Mar 2 Takumi Kuroyanagi
I am my Rival who Drives me
Chika Terada, the co-founder and CEO of Sansan kicked off his speech proposing to disclose his own stories. Last year, he tried to come up with a profound lecture. But then he realized, he’s not in a position to lecture. This year, he told the audience that instead, he is going to focus more about his story and what he thinks has helped him along as a founder. “Despite the company’s success, I’m not satisfied. Indeed, I probably never will be. At least not until we make a real impact in the world.” Chika says. To stay on track and move as quickly as possible he operates as if his rival as himself. He looks inward, in order to compare himself with how he used to be, and what he could be.
Everyone participating in events like Slush are seeking for encounters. Each of those encounters represents a connection and an opportunity. Chika claims, exchanging business cards is some kind of ritual for Japanese businessman and that is the reason the platform including the digital database of encounters was developed, aiming to create new values for users. That is what drives him. Sansan’s mission is clear and definite: Turning encounters into mission.
Two Entrepreneurs that Changed his Mindset
With the age of 30 years old, Chika felt he was ready to found his company. He had the fixed idea, so “action” was the only missing step. However, hesitation was the toughest impression he had considered. He questioned himself whether it was worth taking the risk over and over. Imagining himself becoming the CEO of Mitsui, the international trading company, the future seemed pretty well. Then, the self-questioning starts again. He asked himself, “Can I beat this future me?” The answer was, “I could, I would”.
Looking towards the future self gives a perspective to make the right decision. Since then, Chika’s real challenge has begun. He feels Chika from that time was the most hardworking, therefore, is his strongest rival. He was far from perfect, headstrong and naive. Nevertheless, now, he sorely knows more also possess more resources. What made him special from the old times, is that he was so committed. Chika did everything he could for the first two years after rising his startup.
The second story dates back 8 years ago. At the time, Sansan had 50 employees and 500 clients, which appears like, one of the successful startups from the outside. But inside, they were suffering from naiveness, that the company could reach a certain level and never make an impact. Moreover, he knew that Chika in the past wouldn’t be satisfied. His worries were resolved after meeting Nobukazu Kuriki, a mountain climber. Chika describes the man of dedication and perseverance, which is shown by the story Chika explained, “he lost nine fingers due to frostbite.” When the two met, Kuriki said: “Building a company is like climbing a mountain without a summit”. This deeply impressed Chika and blew his naiveness away. “While the climber risking his life, what are my risks compared to that?” He asked him self several questions. Am I challenging myself enough? What more can I do? The incident brought him an idea to raise 300 Million dollars for TV commercials which were considered to be irregular for BtoB business at the time. As a result, orders doubled, and the company’s recognition skyrocketed.
When You Cannot Take a Step for Action
At the end of the presentation, Chika showed us the graph of the company sales growth. He describes the graph as representative of himself and how he’s struggling against the rival. The sales graph is his growth rate. With his small team, Chika in the past managed an intense growth. But since 2010, certain level was not reachable. Thus, he remains committed. Comparing yourself with others as rival can cause negativity, but looking yourself as a rival, encourages yourself.
Ask yourself these questions:
He concluded his speech with powerful messages for ones like him, who cannot take a step for action:
“If you were to take another path, what would you do? Stay tuned to your vision and goals. Only then, you can keep up with your former you. Most importantly, don’t fear to change, enjoy yourself and keep on climbing.”
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