A First Year in Review: Happy Birthday Talking Story!

As our first-year anniversary Ho‘olaule‘a (celebration) winds down this month, I’d like to offer you a look back at the Ho‘ohana themes we’ve explored. First, a short trek down memory lane, —except that it’s not short.

This post began to take on a life of its own, and evolved into a sort of flagstaff for Talking Story, so I’ll give you a heads up that it’s a long one, much longer than I originally intended. However I think that it will serve as a good reference point for many of you, particularly our newer subscribers. Here’s what follows:

The history of Talking Story and the Ho‘ohana „¢ Newsletter

Ho‘ohana: Value, Newsletter, Publishing Company, Chapter, Theme, Motto and Mantra

Archives and Sweet Anticipation; The Year to Come ” This part also could be called, Ask and Ye Shall Receive.

The history of Talking Story and the Ho‘ohana „¢ Newsletter

In July of 2003 I said goodbye to 34 years of working for other people and decided to go into business for myself. I created Say Leadership Coaching at the same time that I started writing Managing with Aloha, and I did both things from scratch: My corporate experience was a very rich foundation for both, however I hadn’t started either project while I was still employed. Today I coach people to work much more proactively than I did, creating their future while they still have the security of a steady paycheck. I teach them to listen, to pay attention, and to focus on making meaning at work every single day. I help them see a wider view of the learning opportunities open to them leading up to that magic (or unexpected) day they find they are on their own, but honestly, it didn’t happen that way for me.

So there I was at home on that July summer day, asking myself the questions, What next? Where do I begin? The answer was an easy one for me: I had to create a way to keep alive and well the professional network of relationships I had invested in over the years. I had to let people know that they were still part of my ‘Ohana, my human circle of aloha.

I wrote my first Ho‘ohana newsletter on September 4, 2003 sending it out via email.

Aloha kaua,

It may have been a while since you’ve heard from me, and I’d like to catch up with you.

July 1st of this year was my last working day as VP of Resort Operations at the Hualalai Resort.  Hualalai had given me over seven wonderful years, and over that time I would often pause to count my blessings being part of such a magnificent resort community.  However my time there also challenged me to stretch and grow, opening my mind to the many other possibilities that life can hold for you, and so I bid Hualalai aloha to begin a new chapter in my life.

Thus joyfully finding myself without the routine of a 40+ hour work week, the past two months have been devoted to my family.  I have experienced the huge rewards of the summer sabbatical, infused with early morning exercise, work to cleanse home and garden, some rejuvenating travel, and that uplift in spirit that only good connections with those you love can give you.  My dad once told me that “no job can love you back like your family can,” and this past summer has served to help me remember that, and make the emotional deposits I need to.

So what is ho‘ohana?  Hana is the Hawaiian word for work, and with ho‘ohana you are choosing to work with intent.  You are choosing to work with a personal mission in mind, and you choose to work with purpose.  Knowing I would eventually have to get back to work, ho‘ohana has become my theme as I explore the possibilities of self employment from here on in. 

I’ve always had a passion for the effort of work itself: it enlivens and moves you, and it feels fantastic to be creative and productive, to celebrate your talent, knowledge, and skill.  Those who know me well, know that I enjoyed being right in the thick of global decision-making in the corporate environment; I’ve thrived in the diversity of positions that I’ve had and was always happy to be part of an organization.  However those who know me very well, know that the common thread in all the jobs I’ve had has been my love of the management of people, particularly in coaching and training, in simply sharing my experiences and some advice on how to be a better leader.  I believe that to be a manager is to touch another’s life in a profound way, and those who call themselves managers must seek to bring honor, integrity, and nobility to the profession.

So my card below introduces my own new business venture to you.  At this point Say Leadership Coaching is a part-time management consultancy that will allow me to ho‘ohana — to work with intent and purpose when I do work — yet it will not be so intensively time-consuming for me that I cannot continue on this new journey of exploration I find myself on.  For example the simple pleasures of reading — voracious reading! — and writing are extremely satisfying for me these days.

I’ll be checking in with you now and then with more news.  Over these past years the very best gifts I’ve received from the corporate work world have been the relationships created with people, with you.  If you are receiving this, you were an important part of what happened in my life, you are still my blessing, and I am very grateful to you.

I sincerely hope this finds you at a time and place where you ho‘ohana as well, and you are happy. 

Aloha and a hui hou, Rosa

Not one link! Since then, my Ho‘ohana newsletter has been sent every month without fail. The early editions were more personal only in that my business was still in its infancy, but I never was concerned with making it “more professional” feeling it would just happen as my personal and professional life was getting so thoroughly blended anyway. That’s what naturally happens when you become self employed; you forge a new identity that is part of both things (i.e. personal and professional) and there are hardly any differences.

With each newsletter I’d learn new things on the technical side about the limitations of email and I began to learn about permission marketing. As my subjects zeroed in on management and I started to cull reading recommendations from the net, I began to get emails from strangers asking me to add them to my distribution list; Ho‘ohana was getting forwarded by those I knew to those I didn’t, and the Ho‘ohana Community was born.

As the summer of 2004 approached, I had begun to use a new email editor, however I knew email alone would no longer suffice; the Ho‘ohana Newsletter somehow had to “get published.” For a few months Ho‘ohana „¢ appeared on my static website, however it still wasn’t interactive or dynamic enough for me, for us. I’d begun to read and comment on blogs, and it soon became apparent to me that a blogging platform would be the perfect place to publish an even better edition. Thus that became the very first goal for Talking Story; to be the online home for both the monthly Ho‘ohana Newsletter and the Ho‘ohana Community. It’s worked magnificently well ever since. We began to take online subscriptions, and circulation has ballooned as the Ho‘ohana Community reaches out to all who aspire to be better managers, better leaders, and better learners.

Ho‘ohana: Value, Newsletter, Publishing Company, Chapter, Theme, Motto and Mantra

To borrow from Tom’s Startup Garden metaphor for a moment, where Aloha is our very fertile ground, giving us our sense of place, Ho‘ohana is our rootstock, the mother plant of our entire value garden. I’ve tried to keep everything I now call Ho‘ohana as streamlined as possible for you, but I do realize it can still get confusing. So let’s take a comprehensive look at it here, and I’ll give you some links you may not have taken before.

First and foremost, Ho‘ohana is the Hawaiian value of worthwhile work:


Working with intent and with purpose.

Work can and should be a time where you are working to bring meaning, fulfillment and fun to the life you lead.

Ho‘ohana.  Work with intent, work with purpose.

Managers do this for themselves, and they do this for those they manage.

When managers pair employees with meaningful and worthwhile work that is satisfying for them, they will find these employees work with true intention, in sync with the goals of the business.

Be one of those managers.

Hana is the Hawaiian word for work. Ho‘o is not a word on its own, but a prefix that brings active causation and transition to the Hawaiian base words that follow it. Therefore, the word Ho‘ohana defines a value in which you work with resolve, focus and determination. You are choosing to work with intent. You are choosing to work with a personal mission in mind.

This is the beginning of Chapter 2 in Managing with Aloha: you can read the entire chapter here in this excerpt. A shorter definition of Ho‘ohana is found here on www.ManagingWithAloha.com

In short, my personal mission is to have this ring true for managers throughout workplaces everywhere. Thus Ho‘ohana became a personal mantra for me as a management coach, and it is the motto of Say Leadership Coaching:

Ho‘ohana with us: Our passion is managing with Aloha.

I’d written another post about this back in October of last year in response to a question I got from a new reader back then: “How did Ho‘ohana get to be your mantra?”

As we’ve spoken of here, Ho‘ohana „¢ is now trademarked as the name of the monthly newsletter of my company, Say Leadership Coaching. Ho‘ohana Publishing is the name of another division of SLC, which takes care of all of our associated publishing rights both for the Ho‘ohana Newsletter, and for Managing with Aloha ©.

Archives and Sweet Anticipation; The Year to Come

Today, the Ho‘ohana theme I publish on the first day of each month is our fire-starter, a theme to ignite our learning initiatives and get our creative juices flowing, as kākou, (together and inclusively) we all strive to bring more nobility to management as a profession, to make our work as managers truly worthwhile for us, and to help us build better workplaces.

We still have a lot to do.

As we look at our second year ahead, please let me know what themes you’d like to have me write about, for the very best thing about Talking Story today is that it isn’t just about me. Perhaps the most rewarding thing for me about Talking Story now is watching conversations between members of the Ho‘ohana Community unfold here and on other HOC blogs. Remember that we have become the Ho‘ohana Community; when you think of the other people you have met here on Talking Story, what kind of conversations would you like to have with them? What are the things you’d like to hear their views on? What learning do you want to draw from when they share their own experiences?

So finally, here is another look at the archives of the past year: Perhaps they will give you some ideas. I’ll be waiting to hear from you!

Oct 04 Recruitment and Retention. This was the first edition of Ho‘ohana published on Talking Story
(from Nov 03 to Sept 04 it appeared on SayLeadershipCoaching.com) and the focus started close to home in Hawaii, where virtually zero unemployment has made these labor issue of recruitment and retention critical for us. It still is this way today; business owners and managers in the islands have had to completely open their thinking.

Nov 04 The Hawaiian Value of Koa: Courage. In November I was inspired by an issue of Fast Company Magazine devoted to Courage two months before. Our talk story was terrific this month; all about bravery, resolution, belief, conviction, and emotional strength. November was also the red-letter month that Managing with Aloha was published.

Dec 04 Change. This was the first time I chose a Ho‘ohana theme purely because of a readers’ request; and it was a great suggestion. We did speak of organizational change in December, but it was a short month due to my annual Ho‘omaha (holiday hiatus) and I know we have barely scratched the surface with this. We introduced the Daily Five Minutes in December: it’s still the best way to deal with organizational change that I know of.

Jan 05 Day and Time for the Ho‘ohana Community. After barely four months online, Talking Story had taken my previous notions of “community” and reframed them into something absolutely, positively, wonderfully perspective changing. For me, January was Talking Story’s crucible. This was the first month I began to write end-of-month recaps, finding that our Ho‘ohana themes were beginning to branch out in unexpected ways, with all the goodness needing some capture: January Recap.

Feb 05 A Love Affair with Books. This was one of my favorite Ho‘ohana themes, so much so that February will now mark an Annual Reading Event for Talking Story. February was the first time we put together a forum of sorts for the HOC, with this Library of Book Reviews as the stellar result. February Recap.

Mar 05 Visible Reinvention in Action. You could very rightly call this one the 7-Month Itch: you came along for the ride with me as I totally converted my online presence with new releases for www.SayLeadershipCoaching.com and www.ManagingWithAloha.com. In addition, we had truly exceptional writing and a generous sharing of ideas from our Ho’ohana Online Community, Calling for a Reinvention in Business. This forum is still much linked to throughout the blogosphere. March Recap.

Apr 05 Bottom-Line Aloha and the Art of the Sale. Count me among those who when pressed with the fundamentals of it will say, “I hate to sell.” This month you all helped me get over that hump, huge for anyone wanting to be successful in business. Thank you so much: As happens so frequently on Talking Story, ho‘ohana—working with intent—became literal and personal for me with this theme. April Recap.

May 05 May Day Gifts of Aloha. I loved watching what happened among the Ho‘ohana Online Community in May; this became a month of gift giving with 21 Leis of Aloha as just one online result. Behind these articles an explosion of our Ho‘ohana Community began to happen: if this was what aloha meant, more people wanted it, and we welcomed them all. May Recap.

June 05 ‘ÅŒpala ‘ole, Banishing Clutter. Wow, what an adventure June became! This one truly spun into a life of it’s own, landing squarely in the personal productivity playgrounds of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits and David Allen’s Getting Things Done. This journey is one that is far from over. June Recap.

July 05 Here’s to good health. June’s adventure opened our thinking to better goal-setting, and we realized that our health is the ultimate reality check for us. When you or a loved one are in poor health, every other priority in the world pales in comparison. July also marked the month that my manifesto, Managing with Aloha, You Can Too! was made available on ChangeThis.com. July Recap.

August 05 Ho‘olaule‘a; Celebration! Tom Ehrenfeld, business journalist and author of The Startup Garden has been my co-conspirator this month, as we explore more of what the entrepreneurial mindset can be for you. August Recap —Tomorrow after the Contest!


  1. says

    Rosa – It is amazing how time flies, doesn’t it? You have accomplished so much and offer great wisdom with flare. You are a true original! Congratualtions!

  2. says

    Thank you Lisa, and thank you for being part of the Ho’ohana Community. It has been an extraordinary year for us; as I wrote this earlier today I felt so great counting the blessings. Aloha e, Rosa