It is said that an era will soon arrive, in which “roles” are more important than “positions.” Can you introduce yourself by saying “who you are,” “what you do,” and “what you can do”? The key to sublimating from “just an acquaintance” that you happen to meet to “an acquaintance that has a lot to offer,” with whom you can form a trusting relationship is the self-introduction. We talked to Takashi Yokoishi, who is the author of the new books “Self-introduction 2.0,” and “Creating a Cross-point”, and Naotake Hibiya, author of “Connecting People and Information,” about encounters, starting with self-introduction and the fun of connecting.
・It starts with the “self-introductions”
・Enhance your discovery ability by increasing the opportunities to try out your skills with different people
・Build trust by managing drastic “requests” and expectation
・Social meetings don’t cross borders
・Creating a blank space makes crossing borders more interesting
Graduated from Tama Art University. In addition to working on the development of media services, such as TV stations, magazines, and portal sites, he is involved in editing in various fields, such as corporate organizational development and human resource development. He gives more than 100 lectures and seminars each year, including serving as a lecturer at “Roppongi Future University.” He is producer and manager of the collective office “Hojo SANCI” in Kamakura. He is a representative of “Tokyo Work Design Week,” which is the largest work-style festival in Japan. His books include “Self-introduction 2.0” (KADOKAWA) and “Our Way of Working in the Future” (Hayakawa Shobo).
From the time he was a student, Naotake worked as a freelancer in the planning and management of web sites and streaming events. Later, he worked on projects related to IC cards, electronic money, and systems development at NTT Group. In 2003, he joined KBMJ Co., Ltd. as a director. He was responsible for development management, sales, and planning. From 2009, he participated in Sansan Co., Ltd. and engaged in launching marketing and public relations functions. At the same time, he participated in various external activities, such as the third term of the Open Network Lab (Pecoq), establishment of the PR Table, and as a member of the Japan PR Association Public Relations Committee. He went independent in December 2016. Currently, in addition to serving as Sansan Connector / Eight Evangelist, he is also involved in various parallel activities, including being director of “Public Meets Innovation,” director of “At Will Work,” and an evangelist for Shibuya, connecting 30 people.
It starts with the “self-introductions”
Yokoishi: I’m not good at introducing myself.
Hibiya: That’s why I researched self-introduction. To start with, do you usually have the chance to introduce yourself?
Yokoishi: Not really.
Hibiya: No. In my case, there are two patterns of self-introduction situations, and one is a pattern in which the person standing in the middle introduces me according to the context, and then I complement that, like today’s interview. This is really easy because the setting and expectations of the other party are clear. The other pattern is when an unspecified large number of people are gathered together. This is difficult because we have to be aware of TPO and various connections and change what we are going to say accordingly. For example, today (in the case of meeting with everyone for the first time, except Mr. Yokoishi and our media editor), I have 11 different business cards, always working on about 5 projects, and I live a life of exchanging business cards with about 5,000 people a year.
Yokoishi: One hundred percent, in terms of “Self-introduction 2.0.”
Hibiya: I don’t know (laughs), because there are various elements, it is very different to usual. Usually, after saying “I work in a public awareness organization for work style reform, and in addition to that, I do a lot things in my regular work,” I look at the reaction of the other person and instantly determine how to shuffle my cards; whether I should talk about Shibuya Ward, Sansan, or a rock bar I manage in Shibuya.
Yokoishi: As I expected, you are a self-introduction master who can shuffle their cards according to the situation, as you exchange business cards with 5,000 people a year.
Hibiya: I am at the bar four days a week and work as a DJ and bartender. I have polished my self-introduction skills.
Yokoishi: As I said at the beginning, it is a pressure being seen as a master of self-introduction after publishing a book on the topic.
Hibiya: If you didn’t introduce yourself properly (laughs)?
Yokoishi: That’s right, because I am a self-introduction researcher and not a practitioner (laughs). The first point I noticed about your self-introduction was that you didn’t talk about yourself using a title. I do the same, and I have never said that I am the CEO of “&Co” company, which I run myself.
Hibiya: Certainly, you didn’t say that.
Yokoishi: That’s right. A good self-introduction is a question of whether you can talk about the future with the other person. For example, if you introduce yourself for this interview saying, “I create crossover points,” people will have no idea what you mean, because the theme of this media is “Across and Beyond,” and by considering the “across” part as the crossing point, you can match some vector in the future with the other person introducing him/herself.
Hibiya: It is about shuffling your cards according to the other person, as you mentioned before.
Yokoishi: What I am careful about is conveying it with verbs, not nouns. It is easy to fall into the style of trying to capture the other person with nouns. If you say, “I’m a department manager,” at the end, the other person will just remember “department manager.” I try to communicate using verbs, in order to let the other person know who I am and what I do.
Hibiya: “Connect” is a good one for me? I often call myself a connector.
Yokoishi: You are precisely a person who “connects.”
Enhance your discovery ability by increasing the opportunities to try out your skills with different people
Hibiya: I think life moves in unexpected directions as the number of encounters increase. The image is that an unknown world suddenly appears in front of you.
Yokoishi: By the way, have you ever made your own business plan?
Hibiya: By myself? Not at all. I did it when I worked for a company.
Yokoishi: I’m the same. You didn’t have a plan in advance in relation to my company. I don’t dare to put it into words or numbers. If you plan, you will be headed there and may not be able to deviate. As there is such playfulness, you can connect to people and things that you didn’t expect to and have fun.
Hibiya: That may be true.
Yokoishi: It’s my fetish, but I like to walk around town and meet people I know by chance. A fetish for encountering people by chance. In this big city of Tokyo, meeting people you know without coordinating with them in advance is something that only happens in Makoto Shinkai’s movies.
Hibiya: It’d be nice if I saw you at a station platform.
Yokoishi: Also, meeting a lot of people improves your “discovery ability.” If you belong to various communities, you can see things with a bird’s-eye view as you cross boundaries, so incongruities, new approaches, and viewpoints appear, which cannot be seen by others. I think discovery is the driving force behind everything.
Hibiya: Are you conscious about daring to cross borders when building your Yokoishi-style network?
Yokoishi: Even when planning something or casting for an event that will take place, I am conscious of turning the original image 180 degrees around, like “even though 〇〇, it is ××.”
Hibiya: It’s like a collision between different cultures.
Yokoishi: Yes. I connect distant places. It is easier to find incongruities if you cross the border.
Hibiya: From the perspective of cross-border achievements, I started a rock bar in Shibuya. It’s true that my life has moved in an unexpected direction.
Yokoishi: How did you get started?
Hibiya: I raised the funds through crowdfunding, and I got all the skills and know-how necessary to run a bar (restaurant) from acquaintances. From real estate to taxes, accounting, and from people in the interior decoration business to people with experience in the food and beverage business. At first, we were a group of music enthusiasts having fun in my house’s garage, but the number of people increased, so I decided to open a bar. When I started to talk about this to people around, I gathered more and more things and information.
Yokoishi: It wasn’t something you planned.
Hibiya: Yes. When I was in my garage, I said “it’d be interesting if this were to become a bar,” but actually, I thought it’d be a risk. However, when I realized the interesting features, I was able to open the bar. Obviously, this is the result of meeting various people by trying out my skills. Ten years ago, I had no acquaintances in the food and beverage industry.
Hibiya: On trying out my skills on others, I choose a specific area that I’m not very familiar with and try to increase the number of acquaintances related to it every year. So, in a year, I can become acquainted with people around that area. One time, during a year, I made a conscious effort to become acquainted with creators and artists.
Yokoishi: Even now, when I go to a cross-industry exchange meeting or party, I always go to the back, have a drink, talk to one or two people, and then go home.
Hibiya: People like that might want to decide a goal, to meet at least three people or to greet only people that they already know are participating and that they are targeting. They can go home after that, because if they try to do more or try to act properly, they get tired.
Yokoishi: I see. I feel weird when trying hard, too, and I’m not good at talking to people I don’t know. You could try to find out who is coming in advance, and ask someone to introduce you to the person you are looking for in advance. Then you don’t have to introduce yourself (laughs).
Hibiya: As I said at the beginning about self-introduction, it would be fun to have someone introducing you according to the context.
Build trust by managing drastic “requests” and expectations
Yokoishi: How can I build trust? First of all, as I wrote in the book, I need to distinguish between “credibility” and “trust.” Credibility is a solid collateral related to the past, but trust is an uncertain relationship in the future. Introducing yourself is one way to gain that trust.
Yokoishi: In order to build trust, it is important to manage expectations, and “requests” are a key factor. A sudden and sincere request is best. Asking the person you have met for the first time to take the podium at an event, and entrusting yourself to this person, that is the first step in building trust. When the person also asks for something, the feeling of “wanting to respond” is born, while meeting each other’s expectations, and there is a thing that can deepen the relationship. If taking the plunge is difficult, you can start with the obvious promise (request) of “being punctual.” Anyway, the reason for building a relationship of trust is “the request.”
Hibiya: In my case, I am always conscious about exceeding the expectations of the other person. Rather than going beyond the required extension line by 120%, it is better to attack from a different perspective. For example, if you are called as a guest to take the podium, and if you suggest “actually, I investigated this, but would it be interesting to say that?” or if you are interested in anything other than the requested details of the work, find and share the missing part. There are a lot of senior people doing that around me. Do you think it would be boring to just deliver 100% as you were told?
Yokoishi: It’s not easy to control expectations. You may not want to show yourself in a manner that is larger‐than‐life. It needs to be handled very delicately.
Hibiya: That’s why I don’t make promises without due consideration. I am careful because I usually have a strong service spirit.
Yokoishi: I am the same. You need the awareness to clarify your role. From now on, we are in an era when we ask about “the role”, rather than “the position.” Whether you are a businessperson or freelancer, it is an era where you can publish your role and favorite things on LinkedIn and Eight. Without ever clarifying what you can and can’t do, the expectations of each person will be mismatched, and no one will be happy. When I manage a project, I sometimes visualize the roles and tasks of my team members around the table.
Hibiya: When it comes to holding events, when you open the lid, it seems that everything from production to direction and planning is packed in, Mr. Yokoishi.
Yokoishi: In addition to planning, often I get requests to act as master of ceremony and write reports.
Hibiya: I understand, I think that the side that requests this is like that.
Yokoishi: You use the title of “connector,” so don’t you get requests from various people, such as “introduce me to a good person!”?
Hibiya: I was wondering if we should talk about that right now. I’ve been trying to refuse that kind of thing lately. It’s not like that; I can’t just connect people. It’s not about getting money. It is okay if someone asks me, when they have an understanding of my network, but when it’s not like that, I just throw the ball back. This is because the reason for wanting me to make the introduction is still unclear. In fact, more than half of cases are like that.
Social meetings don’t cross borders
Hibiya: If you can share strengths and weaknesses through self-introduction at the time of meeting, I think it will be easier to ask for something. For this kind of self-introduction, a shortcut is to read your book “Self-introduction 2.0.”
Yokoishi: Thank you (laughs). It is especially important to exchange weaknesses. Being able to talk about your weaknesses and fragility is also a strength. You can cross borders by going to an exchange meeting or party, but also by reading or watching movies. It takes courage to jump into a world you don’t know. Even if you are not in the real world, you should be able to install experiences and sensations that allow you to cross to a world you don’t know. It may also be important to keep your senses unprotected or numb.
Creating a blank space makes crossing borders more interesting
Yokoishi: Crossing borders often causes chemical reactions, but if you just leave them alone, they don’t do anything. The goal is not simply to cross the boundary. Even if you cross the border, nothing will be born out of it if there is no friction. For example, people with various motives gather at the scramble crossing in Shibuya, but nothing is born there usually. It is natural that nobody will stop. However, on the other hand, there is always something happening in the vacant lot with the clay pipe that appears in “Doraemon.” Playing baseball, a fight, taking a nap, or gathering. The story starts from there.
Hibiya: There is an owner; however, it is a place where an unspecified number of people can enter and leave and can do things. Safety is protected throughout the city. So, are there rules…? Basically, I think it’s free.
Yokoishi: I think that chemical reactions are born from a place where you can bring in the margin of “doing something.” The Halloween fuss of Shibuya started from the crossing in Shibuya, and because everyone started to display excessive excitement, it naturally became a place where people from all over the world gathered. In a world where diversity and crossing borders are required, I think that new value will be born from places where elements of “vacant land” can be brought in, even though it is a “crossing.” It is the same for oneself and another person, to be asked if you love your “crossing” sense and “vacant” sense.
・In the self-introduction, we should talk about the future with the other person and be conscious of verbs, not nouns.
・By meeting many people who belong to various communities and crossing borders, we can gain new perspectives and develop the “discovery ability.”
・We can build a relationship of trust by responding to each other’s expectations, starting with a “request.”
・“Crossing borders” is jumping into a world you don’t know, and this is not limited to the real world.
・Chemical reactions are created by adding elements of “vacant land” that can do something at the “crossing.”