One of the educational principles of Globis Management School (GMS) is to provide a "place to construct a human network reaching into the future." This means that widening your circle of friends makes you wealthier as a person, and many things become possible.
I believe that if you have superior ability, a human network and ambition, you can succeed in basically anything you take on, without requiring anything else. Accordingly, these are the three education principles that I put up in each GLOBIS classroom.
I myself practice this principle of constructing a human network. I have learned from my own experience that meetings and conferences as well as schools provide effective opportunities for cultivating personal relationships. GLOBIS, in particular, is not as well-known overseas as it is back home, and the world is a big place. Even if you meet someone once, it takes a lot of time and energy to actually become friends.
In this regard, I make use of organizational networks and conferences. An organizational network gives you an automatic sense of associating with each other as comrades, and conferences are good since you can meet a lot of people in a short period of time.
I refer to these as channels and avenues, and I've made good use of them as a proven method for cultivating an overseas network.
Here are a few of the networks I use.
(1) As an entrepreneur's network, YEO (Young Entrepreneurs' Organization) (currently EO)
(2) As a grad school alumni organization, HBS (Harvard Business School) alumni clubs.
(3) As a wide-ranging network of politicians, mass media and students, the World Economic Forum (Davos Conference)
I don't just show up in these networks, I participate in leadership roles. At YEO, I was founder of the Japan chapter, and I served as the first board member of YEO International in charge of YEO's Asia Pacific region. I have just been brought on board as a member of the HBS Alumni Association's Board of Directors. At the Davos Conference I became a member of the board of directors, as the Japan representative of the NAL (New Asian Leaders). By using this network going forward, I will be able to construct a finely woven global web.
Also, the following are examples of conferences for networking opportunities.
(1) As a place to encounter Asian venture capitalists (VC) and investors, such as the Asian Venture Capital Forum (AVF)
(2) As a place to meet IT entrepreneurs and venture capitalists such as those held by ETRE, Red Herring, Always On
(3) As a place to build a business school network such as AMBA (Association of MBAs) assemblies
Needless to say, YEO, HBS and Davos all run their own conferences, and I participate in all of them. Whenever I participate, I always write a column about my experience, so readers may already be familiar with them.
The great thing about conferences is that the planners invite participants from all over the world, and so even if I don't arrange personal appointments, I can meet all of the major members in one place in a short period of time. There is nothing more efficient and convenient.
Therefore, my overseas business trips are always timed to coincide with conferences that are important to the construction and maintenance of my aforementioned overseas network. Also, when I travel abroad on business, I always make a point to visit investors and speak at business schools.
Although many of my business trips take me to the U.S. and Europe, the basis for constructing my network is to emphasize Asia and my own generation. Perhaps by the time friends of my generation become powerful, GLOBIS will have a full-time graduate school in the mountains that teaches classes in English. And by establishing our reputation in Asia and building up a human network, I hope to attract talented students. (Ok, even though I say that's what I hope, it may all come down to hanging out with friends around the globe.)
I have also started placing ads in the newspaper declaring our goal of becoming the No. 1 business school in Asia. I will continue to set Asia as center of our activities.
One global network I just joined last year is YPO (Young Presidents' Organization). Although YPO is a sister organization of YEO, they are actually very different. YEO consists of entrepreneurs under the age of 40, whereas YPO is made up of company presidents under 50. Thus YPO members are a little older and come from across the entire spectrum of professional managers, and presidents who actually own their companies.
I joined YPO at the end of last year, and although until then I had not participated in overseas conferences, one of the international events listed was the YPO's Asia-Pacific Regional Conference (ASAPCon), which was scheduled from November 30 to December 4, 2005 in Manila. There is an early registration discount, and so I signed up more than six months in advance.
As the time for the conference approached, however, I found myself rather snowed under with work. The celebration for a friend who had just been named the president of a company was scheduled on November 30, and I had been asked to be the main speaker at a friend's wedding on December 4.
This would mean I could only participate in two nights three days out of the five days four nights of ASAPCon schedule and would miss most of the conference. I thought many times about just missing the entire event, but ultimately decided to attend, as it was the first YPO overseas event since I became a member, and I would at least put in an appearance.
Arriving at Manila airport, I walked straight off the plane and quickly made my way to immigration as I always do. I found a gentleman dressed in black standing in front of the immigration office holding a placard with my name on it. Upon introducing myself to him, he said, "Welcome to Manila, Mr. Hori. Please take a moment to relax in the lounge."
I was a bit peeved, as I had thought I would be the first through immigration by being the one of the first passengers to get off the plane, but I did as I was told and sat down in the lounge. I was enjoying a glass of cold water when a different gentleman appeared. He asked for my passport, and after a short while he returned, informing me that he had completed the immigration procedures on my behalf.
After a brief rest, the person in charge lead me out, and I walked straight past the long snaking line of people; it felt so good. This was the first time I had gotten this level of VIP treatment. I got into a black limousine waiting in front of the airport exit and headed for the hotel.
I entered my room, took a shower and checked my email. Putting on a dark suit, I left for my first appointment at 5:30, where I was reunited with my Korean friend from HBS.
On the bus, my Korean friend and I along with a friend from Taiwan who we had met at a previous YPO meeting had a chat. Noticing how smooth the bus journey was, I peeked out of the window and saw surprisingly we were being escorted by police cars ahead and motorbikes aside. We drove down the other side of the road around traffic jams; they had blocked off crowded crossings for us, making for a very smooth journey.
We arrived at Malacañang Palace, which President Marcos used to be fond of. It is the Philippine equivalent of the White House. Taking up a glass of champagne, I was reunited with many old friends in the huge reception area, whose walls were festooned with oil paintings of past presidents. HBS alumni were there, as well as YEO friends and acquaintances from NAL (New Asian Leaders) at the Davos Conference. I could feel my Asian network was certainly growing larger and larger.
We were called into the main room, and after a while President Arroyo entered, striding erect on a red carpet. My first impression—although this may seem a little discourteous—was that she was a charming, short lady. I would guess she was not even 150 cm.
She may have been short, but her speech was very dignified. I was surprised to discover that four members of her cabinet were originally YPO members. It seems that political appointees are matter-of-course in the Philippines. That reminds me—the Philippine cabinet minister with whom I exchanged opinions at the Davos conference was also originally a YPO member.
After her speech, President Arroyo mingled with participants and sat down to dinner for about an hour. I couldn't locate her as she is so short, but I managed to find out where she was seated by the move of crowd around her, and I decided to greet her. I had to bend over—that's how much shorter she was than me—and offered my hand, along with a quick self-introduction. She had a charming smile.
Afterwards a dinner party featuring a famous singer was held in the garden of a YPO friend near the palace, followed by a cocktail party. Manila nights are long. I was tired out from having to stand all day, so I had an early night.
The following day's conference was also all about networking. In the evening, I was part of a small group invited to the home of a wealthy overseas Chinese merchant. The host had a telecommunications company and an airline under his corporate umbrella, and was the owner of a so-called financial clique. He was incredibly courteous with a likeable presence. He had received his MBA from Wharton. All of Asia's elite have impressive academic backgrounds.
By my side was a young president of the biggest domestic electric company in the Philippines, and he had studied abroad at HBS. Apparently he swam 2000 meters in his own pool every day. We were the same age, so we immediately hit it off. We promised each other that one day we would both take part in the world master's competition. His wife was a stunning beauty. I learned that her background was Spanish, Chinese, Philippine and American.
The next morning it was time to head home. I heard the last night of a conference is the wildest. However I had to attend a wedding the next day and needed to get back. I promised people I had met at the conference that we would meet again, said my goodbyes and left the hotel for the airport.
I began writing this column in the airport, and am about to finish it during the flight, which took me north from the perpetual Manila summer to the beginning of winter in Tokyo.
It had all gone by in a flash, but I decided to continue constructing a human network centered on Asia. Once I get back to Tokyo, I will join my friends at the after-party following the YEO Christmas party. I am so glad to have such good friends as it makes life so much more bountiful.
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, "Ode to Joy," was playing through my headphones. Only a little more to go this year, and this was my last overseas trip for the year. I wanted to welcome the New Year while staying in good shape.
December 3, 2005
On the flight from Manila to Tokyo