I always knew I wanted to be THE BOSS. My problem was that I followed the traditional rules of business in Japan. But in 1996 — at the age of 31 — I did the unthinkable.
I quit my job at the Industrial Bank of Japan.
In other countries this might not be a big deal. But to say this broke a “rule” of traditional Japanese corporate behavior would be an understatement. The ladder of success in Japan is firmly established and has been long revered: succeed in school, secure a position at a prestigious company, work your way up, and tie your success to the company’s. This is the very definition of achievement in Japanese business. It is what countless students look toward when they bury themselves in their books every day.
And yet, when I resigned, few who knew me were surprised.
“We thought you might do this,” my father told me.
“You will be back to do business with us one day,” my superiors at IBJ said.
“It’s just Mikitani — what do you expect?” said many of my friends and colleagues.
My decision had not been in haste. It is one I had been pondering that year — in the wake of a dramatic event in my life. In 1995, the Hanshin Earthquake struck western Japan, devastating the city where I had grown up — where my parents and other relatives still resided. While my parents survived, some of my other relatives did not. I remember desperately searching for my aunt and uncle after the quake, finally finding their bodies at a local school that had been converted to a temporary morgue. I realized in those days how tenuous life is, how we only have one life and it must be lived to the fullest — not someday, but now.
My experience after the earthquake helped to cement what had long been my process. Over the course of my life, from my student days through the early years of starting my company to my status today as a CEO and corporate leader, I have viewed most rules as there to be challenged and, when necessary, rewritten.
This has always been what motivates me to be THE BOSS and lead the change. Read my book on revitalizing Japan in the global economy, The Power to Compete. (Find it on Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play).
About the author: Hiroshi Mikitani is Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, one of the world’s leading e-commerce companies. Mikitani has been referred to as a maverick in his approach and is widely seen as the leader of an emerging, ’New Japan’, one which increasingly turns away from traditional modes of doing business. This article first appeared on LinkedIn. You can follow Hiroshi here.
You can’t go past a news paper, radio show or television news story these days without being flooded by all things Bitcoin or Crypto Currency. Some say it’s the new world of money while others suggest its all just a passing fad. Whatever your position or preference of...
This week I announced a suite of measures for the Government to consider when it comes to small and medium sized business and what we can all be doing as we start to look at emerging from the COVID19 lockdown. The reality is that a good number of small business owners,...
As someone who has been working in suicide prevention for some years now i know that often having a simple conversation can make all of the difference when a loved one is doing it tough. COVID 19 and the lock down tends to amplify how we feel when we are isolation or a...
We know that mob out there are uncertain as to what the COVID-19 / Corona Virus means for them – this can cause us all to panic and some in community more so that others. Panic attacks can compound the situation so we gather some information about what you can do now t...
Don’t forget our elders can suffer in silence too: suicide prevention
Many people think that mental health and suicide are not topics that impact our elders but they could not be more wrong. The data tells us there continues to be an emerging trend when it comes to peop...