On the 20-hour work week: All in favor?

There’s an interesting idea which keeps popping up on my radar these early days of our new year, and I love it. It’s an inventive call to action:

Let’s shift what we value in society today, by shifting to the 20-hour work week.

The argument behind this proposal, is that our 40-hour work week has been our convention, but convention isn’t unquestionable fact. Convention isn’t necessarily right, and it may not be that good for us anymore — Was it ever?

The idea is being touted as a sorting-out solution to present unemployment and underemployment levels, wherein we can share the wealth as a better networked society: One job (40 hours per week), designed the old way, can now be held by two people, and designed in a new way (20 hours per week for each of them.)

Breaking free of our convention will be quite radical; it will require adjustments of epic proportion in compensation, legality, managerial mindset, union reorganization” the list is lengthy. But here’s the thing: The possibility of it happening is the unexpected silver lining of The Great Recession. The idea is not that new, however conditions for this change have never been as ripe.

And the reward is absolutely dazzling: A better quality of life for each of us, where work is no longer such a tight shackle. When you decrease the hours in which you labor, you increase the hours available to you for more variety — for what we’ve long referred to as “the spice of life.”

Breakfast at Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen

I for one, am fervently hoping this idea of the 20-hour work week gains more traction. Let’s reinvent our ‘Ohana in Business in a big way. We can align this visionary thinking with our Aloha Business model in 2012, I know we can, for this is something I am already doing. I have a 20-hour work week now, and you can have it too, no matter what it is you do.

How can you lead in this effort?
What is the first step that you can personally take, leading by virtue of your own good example?

“Example has more followers than reason.”
~ Christian Nevell Bovee

Here are those blips on the radar if you want to read more:

  1. Cut the working week to a maximum of 20 hours, urge top economists
    Heather Stewart at The Observer reports: “Job sharing and increased leisure are the answer to rising unemployment, claims thinktank.”
  2. Fast Company Co.Exist: The Case For A 21-Hour Work Week
    “It would create jobs and stop the unsustainable cycle of rampant consumerism. Sure, it would also require a wholesale reordering of our economy, but that might happen whether we like it or not.”
  3. Update, March 1st: Just read this via a Daily Good reprint, but it was originally published last September: Less Work, More Living:
    “Earn less, spend less, emit and degrade less. That’s the formula. The more time a person has, the better his or her quality of life, and the easier it is to live sustainably.”

Discover the power of 5 Minutes: A book excerpt from Managing with AlohaD5MBetterMgr

Does Social Media Qualify as a Deliberate Input?

Yes and no. You, as the user of social media, have to make it high quality, so it becomes a ‘yes.’ If not, as a social media ‘reader’ you are being influenced however a particular platform organically happens, and you’re leaving its inherent ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to chance.

(If you don’t use or care about social media, feel free to skip the rest of this post.)

If you are a social media user, you may have noticed that it was missing from my list of Deliberate Inputs shared two days ago. That too, was deliberate on my part, for I’m currently re-thinking my own time given to using social media, and I’m in the process of tweaking the accounts I do use. One by one, I’m slowly questioning and reviewing all of them, starting with the ones you see linked for you up in my Talking Story header (LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter). It’s turning out to be a longer process than I’d anticipated, however it’s good to discard auto-pilot regularly, question your habits, and think these things through.

You remember that bit about habits don’t you? (The Riddle.) You are your habits, so make them good!

At the bare minimum, ‘tweaking usage’ in social media means two things to me: How I listen at a platform, and how I speak up (updates).

You may recall this starting for me back in July, when I removed the Managing with Aloha group from LinkedIn, and took a digital holiday (I’ve actually been taking several of those holidays!) As of this writing, LinkedIn is simply an online business card I’m keeping current for others who might look for me there, and nothing else; I’m not actively using it in any meaningful way. I do continue to update Tumblr, Twitter, and Flickr.


And then there’s social media’s newest darling, Google+: A good amount of cheering can be heard from its growing legion of fans. VC Fred Wilson for one, has written “Why I’m Rooting For Google+”. The whole Circles thing is intriguing to me as opposed to ‘friending’ (more on that momentarily), and to those of you who have sent me invites, mahalo — please know they are on hold for me, for I don’t want to jump into a new ballgame until I’ve done the sorting out of my old ones as I’m about to explain. While I’m on the subject of account choices, I still don’t use Facebook, and I’m not planning to.

Social Media requires deliberate intention

First of all, we users have to understand that free social media platforms aren’t actually free: We may not pay for them with currency, but we do pay with our clicks and updates. Here’s a short post by Marco Arment commenting on Twitter, where he explains that users shape developer ad targets: We aren’t a platform’s customer. We’re their research team.

Adding ‘apps’ to the mix, is another way we might use a platform with someone else’s influence added onto it as another layer” However, as Patrick Rhone asks here: Isn’t the web enough? In my own usage I’ve discarded the apps I’d tried out before (an example would be Hootsuite for Twitter), and gone back to a web-only/platform-pure practice, using my smartphone apps only when I travel (or for other reasons that aren’t connected to social media: Killer Apps).

The arguments can be made: “But I like the social conversations, and the online stretch across geographic boundaries.” And, “Isn’t the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ timely, and thus something I should pay attention to?” Social for social sake is very valid: I wonder about those things too, not wanting to levy my judgments too quickly, particularly in regard to crowd-sourcing (for as you know, I prefer face-to-face or voice-to-voice conversations, and talking story here on the blog). Twitter in particular, handily beats most news media in alerting me of events as they happen. And I readily admit there’s an element of pure play with social media, which is certainly not a bad thing. Stowe Boyd once said, “Twitter is about hope and love, although the casual observer might miss that completely.”

So, let’s get that hope and love, and the deliberate optimism of positive expectancy. We, as users, can tweak our usage enough to make it truly useful and relevant to our more fervent interests: We can program social media to be deliberate versus distracting (or distressing). There is no doubt that social media can be incendiary: So what kind of fire does it start for you, and are you okay with the burn of that fire?

For instance, one way I believe social media ‘programming’ to be broken, and horribly so, is with ‘friending’ and ‘following.’ In my opinion, both words have been tarnished within the framing of social media, for they’ve become quite the numbers game, and are more about marketing, broadcasting, and a dysfunctional attempt at branding visibility (i.e. manufacturing popularity perceptions.) So within my current tweaking, I’ve largely discarded the ‘friending’ association of following in favor of better curation instead, so my social media streaming will influence me in the best possible way when I am reading those streams, and listening in. As Maria Popova (aka the brain picker) explains:

Twitter is quickly evolving into a superb way to discover fascinating content you normally wouldn’t have, by following interesting people who tweet with great editorial curation. The key, of course, is exercising your own curatory judgment in identifying said interesting people.

I feel the same way about Tumblr (listening), and continue to love using Ho‘ohana Aloha for my finds (speaking up) when Twitter’s 140 characters just won’t do.

So to wrap this up, if you think of yourself as one of my friends — in what the word is supposed to actually mean — and I’m not following you, please don’t be offended, for I’m no longer associating my friendships with social media, but with interesting curation, following (and un-following) in a way which may seem random to you: Don’t read anything into it, for even I can’t adequately explain the roads I travel when my value of ‘Ike loa kicks into high gear! I just slip-slide into that slick rabbit hole of joyful learning and enjoy the journey.

Play is Serious Business

I’m trying to speak up in a more interesting way of ‘editorial curation’ for others too, and tweet or tumble what I think will be interesting to anyone following me. If you follow me, and I haven’t followed back, it’s because I just can’t keep up with the numbers game on social media, nor do I want to. You’ll have to get my attention in another way (and that usually happens with great conversation.) I demand the same from myself, and do not expect followership from you simply as reciprocity, for at its best, following is not a passive activity, is it. I love playing around with numerology and measurement, but social media is not a factor in that study, not for me.

Any more thoughts on this?
Let’s talk story… I was thinking the weekend was the best time, if any.

We talked about learning curation last summer too, quite the delicious concept… I wonder what it is about these 3rd quarter months that triggers it.

And as a postscript… might there be such a thing as an unlearning curation? This gem was on my Tumblr dashboard this morning (hattip Tanmay Vora):

“Creating a ‘learning organization’ is only half the solution. Just as important is creating an ‘unlearning organization’. To create the future, a company must unlearn at least some of its past. We’re all familiar with ‘learning curve’, but what about the ‘forgetting curve’ ”“ the rate at which a company can unlearn those habits that hinder future success?”
~ Dr. C. K. Prahalad

Good Morning Austin
Good Morning Austin by Thomas Hawk, on Flickr

Sunday Mālama: What Sunday should be

I’ve learned not to use the word ‘should’ that often, for the word has taken on a presumptuous and judgmental air to me (blame strengths coach Marcus Buckingham and his definition of should-ing). Yet there are still a few times, increasingly rare though they may be, that I’m willing to shoulder that risk — is it ironic or fitting that ‘shoulder’ has ‘should’ within it?

Well, I shall willingly stand tall to shoulder this as well as I have been taught to. This is one of those times for testament to what we ‘should’ do, for denying the rightness of Sunday Mālama would seem like borderline blasphemy.

I welcome you to take a stroll with me along three paths, each with different experiences to share:

Three Paths

Path One: Living With The Pope

When I was growing up, ours was a family that went to church every Sunday without fail. My dad was the one we thought of as “the holy one” and we’d all call him “the Pope” when we were sure he couldn’t hear us (my mom was the one who started it).

As early as I can remember, my mom was the one who did the flowers for the church every Saturday afternoon, and I honestly think that Sunday mornings were more of a vanity fix for her as the entire congregation “ooh”d and “aah”d over them. She deserved the accolades; Mom also had (still has) an extraordinary talent for fashioning any kind of flower a bride would choose into bouquets for weddings, and all was done in her volunteer time as a lush and fragrant hobby.

That’s me and my dad at my wedding, and yes, my mom did the bouquet.

Mom made it so the church was always beautiful, and feeling community-fresh to us instead of reverent-old. The greens and flowers she used came from others in the congregation, but they needed my mom to figure out what to do with them, and as bravely as she did:  Her exuberant arrangements would never be described as ‘modest.’ We had a good-sized yard of our own, but gardening was not in my parents’ life-crafting regimen; they simply didn’t have the time for it (though I never sensed they had the desire either.)

Dad was the one who made Sundays sacred as fitting complement to my mom’s crafty and decorative talents freely given to the church. Where my mom’s clever resourcefulness would shine in a tangible way — she never knew what the congregation would arrive with Saturday afternoons, freshly cut from their yards — my dad’s would radiate from an inner wellspring, a gardening inside him that Sunday framed equally well. And by extension, we were his ‘crops.’

We wouldn’t describe our Sundays as a reflective “day of rest” though; he kept us all busy, and it always felt like we were working on something. Dad kept it all too real, and very down-to-earth: He was not a touchy-feely kind of guy, and having a good work ethic regardless of the day of the week was the way you worked on living a worthy life. As we followed his lead, Sundays were sacred in that they were about our faith, our place in the world, and about ‘ohana, our family, and about generally being as good as we could possibly be for the entire day. In point of fact, we worked harder: Sunday was the day that you made up for any slip-ups or indiscretions in the week before, with my dad giving us a wealth of physical possibilities in doing so. In working through it all, with Dad affirming our contribution to the family’s well-being, you fortified your character for the week ahead.

We also thought of Sunday as a kind of neighborhood and community day, for that was when ho‘omāka‘ika‘i; we went visiting when the chosen work was light and quickly accomplished. It was the day we’d get lectures on things like citizenship, civic duty and social responsibility, or charity, patriotism and history as explanations on what we could learn from our neighbors and parents’ friends, and should. Back then, children were seen and not heard, but expected to listen, and anything another adult would say to us was gospel, as surely as what the priest had said in his sermon earlier that morning. A visit on Sunday seemed to be a kind of guarantee of an adult’s truthfulness.

Sunday then, was the day that we learned values from our parents, just as they had learned them from their parents. We had modest scoops of value-learning every day, but Sunday was the day it came in droves, and you better be able to take it all in.

Looking back, I also realize that Sunday was our entertainment day, with other people playing a starring role in what would amuse us. Technology hadn’t yet intruded in the way it does today, getting us to be more interested in a small screen over a person’s face or voice. It was a good way to grow up, within those early Sundays devoted to Mālama, caring for and about each other, and having our faith.

Path Two: ‘Ohana Mālama

In the last two years I worked at the Hualalai Resort at Ka‘Å«pÅ«lehu as their v.p. of operations, we were acutely aware of a shift in the preferences of our customers. We had been the darling of Kona’s Gold Coast in the five years since the resort had opened, and had enjoyed some global fame, however we couldn’t rest on our laurels; everyone we thought of as any competition was stepping it up because the customer demanded it, and frankly, it was getting really tough to please them.

I pulled my department heads together in a halawai (meeting) one afternoon, hoping we could achieve a meeting of the minds, a breakthrough of some kind, and about three hours later we felt we had, best we knew how. We came up with a campaign we’d use as our “language of leadership” as we rallied our staff together for the challenge, calling it exactly what it was and had to be, a Focus on the Customer; our focus as a newly caring signature on the work performance we delivered.

We laid out a strategy on the specifics we had to work on in the campaign, from service execution to problem solving, from new hire orientations to Ho‘ohana Reviews (commonly referred to as performance appraisals), and from pricing to new product evolutions we would explore. Ho‘okipa (exceptional hospitality) became our mantra for the campaign, and while we felt confident in the abilities of our staff as Mea Ho‘okipa (our hospitality givers) we still knew we had considerable work to do simply in making the shift happen; we had gotten too comfortable, and comfort was no longer a luxury we could afford.

There were a lot of details to be covered; our campaign was ambitious. Writer that I enjoy being (luckily in this case, for I had a big operation to cover), my ‘Ohana in Business was very accustomed to getting email coaching from me, and I soon started a daily message that every manager could read first thing each morning, and then print to cover with everyone in their shift line-ups. My message was more organizational than inspirational at first. It took our Focus on the Customer initiatives and strategies and broke them into bite-sized, action-for-today pieces, just enough to fill the preview pane in Outlook.

My message was called the Daily ‘Ohana Mālama. I would now describe it as an early version of the internal blog, using all we had at the time: The infancy of email, and the wonderful fact that we still talked to each other about it as ‘mail’ and little more. We were still a bit naive about how communication would change, and we deferred to conversations with each other as we always had done to actually effect the work of change: My email was simply a daily trigger. ‘Ohana because we were all in it together; we had to be as tightly connected and committed as family if it was to work. Mālama because caring about the program enough to follow through consistently would be critical to our success — and our persistent, day-by-day determination.

Mālama is the value of caring, empathy, and stewardship, and thus it was a wonderful director. The goal of the Daily ‘Ohana Mālama was twofold; strategy execution comprehensively throughout the entire organization, and an intention to take the utmost of care that no one was neglected in the responsibility we felt with Mālama. We were going to ask much more of our ‘Ohana in Business than we had been, and there could be no asking without equal doses of giving — or more. We weren’t paying more, but we were giving more, in our attention, in our leadership, and in our commitment to the values of ‘Ohana and Mālama.

Sunday was the only day I did not send out the Daily ‘Ohana Mālama email in the morning. It wasn’t a day of rest in our 24/7 operation though. It was a day to be sure.

Path Three: Sunday Mālama for each of us today

It is the combination of all these past experiences, these repeated efforts with worthwhile work and its ethics, which have affected my own personal values, helping me to both define and choose them. It never was about church, or about business, though those two things were there as framing and packaging. It was about human spirit and values-driven actions which felt like very meaningful work, in that it made a contribution of some kind. That’s what your work experiences do for you too.

Sunday was to be the day we sourced all our values, plugging into them so we could better practice them all week long. We would open ourselves up Palena ‘ole (to abundance, and limitless capacity) paying attention to whichever value may be calling us to it at the time, and we would fortify ourselves for the week to come. Nānā i ke kumu: We would look to our source of well being, and we would Mālama to refresh, recharge, and rejuvenate. My parents were right about those practices, for they do work!

Nevermind that technology and other factors have changed our world; we can still draw from within to feel healthier today, and build on our past lessons learned.

Ho‘omāka‘ika‘i; it may be that we’ll go visiting, meeting others and divining their truth as my dad had taught us. It may be that we get more resourceful no matter our surroundings, using whatever we are given as my mom had taught us, and seeing a kind of beauty in everything — brave, exuberantly showy beauty.

Lobby Lushness

It may be that we ignore the email, ignore the social media and just have more in-person conversations, relying on them to do the good work of collaborative synergy they have always achieved for us.

If we revisit these kind of practices, the ones that good experiences have deposited with us for safekeeping, within the kind of work that improves the basic quality of our lives, I am sure that Sunday will be a day for Mahalo, the value of appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness for all of the elements which make life so precious to us. Contentment comes from counting those blessings we should not be taking for granted, so we can continue to work on them.

We can make a difference in our world by taking care of our own well being first, living the value of Mālama so that we have more to give. I wish that for you on this Sunday and every Sunday to come.


This post, its intention intact but content substantially edited for new publication today, had originally appeared within another blog I loved dearly at the time, called Managing with Aloha Coaching (circa August 2007 through December 2008). The blog was dedicated to a more in-depth, Hawai‘i-connected study of the 18 values presented in my book, Managing with Aloha, and was written during the pre-recession height of my then-consulting business, an almost frenetic time where my coaching laboratory was flush with activity and new learning both for me and my clients, most of whom remain great friends. As I should have expected from that effort, integrally woven with my own Hawai‘i Sense of Place as it was, MWAC became more personal than I had intended it to be, but in my mana‘o, it was also an immensely pleasing Ho‘ohana blend. I plan to eventually retire the site, and so I am slowly bringing its content here for a co-evolution with Talking Story, where its honored spirit can continue to teach, and be added to, for Ka lā hiki ola, it will always be the dawning of a new day in some regard!

Tab it and mark it up!

See it, snap a photo of it, look up its story

In doing so, you are sure to practice the value of Mahalo — appreciating those elements which make your life most precious to you.

You’ll also learn about a wealth of different things in the process.

Good morning Portland
Hayden Island river houses along the Columbia River in Northeast Portland

I’m getting reminded of this as I upload photos to Flickr which I’d taken on a recent trip to Portland, Oregon.

As part of my trip, a mixture of business and pleasure, I treated myself to a full three days of self-guided walking tours throughout the streets of downtown Portland, heading out any time the rain let up, with just camera and a pocketful of change for food and coffee stops   — and my raincoat, for it’s Portland after all, and spring seems to be quite elusive for that part of our country this year. Can you find me anywhere in the photos below?

Pink Blossoms at The Commons
Dogwood in bloom at the University of Portland up on The Bluff

Had a great time, a very relaxing few days wherein I could let my book-in-progress simmer for a while, enjoy some terrific meetups, and just relish being in new, comfortable, yet unfamiliar surroundings. I had not been to Portland before (or anywhere in Oregon for that matter). That held a ton of promise for me.

‘See it, snap it, and learn its story’ has become one of my favorite things to do ever since getting newly familiar with easy-peasy point-and-shoot digital photography about three years ago (no film to process!). Three years and 6,165 Flickr uploads ago as of this writing to be precise, not including the many experimental and lousy shots that never made the upload cut.

Though my Portland uploads have re-triggered my practice, causing me to stop and share this posting about it with you, this is something you can do while at home, at work or play, or anywhere: All you need to do, is carry a camera with you wherever you go — or just use that camera on your smartphone more than you have been doing up to now:

From days gone by

See it: Look at your surroundings more deliberately. Take extra time and really see it. Look closer at the detail, or back away for a bigger picture. Look down toward your feet. Look up above your head. If people are caught in your view and they catch you staring, just smile at them.

Snap it: Take a photo. Take a couple of them. Move the camera around” move you around. Indulge your natural curiosity about things, and focus on color, on lines and angles, on something quirky or unusual, or on a feeling, and the simple fact that you like what you see — or even that you feel emotionally interrupted by it in some way. Consider the interruption an awakening of your attentions.

Bike, brick, stoop and paint

Learn its story: This is where the internet has made new explorations so incredibly easy: Just search. See what you can find out about the subjects of your photos. Are there stories to be learned? I’ll bet there are, for everything has some kind of story, including those just waiting to burst out and happen. You might even stumble on a legend.

Bonus points: Share what you’ve learned in the spirit of Aloha and value of Mahalo, for it’s learning in what we can better appreciate about the fascinating, complex, and beautiful lives we’ve been given on this very precious and amazing planet of ours.

I like doing so on Flickr where my uploading can be tagged in the weird way my mind works to organize things, by making sure I add detailed descriptions when I have them, and photo-blogging within the helpful and very supportive community there. Unless there are people in the shot, I leave copyright permission open with Creative Commons so others can use the photos too. At other times I’ll add something on Ho‘ohana Aloha, my Tumblr, or here on the blog.

Civic Responsibility

The learning part is what always blows my mind. I knew very little about Portland when I arrived there, just prepping enough to get a general lay of the land (several unique districts within downtown alone” Old Town, Chinatown, The Pearl and South Park Blocks to name a few) and could choose good hotels. Otherwise, my ignorance was bliss; I wanted to be surprised and romanced by the place itself.

I’m sure I snapped a lot of photos that many native Portlanders wouldn’t have bothered with. I simply felt they looked charming or interesting in some way, and I would take my snaps knowing I could easily find out more about my subjects later.

Walled Garden detail

Pointing toward the sky

My web searches will then take me on incredible journeys — I returned from my trip ten days ago, and I’m only about halfway done with my uploads! What Flickr forces you to do, (not the site itself, just my own obsessive habits with using it) is label your photo in some way, so to start, my searching is prompted by the simple desire to put the right name on locations I have visited, and not be careless.

Here are just three of the stories I discovered:
The first tells the story of an train watchman turned urban artist back when The Pearl was a rail yard. The second explains how Ecotrust is a steward of the Reliable Prosperity Project, relating to something I find I am increasingly interested in: Eco-business practices. The third will point you to a video which (I personally hope) will inspire more renewal in the district Portland calls Chinatown, for despite its rich history, the place seemed to be stopped in limbo to me.

  1. The Lovejoy Columns: Project story (with more links). Be sure to look at this Flickr set too, with photos taken back in 2008 where the columns originally stood (my photos are at a relocation project).
  2. The Ecotrust Building: On Tumblr (with more links). At Flickr.
  3. The Hung Far Low Chinatown Neon: Video. Story at my Flickr photo.

When you click over to Flickr, clicking the project tag (right side of the page) for the photo you land on will help you see all the photos I have for that particular story.

A Lovejoy Column saved as modern art
One of two Lovejoy Columns relocated to the Elizabeth Tower

A Chinatown without the bustle just isn’t the same
Chinatown icons on NW 4th

Next time I go to Portland I’ll have a wealth of choices with spending my time there, now knowing so much more as I do! There are several buildings I would love to revisit, and see the inside of, timing my visits for when they are open. Loved using their TriMet transportation (even to the airport!) and will have to get more snaps of their Public Art.

Flickr, and my searches for more labeling info, is getting me to feel like I am visiting these places a second time now, and that when I return, for I definitely will, it will have more of a 3rd-time connection for me.

I will leave you with one more story which made me smile, about John’s Cafe: You can find two story links in the photo description there.

So your turn now: See it, snap a photo of it, look up its story. You’ll be so very glad you did.