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Smart Woman Online: Rosa Say

Jane is at a loss to describe our Smart Woman Online interview today. Let us attempt to set the scene: Imagine a sunny day in mid-November. Outside the clear, glass window of our island hotel, we hear the soothing sound of waves washing up to a pristine shore. Our lips close around a soft straw, our tongue draws the fruity drink into our mouth. It's cool and smooth and slides down easily. Our fingers fondle a colorful lei... we cant' help thinking about the folks back home -- in the snowy east.

Pausing to glance around the comfortable room, our body embraces the warmth and relaxation oozing from the bed, the sofa, the picture on the wall...all part of the very air we breathe. We wonder...who should we thank for this marvelous room, with all the attendant customer service, a luxury we thought had died with that old Dick and Jane century?

Dear readers, it could be Rosa Say that we have to thank. Read on and learn how Managing with Aloha is the answer, and how Rosa is the one to teach it to you:

Lip-sticking: We can feel the warm ocean breezes of Hawaii even as we write these words, Rosa. It's everyone's dream, we think, to live and work in Hawaii. Is that true-are we right to be jealous of you?

Rosa: There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was blessed to be born in Hawaii and grow up here. I say that in the way most people feel about the place they call home, however I also feel fortunate to have lived at this time: We became the 50th state when I was just five years old, and our generation is one that has had the good fortune of being American as well as Hawaiian, learning to grow in a world of global consciousness. We have a unique history and heritage of our own in the islands, one that defines our Hawaiian culture, but today our connections to the entire United States are pervasive.

Economically Hawaii can be a very tough place to successfully do business in, however the place itself lends a very special quality to life and I'm one who believes there is no separating your work life from how you live, on and off the clock. Living with beauty affects you in wonder-filled ways. Certainly my own coaching business would never have come to be without the Hawaiian values of this unique place.

However we don't have a monopoly on beauty and goodness in Hawaii, and I want to visit many other places in the world, too. I've always felt that jealousy is one of the most worthless emotions we can experience (the other one, particularly preying on women, is guilt). Far better to look for and celebrate the beauty in your own backyard: It's there, waiting to be discovered.

Lip-sticking: We're deep into your book, Managing with Aloha, and it's the most fascinating Managing_with_aloha_cover business book we've read in a long time. Your sub-title, "Bringing Hawaii's Universal Values to the Art of Business" speaks well for the content of the book. When you say 'universal' are you implying that your approach to managing will work anywhere, even in China, or Italy, or the Ukraine? How, so?

Rosa: The names we in the islands know these values by are Hawaiian, yet the values themselves are universally known all over the globe, so yes, even in China, Italy, and the Ukraine! People in other cultures just have different names for them. In Managing with Aloha I write about nineteen values that I feel are particularly conducive to business success when practiced well, and business itself is a very universal endeavor. Our values drive our behavior, and all over the world parents teach children good values to create good habits of behavior. I simply extend the discussion-and the teaching, and coaching-to the business environment, where universally we want good, productive behavior from all who work within it.

For example, Kakou is the value of inclusiveness, and Lokahi the value of harmony and unity. Taken together, one of the things they teach us is synergy, which author Stephen Covey calls the "habit of creation," a universal principle where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts (1+1=3). In Hawaii, we consider leadership to be a value that includes the qualities of humility, integrity, intelligence, wisdom, and courage: we call this value Alaka'i. I wrote a Talking Story post about this on November 1st called "Let's Ho'ohana with Courage."

Lip-sticking: You've gone down many different paths to get where you are today. Now, you seem to be at the center of where you want to be. Tell us what beckoned you as you jogged down those many different paths, and how you finally found your true calling.

Rosa: The different paths I've jogged down actually had one thing in common: management. I started supervising others from a very early age as the eldest of five children, and found that I naturally gravitated toward management positions of some sort in virtually every job or project I took on. I fell in love with management itself thanks to the aloha that was shared with me by my employees, finding that managing people well, in a way that helps them discover their own unique strengths and gifts, is one of the most rewarding things you can  possibly do. Management is a common thread in business enterprise, and I found it to be this very portable, highly adaptable skill: it didn't matter if I worked in the hotel business, in land development, in food and beverage, or in retail.

For a long time, when someone asked my daughter "what does your mom do?" she'd answer, "She just talks to people." Her perception was that I was always in a meeting, or coaching, or training someone. I've always loved her answer, for as hard and demanding as management is, we usually can do better with thinking about it in far simpler ways. I'm quick to let people know I'm a coach versus a consultant: a coach hunts for hidden talent, asking questions to discover what's inside the person needing to discover their own answer.

Lip-sticking: We met you through your blog, Talking Story with Say Leadership Coaching, which is a must read these days. Your posts are always uplifting and full of the universal values you talk about in your book, those on managing a successful business in a harried world. We love the Hawaiian language! Two terms that touch our hearts are Aloha and 'Ohana. Can you take a moment to explain to our readers what their true meaning?

Rosa: The Hawaiian people hold mana, a person's inner spirit, in very high regard. They also believe that land and non-human things can contain mana as divine power, also worthy of honor and respect. Aloha is the value of love and acceptance, and in Hawaii we consider aloha the outpouring and receiving of one's spirit. When you share your aloha with someone else, you literally share your ha, the breath of your life. I recently posted a book excerpt on Aloha, which is Chapter One of my book, and I invite your readers to preview it, for it answers the question of why I feel Aloha is the granddaddy of all our other values in Hawaii, and also the best value to bring to business enterprise.

'Ohana is the word for family, and in Hawaii family may have nothing to do with bloodlines: it is a life connection, a degree of intimacy and unconditional acceptance you offer to others you hope will always be within your circle of aloha.

If someone asks you to be part of their 'ohana, it is the highest possible compliment they can give you: they are saying that you are extraordinarily special to them, and they will love and honor you as part of their own family no matter what. In a business environment, 'ohana is a much more desired term than team: Many feel that if you perpetuate an 'ohana in business, team is implied at a much higher level. Personally, I will not coach executives who do not understand and welcome this connection with their employees; it is notnegotiable in my mana'o, my own belief system.

Lip-sticking: You've been doing a bit of traveling lately, to promote your book - and since traveling can knock even the best of us off our game, tell us what you do to maintain a positive mind/life balance when you're on the road.

Rosa: Ooh, good question. Most importantly, I make sure I maintain connection to my family, calling them frequently and regularly. These days I must admit that internet connections are very important for me; if I can get online, I can communicate with most of the people that are in my own circle of aloha no matter what time it may be-and I can keep up with the conversations on Talking Story! Living in Hawaii, you get very accustomed to geographically adjusting time differences.

Personally, one of my own favorite values is 'Ike Loa, seeking knowledge and wisdom, and I've always been a voracious reader: I'm never without a good book, for reading truly energizes me and gets me charged up about new things. Working in the resort environment for such a long time, I've also learned how rejuvenating spas and fitness routines are when you are traveling: there's nothing like a good massage to prepare me for a long plane ride. As a writer, all I need to fill my travel time with is pen and paper, and a new and different locale is guaranteed to banish writer's block.

Lip-sticking: Since reading most of your book, and following your blog posts, we know that you are grounded in the goodness of the earth. Your book talks about the historical significance of our (mankind's) existence on this globe we call earth. So, tell us, in an age of technology, does the Internet pull you away from the ties to your cultural heritage-inducing you to shop online? Is online shopping a plus, in your mind, or too far removed from the touchy, feely kind of shopping you can do in a gift shop?

Rosa: I was a Retail Director for a few years, and I've often considered retail a career I could easily return to with great relish; I love to shop and I love the business itself. I adore visual merchandising, and could lose whole days redesigning my shops. In my mind, those who now survive in the competitive retail environment are those who understand that online shopping complements brick-and-mortar shops; it will never completely replace them. Customers need to get their personal, one-on-one fix: there are simply too many sensations that cannot be duplicated online. Good retailers must capitalize on this and stop treating the customers who visit them so carelessly, whether online or off. They must handle them with aloha!

However I've also told you how much I love my online options, and for me, shopping online offers the options of variety and convenience, and forays into witnessing marketing innovation-more learning and benchmarking, absolutely free of charge! As most women are, I am very faithful to consistent, quality products I love. When I know specifically what I want, I'll get it online because you can't beat the convenience. I rather pay for shipping than gas, and won't give up my time when I don't need to. When I know my size in a certain brand, I love the thought that I'm getting it right out of a box and no one else has tried it on.

Lip-sticking: Expound on the power of 'we' which is talked about in Kakou, Chapter Nine of your book. You apply this to the interaction of employees within a company, but couldn't it also apply to doing business in the digital age, where 'we' is the whole world, and working together, complimenting each other-- business to business-- even in a competitive situation, works better than distrust and discord?

Rosa: What a wonderful question, and I applaud your insight! There is so much need in our world, and so much possibility of doing everything and anything better than we do, that there is room for everyone and anyone who will try! Years ago, one of my mentors taught me about the "pronoun test," so that as a manager I'd easily know if I was connecting with my staff (they'd say "we" "our" and "us") or not (they'd say "I" "you" "them" and "me" much more often). I also figured out that management was too hard and too unrewarding when I had the full-of-myself attitude that "it'll be easier if I just do this myself." Wrong: one of the biggest mistakes managers make is trying to go it alone. Inclusiveness leads to enhanced solutions and long-term sustainability.

I believe that competition makes us better. Competition challenges us to compete with ourselves and never rest on our laurels. If we are to get better, we can never settle for mediocrity, or fall victim to automatic pilot, one of the biggest pitfalls of a was-successful business.

Perhaps the most wonderful benefit to electronic forums in this digital age is that we rely on the honesty and integrity of the written word, and words are extremely powerful. Written words communicate more clearly than audible ones, and words alone can create a relationship with another person in a B2B situation before we have the opportunity to personally meet them and levy an unfair visual pre-judgment. In particular, blogging gives us fantastic opportunities to create these relationships while openly exploring a wide cross-section of opinion.

With very little distrust and discord, and the willingness to bare their souls to unseen readers, bloggers have proven to be come of the most generous business people I know.Rosasay_launch_nov04_065_2_1

Lip-sticking: Finally, would you say women are better at Aloha than men? Or, are we merely better at expressing it?

Rosa: It seems we've come full circle to your first question, and why I am lucky to live in Hawaii, where we are taught to believe that aloha truly has no gender differences at all. It may be true that women are generally able to express all emotion more readily-it's a blessing, not a weakness that we do, and one of the things I wish for, is that women be okay with that.

Aloha is for everyone, and I believe it is something that is inside us all. It truly is universal; you needn't have been born in Hawaii or live here to experience it. Opening the door to aloha in our lives is a choice we all have. So mahalo nui Yvonne, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to let people know that. In doing so, you have shared your own signature of aloha with all of us too.


Dear Readers, Jane thanks Rosa with all the love in our heart, and with with Aloha and 'Ohana, because we feel the family connection...over the miles and through the clouds. We know you feel it, too.

What's not to like about that?


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Wayne Hurlbert

As always, another great interview with another wonderful member of the blogging community. Rosa has one of the hidden treasure blogs of the blogosphere, and she deserves a big friendly aloha from everyone.

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