What’s in the Aloha name? What’s in your name?

2010 Update: I made the decision to bring Say “Alaka‘i” here to Talking Story in late May of 2010 when the Honolulu Advertiser, where the blog previously appeared, was merged with the Star Bulletin (Read more at Say “Alaka‘i” is Returning to the Mothership).

Therefore, the post appearing below is a copy of the one which had originally appeared there on November 30, 2008, so we will be able to reference it in the future when the original url it had been published on is no more…


What’s in the Aloha name? What’s in your name?

As promised, Sundays here will be about your questions and comments. From an email you had sent me (a couple actually, thus a grouping of them into a single sentence):

“Rosa, you have shared your feelings about the end to Aloha Airlines passenger service before, and I am wondering; how do you feel about the prospect of go! Airlines now flying under the Aloha name?”

In a single sentence, I don’t understand why they would want to.

Then again, if it means they aspire to live, work, manage and lead honoring the name ‘Aloha’ as the rootstock value of our islands’ heritage, culture, and sense of place, I’m all for it.

Will that happen?
Aloha is quite a name to live up to, and I have VERY high expectations of any company who brands themselves with what I consider to be the universal value of unconditional love and acceptance:

“Every single day, somewhere in the world, Aloha comes to life. As it lives and breathes within us, it defines the epitome of sincere, gracious, and intuitively perfect customer service given from one person to another.”
This genuine connection is the Aloha Spirit Hawai‘i is known for.
Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawai‘i’s Universal Values to the Art of Business

Sense of Place Responsibility

It’s not just go! Airlines who gives me pause. I will return to the question specifically about go! in a moment, however this is a business case study that all leaders could be learning from. It is one I am hoping will have all leaders asking themselves, “Do we live up to our company name every single day, and in every possible way?”

Take a look in the phone book and you will see that Aloha is being used as a name for dozens of local businesses. On the Big Island alone (the phone book I happened to grab) there are two full pages of listings, including Aloha Auto Glass, Aloha Lighting & Design, Aloha Coast Realty LLC, Aloha Fence Co., Aloha Driving Academy, Aloha Plus Storage & Packaging, and how about this one to really drive the point home: Aloha Hawaiian Connection Services.

My question for each and every one of them is this: Does YOUR name represent the values you stand for as a business, and as a company with the ‘sense of place responsibility’ to the Hawai‘i community as the place where you conduct your business?

All businesses have a basic responsibility to the community in which they operate: It is a responsibility with upholding the values that community considers sacred. To fulfill this responsibility (i.e. their Kuleana), they must first understand their Sense of Place, best defined I think, by Dr. George Kanahele as “The feel FOR a place, and the feel OF a place.”

Place nurtures and sustains us; it shapes our experiences and lends cultural richness to life. Place cradles the basic value set of all who are the stakeholders of a business: employees and partners, vendors and suppliers, stockholders and financiers, customers and industry competitors. There is no greater example of this in Hawai‘i than our value of Aloha; talk about a “value the community considers sacred.”

Think of everything you consider to be involved with “working in my neighborhood.” Sense of Place is about greater community locally and connectivity globally. It is saying thank you, and engaging at a higher level with those people and places which have gotten you this far, and continue to nourish you daily in a multitude of tiny ways that collectively are absolutely HUGE factors in your success. It is giving back.

Why is this so important? Because a business without a community is like a fish without water; it cannot survive.

Therefore, if a business is to promote culturally-sensitive work process and practice, they must live it, operating their business by managing with Aloha, as the hallmark value of our Hawai‘i culture —and exponentially so if they work with Aloha as their brand name. I feel it then their responsibility to bring a Hawaiian awareness and sensibility to all they do, for not only do they conduct their business within the communities of Hawai‘i, day-by-day they work and live within her ‘Ohana, boldly claiming to represent our values on our behalf.

So back to those emails you’d sent me. My first question becomes about the intentions that go! Airlines has with their proposition to assume the Aloha name.

The go! Case Study

I presently see this recent go! proposal as an idea in testing, with the media an eager and willing participant: go! is testing the market perceptions of their idea before they make a leadership decision on if they will run with it, or ‘nobly’ let it die. (I have nobly in quotes because I am being sarcastic; I see nobility differently.)

For those who are new to me and my writing, this article will give you my feelings on the events concerning Aloha Airlines this past March: Working Beyond Their Means. I suspect it is the “before” those who’d written to me were referring to. I had also mentioned Molokai Ranch in my article, and this is the gist of what I had written there:

“While the two stories differ quite a bit, both have something in common: Business models that just didn’t work. As I see it, [continuing to operate with] broken business models are about as irresponsible and unethical as being in business can get.”
Working Beyond Their Means

Let me say that I have not yet studied up on all the different aspects of this latest chapter in the go! Airlines story. Further, I have never flown with go! or with Mesa Airlines, and have no first-hand experience with if or how their values do play out in the customer service they deliver, and I have not had the opportunity of engaging with them or any of their employees. That said, my feelings are these:

  • Best case scenario, I see their proposition to assume the Aloha Airlines name, as a leadership idea now in testing; they are still within their decision-making process with what amounts to a hefty “What if?” kind of question. After you make a decision, you have to manage its consequences, projecting what they will be.
  • I started by saying that I don’t understand why they would want to even consider it, because from my very limited standpoint (i.e. not knowing all the facts involved) there are far more items in the ‘con’ column than the ‘pro’ column. As substantial as it is, I largely see the past baggage which comes with the Aloha Airlines name as paling in comparison to the new story they would have to write for themselves in fulfilling the value of Aloha: Remember too, that they already have a go! history that their existing staff and other stakeholders now subscribe to: Why do they want to discard that and essentially start over?
  • I don’t think most of my feelings about their brash presumptuousness with seizing Aloha as a name are that much different from most of Hawai‘i; and like you reading, we are their potential customers. Our perceptions are their reality and they will have to deal with them, ultimately getting us to buy from them. That’s a tall order, with cheap fares an incomplete delivery answer at best.
  • Therefore, I can’t help suspecting the whole thing is a publicity stunt in that old promotional belief (that should die) that “any publicity is good publicity. It is good to be controversial every so often to keep people aware of you.” I hope I’m wrong, for I hate thinking that people believe that when there are so many other better ways to promote your brand.

Let’s bring this back to you.

As far as Say “Alaka‘i” is concerned, this latest development is a great case study for understanding our management and leadership definitions, talking about how they apply, and having the value-based conversations which go with those scenarios.

go! Airlines has given all managers in Hawai‘i a fantastic meeting agenda.

Regardless of the business you are in, I encourage all managers and leaders to bring it up in their staff meetings as a great talk-story to have and to learn from. Ask questions, and listen to what your staff has to say. Like this:

  1. I know you have all heard about go! Airlines proposing to operate under the Aloha name, what do you think about that?
  2. What values and expectations do you think our customer associates with our name?
  3. What values and expectations do you think your families and friends in the community associate with our name?
  4. Are those expectations easy for you to live up to each day working here?
  5. Is our name our brand? What is the difference?

And then, all your notes taken, spend the rest of your time on this statement and question:

Statement: Those people are all very important to us, and their perceptions are our reality.
Question: What should we be doing about this?

Postscript: You can find the news story by The Honolulu Advertiser here:
Aloha Airlines name may return to Hawaii skies in Mesa deal.
Lawsuit settlement allows go! to assume name of iconic airline

by Advertiser Staff writer Andrew Gomes

Farmer’s Market Flowers

Continuing to upload some pictures I took at the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market held at Kapi‘olani Community College on O‘ahu, and this was definitely a visit where the flowers got more camera time than the food did.

Red Ginger $5.75

Scout Orchid

Back to Back Orchids

Bunched in harmony

You can see the entire photo set here: KCC Farmer’s Market.

November 2008: Our final weekend

Just posted my November Mahalo to the good people of Joyful Jubilant Learning; click over!

It starts like this:

I don't know about you, but this is one of my favorite weekends of the entire year.

From an admittedly American point of view, I think our forefathers
were brilliant in choosing the last Thursday of each November for Thanksgiving, creating a 4-day weekend for us to stuff ourselves with fabulous food (think nutrition, not diet) and with appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness (think emotional and spiritual well-being).


So if you are online right now, and not doing something more relaxing with your weekend as this guy is, visit JJL for my suggestions, AND for a sneak peek at what our December theme will be all about.

Here is the link again: November 2008: Our final weekend.

Our Thanksgiving Day Management Mahalo

2010 Update: I made the decision to bring Say “Alaka‘i” here to Talking Story in late May of 2010 when the Honolulu Advertiser, where the blog previously appeared, was merged with the Star Bulletin (Read more at Say “Alaka‘i” is Returning to the Mothership).

Therefore, the post appearing below is a copy of the one which had originally appeared there on November 27, 2008, so we will be able to reference it in the future when the original url it had been published on is no more…


Our Thanksgiving Day Management Mahalo

It could not be any more perfect than this: My first post here intended to begin populating the category we will call “Alaka‘i Management” is on Thanksgiving Day. Wonderful!

I made this statement a few posts back:

My Mana‘o (what I believe to be true)
I believe that great leadership creates positive energy, and that great management channels that energy into the best possible results, delivering healthy, meaningful and fulfilling work to people in the process.

Then I explained that one of my reasons for writing Say “Alaka‘i,” is that I want to help you learn more about the rewards both managing and leading deliver: I believe we need more management and leadership, and not less.

So let’s make this about YOU today, and about the people who are YOUR rewards.

What do you appreciate? Who are you grateful for?

If someone else considers you to be their manager in any way, this is a day to ask yourself if your delivery of “healthy, meaningful and fulfilling work” is being made in matters large and small; baby steps and big shifts.

No workplace is perfect, but today, reflect on anything and everything which is going right and not what might be going wrong —we’ll deal with that another time.

Today, think about what is good and right, and why. Think about what you are grateful for, and then think about the people who help you make work happen in wonderful ways. Think about WHO you are grateful for.

It could be they show up with complete dependability.
It could be they are responsibility-driven, meticulous and thorough.
It could be they listen well, intently even, asking questions.
It could be they smile constantly, and laugh easily.
It could be they volunteer their ideas, and quite courageously.
It could be they are resilient and patient, and don’t get discouraged easily.
It could be they are tenacious, and try harder when a mistake trips them up the first time.
It could be they are insatiably curious, seeking to learn and improve continually.
It could be they are great ambassadors, speaking well of everyone in your company, and everything about it.
It could be they have no entitlement mentality whatsoever; frankly, they earn their keep.
It could be they respect the customer and consistently treat them like royalty.
It could be they believe in you, and trust you. They put their faith in you.

I could add dozens more “it could be” possibilities to my list, but what is on yours? Your work is probably different than mine in significant ways: What are the characteristics of good work done in great ways that you genuinely are thankful for?

Then, ask yourself this question:

“When did I last say thank you to those who do even one of these things for me, where they knew the words weren’t just polite, but I really meant it?”

We managers need to sincerely say “thank you” often. Speak of your appreciation and it will soften the tone of your voice, giving it richness, yet humility and integrity.

People need to hear it from you: Say, “Mahalo nui loa,” and add why you are saying it. What happened? What did you notice? What blew you away with how fantastic it was, how creative it turned out to be, or how perfectly timed?

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for Management Mahalo Day.

Beyond a beautifully compact word for “thank you,” Mahalo is the value of appreciation, of gratitude, and of thankfulness.

Mahalo means “thank you” and as a value Mahalo is appreciation and gratitude as a way of living. We live in thankfulness for the richness that makes life so precious at work and at home. Mahalo is the opposite of indifference and apathy, for it is the life perspective of giving thanks for what you have by using your gifts — and all of your gifts — in the best possible way.
About Mahalo at Managing with Aloha

Living Mahalo is a life of living within awareness of our gifts. We relish those gifts. We celebrate them joyously. Mahalo is the value that gives us an attitude of gratitude, and the pleasure of awe and wonder.

When you are a manager, you get your best work done through other people; it’s as simple as that. Great management is about optimizing resources, and there may be no truer statement than that “our people are our greatest asset.” Any gratuitous lip service that statement ever gets is horribly unfortunate. It IS true as humanity-guaranteed potential; great managers who matter in a workplace make it a true statement in everyday occurrence.

This is a day to ask yourself just how true a statement “our people are our greatest asset” is in the way people feel about working together. Are they thankful they are able to work with you? Are they thankful for your company? Do they enjoy a sense of gratitude for each other while in your workplace? Do they feel their work is valued and appreciated?

Help me fill up these comment boxes today!

So let’s say a Thanksgiving Day Mahalo, shall we?

There are a lot of great relationships out there in our Hawai‘i nei, and beyond to wherever the internet helps us reach: There are working relationships where managers are immensely grateful for those who work with them, and where people are just as grateful for the person they are able to call their manager. Are you in one of those working relationships? Will you let us know about it?

Today, let’s use the comments of Say “Alaka‘i” to say mahalo to each other: How great would that be if your manager’s name shows up here, or if yours does!

Who are you thanking, and why do you appreciate what they do for you, or with you? Write them a note and let them know; for as I asked before; When did you last say mahalo to someone, and really mean it?

Now remember: Please don’t just go through the motions. People feel we mean it when they feel they have earned it. They did something good; something worth your noticing; something they understand to be valuable to you. You didn’t say “mahalo” or “thank you” just to say it, or because they had a turn come up, or to make yourself look like the bigger person; they caused your gratitude to happen.

Gratitude never disappoints. Gratitude graces; it can change everything.

Mahalo nui loa; thank you to all of you who now read Say “Alaka‘i.”

You make my work of writing here joyful; for you give me my hope and positive expectancy that these good works of management and leadership I call service disciplines are fully worth all the attention I give them. You make this worth every moment I invest in my own work; I write knowing you are there, and that we are in some way connected.

Me ke aloha e Thanksgiving maika‘i nui,
~ Rosa Say

First time here? You may want to visit, What is Say “Alaka‘i” all about?

Believe in the Magic

Believe in the magic of gratitude: Gratitude never disappoints. Gratitude graces; it can change everything.

Who would you like to say “Thank you” to?