I've been working in Korea for the past 4+ years, and they suffer from the same exact issues - the extreme shame of failure and unwillingness to "lose face."
Korea and Japan produce a lot of engineers and have amazing tech infrastructures even compared to the West, but they'll never be able to become a thriving startup ecosystem because the culture is just too different from that of Silicon Valley. You can relocate or attract new mentors and investors to a given place, but culture is one of those things that just does not change easily, if at all.
Although I'm not all the way through it, I have a feeling this presentation was probably quite a shock to its live audience, and probably perceived as being quite tactless and impolite. I wonder what they actually thought of it and whether it effected any change in mindset.
Edit: I'm cringing all the way through this video. I'm not sure if it's a cringeworthy video or whether it's exposing my own fear of being embarrassed!
Anecdata or not, thank you for standing up and being counted. I've seen it too :-)
If there's one defining attribute of Japanese culture, it is its willingness to absorb and syncretize outside influences. The most recent examples are the Meiji Restoration and the post-WW2 transformation. So I don't think you can write off Japan just yet.
Simply stated they have the lowest birth rate of any first world nation, we don't have to write them off, they are doing quite fine fading into the sunset on their own.
The point is that they can change their culture and society at a particularly rapid clip, so that is moot.
> Simply stated they have the lowest birth rate of any first world nation, we don't have to write them off, they are doing quite fine fading into the sunset on their own.
I don't understand why having a decreasing population is inherently seen as a bad thing. For comparison, Japan has 1/3rd the arable land of Germany, yet it has 1.5x the population. Japan is overpopulated - now it's just going to an equilibrium population size.
That's not necessarily a problem either, but in this case it definitely is -- as it also is in the US -- because the elderly are still retiring and still depending on social security programs.
No way. Cultures change all the time. It's just so gradual you barely notice if you don't have a good grounding in history.
Apologies in advance, for it pains me to generalise like this, but in my view, you have accurately summed up "asiatic culture" in that one line. :-/ (No, I'm not being sarcastic.)
That's the startup mindset, and it's one that has become ever more accepted in the US but is still frowned upon elsewhere.
I'd say the Chinese are pretty famous for innovation, granted, when they invented the stuff that has now become ubiquitous (gun-powder, paper, printing) they didn't do it using startups, which I think only shows that you don't need startups in order to invent stuff. What I do think will hold China down is their one-child policy.
What's interesting about the Chinese story, though, is where innovation came from. The examinations and civil service hierarchy played a role, but the groundbreaking cultural accomplishments always came from the "outer elite", not the high-ranking mandarins. The inner elite was stodgy and complacent, just like modern corporations with MBA culture. The artistic and scientific accomplishments people remember now tended to come from people who were exposed to the ideas of the scholastic elite, but never got into the inner circle.
I think there's a lesson here, for modern Asia (Japan's cultural exports come from people poorly regarded by that country's elite) and the West.
Venture-funded startups were an outer elite in 1975, but they've been co-opted by the inner elite. Silicon Valley, when it was a genuine outer elite, produced amazing technological advancements. Now it's just a side-show for MBAs to pop into (over the heads of engineers, as unnecessary VPs earning 10 times the equity) when they feel like doing something different. I don't know where the outer elite is now. I know that I'm probably in it (whether I intend to be or not) but, if so, we're in a nebulous state of geographic and cultural diaspora.
The interesting question is why innovation must come from an outer elite. The process seems to be like this: the inner elite sets values (scholastic achievement) judged to be socially beneficial but, at some level, organizational politics outclass those values in terms of who actually gets in. In fact, the interface between outer elite and inner elite seems to be based on that: the outer elite is as far as one can go based on the values set by that elite; the inner elite still comes down to "old style" social scarcity, connections, and favor-trading. The consequence of that is that the outer elite exemplifies those values more than the inner one and, over time, delivers more of value. I don't know how to turn this into anything actionable, but it's an interesting observation.
P.S: Both of you agree on one thing: As I recall, "I don't know how to turn this into anything actionable, but it's an interesting observation." was his conclusion as well :-D!