The Visibility Guarantee: Your Values

This was the big news of the tech world yesterday: “Facebook acquires Instagram in $1 billion deal.” — USA Today

Both companies have millions of users in their communities, and they were vocal, with these headlines capturing the trending of opinion:
“Facebook-Instagram deal raises new privacy worries” — CNET
“Dear Facebook, Please Don’t Ruin Instagram” — Mashable
“Facebook Buys Instagram For $1 Billion: What You Need To Know — Business Insider

Acquisitions and mergers always fascinate me in two ways (and I do think separating these considerations gives us a useful study).

Part of my fascination is with the deal itself — the art and science of business that has to do with financial literacy, strategic decision-making, and business modeling. This acquisition is definitely intriguing: A billion dollars for a 13-employee company barely two years old, which offers a free photo-sharing app, and hasn’t made a dime in revenue? Why? What is really being purchased here? And before anyone screams “sell-out!” would you have turned down a billion dollars? I can imagine the ideas churning in the heads of Instagram’s founders… What will their next project be, now that they can self-fund it?

Business Thinking …with Aloha

I tipped you off to the larger part of my fascination in my post title. The bigger the community of stakeholders a business has, the more apparent the prevailing reputation of that business. If we put financial savvy and intellectual capital aside, what does the business stand for? What values have become most visible of all? Was their visibility intentional? If not, how did it happen?

And then there are my Managing with Aloha questions connected to MĀLAMA, ‘OHANA, HO‘OHANOHANO, and PONO: How much do they care about their reputation, and what are they doing about it? ‘Tis often true that we can’t please everyone, or expect everyone to understand our position, but who are we focused on serving, and have we served them well?

Take a second look at those headlines above: What do they say about Facebook?

Make no mistake: Your reputation isn’t something you proclaim — it’s given to you by others. A reputation is something you earn by walking and talking your values, or by failing to do so. It can be an award, or it can be a shackle. It can create hope, or it can create fear.

And people will talk about it.

When I dip into community reactions on Instagram (for that’s the smaller company being acquired) there’s worry. People have different ways of saying it, but essentially they all have the same question driving the emotional velocity of what they say: Which set of values, Facebook’s or Instagram’s, will shape our future in this community?

People know that values count for a lot.

People might envy your success, and they might even admire it. They might give you their patronage even when they disagree or are disgruntled; people can have funny reasons for the choices they make. This however, is quite clear: People only fall in love with you and your vision, wanting you to lead them, when they share your values and feel you honor them.

We can’t make others share our values. They have to enroll in them, and believe in them for themselves.

You honoring your values? Now that’s completely within your control, and the better you honor them, the more others believe in them — and believe in you.

So be that person. Be the person your values say you are.

Related reading: Let’s Define Values

Business Thinking with Aloha is available on Kindle and Smashwords.

This was an image I recently shared on Instagram: Hala for April.

About Rosa Say

Rosa is the author of Managing with Aloha. She’s a writer and photo-taker, a workplace culture coach, and a zealous advocate of managers everywhere. She’s a wife and mom, sister and daughter, manager, leader and worker bee, living the best life she can, just like you. Learn more about Rosa at


  1. Rosa Say says:

    Here’s another story from the New York Times, which is a commentary on the maxim that is supposed to define Google: “Don’t be evil.”
    NYT News Analysis: Don’t Be Evil, but Don’t Miss the Train

    These days, a lot of people — at least the mere mortals outside the Googleplex — seem to be wondering about that uncorporate motto.

    How is it that Google, a company chockablock with brainiac engineers, savvy marketing types and flinty legal minds, keeps getting itself in hot water? Google, which stood up to the Death Star of Microsoft? Which changed the world as we know it?

    You MUST walk your talk. Maxims, taglines, slogans — all communication, really — is empty and meaningless if they haven’t the Language of Intention of a company’s values.


  1. […] I get my chance to whittle down my definition of leadership, and ‘get real’ about it, each time I visit a workplace, conduct a workshop, or coach a facilitation: I watch the leaders-of-title in those places and situations, watching what works for them, and what falls short. I listen to how they converse, and if they do so, given the opportunity. I watch their demeanor as others talk back, and they listen, or appear to. I watch the informal leaders too, for they are so readily seen: leadership is highly visible. […]