• February 26, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    Overtime Problem in Japan

    Karoshi It’s very difficult to summarize this problem briefly because it is so deep-rooted. Are you ready to gaze into abyss? The Japan government has started frequently using the word “Work style reform” since 2015. Sadly, a new girl working in the top advertising firm committed suicide due to overwork that year. Her average overtime hours were reported to exceed 100 hours a month. That is almost the same as that of mine when I worked in the Ministry of Finance. The painful sad news made many people including me think “That could be me.” Even now, about 300 deaths from overwork are reported annually. Japanese employment systems I believe this is a structural problem, stemming from the structure of employment systems in Japan. Although the structure is gradually breaking down, the basics of employment systems are still the same. It is a set: recruiting of new graduates and lifetime […]

    • February 23, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    How to Survive Meetings

    A hardship destined for Japanese workers You won’t read to the end of this article because the average human attention span is down to only eight seconds. It’s one second shorter than that of goldfish. I remember I read many articles mourning over the short human attention span when the survey result was released some years ago. Today, it’s not about human attention span but about meetings that I hate. I don’t mean I hate unproductive meetings. I hate them because meetings themselves are basically unproductive. As a hardship destined for workers in Japan, I’ve endured a lot of meetings. In addition, we spend a lot of time to prepare meeting materials. What is even worse, a preparatory meeting is sometimes held beforehand. There may be more poor people who have to hold a pre-preparatory meeting. Anyway, we should limit meeting time to eight seconds for productivity. Tricks to appear […]

    • February 18, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    How to Spend Money Right

    Money sense It is common for me to lose (rare to make) thousands of dollars a day in the stock market. On the other hand, I sometimes give up buying cereal only because it doesn’t sell at a bargain price, though eating it almost every morning. I once bought a suit at more than 2,000 USD but hardly ever wore it. This may be a natural result for a man like me who always wear UNIQLO (synonym for cheap clothes in Japan) from head to toe at home. Spending money seems as difficult as making it. Today’s subject is “How to spend money right.” Let me share an interesting paper by Harvard psychologists. Buy experiences instead of things “Money can’t buy happiness. This sentiment is lovely, popular, and almost certainly wrong.” One of the coauthors, Daniel Gilbert started the paper with such a sensational introduction, proposing the eight money principles […]

    • February 16, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    3D Printing Technology

    Survivorship bias The headquarters of our company is in Hokkaido, the northern most area of Japan. The area is still the kingdom of brown bears. When I was a kid, my father often took me to rivers deep in the mountains to fish, always exploding firecrackers to avoid bears. He often told me “When you encounter a bear, don’t run, act dead.” It’s a kind of superstition widely believed here, but I always doubted it, saying to myself “How do we know that’s correct? We can’t listen to people who failed.” Later on, I learned it was survivorship bias. It is the reason why autobiographical books of successful people are good for nothing in most cases. Survivors survive because they happened to survive. So many things are forgotten As this may sound a little strange, everytime seeing removal building sites, I remember survivor bias. In order to enjoy commuting to […]

    • February 12, 2021
    • April 26, 2022

    How to Be a President: A Leader with the Times

    Super optimism Innate optimism is the most important quality required for a leader. This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned from the current (third) president. I joined this company just after the start of his administration since 2013. For about seven years since then, we have traveled all over the world. As I sometimes wrote, most of the trips were grueling, such as moving one country to another via overnight flights in a row. Even on the way back home from such long tough trips (even if they were ending up with no results), I’ve never seen him pessimistic or stuck in negative thinking. Mentor with anger management These days, the purpose of working becomes diversified. Once, people just worked for bread and butter. Now, someone may work for self-fulfillment; others may for social contribution. Accordingly, required leadership styles become diversified. I think the previous two presidents are similar in […]

    • February 8, 2021
    • May 16, 2022

    How to Be a President: A Man of Logical Thinking

    A great successor The Matrix Reloaded, Blues Brothers 2000, Speed 2, etc. These movies prove it’s very difficult to surpass the great originals. On the contrary, there’re some exceptions such as Terminator 2 and The Hustler 2. The second president of CondeHouse can be said to be one of such exceptions. I’m not flattering just because he is still at the desk near me as the chairman of the company. It is more like retrospective or hindsight. The company is still thriving (and I’m here) because he was a great successor. If I explain in short, from my personal perspective, he is a personification of logical thinking. An audacious project In 1984, the company transferred him (still in his 30’s) to the US to establish a branch office. The first thing he worked on was CI development. He brought together experts and prepared everything such as a brand name, a […]

    • February 5, 2021
    • May 16, 2022

    How to Be a President: A Man of Frantic Passion

    Autocracy was the need of the times An autocracy may be necessary to make a business take off in the harsh market battles. Especially new comers in the market are always exposed to kill-or-be-killed situations. They don’t have time to make decisions after democratic consultation. The founder of CondeHouse was with an autocratic leadership style, and that made the company survive and thrive, I’m sure. I don’t think the leadership style was what he intended. He was a master craftsman and furniture designer of frantic passion. It is the passion that drove forward everything including himself autocratically. In the furniture industry in Japan, he is a legend. There are many anecdotes about him, but today, let me narrow down and share two of them. The dawn of the Japanese furniture industry I believe his biggest achievement is a revolution in the furniture distribution. Before the revolution, furniture wholesalers had substantial […]

    • February 2, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    We Need Stories

    Time exists by story memory technique As I wrote before, the definition of “time” is not completely settled in physics and philosophy. To be more precise, the existence of time is often an obstacle to prove the laws of physics. Apparently, it is doubtful in physics. Recently, I read an article by a neuroscientist. It said we felt the existence of time because we memorize as stories all sorts of things that happen in our lives. The story memory technique itself has long been known. The most famous one would be the memory palace method. Although I couldn’t understand even a half of the article, unfortunately, it has reinforced one of my beliefs: we need stories to live. Significant objects I suppose the famous marketing research “Significant Objects” is an example to show an aspect related to this human nature. It’s an experiment devised by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn […]