portrait of Nathan Hoernig

#04 - Running a design & marketing agency in Tokyo

- with Nathan Hoernig -

TRANSCRIPT

Paul: 00:00

Hey Nate, welcome to the show!

Nathan: 00:02

Thank you for having me!

Paul: 00:03

My pleasure! Nate, you are originally from the US and you are currently the owner and creative director at Humble Bunny, which is a digital marketing and design company based out of Tokyo.

Originally we got in touch after my graduation from a coding bootcamp. You were actually the first and the only one I interviewed with after graduating from the bootcamp, because I was still on the edge of creating my company. I wanted to assess my options, talk to people and that's how I got the chance to meet with you. Since then, we've interacted a bit, but mostly for business.

That's why I'm very happy to discuss with you today, because I know you have a rich history with Japan, both professional and more personal as well. And I am sure you have a lot of tips and tricks to share with the audience.

Nathan: 01:02

By the way, the interview with you, I didn't know that I was the only one you interviewed with. But for the record, it was a big mistake that I didn't offer you something. I'm regretful now that we didn't have the right position, but next time...

Paul: 01:21

Thanks! Well, yeah, it's never too late! To get started, Nate, could you please shortly introduce yourself and let us know how long you've been living in Japan?

Origins

Nathan: 01:32

I've been in Japan since 2007, so just over 12 years now.

As you said, I grew up in the States, I grew up in Indiana and after graduating school I kinda realized that I wanted a slightly different experience. I was kind of weighing my options in the States as an individual who just graduated school with a graphic design degree, a Japanese language degree and an art history degree.

But the common conundrum of every, I think, college student is: I have this language degree and I cannot speak this language. Or I have this design degree and I have no portfolio. What am I going to do with myself? Right? And so I was kind of weighing my options and realized that I was also kind of ready for not just a career move, but also a bit of an experiential move.

I thought maybe it might be nice to see how I fit into a different culture. Moving from my college town to another city like New York or Los Angeles, or back to the Chicago area where I grew up would have been a big cultural change.

But I don't know, I just felt like, I'm a quarter Japanese and I've been learning the language since I was 14. So by the time I graduated I was pretty keen on the culture and really interested in what the country had to offer. So I just decided to come out here.

Paul: 03:05

When you say you are a quarter Japanese, it means that one of your grandparents is Japanese, right?

Nathan: 03:11

That's right. My grandmother. My grandmother and grandfather met after the war at a church, interestingly. They got married and moved back to America together in 1952.

Paul: 03:26

I see, wow! But you mentioned that you started studying Japanese at 14.

Does this mean that you started studying officially at school or did you already have a Japanese education from young age within your family?

Nathan: 03:43

My grandma spoke really good English, so growing up was all English with her.

But she had these really big feasts. Basically once a year, everyone would show up. My father included, there were four children. Then amongst the four children, there were 10 grandchildren. Myself being one of them. Everyone would get together and my grandmother would make Sukiyaki, Futomaki and Tonkatsu. All this just amazing Japanese food.

So it was always from the time I was little, it was always kind of a point of warmth. Something that I always had really fond memories of. I think that's what got me interested in the language to begin with.

But yeah, 14 was when I actually started studying it, because by sheer luck, my high school was offering Japanese language as a foreign language option.

Paul: 04:51

I guess that's very lucky to start so young as well, because of course the younger you start learning a language the better you get after a while.

So you came to Japan in 2007. That was after graduating from your university. Was it the first time you were visiting the country?

First time in Japan

Nathan: 05:09

No, I had actually come after high school. I did homestay for a couple of weeks in the Tokyo area. So it was actually my second time in Japan.

Paul: 05:22

What's your very first memory of Japan? How were you feeling the first time you stepped into the country?

Nathan: 05:30

Oh, interesting. My first memory of Japan... Okay, so that would have been the homestay. This is a really funny story.

We arrived in Japan and I was 18 at the time. It was me and basically a bunch of around 15 of us or so. But we got on a bus at Narita and we'd driven to the high school, the sister school. We were all shuffled into this room. It was a bit like a circus because it was all these families and their children, the high school students and their parents just sitting around this long meeting table. They sat us all down on one side of it, flanking the walls were all these families and we were like being cattle herded to our relative families.

They would call our name and they would say the name of our family. Then it was like "Oh, nice to meet you..." Then at the end of it, it was like, okay, everyone go. I remember a really funny thing. In my group that had gone, we had actually had homestay students from Japan about a year earlier.

And everyone seemed to think that I had gotten the most attractive female as my homestay student in the States. And then when we came to Japan, everyone said "Oh, you got her. She's so, she's so beautiful. You always get the beautiful girls, Nate, what's going on?" So I don't know, that whole like experience was kind of funny to me.

I guess that's my first memory of coming here.

Paul: 07:11

The beautiful girl is the first memory. That's a nice one!

Nathan: 07:16

Well, the cattle hurting is the memory, but I was happy to be cattled, I guess.

Failing at the JET program

Paul: 07:24

When you arrived in 2007, what happened? Did you start looking for a job straight away?

Nathan: 07:32

No, I graduated school in 2006 and at first I was intending to go to Japan via the JET program in 2006, in the fall. But I actually didn't do such a great job on my interview and my application interview. They gave me a B status, so I wasn't completely out. But in order for me to get to Japan, a bunch of people had to basically give up on JET, all the A level individuals needed to cancel and then it would come to me. I didn't actually end up getting to come in 2006. So I just said, okay, I'll hang out a little bit and just reapply next year.

I reapplied in 2007 and I didn't even get an interview. It was like "Well, how am I going to get there? I need to figure this out."

I started interviewing at a few other companies, you know, the big ones at the time, Nova was still a thing. Aeon, Gabba I believe, there was a few of them. I got two offers and one of them was with a small English school in Niigata. I've always been more attracted to working in a sort of small environments like that. I ended up taking that job, so I came over on an English job.

But the real draw for that position was that they told me in the interview I could do some design work for them. So I knew that I could be fulfilling my real goals on the design side while I was teaching English. I think it's a pretty common construct for a lot of people. You know, they come over teaching English because it's a pretty safe way to get into the country.

Then from there they start branching towards what they really want to do.

Paul: 09:32

Yes, true! Just for people who don't know the names you mentioned, GABA and Nova and all the companies previously mentioned are English teaching schools.

And the JET program is a... Is it a Japanese program?...

Nathan: 09:47

I think it's a Japanese, the government sponsors it in some way. It is assistant language teaching, dispatching teachers to high schools and middle schools and things like that to support the Japanese teachers teaching English.

Paul: 10:01

And so during this first job, were you doing half teaching, half creative activities? What's your experience in this very first job in Japan?

Nathan: 10:13

Yeah, I mean, I was teaching 100% of my normal timeframe. I was teaching English like a standard full time English job.

And then I was teaching another 100% of graphic design or other things. So I was working at 200%, like a proper Japanese citizen. But it wasn't really quite the right fit for me working that much.

Obviously I was only getting one salary and I knew I needed to kind of adjust my life balance. Also maybe put more of that energy towards design. So I was only there for a couple of years.

And then I made the transition to Tokyo.

Paul: 10:54

From Niigata to Tokyo. Is that when you created Humble Bunny, your company?

Company creation

Nathan: 11:00

Yes, exactly!

So I came to Tokyo in March 2009. Then I actually came up with the concept of Humble Bunny pretty soon thereafter, April or May or so.

Sometimes I tell people I built a company in Japan by accident. What I mean by that is I never really knew I was going to be building a marketing company. I initially created Humble Bunny as a sort of holding entity of sorts. It sounds very professional, this was very casual at the time. But for my freelance design work, cause I knew I was going to be doing freelance design for a little while in Tokyo.

But yeah, the concept behind Humble Bunny was created in April or May. I didn't know anyone in Tokyo. It was like very much, I believe, an underdog story of sorts. Because I didn't have any business contacts. I didn't have any existing clients. I didn't have any partners. The only person I knew in Tokyo was my homestay family, which I was talking about earlier. So it was really like, how am I gonna go out and meet people if I want to be a designer. I have to design for someone. So the first year was a lot of going out and just meeting people and talking to people and offering my services. And it took a while.

I didn't actually get my first freelance design client until October. When you look at the Humble Bunny start dates, on the website, it says October 11th 2009. That was my first ever meeting with our first client who needed a logo design. And that meeting was I believe at the McDonald's in Shibuya.

Paul: 12:58

It is a known business spot (laugh)

Nathan: 12:59

Yeah! Lots of probably important transactions happening at that location.

It also happens to be the anniversary of my wedding now. Just by chance. So it's a pretty important date. October 11th. It's a pretty important date for me somehow.

Paul: 13:15

It's a lucky date!

That's very interesting because you mentioned creating the company almost by accident.

I love these stories of fortunate accidents showing that it's very difficult to plan exactly what you want to do and a lot of things happen when you go with the flow, when you react to events and basically adapt as well to the situation. That's a perfect example of this.

So you said between March and October, you struggled to find clients and customers. What was the main challenge for you?

You arrived, you didn't have any contacts. How did you overcome this challenge? What did you work on?

Nathan: 14:01

I spent that time, in my downtime, developing the brand and coding up the website. I'd never coded a website before, I was a designer.

So I learned a little bit about how to do it. At that point I wasn't using WordPress or any sort of system or framework or anything like that. I just built it with HTML and CSS.

But yeah, I mean, it's a hard question. What do you do when you don't know anyone?

I've always really enjoyed music and so part of me going out and meeting people wasn't necessarily because I was looking for design work. At that time Meetup wasn't really that big of a thing and it wasn't nearly as big a community. You couldn't go online and find a Meetup and then just go meet professional business contacts. It's a lot easier now even though 12 or 10 years sounds like a long time. But lots has changed since then. I was actually going to open mic nights and performing, playing my guitar, singing songs and then just meeting people there.

Actually the logo client was a musical artist. This is kind of alluding to what you were saying a minute ago, but I think it's important for people to not really get so bogged down in like "Oh, I got to go do this business thing. Like, just go out and meet people".

As long as you go out and meet people and you tell them what you do and show them that you're interested in it, then opportunities will arise. If you're wanting to do marketing for example, even if it's not a marketing Meetup, just go out and interact with people and make friends and you never really know where the potential business and growth is going to come from, right?

Paul: 15:58

Especially in massive cities like Tokyo where it's impossible to meet everyone. The power of networking and knowing someone who knows someone who eventually will know someone who could help you, or you could help yourself as well is really powerful.

Were you speaking Japanese at that time? I mean, how was your Japanese level?

Learning Japanese

Nathan: 16:21

Yeah, I mean it was, it was pretty good. I was fortunate to have had a study base in the States.

I think what a lot of people don't realize is you go through high school or university or whatever, learning a language and you feel like you've made no progress learning because you can't really functionally communicate. But underneath the surface you've actually got quite a robust passive base, right.

And so when you move to foreign country, at least this is what happened to me, my skills increased very rapidly in terms of speaking. It kind of plateaus out as you've been here longer and when you get busy with other things and your Japanese studies kind of go by the wayside. But initially if you've got a base, it can really help you build fluency faster.

By the time I had moved to Tokyo, I was already a couple of years into my life in Japan, so I developed quite a bit. Not as good as I am now, 10 years later, obviously. But you're always learning. There's always new Keigo, new nuance, new situational or industry specific language that you can never get through all of it.

Paul: 17:40

Of course, 10 years later you mentioned that you have improved quite a lot.

What techniques or tricks did you use to improve even more actively during these past few years? Do you have anything to share?

Nathan: 17:57

I've never been good at studying. Studying has never really been something that I like, you know. I've got five or six apps on my phone, but I'm not going to tell you what they are because I don't actually know if they're any good. They're just there....

Paul: 18:16

Yeah, I know the feeling...

Nathan: 18:19

Yeah. I mean, I think really the best motivation is...

What is language? It's a tool for communicating, right? It's not something you study. It's something you use, you utilize.

The best thing you can do is just make Japanese friends. I think a big trap that a lot of non-Japanese people fall into when they come is they stick with what's comfortable. I definitely don't recommend that. Have your comfort base. It's good to have some friends from your culture that you can connect to and have culturally relevant conversations with.

But you want to spend time with people who don't really know your culture and don't really speak your language. Because that's really the only way to get better.

It's a tool for communicating, so communicate. I guess that's it!

Finding your true motivation

Paul: 19:05

That's very true. That's something we discussed last week with the previous guests as well, who was mentioning something very similar.

I just finished yesterday a blog post and recording a shorter piece on this, how to improve your Japanese.

The very first trick I mentioned is about comfort, how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I think that's the main skill you can have learning a language. But also in any kind of situation, especially as a foreigner abroad, especially as an expatriate, because that's how you appreciate the experience. That's how you learn new things.

Getting out of your comfort zone, I think, is the most precious advice you could give to anyone.

Nathan: 19:51

I actually saw a really interesting Ted talk that was talking about how people's motivations are different.

Some people are motivated by the potential for something positive. I think that's my type. I think about what I could do if I was able to achieve something.

Other people are more motivated by what negative result could happen if they didn't do something.

But the end result is always the same. You motivate to make something happen for either a positive or to avoid a negative. I thought that was really interesting, but I think it could be good advice for people to understand which type they are, like what motivates them and then try to build up the mental resilience to be fine with that and be comfortable with that.

Nathan: 20:39

But as long as you can figure out some way to make a result happen, then things will progress.

The first step is actually moving to Japan.

I think that for a lot of people who are already in Japan, they've already done it. They've already made the jump. They've already made some sacrifice or committed to some sort of change. I think a lot of people don't give themselves credit when, you know, you've already made the first step. You've already done it. You've already got it in you, you've already created change for yourself. You just have to keep going with it.

Interestingly a lot of people ask me what the name humble bunny means. This is actually kind of the inspiration for the name as well.

The bunny, or the rabbit I should say, in certain cultures represents standing up to one's fears or one's challenges. For our company, these are our clients. These are people, companies and institutions that recognize an opportunity in Japan, or overseas if they're a Japanese company.

The first step in approaching and addressing that challenge is to basically make the decision to go for it. Those are the clients we're working with, these internationally minded companies who have a challenge they want to take on.

And it's also, essentially the people listening to this right now, you've already made the step. You've already made the first step. So make the second one...

Paul: 22:16

And go step by step... You mentioned making things happen. That's what you did with creating your company. Could you share a bit more about the mission of Humble Bunny?

Marketing in Japan

Nathan: 22:29

My mission now and my mission five years ago are quite different.

Five years ago, the really big thing was that I just wanted to take care of the people around me. What that means is creating value and doing good on people and that's kind of essential to running a business too, right? Those people are your clients and your staff. So trying to figure out how to create better value.

Even now, I've been recently more focused on company culture and management and things like that as a personal challenge. Trying to figure out how to create the best culture and take care of the people around you.

Because I really believe in karma. I really believe that if you do things right, then those things will come back around. Working with integrity, creating solid results and just excellent customer service. It's always been a very quality driven approach to our business.

Recently, I kind of recognized that the marketing industry has a lot of old ideas to it. Essentially, you know, here's a plan, let's just throw it at the wall and see if it sticks.

Paul: 23:49

Is that in Japan only or do you feel that everywhere?

Nathan: 23:52

To be honest with you, I'm not the best voice for speaking to how marketing works overseas really at the moment.

I'm more looking at what are big global brands doing in the Japanese market. And you'll find that they'll take creative and general direction from a global mandate. Maybe it's from the American market or whatever market they're coming from and they try to apply that to the Japanese market.

But the Japanese culture is a black box, it's one of the most unique, one of the most interesting and one of the most least known cultures in the world. It's quite paradoxical. It's very unique in a lot of ways.

So the current mission of Humble Bunny is obviously to carry forward the original mission, which is just to really help others and be a source of positivity for our clients and create good results. But now it's also a little bit moving towards the industry side saying "what can we do to improve this?"

We're working in the cultural psychology space now to develop products and services that are more focused on understanding the motivations and the emotional triggers of your audience as opposed to just, you know, without a hypothesis or without an underlying idea below it. Just throwing random marketing material around.

That's the new direction for our company.

Paul: 25:22

You said that you were now working with big multinationals. I'm interested in the growth process of the company.

How did you transition from initially creating a logo for a music band to working with big international companies? What was the process?

Nathan: 25:42

You know, it's like as you said earlier, a lot of it is accident, but kind of fortunate, obvious accident in the sense that I've never really had a competitive mindset with our competition.

I've always had a mindset that we can all do this together and create a better result if we put our minds together. A lot of the really big, more global brand work that we've done has actually been via partnerships. Again, partnerships start from people. It's another great reason to go out there and meet people.

Also just constantly building up my portfolio and bringing my highest level of professionalism to the contracts that we sign and the work that we do. You end up building really strong relationships and getting more work and soon enough it's "Oh, can you do this for this massive American brand or this other big European clothing manufacturer or something like that." That's the big contributor to our larger clients.

We also are fortunate to have a pretty well optimized website. We get a lot of inquiry, kind of surprise inquiries, from brands that are looking to understand more about how to market in the Japanese market. And they'll find our blog. Our first big client was actually a large sporting event. We ended up doing a typographic revision of their logo to analyze what would be a good Japanese counterpart font or type of graphic identity to match theirs. That came through the blog.

Blogs can be really hard to build success on solely. But the reality is that even at these big companies, there are junior associates and there are people doing things at these massive companies in their marketing departments, that don't know anything about Japan. These people are reading, these people are researching. Just because it's a big company doesn't mean you can't connect with their team.

The blog has actually been a really big contributor to some of our larger brands as well.

Paul: 28:04

Interesting. That comes back to the principle of what you call karma.

I think it relates to paying forward as well, meaning providing value, providing a good work without expecting anything in return. And eventually it will come back to you if you do something good.

How big is the company now? I mean, in terms of headcount.

Nathan: 28:30

We're still quite small. In terms of regular team members coming in, there are six of us at the moment. We're hiring our seventh and we do also have some external crucial counterparts, whether they're freelancers or partner companies and things like that. Right?

There are certain things we don't do in-house, for example production level photo, video, we don't do that. A lot of translation. Because we have a multi multinational team, we can do multinational... international... It's been 12 years, I'm losing my English...

Paul: 29:08

Multi-internationalo-culturolo team...

Nathan: 29:12

Multicultural, I think that's the right word! We can do translation, but we don't do large scale work.

Current challenges

Paul: 29:18

What's your main challenge right now?

I would say right now, what do you imagine your main challenge to be for the next three to five years? I'd like to ask professionally, of course, with your company, but also personally, if you accept to answer this.

Because, how long now? Almost 15 years in Japan. Do you still find challenges for you? Do you still find things to motivate yourself to go even more forward in your experience?

Nathan: 29:53

Oh yeah. The first part of the question is, I guess, what are we working towards?

There's two ways to answer. I mean, we've got the company itself, the company's big challenge at the moment, very simply is scaling with talented people. Japan is very much in need of people with innovative thinking. Maybe this is a bit old of a word, but just real gumption, you know, real drive to just achieve something.

The market in Japan tends to be fairly safe in a lot of ways, and I'm sure you've covered that on interviews before. But the country as a whole, the economy and the culture as well need a little bit more ambition in the way it thinks and the way it moves.

Those kinds of people I think are very high demand here in Japan. For us, it's really a matter of finding strong minded people who can help us scale the team. In terms of my own individual growth, I've spent basically this year working really hard to improve my management style and things like that.

So I think a lot of managers will get to a point of success and they'll presume that the success of the company automatically equals them being successful in every way. I don't really think that's a thing. Working on culture, working on motivating people, that's been a really big move for me in the last year and probably something I'll continue working on. Because ultimately, the conversation comes full circle here. It's all about people really. The growth of the company and the growth of the relationships is really all about people.

That's a big challenge, yes. Does that answer the first part of the question?

Paul: 31:54

Yes, thanks a lot.

Nathan: 31:56

Okay, so the second part of the question is: am I still motivated?

Um, yeah. I mean... I don't know if you are going to have any entrepreneurs who started their own business on this show that aren't motivated.

Man, it's like the daily work just motivates you. You get to see that every decision you've made has created something, right?

The fact that I can bring people into the team and confidently support their well beings by offering them a salary and good working conditions and that sort of things, that's a massive accomplishment.

Then there's obviously many more on the business side, which is the achievements of the company. We've got a lot of really good data driven, performance oriented case studies about brands that we brought into the market, helping them get awareness, help them improve conversion, help them with retention, lots of these things.

So every win is like a major motivator. The really cool thing about being a business owner is that the highs are really high. The lows are really low. You have to feel those out. We had a couple of periods where the salary of the staff had to take priority over my own salary. That can be tough. But when you get through it because you figured out a way through it, that's a new high.

On staying focused

Paul: 33:23

Yes, and I think that's something we don't talk enough about. That's true that when you create a company, when you start being an entrepreneur, that's exactly how you describe it, the highs are very high and the lows very low.

Do you have any habits or routines when you are in these periods of lows to keep your head out of the water and to keep going?

Nathan: 33:53

That's a good question! I don't, I wouldn't say I have any techniques per se. I think for me there's innate motivation because it's by my business, right? So I stay organically motivated that way.

Paul: 34:09

Some people have, you know, morning routine, some people have things they like to do when they don't feel good. I think that's always nice to share as well, if you have some.

Nathan: 34:18

Yeah. Honestly I don't really have anything major like that, but I've always been a pretty optimistic person. I've always had the mindset that it can only get better.

I don't know if it might be self condemning at some point, but for now going through that period that I'm thinking of specifically where I had to sacrifice my own income for the sake of prioritizing the team. I was still optimistic through it because I knew it was just a bit of a spell of bad luck. That it didn't have anything necessarily to do with us.

We were doing good work, we were getting good results. We just had a spell where a lot of our clients weren't quite ready to make the jump.

They were considering Japan or China, and then in the end they chose China or you know, something like that.

But at the same time, it was also an opportunity for me to sort of reflect on the structure, the way we worked. We kind of shifted away from more one-off style projects since then. We're doing a lot more ongoing optimization work and that was a very conscious decision. It also definitely encouraged other initiatives along, like I was speaking earlier about our new direction for the company, the cultural psychology and figuring that out for brands.

Like I said good came from it for sure.

Advice to younger self

Paul: 35:46

Well thanks a lot for being honest and sharing this experience with us.

I like to finish the interview with a few couple of questions. Starting with this. A classic: should you meet yourself back in 2007, knowing what you know now, having your experience after this 15 years in Japan, what would you say to yourself at that time?

Nathan: 36:13

I think I would tell myself to figure out... How would you explain this... To not stress so much, to figure out a way to balance out how much stress I take on for basically small instances.

Interestingly, I've always been a bit sensitive to, I guess, the way people view me or something like that. To give you an example, if I had a bad interaction with a team member or a bad interaction with a client, there wasn't much of a barrier around me. I kinda took it full on.

I don't actually know if that's good or bad, but the bad part of it is when that sort of stuff happens, you lose sleep or you wear it too much.

In the course of things happening you're obviously not gonna be insensitive and ignore things like that. They all need addressing and you need to positively move forward and grow beyond it. But I always had a tendency to sort of have trouble and then just dwell a little bit too much on it.

Now I'm a little bit better at shielding myself from those things and not getting so immediately stressed about them. But I think accepting the fact that sometimes stuff gonna go wrong.. When things go wrong, there's two really important things to do.

One of them is to own it because there's always something that you could have done to most likely avoid the issue or to at least make the issue less of a problem.It's important for professionals to take responsibility for stuff like that and self reflect on what they could have done better.

The second thing is to just to learn from it and make a pivot. Commit yourself to not letting that happen again. It's all about self-reflection really. But yeah, I think that's a skill that took me a long time to learn.

Just accept it. Things are going to get messy, a little sloppy once in a while, but there's always a positive outcome. As long as you address it in the right way.

Paul: 38:34

Well, I guess like everything, it comes with experience and the more you face these kinds of situation, the more you understand them and get used to them as well

The next question is quite on a different topic, but what's your favorite Japanese word or expression?

Favorite Japanese Word

Nathan: 38:52

I guess it's not really as much a Japanese thing, it's more of a family thing.

There's a shrub in Japan, in Japanese it's called Kinmokusei (ι‡‘ζœ¨ηŠ€). It's kind of the fall version of the Sakura in that it blooms for a very short period and then it's gone. Kinmokusei is a really small orange flower. It has a very distinct and strong aroma.

I didn't know about this plant when I was in the States but when my wife was pregnant with our first daughter, we were not quite sure what to name her. Pregnant women are often sensitive to smells, right? The plant has such a strong aroma that it doesn't even require sensitivity, but she could be 20 yards away from it and smell it.

So one day we were walking to the clinic while she was pregnant. She was around 16 to 17 weeks pregnant at the time. And ever since I'd started dating her, she had talked about Kinmokusei and she was like "Oh, I love Kinmokusei. They would just come up randomly in the course of conversations. I never knew what it was.

And then that morning when we were walking to the clinic, she said it again, she's like "Oh, Kinmokusei, I smell it!" And I'm like, what the hell are you talking about? And she pointed at it, cause she had found it. She was like "That's it right there. That's it."

And so I walked up to it and it was really, you know, really beautiful flower, really small and really nice. So I looked it up and the name of the shrub in English was "Sweet Olive" or "Fragrant Olive", I guess, I'm not good at science. Same family or same gene. But I was like "Olive, oh, that's kind of a nice name."

And then about 10 minutes later, we're at the clinic and they did the scan and they told us that the baby was a girl. So we decided to name her Olive.

Paul: 41:10

Oh, not Kinmokusei

Nathan: 41:11

Not Kinmokusei, no. The roll is not quite, yeah, it might be a little tougher for non-Japanese people to get out there.

It's not that I really like the word per se, I don't think the word has a quirky sound or anything like that but it has a unique story for me and I like the fact that it's some kind of like the Sakura and that it's so fleeting. It's like this temporary moment of just brilliance and beauty and then you get to wait another 11 and a half months to see it again.

Shoutouts

Paul: 41:48

That's a very nice story. Thanks! Last question. Is there anyone, or a company or a project that you find are doing interesting work or developing interesting ideas right now, you would like to give a shout out to?

Nathan: 42:07

I think the most interesting thing on my radar right now is... Maybe I should treat this more as a "don't plug your potential competitors because it's a good opportunity to state our value proposition or our intent or the direction we're going with our company".

But realistically, like I said, we really want to see things develop and things change in the marketing field. We are working on cultural psychology and how that affects the way people make decisions.

And there's actually another company, actually I just met the owner fairly recently. I don't necessarily have a deep relationship or anything, but I'm just so interested in what he's doing and the way he's thinking about marketing.

His company is called Manzanita and they're also using psychology. They're also specializing quite a bit in the Japanese market as far as direction and what they're trying to do is really inspirational. Maybe checkout Manzanita and see what they're doing.

I guess that would be it. An inspiring direction for the marketing industry. A refreshing change from what's been happening.

Paul: 43:42

Okay. That's great. I will look for the company website and put everything in the show notes.

I will try to find a picture of the Kinmokusei as well, so that people can understand the beauty of the flower.

Nathan: 43:55

Yeah, if you type it in, it's there. I can send you a link to a Google image library or something.

Paul: 44:02

Cool! Well thanks a lot, Nate, for all this!

If people are interested in discovering more about what you are doing, you also mentioned that you were looking for talents, so potentially if people are interested in getting in touch with you, where can they find you online?

Connect with Nathan

Nathan: 44:19

If anyone wants to connect with me on LinkedIn, my profile URL is linkedin.com/in/digitalmarketingjapan, so people can find me there. That's a good way to connect with me individually.

If anyone's interested in connecting with the company, Humble Bunny, they can go to humblebunny.com. If anyone wants to apply for a position or get into our potential talent pool, the best way is to fill out the form on the website or email us at inquisitive@humblebunny.com.

That way your resume falls into our inquiry inbox, which we will regularly scan when we're looking for specific abilities.

Paul: 45:09

Great, that's perfect!

I will put your LinkedIn profile and the link to the website as well in the show notes. Thanks a lot for your time today Nate! That was very interesting, discovering more about your background in Japan and all the different steps you've been through creating Humble Bunny and learning and transforming the marketing industry. So thanks a lot!

Good luck for the company. Enjoy the Bonenkai season. You still have a week and a half to go, good luck and talk to you soon.

Nathan: 45:47

Yeah. Thank you so much!

Final word on my end, if anyone out there has a dream wants to pursue it, I don't think you really need to go out there hustle, hustle and push, push. Live your life all the while because at the end, a lot of the success comes from the relationships.

As long as you're a good person and you're doing the right thing underneath all of that, things just tend to work out.

Don't worry about spending all your time at business meetups. Go to other meetups and meet different kinds of people cause there in lies different opportunities.

Paul: 46:29

That's a great piece of advice. Follow what you love, meet like minded people and everything will follow. Thanks a lot, Nate.

Nathan: 46:36

Thanks so much!