Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten, Inc.
@hmikitani_e

Whether your rival is in another company or just in the cubicle beside you, that person is helping you every day in your job — whether you realize it or not. Many make the mistake or trying to ignore those we aren’t fond of. But rivals have plenty to teach us.

  1. Rivals challenge your values. It is easy to hear opinions you agree with. It is much more difficult to hear opinions that you don’t like. But these are the opinions that you must continue to hear, no matter how difficult the conversations may be. You must seek them out and not assume those with contrary opinions will find you. You may learn something important.
  2. They reveal truths you may have missed. When you run up against a problem, rethink your views. Consider the possibility that your first inclination may not be correct. Ask “Why?” and be prepared for the answer that surprises you.
  3. Sometimes, they make great teammates. Strike a balance between cooperation and competition. It is often said that Rakuten is a competitive company. That’s true. But it is also a place of cooperation. Each employee at Rakuten is the rival of every other employee. But we are all teammates. If a company only embraces cooperation, there is no sense of urgency. If there is only competition, teamwork can’t happen. So to succeed, Rakuten employees must develop an internal sense of when to cooperate and when to compete.

What have you learned from your rival?