As one might imagine, there are a lot of Asians and Asian Americans living in Silicon Valley, especially those with Chinese, Taiwan or Indian backgrounds. And we love to network in all sorts of ways: ORIENTED.COM, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE), Hua Yuan Science and Technology Association (HYSTA), the Asian America Multi-Technology Association(AAMA), Monte Jade Science & Technology Association and the Chinese Software Professionals Association (CSPA), just to name a few.
However, I have not bumped into too many ethnically Japanese people in Silicon Valley, relative to other ethnicities; I was interested to come across an article regarding a newly formed Japanese American networking organization – the N! Leadership Network:
“… a new management networking group for Japanese American and Japanese nationals in the business world. The group was founded recently by Michael Kanazawa, CEO of the Dissero Partners consulting firm, who hopes to boost more Japanese Americans into leadership roles. Kanazawa says that N! “relates to the mathematical term, N-factorial, which relates to all of the combinations possible between groups.” … Kanazawa hopes to expand N!’s group of 50 people beyond California, to create a high-quality business network and eventually influence U.S.-Japan business ties. “Our intent is not to create a large-scale networking group,” he said, “but rather a deeply connected group of people who have quality interactions.”
An interesting comment was made by one of the N! Leadership Network members: “a Japanese upbringing is diametrically opposed to being an entrepreneur. Japanese culture is about fitting in. In contrast, a hard-charging entrepreneur must break from the pack, take a hard look at himself and ‘do things differently.’”
There is a Japanese saying which says that “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” There are a lot Asian “cultural” traits that are somewhat diametrically opposed to what are perceived as traits that make a successful professional in Silicon Valley — modesty being one of them — and I think this is only reinforced by the fact that although Asian Americans represent 30 percent of technology professionals in Silicon Valley, only around 12% of managerial positions are held by Asian Americans compared with 80% held by Whites. Best of luck to N! Leadership Network in expanding and promoting a high quality business network and influencing U.S.-Japan business ties.
(Photo credit: VentureBeat)