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 in elementary school and started his own company while still in high school and was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998 (by Ernst & Young, NASDAQ and USA Today). As one of the world’s leading authorities on cybersecurity.

After selling his business to Microsoft, he moved to Tokyo in 2005 and founded InTecur, a venture capital firm. In 2011, he served as the Chief Technology Officer of the National Diet’s (Parliament) Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission. Later that year, he was named as both a Young Global Leader and Global Agenda Council member for World Economic Forum (WEF) and subsequently been named to its Foundation Board. In 2012, Saito was appointed to a council on national strategy and policy that reported directly to the Prime Minister of Japan.

Saito also advises several national governments around the globe. In Japan, he has served as an advisor to Japanese ministries; the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST); the Information Technology Promotion Agency (IPAS); the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, among others. He is currently the Special Advisor to the Ministry of Economic Trade and Industry (METI) and the Cabinet Office for the Government of Japan.

He went to medical school at UCLA and Harvard Kennedy School; serves on various boards of Global 2000 companies; frequently appears as a commentator on TV and is the author of seven books in addition to writing several weekly newspaper columns. His management book, The Team: Solving the Biggest Problem in Japan, was published by Nikkei BP and became a best-seller in 2012. In 2016, Saito received the Medal of Honor from the Government of Japan for his work in the field of education.

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  1. nice post. thanks.

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