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Ikigai- How an Ancient Japanese Concept Can Help Long-Term Hiring

Sometimes you find inspiration in the last place you’d expect. I’m not one to lean heavily on eastern philosophy, but when my research on company culture and values guided me there, I couldn’t help but want to share what I have learned about “ikigai.”

Ikigai is an ancient Japanese concept that translates to “a reason for being.” People in pursuit of their Ikigai must take some time to really think about their true selves to achieve the fulfillment of finding one’s purpose.

If you run a business, especially a startup, then this article is for you! To stand out in today’s competitive market, startup leadership must invest more time and resources in aligning their employees’ purposes with their organizational goals. Ikigai could very well be your answer to obtaining that harmony and ensuring better long-term results from your hiring initiatives.

Not sure how it works? Read on to learn more.

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai (pronounced as “ee-kee-guy”) is a combination of two Japanese words: iki which means life, and gai which is worth or value. Together it refers to the art of finding a concrete purpose in life. This purpose is the reason people find inspiration every day to continue adding value through their actions. It is the burning desire which can make someone start each day with intention and determination.

Ikigai can be visually represented through a simple venn diagram. This diagram involves four intersecting circles representing the following:

  1. things you love to do (a passion)
  2. things you are good at (a skill set)practical goals that address a need in the world (a problem to solve)
  3. a job that makes you money (a vocation).

At the intersection of these four circles is your jam – the Ikigai!

How does Ikigai help long-term hiring?

Can employers boost their long-term hiring success by understanding someone’s deeper purpose in life? It might seem far fetched, but it really isn’t.

Think about it! Most people would love to find true meaning and fulfillment in what they do. Research shows that more and more of the US workforce is driven not just by money, but alignment to an organization’s purpose. It is through their vocations that people seek self-esteem and actualization – the two ‘must-haves’ – according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. What can be better than understanding one’s Ikigai to achieve this fulfillment? Imagine what it would convey to a potential employee if you took the time to understand it with them and determine how your company could contribute. You’d be building your company by changing the lives of every person on your team. 

The first step is for companies to find their organizational purpose. Most startups originate with a vision, and then a ton of work is put into understanding and defining culture. These efforts can be found in well-crafted mission and vision statements that can be considered to be a company’s  Ikigai.

What takes a company to the next level is a pragmatic approach to truly understand each individual on their team and provide them with the tools and the environment that helps achieve their personal purpose(s). As a company, this is how you can differentiate yourself in the market and make your company a desired long term home. Every one of your potential new team members comes with expectations from, and about, life. Having their personal purpose empowered on a daily basis by their boss, team and culture may not always be top of mind, but it could blow their mind if and when they find it.

Hiring and retaining quality talent requires a lot of effort in startups (well… anywhere!). Leveraging out-of-the-box but effective concepts like the Ikigai can help you find great new team members and keep them meaningfully engaged for many years.

My ikigai? Oh, I am lucky that Red Circle’s mission – Building Companies by Changing Lives – lets me live at this intersection every day.

Happy Hiring!

159 seconds that could change your life

I don’t think this is my first post about post-interview follow-up. It definitely won’t be my last. Today, let’s just concentrate on the time (or lack thereof) that it takes to put together and send a thank-you email.

I had a great meeting with a potential client earlier this week (my version of an interview). I just put together a follow-up email that included the following:

  • A word of thanks
  • A few highlights of the conversation and where our service offering aligns
  • Request for next steps
  • Time to complete: 2 minutes 39 seconds

    In a previous post about thank-you emails, we noted that we had recently tracked that fewer than 20 percent of interviewees actually send follow-ups after an interview. So, in just under three minutes, you can easily differentiate yourself from your peers and increase your odds to be starting your dream job in two weeks.

    Happy Interviewing!

    P.S.: I showed this post to my wife, who occasionally moonlights as my editor. I thought it might need a little more fleshing out. She said, “It’s short and sweet, and says everything it needs to say. Just like a good thank-you note.” The moral of the story being, don’t overthink and procrastinate on your note; just GET IT DONE.

    Try Not To Suck

    At first glance, this advice may look like a pessimist’s view to interviewing (or doing anything, for that matter), but you can’t deny that it worked pretty well for Joe Maddon. He used the slogan as a foundational block of wisdom for his 2017 Chicago Cubs team, and they ended up winning their first World Series in 108 years.

    Sure, the Cubs had a whole lot of talent heading into the 2016 season, more than has been seen on the North Side since….well, maybe ever. But even with such a talented roster, the Cubs were still told by their chief, “Try not to suck.” Meaning? Solid defense, quality pitching, and limited mental errors. (Some baseball movie fans might recall a scene from Bull Durham that includes a similar summary of the fundamentals of the sport.)

    Today we talk about just that: the basics. Whether you’re a veteran to the workforce or a rookie looking for that big break, if you don’t follow the basic rules of the game, you’re bound to get tripped up–regardless of talent.

    Here is our list of the building blocks upon which a game-winning job search can be built. Some have a full blog post of their own (follow links), and others you will see in the near future.

    Interviewing Small Ball

  • Research the Company
  • Research your Interviewer and other Key Employees
  • Dress to Impress (To Suit or Not To Suit).
  • Bring a Notebook…AND TAKE NOTES
  • Have a Prepared List of Questions…and ASK Them
  • Be able to clearly explain what you are looking for in your next position/company & WHY
  • Follow-up and Say Thank You
  • Happy Interviewing!

    Revival @ Night

    Located below #WeAreWork Clark St and across the street form our longtime friends Synthesis, Revival Food Hall is a perfect spot for lunch or even an afterwork drink. We took this photo when we were leaving a #ChicagoInno event hosted by WeWork.

    ParkWhiz has a space for you…and possibly a new gig #techjobs #chicagostartup

    When our friend James Lewis went over to ParkWhiz to head up hiring, we were big fans of the app and knew that the company was a fast growing member of our tech community. But once James got settled in we wanted to see things from the inside.

    Last week James gave us a tour of the space and today we would love to share it with you. It is a great loft space and they have definitely made it there own. They have the obligatory ping pong table, but take a look at the slide.

    We really loved how they used the car theme to display the ParkWhiz core values. We met the woman responsible for this awesome project. She went out hunting for car parts that would best display each core value and would bring their culture to life.

    This was just one great story we heard as to how ParkWhiz works to maintain their customer and team centered culture. If you are looking for a team that works tireless to deliver high quality product and service to customers both internal and external then you need to slide on over to ParkWhiz.

    James is hiring aggressively to keep up with their growth; they have spots open in tech, sales and customer success. Reach out to him directly or give us a shout and we can make an intro.

    Heading to #TechWeekCHI? Why? Why Not?! Here is our two cents on how to get the most out of the week.

    First | Pick up your Ticket:
    Tech Week Tickets and Schedule

    Next | Get to the Hiring Fair on Wednesday 11-3:00 @ the Merchandise Mart
    If you are in the job market, there is not a better place to spend your time this week. Tech companies large and small gathered in one place for one reason – to talk to YOU. Look for us…we will be the ones in the bowling shirts and we have some great new roles for folks looking for a 2 digit employee number.

    Then | Hit up the Entrepreneur Expo on Thursday 10:30-5:30 @ the Merchandise Mart
    Part trade show. Part Networking event. Part Party. This event brings together the community in a very awesome way. Startups, investors, partners that support our bustling tech community in Chicago all in one place in a very unique and fun environment. I don’t know what they have in store this year, but in past years I have had beverages with future clients and gotten a shoe shine while hearing a pitch from a potential partner.

    Want more?
    What I listed so far is what you can take part in with just the free ticket. Move onto the next level ($100) and there are a ton of talks ranging from FinTech to how IoT will affect aviation. We are still trying to pick from all the great events, but I am sure the investment will pay off if you decide to make it.

    If you see us around say HI!

    Have a great Week!

    With new ownership, it looks like HERE will be a big part of the IoT ecosphere and the Chicago tech community for a long time to come

    I got my start in tech at the company where Navteq Corporation was born. Great to see Navteq evolving to take its place in the IoT revolution. Awesome story for the Chicago technology community.

    The road to self-driving cars winds through Here from Crains Chicago Buiness

    Happy 15th Birthday Red Circle

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