The interview lasted for about an hour and a half, but it went by so fast. I had a really meaningful time as he unraveled my life and I made new discoveries in myself. Thank you very much.
Even if I am not a special person, there is a formula for me to win.
–When I think of you, I think of you as a “can-do” person who is successful as an affiliate and has achieved results in your own business and as an advisor. I’m curious to know what kind of life you’ve led so far.
I’m not a “can-do” person. Most of my businesses, including affiliate marketing, were started as a way to escape, or to distract myself from what I was doing before. And I must admit I’m not a smart person, so I can’t get around that. If I can say that I’m relatively running a successful business now, it’s because I’ve found a formula that allows people who are not smart like me to win. I’m often told that I’m a strong person and that I had the right qualities. But in reality, I just made efforts that anyone can make. It’s not modesty or anything, but the fact that I can do it, so I really believe that you can do it too. That’s why when I offer my knowledge to customers or scale their business, I honestly tell them, “You can do it too.”
–In writing your “Personal History”, I had the impression that you are good at “repetitive efforts”.
Indeed, I think I am good at it. To put it another way, I could say that I have been making efforts that anyone can make, but I have been repeating them to such an extent that it is difficult for others to copy. However, I believe that my method is something that many people can do if they are committed to continuing to work hard. I’m really just an ordinary person with a lot of clunkers. That’s why the knowledge I provide doesn’t require any special skills.
Anyway, I have always taken the stance of “steadily doing what I can do with certainty,” because I know my own abilities. On the other hand, I basically don’t do anything else. In the article “My Personal History,” you once wrote, “In business, I always keep in mind the style of ‘crossing a stone bridge without failing it,’ which is a further development of the ‘crossing a stone bridge by knocking on it’ business. When I have a good feeling that the bridge will not break down, and when I feel that I will definitely get a return on my efforts (at least that’s what it looks like from my point of view), I will make all possible efforts as thoroughly as possible.
Crossing over stone bridges” has been a way of life since he was a child.
–It is true that you do your work by carefully examining whether or not your “vision of success” has any real proof. Have you always had the idea of “knocking on stone bridges”?
I have had a tendency to do so since I was a child. I think I had a steady nature, and I was not bold. For example, when I was the head of the tennis club in high school, I took the stance that I would make sure there was no friction (laughs) between myself and the club members, or between the members and the club members. (Laughs) I admired leaders who were strong and forceful, but I knew I couldn’t be like that.
–However, that stance is very important for an organizational person. It can be your strength at times. In today’s world, people tend to look for innovative people who can turn “0” into “1”, but are you good at turning “1” into “10”?
Basically, I think so. However, I am good at combining things that are already available in the market and applying them to something existing.
I grew up in a family environment without a father. His loneliness led him to “escape”.
–Where were you born?
I was born in Tokyo, Japan. However, my father passed away soon 2 months after I was born, so I lived in a house without parents for a long time (I was left in the care of relatives, etc.). It wasn’t until I was in nursery school that I began to be aware of the reality of fatherlessness. So – maybe it was because I was lonely, but I used to run away from preschool (laughs). Anyway, I didn’t want to go to preschool, so I escaped twice and took the train to my mother’s office, which was miles away from the preschool. I was taken back immediately though (laughs). I think this was a bold escape, even in light of my character. But if I were to put it better, I could say that it reflects my current character of “once I make a decision, I do it well”.
–Did the loneliness you felt as a child have an impact on your life later on?
I did not have a clear sense of loneliness in my life. But on the other hand, I had to face the fact that I was very insecure. I was afraid of self-disclosure. I was afraid that the moment I opened up my chest, others would find out that I had nothing inside me. I was afraid of that, and it made me uncomfortable to be myself. So I had a tough time mentally in junior high school and high school. I was afraid of being ostracized by my friends, so I just tried to fit in.
Studying in New Zealand to gain self-confidence
–It may sound a bit demeaning, but did you tune in because you felt that you didn’t want to be left out of the circle of friends that accepted you?
Yes, yes! (laughs). That’s a super negative line. At the root of it all is the mentality that I have “no confidence” in myself. …… On the flip side, I wanted to build up my self-confidence, so I played tennis as a club activity. I told you earlier that I was the head of the tennis club in junior high and senior high school, and I continued to play tennis even after I went on to college. However, the level of tennis in college is much higher, so I could barely keep up at first, and my lack of confidence showed in that area as well. I tried my best to imitate the best players in the club. This “imitation” was the behavior I always applied in my university life outside of club activities. Whenever I saw an amazing person, I couldn’t help but imitate them, and in the end, a lack of confidence followed me wherever I went.
–In the end, your lack of confidence followed you wherever you went. but you decided to study overseas. I think this was a very bold decision, but what do you think?
I don’t mean to say bold, but studying abroad was also a way to “escape” due to my lack of confidence. To tell you the truth, my injury made it difficult for me to continue playing tennis. I thought, “Oh, this is not good. I was thinking of becoming a tennis coach in the future. But that dream became too difficult. When I asked myself if I had any skills that I could use in my work, I didn’t have anything that I could be confident in. I hadn’t even studied English much, and my friends around me looked so dazzling. I decided to go to New Zealand to study in the hope that I would be able to change myself if I went there to study.
Why did you start affiliate marketing?
–In the end, your study abroad experiences led you to your current job. You are now able to use English, and the job you got after graduating from university as a study abroad counselor would not have been possible without the lessons you learned in New Zealand.
It opened up the way for me. After that, I continued to feel not confident, but in terms of work, I was able to take the first step. However, the path of study abroad counselor and the path of accounting that I started after that became too much for me, and I decided that it was not for me …… and I had to run away again. And that’s where I ended up as an affiliate. This was also an escape, if you can call it that. However, the job that I ran away from turned out to be the right one. In my case, I have avoided many things that I thought “I don’t like ……”, as is the case with everything.
–However, you will do it thoroughly all the time after you decided to avoid challenges from one place to the new place, right? Like the study abroad counselor you mentioned earlier, you didn’t do anything halfheartedly but took on the role of a high school student’s counselor through and through. You also worked hard at affiliate marketing to a level that others did not.
I’m probably good at making continuous efforts. I’m very focused on the promises I make to myself, and I don’t want to break them. I don’t want to disappoint myself too. And I put in a lot of effort, down to the smallest detail. It’s as if I’m doing a task and accumulating numbers, but I think I’m consistent in my focus on numbers. This is true for all of my current work. I won’t proceed with a project until I know that it will be profitable in terms of numbers.
Strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin
–I feel the sincerity in your words, “I don’t want to break the promises I have made to myself. Did you develop this attitude while being raised by your mother?
In the end, I hardly lived with my mother. My father passed away, and my mother was working. I was raised largely by my grandparents. However, I think I was lonely, and as I said before, I had a fear of being “left out” because of my loneliness. At the root, there was a lack of confidence. But lack of confidence is not always a bad thing.
— What do you mean by that?
For example, when I started my marketing consulting business for small and medium-sized companies in 2014, there were some industries where marketing thinking (orientation) was extremely weak depending, and I developed my business by targeting those areas. This may sound like the Blue Ocean Strategy or the Lanchester Strategy, but honestly speaking, I did so because I had given up on the idea that it would not work in a market that was already mature in terms of marketing. I was not smart enough to survive in that jungle. Because I lacked confidence and gave up quickly, I was able to quickly enter the blue ocean. This is like “turning a weakness into a strength”, isn’t it? I realized that strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin.
The Secret to Success at Work: “Escape” and “Avoid”
–In many of your cases, you find a job by “running away” or “avoiding”. In a sense, I think this is a “process of elimination” in choosing a job, but you are successful at it. What is the secret of your success?
I think the secret is to “go all the way”. You have to work very hard. This has always been the case. It was the same with tennis practice. Even at the level of memorizing kanji characters that I learned in elementary school, I put in a lot of effort (laughs). (laughs) Basically, I believe that I don’t have a natural talent for anything, so I have decided to compete through overwhelming repetition, “numbers” and “quantity. This is the same in business.
–So, you are going to avoid competing on the same playing field as talented people right from the start, and instead, you are going to focus on the space where you can make up the gap by making an effort and then compete on the basis of numbers and quantity. How you escape is the key to winning by escaping.
Although I avoid the place where I don’t think I can win with the resources I have right now, I concentrate my wholehearted efforts on the place where I feel I can compete, and go for it. I do business in a “select and focus” kind of way. As for where to do it, it doesn’t matter where. This may be a matter of opinion, but I have escaped to blue ocean areas where there is a social need, but no one is aware of it yet.
“Escape” can be useful in one way
–Like a blue ocean detector (laughs).
Perhaps it is because I have been at the frontline so that I have acquired the ability to pick up the signal to read the market. I don’t deny that learning skills from textbooks if it works for people, but I’m not good at classroom learning, or even sitting down to learn, so I try to learn all the basics through practice. If I learn thoroughly from a stance of “focus on practical work and classroom learning will follow,” I am able to “escape” to a better place.
–Do you have any original experience with the idea that “”escape” can become valuable depending on how you escape”?
Yes, I actually do. It was when I was in elementary school. I had been going to a cram school since the fourth grade to prepare for junior high school entrance exams. But I hated cram school so much. I just wanted to run away from it. So I decided to make a contract with my parents. “If I pass the entrance exam for junior high school, will I not have to go to cram school when I take the entrance exam for high school or university?” In the end, I took the contract so seriously and passed many entrance exams. I just wanted to escape from cram school, so I studied and passed the exams. Running away became the greatest driving force for me. I guess that’s why I was able to continue studying then. When I received the news that I had passed the entrance exam, the first thing that came to my mind was not the joy of “I got into the school of my choice! I was more relieved that I wouldn’t have to go to the cram school anymore. (laughs) This is the origin of the idea that “escape can be a motivation.
–Lastly, I have a question. Do you still have that feeling of “lack of confidence”?
I don’t have a clear sense of lack of confidence anymore. It’s not so much a lack of confidence, but more of a sense of “knowing myself” or “trying to know myself better”. However, I can say that I am happy now. In my youth, I spent my life just imitating people who looked happy, I have found my purpose in life. In the end, the solution for the problem I was facing, I am facing is only within me, but I have become a person who can say, “I am happy without imitating anyone else. I feel that I am truly happy when I am able to give my all to what is right in front of me. I want to spread this feeling of happiness to as many people as possible, and that’s what I’m doing with my business.
–Thank you very much for your time today.