The Japanese Spirit: If We Want to Prosper and Be Respected, We Must Work Hard.


This post is part of series posts about my experiences in Japan as an ABE Scholar. If you want to read other related posts, please CLICK HERE.

I was lucky enough to be part of 83 participants from 19 different countries for a 2-days workshop organized by Institute of Strategic Leadership and hosted by Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU). Two days that really exposed me to the real way of Japanese management and teamwork spirit.


During the first day, we had to engage in various interesting games in which the objective was to create a “close” relationship between the team members. What each individual could do didn’t matter, but what we could achieve as a team was the difference maker for us to win the games. That “team thinking” courage helped us work together and forget about our background differences, whether religion, ethnicity, or language. We replaced individualism for collectivism which is an integral part of the Japanese way of doing business.

Come to the second day, where the most important contents of the workshop were covered. After starting with Radio Calisthenics morning exercise, we had to watch a 1973 Matsushita video about workplace discipline in Japan. What I saw in that video will remain in my mind FOREVER. At Matsushita, the day begins with each group gathering with their leader. The leader reads the 7 principles of the company to the team every day and they repeat after him. Then, they sing the company song. That’s every day. Can you believe it?

At Matsushita, they think themselves as a large family. The president is thought as the father and each section leader as an older brother or sister. Under Matsushita, everyone has a complete job security or lifetime employment. No worker is ever discharged; if s(he) does not do one job well, s(he) will be moved to another one. They believe they can prosper together and be respected if they work hard. They made their jobs as a way of life, not as a work.

Here’s the full Matsushita video if you’re interested in:

The winner of the “CEO Recruitment Speech” contest delivering remarks after his inspiring and promising speech.

Then, later in the day, 29 “real” Japanese managers made a mock “CEO Recruitment Speech” in front of APU students. Their role was to assume they’re the CEO of their respective companies and then persuade us to join their firms. Then, the students have to choose which company they like to work for based on those speeches. Finally, we had one winner who really delivered an inspiring and promising speech (see above photo).

It’s my privilege to have met with Naoshi Takatsu san, North East Asia Managing Partner for IMD and the lead facilitator of the workshop

I wrote this post after coming straight from the workshop. Who knows if it’s the impact of the radio calisthenics morning exercise? I don’t know, but what I learned in this workshop will remain in my mind forever. Thank you, APU and ISL.


10 thoughts on “The Japanese Spirit: If We Want to Prosper and Be Respected, We Must Work Hard.

  1. Amazing, I believe the secret of the success of Japanese companies lies in these facts. keep sharing your experiences with us. Thanks indeed.


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