Lily Style Interview with Female Entrepreneur in Japan Vol. 4
For our fourth interview, we invited Ms. Yayoi Michimura, the president of HugCome, Inc. The company manages an online English conversation school targeted at children. Before launching her own firm in 2015, she had worked for CyberAgent Inc., one of Japan’s leading Internet business companies. She was engaged in start-up businesses and human resource management there. She gave a birth to her first child in 2017 and is now a working mom with two children.
Lily: Could you tell me what kind of company HugCome, Inc. is?
Yayoi Michimura: Since 2015, we have run an online English conversation school for children “GLOBAL CROWN.” We believe that curiosity developed in childhood continues to influence everyone’s life and it is desirable to foster it. Based on the concept, our school gives one-on-one English conversation lessons to children up to around 10 years old and hires teachers who are bilingual in English and Japanese. They can accommodate each child’s progress and provide support in Japanese as needed. We focus on cultivating children’s desire to learn and grow their power to become passionate about something. The duration of one lesson is 20 minutes so that children can maintain their concentration. We try to help them enjoy lessons and desire to do more.
Lily: Isn’t it tough to manage a start-up business while raising children?
Yayoi: I’m having a busy life but I have never felt it’s tough. I had hard time in my late twenties when I couldn’t get pregnant and I did hope to become a working mom. I have been thinking how to juggle my job and child-rearing. As I had a busy position at my previous company, I have made it a habit to control my own schedule and decide how to manage my time.
Lily: What inspired you to enter education business?
Yayoi: My grandparents and my parents were all teachers. Our family members were very close. When we had a walk together, they suddenly asked me some questions, something like why the sky is blue. It was just like our family were always playing quiz tournaments. That helped to foster my curiosity, which got rooted in me. I began to consider what I could accomplish in my life. I also found a joy in creating something new. My experience of handling start-up businesses at the previous company may have also had some influence on my current business.
Lily: Were there any incidents which prompted you to start your own company?
Yayoi: Well, I had suffered from a serious atopic dermatitis when I was small. I also had a problem of a bald patch. So, I was very shy and couldn’t live positively, even though I got good grades at schools. When I was a third grader or so, I met a child with a more serious atopic dermatitis symptom than mine. I realized how fortunate I was on this planet as I had nice meals, happy family and friends. The experience changed my mind-set and I began to think positive. It led me to think what I could do to help other people.
Lily: I have heard that your favorite motto is “our thoughts realize.” I totally agree. I also believe that both positive and negative thoughts in our mind would become reality. Therefore, it is crucial what we bear in our mind and we should try to think positive.
Yayoi: Our thoughts are revealed through our words and actions. They are spread to others and then attract supporters and inspire new ideas, shaping up realities. I always try to bear the motto in my mind.
Lily: You also said it’s important to pursue our own visions.
Yayoi: Yes. Even if we launch a new company, we can’t come up with any accomplishment immediately. We would face many difficulties down the road. We would regret if we challenge something that doesn’t reflect our belief and fail. If we stick to our vision and persevere, we would find a way to achieve our goals. In case we fail to succeed even with our vision, we should face it with good grace.
Our company celebrated its seventh anniversary. Since last year, we have stepped up recruitment and begun to expand the organization. Just after the foundation, we had adopted this as our vision: “Bring up children’s achievement.” As we attained the goal, we tried to set a higher goal and had many discussions. Last year, we renewed our vision: “Grow children’s power to become passionate.” It was an important business judgement to articulate our company’s vision, mission and guiding principles. I would like our company to be able to believe in children’s power to be passionate about something and foster it.
Lily: I can learn a lot from you. Adamant Namiki Precision Jewel Co., our company, has lasted for eight decades. My grandfather and my father run the company with their strong leadership. As the incumbent president, I want to expand the company through the cooperation of our company staff members, rather than a leadership of one person, which is me. I want to emphasize the importance of creating a team in which members can understand each other well, and I think this would lead to a sustainable management of the company.
Yayoi: I have a clear vision of my goal. I need to find those who agree with my goal and become my fellows if I want to hire more new staff members and attract more external business partners. I have a confidence in my ability to do this and I believe that’s a strong point of me as an entrepreneur. I try to explain about my firm HugCome, Inc. more passionately than anyone else and continue to give such talks to those who may be interested in becoming my fellows, whether I actually intend to hire them or not. If I continue to talk, I will find those who want to join our company, become our external partners or just offer some help to us. That will be very valuable to us. I always try to have communications which can evoke sympathy.
Lily: It seems important that the president of HugCome, Inc. can talk about the firm more passionately than anyone else and reflect such passion on communications. During our company’s job interviews, I received from our candidates many sincere opinions and questions to the point, which prompted me to talk earnestly about our company. Then, one candidate told me: “I can see that you really like your company and your employees.” I just remember the incident while listening to you.
To Believe in Children
Lily: I managed kids’ camps because I wanted to teach them what I learned from the nature. I observed some children develop a lot through friendship and rivalry. Have you had any experiences of being inspired by your children?
Yayoi: I may sound like a doting parent, but it has been easy to bring up my children and I try to leave them alone. I can see them trying to consider for themselves and devise a variety of ways to get things done. I shouldn’t meddle into them much.
Lily: I respect my children too. They have an ability to think out of the box, which goes beyond my imagination. So, I try to let them do as they want to do. I have learned it is necessary to believe in them and wait. Adults may be able to get things done more quickly, but I’m convinced that it’s important to wait. I think you have been a good parent.
Yayoi: I’m glad to hear that. We moms rarely get compliments about child-raring. We will be glad when we are praised.
Lily: I respect all moms. They are trying really hard. But our society doesn’t seem to be willing to admire their achievement. Moms always try to pay attention to others around them and end up feeling pressure to follow what other parents do. I wish moms can have more self-esteem and self-confidence. Happy moms can create happy families.
https://www.hugcome.co.jp/ (Japanese WEbsite)
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