March was an amazing month as I was able to deliver 4 Ikigai x Points of You® workshops with very diverse audiences around the world
On March 4th, I delivered a 90 minute corporate session to an in-house Learning and Development team. Always a good challenge to facilitate for professionals. They all commented what a treat it was to be in the participant seat for a change!
Great personal insights using the Points of You® method. Enjoyable and also insightful
Ikigai Taster Session – Corporate Participant
On March 5th, 8 people attended a sold out open session in Kinshicho at Smart Partners K.K.’s warm and open space. Even in a short amount of time people were able to develop a clearer perspective of what their Ikigai was and some small actions they could take to move forwards.
The contents was simple but powerful and professional facilitation of the program, with warm and relaxed atmosphere. It was test trial version of 90min, so it would be nice to join full session to see what are the outcome if we took more time of each work. Fantastic workshop! Thank you.
Ikigai Taster Session Participant
The session helped me confirm what is my Ikigai and realize the gap between what I’m doing now and what I want to do. I’ve started to think about taking small actions to fill the gap.
Ikigai Taster Session Participant
I especially appreciated her approach of adhering to the workshop’s protocol while allowing for individual interpretation of its components. Jennifer balances kindness and friendliness with the instructor role well.
Ikigai Taster Session Participant
March 21st took me to Costa Rica for the first time to deliver the Ikigai and Points of You® Workshop internationally at the UN University for Peace. As part of the Gross Global Happiness Executive Development program, 20 people explored the four questions of Ikigai. I was thrilled to see how it resonated with participants from the Americas and Europe. And it’s not a Points of You® session without something “unexpected but precise” – the campus cat and dog paid a visit, reminding me not to take things too seriously and to be open to teachable moments!
Finally on March 28th, an executive client flew in from Brazil for the express purpose of finding out about the practical application of the Ikigai X Points of You® workshop for corporate clients. It was fascinating to hear how Ikigai is viewed overseas and give my perspective on how we can use the concept in a way that makes sense inside organisations. I really want to bust the myth that in order to live your ikigai you need to become an entrepreneur or join an NPO. Through the scale of a larger organisation, you can truly achieve lasting impact and deliver value that the world needs.
Find out more about running the 6 month “Integrate your Ikigai Journey Programme” to increase engagement of your talent in your organisation or arrange a taster session today.
Recently, I have attended a lot of events with panel discussions. At one event, I watched 8 panel discussions in a day. As the day wore on I tried to analyse what separated the good, the bad and the ugly!
Based on my own experience as a moderator, I’ve created 9 things you need to do as a successful moderator of a panel. What have I missed?
1. You need to have a plan
What is this panel for?
An entertaining way to spend 1 hour?
Killing time before the final keynote – probably you have bigger dreams that that!
Just as with a presentation, you should think in advance of the key takeaways that you want for the audience. You might not get them all as you will always have an element of spontaneity in there with different conversations on the day.
What are the key takeaways you expect from this session? How does it fit into the overall flow of the event or the panel series you are part of ? How do you expect your session to run? How will you allocate time on each topic. You need to share this plan with the panelists and event organizers ahead of time to make sure expectations are aligned
2. You need to think about the audience needs
As the panelist, you are the representative of the audience on the stage. It is your job to think about the demographics and what would be the most useful takeaways and discussion points. How much do people know about the topic at hand?
For me, a great moderator will help to break the fourth wall. They can engage the audience needs either through a Q&A or directing comments to the room. They have gathered information about what the audience wants to know rather than what their personal interests are.
Personally, if I know the panelists well, it can be interesting to build them up by saying why they were chosen to participate, what you expect them to bring to the panel
Reading out the bio is generally a waste of time as most conferences have a literate audience who can check it out if they are interested. Opening with a few minutes of general comments around the theme can be useful but it is easy for this to become a static talking heads round robin so be sure to watch out for that.
3. You need to connect with the panelists
Ideally meet the panelists before the event – face to face is great, virtually is also fine! And this meeting should not be 10 minutes before the panel. Find out if they have been on a panel before? What are their expectations and how are they aligned with yours?
It is great to go through questions or themes with them. Pick up on interesting stories that show diversity of thought and experience.
As an audience member, it can feel wonderful to be a fly on the wall in a high-level conversation that flows naturally. As a moderator you need to work to develop that camaraderie with panelists before the event.
Be careful not to take the camaraderie too far though. At a recent event, I felt like a voyeur as the conversation was too intimate, too many in jokes. It almost felt like the two speakers had forgotten we were there!
4. You need to build a connection between the panelists
Can you get the panelists together beforehand? Can they collaborate on a call or a shared document? The litmus test of a great panel is when the panelists are bouncing ideas off each other, listening and building on the previous persons statements.
I’ve seen panel discussions which were a series of 10 minute PPT presentations with no interaction between the speakers and no building on the ideas raised. It’s fine to have that format for speaker presentations with lots of short speeches but don’t advertise it as a panel discussion!
5. You need to be inclusive
Is everyone speaking? How much airtime are they getting? the bigger the panel, the less people speak. Melissa Thomas-Hunt did interesting research on who speaks in meetings. With 5 people in the room, 2 people will speak for 70% of the time. When 8 people are in the room, 3 people will speak for 67% of the time. As an inclusive moderator you need to manage this. At a recent conference, I saw one speaker so completely dominate that one of the other panelists was staring at the ceiling, totally disengaged!
In terms of inclusion, are different opinions and approaches being given airtime? Having controversial and diverse approaches supports audience learning and brings some zest to your panel.
Make sure the staging is so that you can make eye contact with everyone. Is there someone who you suspect will dominate the conversation? One idea comes from the old adage “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer”
This can allow you to give them a nudge if they are going on too long. If you must share a microphone, you can even hold it so they have to ask for it! Beware though if they are sitting next to you, it can be easy for them to turn their back to you and not read your non-verbals. Be ready and willing to politely interrupt and give space to other people.
6. You need to be passionate about the subject
As the moderator, you need to drum up excitement and set the tone for the discussion. Bringing your own ideas to the panel is fine but “know your place” – you are not there as the only expert. You are there to bring the expert ideas to light!
However, keep your questions precise. Big lead ups where you show your passion and knowledge and then ask multiple questions, only complicate issues for panelists. KISS!
7. You need to be able to think on your feet
If you are going through the motions and sticking slavishly to your plan, you panel will feel formulaic. Listening and building on themes that become important makes a naturally engaging panel.
It is also important to know if there are any taboo topics that panelists or the event organizers want you to steer clear of. How will you handle them if they come up in discussion or in the Q&A?
8. You need to wrap up the key points
The moderators role is to make sense of the different ideas raised. You can do this after each theme or just in your concluding comments. What were the new pieces of information that were shared? What should the audience remember.
9. You need to finish on time
Make sure you have someone watching the clock for you and giving you time countdowns. It is absolutely fine to cut speakers, to guide when people go off topic.
You also need to keep your Q&A under control – reminders for single questions so more people can get involved is usually helpful. You may want to source questions before hand and plant people in the audience to get things started depending on your demographic. Remember to take questions from around the space and to be mindful of sourcing questions from a broad array of audience members.
I hope this has been a useful guide if you have a moderator role coming up!
After 5 years of moderating a monthly Lean In Circle, I’ve made the decision to “lean out” at the end of the month.
For the record, I’m not leaning out because of Michelle Obama, or as part of the pushback on Sheryl Sandberg and her role at Facebook. I’m leaning out because I want to focus on other things (Integrating Ikigai, Points of You), other communities (running club, Spartan Race). Like any leadership role, I feel like I’ve learned what I can learn and I’m ready to transition into something new – a new level of Leaning In, shall we say?
So what did I learn in the 5 years?
1. Are you still learning? If not, move on
I’ve written in detail about my own Lean In journey and reading it now that the decision is made, it is all crystal clear. I was starting not to look forward to every meeting. Sometimes, I felt like I was starting to just dial it in and that was not respectful to others. As soon as I announced I was leaning out, it was like a weight had been lifted. There is also a sense of grief – to give up something that I did love so much and was so tied into my identity.
But sometimes you need to realize that you have graduated from the role, the relationship or the situation. And then, move on.
2. Women do help women
I’ve heard a lot of discussion about women holding other women back, being catty (urgh! What a gendered word!) and competitive with each other. I feel I have been fortunate in my career to only have support from the women around me. (Now I am thinking that maybe it is because I was the bitchy one… I hope not!)
In Lean In Circles, I had an amazing group of peers who only wanted me to achieve my goals. Was it because we all came from different organizations? There was certainly no zero-sum mindset in the room.
It could be because as an all female space, we did not need to resort to association or advocacy based covering. This is where minority groups downplay stigmatized parts of their identity in this case – avoiding contact with or not sticking up for other women. We see it when a female leader does not want to be involved in companies D&I programs. It is not because she does not think they are helpful (although that may be part of it!) but, by drawing attention to herself as a woman, she may increase the potential for negative bias.
Women do help women. A female only space can be a useful place for women to develop confidence and speak openly about their goals and challenges.
3. Fixing the women doesn’t get more women in leadership roles – fixing your succession planning does
The women who join Lean In Circles are talented and passionate. Each month they share their successes and I see each one of them is growing personally and professionally. And yet, when I announced that I would be leaning out, I wasn’t exactly bombarded with offers to take on moderation of the group. This despite the fact that every regular member contacts me to say thank you and how much the meeting means to them.
This was a failure of my leadership. I did not develop a pipeline of successors. I didn’t earmark people and give them time to get involved.
I thought that I was making it easier for people by taking everything on myself. If I do it all, I reduce the barrier to entry for people to attend. But what I created was a black box – what does it take to run this thing? how does she do it? I became an accidental diminisher of the people in the group.
Fixing the women doesn’t fix the problem of getting more women into leadership roles. You have to fix the leaders to make sure they are taking action about succession and casting the net across all the talent available.
4. Saying “No” to leadership is not always about saying no to leadership
However, on the other side of the coin about Leaning In, I saw a number of women who are strongly creating boundaries, not feeling the pressure to take on extra roles in their already full lives. So instead of assuming that women don’t want to take on leadership roles, how about we look at what they prioritize instead?
In your organization this can be about looking at the other roles that women are expected to take on in the home. Make no mistake these gender-defined roles are alive and well in Japan. And the stereotypes come both from women and men’s expectations of what should be done and by whom. Even as a feminist, I find myself taking on without questioning the roles of being the first port of call for the school. I say it is because as an entrepreneur I have more flexibility in my calendar but I believe there is something deeper going on from a place of bias.
Women are not always saying no to leadership roles because they lack confidence in their competence. Sometimes its just a feeling of overwhelm of the mental burden of wearing so many hats and having so many responsibilities.
As part of my Points of You® Master Trainer Certification, I am running a number of workshops around Tokyo to practice implementing the process with diverse groups. (Contact me if you have a group of 10+ people and an event space as I have some new processes I need guinea pigs for!)
On February 4th, I was invited back to Diversity Dojo to use one of my favourite processes, “My Photo Album”. With participants from all over the world many of whom were meeting each other and Points of You® for the first time, it was a unique opportunity for people to hear truly diverse points of view and think about fresh ways to address current challenges. I love this workshop as it allows groups to be creative, and for individuals to practice inclusive leadership. The process helps you to open your mind to every single voice and idea in the room. You can make new connections between ideas and see your issue from many different perspectives. It is these new perspectives and connections that drive innovation.
Thanks to everyone at Diversity Dojo for their engaged and active participation. This group is always very open to trust the process and thus had many “unexpected but precise” insights. I look forward to hearing about how they turned their insights into action in 24 hours, 1 week and the next month.
Contact me to try “My Photo Album” to engage your employees in a new approach to problem solving.
I’m half way through listening to the farewell episode of my favourite podcast. I have to stop…I just don’t want it to end. So I decided to stave off the inevitable by writing a blog post about it.
Over the last 12 months I’ve been re-exploring the Harry Potter universe and the wider Wizarding World. I’ve finally accepted that I am Ravenclaw not Gryffindor. I find myself reading scripts and screenplays for the first time in 20 years to get my fix of the world beyond the original Hogwarts stories. Perhaps you could blame my fondness for the dashing Eddie Redmayne but mostly I blame Binge Mode: Harry Potter. Listening to these podcasts reminded me to go back and reread all the books (I haven’t rewatched the films…yet). I’ve just added “See Harry Potter and The Cursed Child in London” to my list of things to do in 2019. My family just does not get it and my kids are resisting my rather fanatical requests to let me start on The Philosopher’s Stone with them! One day….
I’ve loved the experience of listening to the passion of the presenters, Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion. They absolutely f*cking love Harry Potter and everything about the stories and the depth of the fantasy world. They are both reverent and irreverent with adult content, in-jokes and deep discussion of the “wider Potter Canon”. Listening to them do their thing, really brings me back to the “What do you love?” question at the heart of the Ikigai concept.
You can’t deliver over 160 podcasts over 7 months with freshness and passion and energy unless you really love the content. Their emotion is so fresh and true it really brings you back into what it feels like to really love a work of art.
In addition to “What do you love?”, Binge Mode: Harry Potter really makes me think, “What does the world need?”, the final question of Ikigai. People around me say しょうがない (It can’t be helped, there is no other way) everyday. Accepting the status quo, even though they hate it and it is making them ill. I believe the world needs people who can stand up and say “しょうがある”(there is a way, it can be helped)! The world needs passionate people who can geek out over things that they care about.
But why do we fear being seen as a geek?
We fear being rejected. We fear seeming uncool and being humiliated. Why? There is something a little bit scary, a touch confronting to be in front of someone who cares so intensely about something, who is passionate about sharing their love for a work of art, an idea or a concept. As an onlooker, we can’t always understand it and so we ridicule it, “Why are you pouring your energy into this children’s story?”
It’s important to then look at ourselves, “What am I passionate about? What do I love?” Sometimes what is really confronting us is when we see the gap between what we say we love and how we spend our days. Integrating your ikigai is about (re-)discovering that passion and then engineering ways to bring more of it into our daily lives.
We need more passionate geeks in the world. I encourage you to nurture your inner geek. Shout from the rafters about the things you love. Bring more of it into your daily life. Find your kindred spirits who care about it too. It will widen your world and you might just inspire someone to find their ikigai.
P.S. I listened to the end of the podcast… It was so moving, I was in floods of tears. I am going to miss it so much. I’m not sure whether I’m more excited about Fantastic Beasts 3 in 2020 or the return of the Binge Mode Harry Potter Analysis.
I was starting to shiver as the wind came up. I‘d successfully made it through the dunk wall, an obstacle I’d always dreaded based on my fear of dark water. It was beginning to come a little more easily. I was learning how to trust that I would make it through to the other side, with eyes closed and mouth shut tight.
We had less than 2 km to go. The end was in sight but, up next, was the slip wall.
“Evil race director,” I thought, but also brilliantly planned. Cold and wet with no grip you have to haul yourself up and over a slippery incline. But I had a huge mental block after a complete wipe out at the last race.
I”d watched videos on technique and felt a bit more prepared. However, that little seed of doubt was already planted.
“Ok…bottom out, keep the legs braced. At the top, not too early, shift forwards to grip the wall.”
But at the top I froze. Mentally, I knew what to do. In theory, I understood the required movement. But, somehow, I could not move.
“Tazukete!!! Help me!” I shouted to the other Spartans at the top of the wall.
From out of nowhere, a hand gripped my arm then around my waist. I was hoisted forwards and could grab the top of the wall.
“Arigato! Thank you!”
I looked at the face of my Slip Wall Saviour. It was Keisuke, my team mate. In his first Spartan Race he embodied the inclusive spirit of Spartan that I hold so dear: always help others, give a boost – physical or verbal, look around and help others.
I hadn’t realized that Keisuke was still at the top of the wall. But I had known that when I asked for help, someone would be there. Having this total trust in the system, knowing that if I ask for help I will get it, is an essential element of inclusion at work.
Catalyst describes the Sense of Belonging as one of the key elements of Inclusion. In a Spartan Race, we see the output in a strong sense of Team Citizenship, “going beyond the call of duty to help others”. “No Spartan left behind” is a key mantra and I’ve lost count of the times I have seen people slow themselves down to help others, to offer support through advice, a pep talk, a joke to lighten the mood or, as in my case, a helping hand.
This is the exact opposite of the silos we see at the office. I’m so engrossed in my own targets. I don’t have bandwidth to look around for a second or respond to a call for help from outside that silo.
What would be possible for your business if you could foster an environment like the Spartan Race where Team Citizenship was a given, a key element of your culture?
What have Spartan Races taught me about inclusion?
When we feel included and have a sense of belonging, we are able to do amazing things. We can operate at a level well beyond what we thought we were capable of as an individual.
What can you do today to create a sense of belonging in your team?
I’m happy to say that at the dry and sunny Sendai stadium race in December 2018, I made it over the slip wall without any help! Dragon slayed!
Not without drama though. I ripped my nail off (schoolboy error – always trim nails before race day!) and was forced to a pit stop at the medical tent for a plaster.
So now training begins for my next nemisis… the Bender….
Are you ready to celebrate the harvest, drink wine on a vineyard in Ashikaga and support an amazing facility for intellectually handicapped people at Coco Farm? For the third time I am arranging a private bus from Oshiage at 8am on Sunday, November 18th. Family and friends are welcome but places are strictly limited. You can find out all the details below. Sign up by November 10th here
8:00 Bus Departure
10:30 Arrive at Cocofarm
Please note: There are no toilets or child seats on the bus!!!
We need to take a shuttle bus from the car park to the farm entrance which takes about 10 minutes.
14:35 Meet at car park
14:45 Departure from Cocofarm
17:00 Arrival at Oshiage approx
What to bring
Please bring a picnic sheet, money for food and extra wine, or your own snacks and picnic. There is a lot of good food!
What to wear
Wear layers of warm clothes – we will be outside all day.
Especially I recommend warm socks and easy to remove shoes!
Adult ¥10,000 – Includes transport and harvest festival kit
Child under 16 ¥6,000 includes transport
Looking forward to seeing you all there!
Summer is over and thoughts are turning to annual budgeting, year-end parties and performance appraisals. Whilst these assessments/ appraisals/ reviews/ or whatever you call them are usually designed to motivate, many people find them a complete waste of time. However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater! The feedback element of reviews is essential for motivation, communication, relationships, inclusion and innovation. In this post, I share 2 useful Management 3.0 practices that help to build intrinsic motivation, deepen relationship and improve communication.
Give credit where credit is due!
Recently I was reminded of the power of peer praise through the Management 3.0 Kudo Box. Let me state here I won’t get into another argument about whether it should be “kudo” or “kudos” grammatically!
All you need to focus on is that giving and receiving recognition between peers is an amazing amplifier of behaviour.
I’ve been using the Kudos Wall tool in communication and management workshops. Simple to set up, easy to explain and participants quickly engage. It’s been interesting to see what and how people recognize the contributions of others inside and outside of the training room.
At the end of the workshop, participants self-organize and choose a “kudos star”. I won’t give away the prize totally but it does allow them to bring home the ideas of giving kudos to their team!
All members get to take home their kudos cards as お土産 , a souvenir to remind them of what they were recognized for. It can be very moving to see the reactions of some participants who have spent their career only receiving “improvement points”. They experience the impact of “catch them doing something right”.
Samples to get started
Accessible and attractive cards
Final Kudos Wall
The people I work with are senior managers, experienced professionals who bring so much to the training room. The biggest takeaway from most training is sharing stories and experiences with their peers in a safe and supportive environment. The Kudos Wall has been a useful tool to share appreciation for those activities.
Real Time Feedback
A second element that you can work on is the time lag between the action and the feedback.
I’ve been using The Happiness Door during workshops to get real-time feedback from participants at lunchtime that I can then try to build into the afternoon session.
It’s a great communication tool that allows the facilitator of any meeting to get a read of the room. You can then shift the process, focus or energy as required to get the best outcomes.
In the speed of the business cycle, we often lose sight of the power of immediate feedback and miss the chance to amplify great behaviour by recognizing it. The Kudos Wall and The Happiness Door are simple ways to bring more of the good parts of performance reviews into your daily operations.
Ah SNS! Which platform? How to optimize? What’s the best SNS for my business? Content marketing is essential as an entrepreneur and at the July 2018 LeanIn Japan Entrepreneurs Meeting we had a deep dive session hosted at LinkedIn Japan’s Tokyo HQ.
Kaoru Jo and Sayuri Nishimoto from LinkedIn Japan showed us how much Linked In had changed. Whilst yes, of course, there is still a recruitment aspect to the platform, it is taking off as content network where entrepreneurs can build credibility and connections. 2 Million mostly bilingual members in Japan is a great niche to be part of.
It was also great to hear about the Women@LinkedIn initiative helping female professionals in Japan to extend their careers after childcare leave. Very much aligned with the work of the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and the Diversity and Inclusion programmes I run as a facilitator to empower women to develop their careers in Japan.
1. Content Creates Connections
There is now 15X more content than job posts on the LinkedIn Feed. Use articles, bilingual posts and be active and helpful in groups to build your credibility. Find out your SSI to know how well your LinkedIn Profile is helping you to sell.
2. Lots of New Linked In Features
LinkedIn Video, Nearby feature and LinkedIn is perfect for networking in Japan. #hashtags also work really well on LinkedIn now!
Not sure what to talk about? Be useful and find out what people want to know about your expert area
4. Check before you delete or accept
Most Circle members had received invitations that were completely “random” and sadly sometimes far from professionally appropriate. Before you accept or delete, think about (or even ask directly) what made this person reach out to me? How can we mutually support each other?
Are you an English-speaking female Entrepreneur in Japan?
Points of You® x Ikigai: Finding your Ikigai as an English Speaker in Japan
“Ikigai” is the Japanese concept for living a life of purpose.
As an English speaker in Japan it can be easy to feel that your options are limited.
However, after a healthy amount of navel gazing in 2015, I realised that it is possible to do what I love, what I’m good at, what I can be paid for and what the world needs! My life has changed beyond measure – I have more joy, more fulfillment, more moments of flow and more financial freedom.
Now I’d like to help you to discover your Ikigai in a three-hour workshop using Points of You® and a follow up online 60-minute coaching session.
What is Ikigai?
The term ikigai compounds two Japanese words: iki (wikt:生き) meaning “life; alive” and kai (甲斐) “(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit; (no, little) avail” (sequentially voiced as gai) “a reason for living [being alive]; a meaning for [to] life; what [something that] makes life worth living; a raison d’etre”. (Wikipedia)
Points of You® is a creative tool for individuals and groups, a tool developed to stimulate creativity and inspiration. Born in Israel, already translated into 19 languages and widely used in 147 countries all over the world. In the Ikigai Workshop, you will use the “Faces” tool and in the online follow up coaching you will play The Coaching Game Online.
Who is Jennifer Shinkai?
Jennifer Shinkai is a certified Points of You® Trainer and regularly uses the tool in individual coaching, group workshops and facilitation. Her clients are global professionals working in diverse teams. Points of You® enables them to communicate complex and complicated ideas smoothly and gain insight into themselves and their team. With almost 20 years in Japan, she launched her own business in June 2016 after discovering the power of Ikigai! Read her full bio here.
When and where is the workshop?
Event Timing: Friday, September 21st, 2018 13:00 to 16:30
Doors Open: 12:30
Event Address: Smart Partners K.K., 4-22-10 4FL/A Kotobashi, Sumida-ku , Tokyo, 130-0022
How much is the workshop?
Investment: ¥20,000 (plus 8% Consumption Tax) via PayPal or Bank Transfer
Includes: 3 hour small group workshop in English, 1 hour online private coaching session to be taken within 30 days of the workshop. Light snacks, tea and coffee will be available at the workshop.
Payment and registration deadline: Thursday, September 14th, 2018 Midnight
Who is the workshop for?
English speakers living in Japan who feel that “something” is missing in their professional experience but can’t quite figure out what that missing thing is. The group workshop will help you to discover your ikigai and the private online coaching will help you to turn the insights into action,