2017/7/18 at Never Say Never office

A Conversation With a Dread-Head HR Man. Be Obsessive! Have Fun! Work Hard!

  • Tomoyuki Iwai

    Never Say Never INC. CEO

    Obsession with Sneakers led him to start making pocket money in middle school by trading in flea markets. High School/Middle School Classmates with companies current Co-CEO. They met again in university and hit it off again. Never By Never started by them registering their stock company on the same day they graduated. A unique corporate culture like no others, aiming to be the best fashion EC Company.

  • Yusuke Ishihara

    ISAO Hiring Lead, Management, PPP

    Joined ISAO In 2013.
    "Man, this person is eccentric, but interesting", After inviting a bunch of people like that, Yusuke suddenly become head of hiring.
    His motto is "Play like you work, work like you play", his on and off switch is eternally broken.
    He can always be found in dreads, t-shirt, and shorts. At first glance, most people look at him like "Is this guy a part timer?." If he wore a suit, he'd be even more suspicious though.

We keep on impressing the whole world to be the best fashion EC Company in the world. This is the vision of Never Say Never INC.
CEO Tomoyuki Iwai reached out to ISAO's Yusuke Ishihara for an informal sit-down chat.
Because they are the same age and have the same Alma-matter? Nah.
Because they are the Champagne Prince and Tequila King? Nope.
Cause Tomoyuki wants to know what's up with the dreads? Can't deny that but….
The real reason is they felt vibes from each other's SNS posts and it piqued each other's interests.
From their corporate culture to each other's stance on life. A straight talk discussion.

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I want everyone to know that there is a dread-head PR Person.

Tomoyuki
Thanks for today.
This is for my corner in our company's internal news. You came all the way out here, so I want to hear info that we normally can't hear. I saw Tip's (Yusuke's DJ name) Facebook page and thought he's really got his stuff together, he's really able to use his personality, no way can there be a dread-head PR person like this! (laughs).
I invited him for today's interview because I think everyone should know about this man.

Our company does EC for apparel, there are a bunch of people who look flashy/gaudy but surprisingly are conservative. I want people to know that this type of person exists at a company much bigger than ours!
Yusuke
The pleasure is mine.
Let me start by introducing what my company is about.
ISAO started as a joint venture between Sega and CSK in 1999, sales are around 37 billion yen. The company has about 110 full-time employees and 130 contract/part-time workers.

We started as an internet service provider, a lot of the businesses we did from that era still remain. Customer Support, Server Infrastructure Management, User Management, Online Payment Solutions. All of these have now become their own separate businesses.
Besides that, we also have self-built services, these include a movie streaming service [Moviefull], a business SNS service [Goalous], a verification service [Mamoru]. That's a quick overview of the company.
Tomoyuki
(Speaking to the audience) Look at that, he might look like this, but he can talk business (laughs).
Yusuke
With this hair style (laughs).
Tomoyuki
What matters is this: are you able to be straight and talk in your own words about your company?
People judge based on appearance, but if that person can speak using their own words, people are going to listen, even if they look like this.
Yusuke
If a person wearing a suit gave the introduction I just gave, people would fall asleep. Boring old suit (laughs).
Going back to what I was talking about. We are a flat company, no hierarchy. Why did we decide to challenge ourselves with this type of organizational structure? Not just for show or kicks, it was after carefully calculating the benefits.

This is my personal explanation but, in this world of ours, especially the IT field, "whoever can produce the most is the best" type of philosophy is no longer mainstream. Whoever can create innovations that can make the world convenient, make the world happy, is what society and the market puts a value on.
If an organization wants to freely express ideas and implement those ideas in a rapid fashion, the organization must be flat, information must be open.
Tomoyuki
That sounds good. It's a sound structure. How many people quit per year?
Yusuke
Not really that many. Maybe 10 full-time employees. Engagement rates are high.
Tomoyuki
It seems like they would be high.
I guess people who don't fit the mold are people who wouldn't join that type of company.
Yusuke
I can feel that is Never By Never's style also.

At ISAO, we have the company Misson, Vision, and Spirits. These are the 3 things that we take as our pillar of importance. They are such our core values to the level that I think the entire staff can recite them by heart. If you don't fit in with them, no matter how much of a whiz you are, don't mind if you don't apply.

If an employee doesn't fit with the values, it will not be a pleasant organization to be in.
When we are doing hiring, we really pay attention to the basics of does the applicant seem like they would be out of place?
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Tomoyuki
If you really want to take it to extremes, you could say that is all that matters.
We say "values", even if l look at their abilities, career, if they don't understand "values", we don't hire them. Even if they join us, they aren't going to be able to flex their abilities, their career is just going to go to waste.
Yusuke
We are the same on mid-career hiring. I'm there for the entire hiring process of new recruits, I say sorry before going the last interview. What our company finds almost as important as our core values is how much can we up the skill of workers at ISAO.
Never By Never has a mission of "If all the employees aren't happy, the company can't grow." This is something I can get on board with.


Some people might ask "sure, that sounds nice on paper, but what does it mean for all employees to be happy?" It doesn't just mean they find value in doing work at this company so and so or that the salary is so and so. It means that employees can become first rate businesspeople, and are able to take on whatever challenges await for them in any industry, I think that is happiness.
Tomoyuki
It's important. I always tell my employees, if you go against "values", as a manager, I can't protect you.
The same passion, same beliefs, we are heading in the same direction. That's our rule that can't be broken.
Yusuke
It is all about where does your motivation come from. Whatever you do, the feeling that you are all eating together at the same pot is important.
In our Spirits motto, we have the phrase "Bonds like a Family". We are a team, we must all be ready to bounce our own conflicting ideas back and forth while at the same time share the core central value.
How you look on the outside is free, there is something more core, more internal that we must share in common.
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Focus on creavity so what's real can be felt

Tomoyuki
I've become really intrigued by ISAO, but I've also become intrigued by TIP's working style.
Yusuke
We're the same age, yeah? We've got the same Alma Matter, yeah?!
Tomoyuki
Chuo University, yep, the same.
Yusuke
You weren't friends at that time?
Tomoyuki
Nope, I was in the Science track.
Yusuke
Humanities over here. Tomoyuki was at Sudiobashi, I was out deep in the mountains of Hachijoji (laughs).
Tomoyuki
When looking at the various types of values in companies, I saw TIP and thought wow here is a person I have all these commonalities with. Here is a chance to use this person as a reference, to study. How do we study this, how to make use of that study?

People sitting here now and are hearing this conversation in real-time are lucky. In the company news, you can't feel 10% of the real emotion.
Yusuke
I took a glance at the Never By Never Homepage.
The way you start by explaining the personal system is great, it really hit me how you are all about turning creative input into output. I'm personally not all the way there yet in that area, so I find what you guys are doing to be great.
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Tomoyuki
Yep, that is something I especially decided to focus on, those phrases/expressions are how I think innovation is going to happen.

If you take just one of the systems we have and pop down a document explaining the system, it is a bore. We make it an infographic, we make it a movie. Because of our focus to detail, anyone looking at us from outside the company can understand that we are a company that really cares about this type of thing.
As working styles become free, to be a company, an organization that people want to work for, there is something you have to really focus on.
We put that focus into creativity. Creativity is of outmost important and something we focus more and more on.
Yusuke
You've hit the nail on what I want to do too. Our company still doesn't have that many people who have a marketing/design background. I want to work on increasing that type of talent.

We have a variety of systems in the company, the problem becomes how do you use that information to appeal to people who come to the company’s homepage. It's an area where the company's marketing and design force comes out to play.
Tomoyuki
It isn't just a simple "Hey this is what we've got, why don't you understand it man!" We want what we are really about to be understood. Thinking about how you transmit that message is super important. It's to prevent mismatches or misunderstandings. We are doing this as much as possible, fixing anything that is fixable.
Yusuke
The way you explain the systems is so simple to understand, the person who created that movie is really top notch.
Tomoyuki
(Points to all the employees) This person and that person.
We are trying to do everything internally. One employee said that they were going to create the company newsletter, and that was the start of that.
Getting people interested, increasing the possibilities, increasing the choice in jobs, in the end, you have a cycle of goodness. It leads to true growth and happiness.
We are a truly blessed group, if I ask them about something, these guys say they will do it.
Yusuke
The ISAO Spirits I was just talking about, we have a phrase "Love your work, be proud of it."
The creative area, stuff you can really focus and be detailed about, it is one way to create a part of your work that you really love.
The feeling of loving what you are doing while giving it all you got is really a great thing to have.
If you've got that, you're going to feel connected to not only your work but your company too.
Tomoyuki
Yes!
For people who come and say "I want to do this!", "Sure, go for it" is my reply.
If they really get involved in their work, their interest and engagement in that work is going to be incredibly high.
That is the ideal form for an organization.
If management types will only realize the business side of this equation, they can use it to their advantage.
Yusuke
At ISAO, we are basically the same. Someone jumps up and says I want to do it! They go around inviting others to join in the project. As long as the cost isn't too high, you are free to do as you wish.
You only live once, doing work in a negative frame of mind is a waste of your life.
In the end, the time that we are in the office will quite possibly be more than the time that we are at home. The idea that you should have fun in your private time and your job is merely a tool to make money, doesn't vibe with me. I feel sorry for people that don't have fun doing their job.
Do your work like you play, play like you are working. This makes work great fun.
Tomoyuki
We've got that in our company too. Play hard. You've got to put your heart into whatever you do.
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What do you live for? Say it in your own words!

Yusuke
About recruiting, thinking about how can we get the best talent into our company, at ISAO we don't have some famous service that only ISAO provides, nor do we have the brand name that Never has.
What we do have is an interesting company system. One of those is re-creating the recruitment site.
How to use that to hire excellent talent is something that is racking my brains now. I'm looking at various conversion points and trying to improve them.

Stuff that I just started for fun, photography and editing are actually stuff that I've become able to use at work.
When you think like that, the border between work and play starts to go away. Things that I was just interested in and started on a whim turn out to be things I can use for both my private life and my work.

Setting up the basic structure of things, then becoming a member of that team and looking at where you can use your energy and passion. At the same time other team members looking at what ways they can utilize their energy and passion.
Tomoyuki
You don't have that many people who are able to have such a straight way of thinking in doing their job.
Did your thinking come from being inside the company?
Yusuke
I've always liked to think about that type of stuff.
When we are hiring or even in the interviews, I often ask people what do you live for? I've thought about it a lot myself.
So I'm able to hit it off with others who have thought deeply about it.
Tomoyuki
I always make it a point to ask the same question. What do you live for?

I won't hire people who can't answer it.
Yusuke
How does a person see themselves, how do they see others? How does that person interact with the other people around them? How do they interact with the entire world that environment is a part of? How do they want to interact with the world in the future?

People that have properly thought about this, people who are extremely talented in an area, that type of creative mind really makes me interested.

As AI and Robotics advances, what value do human beings have? "Making content that can move people's hearts" "Being a great leader" are the two points that I think sum it up nicely.
Using that as my basis, I always ask what thoughts have you had in your life type of questions. If they don't have some passionate thoughts regarding that they aren't going to be able to keep up at our company.
Tomoyuki
Yes!
Also, how you express yourself is important, can you speak using your own words? If you haven't actually thought about what you are saying, it won't come out in a way that makes sense. If you can't speak in a way that is your own, it just isn't going to resonate with the listener.
I get bored quickly at interviews (laughs). If a person doesn't have any passion, I get bored in 15 seconds.

I'm doing my work with everything I've got, if you don't have passion, I don't care if you are a genius or whatever, please go somewhere else (laughs).
Yusuke
Getting a bit philosophical, I think my life as part of the human race is just a flash in the pan. It's been given to me so that I can hand over my genes/knowledge to the next generation.
However, inside of that experience known as life, our existence is fairly long. Living life without thinking how you are going to live, I couldn't live such an empty life.
Until I die, I want to do work where I can get together with as many people as possible and have those people's daily lives be more convenient, be safer, be more fun.
Tomoyuki
That becomes a driving force for you huh? You DJ, you do recruitment, you do creative work, you do management, you drink and play hard.
Most people don't have that base, the stuff that it takes to really do their work like it matters, they just aren't thinking about it.
People that really think about things, they don't want to waste a single minute, a single second. You get that feeling from people that are really living, like Tip.
対談写真6

The more you put yourself out there, the more things will come to you.

Tomoyuki
We don't know each other that well but this talk has bubbled up during having this chat.
Yusuke
Yeah, I'm thrilled about it.
For the past 1-2 years, I've been looking at what Tomoyuki has been writing. The feelings you've had are the same ones I've had. Anytime you are free, I'd love to get a drink and discuss it more.
Tomoyuki
This is the good stuff that comes out of posting on social networks!
I really want to know what is going on in the mind of Tip.
Even in the position of businessmen, someone that can speak with such a grasp of things. The thinking style is executive management level.
Yusuke
I can speak like this because we now live in a world where you can say what you think.
On Blogs, on SNS, for DJs: SoundCloud. The method doesn't matter, to find a way and actually get out there and speak your mind is what matters.
If you speak your mind, others will start to remember you as hey that's the guy who said that. That is how I met everyone here, speaking your mind leads to nothing but good things.
Tomoyuki
(Talking to staff) This is the same stuff that I always say, huh? This is how much we are on the same wavelength. I've learned a lot in our talk here, let's do it again!
Yusuke
Certainly! I'll be waiting. We've got endless amounts to talk about, so next time let's do it at a bar! (Laughs).
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