“Empathy” for the story develops people-to-people links
“I decided to transfer the business that I have continued for 15 years”
It was the end of 2015 when Mitsuya Kakihata made this decision.
Since the foundation of company, the main business was marketing support specialized in the insurance field. As it targeted a niche market, the number of clients has reached about 250; 50 of insurance companies and 200 of insurance agents and some clients even requested him to support their start-up business. Thanks to strong earnings, the company’s owned media was established and he succeeded in building a substantial business.
However, he thought it’s worth to release such a solid business and its assets and to bet the rest of his life on a new business.
In April of 2016, Mr. Kakihata changed the company’s name to “Listeners,Inc.” and declared that he would completely move to a new business.
The company’s name, “Listeners”, means literally “those who listen”. The concept underneath is that they listen to clients’ thoughts and vision and reveal their strengths and charms in order to make each of their own story. And it encourages an interactive communication by making the story in sharable format.
To be more precise, what “Listeners” do is to come in for an interview with various clients from company presidents and their employees to specialists and make a story being specially designed for each according to their purpose, such as purpose of recruitment, IR, customers development, internal communication. Their service is not only making a story but also transmitting the story via both online (web-based media) and offline (printed media) channels.
So, it has been shifted out of Insurance Business to Platform Business that will connect every companies and people. However, there was a chain of coincidences until he reached such a big turning point.
It’s not like he has been thinking of founding a company from the beginning. After graduation from university, he went into a foreign life insurance company. Since then, he has been involved in insurance marketing and satisfied with its responsible work and high-income that was beyond his potential.
It was 10 years after joining the company when he had a significant change in life. He admitted himself to hospital for a long time due to a traffic accident. At that point, it put the brakes on both his car and his life while he took pride in taking the lead in insurance business though he was being swamped with lots of work. This experience led him to look back his own career and reconsider his future.
“I recognized that I had no goals and ideals which I would dedicate myself to accomplish. I wanted to be the one that can walk independently. I wanted to build a life on my own as it’s my life.”
It was the moment when his “venture spirit” was brought out.
In the following year, he left the insurance company. After starting a business as a sole proprietor, in 2001, he started the marketing company mentioned in the opening sentences. From the beginning, he experienced strong sales as its service was being much in demand thanks to the direct marketing know-how he learnt from his 10 years of marketing experience. It resulted in development of business model that generated high revenue by a few staff.
However, it was never like he had a problem-free life in the 15 years to follow. In 7 years after the company’s foundation, he tried to develop a new business model aiming for further growth, but he faced increased competition due to lots of other companies imitating the same model. In the end, it forced him to withdraw in as few as 3 years and he lost almost all the employees.
He experienced a tough situation and committed himself to make a comeback, but then, he faced the biggest turning point.
Once he received a request from one publishing company to “edit some feature pages about insurance”. It was only 8 pages worth, but it got favorable reviews and so he followed up with editing an entire book featuring insurance. Insurance planners very much appreciated it as it’s very useful for their sales activity. In order to accommodate their requests, he published a book that told know-how to choose a good insurance plan provided by 30 insurance planners and their personal perspective of career.
Afterwards, he got another request from his friend who runs a wedding company; “Will you publish a book for enlightening career as a wedding planner as you accomplished publishing a book for insurance planners?” At first, he was confused as to business that he had never experienced, but he interviewed 16 wedding planners and put the best part of being a wedding planner and significance of wedding together into a book.
He stated “It was very different business field from where I used to work, but I realized that I can find their charms that they don’t even notice precisely because I can see them from outside their business field. It convinced me that when a third person listens objectively to others, it reveals their strengths of which they are not aware.”
Once the book was published, there was an unexpected twist.
He started receiving lots of requests for publishing a book from his mates who own a company. They explained the reasons as follows: “Recently, job applicants tend to consider applying for major companies as it’s a seller’ market now. It also often happens that they refuse a job offer because of their parents disapprove. So, we are wondering if it will enlighten appeal points of a venture company by publishing a book.”
So, he thought “I shall convey the appeal points of working for a venture company and humanity of the representatives leading the company.” As a result, it led him to a new business model of putting multiple top executives’ stories together into a book, being called “share publishing”. Once he spoke to other top executives, immediately, the pages of that book prepared for 20 companies got fully booked. And then around the end of 2014, he made the book titled “What do you do in your 20’s?” which was basis of his current business. This produced a lot of reaction and this resulted in having an interview with 500 top executives and getting involved in publishing more than 20 books.
After publishing those books, he received various feedback such as “Some competent students applied for my company saying that they were sympathetic to our company’s philosophy.”, “Now that the employees could really understand my company’s philosophy and vision, it increased their motivation.” and “The parents of my employees read it and have come to support them to work for my company”.
Mr. Kakihata said “In many cases, their thoughts and concepts can’t be conveyed properly in fact though we believe they are. I felt that it was very important to convey those messages effectively. One of the top executives that I know said ‘The top executives have to act like top executives. While acting, they will become real.’ I believe that top executives are supposed to be aware how people observe them and their companies and are supposed to develop their messages to be conveyed. Even if the philosophy and vision can be viewed as unrealistic dream by others, they should be able to obtain necessary resource and to achieve their vision sometime by continuously conveying the messages.”
Born in Iwate Japan 1965.
2001 Established Listeners, Ink.
He had having an interview with 500 top executives and getting involved in publishing more than 20 books.
List of Books Written
“What do you do in your 20’s?” 2014
“Work true to yourself” 2016
“Acquire skills for your lifetime” 2017
1-2-5 shinjuku shinjuku-ku Tokyo japan