Brandon Tatum: Law, Music, and the Pursuit of Kokorozashi

After completing his MBA with GLOBIS in August 2014, Brandon Tatum sought out a career that would allow him to pursue his dual passions: law and music. We caught up with him to see how his journey has taken shape so far.

1. What have you been doing since you left GLOBIS?

Though I had hoped to remain in Japan after my time at GLOBIS, my wife Alaa and I ultimately returned to Los Angeles in late 2014, where I rejoined my previous company—a Fortune 300 healthcare company serving financially-challenged populations. Luckily, as a lawyer on an independent contractor basis, I was able to remain flexible. I made several trips to Tokyo, interviewing and reconnecting with colleagues. In April 2016, I began working as an in-house lawyer for Red Bull in Los Angeles. Then, just before I received Red Bull’s job offer, I flew to Japan to interview at the Japanese law firm Anderson Mori and Tomotsune (AMT). Two weeks later, AMT made me a great offer to represent international and domestic clients on a range of matters—technology transactions, intellectual property licensing, data privacy, commercial contracts, cross-border M&A, and more. I completed my short-term contract with Red Bull soon after, and then I moved back to Tokyo in September 2016, where I have been working for AMT since.

In addition to all that, during my time back in Los Angeles, I launched a music publishing and consulting company called Audity Music LLC. Those who know me from GLOBIS know that this was a major step towards realizing my kokorozashi. My business partner and I have driven the company to profitability since year one, pursuing international business development with a focus on clients in the APAC region (especially Japan and Korea). We opened a window for collaboration between major artists in Asia and songwriters from other countries—something I’m very proud of.

I've also been exploring my interests in the convergence of emerging technology, intellectual property, and the laws that govern these areas. This is where the world is moving, and fortunately I have a strong interest and drive to develop my expertise and stay abreast of the latest trends. These laws and innovations are having a profound impact on the global music industry, as well, so it all ties together nicely for me.

2. How has your GLOBIS experience helped you so far?

The GLOBIS experience had three primary benefits for me:

First, it allowed me to meet some awesome people, particularly my classmates, many of whom have become lifelong friends and colleagues.

Second, it encouraged me to focus with newfound intensity on my personal mission in life (kokorozashi) and my entrepreneurial impulse. This ultimately became a driving factor behind the launch of Audity Music in 2015.

Finally, it exposed me to a country very different from my own. This presented an opportunity for personal growth—learning and adapting, teaching others about my own culture, reinforcing my principles in the face of opposing views, and reconciling through compromise. All of that helped prepare me for working in a Japanese business environment.

3. Any advice for other GLOBIS alumni who are thinking about working in your field?

If you want to do business and practice law (or do any two jobs at once), be prepared for people to try and limit you to one or the other. Many companies do not like to see you pursuing entrepreneurial goals if you are seeking to work with them as a lawyer. They tend to have a very narrow view of career paths and what people are capable of doing, commitment-wise. Work to change their minds. Emphasize your dynamic nature and skill set by offering real value beyond what others might offer. The truth is that all of the leading companies these days need very commercially-minded lawyers on staff, as well as business leaders who anticipate and analyze corporate risks like a lawyer. So look at the diversity of your experience as a double benefit to any company—know your value and insist on it.

My best advice: Do what you love. You can fail at doing a job you absolutely hate, so you might as well try to do something you love. Remember, you can be entrepreneurial within an established company, too. If you want to be an entrepreneur, get started now!

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