Interview with Peak 1 President and CEO, Yasuo Maeda

Peak 1 celebrates it’s 23rd anniversary this month which is a great opportunity to get to know the person who started it all – Mr. Yasuo Maeda.

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What were you doing before peak 1? What led you to entrepreneurship? 

After graduating university, I started to work for a PR agency as a creative director. The company was helping Japanese enterprise companies aiming to get into US’s markets. I was engaged with the PR promotion in the US for Hitachi Ltd. and created many brochures and ads for them such as annual reports, company brochures and ads for Wall Street Journal. Through those projects, I found that I could present my own thoughts and ideas through creative work, and in creative work it was very important to have a will of what I wanted to express, what I needed to make. Also I learned many things from people outside of the creative team such as designers, photographers, copy writers, printing company…

Three years passed, I left the PR agency and started the creative business in the small company being operated by my acquaintance. For about 8 years, I was managing the creative division in that company helping many clients. I had learned what real business is there and what I should do for my client’s success. And in 1994, I established my own company Peak1.

What were some of the biggest hurdles you faced when building peak 1?

Money, business reliability and network. Actually I tried to start my own company just after leaving first company. But I did not have enough money to start and maintain the business and I didn’t have any clients to order any creative work through me. I needed to have time to save money and build the reliability between clients as well as gain experience managing a creative company.

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Who has inspired you in your life and why?

One designer, 12 years older than me. He acknowledged my passions for creativity first. He recommended me to start the company and encouraged and helped me all the time before and after building the Peak1 business. He taught and conveyed to me how the top of management behave in some cases, and how to be refreshing.

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the best in your career or something that helped shape peak 1 into the company it is today.

Interactive event; Microsoft’s Strategic Architect Forum

Big event; Microsoft’s REMIX

Creative work; Nisshin Steel’s Photobook for hiring new graduates.

What qualities does peak 1 value most in it’s employees?

We stand by the client and consider the situation from the client’s point of view, what we need and should to do for client first.

How do you define success for peak 1?

Not wavering from the concept and keep pursuing the message.

Where would you like to see the company in 5 years?

Diversity in all things – business field, nationality, method, culture, value… We can understand, accept, use and respect all of them.

What kind of books/ material do you regularly read?

My favorite author is Kohtaro Sawaki, non-fiction writer. I love reading documentary books.Kohtaro Sawaki

What would your best friend say is the most interesting thing about you? 

If reborn, I would like to live like Maeda-san.

I have no idea of the reason, but it seems that in his eyes I look free (^-^;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Teams that Play Together Stay Together

What does your company do for fun? Perhaps it’s not the first thing you think about when you picture your job, however there are many reasons why dedicating time with your colleagues outside of actual work is good for the company’s overall success.

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Getting to know each other better is crucial for workplace harmony. Sure, you don’t need to be best friends with your coworkers, but when you feel comfortable around someone or at least understand how they tick, you are better equipped to solve the everyday workplace issues without things escalating into problems.

When you collaborate with people you are comfortable with, you are likely to share ideas more freely and openly – allowing for more creativity which translates to more successful and innovative ideas.

Improving communication among colleagues is one of the most important things team building accomplishes.

Normally wages are the biggest expense of a company so keeping your employees happy is a critical investment to make as it is much more cost efficient to retain quality people than continuing to source, hire and train new ones. Besides strengthening the bonds between the team, employees are often motivated and refreshed after a team building activity resulting in higher productivity and better results.

Many times, company sponsored events are viewed as a waste of time. Make sure to add value to these events with well thought out activities or a quality guest speaker. Another option to consider is to take out the corporate stuff altogether. Find the balance between fun and productive. You want to create a memorable event that doesn’t feel like time at the office or time wasted.

To give you an example, peak 1 has done a few activities over the last few months. As you might have seen in our previous post, we volunteered together. Volunteering not only serves a purpose for the greater good, it provides an opportunity to work together in new and unique ways separate from how you might work together in the office.

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When the fiscal year began, we held a kickoff event. We rotated teams a few times throughout the day, sharing ideas on how we can be more productive, more creative and more efficient. Although this particular event was more company focused, it was organized in a way that concentrated on personal growth rather than the bottom line. At the end of the day, we had dinner and drinks at a restaurant near by. Being able to relax, talk openly and reflect on the day made it even more effective.

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One other event I’d like to share with you is a barbecue party our CEO hosted at his house in the mountains. Although this event was optional, on a Saturday and over 2 hours away, almost every employee attended, some with their families. This has become an annual event and something everyone looks forward to. It is an opportunity to interact in a different environment, cook for each other, get to know new people (spouses, children) and new things about the people we spend a significant amount of time with during the week.

Investing time into the people that make up your company or organization is invaluable. Make the time to create memorable events throughout the year that your employees can look forward to. Create annual events and balance them with new and unexpected activities.