Ep21 Leading to Learn Part 1 Build A Chain of Learning with Isao Yoshino

21 | Leading to Learn Part 1: Build A Chain of Learning with Isao Yoshino

The Power of a Chain of Learning®

Today’s guest has influenced tens of thousands of leaders worldwide, and he’s the subject and inspiration for my book, Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn.

Now, he’s here to share his insights on learning to lead and Leading to Learn® and what it means to be part of a Chain of Learning®.

I’m thrilled to welcome Isao Yoshino, 40-year Toyota leader, to the show.

This month marks the anniversary of two significant events: my first meeting with Mr. Yoshino in July 2014, which began our close partnership and friendship, and the four-year anniversary of our award-winning book, Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn, released in July 2020.

In this episode, Part 1 of our conversation, we discuss what Mr. Yoshino has learned and relearned over the past four years since the release of Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn about leadership, learning, and more.

Join us as we discuss learning from both successes and failures, the strength of connections, and the essence of people-oriented leadership.

Whether you’re looking to implement these practices with your team or find inspiration for your leadership journey, this episode is full of actionable insights from one of the wisest and most caring leaders I know.

In this episode you’ll learn:

✅ The importance of seriousness in demonstrating your commitment to your people, developing a strong organizational culture, and modeling the way.

✅ How establishing patience as a foundational attitude is essential to your leadership effectiveness and organizational success.

✅ Strategies for fostering personal and professional growth by learning from both successes and failures.

✅ Practical advice on translating Toyota’s practices into your leadership approach, emphasizing commitment, patience, and continuous learning.

✅ Insights into Toyota’s people-centered learning culture and how you can foster this culture in your organization.

Listen Now to Chain of Learning!

Tune in now to learn more about Mr. Yoshino’s philosophy on continuous learning and leadership and his advice for you to grow into your full leadership potential.

This episode is full of wisdom, stories, and practical lessons from a leader who has dedicated his life to learning and growing a Chain of Learning.

And stay tuned for part 2 of my conversation with Mr. Yoshino! In the next episode of Chain of Learning, we reflect on the book and the process of where we both were many years ago and what we’ve learned since then about the value of reflection, learning through questions, collaboration, and more.

Watch the conversation

Watch the full conversation between me and Isao Yoshino on YouTube.

About Isao Yoshino

build a chain of learning with Isao Yoshino
Isao Yoshino and me at dinner in Nagoya, January 2020.

Isao Yoshino, who celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year, worked at Toyota Motor Corporation for over 40 years – from the late 1960s to the early 2000s – and played an important role in the development of Toyota’s people-centered learning culture it’s now famous for.

He was a key part of Kan-Pro senior leadership development program, which embedded A3 thinking as the process for problem-solving, communication, and leadership development across the organization – and has deep expertise in the practice of hoshin-kanri, – Toyota’s strategy deployment process.

Mr. Yoshino was responsible for developing and leading the training program for the American front-line leaders at the GM-Toyota joint venture NUMMI  in the 1980s – now a famous case study about how a shift in leadership style can turn a company around – to teach them about the Toyota Way. He also hired John Shook, the Chairman of the Lean Global Network, to support the NUMMI project as the first non-Japanese employee of Toyota.

After retiring from Toyota, he served for nearly a decade as a lecturer at a Japanese university, passing on his wisdom to the younger generation.  Today, he shares his wisdom with global leaders like you.

Mr. Yoshino is one of the most wise, caring, and humorous humans that I know, and I’m thrilled to have him join us here on the show to reflect and celebrate together

Celebrating Four Years of “Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn

July 2024 marks the anniversary of two important events. First, it’s been ten years since Mr. Yoshino and I met for the first time at a conference in California. This meeting happened just six months before I moved to Japan with my family and was the beginning of our close professional partnership and friendship.

Second, it marks four years since the release of our award-winning book, Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn: Lessons from Toyota Leader Isao Yoshino on a Lifetime of Continuous Learning in which I had the honor of being the author and Mr. Yoshino was the subject.

Thank you for your support, sharing the impact that the book and our teachings have had on you and your leadership, writing reviews, and applying what you’ve learned to make an impact in your life.

If you haven’t already read the book, join the tens of thousands of leaders who have learned from Mr. Yoshino’s 40 years at Toyota in our shared insights.

Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn is available in paperback, ebook, audiobook, and just this year we’ve released a beautiful hardbound edition.

The book is available on Amazon or your favorite online retailer.

And if you want to give your leadership team or conference attendees the gift of learning, we can also arrange for bulk order discounts and customized editions of the paperback and hardback versions. Contact info@kbjanderson.com to place an order.

Reflect and Take Action

After listening to the episode, reflect on Mr. Yoshino’s comments and his advice to his younger self — and you:

  • How can you open yourself to learning from your experiences, both good and bad?
  • How can you see even the challenges as a learning opportunity?
  • And then how can you demonstrate that you are serious as a leader, a coach, a teacher, or even parent?

Be sure to subscribe or follow Chain of Learning on your favorite podcast player so that you don’t miss Part 2 of my conversation with Mr. Yoshino in Episode 22 of Chain of Learning. We reflect on the book and the process of where we both were many years ago and what we’ve learned since then about the value of reflection, learning through questions, collaboration, and more.

Important Links

Listen and Subscribe Now to Chain of Learning

Listen now on your favorite podcast players such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Audible. You can also listen to the audio of this episode on YouTube.

Timestamps:

00:00 – Introduction to Chain of Learning with guest Isao Yoshino
05:17 – What ‘Chain of Learning’ means to Mr. Yoshino
11:25 – The importance of leaders asking questions
15:37 – What Mr. Yoshino has learned about leadership
17:51 – Why ‘seriousness’ is so vital
21:46 – Combining seriousness with patience
27:24 – The power of working at Toyota
33:25 – Mr. Yoshino’s advice to himself and you
35:45 – Katie’s key takeaways from the conversation

Full Episode Transcript

Isao Yoshino:
The way of thinking at Panasonic is very close to that of Toyota. They always think about the people working together in the workplace. He believes he’s responsible for, even for the people’s family members. One day he was asked, how many people working for you? And then, oh, I think I have 250 people. Then the Konoskemeister says, okay, oh, you have 1000 people working for you. So that is a people oriented management way of thinking.

Katie Anderson:
Welcome to Chain of Learning where the links of leadership and learning unite. This is your connection for actionable strategies and practices to empower you to build a people-centered learning culture, get results and expand your impact so that you and your team can leave a lasting legacy. I’m your host and fellow learning enthusiast, Katie Anderson.

You’ve heard me talk about him. For nearly a decade, he’s influenced tens of thousands of leaders worldwide, and he’s the subject and inspiration for my book. And now he’s here to share with you his insights around learning to lead and leading to learn and what it means to be part of a chain of learning. I’m so happy to welcome Isao Yoshino to the show. Mr. Yoshino, who celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year, worked at Toyota Motor Corporation for over 40 years, from the late 1960s to early two thousands, and played an important role in the development of Toyota’s people-centered learning culture it’s now famous for. He was a key part of the CAn pro senior leadership development program, which embedded a three thinking as the process for problem-solving, communication, and leadership development across the organization, and has deep expertise in the practice of Hoshin Connery, Toyota’s strategy deployment process.

Katie Anderson:
Mr. Yoshino was responsible for developing and leading the training program for the American frontline leaders at the GM Toyota joint venture NUMMI in the 1980s. Now, a famous case study about how a shift in leadership style can turn a company around and teach them about the Toyota way. He hired John Shook, now the chairman of the Lean Global network, to support the Nimi project. As the first non-Japanese employee of Toyota, I could go on and on about Mister Yoshino’s experiences. But as you know from reading the book and hearing us speak, it’s not just his successes that have made such a global impact, but his willingness to share his failures and what he learned from them. At his core, Mister Yoshino is a learner, teacher, and coach. After retiring from Toyota, Mister Yoshino served for nearly a decade as a lecturer at a Japanese university, passing on his wisdom to the younger generation. And today, he shares his wisdom with global leaders like you. This month marks the anniversary of two important events: Mister Yoshino and I meeting for the first time in July 2014 at a conference in California, half a year before I moved to Japan with my family, which was the beginning of what is now a close professional partnership and friendship between us.

Katie Anderson:
And four years since the release of our now award-winning book in July 2020, Learning to Lead Leading to Learn lessons from Toyota leader Isao Yoshino on a lifetime of continuous learning with me as the author and him as a subject. Mr. Yoshino is one of the most wise, caring, and humorous humans that I know, and I’m thrilled to have him join us here on the show to reflect and celebrate together. Our discussions span nearly 2 hours, as they often do, so I’ve broken the highlights into two episodes for you. In the next episode, part two, we reflect on the book and the process of where we both were many years ago and what we’ve learned since then about the value of reflection, learning through questions, collaboration, and more. This episode, part one picks up in the middle of our conversation, in which he and we share what we learned and relearned more deeply over the last four years about what it takes to lead to learn and grow your chain of learning. To get the full value of Mr. Yoshino’s insights, I want to give you some background context to a few of the influential leaders he mentions. First is Mikyo Segura, who Mister Yoshino considers his best boss of his four years at Toyota. Second, is Kat-su-hiko Eguchi, an 84-year-old former Japanese senator and business executive who spoke to the participants on the most recent Japan Study trip leadership program and Mister Yoshino.

Katie Anderson:
Just weeks before we recorded this episode, Mr. Eguchi shared his leadership philosophy based on his experience over many decades of working alongside one of Japan’s greatest business leaders of all time – Ma-tsu-shita Konosuke, the founder of the Panasonic Group – who is known as the “God of Management” in Japan.
We start this episode with a question about the phrase that inspired the title of this podcast, chain of Learning, which I’d first heard from Mister Yoshino when conducting interviews for the book about why he was so happy to have spent four years working at Toyota. Here, I asked what a chain of learning means to him now, and why it’s such an important concept today. Let’s dive in.

Isao Yoshino:
Actually, chain of learning is that if you learn something from somebody, then you feel like you not owe him or owe her. But it’s he’s a great guy because he does not have to do that to me. But he just, he’s so kind to help me out to think a little bit deeper. So I’m, I always think about why is he doing that? Maybe that I thought, I came up in a kind of conclusion that, okay, he, of course he would like to help me out because he knows more things than I do. But at the same time, he believes he can develop himself by helping me out, by just, you know, by doing a small thing to him, small thing to me. So he believes it’s so positive to do some, you know, extra work to somebody and so on. So that is kind of culture which is created and across the company. And so that is one of the reason why Toyota is different from other companies.

Isao Yoshino:
And so a chain of learning is when you learn something new, then people want to hide it, want to keep it by your own, because you don’t want other people to get smarter than you are. But within Toyota, if you share knowledge with other people, then other people who you’re talking to, they create their own way of thinking, so, which should be very different from what you have. So once you just share it with somebody else, then another guy just create their own new learning, then extend to somebody else. It’s a chain of learning will keep happening from one place to another. So that is kind of corporate culture of Toyota. That is the culture that I spend a knee deep. So that’s why even now, you know, I like that culture very much, which is very unique, because sometimes when you share some knowledge and everything experience with somebody else, it requires a lot of time and effort. So sometimes you don’t, you want to spend your time on something else.

Isao Yoshino:
However, I really appreciate all those people who have been so nice to me. So now it’s my turn to do something to somebody else because I owe something from them. Then I have to pay it back or I have to, you know, because I keep getting everything in my mind and in me. Then it’s my turn to take it out, share it with other people, then it pays off. I don’t know how to express. So that is a concept of Toyota’s sharing your experience on something like that. So that five, Mister Sugura always share his own way of thinking with us because he is so nice, but at the same time he believes that is his role as a manager. So a chain of learning is a very, one of the very, very important habit and way of doing things that Toyota, not so many companies have this type of culture because it requires a lot of time and effort, energy on your side.

Isao Yoshino:
You don’t want to spend so much time with somebody else. You want to spend your time energy by yourself. But beings, that’s. I call it a little bit selfish. So if I owe something to somebody, then I need to bring it back. Not to the people who help me out, but to the people totally new. That is the reason why I still keep talking to the university office like Sakamoto san. I’m going to meet her next week because she’s in trouble with her boss and she needs some help from me.

Isao Yoshino:
So just, I don’t know whether I can help her, but I can share my thinking with her face-to-face. Maybe that will help her feel a little bit better. So that is a kind of, you know, I learned something from Mister Sugura, from my, my partners or whoever. So I want to share, you know, my happy feeling to with Sakamato san and help her to think a little bit different way and so that she can come back to her original great in a powerful lady. So, chain of learning is one of the greatest, greatest habit, greatest activity at Toyota, which you cannot find in other companies so easily.

Katie Anderson:
No, but you and I were trying to grow this chain of learning through the book and through our connections and starting the blog, and I love it. So everyone listening is part of our chain of learning and to share it forward, and that’s how we’ll make things.

Katie Anderson:
Better in the world.

Isao Yoshino:
Exactly, exactly. So it is not who is a teacher, who is doesn’t matter. There is no such thing. So, just we learn from each other. And so that is the power of change learning. Many of the Toyota leaders thinks this way.

Katie Anderson:
And that really gets to a comment you made, which is the opening line.

Katie Anderson:
Of the book, that the only secret.

Katie Anderson:
To Toyota is its attitude towards learning. And it’s built on this foundation of we’re all learners and we’re all leaders, and we can learn from each and every opportunity, experience, and we take the time to do it.

Isao Yoshino:
Exactly. Only learning. You keep it by your own, then you cannot extend anything to somebody else. Then nothing happens. But if you share it with somebody, you don’t lose anything. But people will be happy and either create more, more powerful people around you.

Katie Anderson:
Yes, and I talk about how links by themselves, there’s no power in an individual link. The strength actually comes with that connection between us.

Isao Yoshino:
I agree.

Katie Anderson:
These reflections about a chain of learning are connected to what Mister Yoshino learned from his best boss, Mister Sagira, about leading with an attitude of caring and curiosity. Let’s hear from Mister Yoshino about his answer to my question about the importance of leaders asking questions.

Isao Yoshino:
Well, actually, I believe that’s a very powerful question. It does not sound powerful, but it actually is. Because I appreciate you talk about Mister Sugura, who is the best boss I ever worked for. And because he is so smart guy, he knows everything. But he does not show that he knows everything all the time. He asked some very simple question and helped me to find out what. What would be the right answer to him. So he is always ready to ask some questions, even though he knows everything.

Isao Yoshino:
And so I was wondering why he’s so nice, why he hates me so much. Because that is his working style. But at the same time, he learned that type of attitude from his working experience. Because he spent so much time in computer-related divisions. So he had, maybe he must have a hard time with the boss he used to work for and a totally different, crazy way of thinking. So maybe he must have learned that, okay, when I have people working for me, then I want to help the people working for me, help them develop or something. So he must have determined something. Even though he knows the answer, but he still ask me questions, you know, just, okay, what do you think about this? Even though he knows everything.

Isao Yoshino:
Then I answered. Then he asked another. Just like you did ask another question. Oh, you think so? Another question he keeps asking me, I keep answering. So through that series of simple conversation, I learned that, okay, he’s. He wants to know more about me. He wants to make him coming up with my comments and opinions. He is encouraging me to speak up.

Isao Yoshino:
So it’s a very small thing. Looks like a very small thing. But the way he does is very, very powerful, because that made me happy. He’s asking my opinion. He does not push his thinking to me, but he asked me. So he showed me a kind of respect. He did not say respect because he does not speak so much. And so he just totally changed my mindset after I had a terrible, terrible two, three years under the terrible boss.

Isao Yoshino:
And so it was just coming back from the hill to the heaven. I’m not exaggerating.

Katie Anderson:
I mean, you shared so much and talk about it in the book. Not all bosses at Toyota were great, but certainly a lot of really good and caring ones who made an impact on you. And then you carried that forward to John Shook and so many other people who worked with you in the subsequent years.

Katie Anderson:
As our conversation continued, we went on to explore what Mister Yoshino has learned about leadership over the last four years, building on many of the themes that we’ve covered here on the podcast about focusing on people in learning as the way to get results. And his advice for you. Let’s get back in.

Katie Anderson:
You know, one of the themes that continues to come up in our conversations as well as on the trips I continue to go back to Japan and other successful companies, not just Toyota, is this real focus on people, on learning and on happiness or joy as the core purpose or focus of leaders, not just of course they need the business results, but if you can focus on people learning and like creating human happiness, that’s what’s going to get to the results. I’d love to get your perspective on reflections on, on that, from your own experiences at Toyota as well as visiting a lot of these other companies that we have gone with in the last few years.

Isao Yoshino:
The last day we were in Tokyo, and two weeks ago I ran into.

Katie Anderson:
Mister Iguchi san, Mister Iguchi’s son.

Isao Yoshino:
And that was really amazing talk.

Katie Anderson:
Mister Iguchi had worked for Panasonic. Yes, of Panasonic.

Isao Yoshino:
Impressed. I was so impressed with his attitude and his dedication because, you know, I found out from his comment is that, okay, the way of thinking at Panasonic is very close to that of Toyota because they always think about the people working together in the workplace, including their family. Can you believe it? You know, he, one day he was asked by Mister Matrista, hey, Mister Iguchi, how many people working for you? And then, oh, I think I have 250 people. Then the Konoski master says, okay, oh, you have 1000 people working for you? No sir, just 250. Then found out, okay, Mister Matsushita is thinking that all the family members also are the people Mister Matrishita as a president needs to think about so broader aspect. And also he believes he’s responsible for even for the people’s family members. So that is a people oriented management way of thinking. And so I was so impressed with his comment.

Isao Yoshino:
If he just sends me an email to invite me in the Nagoya city, his session, something I really would like to join and spend so much time with him because that was so inspiring.

Katie Anderson:
Such a powerful session. And I love that we get to learn from so many leaders. Something else that Mister Iguchi said that really struck me and it relates to something you’ve said as well is that leaders really have to be truly serious. He talked about having 1000% conviction because if you’re only partially committed by the time it trickles down, it’s sort of the rule of 50. It gets down to the front line very much. And so you have to be 1000% convicted and show up in the way you want to lead and what you believe in. What did you think about that comment?

Isao Yoshino:
I’m very happy to know that you just remember that as a key topic. Actually, I think he’s talking about seriousness. Seriousness is very, very important. If you are serious and then people around, you know, my boss is so serious about the task, about the people working for him. So seriousness is very important. And so if you are serious, then people will feel it. Then people start asking themselves, why my body is so serious about us, about the target we have to attain. Then they find out, okay, this setting a target is important, but also, you know, he is also, my boss is also serious about the people working for him or something.

Isao Yoshino:
Why is that so it, it triggers so many, so many thinking among the people working for the, for the leader. So anyways, seriousness is very, very important factor to make things happen. But another thing I feel very important is that patience, patience and seriousness maybe go along together. I believe in my personal feeling and because if you are so serious about your activities, about your people, then the people will understand, oh, my boss is very serious, then I need to be serious about my assignment, about my role is another thing, is the patient. If the boss, in many cases, boss knows so many things than any other people. So if boss wants to find some solutions, then maybe boss knows everything. So he is tempted to give your people, give their people the right answer right away. You have to be patient as a big boss, because if you, if you know the answer, but good boss does not share the answer right away.

Isao Yoshino:
The patience, you have to be patient. Wait until you know, people will come up their idea and share it with other people. So you have to be patient. So patience and the seriousness come along together. I believe in my personal opinion.

Katie Anderson:
You know, sometimes people hear the word serious and they think very, like, stern serious. But what I hear from you is like that concept of really committed and really believing in something and showing up, and not just like delegating things, but really being serious about improving yourself as a leader and how you’re showing up. And to me, that’s what I take away when you say being a serious leader.

Isao Yoshino:
Exactly. Seriousness means that you show your back to the people working for you.

Katie Anderson:
And what do you mean by show the back?

Katie Anderson:
Some people could think you’re turning your back.

Isao Yoshino:
Oh, well, actually, in my context, show your back is that you show them that you are serious to the people. You don’t have to say something to them, but you show your attitude. You’re working hard to do something seriously, then people will follow because, oh, my boss is so serious. Maybe more serious than I do. Then I have to be serious. It’s so show your back means not in a. In a wrong way, but you have to start something yourself first, rather than expecting people to do the first. But you have to start something first, then show it to them.

Isao Yoshino:
And so. And in order to. Then you keep serious then, and also keep patience. That means if you’re more experienced and you attempt to give all the answers right away to the people, then it does not help them to grow. So just patience is very, very important. It goes seriously, the patient goes together. That is one of the things I learned again from. From my boss, greatest boss, Mister Sigurdos.

Isao Yoshino:
He is very serious and he always patient. And he did not say patient or serious. He did not say the word. But I. I sensed seriousness and patience from the way he behaves. He just talks to us. So that is probably one of the key things. Well, people don’t pay much attention to those concepts, but that you and I just can share this one.

Isao Yoshino:
So maybe that kind of topic could be. Maybe some key topics that we can discuss in our future sessions. What it means to us to be.

Katie Anderson:
Patient and to be serious. One of my favorite quotes from you of all time, and several people have said this is one of their favorite quotes that’s in the book as well, is being patient requires a lot of patience.

Isao Yoshino:
I don’t know who said that. I said or you said, I don’t know.

Katie Anderson:
You said that. You said that to me one day in your office back in the university. And that one really stuck with me. Because it’s so true. We want things now. It’s hard to be patient. We have to be patient about patiently waiting.

Isao Yoshino:
It is true. It is true.

Katie Anderson:
When’s there been a time where it was hard for you to be patient?

Isao Yoshino:
For example, if the students come up to me, Mister Yoshin, I have a problem. And then just five minutes. If I listen to them, five minutes, then I. Oh, I understand what this guy is talking about. So that I’m tempted to give them and advice what he needs to do, what she needs to do. But that is where patience is so important. I don’t. I don’t tell them every time.

Isao Yoshino:
Just those, you know, those students came up with a frowning face and came up to my office and explained everything. Yeah, almost crying. Then I know the answer. But I tried to be patient, so just. I asked him, oh, okay, this is what. Okay, let me. Let me put it down. What he has said? One da da da.

Isao Yoshino:
Two da da da. I just went. I just go through that with him. You agree? Yes, sir. Mister Shilson, thank you for summarizing what I was telling you. Then. I know the answer. What he needs to, she needs to do.

Isao Yoshino:
But what do you think? What is a new action you need to take based on these facts? That is patience. I know the answer. I’m tempted to give them. I just don’t do that. What do you think you need to do? The first step. Second step. Third step. Don’t try to finish everything at a time.

Isao Yoshino:
What is the first step? He said, what do you mean, the first step? What do you do first when you have a trouble with your father? Then you don’t. You hate him? What is the first step then I take some time to talk with him in five minutes every day. That is great. That is great. And then I always ask some simple question. Then have them answer. Whatever they say, I accept it. Even though they say some stupid thing, I accept this.

Isao Yoshino:
Oh, that’s great. That sounds stupid, but it has more meaning behind it. So I always, you know, patience. Not to give your idea to them. I keep doing that. Then they start thinking, okay, Mister Yoshino spends so much time with me, with my stupid trouble. He is serious. Maybe he’s more serious than I am about my problem.

Isao Yoshino:
So they feel, they so happy. So seriousness, patience go along together that I went through million times. Then who are the people who learn more? Maybe students? No, no, it’s me. I learned so much out of those activities because I became more serious than before. I became more patient than before. So patience and seriousness is a great, great concept to me. Even now, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Katie Anderson:
Yes, you do. You know, this conversation about patience and being serious really reminds me of that very first comment that I heard from you when you and John shook were on stage ten years ago. The very first time I met you in July of 2014. And you were talking about your relationship and your role as the manager. And then John shook reporting to you. John Chuk, for those who aren’t familiar with him, was the first non japanese person hired by Toyota Motor Corporation. He reported up to someone who reported to Mister Yoshino. And John, you said something about your role as a manager.

Katie Anderson:
Your purpose as a manager was to give John a mission or target to figure out and solve. So give him a challenge and then support him while he figured out how to reach that target. And then you had this really insightful comment, which I knew I wanted to get to know you. I already knew I was moving to Japan. You said as I was developing John, I was aware I was developing myself as well.

Isao Yoshino:
Oh, you thought what I said, huh?

Katie Anderson:
It is what you said. And, you know, that’s really become what I call the leading to learn framework. It’s like a leader’s role is to set the direction, provide support and develop yourself. But to do that, you have to be patient.

Isao Yoshino:
Oh, yes.

Katie Anderson:
You have to be patient and serious because it’s too easy to give your answer.

Isao Yoshino:
Exactly. Exactly. So. Well, actually, thank you for reminding me of how important it is, because that is how we Toyota people are brought up in our workplace, directly, indirectly, and I think that is a power of Toyota’s culture. I feel very happy to have opportunities working at Toyota and working with great bosses and turbo bosses as well. And so if you work only with a good boss, then, you know, you don’t appreciate so much. If you work with a turbo of two years in seventies, that is terrible thing for me. But same time, it’s very meaningful because you just, you just experienced a terrible experience for two years.

Isao Yoshino:
And this makes me sick in Tokyo. But it’s, you know, I learned so many things out of that because it’s very, very key experience to learn some key lessons out of. It’s a terrible experience still, it’s a very, very good experience not to do things just like all those things. So anyways, the patience and seriousness is very simple, simple word, but it’s a lot more profound meaning. And actually it is, it is my key words for me at my home, at my road, even after I just quit working for the university three years ago, but still keep talking with a staff member because they need some help, then patience and the seriousness would work perfectly. So it’s a great concept. Very simple, but great concept is one of the reasons why Toyota has been so successful. It’s not directly related with outcome or Toyota’s success, but it’s on the behind way of thinking that patience and seriousness probably is ingrained, ingrained in our mindset, even though we don’t recognize it.

Isao Yoshino:
But it’s embedded, it’s a culture.

Katie Anderson:
It is.

Katie Anderson:
And you have so many rich examples of that and how it grew and developed and that seriousness and that attitude of learning and the patience was cultivated Toyota’s culture and has led to its success today. I’m really curious to hear from you about some of your reflections on some of the questions you’ve gotten from people over the last four years since the book came out because so many people wanna, you know, they’re reading the book because they wanna learn how to create a similar culture that Toyota has been so successful for and that they’re getting challenges. What are some of the questions that maybe you get asked often by others or that surprise you about what they’re trying to do in their companies or other challenges?

Isao Yoshino:
Well, many people keep asking me why Toyota has been so successful, for example, or why, again, why seriousness or patience is so important in your workplace. Some people ask me, you know, every wants to, everybody wants to do, seriously wants to do, very patient. So it’s a, it’s nothing new. Why do you think it’s so important? Math is always like this. You know, of course I know what patience means, all those things that it means to us, but that is one thing, but put it into practice. Put all those concepts into practice on your workplace, whatever, is another thing. So even though you know something concept in your mindset, but if you, unless you put it into practice by yourself, then it does not mean anything. But at Toyota company, and also in my case, I always try to put into practice, I want to be patient.

Isao Yoshino:
I want to be serious. When you, when I was in the university, I always try to be patient. I try to be serious and with students who have some troubles and come to me so they can sense that, okay, Mister Shino is very serious about me, about the problem I’m facing. And also he does not give me the answer right away. He asks me questions, why you think this way? So he keep asking me. So he is patient. Until I come up with my own comments, he does not give me any answer. Do it this way, but he does not do that.

Isao Yoshino:
So patience and seriousness, that is very, very important. Golden rule when you deal with people, and it doesn’t matter whether the company people or the high rank people or young college students, doesn’t matter. Even the family members as well, with my wife and my kids, and try to be patient.

Katie Anderson:
Seriousness, I would imagine that a lot of those questions that people ask you are because most of us outside of Toyota and many places outside of Japan maybe don’t have cultures where there is as much patience. There’s a lot of focus on doing and results and, you know, to get results through creating learning and building this chain of learning does require patience and seriousness. And it’s sort of opposite on how many of our company cultures elsewhere have, have been set up. So it’s something that has to shift.

Isao Yoshino:
Yeah. Yeah.

Katie Anderson:
After reflecting more about the book, its impact in our partnership, which you’ll hear in part two, I asked Mister Yoshino my last question of this conversation.

Katie Anderson:
You know, you turned 80 this year. I’m curious, which is congratulations. Can you believe it?

Isao Yoshino:
I can’t believe it either.

Katie Anderson:
If you were looking back maybe 40 years to your 40 year old self, you know, you’re a middle leader at Toyota. What advice would you give yourself looking back a half a lifetime?

Isao Yoshino:
Well, I know, I know that I was preparing the answer, but I have no answer right in front of me because everybody has their own way of thinking. But one thing it is so important that always ready to be open to good news, bad news, good experience, bad experience. If you are ready to learn lessons out of those experiences, good at bad doesn’t matter. So that is advice to the younger generation that if you run into some terrible situations, don’t get upset and then, you know, don’t stay away from learning something. But always spend certain amount of time and share some space in your brain to think about what you can learn out of this terrible, terrible situation. It shuts you down and bring you down on the floor and you feel very miserable, but still on the corner of your mind. I want all the people who is now facing troubles, spare some space that maybe I can learn something from this terrible experience. Because there are millions of lessons I can learn from, from terrible experience than, you know, good experience.

Isao Yoshino:
So changing their attitude, changing a mindset, you can learn something from the failure you make. That type of lessons is one of the key lessons you are talking about in this book. You did not directly say that, but maybe somewhere you said that. So that is a key lesson I learned from this one. If only you are ready to learn something, you are ready to view that way. So this has a lot and lots of advice, direct advice, indirect advice to all the readers. So it’s more profound than any other book. That is the power of this book.

Katie Anderson:
Kd well, thank you. And it’s the power of your stories and our shared learnings together. Thank you. And it was so fun to see the japanese version of the book in your local bookstore together and talking about the book.

Isao Yoshino:
I was so happy to find it.

Katie Anderson:
Thank you.

Isao Yoshino:
It’s my pleasure. I’ve been enjoying working together with you and for many more years to come.

Katie Anderson:
Me too.

Katie Anderson:
I’m so happy for you to get a direct opportunity to hear from Mister Yoshino and his continued learnings since we released the book. No matter how many thousands of hours we’ve talked over the last decade, I always learn something new or more deeply from our conversations, and I hope you have too. Collaborating together the past ten years and writing, learning to lead, leading to learn have been some of my life’s greatest honors and learning journey. Be sure to tune into the next episode of this podcast to hear even more insights and reflections from Mister Yoshino and me. The comments that Mister Yoshino made in this episode about being serious also connect to ones that Brad Toussaint made in the previous episode of Chain of Learning, episode 20, where he talked about what he learned from Mister Yoshino’s teachings during my Japan study trip programs about how to be a serious leader, and from hearing Mister Iguchi talk a few months ago about how to be 1000% committed as a leader. Be sure to check it out again. That’s chain of learning, episode 20. And as we wrap up this episode, reflect on Mister Yoshino’s comments and his advice to his younger self and you.

Katie Anderson:
How can you open yourself to learning from your experiences, both good and bad? How can you see even the challenges as a learning opportunity? And then how can you demonstrate that you are serious as a leader, a coach, a teacher, or even parent? By showing your back and leading by example, being patient and growing link by link, your chain of learning, please join me in celebrating the four-year anniversary of Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn, and the chain of learning that we’ve grown together.

Thank you for your support, sharing the impact that the book and our teachings have had on you and your leadership, writing reviews, and applying what you’ve learned to make an impact in your life. If you haven’t already read the book, join the tens of thousands of leaders who have learned from Mister Yoshino’s 40 years at Toyota in our shared insights. Learning to Lead Leading to Learn is available in paperback, ebook, audiobook, and just this year we’ve released a beautiful hardbound edition. The book is available on Amazon or your favorite online retailer. And if you want to give your leadership team or conference attendees the gift of learning, we can also arrange for bulk order discounts and customized editions of the paperback and hardback versions. For more information, go to learning to lead leadingtolearn.com or my website, kbjanderson.com dot. The links are also in the show notes, and be sure to follow or subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss part two of my conversation with Mr. Yoshino in the next episode. Thank you for being a part of my Chain of Learning. I’ll see you next time. Have a great day.

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