Breakfast with William F. Miller

Today, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of having breakfast with Bill Miller of Stanford University – someone I admire very much.  I use a number of his quotes and research in my presentations on entrepreneurship.  I’ve met Bill at a number of functions on both sides of the Pacific, but this was the first where I was able to sit down and have breakfast with him, Robert Eberhart and Michael Gucwa.

We spoke on a number of subjects but the topic of “women entrepreneur” was the most interesting.  Specifically, how Japanese men (generally) in their 20’s do not have the interest, motivation or passion to be entrepreneurial due to the very rigid, scheduled, and structured social/professional expectations they are burdened with. Conversely, how Japanese women do not want to abide by or face traditional social expectations, find the freedom to try new things including going abroad, learning a new language and/or starting a venture.  This led me to two interesting words that I could not explain very well during breakfast which I will attempt here.

The first word, soshoku danshi which literally translates to “herbivorous men” describes men who are generally not competitive, enjoys shopping with their mom’s, are fashion conscious and are not interested in women or dating.  The opposite, nikushokukei (carnivore) is sometimes used to describe women in the same age group – typically for those looking to start a family or the start-up entrepreneur.  There are many reasons why this phenomenon is occurring, but one thing is for sure – for the last 20 years, the generation currently in their 20’s and 30’s have never experienced what it’s like to live in good economic times.  Perhaps the women are just taking it into their own hands to change that. Here is a good article that explains this in more detail.

Update: In the March 5th edition of Spa!, they polled 300 men in their 30’s and found that only 35.4% had  one or more close friends.  The article explains that many of the interviewees were introverted and didn’t have many friends until college.  Unfortunately, after graduating, many of these people had to work very hard, getting transfered and losing touch with friends.  This seems to then cause a negative spiral where men are afraid to ask their friends for help or advice as they are more worried about “losing face”.

“Successful entrepreneurs are motivated more by desire to “change the world” than merely by desire to make a lot of money” -Prof. William F. Miller

William Saito
Special Advisor at Cabinet Office (Govt. of Japan)
Named by Nikkei as one of the “100 Most Influential People for Japan,” Saito began software programming at an early age and started his own company in high school. By the time he was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998 (by Ernst & Young, NASDAQ and USA Today), he was recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on encryption, biometric authentication and cyber security.

After selling his business to Microsoft, he moved to Tokyo in 2005 and founded InTecur, a venture capital firm and consultancy that identifies innovative technologies, develops global talent and helps entrepreneurs become successful. In 2013, Saito was appointed a Special Advisor to the Cabinet Office for the Government of Japan.

Similarly, in 2012 he served as a council member on national strategy for the Cabinet-level National Policy Unit, and prior to that, was named as the Chief Technology Officer for the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC). He is a Foundation Board Member at the World Economic Forum (WEF), and has been named by the WEF as both a Young Global Leader and Global Agenda Council member.

Saito also advises several national governments around the globe. In Japan, he has also served as an advisor to METI, MIC, MEXT, MLIT, AIST, IPA and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), among others.

He teaches at multiple universities, serves on several corporate boards, appears as a commentator on national TV and is the author of numerous publications in addition to writing a weekly column for a prominent Japanese business newspaper. His best-selling management book, The Team: Solving the Biggest Problem in Japan, was published by Nikkei BP in 2012, his follow-on book, Is Your Thinking up to Global Standards?, was published by Daiwa Shobo in late 2013 and his autobiography, An Unprogrammed Life: Adventures of an Incurable Entrepreneur, was published in 2011 by John Wiley & Sons.

Posted by whsaito

  1. nice post. thanks.

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