A sign of an engaging meeting where I am full engaged in the present moment – a complete absence of event photos!
Ann- Katrin Van Schie, Lean In Japan Entrepreneur Circle member, and Holistic Wellness Coach and Yoga Instructor from At Ease, led 4 other members online via Zoom and face to face at Smart Partners K.K.‘s offices in Kinshicho. I managed to grab a selfie of the Tokyo attendees as we left!
We worked on simple ways to bring glimpses of calm into our day, to find special moments to reset. These are as simple as grinding your own coffee, to focusing on belly breathing, facial massage, use of aroma, using an app like Headspace and so on.
The Circle also discussed the TED Talk “How to Make Stress Your Friend”. The most surprising takeaway from the video was that stress can be seen as a sign of your body rising to the upcoming challenge. Your heightened adrenaline and awareness is your body adjusting to the situation. With this in mind how can you embrace stress as a positive?
Did you also know that stress releases oxytocin? I know! Isn’t that our happiness hormone? Mind blown! That is why we feel the need to connect with loved ones when we are stressed. Having a support group like a Lean In Circle has been a huge help for me to feel connected as a solo business owner. Who is in your support network?
Many thanks to Ann-Katrin for helping us to create ease in our busy entrepreneurial lives!
Are you an English-speaking female Entrepreneur in Japan?
In her book, Drop the Ball, Tiffany Dufu talks about its importance when you start to delegate tasks to others.
“We quickly grow impatient when things on our to-do list aren’t done the way we think they should be done.”
She shared the research that when men were asked to do the dishes by their partner, 30% “did it wrong” and 25% were never asked again!
Being able to create space for you to do the work that only you can do, requires you to let go of some control. It’s hard but necessary.
Personally, my challenge for delegation is not just about quality, but also about having things done on my time-frame. I recently created a holding list, “Waiting for DH”, for tasks around the house which my husband is responsible for. I’ve given myself permission not to worry about them anymore!
At the February 2018 Tokyo Girls on Fire Lean In Circle, 10 professional women from Australia, China, Columbia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, UK and US, shared our life hacks to get more of our goals achieved, rather than just ticking off items on our to-do lists.
It requires taking a good hard look at what you can do. Last year the Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle covered the same material (Read the Event Report here). The main difference with this circle was really focusing on outsourcing and the need to train team members to be able to take on more responsibility.
We also celebrated a promotion, a first trip to global HQ, successful job change, Professional certification and a new baby. It’s always inspiring to see how much these women are achieving in their careers.
Are you searching for ways to harness the innovative ideas of your diverse workforce?
Are you looking for an interactive workshop to mark International Women’s Day and increase collaboration across functions?
Would you like your team to experience a positive approach to solutions that allows different voices to be heard?
While many organizations in Japan are making efforts to increase diversity in terms of gender in the workforce, many companies feel that they are not able to truly leverage the unique views of the women they are hiring. The focus on the “what” and “who” of diversity, now needs to shift to the “how” of inclusion.
WinBE (Women In Business Empowerment) is a collective of three Japan-based
facilitators who are passionate about Diversity and Inclusion. In the month of March we want to help your company find more ways to harness the diverse perspectives of your women to inspire innovation.
What’s the workshop about?
In this three hour workshop, 10-100 of your employees can connect across divisions,hierarchies, gender and nationality. Using the Appreciative Inquiry approach they will create an Inclusive Meeting framework prototype that is unique to your organization.
Appreciative Inquiry is an asset-based approach to solutions that opens up your team to new ideas and perspectives. Workshop participants will discover how your organization can utilize existing strengths to develop further diversity and inclusion.
The workshop output will be a prototype design of ways that your organization can run meetings where innovation can be fostered. Meetings give voices to the diversity of thought, backgrounds and perspective. These meetings represent a different way to approach ideas and will move away from the status quo. As a follow-up activity, teams can implement in their work groups as a pilot program.
Who should attend?
The program is designed to be flexible in terms of number of participants with a minimum size of 10 and maximum size of 100. The facilitators can deliver in English and Japanese so can support an international audience. The workshop can be run across functions to increase collaboration and internal networking
March is a busy time in many corporate calendars in Japan ahead of a new financial year as well as preparing for new graduate onboarding in April.
However, March also brings many different times when we think about women and their role in Japanese society.
We start with Hina Matsuri on March 3 rd where we pray for the growth and happiness of young girls. On March 8th , we celebrate International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #pressforprogress.And then on March 14th, there is White Day, where we repay the giri chocolates received a month before.
WinBE would like to leverage on this awareness. Instead of marshmallows and cookies, help your organization to empower your female employees to drive growth and innovation by creating meetings where multiple voices can be heard.
We are currently taking reservations for a limited number of workshops in March,
please contact Jennifer Shinkai for more information in English or Hiroko Shinoda for more information in Japanese.
About WinBE (Women in Business Empowerment)
Setsu Suzuki, Hiroko Shinoda, Jennifer Shinkai
WinBE is a collective of three Japan-based facilitators, Setsu Suzuki, Hiroko Shinoda and Jennifer Shinkai, who came together after meeting at the 2017 Global Summit of Women. As a trusted third party, we work with organizations in Japan to develop workplaces where high-potential female leaders can drive business results and contribute to innovation across products and solutions. With our backgrounds in coaching and global leadership development, we co-create solutions with our clients to develop inclusive workplaces.
We are currently taking reservations for a limited number of workshops in March,
please contact Jennifer Shinkai for more information in English or Hiroko Shinoda
for more information in Japanese.
10 Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire Circle members from Australia, Columbia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the US and the UK met in November 2017 to get in touch with their creative sides with Adam Grant’s TED Talk, “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers” as the launching point of our discussion.
With Lean In members from financial services, government institutions, luxury, legal and even a current university student, many people didn’t feel they had much chance to be creative on a daily basis. However, it became clear that we don’t need to be in a traditional “creative” role to be original thinkers. Indeed, many of us bring original solutions to our businesses every day.
A Points of You Ice breaker got us all talking about creativity and thinking about what opportunities we have to be creative at work. We shared our ideas on how to break out of some status quo situations by using creative doubt and pitched our ideas to each other.
“What you call procrastinating, I call thinking”
Allowing your idea to marinate a little is not always a bad thing. Just make sure you are not hiding by designing at the whiteboard!
“You don’t need to be first, but you do need to be better”
There is a lot of hype about hustle and first on the market advantage but Grant mentions examples of successful ideas that weren’t necessarily first but were an improvement on existing solutions. This iterative improvement is something that seems to be in the business DNA in Japan. Get someone else to take the risk, push the envelope and then kaizen it to perfection!
“People who achieve the most are also the ones who fail the most”
It was interesting to discuss this as mostly foreign women working in Japan. Sometimes we feel we can take more risks than our Japanese colleagues due to our “outsider” status. However, this can also make it difficult to build the social capital around an idea to get it to take root in an organization.
Don’t accept the default
In Grant’s TED talk he highlighted the most original thinkers are those who use Chrome or Firefox? Why? Because they don’t accept the default – they ask questions and go to an extra effort to find and then install the best solution. Wonderful example of questioning the status quo! What “straight out of the box defaults” have you accepted?
Why shouldn’t people support your idea?
Acknowledging the potential downsides up front can clear people’s negative thoughts out of the way and leave them more open to your solution.
“With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more – there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.
And while we know that gender parity won’t happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day. Plus, there’s indeed a very strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support.
So we can’t be complacent. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.
International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. So together, let’s all be tenacious in accelerating gender parity. Collectively, let’s all Press for Progress.”
It’s that time of year when we are inundated with invitations for 忘年会 bonenkai, “forget the year party” and 新年会 shinnenkai, “new year party”.
I’d like to offer you something a little different – your own personal bonenkai and shinnenkai coaching “Party Plan”! These limited 2-sessions will help you o celebrate your achievements, learn from any setbacks and set you up for a successful 2018.
These party plans come with a no hangover guarantee! And as they will take place online via Zoom conference, you won’t have to travel home on the train with a load of drunk salarymen! Sign up today or keep reading to find out more.
So what’s included?
Session 1: Bonenkai – End of Year Party
A guided 60-minute coaching session focusing on celebrating success.
Prior to the session, you can take the time to complete an end of year review. We can then focus on teasing out the main themes that will help you to see what your strengths are and how you can leverage them in 2018.
What have been some of my greatest achievements?
How did I overcome obstacles?
Which moments were most important to me?
What would I like to leave behind in 2017?
The output of this session will be used in Session 2: Shinnenkai
Session 2: Shinnenkai – New Year Party
A guided 60-minute planning session focusing on your masterplan for 2018!
Using the output from the Bonenkai session, you will be ready to set rich and motivating goals for 2018. Using the Four Tendencies Framework from Gretchen Rubin, you will be able to put in place structures that can support your top three goals.
What do I wish for myself for the new year?
What am I willing / want to do in order to achieve that?
How can I make goals that motivate me and move the needle on what I value?
Book your limited-edition 2 session Party Plan today for ¥30,000 plus tax.
Both sessions need to be used by the end of February 2018.
As entrepreneurs in the start up phase of business, many Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle members struggle with the feeling of “having to do it all”. Weird guilt about how it is somehow cheating to outsource, to delegate or simply being worried about cash flow stop us from using a vendor!
In the October Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle meeting we focused on ways to become more productive by doing more of what matters and less of the stuff that keeps us busy and drains our energy.
It was a refreshing take on the idea that you can drop the ball without guilt. Perhaps you can mindfully throw it someone else, let it bounce away from you safe in the knowledge someone else will pick it up or simply set the ball at your feet ” this is not going to get done and I am fine with that”!
Circle members shared some of their own stories of how they had said no, reprioritised, found work arounds, used vendors to make the mental space and physical time to work on what only they can do.
Be Gone foul to-do list!
The process of writing the list of what really mattered personally and professionally alongside what you wish would just go away was empowering. Very refreshing to say “I just wish that no longer existed!”
Highest and Best Use ranking system
Using Dufu’s method of ranking your “to-do” list reduced mine from 21 items to 13. Being honest with myself there were another 3 to 5 items that I could look into outsourcing in the longer term or getting my family to take more responsibility for.
What remained were highest and best purpose – things only I can do and things that I can do well and easily.
Make time for more of your highest and best use activities -What are the things that
only you can do – skills, political savvy?
you do very well with little effort?
If you pay a vendor, the job will surely get done…not sit on your to-do list! Circle members recommended 99 designs, fiverr, upwork
When you are feeling overwhelmed get that “to-do” list ranked and be brutally honest on whether that ball really needs to be being juggled at all!
Milly is 11 years old. She is an articulate, intelligent, thoughtful girl and also a natural athlete. This is a girl who shuns the ladder to the top bunk and does a pull-up instead.
A few months ago, Spartan Race Japan held a trial event in Odaiba and Milly came along with her mum, a fellow Spartan. The plan was that whilst the adults were sweating it out on the 90-minute course, Milly would tackle the kids’ obstacle trial. Based on this, we headed off for running, climbing, crawling and burpees in the 29-degree heat.
When we came back, Milly was sitting with her dad. She had clearly not been on the course.
“What happened? Why are you not on the kids course?”
“Mmm… I didn’t want to….”
“What? We came all the way here to Odaiba. This is a great chance to train for the race in October!”
“I don’t want to do it. There are only boys.”
We were gobsmacked. In front of us was this amazing young athlete and she was not going to shine because she felt excluded from the group.
Because she was a girl.
She didn’t feel like she could take part. Her reason: there was no one like her on the course. She didn’t belong there.
Because she was a girl.
You can’t be what you can’t see
I’ve always been quite dismissive of the need for women to have specifically female role models in the workplace. Being in a male-dominated company for most of my career in Japan has meant I was often the only woman in the room. I assumed that many women working in Japan know we might need to be the pioneer in our organization and I just got used to being the “first woman” to do something.
But here was a clear and quite painful reminder that the inability to see people “like you” taking part and being engaged, really does hold people back.
It was so sad to see this talented girl sitting on the sidelines. My hope is that she can find the courage to be a pioneer when she needs to in the future.
What if there are no role models?
In line with this belief of “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it”, many organisations in Japan seem to be fixated on the idea that the reason that women are not climbing the corporate ladder is because there are no internal role models. They have resigned themselves to the idea that change is impossible unless women can see someone like themselves at a higher level. An aspirational role model is essential for success.
How does this mindset help though?
It’s a Catch-22 situation – there are no female senior role models because there are no female senior role models.
How can you break out of this mindset?
Firstly, think of your leadership role – how can you make minority or outside groups feel that they do belong? How do you make meetings more inclusive? Let people know that their ideas and contributions are valued – not just as a representative of a “special interest group” but as a key part of your team.
“What are your thoughts on this from a female perspective, Jennifer?” is probably a well-intentioned attempt to bring in a different perspective but reminds me and everyone else in the room of my difference. Asking me to speak on behalf of all women is as ridiculous as when I am asked, “What do foreigners think about Japan?”. I can only share my experience, so please go and ask 100 other people if you want a statistically reliable answer.
Secondly, support the pioneers. Actively seek out the talent that looks different from your previous success profile. Know what that individual values and how your organisation might support it…but again, don’t assume that all the pioneers need the same support.
You are missing out on exceptional performance from your team and potential employees because of their perception of what a success profile looks like in your organization. As a leader in this talent-short market, you need to be addressing the implicit bias in your company and making extra effort to support those who might be being overlooked.
Finally, accept that even though it looks to you like the playing field is totally even and there are no signs on the door saying “No girls (or whatever!) allowed”, you could be seeing this through the lens of your privilege. The experience for other people can be totally different than yours.
So what happened to Milly?
You’ll be glad to know that there is a happy ending to this story. On closer inspection, there were not only boys taking part. Milly was persuaded to give it a go and change her perspective. She made a new friend and, in the end, it was hard to drag her away as she was having so much fun.
We got to see Milly in action, tearing up the course… and it must have been dusty out on the course that day. I got a little teary eyed watching her shine.
Participants from Australia, Columbia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK representing areas as diverse as government, tax consulting, luxury, FMCG and recruiting joined the October 2017 Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire Circle held at Dale Carnegie High Performance Centre in Tokyo.
Engaging, the focus of this meeting, emphasizes how you can overcome your fears, move into action, and take risks.
• Develop strategies to make you more comfortable facing your fears and taking risk
Circle members used various tools to explore how they can handle real situations differently. As always, confidentiality and trust are key to the success of the circle. It was a chance for people to take a coaching role, asking open questions rather than giving advice.
It’s always good to be reminded that we must step out of our comfort zone to learn.
Comparing the upsides of taking action versus the downsides of doing nothing – this made a lot of members realise that maintaining the status quo was not an option!
Digging Deeper – Using one of my favourite coaching questions And What Else?
Running a pre-mortem – understanding the absolute worst case scenario and how you can mitigate the risk or recover from it.