President Nov / Dec 2021

Night to remember

In comparison with what one finds in the UK, in Japan it is relatively rare that workers take an extended summer or year-end vacation. This is due to a combination of personal preferences, societal expectations, and structural impediments. When it comes to public holidays, however, the popu­la­tion of Japan does quite well. Twice as well, in fact, as residents of the UK. Whilst the UK has eight public holidays a year, Japan currently has 16, and it was on one of these that I recently ventured back to the cinema to watch No Time to Die.


For fans of the James Bond franchise, there are many memorable scenes in the 25th instalment of the series. In one such scene, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service—played by British actor Ralph Fiennes—shares an inspiring quote from a volume he has taken from his bookshelf. Having piqued my interest, a quick internet search revealed that the quote is attributed to the auspiciously named American author, Jack London. The quote is from a news­paper interview published in December 1916 on the subject of purposeful endeavour, where (in print) it is immediately preceded by the glorious sentence, “I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet”.

Those words came to mind again a couple of weeks later, at the 14th annual British Business Awards (BBA). The theme of the BBA (page 14) was Transform the Norm, inspired by the response of resilient companies and individuals to the shifting challenges and emerging opportunities of the uncertain and complex world in which we are living. A world for which “no normal”, rather than “new normal”, is perhaps a better description of the volatility that we face. Transform the Norm is an invita­tion to explore whether to do things differently, do different things or even conclude, with renewed confidence and conviction, that existing business models are best.

Belief and success

The 38 nominees, across six award categories, represent a huge diversity in terms of size, history and business sector. What they all have in common, though, is belief. A tremendous belief in the way they do business, and their commitment and contr­ibu­tion to society. Belief in their purpose, their business model and their destiny. Each is a “superb meteor” in terms of their beacon-like brilliance. But that is as far as the analogy goes. Resilient and pulsing with energy, there is nothing ephemeral about the brilliance of a BBA nominee!

For those who were able to watch the BBA unfold, either virtually or in person, I sincerely hope that you could enjoy the opportunity to celebrate the myriad achievements of the nominees. For that is the purpose of the BBA—to recognise the excellence of endeavour in the Japan–UK business eco­system, and to encourage ever expanding partner­ship and collab­oration between the compa­nies and entrepreneurs connected with the two great countries.

Six-time Paralympian and BBA judge Noel Thatcher put it best on the night: “Extraordinary times require extraordinary people to do extra­ordi­nary things”.