I enjoy watching “Watashi no Rirekisho”(my curriculum vitae), a documentary series produced by Nihon Keizai Shinbun (Japanese Economy Journal). Though the series is meant for Japanese TV it is also available online. I was initially motivated to watch the series because it is narrated by my favorite actor; but immediately I started to genuinely enjoy learning about the lives of Japanese who accomplished something noteworthy. I learned so many things from their individual lives, such as forgotten details in larger Japanese history, how to transform problems into strengths and so on.
The narrative structure is almost always the same: a person starts a career in many fields (usually business); he/she experiences great difficulties at some point or points in his/her career or life; in the end, he/she makes it despites the difficulties. Nevertheless, since the documentary is about individuals, the narrative is varied, exuding particularities of individuals due to the details of their lives which are always contextualized by historical events.
The most recent life story I learned from the series was about Masao Ogura, the late president of Yamato Transport, who started the first private home delivery service in Japan. As he stressed in his interview he focused on the service rather than the profit in his business because his utmost priority was the service: he wanted to deliver services Japanese people wanted but did not, such as the overnight home delivery service. For instance, when he started the business it did not take off easily having very few customers; but he stayed strong because his final goal was not the profit but the service. His workers, such as the drivers, began to appreciate their service-focused job – because for the first time they were thanked by people (mostly housewives) when they delivered the goods. In the commercial delivery work, they had never heard the word of thanks before. Since his top priority is to improve the quality of Japanese people’s lives he also started welfare services that made the lives of people better. For instance, he raised the salaries of the people with disabilities because he was troubled by the fact that they had been paid very little for their work. Before he was involved in this line of charity work the people with disabilities were supposed to be happy only for the opportunities they had to work in society. His corporation still engages in this line of welfare work even after his death. For instance, they do shopping and delivery services for the elderly who live in communities whose population are overwhelmingly elderly.
It is great to know about a businessman whose ultimate purpose of his business was a service to people.