In early January, I was invited to speak at a law conference in Malaysia. At first, I turned them down politely, since I didn’t know who they were, and it was somewhat short notice. I had a potential conflict with another event later that month, and what did I have to do with the legal profession anyway? The organizers were persistent and upon further investigation, I realized it was being organized by an old acquaintance from Microsoft – Bill Neukom. Therefore, I agreed to be one of their keynote panelists and flew to Kuala Lumpur to attend the World Justice Project APAC Rule of Law Conference.
At the conference, I was one of the few (less than 1%) non-lawyers at the event, but, I must say, it was one of the best conferences I have participated in. Perhaps because lawyers are naturally predisposed to discussion and debate (which, for anyone who knows me, I like very much). There were actually three other people from Japan at this conference, led by the Honorable Kunio Hamada, a former member of the supreme court of Japan – a very kind gentleman – and we spent many hours talking about a variety of topics.
Initially, I was concerned that my topic (titled “Japan ‘leading’ the way” – a play on words) would not be germane to the listening audience. I ended up speaking about how innovation and entrepreneurship is often hindered by well meaning laws and regulations when, in fact, they have many unintended consequences; and how Japan has been a good (and bad) example of this “experiment” over the past 20 years. I specifically focused on how Japan’s aging and shrinking population is going through a grand experiment that many countries in the world will encounter shortly (and therefore should learn from). Since it is “leading” in this area, I focused on three main points that government, corporations and society in general have attempted to address, but which haven’t gone as planned: 1) Addressing risk, 2) The role of governments, education and research, and 3) The role of women.

In the end, the speech went over very well, and I received a lot of great feedback during and after the conference. There have been numerous requests for my slides, so I have posted them here as well.

Your comments are most welcome.