"Idea" and "Plan" are similar but different words. What is a sincere plan? [Kundo Koyama x Takaya Matsuda]

"HERALBONY and the Philosophy of Words" is a series that takes a simple and thorough philosophical look at the various "words" that we use casually in our daily lives - what lies behind those words.

HERALBONY has been confronting and updating various "preconceptions" embedded in words up until now. In this series, HERALBONY members, including Representative Director Matsuda, will discuss the "philosophy of words" with opinion leaders active in various fields such as business, art, welfare, and academia in order to break free from the spell of words and expand the circle of thought in which 8 billion "unique people" can play active roles with vitality.

In the second episode, we will philosophize about the word "sincerity" with Kundo Koyama, President and CEO of Orange and Partners Co., Ltd. and Representative Director of N35 Inc.

Takaya's charm is his "innocence" that allows him to trust people without doubting them

--Kundo Koyama was the mentor of our company representative Takaya Matsuda during his university days, and is also the president of the company he joined as a new graduate. He still provides important advice to us on a daily basis as an advisor to Heralbony.

I have heard that the attitude of "honesty and humility" that HERALBONY has valued since its founding has actually been cultivated through its relationship with Kundo Koyama.

Takaya Matsuda (hereinafter Matsuda): That's right. As I mentioned in my previous conversation with Makiko Shinoda , the "Sincerity and Humility" that HERALBONY sets forth as its value (code of conduct) can be traced back to the words that Kundo Koyama gave me in my first year as a working adult. I still treasure the wording of that email like a talisman, and I sometimes reread it, but Kundo, do you remember it? (laughs)

Kundo Koyama (hereinafter, Koyama): I still remember that email very well. I can even clearly remember when and how I wrote it.

Dear Takaya,

How about getting a job?
How is it when you enter society?
Has what you learned in the Department of Planning and Design been useful to you?

When you're young, you can do it well, you can't...
Before that, how much they risk their lives to do it...
will be subject to evaluation.
I think you’re doing a very good job in that regard.

Care for everyone,
Be the most humble person.
As long as you are humble,
The people around me,
It gives a lot of wisdom and tips.
They will help you.
You are humble enough now.
Without forgetting that attitude,
Please work with more passion.

I hope that my seminar student will become the most successful student.
I'm looking forward to it.

Kundo Koyama

Matsuda: I received this email on New Year's Day, when I was 23 years old and in my first year of working. I had just graduated and joined Kundo's company, Orange and Partners, and was going through a tough time, feeling overwhelmed and thinking, "Am I really not good enough at my job?" This was the message I received in response to an email I sent to Kundo in the New Year, in which I expressed my determination to do my best even though I was not good at my job.

Koyama: In one word, Takaya at that time was "idiot" (laughs). But everyone loved him very much. That's because he had a way of pushing forward with everything he's got.

I said "idiot," but to be more precise, Takaya has been "innocent" even back then. He believes what people say and forges ahead. For example, when Takaya asked me "Where should I live?" when he was about to enter the workforce, I advised him, "If you're going to live in a big city like Tokyo, don't live in a half-baked suburb just because your room will be a little bigger. It's definitely better to live in the city center, where you can walk to work and go out to play right after work."

I then told him, "By the way, I lived in this apartment in Roppongi during my university days," and Takaya immediately moved there (laughs). I lived in an incredibly small room, only about 13 square meters, with just one male friend.

Matsuda: It's about 13 square meters, so about 5 tatami mats. And there's no kitchen (laughs).

Koyama: That's how he takes action without any suspicion of people. That's what makes him so "innocent" and what makes him so great, and I feel like there's something in common with the way HERALBONY is run today.

The basis of honesty is to not lie to yourself

Koyama: Today, Takaya and I have been thinking about the word "sincerity," and I think that what you said in your email was " how much you are risking your life" - that's what "sincerity" means.

"Sincerity" means not lying, right? For me, the best sincerity is not lying to yourself. Not cutting corners. I think "sincerity" means exerting yourself as close to 100% as possible. No matter how "sincerity" you put on, meeting deadlines, fulfilling requirements, following instructions, if you're not satisfied with something or you're compromising somewhere in your heart, thinking "this is enough," then I don't think it's "sincerity."

Matsuda: Sincerity is how much you put your life on the line. That's absolutely true. It's probably the same for individuals and companies. For example, as a company, I don't think doing business while thinking, "This will sell" or "This will make money" is "sincerity."

We are serious about creating a society where 8 billion unique people can live as they are , so our ulterior motives, like "We'll sell" and "We'll make money," are obvious. These ulterior motives are obvious to our fans and other people involved.

When I'm not being completely sincere, I feel like I'm being "wrapped around by something long and hard." I get pulled in the direction of "I want to increase sales," "I want to increase the brand value," "I want to become famous," and I end up deviating from where I should be. I've made some painful mistakes in the past, so I want to be "sincere" in the direction I'm aiming for.

The reason why Heralbony's employee turnover rate is so low

Koyama: Yes, but I think that in reality, everyone at HERALBONY works hard and with sincerity. Because every time we have a meeting, I can see that the number of "good people" in the company is increasing. That's proof that people are attracted to the company's "sincerity" attitude.

Among the people who join HERALBONY, there are quite a few who have worked for a prestigious company in their previous job or who have been active with a prestigious title. I think the reason we are always able to attract such talent is because we are a company of "sincerity."

Matsuda: Yes, I'm always grateful that we have such wonderful people. We are still a small company with about 60 employees. But in fact, in the last five years, only two people have left the company. Other managers are surprised and say, "That turnover rate is too low, it's impossible."

Koyama: That's a huge turnover rate (laughs).

When you hire someone, there are those who can produce results right away and those who can't. Someone may come in thinking they're very capable, but when they actually start working, they don't perform as well as expected. I think how long you can wait for that to happen, or whether you can trust them, is one way of measuring the quality of a company.

In that sense, everyone who works at Heralbony is "honest." They always try their best. So, as a manager, you won't get angry at them.

Matsuda: Not at all.

Koyama: I myself don't get angry because someone is "not good at their job." I get angry at people who are cutting corners or have a low threshold for effort. They're not putting their life on the line. In other words, they're not "sincere."

Matsuda: Another reason I don't get angry is that I have an unquestionable respect for all the employees, because they all have much better careers than I do.

Koyama: I don't really care about academic background, but I think that many of the people who go on to study at Tokyo University are people who put their life on the line when they were facing the entrance exams and worked hard to pass them.

It may not be relevant to the modern age, but an attitude like "thinking about only that thing when you're awake" or "how long you think about one thing" makes a clear difference. I think this is also connected to "sincerity."

In that sense, I think people can become "honest" at any time. If they want to, they can start today. The same goes for companies.

A sincere project is a "birthday present"

--Kundo-san, you've been active at the forefront as a planner since the 1980s, but what do you think is the difference between a sincere plan and an insincere one?

Koyama: This is something I often say, but planning is service, and service is consideration. In other words, the important thing is how much you care about the person. It could also be said that there is no unnecessary "plot" mixed in.

"Idea" and "plan" are similar but different words. The word "plan" somehow seems to imply selfishness. On the contrary, I think that an idea that excludes selfishness and is created purely with the person in mind is a "sincere plan." I have always thought of this and have been thinking of various plans up until now.

To be more specific, the project is a "birthday present." The first project in life is when a child wants to see their mother or father smile and thinks hard about how to make them happy. I'm sure everyone has had the experience of thinking up such a pure project. It's unconditional love without expecting anything in return.

Matsuda: Kundo-san always comes up with various plans to make people happy. Whenever he has a dinner party or a birthday celebration, he always comes up with a wonderful arrangement that you would never think of. His pure planning ability is truly amazing and I am always amazed. There are many people in the world who do things as "entertainment" to get work, but that is not the case at all. He simply tries to make the person in front of him happy with all his might. I feel that in Kundo-san's planning ability.

Do you remember this business card, Kundo-san?

Koyama: Of course.

Matsuda: This business card has Kundo's calligraphy on the back. It has "◯/100" printed on it, which means you should give this business card to only 100 people who you think will change your life. I gave out 94 cards, and I still treasure the remaining 6.

Koyama: This is also the "power of planning," so to speak.

This project is intended to inspire people, from the moment they first start thinking about handing out their business cards, to think from the perspective that "maybe this person will become someone who will have a big influence in my life" every time they meet someone, and to encourage them to cherish each and every encounter.

Don't use "our own convenience" as an excuse

Koyama: Once again, what does "sincerity" mean to you at Heralbony?

Matsuda: Yes, I guess it's about having a comprehensive view of everything. I want to make it so that everyone involved, including employees, artists, product manufacturers, and customers, can see all the information about HERALBONY.

However, being "oversightable" is a little different from the "corporate transparency" that has become so common in recent years. For example, I want each employee to know the people who make our products and the artists who create our artworks well, and to be able to talk specifically about their backgrounds and their charm as people. That's what I think of as being "oversightable." I want to aim for "transparency that lets you feel the warmth of people," and I think that this will become our "sincerity" as a brand.

Kundo-san was wearing a tie with the design of "Labyrinth" by the unique artist Yu Takada. (Sold out)

Koyama: If I were to put into words the "sincerity" I expect from HERALBONY, I guess it would be "not making excuses for convenience." For example, "Actually, I want to make clothes with this kind of cut, but doing it this way will reduce production costs," or "I want to make this new product, but there are so many hurdles to overcome in order to make it a reality, so I'll compromise." All of that is just for the "convenience" of the creator.

No matter how many hurdles there are, if you truly think it's "good," you should definitely make it. Even if the effort increases costs and the price, if it's something that fans love, it should be viable as a business. I want our company to make things like that.

Matsuda: That's exactly the kind of conflict we face as we move forward at HERALBONY every day, but I feel that the world will definitely move in that direction in the future. If we can continue to work while enjoying that trend, I believe that our growth as a company will follow.

A special tie with a luxurious weave

The art neckties worn by Kundo Koyama and Takaya Matsuda were created in collaboration with Ginza Taya, a long-established men's clothing store. The art is not printed, but is expressed through delicate weaving. The delicate and elegant luster is made possible by the silk weaving techniques of artisans. Be sure to get this special art necktie as a special gift for yourself on a special day, or for a loved one.


Check out HERALBONY's art ties