Mickey’s Voice

Insights from our CEO

  • The secret to mid-career success

    The secret to mid-career success

    Advice to the young is plentiful. What about advice for those in mid-career? October marks the start of the second half of the financial year in Japan, and just this week, 140 mid-career recruits started work at Rakuten with a day of training in Tokyo. The key to success in mid-career is the ability to envision the future as one filled with great change. We may have been at work for a period of ye…

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  • The best break in life is being empowered

    What does it mean to give someone a “break” in business? In my opinion, a break is not about a single opportunity or a nudge in the right direction. It is really about empowerment – giving someone the tools, the environment and encouragement to do their best work. This is what I experienced when I left a banking job to start my own internet company, and it is the core philosophy that we continue t…

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  • Omotenashi in Japan

    AI and personalized customer service: Japan’s omotenashi

    Artificial intelligence is creating a lot of buzz in the tech community nowadays, and recently I spoke to online merchants at our annual Rakuten Ichiba Expo about how we can use AI, the Rakuten way. I am a big believer in AI and its future potential, but I think we need to focus on more than just the tasks AI can perform. We need to consider more deeply how it can be of service to humanity – to ma…

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  • Rakathon Builds Synergy at Rakuten Crimson House West

    Rakathons and beyond! Steps to innovation

    From every corner of the business world we hear it: Innovate or die! Innovation is the driving force of business today. No longer is it sufficient to provide a good product or service. As business people, we must continuously push ourselves to do better. What can we do to improve? To disrupt old and tired ways of doing business? To better the lives of our customers? These are the big goals of busi…

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  • Englishnization helping with cross-cultural communication

    Japan’s new business language

    In March 2010, I stood before several thousand mostly native Japanese speakers and addressed them in English. From now on, I told them, Rakuten would conduct all of its business, from official meetings to internal emails, in English. I still remember the shocked expressions on listeners’ faces. Their reaction was certainly understandable. No major Japanese company had ever changed its official lan…

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  • Two books

    Top book picks for when you’re looking for inspiration

    I admit I was thrilled to hear Bill Gates of Microsoft had included my book, “The Power To Compete,” on his recommended summer reading list. The book is one I co-wrote with my late father, the economist Ryoichi Mikitani, and it is great to hear of more people around the world reading the book and thinking about how an economy can become more competitive. Bill’s reading list started me thinking abo…

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  • Advice that sticks: The wisdom of my father

    My father, Ryoichi, passed away in 2013 but his words remain with me today. This summer, the book we co-wrote, “The Power to Compete,” was listed by Bill Gates as recommended summer reading. It even appeared on some best-seller lists. This got me thinking again about the broad-ranging conversations we had in his final years about future directions for Japan and our place in the world economy, as w…

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  • Office design innovation at Rakuten

    Taking down the walls at work: Rakuten Crimson House

    What has no internal walls, height-adjustable desks, floor-to-ceiling whiteboards, the latest in video communications technology – and a great view of Mount Fuji on a clear day? Our new workplace! When Rakuten headquarters relocated last year to a new building in Setagaya, Tokyo, we did more than change our address. We changed everything about our office and the way we work in it every day. For ex…

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  • Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles win the Japan Series Championship in 2013

    Common sense or just fear of failure?

    New ideas die every day because someone alleges they go against “common sense.” But what is “common sense,” anyway, and who defines it? I think using this argument often indicates nothing more than a fear of failure. It’s the cover many people will take to avoid doing something risky. More than once in my career, I’ve been told that my idea won’t work and that I should wake up and acce…

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  • Workforce diversity at Rakuten.

    The diversity dividend

    At Rakuten, we consider ourselves marathon runners. We are in our business and our communities for the long haul. That’s one of the reasons we think very seriously about diversity. Diversity at Rakuten is not just important because it is the right thing to do, right now. It is a strategy for our long-term success. Why is diversity so important to our long game? Talent We know that to be succ…

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