Choose your Values to Make your Decisions

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 April 1, 2010, so we will be able to reference it in the future when the original url it had been published on is no more…

Hibiscus

Choose your Values to Make your Decisions

How much of your decision-making is aligned with the personal values you hold dear?

For instance, many of the decisions every business person must make, directly result in them choosing their customers.

Make no mistake about this: How you conduct your business illustrates your choices with choosing your customers pretty clearly for all to see — OR it illustrates the fact that you are not choosing, taking all comers, and leaving your business community entirely to chance!

Choose your Audience, and you Choose your Customers

This requires some bravery [Koa, the Hawaiian Value of Courage], but you get more courageous about it when you do so because you stand by your values. We’re in tough times requiring shifts in your business model. Important questions need to be asked:

1. Are you willing to give your customer what they want?

2. How about when their values have shifted away from yours?

These questions came to mind for me after thinking about two blog posts written for The Honolulu Advertiser by Dave Shapiro at Volcanic Ash. In the first one, Stripping anonymity from the ‘Net, Dave talks about the alarming lack of civility and Aloha in the comments received on The Honolulu Advertiser, comparing its result to what has been achieved by The Wall Street Journal:

The [WSJ] article points some possible ways forward and is a thought-provoking read, but what mainly caught my attention were the comments (click the tab under the headline.)

There were 82 of them and they were mostly thoughtful, civil and on point — in other words, the opposite of the nasty, ill-mannered, threatening and often racist reader comments you see attached to stories in most U.S. papers including the Advertiser.

Color me jealous.

The main difference is that the WSJ, one of the few newspapers that charges for its content, bills its comment section as a “community,” with community rules that require that real names, civility and focus on the subject.

I’ve taken up this effort to stimulate improvement at The Honolulu Advertiser before, and was unsuccessful: My coaching was politely declined. While I can’t speak for what happens at the ‘paper’ itself, I can tell you that each blogger is left to moderate their own blog. I’m not as tolerant as most, for I don’t feel I have to “swallow the Internet’s culture of anonymity” as Dave phrases it: I feel I have a bigger responsibility to the stewardship of my own blog culture. When in doubt, I delete.

We have a positive expectancy here at Say “Alaka‘i:” Being positive is Hō‘imi: Looking for it. I cannot tout Aloha in most of what I write about and not honor it. I don’t concern myself with someone’s “right to free speech” if their version of ‘free speech’ is offensive to the dignity of Alaka‘i Managers we seek to serve, or disrespects our Ho‘ohana Community of readers here in any way.

It’s similar to the stewardship all Alaka‘i Managers are charged with in any organization (their Kuleana with Mālama Kākou): Whether within a big organization or smaller company, every manager creates his or own culture within the bigger picture. The company may specify the values you should uphold, but you’re the one who ultimately does so, or neglects to do so. A healthy culture is your managing and leading with Aloha responsibility within your workplace, and for your customers.

It’s paid off for me here on this blog. We don’t have a problem with nasty commenters — not to be confused with the thoughtful people who ask questions and will disagree with me, for we both learn from that honest discourse, and you’ll see that happen in the comment conversations here. My bigger problem is spam, and it’s getting to the point where I’m tempted to turn off comments altogether, and just field emails.

But Dave makes a good point about how an audience can influence a blogger’s writing, and as a published writer (whether blogger, author, or journalist) we have to think about just how much we are allowing our reading audience to influence us: When is feedback healthy, and when is it inhibiting, or even damaging? How can it remain mutually beneficial, and result in that synergy which creates new alternatives?

The answer is found in your personal values, and your courage with turning away those who choose not to uphold them as you groom a community which functions as your extended team. A rising tide lifts all boats!

Are we sharing news, education, or entertainment?

Your audience may determine your final product much more than you realize: What do YOU think you deliver?

Again, the answer may depend on upholding our own values.

Initially on his blog, Dave’s second article triggering my reflections also appeared in the Opinion section Monday as a column (where online the comments can be particularly brutal… I’m not going to link there: This link goes to his blog edition): Local TV news lacks serious reporting. In this one he laments the quality of “local TV news becoming more and more about technical glitz, fancy sets and personality, personality, personality.”

“If TV newsrooms can’t find enough news to cover, it’s only because so much experience has been lost in the market consolidation that they don’t know where to look anymore.”

Must say that I agree with him and the squandering of precious airtime saddens me: I don’t find much quality reporting in our Hawai‘i television news broadcasting anymore that I would define as “the news” and usually skip watching altogether. I question if some of it can be called entertainment at all (just as I do NOT consider snarky comments to be entertaining in the least.) Are the people on our local TV news working hard? They probably are, but their end result no longer is of much interest to me as a viewer, and so judging by results alone, I am not part of the audience they are choosing to serve.

Nowadays, I learn more on Twitter and from other bloggers. Case in point when a former journalist responded to one of my tweets sharing Dave’s article, helping me understand the full picture. She tweeted,

“It’s one of the reasons I retired” @sayalakai those who were seasoned TV news journalists were/are being asked to take 40-50% pay cuts, and were replaced with cute and cheap young ‘uns.”

[I’ve combined two of her 140-conventioned tweets into one.]

As I responded in briefer form on Twitter, every business must adjust when they find their revenues are drying up. Unfortunately, their choices aren’t always wise ones — or the follow-up isn’t completely handled. I suspect there is much talent to be groomed in those “cute and cheap young ‘uns” and when leaders hire cheaper they have to provide the management coaching it takes so that talent is groomed, and their products and services don’t suffer as a result.

As for the “seasoned news journalists” who were released or who chose to leave, they can now chart a new course, and shift the wealth of their experience into new initiatives. They now have their chance to lead, true to their values, and not follow the older game plan which in the long run, was not mutually beneficial.

Dave ends by saying,

“With Honolulu’s two daily newspapers about to consolidate, we’ll soon see a similar drastic contraction in print reporting beyond what has already occurred from layoffs and buyouts, and the void in the amount of news and information on public affairs available to Hawai‘i citizens is going to be striking.”

I hope he’s wrong, but I fear he could be right. We who write, will all have to answer the questions I have posed, and will have to look for more positive results. It requires courage, yes, and for many it requires far simpler decisions about maintaining their livelihood in the short term. In the longer term, it requires smarter business models.

My view is this: If we stick with who we are, as determined by the personal values we hold dear, those crucial choices we make about viable business models, and about audience converting to chosen customer, will be choices we make about the resulting relationships which influence our lives. You CAN choose who you serve, knowing that being true to who you are is how, when all is said and done, you serve others best.

Choose your values when you make your decisions, and you’ll choose well.

Ho‘ohiki: My promise to you

Here at Say “Alaka‘i” we’ll continue to honor our values of Aloha and Alaka‘i first and foremost. The subject matter I write of will continue to rely on all the values of Managing with Aloha (listed here: Choose Values), for I realize that is why I was asked to blog here in the first place.

Thank you for reading, and for the support you continue to give me.

We Ho‘omau (persist, and persevere) with the Calls to Action and Current Ho‘ohana you see on the blog’s right sidebar: