Looking for me? I’m Springing into Summer

Aloha Kākou my friends,

Starting with this final day of April, I will be joyfully leaping into my palena ‘ole plans for the Summer of 2009, and they will be keeping me offline for a while. Remember palena ‘ole? It means ‘no limits.’

The next few weeks contain significant milestones for the Say ‘Ohana; both of my children will be graduating from college. I am thrilled beyond what words can describe, excited for them and for the Mālamalama transitions awaiting our family.

Get set...

At first, I was going to take a ‘normal’ and modest two week vacation, but the current economic climate and subsequent lessening of my business demands have contributed to my decision with “going for it” in a bigger and braver, “Oh, why not?” kind of way. We will Ho‘o. I am going to give my complete and enthusiastic attentions to my family, and take an extended, into-the-Summer hiatus from my businesses and my online life, both Rosa-drivers which have grown to a pretty significant size and rhythm in my current Ho‘ohana.

To start, I will be completely offline from April 30th through May 23rd with the only exception being photo uploading and possibly travel blogging to my Flickr account. This includes turning off my email (yep, really!) with an auto-response message that will direct people here to Talking Story for my next update, as it is highly likely my return date could be pushed into June or even later. If you email me, this is what you will get back:

Aloha, thank you for writing to me!
I am on an email break while on vacation with my family, and my plans include an extended business hiatus. Your message will be saved for me to read, and I will periodically check in for any urgencies, however since several weeks may have passed before I return and re-engage, please know that my approach when easing back into connectivity will be responding to messages which are most recent versus oldest.

My return date is indefinite as of this writing, likely to be near the end of May or early June: Watch for my next update on my Talking Story blog. The link is below my signature, and you can subscribe there for an email alert versus needing to check back repeatedly. I send you my warmest Aloha, and I hope you can take advantage of my Ma‘alahi and Mālama time for your own sense of Nānā i ke kumu as well. Your self-care is the gift of a better you given to others each time you are with them.

Doesn’t that sound like a great idea, one you could adopt for a mini email break this summer?

Please don’t say you can’t until you give it a try! Palena ole” no limits” Who says you can’t do that? Imagine the brand new habits YOU could create if you set your mind to doing so” you could Color Outside Your Lines, or get all that reading done you’ve promised yourself you would do. That life? It’s all yours! Do you see the abundance?

Yes, I am already having fun with this! Do you get my not-that-subtle linky message that this is a time you can pull the doing trigger with all we have talked about recently? You are alive for a reason.

And on May 24th?

Since I am pulling my ‘disconnectivity trigger,’ I will also be taking advantage of the summer to ease back online small bites at a time. I want to make progress with a few other projects as well, efforts which I have tabled for much too long now but remain committed to. The last time I took a similar hiatus, Managing with Aloha was written and published, so you never know what can happen when you change it up!

This will be the place to watch for my next update:
If you engage with me elsewhere on the web, you will see that all virtual roads will soon have updates leading to this message on Talking Story, with the exception of Joyful Jubilant Learning, where the learning never stops, and our Ho‘ohana Community of lifelong learners repeatedly prove how well they do without me! I am so, so proud of them. If all I do online has always been too much for you to track, take advantage of my quiet time this Summer to go meet everyone there; they love talking story too, and they do it in such a welcoming, inclusive and collaborative way.


“Movement happens when people talk to one another, when ideas
spread within the community, and most of all, when peer support leads
people to do what they always knew was the right thing. Great leaders
create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate. They establish
the foundation for people to make connections.”

— Seth Godin in Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

So my friends, Ho‘o! Create some movement while I am away!

Live, work, manage and lead with your Aloha, and I will connect with you again soon. I expect these weeks to fly by as they are apt to do, so savor yours as well.

Mahalo nui, and enjoy your own springing into summer!


~ Rosa Say

Comments will be turned off while I am away, however this is a good time to check out the archives! If you are reading this via email or RSS, click in and cruise through the navigational links on both sidebars.

For my future articles, subscribe to Talking Story, and join the discussions held by the Ho‘ohana Community of the Managing with Aloha ‘Ohana in Business.
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Talking Story with Say Leadership Coaching

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Be a Deskless Manager: Ho‘o!

~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” April 2009 ~
Be a Deskless Manager: Ho‘o!

My business has not quite reached that five-year mark, yet so much has changed since I was last in corporate life, one of many managers in a large organizational culture. I will often think about what I would do differently today if I still had any of my old managerial jobs. In short, a lot. I think ”“ no, I am sure ”“ I would do a lot differently.

Technology offers up a readily apparent reason, but the biggest one is my sequential and consequential learning. We learn, flex, and adapt.

However when I visit today’s workplaces, I am often quite surprised at how little things actually have changed for many managers, especially those who have worked in certain companies or industries for a long time. They’ve been cocooned, often in rather incestuously narrow and shallow ways. They’ve plugged away day in and day out while switched on automatic pilot, doing a whole host of things the way they have always done them. There hasn’t been any seismic shift big enough to shake them loose from their habits.

You Need to Buy Low and Sell High, Stanley!

For me, the switch to self-employment was a significant catalyst, a crucible, and now, I’m finding that the current economic recession is shaping up to be another one. Our habits change dramatically in crucible moments: The shift which occurs all around us will cause us to shake ourselves out of a lot of different assumptions we’d been cocooning ourselves within. We try new things that we might never have tried before, and that’s a good thing. We learn, and we grow.

Yet when I see others who are stagnant, and who haven’t grown, I do wonder if we’ve gotten conditioned over the past few years in our reactivity: We’ve had big things happen in our lifetimes, and we’ve gotten steely in our resistance and resilience. We are less move-able.

I think this recession is big, but is it big enough? Is it as big in our consciousness as it should be, or as it could be? Are we allowing it to usher in the changes we should open our arms wider to? Are we allowing enough movement?

Is this recession seismic enough for you?

If you are an Alaka‘i manager or leader, the answer should be, “Yes, I am making sure that it is. I am moving.”

My favorite Hawaiian coaching word is a very short one: Ho‘o. We hear it more as a prefix to other Hawaiian words, as it turns nouns into verbs. By itself, ho‘o means to make something happen. Ho‘ohana: Work on purpose, and with intention. Ho‘ohanohano: Bring dignity and respect to your actions. Ho‘okipa: Give unconditional hospitality, and serve. Ho‘oponopono: Make things right, bring them to balance.

Well managers, I’m thinking we need to Ho‘o this recession: If you aren’t deliberately welcoming it as a shift which can pave the way to intentional change for you, why not?

Sure, this recessionary economy is painful in a lot of different ways, but are you optimizing it? Are you capitalizing on all the silver linings which are appearing? Are you discarding old habits now, because they are being revealed, and because you finally can do so?

Ho‘o! Move it! Make something happen that otherwise might not change!

Let’s see” what very practical example can I give you” oooh, I know!

I Believe You Have My Red Swingline Stapler

Managers, get rid of your desk

In this day and age of the digitally savvy workplace, do you really need one?

And just imagine: What kind of domino effect would it create with your work, and your working style, if you no longer had a desk? How many conversations would you have with people instead of with paper?

If any of my old bosses read this, they will laugh out loud, for I used to be one of those managers who had quite the command center designed into my office. Space was always at a premium, and I learned how to do without an office (and an office door), but not without a desk or workstation of some kind: It was my landing pad, my perch, my return to ground zero. It was my sacred place for just me. And yet” not good.

It wasn’t good then (yes, I do hear those bosses laughing at me”) and it isn’t good now. The things we managers really need happening in the work we do will not happen at our desks. I know it, you know it. We managers are supposed to be with our teams, not with our desks.

So get rid of it. I haven’t had a desk since I left the Hualalai Resort in 2003, and in that time I’ve written a book, thousands of blog posts and freelance articles, I’ve created three different business entities and more than a dozen websites, and I’ve coached hundreds of managers in the same ways I encourage you to coach those who are on your team.

I will admit to you that I have tried to have a desk and an office, but my best work has gotten done when I didn’t, and so I gave up with my time-wasting tweaking trying to make them work. My ‘desk’ today is my laptop and my cell phone, with the convenience of any table which happens to be nearby and available. I don’t even have an iPhone or blackberry; I don’t care for gadgets and I don’t need them

“The ‘paperless office’? It’ll never happen in my lifetime.
The ‘deskless office’? Give me a year.”
Robin Sharma, CEO of Sharma Leadership International

And I’ll bet you don’t need a desk either. A‘ole: Do without it.

I once had the same objections you might have right now. Going desk-less is one of those things you just have to try.

Brave enough to try it? You will be amazed at what happens. Ho‘ohana: Make better work happen because you are within your relationships instead of with a piece of furniture.

If the very suggestion is traumatic for you, you needn’t purge your desk right away and cart it out to the curb just yet. Try it for a couple of weeks as a pilot program: Just walk away from it and let it be without you too. Don’t walk back other than to retrieve whatever you might find you’ve left there and still need, but don’t sit there ”“ not at all. Not even during your so-called non-working hours.

Be Alaka‘i.
Lead in the effort, and get the other managers where you work to follow your initiative and good example. Do this together as a team.

Oh, this could be so much fun for you! Let me know how it goes, would you?

Let’s talk story.
Any thoughts to share? Comment here, or via the tweet-conversation we have on Twitter @sayalakai.

Photo credits: “You Need to Buy Low and Sell High, Stanley!” and “I Believe You Have My Red Swingline Stapler” both by foundphotoslj on Flickr

For more articles similar to this one, subscribe to Talking Story, and join the discussions held by the Ho‘ohana Community of the Managing with Aloha ‘Ohana in Business.
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Our RFL Recall: Are you Remembering or Learning?

Rapid Fire Learning (RFL) is our monthly stream-of-consciousness exercise at Joyful Jubilant Learning: We do it on the 25th of each month (2010 Update: RFL is now here on Talking Story the last weekend of every month). Very simple thing, and pretty easy for people who think of themselves as lifelong learners (is the value of ‘Ike loa a biggie with you?).

To practice RFL: Grab a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, and make a list of 5 things you learned during the current month.

If you get stalled at all, just think of 5 things which happened in the month (paid my income taxes, fooled around with watercolor, planted veggie seedlings in the garden, or whatever you did) and then ask yourself: What did I learn while I did each of those things? or perhaps, “Who was I with, and did they make any difference this time?”

You will soon think of learning as a process, with the subject matter simply being the trigger.

For example:

  • Income Taxes: I learned that “old school” Excel spreadsheets work way better for me at this point in time than QuickBooks does. My financial trends “pop up” very apparently versus being hidden in computing formulas done automatically in the software. A year later, I learned that the best way for me to update the Chart of Accounts my Excel spreadsheet is based on, is to use the new checklist my CPA will distribute each year, for within it he captures all the changes I need to be aware of in the IRS tax laws.
  • Watercolor: I learned that I might have an instinctual feeling for movement with color, something I was totally unaware of before. When the art seems to move I like it, and when it is stagnant, I am dissatisfied and frustrated.
  • Veggies: I learned that cherry tomatoes have very little chance of surviving the wild turkeys in our neighborhood unless I come up with a better caging system protecting them. Green or ripe, they all get eaten by those feathered raiders! Another month, I learned that cantaloupes look like play-fetch balls to our neighbor’s dog: See a picture here.

Very different from the learning we got graded in when we were back in school…

Rapid Fire Learning is one of those “bloggy things” which has fortuitously found its way into my management and leadership coaching too, for we learn much more spontaneously than we think we do: It is a crucial skill that we can all benefit from sharpening our awareness of. Coaching my managers in RFL can reap some fabulous breakthrough moments, whether they participate with the community at Joyful Jubilant Learning or do it within their own work teams. It is also terrific in the coaching of better follow-up habits: Now that you have learned those things, what will you do with them, or about them? Where will continuity and better productivity rhythm happen for you?

At first, we all have the tendency to question our spontaneity with learning recall. As we come up with our lists, the cynic or inner critic in us will ask: “Was this something I learned, or something I already knew and just happened to remember?” And worse, we lessen their gravity, thinking, “This is not such a big deal.”

Oh, but it is a big deal! If we aren’t going to learn, we aren’t going to grow.

My encouragement to you is this: Even if there is some remembering to it, give yourself the credit for learning. Chances are you remembered it, whatever “it” happened to be, because your context is now current and timely: There is learning opportunity in your remembering! You will newly consider, flex, choose between options, shift and adjust as you take action or retain and commit, and all those things require so much which is included in the learning process.

You could say that learning is a juggling act of sorts, and you are the juggler who will perform a certain way given all kinds of circumstances: Your mood and your degree of confidence, your attire or costume, the wind if you are outside, the glaring stage lights if you are inside, an audience you are comfortably laughing with, or one which amps up your nervousness something fierce. Pretty easy to imagine how all those things can affect your juggling ability, isn’t it.

And like juggling, learning certain things can take practice: Lather, rinse, repeat” we do train ourselves in our learning processes, just as we better train our skill with catching those falling balls.

So don’t pooh-pooh your Rapid Fire Learning, okay? So what if it’s remembering something you already knew? Give yourself credit for that recall, and for remembering it when you needed to. Maybe what you’ll learn this time is where you can write it down and move on! Maybe your learning has been with memory, and how you triggered it, and why. Maybe you needed the time and space before you could learn a solution to an old problem, one that had previously seemed so frustrating and mistake-riddled. Continue to ask yourself questions and allow your learning to reveal those cool answers just waiting for you to newly discover them.

If you have not yet tried Rapid Fire Learning, please have April be the month you try it! You can join us at Joyful Jubilant Learning where a new host will be Mea Ho‘okipa each month and encourage us all to RFL within the posting comments there. Half the fun is reading what others have learned, supporting them, and having them encourage and congratulate you in return. And you never know what ideas you’ll hear about” who knows what you might decide to juggle next!

Wondering what my RFLs were for April? Look for me there in the comments!

Phil Gerbyshak is hosting this time: Click over and share your list of 5 right now. We talked about creating good habits a few days ago, and Rapid Fire Learning is an exceptional habit to cultivate.

Photo Credits: Five Ball and The Stall by Timailius on Flickr.

Pinwheel Plumeria for my birthday

I am celebrating my birthday at Joyful Jubilant Learning today :)

Birthday Exuberance

Come join us? Learning to Love our Birthdays.

Today my message to you is simply this: You can learn to love your birthday ”“ and love it a lot. You can learn to celebrate it “out loud” just like I do, saying mahalo, and living in thankfulness for the magnificence of your life, best gift imaginable.

Being it is Thursday, the day I am expected to post at Say “Alaka‘i” I continued the birthday theme there as well – love the thought that the world conspires to celebrate with me!

Here is a slightly edited version for those of you who prefer the Talking Story email subscription:

Birthday Aloha, Hawaiian Style

One of the very best things about having a job in Hawai‘i ”“ any job, paid or unpaid ”“ is that we like making a big deal out of people’s birthdays. Hawai‘i workplaces do birthdays with true Hawaiian style flair and celebration. There are leis, long lunches, shakas and smiles, and of course cake laden with candles; we have ice cream of every tropical flavor imaginable (the combo of Kona Coffee Ice Cream and Lilikoi Sorbet is the best! With haupia cake…mmm). Most of all, we have laughter and tons of hugs.

Where does our “eh, no shame!” attitude about birthdays come from?
It’s got to be the Aloha.

We in Hawai‘i love Ha‘aha‘a, the value of humility, and we talk about it often, however Aloha helps us keep from being humility-sabotaged. We can completely bypass any feigned humility and go straight to our Aloha and the value of Mahalo, living our lives in a manner of thankfulness for all who have made us who we are, and who have helped shaped the life we celebrate on the yearly anniversary of our birth.

Great managers celebrate their people, and if you are the steward of any workplace culture ”“ in fact, any gathering culture of our community at all, not just workplaces ”“ I encourage you to make a big, big deal out of the birthdays you know about (and make sure you know about all of them). Birthdays contribute to the health of workplace culture in a hugely beneficial way.

Take my birthday off? Nah.

I freely admit that I was never one to take my birthday day off when I was in corporate life, even when I could. I loved being around the people who were so much a part of who I was. I didn’t worry that my being there added some pressure to others to celebrate with me, for it seemed far worse to deny that celebration, and pretend my birthday didn’t matter. In my beliefs about ‘Imi ola (creating our best possible life) birthdays were reckoning points with how well I was doing with both crafting the course of my life, and saying thank you to those who were such a big part of it. To deny my own birthday and not recognize others within my own awareness and gratitude seemed narrow-minded and disrespectful.

When I became a manager, it didn’t take long for me to better understand that acknowledging the birthdays of my staff was very, very important to them too: They needed their day to loom large in my recognition of how vital they were to every single effort we would think about and then labor on.

The Birthday Brigade

And birthdays make recognition so easy for everyone to participate with and join in on: The scheming with surprises and celebrations is half the fun of it. At one hotel I’d been with, we had an official “birthday brigade.” They took care of organizing a monthly birthday potluck which we all looked forward to; they took over the employee cafeteria for the day and even our Executive Chef would admit he could never duplicate such a onolicious spread. Actual birthday days were celebrated with leis, a special parking spot, banners and balloons, but each month they were newly original, for membership on the Birthday Brigade rotated throughout our staff: Last month’s honorees became next month’s brigade. You can imagine the joyful competitiveness of it all, yet everyone loved it. To be off on your birthday was to miss out big time.

The first year I was self-employed I hadn’t built my business to any notable size yet, and after a working life in the corporate world I felt a bit out of sorts when my birthday approached. Luckily for me, I had friends and family who knew that Hawaiian Style birthdays didn’t need workplaces, and I’ve never felt that apprehension again.

Learning to Love our Birthdays

If you haven’t guessed by now, today, April 23rd is my birthday. I now have this double-dose of birthday goodness. For the past few years I’ve learned how to celebrate the day virtually too.

This year I am staging my own party at Joyful Jubilant Learning, and you are all welcome to join us there: Learning to Love our Birthdays. In the post there today I talk a bit more about this notion of getting rid of humility sabotage. I go even farther, and ask for a very specific gift!

This is the first time I am celebrating my birthday here at Say “Alaka‘i” and so I must end by saying this: Mahalo for being part of my life now. You too are in the design of my ‘Imi ola, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my mana‘o on Alaka‘i with you.

Let’s talk story:

  • Tell us how you do birthdays! There is so, so much more to Birthday Aloha, Hawaiian Style!
  • Give each other your ideas, share your stories… any truly memorable birthday come to mind for you?

Any thoughts to share? Comment here, or via the tweet-conversation we have on Twitter @sayalakai.