Champagne Problems: A Reframing Opportunity

I’m writing this as my incredibly health son starts three days of 学級閉鎖 (class shutdown) for the flu rampaging his class. It’s common practice in Japan that if a third of the students are sick to shut down the class to prevent the further spread of infectious diseases. Needless to say: Working parents hate it! We are fortunate that we are both in jobs where we can work from home if needed. And as I mentioned, my son is not stricken with the flu and is generally very 元気 (full of energy), sometimes too much. So in the great scheme of things, I’m grateful of how things turned out!

Whilst I try to keep him off the Nintendo Switch, I’m trying to work out an issue with a client over an upcoming Points of You® Academy programme in February. After cancelling programmes in 2019 due to not meeting the minimum requirement of 6 people, I find myself having to stop ticket sales as we are overflowing the room at 10. Argh! What should I do?

It all reminds me of working at Wall Street Associates (now en world) after my first maternity leave and I was put in charge of Client Relationships and organising “Leaders of Japan” networking events for our C-Level clients. I was reporting directly to the CEO, Nick Johnston. As we were drawing up the lists of potential guests, I started to panic,

“But Nick, what if too many people come? What if we are over subscribed?”

“What? Why are we worrying about Champagne problems?”

“Huh?” My blank face showed him I had no idea what he was talking about.

“This isn’t a problem. It’s great! If we are oversubscribed, brilliant! We can create a waiting list, we can run another event at a later date. We know that we have really hit the nail on the head and the clients love this idea.

“That’s a champagne problem. Not a problem at all but an opportunity. Next!”

A quick search today on google shows me that the term “champagne problems” generally seems to be another way to say #firstworldproblems, talking about the scale and impact of your “problem” in the context of wider social issues like conflict, poverty and so on.

However, I prefer Nick’s view and the lessons on reframing and giving yourself the option to think about the opportunity to achieve more than you thought was possible.

I often talk about champagne problems with Japanese managers in the midst of organisational transformation. When we have an organisational culture with a tendency to focus on what might go wrong, to avoid risk by not taking any, we keep ourselves in a holding pattern.

“There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?”

Erin Hanson

We should not be a Pollyanna and be blindly optimistic but allowing room for an exploration of the upside of success can be thrilling, motivating and, most importantly, give opportunities for further innovation and brainstorming.

I also hear clients complain about the challenges of working with a team that is “too diverse”. Again, I am like “what?! You are having creative conflict and you have a chance to really leverage the benefits of different perspectives. Champagne problem! Next!”

So next time, you hear someone complain about being too busy because of too many customer requests, or having to take time out of their schedule to onboard their new hire, remind them of the idea of champagne problems and ask them how they can reframe this as an opportunity.

I’ll remind myself that I can enjoy some quality time with my son and enjoy his company one on one for the next three days! #champagneproblems

What type of situations might thinking about champagne problems be useful for you?

Lonely old men and ikigai

In November I attended the Mashing Up Conference again. I really love this event because it’s “cool”. It has a casual vibe and is just a bit edgier than your average D&I “empowerment” conference. The team do try to bring some different ideas to the stage as well as some local legends.

I was happy to join two discussions where I could listen to the wry and laser sharp insights of one of those legends, Chizuko Ueno, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo who used her entrance ceremony speech as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the reality of institutional gender discrimination in Japan. Ueno sensei has an amazing delivery style where she challenges with the sweetest, most innocent question that just stops other panelists in their tracks. It is magic to watch!

In the first session, Ueno sensei talked about the family structure – here is the info from the Mashing Up website.

家族のカタチ2019 – 家族 is the bestという呪縛Family Diversity – Time to Reshape the Family Structure「家族末永く仲良く=素晴らしい」。そんな価値観が強い日本社会で、家族とのつながりに苦しんでいる人がいるのも事実。おひとりさま問題、介護問題、夫婦別姓問題も含めて、家族とはどうあるべきか。そのあり方を問い直します。

“Families that get along forever = wonderful.” This value is strong in Japanese society, but it is also true there are people who are suffering due to their family relationships. What should families be like, including people who are alone, people caring for family members, and husbands and wives having different family names? Those things will be reconsidered.

One idea in particular struck me in relation to my work on Ikigai and creating long and healthy lives worth living.

Talking on the subject of 介護 (elder care), Ueno sensei mentioned that she is hearing many adult children say

“I will look after my mother because I love her. But my father?! No way! I can’t stand him.”

It struck me as such a sad and terrible view. I thought about all the fathers who have been focused on their companies with no time for their families. The result is fathers who are so focused on financially supporting the family that they become alienated from the lack of relationship.

Men’s ikigai and their role in the family

A few weeks ago as part of my Ikigai research, I met with Dr. Akihiro Hasegawa, Associate Professor at Toyo Eiwa University and an ikigai researcher. He told me a similar story. Japanese men who live in multi-generational households with their sons after retirement report a decrease in their ikigai. Dr. Hasegawa explains that this is because their ikigai was so tied up in their self identity as the breadwinner, the head of the household, that when the generational roles shift, they lose their sense of self and purpose. Dr. Hasegawa’s research shows a strong link between having an ikigai and better health, slower onset of dementia and so on.

(As a side note, I asked if there was any impact to living with adult daughters and the answer was no. It seems that the father’s ego can survive that relationship into old age!)

Again, this idea of isolated fathers struck me as so sad and yet also so avoidable if we can change the working style and support people living different types of partnerships at home with an emphasis on family first. Glen Wood is doing a lot to raise awareness on パパハラ(Papa Hara – paternity harassment). It isn’t easy for men to ask for permission to break from the サラリマン salariman stereotype and spend time with their families. But the social and personal costs of isolation in old age for these types of people are no longer sustainable.

What do you think?

How can we start to address this problem? Some efforts are being made at the policy level but what can private enterprises and individuals do to support a healthier and happier second life and what might be the positive impact on society from that.

What happens in an Ikigai x Points of You® Workshop?

I get a lot of questions about the Ikigai x Points of You® workshop so I thought I would share this video from my presentation in Costa Rica in 2019 at the Gross Global Happiness Forum at UPEACE.

With a new decade coming up, isn’t it time for you to focus on how you and your employees can integrate personal and corporate ikigai, mission, vision and values? Contact me or check my calendar to set up a meeting to find out more about journey programmes, workshops, coaching and public speaking for your organisation.

Why Pause?

“Pause” is the first step of the Points of You® Method

Why pause? I know that you are busy, always on and the fact that you are reading this means you are online.

But being “always on” and the cult of “busy-ness” take a toll on your body and your mind.

Take a moment now and breathe in…yes, a big inhalation for the count of 4. Hold your breath for 4.

And now, exhale for 8.

Make your exhalation longer.

Slow down, reset.

Repeat 5 times and ask yourself “How am I?” What are you feeling in your body? How is that feeling impacting those around you? Can you shift your focus and approach your next interaction differently?

How to integrate a daily pause?

It doesn’t need to be a 30 minute meditation or a mindfulness practice. You don’t need a darkened room, a yoga soundtrack or a tibetan chime. (although these are lovely and I’m a huge fan of the headspace app for guided meditation and a whole suite of mindfulness offerings)

I use a short pause before a meeting or a workshop begins, as I shift from being entrepreneur to caregiver, and before I go to sleep. Taking these moments to check in with myself makes a lot of difference to my approach to my work and to others.

In a workshop, we might listen to music for 7 minutes, focus on the breath or even do 10 star jumps and then check our pulse! Anything that allows you to be in a different state and remove daily distractions helps.

Do you really use a pause in a corporate workshop? Don’t people freak out? Isn’t is a bit touchy feely?

This is such a common question from Corporate clients!

On the contrary, now I’ve delivered Points of You® workshops in so many different settings with sales people, engineers, operations staff, new hires and global leaders, I see that it is so essential to get people ready to be creative, to look for a different approach from the default.

One of the most valuable moments is the few seconds after the Pause where I see that people’s faces have become softer, they are relaxed and ready to take risks, share their experiences. Giving permission to “just be” for a few moments really enables participants to shed a layer of resistance and focus on what is important to them as an outcome for the workshop.

Want to find out more about Points of You® Methods?

I’m running two open workshops on July 16th and currently offering Corporate Experiences with Points of You® at a very special rate.
July 16th Open Courses on Peatix
Corporate Experiences

3rd Annual Shinkai Coco Farm Tour!

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

Schedule

7:45 Meet
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!

Cost

Adult ¥10,000 – Includes transport and harvest festival kit

Child under 16  ¥6,000 includes transport
Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Sign Up Here by November 10th

Interviews and Appraisals with Points of You (R)

Looking for a new way to engage with your team members around your core values or key competencies in annual reviews?

Want to get beyond canned responses in behavioral interviews?

Using Points of You (R) The Coaching Game, you will be able to connect with your counterpart at a deeper level. You can drill down on interviewees’ key competencies in an engaging way. Whilst some behavioral interviews can feel very rehearsed (“Tell me about a time when you…”), using the Points of You (R) cards enables you to observe a more natural response as well as to see how the interviewee responds to new ideas.

In an appraisal scenario, this process will give your employee an opportunity to talk about the competencies or values in a new way. One of the key concepts of Points of You (R) is to break patterns. The process below will help you to connect with your team member in a different way and make the appraisal meaningful from the perspective of developing your professional relationship.

As part of my CSR activities, I was invited to be a part of the British School in Tokyo and Mums in Business Classroom to Boardroom Initiative for the second year running. You can see the layouts the interviewees created below. It was fascinating to see how the two young men were able to share very honest and open personal stories of struggle and achievement through this tool.

Process Flow

Tool: Punctum Points of You (R)
Punctum cards were used as they do not have topics assigned so it is easier to connect to the specific competency discussed. They are also more

Objective: An interview/ discussion about competencies that would not be filled with canned answers, that could not fully be prepared for. The ability to “dance in the moment” to be flexible and adaptable to new situations is an essential competency in any organization.

Process:
1. List up your corporate values, competencies. Ask participant to choose from the competencies. In this case we had 30 minutes so we covered 3 of 5 competencies.

2. Pick 3 cards (as relevant to the number of competencies), face up, to link with the chose competencies. In my example 2 cards represent competencies that are strengths, 1 represents an area which might hold you back. Notice which cards are rejected, where do the participants eyes hover, how easy is it for them to choose?

3. Ask the participant where they would like to start. Empower them to lead the discussion. You will be able to see how they structure information and how they present themselves. What can they see in the picture? How does it connect with the competency and their experience? Repeat for all cards.

4. At the end of the cards, ask the participant what insight about themselves they have gained. How can they turn that insight into action?

5. Your feedback
In an interview, you can then offer your observations. How do these competencies show up in your organization.
If this is an appraisal situation, you can offer your observations as well as clarifying what resources they might need and how you can support. What action can you commit to so you can support your employee?

 


 

To find out more about how you can use Points of You (R) in your talent development, change management and diversity and inclusion programmes, contact me to arrange a trial session for a small group to see the tool in action.

What is Points of You (R)?

It’s a powerful tool for self-discovery, team building and leadership development, as well as at social gatherings and corporate settings. Played individually, one-on-one, by small and large groups, it can be easily adapted to every audience, objective and theme. And it’s fun!

International Women’s Day 2018

Image from 2017 International Women’s Day event in Tokyo

I will #PressforProgress by celebrating women’s achievements specifically by celebrating women role models and their journeys in Japan.

Scroll down to make your own commitment to #PressforProgress

Originally Published on the International Women’s Day homepage

“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.”

 

What will you do? Make your commitment below!

Face your Fears – Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire October 2017 Event Report

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.

201710 Lean In GOF Circle Jennifer Shinkai

Meeting Goals

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.

Meeting Takeaways

  • 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.

Future event invitations on Facebook can be found at Jennifer Shinkai Coaching Events page

December will have guest Speaker focusing on Mindfulness

 

2017/18 Meeting Dates
Generally held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month  7pm to 9pm at Dale Carnegie Japan. Meetings are free unless otherwise stated.

2017 10/18, 11/15, 12/13 (2nd Wednesday ¥2000 with guest speaker, Jodi Harris of World Tree Coaching)

2018 1/17, 2/21, 3/21, 4/18, 5/16, 6/20, 7/18

Would you like to join an English Speaking Lean In Circle in Japan?

Request to join the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and we will set up a call to decide which circle is best for your needs.

November Group Coaching Sessions

Want to find a way to gain a new perspective and move forwards? Feeling stuck on a specific issue in your professional or personal life?

“By changing the way we

see something,

reframing our perspective,

everything can look

vastly different.”

International Coach Academy: Reframing Perspectives

In a 90-minute group coaching environment, you will use the Points of You: The Coaching Game™ to explore a specific issue. Points of You™ enables you to gain new perspectives to drive future action.

How does The Coaching Game™  work?

Here’s a short example of a one-on-one session

 

 

About new perspectives

“We believe that every thing: people, objects, situations, music, tastes… every little thing in life has countless points of view. The real challenge is to look at things from a new viewpoint, one that was previously out of our sight. We believe that change almost always starts when we are open and ready to take a chance and look at things from new perspectives, new points of view.”

Points of You™

About your Coach

Jennifer Shinkai is a facilitator and coach who helps her clients create and communicate change.  She has seen the innovation that diversity and inclusion can bring to organisations and believes that individuals can benefit from experimenting with new perspectives on our challenges.

As an International Coach Federation member, she is committed to creating an open and confidential space for clients to grow. Through the use of The Coaching Game™ in a group setting, clients will be able to reframe their perspective to create lasting change.

About your sessions

Location:

5 minutes walk from Kinshicho Station.

Venue details will be sent by email to confirmed participants.

Session Fee:

¥4000 per 90-minute session including light refreshments.

Sign up for all 4 sessions to receive ¥2000 discount.

Session fee must be paid in advance by PayPal or bank transfer.

Dates:

You can join one session or sign up for all 4 at a special discounted rate of ¥10,000.

  1. Wednesday, November 15th 13:30 to 15:00
  2. Friday, November 24th 10:00 to 11:30
  3. Friday, November 24th 15:30 to 17:00

Sign-up closes 5 days before each session.

NB November 8th session has been cancelled as of 10/23. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Register here and embrace a new perspective

Still have questions? Contact me today.

 

Retaining Working Mothers in Japan – Part 4: Practical Logistics

In this fourth and final part of the series, Retaining Working Mothers in Japan series (Introduction, Communication during Childcare Leave, Smooth On-ramping for Working Mothers, Normalising Flexibility) we look at some of the practical considerations when mothers of young children are on your team.

Facilities for nursing mothers

Is your returning mother still nursing? What do you mean you are too embarrassed to ask?

Many companies include provisions for 15 min breaks in their work rules for nursing/ pumping but few have actually considered the implications of this! You need to check with your employee and provide either a nursing or pumping room. Mothers request:

  1. a lockable door and a do not disturb sign
  2. blinds or a way to make private
  3. a power outlet so electric pumps can be used
  4. Access to a clean fridge
  5. A place to wash/sterilize equipment

 

“Narashi hoiku”: on-ramping for babies

Understand that most hoikuens expect some kind of “settling in period” in the first month. Therefore, a mother returning in April might not be available full time until after Golden Week. Plan accordingly in terms of assignments and meetings.

Sick babies are inevitable: make a plan

Parents feel terrible when they are called away due to their children’s illness. Most parents would much rather be at work than caring for a sick kid.

The biggest request is that employers are practical and supportive. Giving your employee a hard time about having to suddenly leave does not help the situation in any way. Acknowledge that they need to leave, ask them to update you once they know the situation in terms of how long the child might need to be at home and ask your employee to communicate priorities and requests for support during their absence.

This is a great example of when technology and offsite access is going to help your business run smoothly. In many cases, your employee can keep some projects moving forwards and be in contact during the absence.

It’s also worth letting your employee know about pre-registering with a daycare which will take sick children. First time parents might not be aware of them.

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I hope you have found this series useful. Please contact me to share your best practices on how we can create diverse and inclusive workplaces so we can empower women to bring innovation to the office!