly accepting offers from everyone to bring their favorite family dish, and everyone also coordinates to ensure the menu is covered. Next, you invite the master griller who will expertly craft the best grill menu and incorporate all of his secret sauces. He will, in turn, invite several other master grillers who will capably handle the preparation and execution of the grills.

In my case, it was capably handled by the entire DFS softball team who promptly caravanned over to my home after their softball game in a series of capable trucks. Traditional seasoned metal barrels and wire grates were unloaded, along with several coolers. Next, cars upon cars of friends arrived with an exceptional variety of homemade family dishes. This is when I exhaled a sigh of relief and took my cue to relax and enjoy the “Art of the Village.” It’s also when I learned my role was to simply supply the cold beer and refreshments.

Guam and Saipan is where I felt at home from day one. In some ways, before I arrived. There is overwhelming comfort in being embraced by the “Art of the Village.”

Guam is where I appreciated the importance of promoting sustainable growth while serving others. This will forever influence everything I do.

Guam is where I experienced the most exceptional sunsets and the most incredible Barbecue I have ever tasted. Better than anywhere else in the world. The “Art of the Village” at its best.