Location: Shake Shack, Roppongi

Raveen had a delicious-looking pilsner and my boring old self had a coffee with a splash of milk (I’m going through a dry-period). I’ve known Raveen for several years now; he was a recruiter in the past and transitioned into the advertising technology (ad-tech) space, which is an area I specialized in as a recruiter so we’ve got a lot of common ground. His name is hard to forget, too.

It was sad to see a Shake Shack in the location we were at as it had previously been a nice casual French restaurant that I would often go to for meetings when I was in the area. I guess the people have spoken… and the people want burgers.

Notable points from our chat:

Ad tech market in Japan

The ad-tech market is extremely exciting, fast paced and lucrative. That said it can be incestuous, tight-knit and money driven (it is ads, after all).  In Japan a majority of the ad spend is controlled by behemoth advertising agency players like Dentsu/Hakuhodo/ADK who own all the ad space. As middle men they can charge big fees to go through them, and while there are competent people in the organizations they are seen as leeches by many. Even Google/Facebook have to deal with this in Japan. As a new employee or account manager for an ad tech company that has to go through an intermediary like Dentsu, be prepared to be a slave at their beck and call.

For those curious about the landscape there’s an infamous headache-inducing chart that I used to carry around with me to meetings in order to looks smarter in front of clients. It took me years to figure it out and people have different ways of explaining it which shows that nobody knows what they’re talking about.

Hint: you don’t just read it from left to right!

We got deep into different ways to approach life-transitions and career transitions — these two are closely knit. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere but it’s a question I like to ask myself every once in a while (that also inspired me to write my ebooks) which I got from someone much smarter than myself:

 What is it on this planet that needs doing that I know something about, that probably won’t happen unless I take responsibility for it?” 

Post it on your wall somewhere.

I haven’t written too many posts from the purely soul-searching perspective (at least not explicitly) so I shared some more practical blogs/books that have influenced me when it comes to thinking about careers.

On the benefits of a recruitment job

Humans crave connection. Being behind a computer all day even if you are “talking” to customers is not the same as actually talking to someone over a coffee and being fully immersed in conversation in a kind of synergistic flow (see: mirror neurons); just like playing a video game or a VR set that immerses you in a jungle is not like actually going to the jungle. Both Raveen and I agree that recruitment is one job that provides this sort of connection and meaning, as you’re helping individuals find jobs and companies hire talent that could alter the trajectory of their businesses. Now, this applies to plenty of jobs in sales, business development and account management. It’s interesting, though, that you never hear “human interaction/connection” as one of the important requirements that is factored in when someone is looking for a job or career move (maybe it should be). It’s usually about salary, job responsibility, title, growth opportunity, product/service and so forth. I wonder how many people have found themselves in jobs that are actually meaningful and fun to them, but they still felt empty at the end of the day and that the job was was lacking due to that lack of human interaction, subsequently quitting without ever identifying the root cause? Just a thought.

On the downside of meditation and psychedelics 

As you can tell my conversations tend to jump around a lot.

Lastly we discussed the pros/cons of psychedelics, and in particular the Peruvian plant medicine ayahuasca which I had tried over a year ago (I’ll write a post on this eventually). To learn more about what the heck ayahuasca, check this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaOfFixoxP8

Anyways, while I’m generally all gung-ho about self-awareness and opening up our minds to spiritual experiences, we have to be realistic about what taking a psychedelic actually means for your mental health. It’s not to be played with lightly. We like to think that a magic pill, medicine or just meditating in our lives is going to answer all of our problems. Often times it can serve as a catalyst; a new door to perception. But it is not the be all end all.

Regarding the negative parts of meditation and ayuahasca, it’s important to keep in mind that both have deep, psychological effects. For most people, it’s positive. In my case, it’s been mostly positive, although I did experience some stressful feelings after coming back from my 10 day meditation retreat. Eventually this faded. (btw, if you are considering doing ayuahasca, I highly recommend http://newlifeayahuasca.com/)

More seriously, if you have a kind of dormant psychosis, suffered through childhood abuse, PTSD or some mental illness…this can be triggered when you take psychedelics. I had a friend in college who took mushrooms twice, went a bit crazy, dropped out of college and had to be treated for a couple of years. It’s not common but it happens, and is increased when that person has some deeper issues.

I’d say Ayuahasca and psychedelics in general are probably more “dangerous” in this respect, but meditation also can cause stress and emotional upheaval as mentioned. Here’s a link that describes the downsides of meditation: https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/03/14/when-meditation-worsens-depression-or-anxiety/

Ultimately, we need good teachers and guides to help us along our journeys. Traditionally this would be played by the “shaman,” or in the case of meditation a guru/sensei, but nowadays it can be a doctor, psychiatrist, boss, friend, parent, mentor, or whatever.  Sometimes a simple change of environment can change us, but if there are deeper issues we’re wrestling with its unlikely we can figure things out on our own, and there’s no shame in that — sometimes professional help is necessary.

Books that came up in the conversation: 

  1. The One Thing https://www.amazon.com/One-Thing-Surprisingly-Extraordinary-bestselling-ebook/dp/B00D3J2QKW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1536565737&sr=1-1&keywords=the+one+thing and
  2. The End of Jobs https://www.amazon.com/End-Jobs-Meaning-9-5-ebook/dp/B010L8SYRG and
  3. The Alchemist: https://www.amazon.com/Alchemist-Paulo-Coelho/dp/0061122416


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