Are we seeking Hospitalitarians?

That word is a mouthful. I think I like our Hawaiian words for host and hostess better: Are we seeking Mea ho‘okipa?

As a leading business owner, are you creating work opportunity for our Mea ho‘okipa?

We’re in a time where so many business rules are changing: Jobs of the future are being newly explored and created. While I’ll be quick to jump on the innovation bandwagon too (and I have), I’d suggest to everyone showing so much interest in the idea, that we can stage the comeback of some timelessly crucial roles in business. We needn’t newly create as much as newly invest in what we already know to be good and true, and highly desirable. One such role is that of the Mea ho‘okipa.

Ho‘okipa, our Hawaiian value of hospitality, is a part of our shout-out for more Aloha in every effort we make in 2010:
A — Aloha… We need a comeback of better service, person to person, with human graciousness experienced in every single encounter we have with each other. They are encounters where Ho‘okipa (unconditional hospitality), Lokomaika‘i (generosity of good heart) and Aloha (as an expectation of good spirit, even in strangers) combine, mix virtuously and nourish us.
— from the Archives: For 2010, with Aloha

Politicians running for office right now might want to give this some thought too, for the character of mea ho‘okipa as the true hospitalitarians they are, can lend much richness to leadership. Mea ho‘okipa are tireless advocates of their guests and visitors (they hesitate to call them clients or customers). Mea ho‘okipa are exceptional civic and social builders of community (think constituency, and here’s an idea: serving them versus serving one’s agenda or platform.) Mea ho‘okipa advocate and build, as they complete a “selfish act.”

You read that right. Selfish, not selfless.

Mohammed with his wonderful fruit juices, the best in the world, by Charles Fred on Flickr

I hold Mea Ho‘okipa in very high esteem, for I greatly admire their capacity palena ‘ole (capacity without limits) in giving ”“ in LIVING ”“ the art of hospitality. I wish I could be more like them.

I believe that Mea Ho‘okipa are born that way;

Personally, I do not believe that you can teach someone to be Mea Ho‘okipa: Either they are or they aren’t. You can’t fake a genuine sincerity for giving that you simply don’t have in you. The good news is that many people have it.

Learn to interview in a way that reveals those naturally born Mea Ho‘okipa. Hire them on the spot. You can then better devote your time toward creating the best possible environment for them to deliver their art of Ho‘okipa without shackles, boundaries, or inhibitions. You discard any rules that get in the way of them doing what they feel the guest needs—not always what that customer may think they want, but what they really need to be satisfied. When it comes to their guest—your customer—Mea Ho‘okipa are extremely intuitive: They inherently possess the instinct to know the difference and they proceed accordingly, giving them perfect delivery of service. Mea Ho‘okipa are dripping with caring, that marvelous ability to instinctively know what their guest needs to be happy; they can feel it.
~ from Managing with Aloha, page 82

The good news? We have Mea Ho‘okipa is abundance here in our Hawai‘i nei: You have them wherever you are too, I guarantee it! All we need to do is create a great place for them to work: Share your Sense of [Work] Place.

Are you Mea Ho‘okipa? Do you have that instinct that I believe to be “extremely intuitive?”

I was skimming through another book recently, one I have now referred to several times. It’s one which should be required reading for anyone who aspires to have a winning business or servant leadership style, for it certainly is a primer on ho‘okipa and hospitality. The book is Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table, The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business.

Meyer is the one who calls our Mea Ho‘okipa hospitalitarians. However whether you call them Mea Ho‘okipa or hospitalitarian, Meyer and I agree about how special a person this is.

“It may seem implicit in the philosophy of enlightened hospitality that the employee is constantly setting aside personal needs and selflessly taking care of others. But the real secret of its success is to hire people to whom caring for others is, in fact, a selfish act. I call these people hospitalitarians. A special type of personality thrives on providing hospitality, and it’s crucial to our success that we attract people who possess it. Their source of energy is rarely depleted. In fact, the more opportunities hospitalitarians have to care for other people, the better they feel.”
~ Danny Meyer, in Setting the Table (page 146 if you have it)

[An FYI: I notice the book is only $8.24 on as of this writing (link to get to my store)…the publisher must be having some sort of stockroom fire sale.]

Yes indeed. Being selfish can be a good thing, one where you and your customer come together at last to the great delight of a prospective employer. You feed off each other’s Aloha in an exchange of human energy, creating a source that is “rarely depleted.” But this is quite different than the way we conventionally think of selfishness. The difference is the presence of giving as the taking.

The play on words might be a stretch, and selflessness is a great word to keep within our understanding, for it means much the same thing: “being one who is concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own needs.”

Mea ho‘okipa do not experience their inner peace and joy unless they have given to another person. Their spirit is conveyed through the equation of warm and beneficial human interaction. To a customer, Ho‘okipa is unparalleled service —it is the epitome of service! —for it was given to them completely unconditionally, something that is exceptionally rare. What they are actually feeling, and experiencing, is ho‘okipa, the art of hospitality in the good hands of a master at providing it.

As said so succinctly in one of my all-time favorite quotes, “One of life’s greatest laws is that you cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening your own as well.”

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Archive Aloha along this train of thought:

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sayalakai_rosasayMy mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
Each Thursday I write a management posting for Say “Alaka‘i” at Hawai‘i’s newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser. If this is the first you have caught sight of my Say “Alaka‘i” tagline, you can learn more on this Talking Story page: About Say “Alaka‘i”. There are some differences in this Talking Story version, most notably that all links will keep you here on this blog.

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