On April 3rd, I conducted an onstage conversation with Visa Japan Country Manager, Seiji Yasubuchi, at the Tokyo American Club for the American and French Chambers of Commerce in Japan. We had a full house!
Here are my takeaways from my discussion with Seiji.
- Diversity is the key to generating great ideas. Different people from different countries with different backgrounds, both men and women, junior and senior, make all the difference in the world when they speak openly about what they think.
- If someone does not speak, he or she might as well not exist. No matter how brilliant a person might be, it matters not one bit if they don’t share ideas.
- The purpose of a meeting is to resolve issues through debate and make a decision. If you want to increase productivity, eliminate all meetings that have no agenda or are for information sharing alone.
- The key to good leadership is open-mindedness and curiosity about the world.
- Vision is paramount to good leadership, but don’t worry when not everyone buys in. People take their own time. If your vision is compelling, even resistors will come around.
- The most valuable employees are the ones who disagree with the leader and are willing to speak up. The best ideas come from healthy debate.
- In a time of crisis, you cannot only focus on fixing what is wrong. You have to get people thinking about what the business should do after the crisis. The business will get through, and people need to keep the future in sight even when under duress in the present.
- Collaboration is not just about working well with others. It means when you see a problem that is not completely under your responsibility, authority, or ability to fix, you speak up and actively pull together a team of people that can make things better together.
- Read widely and learn about the world beyond just business or your profession. Art, science, history, literature, technology, and everything that make up human knowledge can influence you in ways that ultimately make you a better business person, if not just a more interesting person.
- Everyone should spend time learning a foreign language and living in another country, whether Japanese or non-Japanese. Nothing changes perspective and spurs ideas more than living among others who are completely different from what you know.