Integrating Ikigai around the world with Points of You®

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.

Why I’m Leaning Out

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.

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Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you to our venue sponsors who enabled us to keep the meetings free with no barrier to entry. It is very tough to find free meeting space in Tokyo but these organizations supported monthly meetings en world Japan, Michael PageDale Carnegie Japan and Smart Partners K.K

Want to find out more about where you can Lean In?

If you would like to get involved with Lean In activities in Japan, you can connect with the following groups

Lean In Tokyo – Active Japanese language group and the Country Chapter Leader for Lean In in Japan

Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs – will be run by Katheryn Gronauer of Thrive Tokyo

Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire – taking a hiatus until late summer/ early autumn  but you can request to join the group.

Diversity Dojo: My Photo Album Workshop

201902 Diversity Dojo

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.

Ikigai and your Inner Geek

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.

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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.

Oh, and if you are also a Ravenclaw, let me know. I feel like we don’t really get a lot of positive press in the books (Gilderoy Lockheart is not an ideal role model) despite our wit beyond measure!

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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.

P.P.S. Have you seen this???? Wizards Unite! I cannot wait!

What Spartan Races taught me about inclusion in the workplace

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.”

All good.

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?

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Post Script

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….

Saying thanks and amplifying what’s good

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”.

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.

Happiness Door

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.

 

 

Linked In for Entrepreneur – Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle – July 2018 Event Report

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.

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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.

Main Takeaways

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!

3. Answer the Public

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?

If you are an English-speaking, Japan-based female entrepreneur who would like to grow your business, apply online at Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle.

Meetings are held monthly, online on weekday mornings with occasional  hybrid face to face/virtual meet ups in Tokyo.

Upcoming Events

We’ll be taking a break for August but back on from September – date to be announced

 

Celebrate and Innovate

On June 29th, 2018, I’m celebrating the start of my third year in business as a Facilitator and Leadership Coach. I am extremely grateful to my family, community and clients for enabling me to bring so much energy to my work, to help so many individuals improve their own performance as leaders and professionals in Japan. I’m so lucky to have the trust and support of so many wonderful people.

Thank you!

I am intensely focused on working with groups within organisations, developing cross-functional communication and deeper understanding of diverse points of view. I love the passionate discussions, aha moments and feedback about the impact the training had on team performance and relationships.

What has changed in Year 2?

  • I’ve continued to expand my knowledge base – Professional Certified Coach with ICA, Points of You® Certified Trainer, Management 3.0 Fundamentals, Tara Mohr Playing Big Facilitators Course, BerkeleyX: GG101x The Science of Happiness. Constantly learning new ideas to help clients connect the dots.
  • Developed new collaborations with Japanese Facilitators including WinBE (Women In Business Empowerment), Points of You® Japan and fellow independent facilitators.
  • I’ve been able to take on some really interesting clients and projects. I’m really able to focus on work that I am passionate about rather than what pays the mortgage. What a gift!
  • I got hooked on Spartan Racing and completed another 2 races in Japan.

 

What trends have I noticed from corporate clients?

  • Increased desire to support employees through organizational change
  • Focus on creating cultures of open and healthy communication
  • Presenting and influencing others continues to be a highly sought after skillset
  • Maturing of the discussion from diversity as a single-issue gender model to addressing wider issues of inclusion in some clients
  • Developing innovation through inclusion of diverse thought

What can you expect from me in Year 3?

Themes for workshops and support will focus on:

  • Innovation through Inclusion
  • Developing Ikigai within your Organization
  • Resilience during Change
  • Connecting the Unconnected – people, ideas or companies

To support these outcomes, I’ll continue to offer presentation skills, cross-cultural training and Points of You® Practitioner Training. My focus is on developing bite-sized development opportunities with shorter workshop sessions, on the job experiments followed by group coaching and reflection.

I will continue to support work style reform and women’s empowerment in Japan through my CSR activities:

 

Thank you again for being part of the journey. Looking forward to collaborating and learning together.

Please do follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn.  I post articles, videos and event reports regularly about training and development in inclusion, communication and change management in Tokyo.

How to Balance Careers and Caregiving in Japan – Event Report

Another conference I’ve attended several times in the last 19 years is the biannual FEW Japan Careers Strategies Seminar. 2 years ago I presented about Online Personal Branding drawing on my experience in marketing and recruitment. This year for the 20th CSS I moderated a panel on “How to Balance Careers and Caregiving in Japan”.

Originally, I was asked to moderate a panel for “Working Mothers”. However, I’m a huge advocate of getting to 50/50 when it comes to balancing careers and caregiving so I set about finding a working father to join the panel. I am grateful to all the people who recommended potential male panelists who are taking an active role in raising their children as part of a dual income family!

Photo Credit: The very talented TopTia

On the day, we represented a broad cross-section of industries, backgrounds and family situations, showing that there are many ways to manage your family and career. We had an active dialogue with the audience in an intimate setting. The panel covered diverse topics from which values drive our priorities to practical hacks that enable us to lead from those values. By telling our personal stories, we hoped to inspire other people to think outside the box.

Main Takeaways

1. Ask for the help you need at work

It’s more expensive for most employers to replace an experience team member than it is to accommodate your needs. Use your internal network to get the support you need, even (especially?!) when it has never been done before. Persevere and be open to different solutions

2. Know what is important to you

Mindful decisions and conversations about priorities with your key stakeholders (partner, employer, children) are essential. Weekly meetings, project management style whiteboards, shared calendars and a financial plan are ways these parents bring their business savvy to their home.

3. Outsource, automate or compromise

Non-iron shirts, automatic toilets, AI in the home, online groceries, no washing on a weekday, cleaning help and other creative hacks will help you to focus on priorities.

 

Recommended Reading

A great resource to consider the benefits to all stakeholders of dual income families is “Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All” . A good mix of statistics, anecdotes and practical ideas.


3 tips to help working mums after childcare leave

The first signs of cherry blossoms are here which also heralds the start of a new fiscal and school year in Japan. Working mothers around the country are getting ready to enroll their children in daycare and return to work.

Here are 3 simple tips that managers can implement today to make the transition smooth for you, your employee and your business.

 

Read more about working mothers in Japan

What it feels like to return to work after maternity leave – a message for managers

Retaining Working Mothers in Japan

 

Got high potential women in your organization that you want to support?

Rethinking Strengths: Career Planning Workshop for Women