Welcome to Hiromi Koizumi's blog - Innovation and Growth!

No matter how old we are and what type of company that we are working for, it is important for us to become a "professional" on some area.  In order for us to keep going as a professional, we need to catch up with what's happening in the world, in your country, in your company and in your community and to grow yourself faster than others.

To reflect mysel, I could not make immedate actions for the growth in the past.  However, the time has come and I first decided to open up this blog.

As we are all aware, once a person starts to grow through innovations and changes, the person will be able to grow his/her own company, to climb up the corporate ladder that the person belongs to, or to find better jobs.

Let's start doing even a small thing to grow ourselves!

Hope this blog will support you for your growth through innovation.



Hiromi Koizumi    

Latest Information

I am Back! 


Experience Accumulation in 2015

Delivering Big Results in 2016

Endless Hope in 2017!

Stay tuned!


Latest Articles

01/05/2017 Incredible Chain Reaction

It’s been about a year since I wrote an article last time!

Sorry that I was not able to update the page for so long. As I declared at the beginning of 2016, I was able to deliver a big new output in 3Q 2016... Continue 

01/09/2016 A Book Titled "Move Into Forests To Protect Water"

I don’t know when the last time that I read a book with so much concentration and finished reading in two days in a row.

The title of the book is “Move Into Forests To Protect Water” written by Takeshi Yamada. Continue

12/31/2015 The key is small efforts everyday

What a long time that I did not feel like writing an article!

I should start writing about the reasons.  Continue

05/31/2015 Challenges Continue

Sorry that I was not able to update my blog for so long.

You might think that I moved up a step and now I am able to take a bit of rest.

Actually not.  Continue

12/31/2014 Flu at the end of 2014

Right after the lesson of Sho on 26th, in a subway, I suffered terrible coldness on the way home.  Later, I felt quite feverish and, in the following day, I was diagnosed as Flu Type A.  In other words, my holidays didn’t go as planned.  Continue

12/12/2014 Reflecting Myself at the End of the Year

When a company creates a business plan for the next fiscal year based on mid- to long-term goal, it reviews its performance at first and summarizes what’s worked and not worked in order to find issues or areas of improvement.  Continue

11/29/2014 The New Challenge

“I don’t think staying in the same function or group this long would not give me much anymore and I don’t add much more values to the organization.”

In last summer, when I was about to enter in the eighth year after I joined the team, I happened to find vacant positions in our global job-posting system.  The first two was not quite suitable for my past experience but the third one... Continue

10/03/2014 What is Happiness?

We usually follow routines at work or school every day without having any problems: simply we take everything for granted and do not offer gratitude for living an ordinary life.

What about the people who fall victim to natural disasters?...Continue

09/28/2014 Diversity

The other day, I attended an international symposium titled “Women’s Power as the Source of Growth” hosted by the Government of Japan, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Nikkei Inc., and the Japan Institute of International Affairs.

The selection of the speakers is quite impressive:  Shizo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF; ...Continue

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Incredible Chain Reaction

It’s been about a year since I wrote an article last time!


Sorry that I was not able to update the page for so long.


As I declared at the beginning of 2016, I was able to deliver a big new output in 3Q 2016 after a long period of “Winter.”: I made an innovational change with my team in one important area of business including our group companies.


I have been also preparing for another challenge for 2017 since late last year but the result hasn’t been materialized due to the big size of the company that I belong.


One time, I felt like I was pushed over to an edge of a cliff, but if I gave up holding on to the cliff, I was dead!

“There must be something that I can do even now”

“How do I make a great turnaround under such circumstance?”

“Don’t lose your vitality!” 

I kept telling myself to create alternatives and options.

Once I became even slightly forward-looking, I was able to notice that I had been neglecting some important things and even I had a trump card.


After carefully checking the timing, I used the card.

“Now, I simply follow-up on whatever I have to do”

I became forward-looking again.

Well, it’s too bad that life is not that easy. Of course I faced another dead-end. I enjoyed the roller-coaster ride for a few days and, again almost lost energy.

All of a sudden, a friend of mine from the equestrian club that I belong sent me a message which says,

“C’mon, Hiromi.  Challenge yourself to become a great rider! Get the 3rd class equestrian certificate in late January.”

I was about to say to her, “C’mon, I am tied up with an important work assignment! No time to spend for equestrian lessons.”

I started to talk to myself,

“Hiromi, wait a second. This might be an advice from the Heaven. Doesn’t matter what it is. You need to break-through any types of difficulties at the same time.”

Fear is often worse than the danger itself!


I took more than double of equestrian lessons than usual, confirming my skills are not quite there yet but encouraging myself, “OK, Hiromi, some more lessons towards the end of the year”, “Some more until you actually apply for the test”

Then, this high-spirit influenced my mind for the assignment: I was able to find another chance.

This is an incredible chain reaction!

I renew my homepage now!


A Book Titled gMove Into Forests To Protect Waterh

I don’t know when the last time that I read a book with so much concentration and finished reading in two days in a row.


The title of the book is “Move Into Forests To Protect Water” written by Takeshi Yamada.


The US Company that I work for is very serious about of Sustainability but Suntory also is!  Their time-span to achieve this forest and water project is incredibly long: they say that it would take more than twenty years to nurture forests for sustainable water.

On top of it, simply planting trees in mountains or forests do not directly mean that the place would nurture nature and water underneath. It is such a good working environment that Suntory has as they are able to work on nurturing forests and water as one of their business, not as a CSR activity, based on scientific analysis depending on a condition of each forest they have.


In the book, even the author was surprised that the plan was approved by the board of directors. However, reflecting the history of Suntory, he mentioned that the company must have a long term investment stance as they are in whiskey and wine business that takes a long time to launch in the market place. From their point of view, a project to last between 20 to 30 years would not be so long. Such a business environment is very rare if the company is listed with many short-term investors and shareholders.


I remember that I wrote an article about forests to save Japan. Now I believe forests can save not only Japan but also the world. However, according to the book, it will require a tremendous efforts to maintain the sustainable forests: a certain types of trees, grass, and birds under the specific weather and soil conditions have to be carefully selected in order to sustain water and its energy. We, as adults, have to solve the issues created in myopic profit-seeking attitude during the fast grown economic condition after WWII not by pushing it to our younger generations.


As water is used by any types of manufacturers, those manufactures should become more aware of the importance of sustainable water as a part of their sustainable business. In the same way, shareholders and investors should believe in sustainability is the platform to create values: I am sure that they know the importance of Sustainability more than short-term profit and dividends..


I would love to learn more about global activities on forests and water!


I don’t know when the last time that I read a book with so much concentration and finished reading in two days in a row.


The title of the book is “Move Into Forests To Protect Water” written by Takeshi Yamada.


The US Company that I work for is very serious about of Sustainability but Suntory also is!  Their time-span to achieve this forest and water project is incredibly long: they say that it would take more than twenty years to nurture forests for sustainable water.

On top of it, simply planting trees in mountains or forests do not directly mean that the place would nurture nature and water underneath. It is such a good working environment that Suntory has as they are able to work on nurturing forests and water as one of their business, not as a CSR activity, based on scientific analysis depending on a condition of each forest they have.


In the book, even the author was surprised that the plan was approved by the board of directors. However, reflecting the history of Suntory, he mentioned that the company must have a long term investment stance as they are in whiskey and wine business that takes a long time to launch in the market place. From their point of view, a project to last between 20 to 30 years would not be so long. Such a business environment is very rare if the company is listed with many short-term investors and shareholders.


I remember that I wrote an article about forests to save Japan. Now I believe forests can save not only Japan but also the world. However, according to the book, it will require a tremendous efforts to maintain the sustainable forests: a certain types of trees, grass, and birds under the specific weather and soil conditions have to be carefully selected in order to sustain water and its energy. We, as adults, have to solve the issues created in myopic profit-seeking attitude during the fast grown economic condition after WWII not by pushing it to our younger generations.


As water is used by any types of manufacturers, those manufactures should become more aware of the importance of sustainable water as a part of their sustainable business. In the same way, shareholders and investors should believe in sustainability is the platform to create values: I am sure that they know the importance of Sustainability more than short-term profit and dividends..


I would love to learn more about global activities on forests and water!

The key is small efforts everyday

What a long time that I did not feel like writing an article!

I should start writing about the reasons.


First of all, simply, I could not think about spending some time to do it.


Reflecting October 2014 when I recommended myself to a newly opened challenging but interesting position and I got it, I knew that it will require a good amount of efforts as I was starting a brand-new thing.

Soon after this, in January 2015, due to the global restructuring of the company, my boss had to go.  Then, as I lost my boss to report to, I was transferred to the other team  in April: I never thought this could happen when I recommended myself to the newly opened position.  The new team that I was transferred to was totally different from the one that I was interested in working.  As you can imagine, this was a very painful transition.    


Well, of course, it’s just another duty of “salaried women.”  However, I could not help thinking about finding another job outside as I was forced to do something that I never thought of doing it without any clear direction but instead only a simple command of “Prepare a simple analysis of this and that.”  Many of managers who do not know the “real” work that he or she gets involved in cannot give a purpose and an output image: they tend to mention “generic” knowledge that anybody can say but nothing related to insights. 


In preparation for the job hunting, I have to have some “success stories” from this new situation: something that I am able to have a pride in.

“Voila!”  I got some!!


It’s been a long way to come this way but I made it!  I’m proud of myself!


Now I would like to make them advanced and to make it as my expertise! 

This was a result of accumulating my forward-looking small efforts of trying to find a better way and connecting them to corporate strategy.


Yes, “living the moment” is the platform of opening up a new destiny!


I am very glad that I was able to report to all of you that I made some accomplishment in the new field at the end of 2015. I am sure that I will be able to have more time to “think.”


What about finding a job outside?

Maybe some time away.

Challenges Continue

Sorry that I was not able to update my blog for so long.

You might think that I moved up a step and now I am able to take a bit of rest.

Actually not.

My body screamed and asked me to STOP for a while two weeks ago.

Yes, I am forced to have a rest upon doctor’s advice.

I have nothing else to do but laying in my Futon, I thought this is the best time to quickly update it.


I have been enjoying changes and challenges since last October and, fortunately, I became aware of many things that I neglected in the past years.  Or, even if I thought “this would ruin out competitive advantages in the near future, there was no functions or senior managers who would be able to act on it.  Finally, at the current function that I belong to, I am freely address on any of the issues and work on ourselves.


Well, the flip side of this is that as I absorbed myself into these projects, I could not reflect my health condition:  this is not a good sign as a business professional.  I need to slow down a bit but to continue to keep myself fit.


I constantly learn to change the way I used to work nowadays.  One of the reasons is that the audience or client who receives our analysis and recommendation was drastically changed.  I don’t have any problems to talk and discuss issues and constructive solutions but I have to adjust the way I create presentation materials and the way I explain in order to induce constructive discussions.  Although this is so true and basic as a key of presentation, I forgot about this as I always faced the same type of audience for quite a long time.   


Also, I forgot about deep-diving the raw data of analysis as I knew that there’s no ways of knowing the reasons with our existing research system. 

Why not change the existing one then?  Go back to the basics!

Yes.  This is how I changed to challenge myself and colleague.


It is obvious that these new changes and challenges contribute to my future career, although it is always painful to find a new way of doing better solutions.


I keep going by keeping myself fit, learning new things, challenging new things, and,

on top of these, of course, updating this blog more frequently!

Flu at the end of 2014

Right after the lesson of Sho on 26th, in a subway, I suffered terrible coldness on the way home.  Later, I felt quite feverish and, in the following day, I was diagnosed as Flu Type A.  In other words, my holidays didn’t go as planned.


Despite of this terrible fact, friends and families connected with SNS encouraged me by sending messages such as “God has arranged it for you to have a good physical rest,” and “Please take time without thinking anything.”


It’s New Year’s Eve!

Thanks to you all that I was able to have a good rest at the end of the year.


My husband id most of housecleaning: he was very kind to reserve a hotel room in the city while he vacuums the apartment (although the payment was done by me LOL).  The only thing that we left is to eat Year-End Soba (Buckwheat noodle) together with my family watching NHK Red and White Concert Show.


Again, I would like to offer gratitude to you all from the bottom of my heart for everything you did for my work and private activities in 2014.


Wish you a Happy New Year!

Reflecting Myself at the End of the Year

When a company creates a business plan for the next fiscal year based on mid- to long-term goal, it reviews its performance at first and summarizes what’s worked and not worked in order to find issues or areas of improvement.

Therefore, I questioned myself,

“What is my mid- and long-term plan?” The answers are:

  1. Remain professionally active throughout my life! – But don’t be too active after the age 80
  2. Full-time work for 3 days (or 20 hours work per week) until the age 70
  3. Full-time for five days a week as a management consultant until the age of 65
  4. Accumulate experience in Senior Management Team in the current company until the age of 60
  5. Learn how to become a good management consultant at Strategy and Insights until the age 55


As I wrote the other day, I was transferred to a new group of Strategy and Insights regardless of my  limited experience of corporate strategy; I would like to learn as much as I can for the next three years.  After the age of 55, I might need to try using the skills either at the current company or somewhere else.  At the same time, I would like to look for the potential clients.

After the age 60, as I would easily imagine that the physical strength would be weaker, I might need to be my own boss and to work full time to keep some income.

After 65, I would accept the annual income to be about a half of I earn now and reduce the working hours...


Now, reflecting myself this year, I realized there were so many things happened.

Since I was diagnosed as Meniere’s disease, my physical condition got worse and lost physical strength to keep myself going: I have been taking four different types of herbal medicine.

Despite this health condition, I applied for a job posting and passed the interviews and an exam to be transferred to Strategy and Insight Group as of October 1.  Thanks to this change as I have started to:

A)     Stop my favorite flamenco dance after the recital in November to focus on the new assignment

B)     Learn Bayes Statistics

C)     Revisit English Grammar for better English writing

D)    Watch NHK World Newsline every morning from Monday through Friday via Smart Phone


Especially, because English is used at a meeting of Strategy and Insight Group, I need to brush up English skills for proper expressions and vocabulary related to Economics and Business.  On top of this, in order to create a forecast model, I need to have knowledge about Bayes Statistics.


There will be many more to come to stimulate my intellectual curiosity!

The area of my improvement that I could identify is “to calmly and orderly make actions”


When I feel more comfortable with the current assignment, I would be able to start to dance flamenco and to aim for participating in Tokyo Equestrian Cup.  Luckily, I will be able to get a longer year-end vacation this year to stay in Izu and Takayama for quiet reading and thinking.


In any event, I will continue to make innovative changes for further growth!

The New Challenge

“I don’t think staying in the same function or group this long would not give me much anymore and I don’t add much more values to the organization.”


In last summer, when I was about to enter in the eighth year after I joined the team, I happened to find vacant positions in our global job-posting system.  The first two was not quite suitable for my past experience but the third one was quite attractive.  Also, the job grade was the same as my current one. 

“Well, this might give me a great opportunity to learn and contribute more!”

I instantly thought about applying it.  When I checked the deadline for the application, I realized that there were only three days left!

“Should I give up or be brave to talk to my current boss?  What should I say to him?”


As the process has to be taken behind the scene, I could only send him an e-mail and asked if I could at least apply for it although the hurdle might be quite high.


He instantly replied with an answer “yes,” and the whole process took place quite rapidly.  Soon after the application with my resume, two interviews, an hour each, with my potential colleague and one “business case exam” was held:  the case exam was like the one for a consulting company to solve a business case within 10 min with a white board and a calculator.  I felt like I went back to my business school days.

In any event, I managed to pass all of the above and the last interview with Senior Vice President for a final check.


Voila!  I was transferred to the Strategy and Insights team as of October 1.


It’s been only about two months since I was transferred; I am still catching up with the way this Strategy team manages their assignments: every single task has to be done very quickly and thoughtfully to satisfy the management requirement.  This is totally different from the previous one that required careful coordination with other departments and business partners: consensus was everything there.  Instead, we are requested to deliver even only 30% but on time (of course,  a fair justification is a must).  When I was going through the hiring process, I, kind of, knew this would be the case.  Yeah, I was totally right.

On top of this, as there are so many “highly restricted” projects that I have to get involved in, I need to request for some information from other departments without explaining the real reasons to them.  This requires good communication skills and trust among colleague.


In any event, I have been calmly and diligently working on each task with smile.  While I have intensively worked in the past few weeks, during the lunch time break, I was able to discuss constructively with other colleague of the Strategy team on how the multi-national company should grow in Japan.  Once I get used to the way the team works, this team is going to be the best place for me to contribute and learn.


About the same time last year, I was filled with a hope of the new coming year with innovation and challenge.  I feel the same way now by working differently than before.


I will keep learning and growing next year as well!

What is Happiness?

We usually follow routines at work or school every day without having any problems: simply we take everything for granted and do not offer gratitude for living an ordinary life.


What about the people who fall victim to natural disasters?


So many quite unusual sizes of earthquake, tsunami, landslide, flood and others have hit Japan and other places on Earth for the past few years.  As the result, we don’t know exactly how many people who cannot spend “ordinary” life.  In Japan, at Hanshin-Awaji Great Earthquake, the number of people who evacuated was close to 240,000, whereas at Higashi-Nihon Great Earthquake, it was about 330,000.  We don’t even know how many more in total lost “ordinary” life and realized this “ordinary” life was the happiest time in the world.


A private partnership called TOMOCACHI project to support children who suffered Higashi-Nihon Great Earthquake was set up soon after the earthquake by Government of USA and American-Japanese Council.  This is a partnership to support children who lost parents, brothers and sisters.  I met one of the children joined the program sponsored by the partnership at work when I was taking a two-hour seminar by American NPO about defining “Happiness.”  She was outstanding in co-leading the seminar with an American lecturer and I felt like I could see a bright future of this Japanese young lady.  In any event, here is the list of my take-away points:


1)    Everyone has Light at heart

2)    Shine the Light that you have

3)    Smile makes you happy – scientifically proven

4)    Circumstantial Happiness vs. Synthetic Happiness

5)    Honestly show your dark side and find new connections – this will lead you to Happiness

6)    Happiness can be transmitted to others.  Try to transmit to others.

7)    Praise others’ good points


After the seminar, on the way to lunch, a friend of mine and I laughed each other and agreed this was something like Japanese definition of religion.  In Japan, when people use the word Shukyo (religion), this automatically means Cult.  When I hear the first point during the seminar, I thought “No way, you tell this at the office?!”  However, I also had a second thought that working in a profit-organization also is like believing a god.  There is a god at the top and we believe he or she is right.  The products approved by the god and senior angels are the treasures to make people happy.  When sales forces believe in the products, they sell them to consumers; and consumers become happy!


Now, I should get back to what I was saying.


I am Japanese but I sometimes feel like I don’t have the same definition of happiness as other Japanese do.  The reason, I guess, is that I learned how to find my own value when I studied at the States.   However, many around me tend to compare his/her own happiness to others.  Their happiness might mean a sense of superiority:  I am happier than that person; that person might be happier as he/she lives in a penthouse and have a high-end sports car; and so on. 


Do you sometimes question yourself if you are happy?


However, I realized one thing when I attended the above seminar that, regardless of your nationality or who you are, when people feel happiness, they smile!  For the people, who experienced the great earthquakes and lost family and a platform of the “ordinary” life, to recover smile, what has to be done?  What about the people who try to protect their lives at a battlefield or for the women who are forced to work like slaves?  They might not be able to smile at all.  What about ourselves who do not notice the happiness of “ordinary” life?  How many times do we smile a day?


There have been more and more natural disasters, indiscriminate murder, traffic accidents that will take away our “ordinary” happiness.  Whatever happens, the most important thing is to try to protect your life.  Keeping one- to two-week worth of food and water is another thing.  On top of it, it is also important to increase the number of times you smile a day.  Let’s try to smile at work, at home, at anywhere.

At the seminar, we learned that, even when you don’t feel like you can smile, “Fake it until feel it!”

I guess anybody can do this.  And when we smile, let’s transmit to others so that they could also feel happy at work: it would increase your productivity!  When we do it at home, our family becomes happy!  We should train ourselves to become happy under any circumstances as the “ordinary” life might be taken away suddenly.


PS:  I wrote this script on September 23 in Japanese.  And then, on September 27, Mt. Ontake erupted and 47 people are reported to have passed away.  Please allow me to express my deepest sympathy.


The other day, I attended an international symposium titled “Women’s Power as the Source of Growth” hosted by the Government of Japan, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Nikkei Inc., and the Japan Institute of International Affairs.

The selection of the speakers is quite impressive:  Shizo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF; Akie Abe, Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan; Cherie Blair, ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain; Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Japan; And other celebrity


The discussions and talks lasted four hours and a half but, to summarize, there is 1) an opportunity loss of economic growth due to excluding women from activities to generate economic values and possibility of gaining competitive advantage by an aggressive participation of women for value added activities and 2) evident cultural background in Japan to prevent women from participating in the activities:  women tend not to have eagerness or  even despair of doing so men tend to dislike accepting diversity.


At the end of panel discussions, a Japanese woman (she claimed that she is a board member of foreign capital investment bank in Japan) asked a question about how to proceed nurturing diversity, especially among Japanese men.  I remember one of the answers from panelists was that there was no concern for Japanese men to accept diversity as Prime Minister Abe and Keidanren committed to promote women.  On the other hand, there was a comment that, as this issue is strongly connected to Japanese culture; it would be difficult to change quickly.

I went home wondering how many Japanese men could accept the change.


At the noon on the following day, NHK broadcasted that Prime Minister Abe declared to open an office for UN Woman in Tokyo.  At the forum, we heard that series of meetings with a smaller and more powerful group will be held to discuss further about promoting women.  Therefore, I guess the news was one of the result of these discussions.  At the NHK evening news on the same day, a story about tax benefits for those Japanese companies who promote women board members was broadcasted.  Yet, I am skeptical about Japanese companies to do it.  As seen in the past, I would like to really question the level of change of Japanese companies dominated by men: Japan could not revive the economy for the past twenty years.  How could I suddenly believe that Japan would change soon?


I believe that the only persons that could possibly change Japanese men are the ones who are highly recognized socially and economically among public.  If those could use carrot and stick to clearly reward what they should do and let the men learn from the experience, then many would start to change.  Unfortunately, I don’t see any sticks this time.  Again, I don’t expect too much for the Japanese men to accept changes that would cause troubles for them with a small reward.

Well, at least the government realized the importance of women finally.  I hope it would not be “too little too late.”


Now, leaving all the current circumstances, what should I do upon this potential change?

Well, unfortunately, I don’t think I should change anything: simply keep doing what I have been doing, that is, “set a goal and keep going toward it without giving up studying, but for growth. Anne Sweeney, Co-chair of Disney Media Networks said at the panel discussion,

“Go and Get it!”


Apart from the forum that I attended, a female colleague of mine participated in TED activities the other day and she was quite inspired after that.  She learned from one of TED videos that women tend to give up career development as they believe marriage and having a family with children will prevent her pursue her own career.  But the video told her not to give up.  She realized that she should also have a goal and try to achieve it.  Giving up ones’ own career is nonsense.  When the time has come to think seriously about your own career, you’d better think about it.  But until then, don’t even worry about your family and children.  During the Ted session, after listening to the above mentioned, she could not help but shed tears thinking, “Gee, I never knew that I can have my OWN goal?  I thought I could never ever have any!”  Now, she told me that she has her own career goal.  Splendid!


Under any circumstances, the only thing we could do for our career is to continue striving for achieving our own goal without giving up.  I abandoned a dream of Japanese men to accept diversity long time ago but I never give up my own goal.


Now, to all women who are still hesitant to start,

“Let’s go and get it!”

Discover New Things From Traditions

It is good to know that more young Japanese people started to recognize values in Japanese traditional culture.  As for me, kimono became one of my casual clothes as a friend of mine who runs a kimono shop in Ginza suggested me wear silk ones to prevent skin problems such as rash and itchiness from chemical fiber and sweat.  I never thought kimono really fits Japanese women this much after I started to wear it casually.


The first time that I decided to take the advantage of being Japanese in understanding and practicing Japanese traditional culture was when I studied in the States.  Of course, I needed to prioritize what I want to learn as I am not that rich to learn everything.   


As I value Japanese cultural traditions, I want to know and adopt new culture from other countries of the world so that the Japanese tradition would evolve.

Now, let’s take a look at the company culture of the multi-national company that I work for.  Non-Japanese members often say many Japanese tend to hesitate to adopt new and different ideas.  In many cases, they said, when Japanese fail for their overseas’ assignment, they push their ways to local employees without adopting the ways that local people feel comfortable or believe efficient.  In reverse, Japanese members in Japan tend to deny, without considering the reasons, what non-Japanese members in Japan recommend or suggest.  Well, many Japanese members are tired to listen what cannot be solved in a short term and to implement immediately without believing it works.  It is sad to see these conflicts between Japanese vs. Non-Japanese so often.  Are Japanese members too stubborn?  Or, do Non-Japanese members want to try understanding the Japanese market?  It’s a chicken and egg situation.  One thing that I can say is to improve the situation is not to take a position of confrontation but to try to understand what has to be solved.  I hate to say this but I see many Japanese members tend to give millions of reasons why they cannot do the requests or, even worse, to leave it as is after they say, “yes.”


When some new suggestions or recommendations are raised, without thinking with big sigh, “Not again,” Japanese should re-consider what the purpose of doing it and organize what can be done in a short time.  Fortunately, the situation has been gradually improved for the past five years.

Furthermore, in the eyes of Japanese who love “harmony”, some ways non-Japanese act in office sometimes are not acceptable or something that they want to ignore.  For example, although this is a small incident, Japanese do not reserve a meeting room for senior managers (not board of directors), so called “board room.”  Or, even if they think about it once, they are afraid to be told by their peers, “what do you think you are?”  Non-Japanese tend not to hesitate to reserve the room as they believe they have a “valid” reason to use.

Also, non-Japanese tend to aggressively speak up in a meeting and to try to show their skills and ability where as Japanese try to hold their opinions until they are sure or forced to say in the meeting because they believe the result of their opinions might be a response from other members saying, “don’t pretend that you know everything because you don’t know yet,” or, “don’t start unnecessary discussions as there will be no solutions found in the meeting but they just cause chaos.”


Given the example above, I don’t think I can reserve the “board room,” or I cannot appeal my existence by speaking up my opinions in a meeting for my career.  Well, once I accepted non-Japanese advice and tried to speak up in a meeting but I experienced terrible reactions after the meeting from Japanese peers.  Maybe one of the reasons of the reactions was because I am a woman.


In any event, in order to win the battle in the market place, constructive discussions are indispensable.

Difference in opinions will generate new and innovative ideas for competitive advantage.  Even we cannot find the solution at the meeting, we can at least agree to form an ad-hoc team to find solutions in the near future.  I believe this is far much better in finding a further step for growth than shutting the mouth and leave it as is.

Scuppering your own ship?

Anyone who founded a company wishes it to last long.  The company that I work for is American but it has more than 100 years of history: yes, it is first of the kind.


A healthy organization calls for productive and talented employees and grows in a lively working environment.  When a new company is born, of course, the scale might be small but it actually creates an ideal atmosphere for smooth communication and quick decision-making.  Instead, those which established a stable stage after a growth, have comparatively mid to large size and consist of many specialized departments that make communication and decision making process complex and, as a result, the complex structure causes delays in execution; it loses mobility.  Does this only because of the structure of the organization?


When the organization is small and growing, individual members always have their opinions to improve the situation and act like an owner.  If members do not show any contributions, others start to make noise about their no-output.  As the company starts to grow, there will be many more different types of works so that each individual has to form a team to make the work more efficient.  This is a necessary step for a company to grow.  However, people have to start paying attention to what they do from this point.


If a team leader, at a certain point of time, starts to search for stability of their work and keep their vested rights or interests.

“Let’s make my subordinates do all miscellaneous works and, when necessary, I give them advice.  I want to pick up a higher-level work as I have been working so hard in the past few years to make this company big.” “I built this wonderful team and I don’t think others can do better.  Even if someone else tries to steal the team from me, I will stop him/her no matter what.”  There must be some readers remembering the similar phrase.

Among young members who watch what their bosses doing or saying these for a few years, some might believe that what they see is the right thing and think,

“I would like to act like my boss when I climb up to his level and enjoy my life without doing troublesome jobs.”

In a long-lasing Japanese company, group managers or division managers tend to be away from their office visiting customers (but we don’t know exactly where they are) or to play golf with customers(we don’t know for sure):  The higher their positions are, the less they work because they believe they are privileged to do so.  In the worst case, they have no interests in what their subordinates do.  Such department will stick out as their performance gets worse without any solutions and the leader tends to blame his subordinates.  If those types of people work at Non-Japanese companies, their groups or divisions will be slashed no matter what.  This is very fair and efficient restructuring.  The company that I work for is no exception. We only need Acting Managers who do most of the work for themselves and for the team: as the person can manage a lot of work, HR gives them subordinates.  It doesn’t matter if the person is VP or SVP.  They are required to understand what’s going on in the market as well as in their teams.  No secretary is provided unless you are included in the top 1%.  Why Acting Manager?  Acting Managers can immediately correct mistakes, change the way they should proceed, and implement necessary countermeasures.  If the group leader is not Acting Manager, the only thing he can do is to keep losing revenue and shares against competitors, and as a result, he loses their jobs eventually.   

In other words, the organization is dumped into the dust bin, regardless of its wonderful company creed: Many group leaders are away from the market and consumers but they try to make money for their own sake and/or to expand his empire by increasing unnecessary jobs and subordinates. 

This applies not only for a profit organization but also others like religious, public benefit organization and private schools.


Scuppering your own ship?  Is that what you want to do?

Current Health Condition

Since the doctor told me not to use a PC and smart phone at home, I could only write an article at office during the lunch time.


Although I had been using a terminal or a PC all the time since I graduated from University and Graduate School, since I was diagnosed as cataract, I had been reducing the use of a PC at home and, instead, increasing the use of my body and ear for dance and song practice.  Therefore, I have a lot to do after work.


However, I suffer motion sickness in association with Meniere’s Disease and feel tired most of the time.  It’s like I’ve been working so hard for the past years and I never can get recovered from the fatigue.  The doctor suggested me, as a treatment of the disease, walk very quickly for more than 30 min every morning and evening.  I managed to do it for the past month but, since the condition did not go well as he expected, he request me do aerobics at home on top of the two walking sessions.  I don’t think I can do more than what I do now and I gave up getting medical advice from him.  I need some rest after work!@He was quite famous in treating the disease without any medicine or drugs but I do have a physical limit.  When I cannot move, I cannot move.   

I decided to change to Eastern Medicine with holistic approach unlike Western Medicine which doctors focus only on their professional areas.  I don’t think I can call Western Medicine as “advanced” any more, unfortunately. 

Plan a Day without Any Plans

Since the early morning of May 23, when I got up with a sense of spinning and I actually could not move due to the terrible dizziness, my life like used to be the one of wide-ranging fish has been completely changed.


I was sentenced by a doctor “absolute bed rest” on 5/23 at a hospital and I could not really move for the next week.  In the second week, I managed to go to office but it was not really productive because of the dizziness.  This is just a running joke but a few seconds after the doctor sentenced me “absolute bed rest”, I tried to convince her that I would be totally fine to go to a flamenco cante concert that my husband bought me a ticket and we were planning to go there in that evening.  I tried three times before I left the medical examination room but, of course, I could not convince her but made her angry!


As I never ever had any chance to come across the word “complete rest” in my life, looking back a month ago, it was really frustrating on the very first day.  Of course, I could not physically move due to the sickness but I COULD THINK.  Therefore, I used iPad Mini and started to read/send e-mails of the work place and to browsing many things.


On the following day, I had to go to the same hospital for further medical examination but I felt like I want to do something as I have plenty of time at home or a nearby café.  Then I gradually realized that I really cannot move as I got really sick and terribly tired after walking in a few minutes.  “Ah, this is why I was sentenced to stay on bed all day.”  I finally realized the situation.


 “I cannot move regardless of my will!”


When I found out this simple thing, I was able to decide to stay on bed as it was like my duty.  Strangely enough, I could sleep almost all day without thinking anything.  This disease is intractable and I have to accept to live with it throughout my life with some kind of a course of physiotherapy.  Now, I really have to accept slowing down my work and hobby.  On appearance, people see that I was back to normal but I constantly feel spinning.


When I open my diary and find out that there are some days without any schedule, I feel uneasy because, for the past 15 years, my calendar was filled with so many things for the next month or two.  Now, I have to transform myself to consult with my body before deciding to mark my calendar: this is for me a whole different personally than before!!  It’s just a big challenge for me.


Wait for my updated report on this in the future!



Revenue Growth

I had a chance to join a 2-day seminar held by a consulting company the other day.  It was like the business simulation game that I did at a business school in US but it was quite fun again.  5 to 6 members from different functions from our company consist of 1 group and there were 5 groups altogether: we fought against each other for market share, revenue and profit.


The team that I belonged, unfortunately, scored the lowest among five: we made a wrong investment decision and accumulated too much inventory at the first year.  But later, we aimed for revenue growth by investing further without spending too much.  When we failed at the beginning, I thought there would no chance to recover and I was right.  Yes, we were the loser but we managed to grow profit and revenue consecutively for two years.  Also, our market share recovered significantly in the second year.


It is obvious to make an investment decision based on market needs not by the past decision of line investment or your own preference.  However, whenever the time is running out and there are bunch of people with strong opinions without strong leader (or strong leader not to listen to others), the decision tends to be wrong or weak.  You see it’s the same in the real world, too.


The team that I was assigned to discussed a lot about the direction of product, price and place, the basics of Marketing, but everyone was sure that his or her idea would work: this made us difficult to make one simple decision.  This was one of the reasons that we lost.  We were quite logical but caught up with the discussions of what risks that we can afford to take under such a pressure.  One good thing was that we tried to avoid the mistakes of balanced contraction.  When people think only about cost reductions, they tend to forget to invest for the future that leads a share or revenue loss.  Remember that it is far much easier to grow profit by increasing revenue by 1% than reducing costs by 1%.  This is from my past business experience and I could not accept discussing too much about cost reductions.


Which one do you choose first, cost reductions or investment for the future?


It is always important to consider about product mix; if each product satisfies consumers’ or market needs and occasions.  It is still OK to stick to one major product but always better to think about satisfying consumers’ occasions by changing the product in a different form.  If possible, try to offer new products for unidentified consumer needs through innovation.  Again, innovation is not only about technology but also about catching occasions.


Now, I am quite interested in how you make decisions.  When you have a chance to play a business simulation application, please do so and let me know the result!

Are you transforming?

After I decided to make the New Year’s resolution of “Another Transformation this year!” I finally had a chance to review the first quarter:

1)    Started to learn Sho of Gagaku@

2)    Decided to form a stronger connection with Hida

  • Would like to have a house with natural energy (not thought about natural energy) 

3)    Formed a connection with Higashi Izu

  • Re-connected with old friends during Singapore time

4)    Cancelled the membership with the equestrian club that I belonged to close to ten years (totally unforeseen)

5)    Made a flamenco debut at a tablao (totally unforeseen as well)


Re 1), it was decided last November.  However, 2) and 3) are something that I suddenly decided right after the earthquake in March in Shikoku (a country of Iyo) because my sixth sense that was a sleep for a while became awaken.  When the planned earthquake hits Kanto, there would be no place for my parents and brother to live.  I felt strongly to find a place for them to be, at least, evacuated temporarily.  My husband and I have been thinking about going to Hida if we have to get evacuated from Tokyo, but I didn’t think my parents would love to live in a cold place.  Since I suddenly remembered that our older friends from the Singapore time living in Higashi Izu, we decided to get connected with the place.

The by-product of the awakened sixth sense was 4).  Why does this link with the equestrian club?  My bridle and saddle were in a locker of the club and I did not want to lose such an expensive and lovely bridle and saddle because of the earthquake.  Therefore, I decided to bring them to Hida.  I wonder if I could not do horse-riding for a while… I felt a bit sad but if I don’t have them evacuated in advance, I was also sure that I would regret.  So I made the move right away.

Re 5), the flamenco dance teacher suggested some of our classmates if we were interested in dancing at a tablao in late January, I was more than happy to do so and said “Yes!” to the offer.  However, it was just tough to get prepared for the day for the debut as I imagined: working from 9 am to 7 pm, practicing flamenco from 8 pm to 10 pm twice or three times a week with team members.  During the same period, I was also preparing for 2) and 4).  Now, you must know what happened after the debut.  Right after the debut of March 23, I suffered a series of health problems and got a minor asthma attack in early April.  Until May 5, I repeatedly had minor asthma attack frequently: I was lucky enough not to have a major one.  It’s been a slow start of the second quarter but now I am gradually recovering.


Furthermore, I had to review my annual budget because of 2) and 4).  However, as I haven’t decided details of 2), I still cannot finalize the budget yet.

In any event, it was significant transformation that I went through in the first quarter.


Regarding a riding academy, I could not help but joined another one close to my apartment in Tokyo.  I am pretty sure that we will have a big earthquake soon in Kanto area but I would also regret if I cannot ride horse.  Well then, what about bridle and saddle?  I kept them in Hida for a while.


By the way, my work at the FMCG Company has been gradually changing and I have started to do lot of new things.  This is not something that I decided but the company decided on my behalf!     


I would like to continue aiming for further growth and transformation calmly, step by step, and with nice smile on my face.

Hope you readers also review your first quarter soon for further transformation!

Let’s keep moving!

Some illness comes from the mind

I fell sick at the end of March and had a minor asthma attack at the first week of April.  Since then, I had to slow down my daily life with the breathing problem.  And now, it’s already the long holiday season called Golden Week!  I really have to come back to normal to catch up with work and hobbies.  Be hurry without feeling pressure!


I’m lucky to have a good friend of mine, who is psychic, from Singapore time more than 15 years ago, who always knows how to adjust my life for the better: It’s like God arranges a meeting occasion with her no matter how busy I am.  She is just a simple house wife whose husband was transferred to Singapore even before my husband and I went there.  Not many people could understand what these psychics do but they are truly incredible.  She, in particular, uses so called “the Light of God” and save people’s life and changes people’s destiny better.  Not only her but also her husband and her family has this power of seeing something that we, ordinary people, could not see.  Therefore, they also easily get surprised when they come across the mysterious scenes.  However, they don’t use this power for a living as they are VERY RICH!: they are given everything by God as they accumulated good deeds in the past lives.  To become a person who’s given everything by God, I have to accumulate so much of good deeds in this life time.  Well, at least I feel like I had already started to earn a bit of these deeds a few years ago.  Maybe the reward will be in my next life but, unless I start, I could never become a person like that.


She told me there is a cause of becoming sick, no matter what it is: The cause someties comes from their innermost attitude and also the innermost attitude will affect how quickly they recover. One example is that a man who received a medal and an award of merit at one time.  He became cancer immediately after he received it.  His family also got sick right after the decoration.  As he was sentenced for a death within a few months, he and his family visited my friend, say Mrs. A.  Mrs. A instantly advised him to say, “Thank you all for supporting me in the past.  I was able to receive the medal and award due to your support,” to others.  He obviously looked like annoyed as he might have thought it’s not because of others but I made it by myself.  Mrs. A clearly saw his spiritual nose growing longer toward a ceiling.  His nephew thanked Mrs. A for saying it to the man but the man himself never agreed to do it.  If his innermost attitude changed and he said “thank you” to the others, he could survive.  As his doctor told him, he passed away soon after the visit.


Another example is that when people dies early, many of them tend to strongly wish that they want to die to feel better.  It is totally wrong to believe in the death will make yourself much better and there is nothing after death.  However, those who do not believe that there is another world after death tend to use the death as an excuse to escape from reality.  Everything that you are experiencing now is the results of things that you have done in the previous life and your assignment is to overcome the mistakes.  However, you don’t have to look back the past that you cannot change no matter what, but instead, you have to look for the future with bright and cheerful innermost attitude.  We are not able to easily get out of any types of unhappy situation but let’s try to believe that the future is bright.  In Japanese, we write “tomorrow” as a bright day ().  When you can truly believe in that you will become happy, you will be happy.  When you buy a lottery 100% believing you will win a certain amount without having any doubts, you will get the amount, Mrs. A said.  Well, as I never can believe that, I will not buy a lottery, unfortunately.


I believe that accumulating my deeds for the betterment of others and society, I will be able to live comfortably without having any worries.  I should remind myself that all illness comes from my mind and believe that I will never become sick, although I always try to take care and listen to what my body says.  Yes.  My future IS bright and cheerful

To Youngsters

I went to go to a famous pizza restaurant in Azabujyuban called Savoy the other day with my niece.  We kept saying, “Very tasteful!” with every dish that we ordered.  For those who had not been there, I recommend to try at least once.  However, you might want to make a reservation to keep the seats as the place is quite small.


My niece became a sophomore of a university this April and I felt that she became more mature since I last saw her more than a year ago.  Has she been study hard?  Well, unfortunately, I did not feel that way.  This is something that I have been thinking for a long time but why students at Japanese universities do not study hard and this has been the “norm” of university students in Japan for quite some time: Even my time, when I was a student at a college in Japan, people tend to say that university is not a place to study but to learn about the social world.  Is that so?  It looks like many of them are simply playing around spending their parents’ money.  Is playing the means to learn about social world?  I don’t think so.  I advice her “Study first. If you have some more time, then enjoy the time with your friends”.


There is an entire world out there, youngsters.  Have you ever thought about the positioning of your own country?  When I said this, my niece, quietly listening what I had been talking, asked me suddenly.  “Auntie, why did President Obama come to visit Japan?”

Good question!


She did understand that President Obama came to Japan not for sightseeing.  As a matter of fact, I was relieved to hear this question from her.  Am I too optimistic about my own niece?  Related to the question, I talked to her in a simple way about 1) Importance of Japan-U.S. Security Agreements related to recent frictions among China, Korea and Japan, 2) Japanese economy after the economic bubble bust and Abenomics, 3) TPP negotiations, 4) Foreign investors’ dominance of Japanese stock market, 5) Yasukuni Shrine issues, and so on.  Gradually, a smile from her face was faded away.  I, myself, was a bit surprised to reconfirm that Japan never had come back from the bubble burst EVEN before my niece was born!  I felt miserable to face this fact again.


Youngsters in20’s and 30’s, have you ever discussed with your friends at least one single issue from the above 5 items?


“Study English harder,” I said to my niece.  “Please find out the position of your own country and become a person who can discuss constructively with people from abroad.”  I am not sure if she understood what I mean but she suddenly said, “Auntie, I would like to go to a book store to buy books about how to learn English” at a bar in Grand Hyatt Hotel drinking non-alcohol cocktail close to 10 p.m..  Fortunately, as we were in Roppongi area, there is one book store open until almost midnight near the Roppongi Cross Road.  Once we purchased what she selected, we hop on the bus heading toward Shibuya.  She was immediately started to read the book.  I was quite happy seeing her reading it so enthusiastically.  Hope she continues to read it.


This is not the message that I want to transmit to my own niece but to all youngsters who will build this country in the future.  I strongly request youngsters to think your own ways to protect our beautiful country with full of marvelous culture and tradition, by appropriately picking up the right information, without being defeated by any types of pressure from abroad and without being misunderstood by other countries in the world.

Question on GDP

I had a chance to take a seminar at Roppongi Academy Hills the other day finally after quite some time.  The tile of the seminar was quite attractive: “Direction of Japanese Economy: Challenge of transforming its structure including Womanomics.”  The lecturer was Ms. Cathy Matsui, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd and the moderator was Prof. Yoko Ishikura whom I really have a great esteem. 


I was and still am interested in whether Abenomics would be able to turn the Japanese Economy around and how the Womanomics would be effective in recovering the Japanese economy.  Simply, the answer is it will turn around once some conditions are satisfied.  Of course!  Well, it is important to find out what are “those conditions.” Regarding Womanomics, she mentioned that when more women come back from household work and get involved in monetary value added work, then, they will be able to earn money to spend for goods and services: this will generate profits for companies and, as a result, Japanese stock market will rise.  Yes.  This is also true.


Looking at the recent real estate market in Japan (especially in Tokyo), anybody can see that foreign capital are coming back to invest in buildings, land and stocks due to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic effect.  As the value of the Japanese yen recently depreciated against US dollar, the price of property in Tokyo became quite attractive.  Talking about Japanese stocks, once you can identify the movement of foreign investors, and follow them intelligently, you will be able to earn some capital gains in comparatively a short time.  However, one thing that you should notice is that the Japanese market is quite volatile as foreign investors are short-sighted and quickly close their positions.  My advice is to close all the positions on either stocks or real estate well before 2020.


Another advice from me, from the point of view of spirituality, is that you do’nt want to chase money and materials any more:  Instead, you’d better accumulate good deeds so that you will be able to board, for example, Noah’s Ark. Fortunately in Japan, more and more younger people are less interested in money and goods but instead started to search for something that they can do for other people or something intangible.  Many at 50’s through 60’s who experienced the bubble economy in Japan still want more money and spend on luxurious goods and services, something tangible.


During the lecture at Roppongi Hills, I suddenly thought about the reason why we still use GDP as the benchmark of national power. GDP is defined as the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a year (Wikipedia).  In other words, it is a monetary value based on business activities.  OK, then, if the value of GDP is low, the power of the country is always weak and the people in that country poor?  


GDP and industry growth rates are control factors of growth target of companies.  Should it be the same for a country?  Does “richness” and “strength” of a country depends on how much added monetary value that the country generate?  Is this all?  What about spiritual strength, moral fiber, or honorable poverty?  I wrote this before but we are living in the time of reviewing the definition of “richness and strength” and inventing a new benchmark instead of GDP.


The new benchmark should, in addition to the spiritual aspects mentioned above, take something like the speed of new business model like “forestry based capitalism” to be spread in the country.  Of course, in the short term, we should have a good economic model like Abenomics but not for a long time.  Depending too much on the old benchmark like GDP, we might lose potentials of a new business idea and economic model: uniqueness of a country to grow for the next generation might be lost.


If any of you know any types of project to create a brand new benchmark to measure the strength of a county, please let me know through e-mail!  I am pretty much interested in that.

Live now

It’s been quite some time since I wrote to you last time.  I had been practicing flamenco dance together with my dance mates three times a week for the past three months to make a debut at a tablao in Nishinippori on March 21, 2014. 


It’s been a tough few months as I had to work during the day time until 7 PM every day and to start practicing the dance from eight through ten PM.  On top of that I had an intensive horse riding class every two weeks.  Somehow, I managed to overcome the big day on March 21. 


Let me offer sincere gratitude for those who came to see our flamenco dance on that night!!!


Now, setting aside my contented soul, according to Shintoism, now or the moment that we live is called Naka-ima (=middle now) as it’s between the past and the future.  The Shintoism teaches us to live the precious now together with the mission and life that were given by God and ancestors.


When someone who is a bit twisted hears this, he or she might think, “OK, then, I just simply do whatever that I want to do now without having any goals as everything is GIVEN by God and ancestors.


Or, if someone experience terrible hardship, he or she might not be able to accept that the past will not come back and that a bright future cannot be seen.  However, even if people are in such a terrible condition, when they “live the precious now” without making a fuss but with smile on their face, brighter future will be opened up for them.


Of course, you don’t have to experience hardship for brighter future.  To live the precious now  is quite important to anybody under any circumstances.  Unless we accumulate “now” with sincere efforts, a big success will not be ours regardless of how big the goal is.  However, when we accumulate “now” with diligent efforts, these efforts will never be lost.  We should continue aim higher to be better selves and, in order to do this, we have to sometimes fight against the laziness and excuses in ourselves.


A goal will give us courage to be strong and we will not get lost in our lives.  One thing to be remembered is that the goal has to be achievable.  Otherwise, it will become an unnecessary “attachment” and people tend to get harassed by it.  Let’s try not to give up in achieving an appropriate goal but continue to live the precious now.

When I was dancing flamenco at the tablao on 3/21, I was only thinking about dancing and nothing else: later, a great sense of achievement followed.


As we are living in a rough time, we should have a good goal like, “I will do such and such thing in order to fill the world with happy people,” and we should accumulate diligent efforts everyday in order to make the world as happy as possible.  The happiness means not to become a billionaire or to have a power and right to rule the world.  The great universe and the earth will not allow egotistic goals to flourish any more.  We should help each other to overcome upcoming difficulties and establish a purified and happy world on Earth.


Why don’t you review the way you live now?  Please ask yourself, “Why do you live now for what?”   

My Diverse Interests

What do you answer when you are asked, “what is your hobby?”

My male colleague would say golf, fishing, or tennis and female one would say singing, mountain climbing, listening music, or watching movies.

I will answer horse-back riding, dancing and singing flamenco, playing Sho, one of Gagaku music instruments.


The one that I continue to do for the longest is horse riding.  I started it when I lived in Singapore where I took a riding class in the early morning before going to office.  People in Tokyo would never imagine of taking horse riding class before they go to office!  Since then, it’s been close to 20 years.  Until now, there were several months or years that I could not do it due to busy working schedule, moving out from one place to another, and bankruptcy of a club.  As I cannot practice more than three time a month, the speed of improvement is extremely slow.  However, recently, I started to take a private lesson and, surprisingly, I can feel some improvements.  I would love to continue until the age of 75, if possible!


The next longest is dancing flamenco.  It’s been already more than 6 years since I started in January 2008.  I take weekly course for about an hour and a half among young ladies from 20’s through 30’s.  They are fast in picking up steps and choreograph but I have to always practice extra two hours to catch up with them. Those young and easy-to-pick-up-skill ladies have been dancing at a tablao or learning different tunes at the same time but I never ever dreamed of doing like they do.  To my surprise, in February, out flamenco teacher selected me to dance at a tablao in March!!  I gave up most of the time to write up article for my blog and focus on preparing for the show in Late March together with my four other teammates.  I have to let my ear and body remember all the choreograph so that I will be able to dance as a semi-professional dancer!  When I finish it, I would love to share it with you in this blog with, hopefully, some pictures.

On the other hand, it’s been only two years for learning how to sing flamenco song.  Gee, this IS difficult, not like to sing a popular modern tune.  My classmates say it would take ten years to become truly good at singing a traditional flamenco tune.  I wonder if I will be able to continue…


Lastly, I had just started to learn how to play Sho, one the Japanese traditional music instruments for Gagaku.  I take a class twice a month for about an hour.  The sound of Sho is quite unique and I really enjoy listening and playing it.  Because it is so rare for even Japanese to learn how to play Sho, it took me three months to find a place and a teacher.  I am pretty sure that I will be able to continue for more than three years as long as I continue to earn the same level of money.


As you can imagine, there’s no consistency in my interests.  However, I would like to continue them as long as I can as music, arts, sports will remain deep in our souls and, when you are born in the next generation, it would be faster to learn than anybody else without experience in the previous lives.


Why don’t you start a new hobby this spring?

Takayama City Energy Mission

There are many movements of “let’s make our energy by ourselves” started recently across the globe.  In Japan, many cities encourage the use of natural energy but among these, City of Takayama declared that they will the number one of the use of natural energy.  They invited Mr. Kosuke Mobara, the writer of The New Capitalism of Village Forest, together with Mr. Seikou Itoh, also a writer, and held a forum at Takayama Civic Hall.  When this forum was announced to be held, Mr. Ryuichi Sakamoto, the famous musician living in New York sent the city a message that he would all the natural energy the Takayama energy, according to an article of Takayama PR brochure dated December 15, 2013.


Furthermore, the city of Takayama will hold an open seminar from 2/1 through 2/22 in order to present various activities of local Japanese government in promoting natural energy.  In addition, in March, they will provide one week intensive course (Details will be provided by Takayama Environment Policy Section 81-577-35-3533).


I am very much interested in the course but I don’t think I can request a vacation during the period, unfortunately.  I will definitely participate in the course someday!


Since mid October last year, I have been thinking about doing a BIG thing that would change the world.  Then, to my surprise, I started to come across much information about natural energy.  I feel like this is truly due to the God’s “invisible hands.”


How could I possibly participate in this wonderful activity by Takayama City?  This is one of my agenda now.  If I had lots of money and time, I would build a house there and use natural energy and live self-sufficiently.  Here’s the to do list:


1)    Find a place to build a house

2)    Think about an appropriate floor plan for my family

3)    Find how much energy required for cooking, heating, hot-water supply, glass house for vegetables, especially for winter time

4)    Search for an appropriate energy equipment to satisfy the required energy level calculated at 3)

5)    Estimate the total initial and running costs


How long would it take for me to have the plenty money and time to do this?  Well, it’s free of charge to simply estimate how much money I need to earn in order to do this.  Why not start doing it?

Coexistence with Nature

It’s been already three years now since we started to rent a small hut in the central mountain area of Japan.  The temperature goes down to -30 Degree Celsius with high around 0.  Remembering my student years in Midwest of the United States, people feel warm with 0 Degree Celsius as the temperature goes down to -20 to -30 Degree!

Compared to the coldness in the mountain area, I always feel warmer in Tokyo when I get back.


Why do I want to go such a cold place by driving about five hours from Tokyo?

Because I would like to be healed by the nature there with deities of mountains and streams and holy spirits in full play.


When I goes to the hut, I always leave Tokyo early in the morning.  When I get up, I sometimes think, “well, it might be better to stay and get relaxed in Tokyo as it will be very cold out there,” (although I also don’t believe that I can get relaxed in Tokyo!”  Such feeling and thinking disappear as I drive into the mountain area.  I know this is always the case and, when I arrive there, I know that I feel like I don’t want to go back to Tokyo.  Therefore, I purchased snow tires and change my sports car to the 4-wheel drive to be always ready to head to the moutain.


When I look outside and watch the snow falling down quietly from windows of the hut, I feel like my heart becomes pure white and I never get bored of looking at the snowing scene.  Even in summer time without any snow, I don’t get bored either.  Observing myself, I can enjoy the holy time and space with Mother Nature’s quiet activity by my soul, heart and body.  At the end of the day, I always feel healed with the warmth of Mother Nature.


Come to think of it, I remember my old father watching the front yard of his house all day.  He might find the good old days of Tokyo when there were so much of Mother Nature’s activities and might enjoy its nostalgia. He always watches the yard and, occasionally goes out and stars to trim his garden.  I found myself doing the same thing at the hut and I say like my father does, “Gee, I’m tired, ” when the sun sets.  This is one of the moments when I feel his genes inside me.


Tokyo will sink in the bottom of the sea someday without recovering its nature that it used to have.  Well, not only Tokyo but many places in the world, I believe, will experience similar crustal changes.


Together with those land, people who only chase money and power forgetting the preciousness of and respect for Nature will disappear.  Hope those who are not will be saved no matter what.


I don’t know exactly what happens to where but wish many to recall the preciousness of Nature, to live peacefully with it, and to help each other. 

I also wish more and more people to realize the ephemerality of money and power.

The Japanese Food, the Intangible Cultural Heritage

On December 4, 2013, Washoku (Traditional Japanese Food Culture) was registered in the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.  It is not an individual Japanese food like Tempura or Sushi but Japanese Food Culture, represented as “one soup and three dishes” that was registered.

According to a blog of NHK Commentary Committee, there were four reasons for its registration::


1)    Beautiful Presentation

  • Including Color Variation of food, Serving Dish such as Ceramics and lacquered tableware, the room where the food is served

2)    Ingredients

  • Fresh food ingredients in long islands that lie North and South and special broths and soy sauce/bean paste to boost the tastes the food ingredients

3)    Nutrition Balance

  • Good Nutrition and its balance of good protein from fresh fish and seasonal vegetables as well as various types of potatoes without using any animal fats

4)    Strong connections with seasonal events and its Area/Community in Japan

  • Strong connection between the seasonal menus and its Area/Community/Family


In the metropolitan areas, especially in Tokyo, people can enjoy good cuisine from all over the world such as Lebanese, Belarusan, Central Europe (such as Czech and Hungary) and Mongolian (not Chinese!).


However, two medical doctors of my family always suggest eat traditional Japanese food.  They strongly claim that as Japanese people tend to eat food and deserts from abroad especially from Western World, more and more people get chronicle disease as well as cancer.  From the view point of prevention medicine, we Japanese should eat more traditional Japanese food such as fish and fermented vegetables and soy beans so that we can gain the natural healing ability again like our ancestors did in the past.  These two family doctors were quite famous and always write articles in periodicals and publish many books in the areas of internal medicine, dermatology, ophthalmology, and psychiatry.


Since I was a child, I have been eating lots of fish and vegetables.  However, for the past two years, I haven’t eaten meat more than four times a year and the drastic results were shown in my medical report. 


Now, I made up my mind to enjoy the Japanese food and culture, one of the world heritages, from a different point of view.

Further Changes Coming

In 2013, I was able to make many changes through looking forward and experienced different ways of thinking and taking actions.  Once a single change had been made, I could see things from various points of view and experience precious encounters with people that I could never ever meet in the past.


Toward the end of the year, another brand-new encounter had occurred to me to move me forward to further changes.  This is really a positive chain reaction.


It’s like God telling me, “Move forward with your belief in your soul.”


Yes.  I will move forward the path of innovation and growth in 2014 with the firm belief at the core of my soul.


Wish you all a Happy New Year!

Forest Would Save Japan

As I was a member of an administration group of a big convention held in Tokyo and Osaka in November, I had absolutely no time to read books and to think many things other than convention preparation.  However, luckily, I had come across a book at a kiosk in Shin Osaka Bullet Train Station on the way back to Tokyo at the end of November.  The title of the book is, “This is it! Japan can survive with the new capitalism of village forest.”  I must say some of the contents are quite shocking.  However, as I wrote the other day in my blog, it is obvious that we Japanese should establish a fully independent economic model without depending too much on other countries.  Therefore, one of the reasons to purchase this book was that I was quite interested in this new capitalism of village forest.   

In order to further understand this new model, I also purchased later a book called, “Capitalism of Village Forest – Japanese economy moves with so-called principle of security.”  This book tells that the economy in rural areas can be activated with success stories.  As I am still half way through the book, I would like to write more about it later but one thing that I can mention now is about an example of Austria.


A population of Austria in 2012 is about 8.46 million (about 0.67% of that of Japan) and the area is 83,860 Km2 (about 22% of that of Japan) (source: World Bank).  It is a small country located in the inland of Central Europe.  However, its per capita GDP is US$ 67,304, ranked the fifth in the world, whereas the one of Japan is only US$ 46,707, ranked 12th (Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook Database). Self-sufficiency in grains there is at 95% (Japan at 26% in 2009) and in energy about 30% (Japan at 4%).  One of the reasons that Austria’s high self-sufficiency in energy is their forest resource. In Japan, the area of total forest vs. the total area is more than 60% compared to 47% of Austria.  Why not Japan utilizes its abundant forest resource without importing fossil fuel from abroad?  Well, it’s because of big cities like Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka where huge electricity is required to satisfy the needs.  However, think about this way.  Are big cities like Tokyo and Osaka are the only place for economic activities?  I doubt it.  Of course, in the past, Japanese economy grew, without exception, with mass production and consumption.  However, we Japanese also knew how to use things longer with its high technology as German people do.  It’s just for individual Japanese person to think about what are really necessary based on a smaller scale economy that requires only limited energy and can be satisfied with forest resource.  We will be able to find a better and new way of living based on this new capitalism. It would take some time to move away from big city-focused economy but it will be also possible for rural area to get activated with a new and “rich” type of Japanese life style. Total GDP might decline for a while but the trade deficit based on higher energy costs will be improved.  On top of this, per-capita GDP would also increase.


While we enjoy the economic improvement, we should also protect our forest for the sustainable growth through a new forestry protection system.  By controlling growth of forestry, and utilizing the current high technology such cars, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, PCs and other communication systems, we will be able to realize the richness of living in Mother Nature and our country would be truly independent.

Sustainable Innovation - #2

I wrote about a technologically innovative product, that was not developed based on consumers’ needs, will not induce purchase intent of consumers.  Now, let’s think about one step forward assuming one new business team balanced with creativity and execution power come up with a great innovative idea or product.  How will it go through what types of functions in the company before launching in the marketplace?  This process is, what Mr. Nishiguchi called, a bottleneck of Japanese companies.  As far as he knows, there is no Japanese companies that can deliver a great/innovative idea because there is no internal system to create a new business.  Therefore, there is no success story from Japanese companies.  (I would say, even a foreign capital company in Japan with almost all Japanese have less success stories.) 


In order to transmit innovative ideas from Japan and to contribute to not only the people and economy in Japan but also in the world, there should exists business “eco-system” for innovation.  On top of this, the eco-system must be apart from the one for the existing business.  Whenever we discuss about innovative products and business models, we should stay away from the discussions about cash flow and return on investment because no one can knows or measure their potential growth: the idea never can be launched in the market and the innovation teams will lose their confidence. 


Three important factors to expedite innovation in an internal corporate structure are as follows:

1)    Senior managers who will not betray the innovation team

  • If the senior managers’ idea is not proactive but just to follow what others do, whenever they hear claims and noises about their innovation team, they tend to pretend that they were against from the idea from the beginning.  Instead, they should ask appropriate questions at a business meeting such as how much of insight that the team is getting from the market by asking a question such as “what is the challenge that customers and consumers are facing?  And how are we going to solve it?” instead of asking how much money that the idea can generate.

2)    An innovation team with balanced creativity and execution power

  • Explained in the previous article.

3)    Senior managers who can accelerate executions

  • Those are not the managers who simply tell the team, “I’m one of your supporters.  Cheer up!” at a bar after work but the senior managers who will take actions to move the project forward by coordinating to an appropriate function in order to make the idea happen in the market.  There seems to be more female professionals than males.  This is good news!


Innovation can be only achieved multiplying these three factors.  Therefore, if one of them is zero, the whole project will be nothing.  Also, please do not forget that if the senior managers try to measure against the benchmarks of existing business, they will kill the innovative ideas and the team itself.  Moreover, if they buy the innovative company and establish the parent and child company relationship, there is a high possibility of ruining the great innovation team.


By carefully checking the above three factors, senior managers should build up the management “eco-system” to always question the four items below.

Can we 

a) Find insight from the market?@

b) Make decisions based on different benchmarks from the ones for the existing business?

c) Value new and innovative ideas?

d) Maintain enough budgets?


I’m afraid how fast and how much the Japanese companies can generate innovative business will decide the future of Japan whose economy is about to change the direction: does the country recover and prosper for a long time?  Or does it start plunging   again after the Tokyo Olympic in 2020.  This is such a critical matter.

Sustainable gInnovationh #1

I participated in the morning study session of Mr. Nichiguchi, Managing Director of Frontier Research Committee of METI at Roppongi Academy Hills.  According to Mr. Nishiguchi, the definition of Innovation is a function of invention and insight to create economical and social value.


He is quite right.  I always had a question when I read the Nikkei newspaper which always translates the word “innovation” as “technological innovation.”  I wonder how many Japanese thought it is not true.  It is not only technological innovation that creates economic and social value but also “marketing” will create economic and social value using the existing technology.  Let me take an example of a FMCG company.  By finding consumers’ wants and needs and the wants/needs that they haven’t even realized, FMCG companies can provide goods that consumers can solve their needs/wants.  This is the “insight”.  In other words, “insight” is to search for unmet needs of consumers and provide tools/goods to solve their needs.

Peter Drucker claimed that Marketing and Innovation can create a value of society.  This is it.  However, it is outdated to connect this to mass production and mass consumption anymore. 

Well then, are marketing and innovation enough for creating social/economic value? Unfortunately not.  In order to sustain innovation, there must be appropriate human resources and management methods that are quite different from the ones for the existing business, Mr. Nishiguchi mentioned.  Especially, in Japan, it is quite difficult to achieve innovation.

One of the reasons is, according to my interpretation of what he said, Japanese tend to be good at criticizing on something that others created but not to be good at creating something from scratch.  In other words, many of us are weak on insight.  I come across many Japanese people who criticize other people’s idea but when I ask them, “then what about creating an good idea based on your criticism?” then they tend to answer, “No, I am not in charge of crating it,” or, “it is her/his responsibility but not mine.”  

Another reason is there exists no management “Eco-System” for brand-new business.  Especially, there is no systematic skill for finding issues, the concept to make solutions, and creating business model.  On top of this, even if there exists a team for innovation, the idea does not go to a stage of business model unless there is a balance between a person with creativity and the one with execution.  When there is a team with many creative staffs, the execution team would not execute the plan thinking “this is the most unrealistic plan that we have ever seen,” but instead saying, “it would take some time to execute in the market,” and leave it as is.

There is another case where technology and R&D are strong; they tend to believe whenever they develop a “good” product, it will sell itself without any sales & advertising efforts.  This is totally wrong.  If no one wants what the company launched in the market place no matter how the technology is outstanding, it will not be purchased by cosumers.  They should ask themselves, “Why are we developing the product?”  The product is meaningless without a theme or purpose. Unless there is a clear theme or reason, sales force would not go out to sell or store owner will not accept the product.


To be continued.

Dead-end of Financial Capitalism

Industrial revolution was possible because there were investors to support manufacturing goods.  People invented electric appliance and made their lives better and efficient.  However, the money that is supposed to make people’s life better nowadays makes many types of casino that provides places to play “financial games” instead without producing goods and services.


In order to create more value from money and to play zero-sum game that divide winners and losers, people try to gain better and reliable information or to make statistical models to analyze trends of economy and market.  Doesn’t it sound like gambling?


When I resigned the investment bank and came back to Japan after getting a MBA degree to join the current company, an old colleague of mine told me investing in bonds and stocks would be like betting horses and boats.  I claimed that bonds and stocks are not the same as horses and boats as financial instruments are based on sophisticated knowledge about economy and company performance.  Well, reflecting what I said to him, I don’t think I would answer to him in the same way now.


I wonder how many of you think about investing in financial market provides better lives for people.  There will always a winner and a loser when someone invests.  The winner might be either someone who bought it or who sold it and, in either case, there will be always a loser.  In a trading room of an investment bank, an expert always makes profit by forecasting the trend, either bullish or bearish.  However, there was one day when everyone stopped trading; Black Monday.  Well, I made a small buying order for my personal account on that day and next day its settlement was confirmed. When my boss saw the settlement confirmation, he screamed and said, “You’re CRAZY, Hiromi!”   


The other day, FRB announced that they might tighten up their interest rates.  Then many investors considered that it was a sign of US economic recovery and they withdrew most of the money from emerging markets back to U.S.  When they realized U.S. Economy hadn’t come back as FRB did not tighten up the rates, they scattered their money to other markets.  What do you think these money flows provide at the end of the day?


We will have Olympic game in 2020 in Tokyo.  It looks like the Japanese economy is coming back with Abenoics that would invite foreign capital into Japan.  Now, what would happen when the Olympic game ends in 2020?  The money will go out of Japan and Japanese economy is going to go down again.

How do we find a better system to support healthy economic activities away from such a financial capitalism?

Limit of Democracy

I could listen to a series of CNN podcasts on the way to my mountain house in my car last weekend.  There were some discussions about US debt ceiling issues and the close of government facilities.  Then I was quite surprised to hear one of the opinions of a congress man who are against passing the bill.  The reason of the counterview was extremely silly! The facilitator challenged the congress man saying, “If you want to reopen the government, then reopen the government!”


After a few days, Prof. Yoko Ishikura tweeted that it was such a pity to see the “loud” minority made the country and the world stopped and uneasy.  Taking minority opinions and reflect them in the government policy used be one of the merits of democracy but it is sad to see what’s happening in the world of democracy nowadays. Maybe the democracy hit the wall.


Two questions about democracy were raised in my mind:

1)     If those minority groups are quite egotistic and only think about their own benefits and nothing else, is taking opinions of these minorities going to be everyone’s or the community’s benefit?  Of course, there are many minority groups that we should carefully consider and support financially or by other means but these egotistic minorities should be separated from discussions.  Otherwise, there will be no democracy but only mobocracy.

2)    While more and more people look like becoming egotistic, we value more on diversity, respecting different opinions. Does this method of “majority vote” really make sense in a society or country of diversity?


According to Wikipedia, modern democracy combined with individualism has started in 19th century.  In other words, it’s been already close to 170 years since we started to live in the world of democray.  Maybe it’s time for us to find a better way of deciding a direction of a country or community.


Before many countries fall into mobocracy and make the whole world fall apart (or they have already fell into it?), I would like to think and act how my home country, Japan, can be changed.  Hopefully, people in many other countries also re-consider how their countries can be restructured so that we all can aim for the Earth to prosper.  If this is possible, then we all will be able to construct a great world.

Well, yes!  We can make the great world.

Ultimate Level of Self-Organization

It’s been quite some time since I wrote an article last time!

Looking back, I realized that my constant efforts to make actions based on a little bit of self-analysis everyday for growth and innovation made me decide a series of changes for the past few months.  It’s less than a year after I started my blog based on the suggestion by Prof. Yoko Ishikura of the Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University.


Why did I sell my precious sports car and apartment with a small garden which I never ever thought about selling until March?  Because I found the huge gaps between 1) what I believed in and what I actually had been doing, and 2) the life that I am currently enjoying/the future image of my ideal life and what I currently own.  After I found about the gaps and decided to adjust as quickly as possible, to my surprise, everything went smoothly.


Of course, my cataract slowly gets worse but I would like to continue the special diet, improvement of work efficiency at office, minimization of the use of laptop at home, and a life at the mountain hut during the weekend.  These are all that I had been doing in order to prevent my cataract from getting worse quickly.  Now, I decided to focus on these things and abandon others.  By getting rid of unnecessary things, I am able to live light but to still focus on important things.  When I started this Danshari (minimalism), I was quite surprised how much unnecessary things I kept at home.  Do not need “good to have”.  Focus on “need to have”.


I first analyzed what I have/what I would like to maintain and how, and any risks associated with them.

1)    Life at the mountain hut

ü  Appropriate to have a sports car?  Summer time is perfect but what about during winter? Need four-wheel drive with snow tires instead.

2)    Spacious apartment in Tokyo

ü  I always leave home early in the morning. When I get back home, it’s always after 8 pm.  Things that I do at my apartment is to make some light supper and sleep.  Cleaning my apartment alone is always time-consuming and tiring.  Therefore, I asked maid-service for two hours twice a month with the cost of US$ 360.  I can clean the mountain hut without any troubles but why not in Tokyo?  Well, when I am in Tokyo, there are so many things that I have to do and I wanted to use the time of cleaning for something more important. Really?  This maid-service might be also a waste as I can clean the mountain hut within a reasonable time. 

3)    Own or rent

ü  For the past few years, I strongly believed that the mega-quake would hit Kanto/Tokyo soon.  Maybe because I am able to catch some messages from the Earth, wind,  mountains, and others.  Look what I have.  My apartment in Tokyo is very nice but it’s on housing loan.  What if the mega-quake hit Kanto and I lose everything like what Tohoku people experienced on 3/11? I would rather get rid of the risk of losing my property and of keeping mortgage payment as quickly as possible.   

4)    Risk of working for a foreign capital company

ü  A foreign capital company tend to get rid of people regardless of their good business performance with a valid (they say it’s valid) reason.  I would like to feel free without thinking about the risk of losing job and remaining with loan payment.  I’d rather take a risk of starting a new job myself.


This analysis was the support pillars of my actions.  I planned in March, made actions from June and the mission was completed on Sept. 16 (although unpacking still continues).

How to be successful as a global leader

On July 1, I went to participate in one of the Harvard Business School (HBS) Guest Speaker series at Roppongi Academy Hills to listen to a lecture by Mr. Seiji Yasubuchi, Representative Director, GE Japan Corporation/President & CEO, GE Capital for about an hour and a half.  Although the lecture was quite interesting, I should focus on writing about the theme of the lecture here, “how to be successful as a global leader.”  There are five major points to become a global leader as follows:

1)    Have your own value standard as a Japanese

2)    Keep studying throughout your life with constant curiosity

3)    Be brave and speak about your ideas in your own words

4)    Create a brand-new idea by accepting different and new ideas by others

5)    Speak up your own ideas as much as possible in front of many people and occasions


HBS that Mr. Yasubuchi graduated from is famous for so-called Case Study and a half of the students’ grade comes from their participation (both quality and quantity) in the class.  Darden School at University of Virginia where I attained MBA from adopts the same grading system.  Therefore, as for 1) and 3), I was well trained in both at class and at work (the FMCG company) while discussing with non-Japanese senior management.  As for 2), I have no problem in doing it as it is my creed.


However, working for the FMCG Company, it is difficult for me to do 4) and 5).  As for 4), whenever I have a chance, I listen to a new and unique idea and adopt them to create better solutions.  However, if majority of participants in a meeting is not ready to listen to a unique/new ideas (in many cases, they are Japanese), no one would like to speak up in front of them and those who are not flexible to new ideas would control the meetings.  As a result, associates with new ideas would not be nurtured.  As for 5), unfortunately or fortunately, I don’t want to be judged or understood by others and I tend not to speak about my ideas openly with my colleague unless being asked to.  I don’t participate in dinner or social occasions with company associates but rather go out with friends of flamenco class or go listen to a lecture outside. 

Of course, soon after I came back from the States, I exchanged opinions with friends and others but as I gradually realized that those who never experienced a life outside Japan would not understand what I say.  And I finally gave up speaking to those and stopped searching for non-Japanese friends either.  It might take some time to go and find friends that I can express my ideas in English.


During the lecture, Mr. Yasubuchi challenged the participants by giving a question of, “what would you answer when one of your American friends ask you, “is it true that Japanese people have no religion?”  A key to the answer is not to say, “Yes, it’s true”.  Do not go along with the easy way.  Think your own way and express your opinion logically with your words.  I would say as below:


“The answer to your question is No.  When someone asks Japanese, “do you belong to a particular religion?” Most likely the person would answer no.  However, in a life of Japanese, there are many occasions/habits that Japanese get associated with Shinto Deities and Buddha.  Therefore, Japanese do not believe God or Buddha with the concept of “religion.” Japanese, not like Western people who try to control the Mother Nature, try to co-exist with her and we believe in deities in mountains, rivers, trees, and flowers.  At least, I, as a Japanese person, believe so.  If the definition of religion is to believe in God or Buddha, I would say, I do have religion.


How would you answer the question?   


When you hear a word, “possessions,” you would imagine things with economic value such as land, house, car, jewel, arts and others.  Their values are decided by the people who want to purchase them.


In the blog that I wrote the other day, I mentioned that I selected to own liquid money than keeping fixed assets.  Many people might have questioned why not investing in financial assets rather than cash?  What an opportunity loss!  Well, I did not think so as things that have shapes lose their values when they lose their functions.  The same thing can be said for financial assets.  For example, stocks become a piece of paper when the company goes bankrupt.  People believe in the value of the materials assuming the shape or function will last at least for a certain period.  If economy is expanding with a right inflation rate, people holding property will gain without doing anything.  That’s how people learned from the past.


Well, then what if you experience the earthquake and tsunami similar to the one in Kobe and Tohoku of Japan or tornado in the United States?  You lose your house, car and everything you have and you are still alive.  Can you imagine what you would think under such situation?


Are you kidding? I will be OK.  The place that I live is perfectly fine.

Is that so?  Can you believe in that 100%?


Some says the last freedom that is given to humans is the freedom to think.  Even if you are alive after losing everything that you had, you can still “think.”  Thinking would lead people for hope and to rebuild a town and a country.  What people need is a strong soul to get things recovered and altruistic love to others to help each other.


Remembering the Buddhist concept of “absence of absolutes” and, as it says in Christian Bible, I would rather accumulate merit points in the heaven than making a material fortune in this physical world.


Some corporations provide seminars for their employees to transform themselves to get motivated and to willingly accept new ideas.  There seem to be many methodologies in the HR education field.  Also, there are many people who have a clear goal as to how they want to change themselves.  What I experienced this time was, without having any clear ideas, I could transform myself quite naturally by doing something quite unique.


Long time ago, some people that I know suggested clean a toilet bowl by my bare hands. I said, “OK, cleaning toilet bowl is fine but why on earth do I have to do it by bare hands?  What is that for and what kind of good thing that I would be able to get?”  They told me, “You’ll find out when you tried for a few weeks.”  I thought it’s meaningless and did not follow the advice.


More than ten years passed since then and, in early March this year, I heard the same advice from someone else.  “Try cleaning a toilet bowl of your home with your bare hands without using cleaning substance but instead baking soda and citric acid.  This is good for the environment.”  Now, this time, I thought, “well, maybe I should do it now as it is good for the environment and, if I don’t do it now, I won’t do it forever.”  For the past few months, I wanted to change even a small thing, if I could.  Therefore, I did not need any logics or reasons to use my bare hands.  Can you imagine what happened to me?  I now see or observe things logically from a different point of view.


For example, at the end of May, I suddenly thought about selling my favorite apartment in Tokyo and my sports car.  I wrote about “rich life” the other day and, later, I had more chances to reflect my values and to organize things around me.  Looking at my apartment in Tokyo, it is quite spacious to live in although we are not there during the daytime as we both work.  Energy bills at summer and winter is quite high as to warm/cool down the rooms that we use.  Cleaning also takes time and I ask professional cleaning service twice a month to clean bathrooms and kitchen.  Why do I need the service?  Because I want to keep my apartment clean and tidy and I want to make it happen in a short time.


Then I, again, thought about my comfort and independent life and came up with the following four points; I would like to 1) clean, eat, do laundry and take bath in an appropriate/minimum sized apartment in Tokyo, 2) continue my hobbies such as flamenco dance and horse-riding as long as possible, 3) have a car with good energy efficiency to be used in all seasons, 4) enjoy nature at the small mountain hut in Gifu Pref.  


Also, I have been having this sixth sense of leaving Tokyo, my home town, someday to live somewhere in Japan or even outside the country and I don’t know when I am able to come back once I leave the place.  Then why don’t I make ourselves “light” in terms of fixed asset and have more liquid money.  What I do now is apart from what I feel using my sixth sense. Furthermore, my attachment for materials became smaller than ever.  I never imagined that such big change could happen to me.  All the change in my mind occurred after starting the bare-hand toilet bowl cleaning. Surprisingly, I was able to start cleaning drainage of bath tab a few days ago.  I don’t think I have to ask for room cleaning service anymore.


Why don’t you start the same cleaning at your home?  You would enjoy the change, whatever it may be!

Attitudes toward Innovation

In early May, I went to participate in a lecture by Mr. Shinichi Inoue of LCC Peach Aviation and Prof. Seiichiro Yonekura of Innovation Research Center of Hitotsubashi University at Roppongi Academy Hills.  I had been interested in Prof. Yonekura’s lecture quite some time and this was the first experience with his lecture.  Unfortunately, I could only participate in the last 50 min. of 2 hour session but I was quite satisfied with many thought-provoking ideas!  I was able to reflect myself and to develop my sense of innovation regardless of the busy schedule of daily life.  Therefore, on the way back home, I “felt like” I could expand my area of creativity.


Now, here are the contents that I could able to pick up:

1)    Points to become innovative

 A)     Do not walk the same road everyday

 B)     Do not purchase similar clothes or wear them

 C)     Do not do what others do

 D)    Do what is said to be impossible

 E)     Repeat why to yourself to challenge things

2)    Judge based on your own ideas                          

 A)     Use “I” instead of “we” when we talk or make decision

3)    Aim a clear goal

 A)   Think “today” as a step to reach the goal

4)    Positioning of Peach Aviation

 A)   “Flying Train”

 B)   Changes in In-Flight Entertainment

 C)   Collaboration with local/regional Airports


Regardless of my wish to become innovative, when I check myself on the list of 1), I found many areas that I should make improvements.  For example, as I always walk the same road on the way to the office, I always believe things on the road that I see are always the same or they are supposed to be same.  As for clothes, as I always value their functionality, I have many similar types of clothes.  It will cost a lot if I need to change these.  How do l change this habit?


Peach Aviation was established based on Mr. Inoue’s innovative ideas and clear goal based on Prof. Yonekura’s advice.  Its positioning is totally different from the existing airline companies such as JAL or ANA.  It is a “flying train” for a passenger paying less and uses it without thinking too much about flying on an airplane.  In order to minimize the costs of operation, they first paid attention to the airport fees; they do not use walk ways from gate to airplanes.  Therefore, of course, passengers have to use umbrellas when it rains.  Passengers also required having a different POV from using other existing airlines.  It will take some time for passengers to get used to the idea but this is one of the ways to fly easy and to realize that you are paying for what you get. 


Next idea was about in-flight entertainment. At the ground lounge, passengers are able to download whatever they want to listen or see on the flight free of charge and as many as possible to their own device.  After four hours, those contents downloaded will be deleted automatically.  Unless passengers are too old to catch up the technology, passengers tend to have their own device to download whatever they want.  Or they can even bring their own books or magazines of their choice (I always bring books to read during the flight).  Peach, in a way, provides opportunities for passengers to enjoy their customized way of enjoying the flight.


Also, passengers’ seats are made of leathers.  Isn’t this luxurious?  Well, again, this is one of the ideas to minimize the costs as it is easier to clean them than the cloth ones.


Talking about employees, they are all three-year contracted.  Pilots paid depending on the length of the flight; the longer they fly, the more they get paid.  As it is three-year contract, they always have a good tension to contribute to the company in their own ways.  Who are those employees except for pilots?  They are some kind of professionals in one area such as musicians and artists.  Anyone who are professional on one area is willing to learn by his or herself and Peach does not have to think about giving them training or lecture.  Therefore, they don’t have to pay for employees’ training fees and they don’t hire new university grads.


When airfares are significantly lower than others, as you expect, there will be a huge amount of passengers start to use Peach.  Peach is able to offer win-win situation to airport facilities as they are able to bring many passengers and passengers’ families to them.  They are able to bring win-win situations to local/regional airport facilities.


Of course, passengers and airport facilities need to understand these unique and innovative ideas but Peach is already about to generate some profit after three fiscal years.  This is something that we should give a big hand.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had any chances to try Peach flight as their hub is located in Kansai (more than 500 km west of Tokyo) but I am willing to experience the flight when I have a chance.


Also, I made up my mind to change my everyday life, even if it’s small, from where I can.

Have a good and unique flight of your own!

A Rich Life

When I went to a rotating sushi bar in Takayama City, I came across a cheerful elderly man sitting next to me.  He introduced himself as a person who went to Utah in the States to learn how to fly a glider in 70’s and currently lived in Australia to teach how to fly.  During winter in Takayama, he goes back to Australia and, in winter in Australia, he comes back to Takayama.

“Are you from Takayama?  Or do you work here temporarily?” he asked me as others ask.  I explained what I do in Hida Kiyomi, then he replied as I expected.

“You’ll get bored soon and want to come back to Tokyo for good.  This place is only for a short time visit.”


Well, in a way, I guess it was true in the past, as people were not able to enjoy many material things in these regional town and cities.  Then, what do we enjoy in, for example, Tokyo?  There are great food and drinks, theatrical performance, art, high-level education, any types of hobbies and others. When people want to enjoy many different things, they can learn and enjoy what they want in Tokyo.  


When I, a nineteen year old woman, lived in the States and went back and forth between the States and Japan, I was able to think about what it means by a rich life for me.  Being English major (and Mathematics Minor!), I had many chances to get contact with Mother Nature in Michigan as I had to read so many books but always got bored reading them inside my apartment.  Driving only about 10 to 15 min., I could sit by a stream where you could catch rainbow trout.  At Friday night, I learn to go to a pizza place nearby to enjoy a huge pizza and beer with my friends.  At Saturday night, I learned to enjoy classical music concert at University Auditorium. I never thought about there was such a different way of enjoying life.  I believe the blue print of my “rich life” formed during this period.  Wherever my intellectual curiosity is filled, participation of community activity and growing vegetable is possible in the heart of nature’s bounty, the place will offer me a Rich Life.


At home in Tokyo before coming to the States, I did not live in an environment to appreciate that everything is given by nature.  Therefore, when I lived in the States, I was able to feel the life in that regional university town in the States was very luxurious.  Some of my friends who came from Europe said that they could not think about a life without nature.  I understood that some people in the States and Europe would be able to live my definition of a “rich life,” if they want to.  In Tokyo, on the other hand, people pay too much attention to “materials, money, power” and tend to forget about appreciation to the nature.  This is pitiful. 


Looking into future of Japan, I believe such rich life would be possible in regional cities in Japan as well as we have bunch of new communication devices to overcome physical distance.  For example, we can even listen to lectures from abroad through internet; enjoy watching World Cup Soccer in a school gym; and so on.  Children in regional cities would be able to receive high-level education in Tokyo through more advanced communication system soon.  As I believe the physical distance won’t be a problem but will become a benefit in the future, I would like to get involved in such a project whenever it becomes available.

A Peaceful Time

For the past few weeks, I have been writing several articles but I still could not complete any of these.  It’s already in the middle of May.


I fell sick since yesterday and the only things I did in the past 24 hours were getting some food from nearby shops, eating them, going to toilette, and sleeping.


I still feel terrible physically but my mind is quite calm.  I am spending a precious and quiet time during a day time in the middle of working days at the central part of Tokyo.


It’s such a warm day with wonderful sunshine.  All windows of my apartments are now opened to invite refreshing breeze from outside.  Small trees of my little garden is swinging with the breeze and the herbs in a pot look very cheerful with the light from the sun.


I also hear birds whistling (they might have flown from Yoyogi Park) and I am filled with the sense of appreciations.  Finally, I was able to decide to update my blog with this article.


I realized that the reasons that I could not update any of my articles as I had been experiencing many changes inside myself and I could not get satisfied with any of these. 

Inside myself?  Where would it be?  It is as if my soul is transforming.


I enjoy this peaceful time for the rest of my day with sunshine and breeze without thinking about tomorrow.

Accepted By Mountain Spirits

I’d like to write a totally different story that related to spirituality.


Have you seen a cartoon movie produced by Mr. Hayao Miyazaki?  There are many types of strange spirits and creatures in his art works which are not animals or humans.  You might not believe this but I sometimes hear, feel and see them even when I close my eyes.  I don’t know why but I sometimes do see them when I close my eyes.  The timing of the encounter with them varies from after midnight and dawn. Even during the day time such as when I try to tune in with the vibration of God (or Great Universal Power), I could see people nearby even when I close my physical eyes.  However, fortunately, I cannot always experience this strange thing.  It would be very scary if I could always see, hear, and feel the unseen spirits!


This strange experience, however, frequently happens when I go to a certain place. A few years ago, I decided to rent a small mountain hut in the Hida area and started a small organic farming experience.  There, for some reasons, I can frequently encounter such strange experiences.


The first one was a bit scary, though, and it happened almost at the beginning of this organic farming experience.  Back then, I had a little chance to talk to neighbors because I drive more than 5 hours to reach there, spend a short time in the small field then have a good rest inside the hut: I could only exchange greeting to one or two people when I took care of my crop.  Therefore, I always wondered if I was really accepted by the community there including the wonderful nature with a stream and trees in the mountains.


One day, when I finish the field work, I thanked to the field as usual saying, “Thank you very much.  Please grow bigger” and went back to my hut.  I slept very well that night and realized that it was right after dawn.  Then, I clearly heard two people (I thought they were people at that time) walking towards my hut from the paved road. I wonder who they are at such an early time of the day.  I decided not to open the entrance door as it is too early and I did not think I have enough time to wash my face and get ready to welcome them.  Instead, I would apologize them later of not answering their knocks later.  When they arrive at the entrance, one of them, without any sound, entered into my hut and quickly come besides me.  “Gee, they are not human!!  So scary!  God, help me!” I was shouting in my mind.  I begged to him not to hurt me and scare me.  Then he lied down next to me and gave me a gentle hug like Mickey Mouse does at Disneyland.  “Oh, thank you,” I mumbled and, the next moment, I could move my body and they disappeared quickly.  I was totally blank for a moment thinking that they were not human but some kind of spirits walking with two legs.  However, after this, I became glad that I felt like I was accepted by the community.


Since then, I have been spending some of the weekend offering gratitude and having interactions to the Creator God, Guardian Deities of the land, and spirits exists there. 

How To Associate With The Company You Work For

During the “lost twenty years” in Japan, companies had to abandon the famous “life-time employment.”  Regardless of this fact, there still are descriptions in Labor Standards Act for them to protect employees by all means.  I work for a foreign capital company and they protected Japanese employees for the first 50 years by 1999.  In 2000, it revealed itself as foreign-capital and laid off about a half of the employee to 500 people from 1,000.  Since then, with wonderful creativity, HR and Legal dept. made many senior members voluntarily decide to leave the company.  Furthermore, the organizational structures often change in the middle of fiscal year: we never know if our position can be secured for a few months.  There is always a high tension among employees about their jobs but, on the contrary, it provides gorgeous aspects as a FMCG company: we always have to prepare for the worst case scenario.  What about the companies that you are working for?  Do you decide leave if the company that you work for is like the one that I work for?


Well, I can leave the company whenever I want.  However, if I still find something interesting inside the company, why not go for it and enjoy working?  The drastic strategy change of BOJ wouldn’t change the economic climate immediately.  Therefore, there wouldn’t be many “good” opportunities outside yet.  Why not step back and ask about “life”?  For example, I have just a rough idea about what I want as follows.  And my goal is 3) and 4):

1)    Review my career path inside the company

2)    Search for better opportunities outside

3)    Start your own business

4)    Retire and spend a relaxing and easy life      


Once a year, I have a chance to discuss about my career development with my boss but I haven’t really decided the next step inside the company.  Any interesting job inside for the next two, three years?  Then, I thought about challenging a new thing, that was to move to a totally new group to increase my Marketing experience. I will be totally new to the area but I thought through my past career and my skill set and concluded that I could keep the business for that particular group growing in the same pace as in the past or even faster despite the recent slowing down trend.  After I got endorsement from my boss and colleague, I applied for the open position.  I did not think about what if I could not get the job as Prof. Ishikura of Keio Graduate School always says, “So what? Take actions!”  The result was unfortunate that my proposal was not accepted. But I feel much better than before as I, at least, tried to open the door.  I move forward to take another chance soon again. 


Do not place limits to yourself.   Believe that your ability is infinite.

Consumers Decide The Winner

I talked about “upside potentials” the day before yesterday in this blog but, when I talk about a company, the decision making process to either go for upside potentials or to minimize downside risks would be different.


For example, under the recent stagnant condition in Japan, it has been very difficult to increase revenue or stay in business unless cutting of expenses in order to protect shareholders’ value and employees (although there are some companies lay off people quite often).


I learned at Business School that corporate managers should maximize their shareholders’ value no matter what. Back then, I was quite enthusiastic to challenge American students about “who owns a company?” together with fellow German classmates saying, “A company is owned by employees!”  Nowadays, as the financial market became more matured and people in the street of Kabuki-cho also had started mention about “protecting shareholders’ value” as a matter of fact, less people might not claim that a company is owned by employees.


I try to avoid the discussion of “who owns a company?” here as it will be endless but I simply assume that shareholders own a company.


One of the reasons that a company cannot always search for upside potentials is that it needs to protect shareholders’ profit.  In the industry that I am currently working for, it is in the same situation and some companies are trying to pay quarterly dividends as much as they can or to provide short-term capital gains depending on the types of investors.  Those investors request the companies cut of expenses for upside potentials in order to protect their short-term profit.  On the other hand, investors who search for long-term return such as for pension fund might prefer blue-chip companies with reasonable investment for R&D and development of human resources with sustainable growth.


Now, let’s take a look at this from a different point of view.  Japanese corporations tend to focus more for upside potentials in the long run by sacrificing a bit of short-term profits whereas foreign-owned companies (except for German-owned! : ) ) tend to focus only on short-term planned profits.  The company that I worked for, because it is a foreign capital company, always cut off media budget immediately after finding out that the bottom line goal cannot be met followed by other marketing fund.  However, if the profit is expected to be more than planned due to appreciation of Japanese yen, senior management gives our marketing team abundant marketing budget for the sake of meeting the bottom line target.  As for R&D, they are not willing to spend so much as the product life-cycle of consumer goods tend to be very short and they wants to pay off the R&D investment as fast as they can.    


Now, could we satisfy consumers in this way?


Of course, Fast Moving Consumer Goods Companies are aggressively analyzing consumers’ wants and needs in order to constantly provide whatever the goods that they are willing to purchase.  However, which one could grasp consumers’ mind, those who try to keep the short-term profit for shareholders or those invest for the future in R&D constantly?


Consumers will decide the winner and the result will be shown in the market share.

Upside Potentials Than Downside Risks

I decided a few weeks ago to move forward leaving problems that cannot be solved soon behind and praying to God to give me an advice for a solution in the long run.  Since then, I had been trying to find a new thing so that I could actually move forward for the next steps.  Interestingly, I was able to catch some precious messages from the news program, articles from Newspapers and magazines. 


Furthermore, the atmosphere of the new fiscal year in Japan pushed me from the back and I brightly and naturally thought about starting a new thing.  The work that I am in charge of is quite interesting and rewarding but I wonder if this is enough for me to keep growing.  There is some downside risks in staying in one company for a long time and we hear a lot of those downside risks recently.  I don’t like to fluctuate between hope and despair.


Therefore, I re-visited my upside potential last night.  Yes, I can do a lot better than I currently do.  Continuing the same type of job at the same company will give you a risk of losing potentials in a different area.  However, if I stay, I might get the same salary for the next x years but no guarantee.


Conclusion is rather than searching for uncertain benefit in a very risky situation, it would be far much better in proactively searching for upside potentials.  Actually, once I started to think this way, I feel like I have more energy than before.


I should not forget to keep changing myself for my own growth.

I must grow until I die!

Nope! I must grow even after I die! 

No Domestic Demand?

A post-war economic expansion model of Japan without natural resources was “exporting value added goods by importing raw materials.”  This model was discussed when I was at a business school in Virginia as one of the most effective models to get out of stagnation.  Of course the model is one of the effective ways but Japanese government might have to change the game plan now after so many years of dependency on export business. 


Going abroad because there’s not enough new demand inside Japan with saturated markets and less chances for a short-term return?


If we take a look at the country with a panoramic view point, we might be able to find many chances to grow domestic demand.  What about establishing a new energy system apart from the existing big electric companies?  As the government has started to move forward for separation of electric power production from power distribution and transmission, there would be the time soon that a regional company to transmit the electric power for a local community even through hydraulic and wind power as well as biomass.  The amount of an electric bill might go up a bit but we are able to save the energy and costs by simply using the electricity as minimal as possible.  This is also good in terms of sustainability. 


Also, when we, Japanese, eat more Japanese food with ingredients available from the country such as rice, fish, and vegetables but less amount of western food with meat, self-sufficiency rate will go up and the demand for produce of agriculture and fishery would be bigger.  It is also good for the Japanese gene to become healthy.  Japanese food is imbedded in Japanese genes!! For example, I became healthier by eating more brown rice with fish and vegetables: I lost my weight significantly and most of the numerical data from a health check-up now show good results.  Furthermore, the cholesterol level of my husband’s blood showed the lowest level in the past twenty years after he started to eat brown rice with me.  You might want to try this healthy Japanese diet!


We are now living in a good time as we could review our own life for creating a better platform of our future in Japan even if most of big companies move out from this country to seek for the short-term benefit.  The speed of the change might be faster in a country side than in the urban area such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya as people in a country side can start it small but grow it bigger and faster.  Of course, people in the urban area should also start the effective changes in their daily life to get out of “lost twenty years of economic stagnation and deflation”.  Furthermore, I personally would like to cheer up those small and mid-sized companies who focus on domestic growth. 

I know I am not like the great forerunners at the Meiji restoration but I would like to contribute as much as I can for the future of this country.  Hope some of you could join the club.

Who's fault?

Since Japanese government announced to participate in negotiations to join TPP, there has been many opinions and comments transmitted through TV, newspapers, magazines, twitter and other media.  I saw some tweets by Mr. Toshinao Sasaki saying that this might be like when Black Ship from the States came close to the bay of Uraga and Japan, as a country, spitted to two: one to stay status-quo and the other to create a new Japan. The observation was quite interesting.  I guess, when a country is going to significantly change, there would be two opposite opinion to split the county.  Therefore, I am truly looking forward to seeing how Japan would change for the next few months through participating in the negotiations, and, if necessary, I would change how I live the rest of my life.


This is something that I have been thinking about for a long time but one of the reasons that Japan has lost its power was due to its myopic people who tend to search only for short-term and selfish benefit.   

For example, talking about education, I understood the concept of the school system to change the education so that student could have more creativity and flexibility through so-called “education free from pressure”.  However, what happened, I observed, was teachers seemed to have stopped learning new things and students used more time in playing games and satisfied with what they have without developing their creativity and flexibility.  We should have thought about what should had been the purpose of having education free from pressure, the purpose such as strengthening the country’s economic power and competitive advantages through a certain industry.  Looking back the past twenty years, I don’t see any significant economic achievement in this country. Being a good citizen of the country of rising sun, we should proactively create our own visions like the forerunners during the Meiji Restoration did and strive to achieve the goal.  There were no such citizens, unfortunately, at this time of crisis.


Starting from lower educational level, a problem expanded to daily purchasing activities of consumers.  Consumers who looked for low priced product not by reducing enough the amount of purchase created a platform of deflation spiral.  As a result, many fathers’ wages went down during a few years. 


Selfish and myopic people never contribute the future of the country.  I regret that, regardless of the ages, many Japanese seemed to have become selfish and myopic.  I would like myself to revive old Japanese idea of aiming about success of the next ten years and willingness to sacrifice small selfish desires.

Move Forward!

For the past few weeks, I had been too busy to write and think about articles because of conference preparation, mental problems of my younger brother, and death of my former professors.  Yesterday, I was able to escape from all the routine works in Tokyo and spent a quiet and sacred time inside mountains in Gif thinking about many different things freely. 


When I got up this morning, I was finally able to pick up a pen and to face a blank paper to write down key words.  Thanks to an unconscious action to leave one of my laptops here in the mountain hut, I plug in my laptop and pressed the start button.


The BS news this morning mentioned something about 1) strengthened Chinese and Russian relationship for a containing action against recent Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the States and conversations with President Obama and 2) the TPP preparation structure formed by Japanese government.  No matter what types of principles and policiesAa country has to think about not expanding its territory but how to grow its economy and culture by maintaining or nurturing better relationships with other countries. People in a country should realize that their country would not grow if they focus only on their own benefit or superiority compared to others by closing their economy within their own country or showing what technology they have.


I often think about national security of Japan regardless of Chapter 9 of Japan’s constitution.  Recently, I listen carefully the news about Takeshima island and Senkaku islands.  There are, unfortunately, nothing that I can do to solve these problems.


However, I am able to think about the position of future Japan in terms of “trade” by focusing on TPP negotiation that would start soon.  I cannot miss any news of it.


Also, I am a bit interested in Prof. Yoko Ishikura’s Global Agenda Seminar in Roppongi Academy Hills that focus on younger generations.  It requires two English essays and one Japanese essay to get the admission.  I am not confident if I could get admitted but maybe I should?  For those who are interested in, the deadline for the application is at 16:00 of May 8.  Be encouraged to apply!

Commemorating my former professor

Two weeks ago, I received the news that my dearest professor in Michigan passed away at the age of 86.  I had been busy in preparation for the upcoming conference and family problems but this was another big body blow.  I cannot properly update my blog.


What can I write under this situation?


First time in one month, I am able to enjoy the time that I don’t do anything with a cup of coffee.  What I think of now is about the professor passed away.


Since I went to the States at the age of 20, he had been giving me precious advice at turning points of my life.  I did not take his physics class at the under-grad but he, an ex-Japanese, taught me how to live and add values as a dual-cultural person.  Many of his advice became the platform of my life.


“Sensei, you told me to come and visit Mt. Fuji and see Sakura this spring, right?

Yesterday, sakura bloomed in Tokyo and your favorite Sumo is held in Osaka now.

Please come and enjoy!

I promise to visit your grave in Michigan soon.  Please wait for me there.”

Gaps To Be Filled

Visualizing the way I should be, the next step was to find gaps between the ideal and current self.  Once you find gaps, the next step is to find a solution to fill the gaps.  First, am I bright?  Many friends of mine say I am bright and cheerful.  I think I am bright and cheerful as well.  This concludes that I AM bright and cheerful.  Next one is pleasantness.  I don’t think any of my friends told me that I am specifically pleasant.  Reflecting what I do when I go to my parents’ house once a month and when I work at office, I get occasionally irritated.  Well, I guess this irritation is the one that I have to solve in the short run.  Now how I could possible solve it? After thinking about for a while, I found out there would be two good ways to solve this.  One is to “do things calmly and steadily.”  The times that I get irritated tend to be when I only have a short and limited time to finish up an assignment but I also have to wait for others to finish their portion before even I start work on my portion of the assignment and when I could not receive the expected output from others so that I had to work additionally on behalf of them.  To avoid for me to get irritated, I could only start my assignments and projects as soon as possible with plenty of lead times.  As I start earlier, I could carefully work on them and get advice from senior management and other functions whenever necessary.  If, for some reasons, the projects and assignments could not be done as expected, of course, I get irritated about the unsatisfactory fact.  In such a case, I try to think that this is due to 50% from me and 50% from others. Then the level of irritation would be half of what it used to be.

However, sometimes my efforts to start assignment earlier cause a double work later and I felt like I should not do anything until the last time.  This was due to limited and delayed information sharing and/or too much focus on speed of finishing and not the quality of work.  The function that I work for in the company has a privilege of receiving important marketing information earlier than other functions.  Therefore, I don’t have to worry about if the enough information is available for a project every day.  However, of course, sometimes, the timing of information sharing delays.  Therefore, I have to judge when would be the best time to start working on the projects/assignments.  The balance between starting earlier and waiting to check the timing is quite sensitive.  Too much waiting would cause a less quality output but starting earlier would also cause a less quality output.  Another unfortunate problem to cause my irritation is when other related teams request us do their jobs with or without knowing.  I always feel like saying to them “Come on!  This is your responsibility and not ours!”  In such a case, I absolutely cannot be a pleasant person.  So, I decided to consider about their situation without get irritated and take a deep breath.  I step back a bit and try to think, “well, they might be too busy to understand the situation and ask for help to us.”  In this way, like it or not, I make efforts to accept the fact. However, accepting does not mean that I accept what they requested (once I do it, they would come back and ask the same thing again later!).  Accepting for me is to try to understand their situation and give them a better solution than asking me to do their job.

Yes. The second point of filling the gap was accepting.

Visualize The Way I Should Be

Now, it’s time for me to analyze my appearance.  I guess many people would feel the same way but It was very difficult for me to objectively observe how I look because I look at my face every day without exceptions.  Looking at a mirror, I could only see a boring face and could not find a single good point about it.  As many of Japanese women would think of their faces, I could only tell my face is “not bad but not good.”  As written in the article on 2/6, I was told that, when I was writing e-mails or creating presentation materials with my laptop, I looked grumpy.  My husband at home or senior colleague at office asked me if something must have had happened as I look really grumpy.  It might be because my eyesight was not good or because a project work was not making any progress.  In any event, I strongly felt that this “appearance” had to be improved.  Why?  Because the grumpy face will cause worry lines!  Since I was a teenager, I did not want the wrinkles between eye blows.  However, at the age of forty, I found the wrinkles were becoming deeper and deeper every day.  Right after I accepted that I DO have worry lines, I met a lady more than, I guess, sixty years old but absolutely without any worry lines!!!  She told me right away that my worry lines could not be ignored saying that these lines came from the way I live my life. Therefore, I decided to smile whenever I can.  You might laugh at me saying it’s just superstition but I do believe grumpy or unhappy face will cause further misery.  I don’t want to bring unhappy destiny only because of my unconscious grumpy face.  A few weeks ago, I placed a mirror besides a PC at office and at home to check my worry lines and make a smile intentionally. 

Being a future consultant, the first impression is quite important.  If a client thinks about me as a scary person or a person whom he/she do not want to talk to, I might not be able to continue as a consultant.  In order to show my good points, I realized that I should visualize what I should be.  Having a clear image of how I should be, I decided to look at my face and reflect myself on what I did today and yesterday so that I could make efforts to get closer to the ideal self.  This became one good and important step for my branding process.    

To tell you the truth, I was not sure if I should upload a photo of myself on the blog at the beginning.  However, thinking twice, I should upload a photo so that I could always see the future image of my inner attitude and I could differentiate my blog from others as there is no other face like mine in the world: My face tells my identity.  

Unfortunately, I could not find a suitable photo to show an ideal self besides the ones for driver’s license.  Why not investing in a good photo to visualize my future?  When I decided to ask a professional photographer, it had been already two weeks after I met Prof. Ishikura (my 911) and three days before the fiftieth birthday.  I managed to find a professional photographer and made an appointment on Sept 29 for shooting: the date was the last day of my 40s!

I had only two days to summarize the purpose of the photo before the day of shooting.  As the blog would become the first contact for most of the potential clients as a business consultant, the photo should be the ideal image of what I should be.  Having said this, though, there would be a limit of expressing the ideal image by photo itself, the message should be concise.  The expression that I created was the image of a “bright, pleasant, and dependable business consultant.”

On the day of shooting, it took two hours only for preparation and the numbers of pictures taken was more than two hundred.  When I saw the digital pictures of myself, I was quite surprised to see that most of the images were cheerful, bright and pleasant!  It was hard for the photographer and me to select the best ones.  As a memory of the last day of 40s, I bought all the images in CD-RM.  On the way home, I was with deep emotions thinking, “Now, I’m going home with the image of what I should be on the last night of 40s….”  I wish I could go for a drink at a nice bar and make a toast to myself with a glass of good champagne.  Instead, I walked along Rt. 246 in Gaienmae and took a subway to go home.

Being One Of A Kind - Appearance and Inner Attitude

I go off the track again for a while.  What if the Flood happens again soon?  Recently, in China, some wrote/broadcasted that the end of the World would come soon according to the Mayan Calendar.  In Japan, back in 1999, Nostradamus’ Prophecies became very popular and people talked about the end of the World.  Recently, some scientists claimed that some countries would sink because Antarctic Ice will melt significantly.  People in Japan, living in a country of earthquake, often think about emergency situations like the great earth quake in Kobe and Tohoku and try to get prepared for them.  However, when the big earthquake and tsunami hit Tokyo, what could I do afterward?  I asked the same question to my husband who graduated from the same US business school and we agreed that people like us, a salaried business person, would be significantly useless under such a life and death situation. There would be no jobs for salaried persons anymore in Tokyo or Kanto area.  OK, we might be able to help those who offer food and place to live but we cannot grow vegetables, catch fish or build a house.  Things that we, urban-grown people and worked for a company, can do are quite limited.  However, assuming the extreme case of the economy of Japan to be completely stopped and nothing left in Kanto area (no jobs, no food, no nothing), anybody who survived from the great earthquake and tsunami has to find a way to make a living, maybe by supporting the survived fishermen, farmers or carpenters through on-the-job training.  If I have a chance someday, I would like to offer sincere gratitude for famers, fishermen, carpenters and other professional people who are supporting Japan’s platform as a country and to create together a better way of winning against the pressure from abroad.         


Now, going back to the topic of Being One Of A Kind, I drafted up sentences to introduce myself briefly as below:

“I sometimes look grumpy because my eyesight is not really good.  Also, my expression tends to be too straight or harsh for Japanese, as I try to use a simple word for anybody to understand what I mean (Japanese tend to think direct expression as harsh).  However, I am cheerful, considerate, honest and forward-looking.  I would like to do good in the world through what I can do.”

After writing down, I realized one thing.  Maybe there is a gap between my appearance and my inner attitude.

Looking back when I was a bit younger and was a leader of teams, some team mates told me that someone was afraid of talking to me.  Why?  I always was honest to my teammates and eager to deliver good results as a team work.  Maybe, my eagerness was not conveyed in a right way?  What about now?  I’d like to reflect myself in what way I can improve, if so.  On the contrary, one of my ex-boss was quite evil-minded but he always looked gentle with smiley face.  This is, in a way, a great skill, although I do not want to be a person like this.  Some clever, evil-minded business persons are given to have such a skill to cover his/her evil-mind and get recognition from senior management.

My complements.  

As for me, though, it would be far much better to close the gap between the appearance and the inner attitude, assuming that my inner face is good.  The first impression sometimes would lead to business success.  Therefore, I want to avoid letting others have a bad impression.  I wish I could know the gap a long time ago to make my business life a lot easier.  Well, it’s not too late.  I still have time to change even if some have a bad impression about me.  Your life shapes your face and soul.  I would like to live a good and rewarding life and to shape a good soul to attain nirvana.  Writing this, I made a smile at the mirror on my desk.

I’ll do my best to shape a good face and soul for the next thirty years of my career!

Being One Of A Kind - Basic Components

First of all, in Shintoism, every single person, regardless of races, is believed to have a divided soul of the Creator God and his/her personality is similar to one of the Forty-Eight Deities that support the Creator God.  If this is true, the Creator God is the one who created individual characters and, therefore, it must be important for a person to respect his or her existence and to do much as he/she could for the society and for the people.  As far as I know, there was a time in Japan that people feel safe and relieved when they did the same things as others did and when they were told that they were quite similar to someone else. However, things have been changed and people started to value individualism, as Shintoism says, to respect one’s existence and these precious individuals create rich and diversified culture in some countries.  However, one thing to note is that individualism and egotism are totally different and these should not be mistakenly regarded as the same thing. 

I wonder if how many of you thought about what your uniqueness is in detail.  There will be no person exactly like you in this world but there might be someone who is quite similar to you.  By confirming who we are, we would be able to know our uniqueness and identity.  Once you know who we are, how to communicate about us would be the next important thing.

Now, basic components of us are 1) appearance, 2) character, 3) strength and limitations, 4) creed in your life, 5) academic and career background.  Now, let’s just forget about our academic and career background for a second and think about our innermost attitudes because academic and career backgrounds are comparatively easy to find out by simply jotting down what you did as I mentioned before.  In order to find 1) through 4) quickly and concisely, let’s assume that we’re under an extreme situation.

I guess many of you have heard about the story of Noah’s Ark.  The flood washed everything on earth and only a few animals and Noah’s family survived.  Let’s assume a similar thing happens now and a few people survived in a small island.  These people are not necessarily from the same country as you used to belong to and you are trying to introduce yourself to the people who do not know anything about you.  If you are Japanese, think about the probability of meeting Japanese.  The population of Japan is 1.28 Billion in 2011 (World Bank) and the one of the World is 68.6 billion in 2011 (WHO).  Only 1% of the world population is Japanese people.  In other words, the probability for me, if I survive, to meet a Japanese person is almost Zero after the flood.  It does not matter which school you graduated from or where you worked before.  I would say the only things that I would care under such circumstances would be how to survive without anything: no house, money, or job.  It would be more meaningful to let others know my character and what I can do to make a living together.        

For example, if one used to be a salaried person before the flood, he/she would say “I look like a strict person but actually I am very gentle, social and cheerful.  I always try to think about what I can do for others.  However, as I am not good at communicating with others, people tend to think that I am not a social person.  Please give me an advice whenever necessary as I will try to sincerely listen to it.”  It’s a short message but conveys the four components: strict appearance, gentle/social/cheerful character, the creed in life to do whatever can be done for others, poor communication skills as shortcoming and sincere acceptance of others’ advice as strength.  Once this short sentence is completed, then next step is to deep dive each item.  Then, you will be able to explain about yourself holistically and consistently.  Then later, simply adding what you can provide.  Using the example of Noah’s Ark, carpenters and fishermen would add sentences as “I know how to build a house,” and “I know how to catch fish”, respectively.


During the stagnant period, I tried to start something new immediately.  What could it be?  To join activities at office or outside office such as voluntary study session or reading club was some of the option that I could think of.  Then I realized that an awareness building activity for female business professionals had just started a few months ago.  When I registered at the first time, it was more like building a good team relationship with my Japanese boss.  As the core members of the group were looking for volunteers for the activities, I logged in the web site for registration.  The group had been active in the past few years after it was founded in the HQs in the States and expanded to other countries.  Two years ago, a group of four ladies declared that they will start the activities in Japan.  After a few days of registration, I received an invitation as a volunteer leader of one of the activities in 2012.  The types of activities in the plan were to “know other functions than the one you belongs to”, or, “organize a social event for those who have children.”  The only one that I thought I would be interested in was a guest-speaker event.  I requested the core members, thinking about my work schedule, to lead the one in October in three months for the guest-speaker event.  While saying this to them, I had already half decided to request Prof. Yoko Ishikura at Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University.

I had a few chances to meet her at Alumni gatherings of Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia and, as she is very proactive and energetic, I was quite sure that she would give us a tremendous inspiration just by meeting her.  This inspiration that simply came from my eagerness to do something new as soon as possible, did guided me for the short-term to mid-term goal.  


This is the same, I would say, for anybody who is searching for breakthrough: Start something new (even if it is a small thing) immediately.  If you start to take your time in thinking about how to overcome the deadlock, you would not be able to find out a solution soon and, even worse, your willingness to change or grow tend to be diminished.  Strike while your “thinking” is hot


Once this idea came through, the changes afterwards were quick and big.  In July, I contacted Prof. Ishikura to make an appointment on October 15, followed by exchange e-mails about what to be lectured on that day.  Then I made an appointment in our office in Shibuya on September 11, for the first and last time to prepare for the D-day.  At the meeting on September 11, Prof Ishikura gave us a great inspiration as expected.  After the meeting, I requested her to have lunch together privately to get some advice about my future asking about how I break through the stagnant condition for the past few years.  It was just a 40-min. lunch but she gave me the last “push” for me to move forward for short- and mid-term goal by giving me the answers for all the questions I had.  Yes.  This 911 had a great meaning and impact to me.  The conclusion was:       

“I will start my own blog by the end of October 2012 and transmit information as much as possible”

The purpose is to let people in the world know about my existence first.

As a result, this blog “Innovation and Growth” had started on October 24, 2012.  After meeting her on September 11 and despite the busiest period to prepare for the 2013 business plan, I managed to decide the structure and the contents of the blog within a month and two weeks.  Greater suffering gave me a greater energy for innovation and growth.

A Path To The Short-Term Goal

The long term goal of working until 80 year old was set up.  However, action plans for how I live for the next ten years were still vague.  To be honest, I was not sure what to do with the next ten years.  One option that I thought of was to gain DBA and to get involved in the academic field.  Although I had experiences in giving a special lecture at a MBA class of Waseda Univ. and Temple Univ. Japan, I would be more than 60 years old, though, until I would be accepted as an academic professional in one area of Business.  Regardless of what I would like to do, this option does not bring a stable income.  What about changing a job?  What could I do to add values to the new job?”  I had been managing many different types of projects and jobs in the past but what is it in one word?  I started to write down whatever I did in the past chronologically and updated my resume.  After updated it roughly, I confirmed that my area of profession could be said as Marketing.  Of course I ran a business by myself for a short time but I did not think that I had enough experience for adding value for running a business.  One small concern I had for me to claim that I am Marketing Professional was that I had no experience in Mass Marketing with huge Marketing investment more than a million dollars.  Thinking about it for a few moments, I concluded the mass marketing was only for a big company like P&G or Coca-Cola and they don’t need any outside support for Marketing anyway.  Also, I believe that we are now in the period of “individual” marketing for consumption for “an individual” and not in the one for Mass Marketing for Mass Consumption.  As a result, I decided to call myself “Marketing Professional”.    


Now, this is the start of my branding.  As I set up the professional area, I updated my resume first so that, whenever my headhunter calls me, I would be able to concisely explain her what experiences that I could add from the past few years.  I tried to highlight a specific area of Marketing that I was able to get involved in and how.  This was important for me to organize my Marketing experience so that, in the future, I could communicate it to the general public.  However, to tell you the truth, my headhunter called me to update the job market before I updated my resume!  Learning from this was I must always brush up my resume to capture any opportunities.


Do I need to communicate the results of what I am doing in everyday in the office to my boss and colleague?  Yes, of course, I have to create my brand in the office as well in how I want to be recognized.  Usually, people tend to focus only inside ones’ office.  I don’t believe this is enough.  Communicating outside your daily life is sometime more important than communicating inside the office, especially in terms of brushing up your knowledge level or insight.  Besides this, when I communicate inside the office, I have to carefully watch for the politics at the same time.  Otherwise, I’ll get manipulated by some of intelligent “mafias” who would do anything for their position to get higher and I might be used as a scapegoat.  I cannot avoid the inside politics but I don’t want to get involved proactively.  Therefore, I decided to focus more on communicating outside.  Now, how would I do?

When it comes down to an action plan, I was not able to come up details for a while.  Write a book?  Start up a blog?  But why now? Isn’t it too late?  On top of all these, I will never have such time!

Until When I'd Like To Work

After fixing the platforms of my life, I had to ask myself through what actions I’d like to maintain the “happy” life.  As for the physical and mental health, I keep the special diet with vegetables, fish, and brown rice and 13000 walking steps per day.  Hobbies like Flamenco Dance (once a week), muscle training (once a week) and horse-riding (twice a month) would also good for both mental and physical health.  Also, thinking about risks of losing muscle power in the next thirty years, I decided to learn how to sing a flamenco song (cante) two years ago as I believe that voice training would be also good for both physical and mental health (and also to avoid dementia!).


In order to keep the peacefulness in mind, I believe the best way would be grateful to anything that you experience.  I used to often suffer an asthma attack which made me difficult to breathe enough oxygen to live an ordinary life:  I could not have enough oxygen to move the chopsticks for eating or to catch up  enough breath after eating even a small portion of food.  After going to a toilet, it took me 7~8 min. to recover from terrible breathing problems.  I could not even lie down to sleep as I could hardly breathe but had to sit on a chair all night to breath properly by discharging phlegm.  I never forgot to have my mobile phone with me in order to call ambulance whenever necessary.  I wished several times that I’d rather die if this condition would continue even a single minute.  After recovering from such conditions, I became grateful on anything ordinary from the bottom of my heart such as breathing, sleeping, eating, and even peacefully waking up in the morning.


From a different point of view, in order to maintain the peacefulness in mind, I try to listen to what other people say about me in such a way that “this is something that God (or Budda) asking the person to do for me so that I could learn from it.  I will be able to learn from what he/she says.”  Then, I don’t get angry.  Instead, I try to find how I change myself in order not to hear the same words again.  One more thing that is very important in a daily life is to be considerate to others.  Regardless of where I am either in or outside the office, I try to talk to a person if the person seems to be in trouble.  In the office, a new comer tend to be the case and I always try to say, “How is your life in this company?” to start a conversation.  Outside the office, when I find senior people having troubles, I try to help them.  One day, I happened to hold an old lady who almost fell on the escalator.  I kept talking to her until she recover consciousness.  When such a thing happens, usually one does not think about something in return.  It is not give and take but “give and give.” I always feel like thinking about others as if they are you and taking care of them will give you the same vibration back.  Even if I don’t get any good vibration back, I believe that I am “accumulating good deeds in the storehouse in the heaven.”  As I believe in the life after death, it does not matter if I get something out from the consideration right away but it does matter that the Creator in the sky watches me all the time.  If I am not ashamed of myself under the Creator God’s observation, I am able to feel peaceful.        


Difficult to achieve, though, is the economic independence.  Until when do I have to earn money for living a quality life?  Or until when do I want to work?  To answer this question, I had to answer another question first, “How long will I live?”  According to a survey in 2011, the average life expectancy of Japanese male was 79.44 year old and the one for Japanese female was 85.90 year old.  Then, as I am a woman, I might die at the age of 86?  No, no, this cannot be right.  The 86 year old is the “average.”  This means there are many who live longer than 86 but also many who die earlier than 86.  It’s Ok if I die earlier as I still can live a quality life with enough money.  Therefore, considering a risk of no quality life after 86 year old, I decided to forecast that I live longer than 86.  Then by when would I live???


I heard that there is a 115 year-old Japanese man in Japan who is the oldest in the world according to the Guinness Book.  I don’t think I would live that long but I might live until around 100 year old.  According to an article dated September 14, 2012 by Nikkei Newspaper, the population equal to and above 100 year old is more than 50,000.  It would be possible the population to be increased due to a new development of modern medicine and improved welfare.  If I would live that long, I would like to earn money as long as possible to maintain the quality of my life because I found that my pension fund would only last for ten to twenty years after retirement.  In order to work and earn money for the quality of my life, I have to create a stable career plan. 

One thing that I was really glad after knowing the possibility of living until 100 year old was that I was only half way through my life!  At the time of turning point, I found a lot of thing that I would like to do and achieve.  I still have a long time to do many things! 

Now, how long do I want to work for money assuming a steady mental and physical health?  My parents, who have already retired, live healthily close to 80 year old.  Also, Mr. Shintaro Ishihara, used to be Tokyo Governor, challenged to get involved in national politics with the age exceeding 80.  Following them, I decide to work until 80 years old. 


For those who are looking for a job, I would like to say that we have plenty of time for achieving our goals.  Just go for it!

What Life Do I Want To Live?

When one is asked, “What life do you want to live?” I’m sure he or she would answer, “I want to live a happy life.” My answer is the same.  Then, what is this “happy life”?  Looking back my life in the past 50 years, I could summarize what happy is in the following three points:

1)    Mental and Physical Health

2)    Peacefulness

3)    Economic Independence 

Needless to say, unless we are healthy, we cannot achieve both 2) and 3).  When I worked as a sales representative, I lived a lifestyle of excess in order to get a short-term success.  It was OK for me until the age of thirty two or three but later, of course, my body started to scream for help.  Once this happened, I became discouraged, especially, with pains and breathing problem and it took a long time to get recovered.  I even started to question the modern medicine that only stopped the pains and problems for short-term without getting rid of the cause of the symptoms.  Now, after spending close to ten years with modern medicine, I completely switched to transform my body through herbal medicine and macrobiotic food. 


The peacefulness of 2) means that I can spend days peacefully without any conflicts.  Whenever my families, in-laws, other relatives and even colleague and boss in the office have problems, I cannot spend a quality and productive time for anything.  Also, I became a bit too aggressive and I tend to be negative about what others do and say.  Nothing good would ever come out of conflicts.  I believe it is very important to keep your mental condition peaceful even if someone tries to give me a problem or hard time.  If I, reacting the negative vibration, generate an attacking vibration, the counterpart will become even worse and show more negative attitude.  Therefore, I would like to be peaceful and considerate as much as possible to maintain this platform of my life.


Now, moving on to the third point, I would like to control economic (monetary) condition by myself.  If I am lucky enough to get rich, that would be ideal but what I want is to earn money to maintain the current quality of apartment, clothes, and food with some hobbies.  Am I requesting too much?


Straying away again from the main topic, I would like to mention about my parents’ generation:  they lived in the period that letting working women (or their wives) means that men (or husbands) are not independent (=not qualified as adult men).  What about now?  To keep a stable household, women also need to work even as a part-time worker because they worry about their husbands might get laid off suddenly.  Furthermore, parents still would like to send their children to a good school.  Do they still depend on the “children allowance” by the government (too little to pay for tuitions, though) through our tax payers’ money?  What about after retirement?  Is the pension fund enough live in a good life after retirement?  Do you expect your children to take care of yourselves (this is typical in Asian society)? 

I seriously would like to be economically independent to protect my quality life.  In order to maintain the platform, I will make every effort for the rest of my life.     

Turning Point

Since I started to work for this foreign-capitol FMCG Company in Tokyo upon gaining a MBA degree, it’s been already more than 20 years.  During the period, I had various experiences such as being transferred to Marketing/Sales from Finance, working outside Japan, running my own company for three years away from the FMCG Company, and having lost my health.  The worst thing was to lose my health both physically and mentally.  I could only improve a way of spending daily life until the condition got better.


Given such a condition, as for my career, all I could do was to maintain the situation as is.  In general, once one entered a stage of defense, he/she tends to get weaker as there’s no one else who manage to get a point except for him/herself.  Without exception, I became not sure if I could “defend” and started to worry about my future.  In other words, as I could not deliver a significant result to contribute to the company, I started to concern about getting laid off.  However, the best I could deliver was to minimize the days of sick leave and deliver what was necessary to deliver.  I wanted to get out of this cycle but could not move forward for a long time.


Furthermore, there were a big change of the corporate pension plan and a few senior members’ voluntary retirement due to a “single-hooked early retirement suggestion” by HR (HR to contact one by one to suggest for voluntary retirement) and these made me even more worried about my future with the company.  Especially in last year, I became 50 year old and I realized that I came to an age of turning point.  I finally made up my mind before 50-year old birthday:

“Think about my life once again.  It’s not good at all to stay in this stagnant condition.  I will transform my life as if I start a new one again.”


After the decision, I started to consider about the three points below:

1)    How do I want to live in the rest of my life?

2)    What do I want to achieve in the next ten years?

3)    Until when do I want to work?


If there some readers of this blog who started to find a job after graduating university or high-school, these three points will be also important for you to ask yourself (it does not matter if you are male or female).  Please be encouraged to do so.  If there are some other people who experienced similar things as I mentioned above, it’s not too late to think about them as well.  Why?  It’s because you can become proactive and forward-looking again.  You’ll find out many things that you would like to do once you can answer these questions


Now, I will stray away from a main point a bit but I believe the life of human being does not finish after death (I know this because I have a bit of spiritual power to experience this).  Our soul will be transferred to a world after death and continue to get trained to be united with the great power of the universe at last (it’ like one scene of a manga “Firebird” by Mr. Osamu Tezuka). 

If you spend a lazy life in this world, you will suffer in the world after death! : )

My Own Positioning

Where would be the best working environment that I could use my strength?

I wanted to use what I learned through school and at work as much as possible.  However, I wondered which one would be better for me: a branch office of a Japanese construction company in L.A.? or a branch office of American (FMCG) company in Tokyo?  The one in L.A. could be the short-term win for me as I could stay in the States for longer but I wonder if their headquarters in Japan could fairly treat me as a professional compared with Japanese male employees.  The one in Tokyo, I thought, was also risky in the same point of view as there are many Japanese male working for them and, on top of that, I was not quite sure if I could use my knowledge accumulated in the Business school as there might not be many Senior Managers, regardless of nationality, who would understand the latest business tools.  Furthermore, I thought some Japanese employees might force me to behave like a Japanese woman in the office.   At last, the answers to the two question as follow made me decide the destination: “Which one would listen to my opinion more when I started to deliver good results in my assignment?” and “Which one would recognize my value more as a professional who knows culture of both America and Japan?”  I did not think about which “industry” I should move one.  As a result, I decided to go back to Tokyo.


After joining the one in Tokyo, I sometimes got stuck with the fact that the company was more “Japanese” than I expected.  However, when there were some conflicts between non-Japanese senior management vs. Japanese management, good or bad, I was accepted in the Japanese side. My positioning was “being a Japanese woman who understands both Japanese people/culture and Western people/culture through communication in English.”  I tried to avoid being labeled as “strange Japanese” who could not be accepted either by the Japanese society or non-Japanese community in Tokyo.  Thinking about a long term goal of “being my own boss,” this positioning was, and still is, quite important.     


Having said this though, I sometimes feel like going back to the States for a vacation to revive my identity.  Meeting with friends and visiting the town that I know in the past, I could remember how I found my identity at school and cheer up myself.  In Japan, I realized that I often needed to kill my true self to live in harmony.

Then why am I living here?  The answer is simple.  I love the country.  Therefore, my positioning stays the same. 

“I am Japanese.  Also, I could understand non-Japanese people/culture through communication in English.”

Job Hunting at MBA School

After experiencing Black Monday, I returned to the States for a MBA degree.  Then before graduating from the business school, the bubble in Japan was crashed.  This meant the ice age of job hunting.  However, I thanked heavens that I got out of the financial market well in advance.  In any event, I had to review the steps for the short-term goal of earning money for living.  The long term goal of “becoming my own boss” remained as is.  There were three options for me: 1) Go back to the financial market for high income in a short term, 2) Join manufacturing industry to contribute society by providing goods (risk of low income), 3) Join anything else that seems exciting (risk of unstable income).


Another option was the company that I worked for as a summer intern.  Comparing with an investment bank, of course, there were nice people there and, on top of anything, the industry was quite stable.  I started to wonder if I should go back to the financial market with fierce competitions.  However, I also wanted quick returns from the MBA program. 


It was quite hard to study and to search jobs at the same time even in the second year of the business school.  On the other hand, those Japanese students (many of them were male) who were sponsored by the companies they worked for were spending a nice and relaxing time during spring and summer holidays.  They just simply needed to get the degree and, after a few month of training at a branch office in the States, they simply go back to Japan and work as before.  As far as I know, the female students in any MBA schools then were self-sponsored. 


During the job-hunting period, I tried to talk to as many people from different industries as possible and flew to New York and Los Angeles and other places for an interview.  I was desperate to find a place to work.  


When it was only four months before the graduation, I received a call from Tokyo, the company that I worked for as a summer intern:  I got a job offer from them.  Soon after this, I also got a phone call from a branch office of a Japanese company in L.A..  Should I go back to Tokyo? Or stay in the States?  Should I work for a foreign capital company or for a Japanese company?


One of the professor who used to be Japanese but later got U.S. citizenship gave me an advice, saying, “Where and how do you think that you can use your strength at a working place?”  In his case, he mentioned that being raised as Japanese helped him a lot.  What about me?


I wrote about branding in the blog article “Marketing Yourself,” and mentioned, “Communicate truth about yourself or to communicate who you are and what you can do through the facts”.  It is also important to have a goal of how and to what you want to transform yourself.  In order to achieve the goal, we have to make efforts filling gaps between the goal and the current situation and, at the same time, express what we have now as much as possible. 


Talking about myself, when I graduated from the undergraduate school in US, I aimed at becoming my own boss in 40’s through various types of business experiences after gaining a MBA degree in the States.  To do this, I had to earning lots of money for the tuition by working for an investment back.  Becoming my own boss means for me was living in a risky but rewarding life.  As my father was also running his own company, it was quite natural for me to think about becoming entrepreneur.


The time when I thought about gaining a MBA degree was when I was at undergraduate school, right after I became a junior by transferring from Japanese women’s college through admission upon recommendation.  Until the time of gaining bachelor’s degree in arts and science, I was able to strongly consider about a way of living my life.  Many American friends asked me how I would live with a degree in English Literature.  Back in Japan, women with bachelor’s degree usually work as Office Lady (OL) whose main job in the morning was to serve tea for male colleague and clean their desks.  OLs usually worked two to three years at a company and then got married and left.  For those rare women who want to become a professional and continue working after marriage aimed at becoming a secretary.  Therefore, I was lucky to have American friends and professors who asked me questions about my life and how I live.  Of course, I did not want to become one of OLs but I was convinced that with the degree in English, I will not be able to earn money for a long time to maintain economic independence.  I concluded that I should get a master’s degree in Business from a good Business School in the States.  Yes, Economic Independence.  This was one of the answers that I came across when I asked myself, “Hiromi, what would you like to do in your life?”  However, I did have knowledge about economy and other that would be required for Business degree.  Therefore, with some advice from faculty of the undergrad school, I started to look for a position in financial institutions.  This, I believed, was perfect to learn about world economy. 


At the first company that I joined, I was able to learn about interest rates, foreign exchange, and stock market before becoming a bond trader at a Canadian investment bank.  In Japan, the economic bubble had been already creating when I joined the financial market and no one ever doubt about the market to crash.  However, finally, the NY stock exchange collapsed on Black MondayWhen the market collapsed, I bought some stock at Toronto Stock Exchange to earn my tuition for MBA.  I believed that it was the perfect timing for a buy.  Of course my lot was minimal but my boss, without knowing who made an order for how much, blasted in the trading room saying, “Who the hell is buying in this crisis!?  Cancel the deal!”  After a while, he found out the order was from my personal account, he quietly said to me, “You’re crazy, Hiromi.” and left for home.


Now, after experiencing Black Monday, I don’t remember how many of my friends and colleagues were asked to leave.  Some US Primary Dealers had to get integrated to survive.  Observing the restructuring of the financial market, I understood that the future of financial institutions would not be bright.  I changed the timing of going back to the States for MBA earlier within a few years, as a result. 


Usually, it takes time for us to fill gaps between our mid-term goal and our current situations but the working environment tends to change quickly.  Therefore, we have to always observe things changing and become flexible to adjust ourselves accordingly  without changing a long term goal.

Reading "Kokoro" by Lafcadio Hearn

I watched a NHK TV program the other day about Yakumo Koizumi’s (Lafcadio Hearn) observation about Japanese people and I was quite moved.  After a few days, a friend of mine praised a book called Kokoro by Hearn and I decided to purchase and started to read.  I haven’t finished reading the book yet but I have already shocked and moved quite a lot.


Now, almost all Japan people own automobiles, electric appliances (washing machines, refrigerators, TV, telephone, personal computers and others), wear nice clothes or kimonos made of chemical textile, and other convenient materials developed after the industrial revolutions.  We are able eat as much food as possible from major western cuisine to exotic Middle East, Asian and African food.  Women are treated equally “by law” and western cultures have already taken root.  The way we live now is quite high at cultural level compared with, for example, the one in Vietnam, in terms of materials. 


However, as I am reading through the book by Hearn, I came across so many things struck my soul and heart.  Hearn arrived in Japan in 1890, twenty three years after the Meiji Restoration.  Kokoro was written in English and published in 1896 in New York.  It is a collection of short essays.  To my surprise, the translated book was filled with difficult kanji characters because it was translated a long time ago!  After reading 40~50 pages, I gave up reading in Japanese and switched to English version to start over again. 


The first essay was about a thief caught in Fukuoka sent to Kumamoto via train.  A police man who took the thief to Kumamoto let the criminal to face a victim’s 4-year-old son at the station in public.  The policeman only suggested a boy to stare at the criminal.  While the crowd quietly watching them, the criminal fell in knees and begged forgiveness.  I wonder if this could possibly happen outside Japan.  Hearn or the persona also stunned to watch the scene.@Stir the soul and transform one’s mind.  Even the counterpart is a criminal.  I can easily imagine that Japanese people back then naturally did such thing.  What about us now?     


Hearn describes, in the following essay, about the land and buildings of Japan and the ones of metropolitan area with the hustle and bustle in the States.  As we all know, Japan has been suffering many great earthquakes and natural disasters.  Therefore, nothing can last forever.  Japanese used to live in a small and shabby hut under this fragile land condition that didn’t allow them to live in a gorgeous house by investing lots of money.  Poor nutrition from food did not justify the strong physical body because Japanese worked hard and walked mountainous area in a long distance.  Therefore, their spirit was quite strong.  And so on…        


We, Japanese people now, don’t have to abandon this current luxury of materials but, I strongly feel, that if many of us grab back the honorable poverty and rejoin with nature again, then this country could develop further again. 

“In spareness, you find enough.”

Branding of Japanese Rice Wine (Sake) (2)

I was able to confirm, after I visited Paris and saw a wine list of a tree-star restaurant, that the market of Japanese rice wine could be expanded when its value is clearly communicated and the taste is checked with food.  Also, I found out that a type of sake that goes well with western food is Ginjo and Dai Ginjo.  So, the next step was to decide, 1) Positioning, 2) Target countries, and 3) Target Year of gaining popularity.  The answer I came up with was:

Pj          Daiginjo as a premium wine

- Therefore, the channel was local high-end restaurants

Qj       English Speaking Countries

- U.S.A, Australia, U.K. where I don’t have any language problems

Rj       Three years for branding

- No price discount for short-term revenue


At that time, too much Japanese sake including the ones with low quality introduced in U.S.A and some comparatively good ones were already introduced at famous restaurants, I excluded U.S.A. from the target.  As for U.K., there seems to be less opportunity there as even grape wine was not well-accepted by ordinary people: their consumption of beer was (and I believe still is) far much bigger than wine compared to other western countries.    However, Australians were flexible in taste perhaps due to lots of immigrants from Asia and they eat Modern Australian Cuisine that include good tastes of different ethnic groups such as Asian and Europeans. 

In addition, there was not much good-quality Japanese sake imported from Japan yet.  This was a very good condition for branding my client’s sake.  Fortunately, as the client, the Japanese sake maker, had an affiliate company to export Australian wine to Japan, they were also able to support us. 


As I decided the target country as Australia, the next step was to find a high-end modern Australian restaurant for collaboration in branding the sake, one of the best Daiginjyos from the client.  In terms of costs and my health, it was not a good way to visit and eat as much modern Australian cuisine as possible, but it was the best and the only way for my Japanese tongue to find out which restaurant was suitable in serving it. 


As I could not have enough time to go and visit Australia due to other project works, I decided to fly to Sydney during the new-year holidays, of course, with my husband.  For him, it was a pure holiday there.  Luckily, we were able to participate in the “Count-Down” event in Sydney by looking at the Opera House and fireworks

Special Lecture by Prof. H. Ishii of MIT

I was able to participate in the special lecture of Prof. H. Ishii of MIT on Nov. 27 in Tokyo.  The title was “Future Memory”.  When I looked at the title, I could not really understand what it means but later, it became clear.  I understood that the major contents of the lecture had two parts: 

AjHow we live in an environment that require drastic changes in terms of our values

BjDrivers for creation

As for A), there were two points

PjPerspective, Axis, Origin

As axis and Origin of a person’s idea are always challenged to be changed due to confrontational ideas. These have to get transformed to a middle ground or a balancing point between the axis and the confrontation through constructive discussions.

QjUnavoidable Natural Disaster

Brain freeze due to the myth of safety.  This is one of the reasons that Tokyo Electric Power Company caused the melt-down of nuclear reactor after the 311 earthquake.  Given the fact that natural disaster is not avoidable, it is more important for us how fast we recover.  We should not wait for a perfect thing to be created for a long time but instead start launching in the market with the best efforts.  And then, by criticizing by the users, the thing launched should be polished and get better.  Under such environment, we are required to be resilient and robust.  Furthermore, a role of SNS is evident in a way to connect the people who have with the people who need to have.  Through the SNS, the people in the Tohoku Area after the 311, was enormously supported.

BjWhat drives creation?

Prof. Ishii showed us a picture of pyramid with three words: from the top, 1) Vision, 2) User’s need, 3) Technology.  He also mentioned that the drivers for creation were 1) Sticking-Out Power, 2) Path-always-behind-me power, and 3) Creating-mountain Power.  Right after the lecture, he tweeted about these powers and I also re-tweeted (Hiromi koizumi@a_attain). 

Japanese children are always taught that “the nail that sticks out gets banged down.  In other words, we should keep low profile or we should not do something different from others.  However, he said, “the nails that sticks out too much cannot get banged down.”  What a wonderful comment!  The power of” a path always follows behind” came from a poem made by the famous artist, Mr. Kotaro Takamura.  The poem says, “There is no road in front of me, I can create a path behind me,” i.e., one should have a spirit of going forward into an untouched land.  The power of creating mountains which was found after Prof. Ishii joined MIT but it is not so important to climb a mountain that someone else has created or the one that someone created in the past but more important to make a huge/brand-new mountain and climb up to the top by him/herself.  There might be some Japanese youth who happened to become a sticking-out person without knowing and banged down to lose confidence.  However, those youth, he mentioned, should use the humiliation as energy to burn the desire to achieve the goal.  Be confident and do not give up.  Keep the loftiness.     

This is Prof. Isii’s way of “Innovation and Growth.”

What a wonderful way of keep growing!  I sincerely would like to follow such a way of living.

Furthermore, there was a story about Facebook account of his mother who passed away a few years ago.  This story leads to the title of “Future Memory.”  Prof. Ishii created her mother’s account after her death and delivered and is still delivering her haiku poems in Facebook as he believes his mother’s poems are very beautiful.

I personally believe that our souls will remain alive in a world after death but I realized through this story that I would also leave intangible thing through a tool like Facebook in this physical world.  What can we leave to our descendants in 2200?  What would be the two kanji letters that represents your life?  These are the questions he asked to all the participants that evening.  I would like to seriously think about this for the next few weeks. 

I was one of the lucky ones to exchange name cards with him after the lecture and this will be one of the treasures of my life. 

Prof, Ishii, I will keep following you through twitter!

Hanoi, Vietnam, The First Time In Fourteen Years

I visited Hanoi from 22 through 26.  It’s been fourteen years since I visited there last time but nothing much has changed except for more highways were constructed.  Maybe there are more modern buildings but the life of the people there seemed to be the same as before. 


Even inside the city of Hanoi, traffic lights are only for big traffic intersections.  Also, there are more motorbikes than cars.  Those motorbikes don’t stop at intersections but just slow down a bit to pass over pedestrians, cars, and other motorbikes.  It’s just a wonderful skill that people of Hanoi has.  Usually, two persons are on the bikes and sometimes I saw a family of a father, mother and two children on the same bike.  Legally, a family of four, I heard from a tour guide, is allowed for one motorbike.  Furthermore, there seems to be no legal limit or regulations on how much baggage or piles of goods for bicycles and motorbikes. 


Drivers of cars, trucks, and motorbikes always want to beep the horn at anytime, which makes the town very noisy from early morning until late at night.  In sidewalk which is supposed to be for pedestrians are packed with motorbikes and goods that are sold at local shops.  Furthermore, customers in local restaurants are eating outside at tables on sidewalks.  They eat outside close to a road that is not clean but full of dust!


The tour guide told us to dine in a proper place such as a hotel or a restaurant for tourists or expats.  Otherwise, he said, we’ll get sick.  Beside this, I thought it’s not possible to enjoy the food outside with dust, emission gas and noisy beeps all the time, I decided to dine in a hotel or a few western style café that should be very luxurious place for locals.


I wondered why the life of the people here could not be improved so much for the past fourteen years.  One reason, I thought, might be lack of electric supply for modern industries to get activated as necessary.  Then I came across a professor from Japan at the hotel lobby, who was teaching at Hanoi University of Science and Technology for a three-week special lecture.  Later I found out that the lecture was about Nuclear Power Generation (http://www.ne.titech.ac.jp/jinzai-hitachi/).


As there are less business opportunities in Japan and Europe after the great earthquake on March 11 in Japan, I understand that those companies growing with nuclear power constructions have to go one of the developing countries that do not have enough infrastructure of power supply.  However, I strongly hope that they would find a different way for sustainable growth through a paradigm shift as soon as possible.

Branding of Japanese Rice Wine (Sake) (1)

The Japanese sake that I was going to introduce overseas was one of the famous and traditional sake of Hokuriku Area.  As there were so many things that I didn’t know about, I decided to “meet people to gather information as much as possible” after checking basic things such as what is sake and how to make sake.


In order to know the sake brewer in terms of its history, product line-ups and others, I flew to Hokuriku Area.  To my surprise, on the airplane, I was able to watch a video to introduce Japanese sake!  As the duration of the flight was less than 1 hour, I concentrated to watch the video and to take notes of who was the liquor shop manager, their line-ups, and restaurants where served these sake from the liquor shop by forgetting a cup of coffee served by a flight attendant. 


On that night at a hotel, I used the PC at the lobby and searched the items that I took note of and tried to find a way of meeting the person on the video.I don’t remember how I found and how long it took me to find but I finally came across an event of “Mariage of French cuisine and Japanese rice wine.”  The event was held at Augout-du-jour  (Japanese Only) in Ichigaya, Tokyo and it was sponsored by Hasegawa Sake Store (Japanese only).


When we hear the word “French cuisine”, we often think of grape wine to drink with.  Therefore, I raised so many questions like, “why Japanese sake for French cuisine?”, “isn’t Japanese sake only for Japanese food?”, “If it really fit to French cuisine, what kind of Japanese sake will fit to it?” and so on.  I remember that I got quite curious about the event.


On the day of the event, a fateful encounter was there at Augout-du-jour!  I was finally able to meet Mr. Hasegawa of Hasegawa Sake Store and Mr. Kuheiji Kuno of Banjo Brewery who made one of his sake called “Eau de Desir”(Japanese only) debut at three-star restaurant in Paris, France.  Also, I heard that Mr. Hasegawa and other sake brewers including Mr. Kuheiji Kuno to come and participate in the reception of Kuheiji at a famous hotel in Paris.  I immediately made up my mind to go to Paris and, within three days, booked a flight to Paris and a hotel, as I believed this IS the great investment for myself.  Of course, I did not charge the costs to my client.  I was a bit concerned about how I manage the project but, by that time, I was quite excited about it for creating innovative ideas for the traditional Japanese sake.

Rice and Grape Wine Busuness

Do you drink alcohol with food at dinner?  There are some people simply drink a glass or two at a bar or tavern before going home.  When I was early 20s, I could not drink at all.  However, when I started to work at a investment bank, I felt like I should drink with my clients to build good professional relationship and started to drink beer at the beginning.  Then, I was able to occasionally try a lot of different types of alcohol.  After several years of trying various types of alcohol, at the end, a grape wine became my favorite alcohol.  Unfortunately, however, I decided to quit drinking except for a glass of good wine on New Year’s Day, Obon and my birthday.


About five to six years ago, I come across the opportunity to get involved in both marketing and sale for Japanese rice wine and grape wine.  I was still enjoying drinking at that time but I never thought that I could get involved in the business.  Furthermore, the assignment was to expand the Japanese rice wine business to abroad and to expand a business of grape wine imported from Australia in Japan, especially in Tokyo.


All I did in the past when I was drinking, was simply enjoy the taste and atmosphere of a bar and restaurant.  However, once I had to expand business of a certain brand, I had to straighten up my posture and started to “observe” every possible thing.  I first realized that I had a lack of knowledge about Japanese rice wine.  What are the characteristics of Japanese Sake (rice wine), especially what are the points that have to be communicated to potential customers/consumers?


The image of Japanese sake for me was to drink warm in winter and only for “middle aged and older male for Japanese food.  Also, I had the impression that it might give me headache next day if I drink too much.


Therefore, I remember that I spent long time thinking about how and where I should start in expanding the business of Japanese sake abroad without any good impressions.

Participated in a program of Global Entrepreneurship WeekiGEWj

In the evening of Nov. 13, I participated in one of the programs of GEW, called Entrepreneur Mentoring Initiatives.  Young entrepreneurs, both Japanese and non-Japanese in Japan, who want to expand the business here presented their business plans within four minutes and the selected judges assessed their presentations for a winning award. 


As I could only attend the first hour of the program and I was not able to see the result of this competition, I don’t know whose idea won the prize but I enjoyed listening to presentations. 


A pamphlet titled “Revitalizing Corporate Japan – A prescription for Growth“ was distributed to participants written by PwC Japan(I guess it’s one of the sponsors of the event).  As a prescription for Growth, it mentions, “Corporations need to embrace rapid transformational change with attitudes of boldness, risk-taking, velocity, flexibility and adoptability.”  And then, it also explains about four global realities and strategic priorities as below:    

Four Global Realities

PjThe arrival of Asia

QjIncreasing business complexity

RjNew models of innovation

SjAgeing economic metabolism

Strategic Priorities

PjTransform the organization

QjAdapt innovation

RjGrow your leadership pipeline

SjFocus your growth strategy


I totally agree that Japan has to drastically change to get revitalized economically but there are three points that I was not sure if I could agree.  One is to shift our focal points to Asia and to fade away from domestic business expansion.  The second point is that it mentions about velocity of innovation and change but, regarding to what has to be done immediately, it only mentioned ambiguously about “adapt innovation,” and “open organizational structure”: these require some time to see the result and the result would not be easy to get measured.  The third one is that it suggests indirect and direct investment and business alliance to take an advantage of the appreciation of the Japanese yen. 


Unfortunately, the report did not provide me an idea that leads a good solution for Japan’s revitalization.  As I mentioned on 11/5, I have a strong concerns about too-much economic dependency in other countries.

Business through Vending Machine

In Japan, vending machines are commonly used as channels to sell products such as cigarettes, soft drinks, flowers, snacks and rice balls, pastries, and so on.  The ones for cigarettes, soft drinks and snacks are frequently found at offices or factories for their employees.  On streets, the ones for cigarettes and soft drinks can be observed. 

Those vending machines in abroad are in chains so that the machines themselves or the products inside will not be able to be stolen.  Such case is very rare in Japan.   


More than fifteen years ago, when I was in Singapore, the company was to expand vending business in Singapore and Thailand because there were no other safe countries in South West Asia. 


Some people might think that vending business is quite easy as all you can do is to fill any products with low price.  This is true in a way but if you would like to keep growing your profit, you have to make more efforts than just filling in low-priced products.


As I wrote the other day, we should always think about who the target is.  In other words, when we place a vending machine, first thing that we should think about is who would buy and who the competitors are.  For example, what do you observe in the surrounding area; a school, a park, a sports club?  If this is the case, children would be your target and there might be a business potential with vending machines for snacks and soft drinks.  Watch if there is a convenience store.  It would affect your business, though. What about busy (especially at night) downtown streets?  Maybe adult male would be the target and machines for soft drinks, cigarettes or flowers would be suitable (if it’s Ginza area, flowers are not a good idea as there are many flower shops or street vendors open until midnight).


In summary, even when we select vending channel as your “place” for business, we have to always analyze who our customers are and select appropriate products for our customers. 


Furthermore, for soft drink vending machines in Japan, as the machine can be switched to the one for warm drinks, a big assortment change has to be made at least twice a year. 

Innovation and Growth

I have just noticed that I haven’t talked about how the title of my blog has been decided. This is related to the reason that I opened this blog.


There is a Japanese book called The Period of Curation by a journalist Mr. Toshinao Sasaki (Chikuma Shinsho Publishing Co.).  This book was recommended by Prof. Yoko Ishikura of Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University.  By reading this book, I felt like shocked by a wake-up call as I had been in a closed world only looking at FMCG related information for a long time.

There is writing in p.250 of the book as below: 


“In order to live in this self-complete environment which constantly creates a brand new condition that we are unable to make a stipulation with our semantics, we have to continually use the “feed-forward” process by trying to find or create a new rule.  To do this, we should keep our Border for Completion deep in low to make our inner selves in an incomplete and unstable condition.  This unstable self situation will become one of the required conditions, together with the activities for creating a new Border, to achieve a new idea creation. (from the previously written book).

-       Translation by Hiromi Koizumi


Feed-forward means to foresee the future and change yourself in accordance with the forecast.  Together with the feedback process (I believe this means to achieve target by the PDCA process and to create a higher target based on the results), it will enable us to constantly growth and survive in this difficult time. 


I would like to keep growing while I am living in this world by, “not satisfying with the current condition but keep filling the gaps between the constantly evolving targets and yourself through continuous efforts in studying new things.”   


In short, the reason that I opened my blog was to push myself to keep moving forward and the reason of the title “Innovation and Growth” was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Positioning of Products and Services

What products or services do you provide?

When you launched your products or services for the first time, what did you think about? You would answer, “I thought I would like to buy a product like this or to receive a service like this.”  That means, you were not satisfied with the products or services available around you.  Or in some other cases, “as my services or products are different from others, once people know about them, they will come and buy what I offer”, “my shop is located inside a big shopping mall so that many people will come and buy”, or “as the quality of my products are quite high, they would pay premium for the quality.”  There many different reasons that you opened up your shops or companies in this way.


Now, let’s step back a while and think about the time when you started your business and what you thought about your products and services.

PjTo whom did you want your products and services to be sold? (Who is your target?)

QjDoes your target really need your products and service?  If so, why?

RjIs the name of the product easy to understand for your target?  Do you think they like the name?

SjDoes the target like the package shape, size and design? Do you think they like it?


By writing down these things, the positioning of your goods and services become clearer. It is also important to find out its positioning compared to the ones of your competitors by plotting characteristics of yours and others in quadrants.  Sometimes it is better to listen to your friends and family’s opinion when deciding x- and y-axis and plotting them as it would provide different and important perspectives.  When you find out the differences between your products/services and others, you might want to communicate to your target about the difference to catch their attentions.


Then how would your company maintain its revenue growth through your products/services?  How would you analyze the positioning of your company?  I would like to write about this later.

Economic Independence of Japan

After WWII, Japan increased its economic power by importing raw materials add value by manufacturing goods, especially automobiles, and exporting them.  As a result of the economic growth, the Japanese yen appreciated its value and, in mid-80’s, many started to say that we should move away from high export-dependency but to move toward domestic economic expansion.  Soon after this, the bubble had burst and, even after more than twenty years since then, Japan has yet not got out of deflation.  Due to the Yen’s appreciation, wages and salary of Japanese people became extremely high compared to other currencies.  Furthermore, companies in other countries in Asia had advanced from their technological innovations to gain market shares.  For example, a Korean appliance manufacturer who is good at Marketing, gained market share by grasping consumers’ need in the countries where it moved into and made the products that the consumers in that country want.  I wonder how many Japanese companies abroad use Marketing to provide the products that the applicable consumers need and want.  In any event, as a result of moving their factories outside Japan, the nation's industries are being hollowed out


In August 2012, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) reported the food self-sufficiency (calorie-base) stayed at 38%, the same level as in 2011.  The energy self-sufficiency of Japan is even lower at 18% but, excluding nuclear electric power generation, it is only at 4%. What if multiple natural disasters happen and no food or energy can be imported from abroad?  What would the people of Japan do?  I strongly believe that individuals should start from a small effort and to make it bigger for Japan’s independence because we cannot immediately increase self-efficiency of both energy and food.


Two years ago, I visited one of the World Heritages in Japan called Shirakawa-go.  People who used to live there placed a small-scaled hydroelectric generator in the stream nearby for electricity.  They also grew crops, bred silkworms, and raised livestock to supply their needs.  Living at a modern period, we do not have to live like the one that people in Shirakawa-go used to do but their way of living gives a hint for self-sufficiency.  We can utilize the natural resources in Japan such as abundant water, mountains and technology for electric generation for individual houses to start with.  It does not take a long time if it’s for a household use.  For future energy use, we should put emphasis more on biomass.  In short, we should start from what we can in terms of energy self-sufficiency by natural resources using whatever we have.   


As for food self-sufficiency, individuals can actively participate in improvement.  Recently, Japanese food became famous for its healthiness.  Why not more Japanese people to eat more Japanese food to further activate agriculture and fishery in Japan?  Of course, good marketing strategy might be necessary to promote people pay more attention back to Japanese food.


I believe that it would be possible for Japanese economy to revive itself by simply starting from these two basic points.

Analyze Yourself

It is sometimes quite difficult to think about what I can do.  “I’ve been doing lots of things but those things can be done by somebody else as well.  What would be the THING that I can do especially?”  Many of you might think this way.


One way of starting to analyze yourself is to think about things that you have been doing or did in the past and the reasons why you did these.


For example, first, you put these things in bullet points chronologically:

PjWhen I was at university in 1995, I belonged to a baseball club and played a catcher/a leader of the team because I knew each players strong points.

QjWhen I joined the current company in 2000, I proactively participated in preparing for a quarterly exhibition for customers as I was good at thinking about how customers will move around the venue.   

RjIn 2003, I joined a project to establish a new subsidiary in Nagoya as I thought the project gave me a challenge to see the future of the company

SjIn 2008, I streamlined a complicated operation process as I thought the process was totally inefficient.


Please try to write it in detail with why and how you did it.  By doing this, you also can write your resume and prepare for an interview. 


If you are a student, please follow the same way and write down your hobbies, club activities at school, a part time job and so on.


I suggest take your time and write down a lot.  After a while, check the contents and organize these with the reasons or types of events.  Then you’ll gradually see who you are and what you want.  When you write down the bullet points, keep asking yourself why?  It is not good to think in such a way that “this is not decided by myself.  My parents told me to do so,” or “My boss assigned to me in that position.”  Try to think about “how” you did it and why.


“I never thought about the reasons.  I just did it naturally”, there must be some people like this.  Then why do you think you did it naturally?


Now, it is also important to think about, “what would you become like in the next ten years?” and “In order to become such person, what would you need to do in the next few years?”  This will help you think about what you need to do now.

Marketing Yourself

What does it mean by marketing yourself?

I believe it is to let your boss, friends, or interviewers for a job to know about your strong points and to utilize your ability for adding value to a company and for the betterment of society.


When typical humble Japanese people hear about things like, “to let other people know about your strong and good points”, they would say, “other people would naturally know about you by looking at your serious and quiet working attitudes,” or “those who communicate their strong/good points tend not to have strong or good points.”  In other words, many Japanese would have negative impressions about communicating your good and strong points.  However, marketing is not something that you show off your authority or the knowledge of wine.  Instead, it is to simply communicate truth about yourself or to communicate who you are and what you can do through the facts.


It is especially important for anyone who is trying to get a job, to get transferred to another department in your company or to change to a new career to analyze what you can do on top of what you would like to do.


Now, I myself didn’t often think about what I was because I’d been too busy working on various assignments and projects.  I wonder many of you might be in the same situation.


I suggest for those who are too busy to think about yourself or your future step back and think about what you can do and what you have been doing.


One of the 4Ps of marketing is “Product.”  Each one of us is, in a way, a product and, being a product, one can start from thinking how “it” can contribute to its company or community and get financial reward.


I was quite surprised to hear that many major Japanese companies do not have Marketing Department.  The company the I am currently working for is full of marketing related departments and sections.  Therefore, when I heard about this, I thought, “how could it be possible for a company to growth without marketing department?”


In general, many Japanese companies have Sales Department. Sometimes, the department has Sales Planning Section.  People working for the section are, though, like an assistant to sales managers in terms of creating a product information document and an execution plan so that the sales professionals could increase their revenue to achieve their company’s goal.    


Well, in terms of “creating a plan including an appropriate prices and channels, for more volume”, of course, the sales planners can be said that they are providing Marketing services.  However, is it the only thing that consists of Marketing? 


According to Wikipedia, “Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers. Marketing might sometimes be interpreted as the art of selling products, but selling is only a small fraction of marketing. As the term "Marketing" may replace "Advertising" it is the overall strategy and function of promoting a product or service to the customer.”


In order for a company to launch a product or provide services that satisfy consumers’ needs, there should be a Marketing department in the organization.  However, unfortunately, there are still many senior managers in Japan who believe in that whenever there is a good quality product, it sells naturally.

I hope such senior management of Japanese companies should realize the importance of “marketing” further and provide appropriate products and services that consumers need instead of providing what they believe good and/or necessary. 


In the same way, marketing can be applied to an individual so that the person could maximize his/her ability for better jobs and compensation.  I would like to write about this soon.

Hiromi Koizumi's Blog Has Opened

On September 11, 2012, I met Prof. Yoko Ishikura of Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University for the first time in years.  I met her several times in the past at the alumni gathering of UVA Darden School of Business but we only exchanged a few greetings there.  However, I was able to have lunch, (regardless of her busy schedule!!) on 9/11 and to ask her for an advice on what I should do immediately to get out of the stagnant condition that I had been suffering for quite some time.  Her advice was clear-cut:

Do it now!

I used to have millions of excuses saying it’s not just the right time but not now.  I made up my mind to start opening my own blog immediately to express and make a brand of myself.

Here I am!

I congratulated myself for this small start tonight.

I am ready to transmit information toward the rest of the world!

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