Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine, November-December 2020 Hawai‘i Island issue.
Links are additions made expressly for the readers of this site and ManagingWithAloha.com.
This is the 7th article in the 3rd Series on Managing with Aloha written for the joint study of our Ho‘ohana Community and the business community of Ke Ola Magazine readers. Previously, article 6: A Language of Intention: Our Language of We.
The ‘Ohana in Business Model: Our Economy Done Better
Seventh in Series Three on Managing with Aloha | By Rosa Say
Live a good life with great work.
When I left the hotel industry to work for the Hualalai Resort back in 1996, I had been employed by a hotel or hotel chain for 22 years.
It no longer felt feasible or sensible to be a hotel employee to me. I felt the business model of the hotel industry was seriously, and irreparably broken: still do. When they profit, hotels make money for hotel owners, corporate holdings and a few executives, but they don’t provide a good living for the rank and file who assure the hotel operates well, and who give customers the Aloha-filled customer service hotel owners and executives market.
The hotels I had worked for did give back to the community, but I wondered if donations were sincerely given or simply more marketing at the local level, for shouldn’t a business operation take better care of the people it employed first?
When they recruited me, Hualalai offered me the Director of Retail position, and here’s what sealed the deal: they told me what their retail clerks were getting paid, nearly double the hourly rate of their hotel-employed counterparts. Why? “It’s the right thing to do—they need to make a decent living just as much as anyone else does.” Today, we refer to that as “a living wage.”
I hadn’t yet heard what they would pay me. I didn’t have to before knowing I’d made my decision to join them. After receiving their offer, I went home and put pen to paper on my first draft of what I felt a ‘Business with Aloha’ model would be, a document later anointed the ‘Ohana in Business model, Key 6 of the Managing with Aloha philosophy.
* To be clear, The Hualalai Resort focused exclusively on real estate sales at the time as a resort development firm which owned the hotel on their resort as a separate holding; the hotel was managed separately. The business model of the resort may differ today.
The Covid19 pandemic has been a death knell for small business. By some accounts, small business owners by the thousands are closing up shop in the United States alone. In contrast, big business conglomerates are enjoying astounding profits, for one of capitalism’s most notable features, is that wealth begets wealth. It has become blatantly obvious that the stock market is not a reflection of the economy: according to former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, “America’s richest 1% now own half the value of the U.S. stock market. The richest 10% own 92 percent.”
There is something seriously wrong with this economic picture, convincing many of us who study business to question our assumptions, and many conventions we’ve long taken for granted, or did not pay enough attention to.
Tackling a readjustment of the entire model of the U.S. economy is necessary but daunting, a staggering endeavor to be sure. Revising your own business model however, so it will be ethical, equitable and self-sustaining, isn’t—it is entirely within your own scope of influence and control. The only questions are what changes you are willing to make, and how much profit and prosperity you are willing to share with your partners—including your staff.
A business without a valid business model isn’t just a business without a recession-resistant roadmap, it’s a business without a conscience. Your intentions within your vision—good, values based, equitable-for-all intentions—are everything.
The pandemic has been painful, yet it gives us an opportunity to reset: let’s take it. Break the rules. Dust off your vision. Create a new one.
When you’re in business, you must be a visionary. You must want better for yourself, and all whom you employ, partner with, and serve. That’s what being “with Aloha” requires.
Consider your business to be a constant work in progress, theorizing on how more becomes possible. Experiment. Make a better reality for everyone involved, for visionaries keep hope alive and well. Here’s my vision, in part:
- Everyone who works gains a living wage: Their earnings sustain them in a good life.
- A business model is not valid or feasible, unless a living wage is what it creates and sustains for everyone involved with that business.
- Service jobs are admirable, appreciated and valued by others, and worth having.
- There is no “paying your dues” or “working your way up” into a living wage: You get it upon hire with every job, in every career, in every business model whether for-profit, non-profit, public or private sector. You get it if you’re hiring yourself in an entrepreneurial, self-employed model—ignore the Shark Tank VCs who say otherwise.
Am I dreaming? In today’s world I am, but that doesn’t mean it has to be this way. We can change the world one business model at a time.
Be the visionary of an ‘Ohana in Business: I call them Alaka‘i Benefactors, because they are.
We ho‘omau kākou,
The ‘Ohana in Business is Key Concept 6 in the Managing with Aloha philosophy: We explore our assembly with others, and how we commune and share. Next issue, we’ll talk about Key Concept 7: Strengths Management.
Read more about The ‘Ohana in Business in this index archived on www.ManagingWithAloha.com
Postscript: Ke Ola is published 6 times a year, and distributed in print on Hawai‘i Island and by subscription. I have therefore made a practice of archiving the articles on RosaSay.com for those within our Ho‘ohana Community who may want to read them after their scheduled distribution.
You can access all 40 articles I had written for Series 1 and 2 via this index. The introductory columns for each series may be read at the following links:
Series 1: Why Values? And Why “Manage with Aloha?”
Series 2: Aloha Intentions
Series 3: Ho‘omau Kākou.