Still Being Helped by Akio
from Mr. Kozo Hiramatsu
When I was suddenly thrown into the role of President of Livedoor, people thought I was stepping into a minefield, but I though that sentiment was mistaken. My honest feeling was that I had met with a fantastic assignment.
Amongst the unparalleled confusion of the Livedoor incident in January 2006, the staff and myself took on those difficulties and I found that I was supported, helped and able to grow. Until that time I knew what corporate governance and compliance were, but I doubt that I had really taken them to heart. I had never managed a listed company and knew little about securities and exchange laws. As the President of a foreign owned IT business, my business goals up until that point had simply been to make a profit.
Management involves managing people, things and money—so called operational resources—and it goes without saying that people, or human resources, are the most important. It is my philosophy that a company isn’t driven by the President, it’s driven by the workforce, and it’s the job of the President to secure the best workforce, to provide direction and to create an environment that is easy for them to work in.
I believe ‘the value of the employees is the value of the company’ and when hiring staff I never overlook the following 3 factors:
The staff at Livedoor, some 20 or 30 years younger than me, all met these criteria. They had ability, strength and commitment, and my job at that time was to give them motivation, to give them courage, to consolidate the company’s resources and to plan its revival. However, directly after the incident, the company’s sales had fallen ninety percent compared to the year before and the incident was all over the TV and newspapers.
The atmosphere at the company was extremely solemn and I was personally both physically and mentally shattered as I was dragged into press conferences weekly to make apologies.
The thing that saved me from this situation was Akio Morita’s “Neaka Shugi” (Positivity). Akio often talked about the need for businesspeople to be positive. I remember he also said that even when you don’t feel positive, you should act positive. From that time on I met the staff with a strong voice and a big smile. I consciously walked tall and by showing a relaxed manner, I put the staff at ease.
Akio said “When you can’t feel positive, act positive. Do that, and not only will your staff believe it, you will too”. “Nothing comes out of a negative organization.”
Energetic people have a spirit and an aura, and the same can be said for organizations. Energetic companies are full of positive energy. If the President of a company can inject energy into a company, it radiates throughout the company and can lead to a positive upward spiral that can provide great strength to the organization. Positive, forward looking business ideas are created—that was Akio’s theory on positivity.
From its embattled position, Livedoor’s employees withstood, encouraged each other, and by the end of 2007, succeeded in getting back in the black. For 2 years, even when times were tough, they smiled throughout. From Akio to Sony to me, the positive management DNA was transplanted to Livedoor, and the young staff at the now revitalized Livedoor share some of that DNA from Mr. Morita, That fills me with great joy, and even though I left Sony some 20 years ago, I feel like I’m still being helped by my old boss.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Former Sony HI Operation Division Chief
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