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?   

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