Category Archives: General

Review: Ikigai

Ikigai Book CoverThe very existence of “Ikigai” has come about because the author, Sebastian Marshall, got so pissed off at his treatment by a large publisher that he decided to flip the bird in spectacular fashion and grind out a book in one week.

As you’d expect from a project that was so tightly framed, there are some rough edges to the completed work, but these are not so jarring as the ones that spoiled my enjoyment of How to be the Luckiest Person Alive. This book may have been churned out in about a week, but in that week a designer and an editor were working hard on adding value to the collection of essays gleaned from the blog.

The main rough edge issues are repitition of some sections and also many of the essays were in response to emailed questions or previous discussions and they have not been properly re-framed to take that into account. It’s not hard to see where this is the case and backfill a little yourself, but does leave you feeling that one more week of editing could have made a big difference.

Reading Strategists and Writing to Them

I’ve been doing a lot of interesting reading recently in a bid to continue improving how I go about living my life. There has been a fair amount of pay-off from the changes I’ve been making over the past couple of years, between marriage, a baby and of course the move to Japan!

Among the various sources of inspiration and advice I’ve been following is the excellent blog of Sebastian Marshall, a most fascinating chap who is pursuing the goal of becoming the most skilled strategist of our era. A lofty goal, but one I have little doubt he can achieve. I had a most interesting discussion with him on Skype last week about Eastern vs Western mentality and business practice that was illuminating.

Sebastian encourages his readers to make contact with him and many good articles and pieces have come out of that, so I decided I should also step out of the shadows and get in touch, hence the reason I ended up having a call with him. His review of what I’d written in my email was very positive too, so positive in fact that he decided to publish it on his blog.

In that article I mention a few items I have been reading and would like to give a slightly broader review and pointers on each of them…

A Brief Trip to Seoul

By Wednesday last week it was clear that there was no one else available to make the journey to Seoul and help our partner there give a demo of our Workforce Optimization suite to a new potential big client. This did give me a great opportunity to catch up with the same guys who worked with me on our last big WFM project; the one that took me to Brazil for a week and gave me almost two months without sleep. This time though working with them would give me the chance to catch back up on a night’s sleep away from the baby!

I was not totally keen to go, I admit, as my Mum is in town visiting and it is still worrying to be separated for any length of time from Wife and New Baby after recent events, but needs must. As it turned out, the guys didn’t really need my help at all, other than to demonstrate that we care enough about this deal to send me along and show we are keen on supporting our partners.

Some quick notes on my thoughts on South Korea after this my third visit…

The Japanese say that Koreans have Italian hearts, meaning that they are warm and romantic, that is certainly true – the welcome I receive there is always huge – but they have a work ethic and drive that defy’s belief to go with it.
Everything in South Korea revolves around business, in the newspaper you will find important business page articles in the main news section and every other item will mentions the potential business impacts of any story if there are any. These guys care deeply about growing their economy and are focusing all their energy on it.

There is a large amount of fear and ignorance (among otherwise very bright people) about the situation in Japan – many seem quite convinced that the food is radiocative and Tokyo is not a safe place to be. Curiously, the disaster is always referred to as the “earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster”. This is slightly distressing to me, as a much more accurate description would be “earthquake and tsunami disaster (and accompanying, distracting Fukushima accident)”. I doubt though that SK is unique in seeing it the other way around… the media drive to play on people’s fears about nuclear power to sell papers is surely still as strong elsewhere. I think I convinced one guy at least to put his plans for a Tokyo trip back in place, with a promise of some guided tour time and the assurance that I think it is safe enough to live here with my two month old child!

Lastly, on my “night off”, I awoke twice out of dreams. Once I was dreaming of an aftershock and the other I was dreaming of changing baby’s nappy. There seems to be no escape, even in the arms of Morpheus!