My Ikigai Journey: from slipped disc to jumping out of bed

So how did this lass from Bury, in the north west of England, become so interested in this Japanese concept of Ikigai?

Of course, moving to Japan in 1999 with proximity to the culture would be a simple explanation but I did not become aware of the concept until 2017. It was only after I discovered my Ikigai that I discovered Ikigai.

I wish I had known about it in 2015. It really was my “annus horribilis”.

The year began with me laid up in bed with a slipped disc. Agony whatever I did, unable to lie comfortably or move around, unable to take care of my family or commute on a crowded train to Tokyo to go to work. I could not sit or stand.  Lying down was not even that much respite. I endured some terrible physio that probably made the issue worse before I asked around locally and finally found someone who could help.

But during these weeks as I struggled with pain and felt let down by my body for the first time in my adult life, I started to sink into depression. I cried when I could not carry my infant son, or even do simple jobs around the house, I could not play with or comfort my daughter. There were no more impromptu dance parties, tickle fights or circus skills. I was never a great cook but now the act of shopping, cooking and cleaning up was more than I could handle.

Who was I as a mother?

So to my husband. He had to take on all the caregiving, as well as his full time job. As a Japanese salaryman, even at an enlightened company, the fact that he could not do overtime every day was beginning to take its toll. And as for intimacy…well, that was very far from my mind.  And not only in the physical sense. I had no energy to listen to his troubles, no fire in my heart to support and cheer him on. I was locked in my own suffering and frustration.

Who was I as a wife and partner?

And then my work. Truth be told,  I was glad not to have the commute. Something had shifted in my engagement and satisfaction. I had been with my company since 2004. They were challenging but enjoyable years. However, after my second maternity leave I came back to a different job, with a different boss. And to be frank, I was underperforming in my role. I had no fire in my belly for the work. More importantly  for the first time in my career I did not feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie with the people on my team. I could not see where the role would take me.

Who was I in my career? What was my role in the firm?

In the key places where I defined my identity,  (mother, wife, professional),  I felt a failure. I felt I had nothing to offer.

There were a few bright spots.  I had an incredibly supportive network of women through my leadership of a Lean In Circle, a peer to peer networking group, that I founded in Tokyo. I also had the camaraderie of my local running group although obviously running was off the cards during this period.

With perfect 20:20 hindsight, I see that the slipped disc was a great way of getting me to slow down. I was forced to take stock of my life and what I valued. 

The slipped disc was certainly a real issue. I have the MRI scans to prove it. I can’t help but think that I was sending myself a warning. Something had broken inside me and I could not get out. Be warned, gentle reader, that I will talk a LOT about listening to your body. The signs that our parasympathetic nervous system sends us are an incredibly valuable message.

Then slowly, slowly, the pain relief started to work. I was able to return to “normal” life and pick up all those roles again. But the seed had been planted and the nagging thought in my mind was there.

“Without these things, these roles that I thought defined me, who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose?”

Big questions with no easy answers. And as a harried working mum with a young family, they were questions that were easy to ignore.

Around the time that I started to recover, I had dinner with a friend, Renee. 

“How are things?” she asked. 

“Not so terrible” I said, trying to reframe my current situation, to put it in perspective of my #firstworldproblems. I wanted to remind my self that in the great scheme of humanity that as an Oxford educated, white woman in a white collar job in Tokyo with a healthy family, a lovely house and many options and support, things were indeed not so terrible.

“But darling, Jen! Not so terrible is not the goal. You deserve more. Everyone does!”

And then it hit me, that I was settling. I started to think about how it was possible to give myself permission to ask for more. It wasn’t greedy or self indulgent to want more and by aiming only for “not so terrible” I was holding myself back. By settling in a role that I wasn’t engaged in, I was also becoming a drain on resources in my firm. I was transforming into the very type of colleague that I most disliked: The safe, the bored, the clock in/ clock out, the ranks of the disengaged. 

Was this the limit of my potential?  Why am I here? What is my purpose?

Around the time of this dinner, a couple of other moments of clarity came to me. Once we start to pay attention, the messages start coming thick and fast. Perhaps that is why you are reading this now?

Realizing that I had been sent a wake up call in the form of a shut down of my body, I had decided to take action. I was working with Anne Good,  an executive coach,  and drilling down on these questions of purpose, strengths and life design. On our regular Skype calls, we focused on creating possibilities for potential next steps. I developed awareness of my unique strengths. I met fabulous people with really interesting jobs through informational interviewing. I clawed back the agency and control that I had lost over the last 12 months. I found that I was improving relationships within my team, meeting inspiring people with interesting stories and leaning into what I loved.

I attended a speech by Dr. Bob Tobin, author of “What do you want to create today?” and he asked the room “What is your dream?” And in that question, I had the saddest realization. I don’t have a dream. I can’t see beyond the hamster wheel of my work and family life. I am coasting, waiting for things to happen to me. I could not believe it but the truth was staring me in the face. I had given up on the idea of hopes and dreams for myself.

And yet, and yet… I started to see something, a power and presence in me that emerged when I was facilitating the LeanIn Circle. There was a monthly moment of flow. It was during those meetings that I felt the most energized.  The most useful. The most me.

From these insights about strengths, possibility, dreams and flow, a new perspective emerged. There might be something else out there for me that could work!

I announced in a session that I wanted to return to L&D and to pursue options in facilitation and coaching. Anne, my coach asked me, “What if you stay in this job and spend the next 6-12 months studying to be a coach?”  

Shudder – it was a  visceral reaction, the churn in my stomach. I may have even been a little sick in my mouth! Overwhelming feelings of dread at the thought of showing up every day and becoming a little more broken each month. 

But then, the practical side of maintaining the status quo held me. What would I do instead? How could I make a living? I was terrified of that too. 

This is where I realized the importance of all those informational interviews. Meeting diverse people who can suggest options of how to live or choices to make that you did not know were possible. I met with Ted Agatsuma, an experienced HR professional who was now working as a consultant. I bemoaned the jobs which I had seen on the market in L&D and Training. 

“I want to be a practitioner, Ted. I want to be in the room with people and see the aha moments with them!

“The only way that is going to happen is if you set up your own company and freelance,” he told me in a very matter of fact way. And just as the words “I can’t set…” started to come out of my mouth, I stopped myself. What if I could? What might it look like?

And from that moment on, it was all systems go. With the support of my family and the promise of paying my half of the mortgage for a year from my husband, I set about planning the launch of my sole proprietorship. 

I had dinner with Ted on February 26th, 2016. Resigned in early May and the business was launched on June 29, 2016 with the help of the first professional I hired, Yasuko Mori, who remains my wonderful and supportive Tax Accountant. 

Looking back on my personal experience,  I see how useful it would have been to use the Ikigai framework. Once I had a clear understanding of what I loved, what I was good at, what I could be paid for and what the world needed, I was able to take action. Once I worked out what would make me jump out of bed rather than battle the pain of a slipped disc, I was able to start moving forwards.

So as I said, It was only after I discovered my Ikigai that I discovered Ikigai.

Finding your Ikigai in an unexpected place

Before I headed to Europe for the summer, Jason De Luca asked me to help on a passion project of his to support Frances Watthanaya, Founder & Executive Director of Wor. Watthana ค่ายมวย ว. วัฒนะ Muay Thai Gym and Scott Hirano Photography a world class Combat Sports Photographer to learn about their relationship and the work Frances has done which has impacted a small, local community in northern Thailand. Brad Corbet and the team at Motionworks created a great atmosphere for my first time in the interviewers’ chair. Thanks!

As the bard says,

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

William Shakespeare

What struck me the most about Frances’ story is the way that starting the gym and now building the house was not part of a grand plan, just a series of steps that took her to this point. A great example of the dots joining at a later point. It really shows the importance of being open to opportunities when it comes to your ikigai, to saying yes, and to trying things – done is better than perfect and perfect is the enemy of execution! Greatness was thrust upon her and she rose to the occasion.

Frances’ love for the sport of Muay Thai led her to Thailand and ultimately led her to her life’s passion of helping the local children in this small, rural town in Thailand become more confident and disciplined through Muay Thai and her gym. But more than that, she has become a Saint to lead the community in a new direction and give hope and support to local kids who are struggling in a very tough environment. She empowers them to become more confident, more disciplined and most importantly, believe in themselves to achieve their goals, all through the support of Muay Thai, her coaching and the safe environment her gym provides.

The purpose of the interview was to highlight the work she has done and to seek support for raising money to build a new gym to continue to support these kids and their dreams.

Regardless of your interest in Muay Thai, Thailand or martial arts, this interview is a just a great experience to learn how anyone can help change the lives of others in very small ways. Frances has helped people in a very big way so all I ask is that you please watch this interview in its entirety and consider helping her cause. Thanks for your support.

To learn about the fundraising efforts and to help support their cause, please visit:https://www.gofundme.com/help-build-us-a-home

To learn more about Frances, her gym and the kids, please visit: https://www.worwatthana.com/

To learn more about the work Scott Hirano has done with Frances as well as other projects, please visit:

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.

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

 

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

#IWD2018 #heforshe Tokyo – event report

#heforshe2018

 

You have to love an event that begins with a video of PicoTaro singing about Gender Equal Peaceful World.

With a focus on mindset change, March 8th’s #heforshe event for International Women’s Day hosted by PWC, Unilever and Bunkyo Ward brought many different ideas together.

Below are a few of the highlights  – my translations may not be word for word but the essence is correct, I believe.

Akie Abe, gave some unscheduled opening comments. Whilst Mrs. Abe is well know for her active support of her husband’s approach to Womenomics, her use of 家内 (“her indoors”?) to describe her role always rubs me up the wrong way!

Marin Minamiya shared her views on the power of a positive personal mindset and encouraged positive self talk.

I loved her single minded determination and hope that we can all find some of her strength when we find ourselves facing naysayers. For example when she said that she could not get the money for her expedition, she spent time writing to hundreds of sponsors until she was successful.

The 1st panel focused on so-called Japanese “ojisan” (middle aged men). The speakers had some refreshing views and ways to support institutional and individual mindset change. However, I came away with a sense that Yagi Yosuke’s comment about the importance of action over mindset change is the key. In the 2nd panel, a simple example of how to change perceptions gave me hope. Creating gender equality does not always require complex organizational wide changes, just simple every day actions can make a huge difference.

The final panel focused on unconscious bias. The complex audience reactions to the same photograph showed clearly how we all have blindspots and that we need humility and self-awareness to overcome them. To get your organization thinking about those blindspots, take a look at the Creating Inclusion with Appreciative Inquiry programmes (日本語)(English). Naoshi Takatsu of IMD also shared doom interesting data about transactional and transformational leadership. Women on average have stronger competencies in transformational leadership skills so organizatiions need to shift their thinking on what leadership looks like in the 21st Century.

Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, gave the closing comments. He highlighted the economic, financial and social impreatives of gender equality. Mr. Polman shared the need to think about how to bring gender equality into your value chain. What are you doing at every level of your business to be #heforshe and bring about gender parity in the world?

 

How did you mark International Women’s Day this year? What will you do to reverse the slowing trend of gender parity and help Japan to rise up from the currently pitiful global ranking of 114th?

 

Glimpses of Mindfulness – Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle – February 2018 Event Report

A sign of an engaging meeting where I am full engaged in the present moment  – a complete absence of event photos!

Ann- Katrin Van Schie, Lean In Japan Entrepreneur Circle member, and Holistic Wellness Coach and Yoga Instructor from At Ease, led 4 other members online via Zoom and face to face at Smart Partners K.K.‘s offices in Kinshicho. I managed to grab a selfie of the Tokyo attendees as we left!

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We worked on simple ways to bring glimpses of calm into our day, to find special moments to reset. These are as simple as grinding your own coffee, to focusing on belly breathing, facial massage, use of aroma, using an app like Headspace and so on.

The Circle also discussed the TED Talk “How to Make Stress Your Friend”. The most surprising takeaway from the video was that stress can be seen as a sign of your body rising to the upcoming challenge. Your heightened adrenaline and awareness is your body adjusting to the situation. With this in mind how can you embrace stress as a positive?

Did you also know that stress releases oxytocin? I know! Isn’t that our happiness hormone? Mind blown! That is why we feel the need to connect with loved ones when we are stressed. Having a support group like a Lean In Circle has been a huge help for me to feel connected as a solo business owner. Who is in your support network?

Many thanks to Ann-Katrin for helping us to create ease in our busy entrepreneurial lives!


Are you an English-speaking  female Entrepreneur in Japan?

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

2018 – 3/20, 4/19, 5/23, 6,21 (F2F), 7/17

 

Practice Patience Judo – Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire February 2018 – Event Report

“Patience Judo”? What on earth is that?

In her book, Drop the Ball, Tiffany Dufu talks about its importance when you start to delegate tasks to others.

“We quickly grow impatient when things on our to-do list aren’t done the way we think they should be done.”

She shared the research that when men were asked to do the dishes by their partner, 30% “did it wrong” and 25% were never asked again!

Being able to create space for you to do the work that only you can do, requires you to let go of some control. It’s hard but necessary.

Personally, my challenge for delegation is not just about quality, but also about having things done on my time-frame. I recently created a holding list, “Waiting for DH”, for tasks around the  house which my husband is responsible for. I’ve given myself permission not to worry about them anymore!

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At the February 2018 Tokyo Girls on Fire Lean In Circle, 10 professional women from Australia, China, Columbia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, UK and US, shared our life hacks to get more of our goals achieved, rather than just ticking off items on our to-do lists.

It requires taking a good hard look at what you can do. Last year the Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle covered the same material (Read the Event Report here). The main difference with this circle was really focusing on outsourcing and the need to train team members to be able to take on more responsibility.

We also celebrated a promotion, a first trip to global HQ, successful job change, Professional certification and a new baby. It’s always inspiring to see how much these women are achieving in their careers.

Follow Jennifer Shinkai Coaching on Facebook for up-coming event information.


 

Are you an English-speaking professional woman in Tokyo? Request to join our circle or follow Jennifer Shinkai Coaching on Facebook for up-coming event information.

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.

2018 3/28, 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.

 

Creating Inclusive Meetings with AI

Are you searching for ways to harness the innovative ideas of your diverse workforce?
Are you looking for an interactive workshop to mark International Women’s Day and increase collaboration across functions?
Would you like your team to experience a positive approach to solutions that allows different voices to be heard?

While many organizations in Japan are making efforts to increase diversity in terms of gender in the workforce, many companies feel that they are not able to truly leverage the unique views of the women they are hiring. The focus on the “what” and “who” of diversity, now needs to shift to the “how” of inclusion.

WinBE (Women In Business Empowerment) is a collective of three Japan-based
facilitators who are passionate about Diversity and Inclusion. In the month of March we want to help your company find more ways to harness the diverse perspectives of your women to inspire innovation.

What’s the workshop about?

In this three hour workshop, 10-100 of your employees can connect across divisions,hierarchies, gender and nationality. Using the Appreciative Inquiry approach they will create an Inclusive Meeting framework prototype that is unique to your organization.

Appreciative Inquiry is an asset-based approach to solutions that opens up your team to new ideas and perspectives. Workshop participants will discover how your organization can utilize existing strengths to develop further diversity and inclusion.

The workshop output will be a prototype design of ways that your organization can run meetings where innovation can be fostered. Meetings give voices to the diversity of thought, backgrounds and perspective. These meetings represent a different way to approach ideas and will move away from the status quo. As a follow-up activity, teams can implement in their work groups as a pilot program.

Who should attend?

The program is designed to be flexible in terms of number of participants with a minimum size of 10 and maximum size of 100. The facilitators can deliver in English and Japanese so can support an international audience. The workshop can be run across functions to increase collaboration and internal networking

Why March?

March is a busy time in many corporate calendars in Japan ahead of a new financial year as well as preparing for new graduate onboarding in April.
However, March also brings many different times when we think about women and their role in Japanese society.

We start with Hina Matsuri on March 3 rd where we pray for the growth and happiness of young girls. On March 8th , we celebrate International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #pressforprogress.And then on March 14th, there is White Day, where we repay the giri chocolates received a month before.

WinBE would like to leverage on this awareness. Instead of marshmallows and cookies, help your organization to empower your female employees to drive growth and innovation by creating meetings where multiple voices can be heard.

We are currently taking reservations for a limited number of workshops in March,
please contact Jennifer Shinkai for more information in English or Hiroko Shinoda for more information in Japanese.

About WinBE (Women in Business Empowerment)


WinBE is a collective of three Japan-based facilitators, Setsu Suzuki, Hiroko Shinoda and Jennifer Shinkai, who came together after meeting at the 2017 Global Summit of Women. As a trusted third party, we work with organizations in Japan to develop workplaces where high-potential female leaders can drive business results and contribute to innovation across products and solutions. With our backgrounds in coaching and global leadership development, we co-create solutions with our clients to develop inclusive workplaces.

We are currently taking reservations for a limited number of workshops in March,
please contact Jennifer Shinkai for more information in English or Hiroko Shinoda
for more information in Japanese.