Yoshito Hori speaks about leadership lessons with enthusiasm in a suit and tie

An entrepreneurs’ network called the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) held a Christmas party for its members and their families on a warm and balmy December Saturday.

Amazed that the year had gone so quickly, I prepared to leave my house . All male members of the Hori family, including my children, were dressed smartly in a tie and a jacket, since the dress code for the party was semiformal. I knotted six neckties for my five sons and myself, and then drove our beloved Toyota Alphard to a party venue in the Tokyo Bay area.

Arriving at the venue, we took a family photo in front of a Christmas tree and went inside. The place was a restaurant that had opened in a warehouse district. A huge white pleasure boat was moored outside the restaurant. Tokyo Bay’s nightscape dominated the background. I took my designated seat after making a quick tour of the restaurant and exchanging greetings with fellow entrepreneurs I had spotted. This year, the party featured guest participants from Indonesia and the United States.

Following a toast by the Japan EO chairman, we enjoyed dinner and friendly conversation. After a short while, the singer Keizo Nakanishi began to perform. Comedian Ken Maeda followed with his famous impersonation of pop singer Ayaya (Aya Matsuura). The two entertainers warmed up the party tremendously. Then, it was my turn to go on stage.

I was supposed to read out a letter to my wife. For its Christmas party this year, the EO had come up with a project called “A Letter from a Husband (Wife) to a Wife (Husband).” The project required each member to write a letter and give it to his wife or husband as a present. To be honest, I’m not good at that type of thing, and had always bluffed my way through in the past. But two days earlier, the party organizer asked me to “read out your letter to your wife as our representative.”

I always found it difficult to decline when a fellow EO member asked me a favor. That’s just my nature. Reluctantly, I wrote a letter using my PC and pasted it to my Christmas card.

When the time came, all of the members of my family were called to the center of the restaurant. I hadn’t told my wife what was going to happen because it was supposed to a surprise. The MC handed me a microphone and gently asked me to read out the letter to my wife in front of the entire audience. Following his instructions, I took out my Christmas card from a pocket inside my jacket. At that point I decided to read it boldly and fearlessly, thinking that if I appeared hesitant, I would only look worse.

Dear Mizue:
Thank you very much for having supported throughout our 17-year marriage . Looking back, we entered our Incubation (Production) Period after a quick first three years spent as DINKs. I believe you have had a difficult time in the ten years since then, repeating a two-year cycle of pregnancy, delivery, and breast feeding five times.

I think the last four years have been a Growth Period for our family. Our children’s education and growth have been our central themes. I think this Growth Period will continue for 10 years or more from now. Then, we’ll enter our Exit Period. Our sons will move away one by one, hopefully reaching the far corners of the world.

Their departure will lead then to new marriages, and the birth of the next generation. I think our children will follow the same cycles that we have followed. I’m truly glad that I’m walking the path of this dynamic and exciting lifecycle for married couples, with Mizue as “Co -Founder.”

We have shared our educational principles and made our family plans. We have always decided family matters, such as our children’s education, our mountain lodge, and our house, together. Let’s continue to support each other as the best partners for many years to come, so that we can continue to build our family tradition for generations to come.

Yoshito Hori

What I wanted to communicate may not have come through very well because the wireless microphone had trouble midway through. I seldom write letters. Come to think of it, it might have been my first “letter to my wife.” After reading the letter aloud, I hugged my kids, kissed my wife in response to the audience’s demands, and returned to my seat.

The final event for the evening was a live performance by the artists from the cast of Drumstruck,. It was a gift from the EO’s South African chapter. All the children present had a great time, slamming drums to African rhythms played live. Three hours and a half flew by in the twinkling of an eye.

I felt very contented. I had said everything I wanted to say to my wife. I started our Alphard slowly after saying goodbye to the other entrepreneurs and their families. The car took the seven of us from the bayside restaurant back to our house in central Tokyo.

December 6, 2010
Yoshito Hori
Written at my house

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