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


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!


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.

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


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.


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.


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!

Retaining Working Mothers in Japan – Part 3: Normalising Flexibility

In the 3rd part of the 4 part Retaining Working Mothers in Japan series (Introduction, Communication during Childcare Leave, Smooth On-ramping for Working Mothers), we focus on a mindset that is going to support the work/life balance of your whole team. This will pay dividends in terms of productivity, retention and motivation for all your team, not only working mothers.

Normalising Flexibility

Your most important role as a manager of a diverse team is to normalize different ways to work. There should be no feeling that a working mother is a burden on others or that she gets “special treatment”. This only breeds contempt and lack of support.

Companies who have the most success have an open policy on flexible working.  Policies that are not based around gender or family situations have the most impact. There is a growing trend in Japan to increase productivity and counteract karoshi through finding new working styles as shown at the 2017 at will work conference (Japanese only).

Clients are implementing the following best practices in flexible working:

  • 10 to 2pm core hours and working from home 2 days a week.
  • Easy for employees to move between reduced hours and FT hours with one months notice.
  • Flextime for all staff approved without needing specific reasons – an inclusive approach.

Technology is in place to allow remote access and people are trained how to work in virtual teams. Check out Google’s quick  Womenwill videos for more ideas (Japanese only)

A word on “Reduced hours”

The child care and family care leave law obliges employers to reduce working hours to six a day in principle for those taking care of children under 3 years old and offer them an exemption from overtime work on request. The Japan Times article highlights the struggle of working mothers who are trying to keep their careers on track when they cannot commit to daily overtime.

It is important that you communicate to all team members that “reduced hours” does not equal “part time”. Working reduced hours does not equal less commitment, passion or competence on the part of your employee. Ability to work overtime everyday also does not increase your value to the organisation.

For most parents, it is a logistics issue with the commute and childcare facilities closing sometimes as early as 6pm. When we were juggling 2 kids in 2 daycares 20 minutes away from each other, I took the reduced hours path. There was no way that I could do the pick up and drop off without it and my company did not offer flextime like my husband’s company did. It was a painful year to work at 75% of salary as well! I was on a constant education programme to remind people that I was a full time employee and was committed to deliver on my projects.

How are you normalising flexibility in your organisation? I’d love to hear your best practices and how you are improving work/life balance for everyone.



Retaining Working Mothers in Japan – Part 2: Smooth on-ramping

In Part 2 of the 4 part series on Retaining Working Mothers in Japan (Introduction and Part 1: Communication during Childcare Leave), I share some current best practices to make the on-ramping after childcare leave a little smoother:

1. On-board like a new hire

If your employee has taken 1 year leave (which may be extended to 2 years in the future) then it is likely that your policies and personnel have changed.

If there are any on-boarding trainings for new hires going on, invite your returning parent to them. Explain that this is the best way to reacquaint them with the business.

For example, one returning mother found out several weeks into the job that the entire accounting and payroll system had changed. Going through the on-boarding training as a new hire would have given her the knowledge in a fraction of the time and cost it to took the Director to train her OTJ.

2. Welcome them back

As you would with a new hire, can you make them feel excited about coming to work for you? Flowers, a card, balloons, a team lunch, personal welcome back emails, announcements in the company newsletters were all ways that clients have made returning mothers feel included. Returning to work after childcare leave can be quite an emotional time. so feeling that the people around you want you to be there is huge!

3. Be prepared

Be prepared for and supportive of sudden absences. Returning to work after childcare leave should be considered a marathon not a sprint. Babies get sick at daycare and sometimes a lot in the first six months! The title of a manga which was made into a TBS drama in 2015 captures this perfectly: “37.5℃の涙” (The tears of 37.5 degrees). First time parents are especially worried with young babies. Try not to add to their stress of both missing work and having a sick kid.

4. Create parenting networks

Encourage parents to network – getting together to share working parenting hacks has a double bonus. Your employee gets new solutions to problems and is increasing cross-functional communication, raising the visibility of your team in the organization.

Some Client companies support brown bag lunches for working parents around specific themes like “how to get your kids out of the house on time”, “quick bentos for gakudo in the school holidays”,”time management”, “sharing and outsourcing housework”, “keeping you and your family healthy” etc.

If your company does have enough working parents to support this, there are online discussion groups and meet ups available too.


What works for you?

What is your company doing to make on-ramping smoother for all involved? Share your ideas in the comments.

Coming up in the four part series on Retaining Working Mothers in Japan (Introduction and Part 1: Communication during Childcare Leave), Part 3: Normalising Flexibility.

Retaining Working Mothers in Japan – Part 1: Communication during Childcare Leave

In the first part of the four part series on retaining working mothers in Japan, I focus on how having smooth communication with your employee during childcare leave.

Find the rest of the series here.

Part 1: Communication during Childcare Leave

To facilitate a smooth return, it is important that the working mother on your team knows what is going on while they are on leave. Some best practices happening right now in Japan:

  1. Quarterly update email to all employees on childcare leave – sent by HR or direct manager.
  2. Quarterly catch up meeting between employee and manager.
    • This can take place via skype, facetime or another video conference app. If face to face, consider if you can subsidise childcare or time it to coincide with baby’s nap. The latter does not always work!
    • Agenda focuses on business updates from manager – results, projects, changes in team, career and logistics updates from employee – daycare applications, types of projects they want to work on, thoughts about schedules, development opportunities
  3. Invitations to company celebrations. Can you support childcare (partially or fully subsidised)? Retaining relationships and visibility will support a smooth return to work. Keeping working mothers connected is essential.
  4. Work anniversary is acknowledged via email. Remembering the small things is as simple as adding a calendar reminder.
  5. Back to work career seminar with childcare provided.
  6. Materning coaching for the working mother and the manager. These coaching sessions are held during the lead up to maternity leave, before return and in the first six months of return to work. (Contact me to find out more about maternity coaching services in Japan)


What does your organisation do to keep in touch with working mothers on leave? How do you keep things manageable and consistent? How do you hold managers accountable for the retention of talented working mothers? Please leave your comments below.