Venture Stories

Internal Motivation Is Your Greatest Asset: Why a Career Exploration Map was Needed |Career Forth


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Career Forth is a career exploration tool that provides individuals with possible career change options leveraging big data and market trends. In this interview, we ask Hiro some of the biggest questions around how the idea for Career Forth came about and how the tool actually works.

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Career Forth founder, Hiroyuki Narihara, graduated from Kyoto University Graduate School of Economics and joined Mitsui & Co. in 2005 where he was in charge of retail, distribution, and food. At Moon Creative Lab, he launched the career counseling service "Pioneer Guild,” and later, "Career Forth," a career exploration tool for corporate clients.


Table of Contents

  1. Is it enough to remain a company employee?
  2. “What I want is a society where everyone has hope”
  3. Internal motivation is the greatest asset
  4. Getting out of your own mindset
  5. Unique human abilities that AI does not have
  6. Launch of Career Forth


1. Is it enough to remain a company employee?

After referring to himself as a “company employee,” Hiro began to question his own career and professional identity. 


Hiro: I started taking on this challenge more than 10 years after joining Mitsui, when I wrote "company employee" on my entry card for a business trip. I was wondering what kind of a professional I was.

In a typical lifespan of 100 years, with a retirement at age 60 is not the end. I started thinking about what I could continue to do while making money and being happy, but the answer was not easy to find.

It is hard to see how the education I have received so far will lead me to subsequent jobs. Even if I learn new programming skills, I am not sure if I will be assigned to an environment where I can make use of what I have already learned.

I had the impression that in today's Japanese society, smart people go to medical school and climb the career ladder in an escalating fashion. I felt that there was not enough diversity in terms of entrance examinations and careers, and that career paths had become monotonous. So, I considered various approaches to take a broader view of careers, which led to the idea of Career Forth, which provides a map of career suggestions.

I personally have other objectives, and although it may be an exaggeration, I also want to change society.


2. Asociety where everyone has hope

Hiro optimistically envisions a future that is full of hope and possibility. To get there, he believes that pursuing our interests and passions will allow us to grow and enrich our lives and society. 


Hiro: Technology has advanced the world, but in the end, the rich may have only become richer. Artworks are also being devoured by AI, and in the end, as everything is reproduced, it is all coming together and becoming similar. I don't think this will lead to a society that can have hope.

Peter Thiel said, "We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” This is a derisive statement about expectations and disappointments for the future. I personally am not interested in flying cars in the physical sense, but if there is something like flying cars for me (i.e., an ideal future), it would be a society where a child has hope and where any person can be happy, no matter where they are. To me, this is much more important than flying cars.

Even if it is just a small opportunity, pursuing the curiosity you feel at the time will create value in society. There is a system to nurture that growth, careers can be formed as a result, and the direction of those careers can be changed flexibly. I am wondering if there is a way to hack the digital society in order to create that kind of society.

Even if I cannot become an astronaut, I may be able to become an air traffic controller or other support person on the ground. It is currently not easy to follow such a passion/motivation of mine. If you don't know someone close to you or don’t have the resources or certain advantages such as financial means, location, or availability, it can be difficult to become an entrepreneur or turn your curiosity into a business.


3. Internal motivation is your greatest asset

After experiencing tragedy and hardship throughout his life, Hiro has learned that nothing is as valuable as your own motivation, which can be found in different forms. For him, caring and providing for his family was the biggest motivator, and he has found new motivation after having kids. 


Hiro: For myself, I had no other choice but to take on a daring challenge by using Moon's program that allows intrapreneurship. I was born and raised in Kobe, the son of a yakiniku (barbecue) restaurant owner. My parents' furthest education was finishing high school, and my grandfather and father were both self-employed. I grew up surrounded by people who worked in the field. It was not a culturally diverse and stimulating environment, although it could be said to be very nurturing.

After the Japanese economic bubble burst in the early 1990s, my grandfather was saddled with huge debts. My father had provided support to his relatives, but they were unable to pay back their own debts. As a result, my father closed the barbecue restaurant five years ago. I paid for my college tuition with a scholarship and continued to send money home rather than spend it on fun for myself. Later, my mother suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and entered an institution. My mother-in-law is also a single mother and has no financial means. After joining Mitsui, I myself once wandered the borderline between life and death due to the economic hardship

I could not sacrifice the stability of cash flow when I was responsible for the lives of so many people. But I also wanted to devote myself more to my purpose in life and what I wanted to do. That's when I came across Moon's program, which allows you to start a business without quitting your company. It didn't matter how many times I failed, because this was the only way for me. I applied again and again, and on my fifth attempt I was accepted.

For me, I am not only lucky and grateful to have Moon’s program, but through my past and present experiences, I began to understand my life’s mission, which is that we must make our society a place where if you have an interest, you can find a way to use that towards success.

I believe that in the future, the greatest and only asset for humanity will not be intellectual  capabilities, but intrinsic motivation. If we do not have a society that makes the most of this, many things will reach its capacity to be learned, diversity will begin to disappear, doing things as they have always been done will set in, and we will start to converge on the same kind of thinking.

There's even a paper called "The Curse of Recursion," which says that over time, the errors in the data generated will accumulate, and eventually learning from the data generated, will cause AI to misperceive reality even more. I would like for my life to be instrumental in pushing for human-led diversity. I think even more so after having children.


4. Getting out of your own mindset

Hiro: When I was little, I wanted to be a novelist. But I was told, "How are you going to make a living? Even my school teachers told me I had no talent. Now I think that even without talent, there were ways to find a job related to that path and make a living.

For example, when I was in elementary school, a woman next to me on the train suddenly spoke to me and said, "It's great that you are reading books," and handed me a book saying, "This is a book I wrote.” The woman was a foreigner but spoke fluent Japanese, and I later learned that she was a university teacher. That was the first day in my life that I met someone teaching at a university. At that time, I remember being shocked and thinking, "This person writes things for a living”.

My mother was very interested in education, so she often bought me books, and my cousin often told me that studying is important, so I read a lot. As a result, I decided to go to a private junior high school and to go to college, and here I am today. But if I had someone to guide me, I might have decided to pursue a career in literature. So, I think we need experiences outside of our own knowledge and a system that can nurture our interests.

Have you ever heard of the book Hillbilly Elegy ? It is the story of an author who was born into poverty in the U.S., but was fortunate enough to join the Marine Corps, go to college, go to law school, and become a lawyer.

When this author is placed alongside the elite, he realizes how different the worldview is from the one he has always lived in. When I read this, it seemed as if it were about me. I now work for a well-known company in the world, but my father and the environment he was surrounded by was very similar to the people and environment in this book.


5. Escaping the “filter bubble”

Hiro: In my father's barbecue restaurant, a lot of things were based on barter-like exchanges. For example, if someone fixed the waterworks, he would invite the person to the restaurant and feed him yakiniku. My father was a person who quickly became friends with people and built relationships with them. Generally speaking, this would be what you would call salesmanship or people skills, but I don't think my father had such intentions. He was the kind of person who cherished encounters, coincidences, and other things that happened before his eyes, and lived his life with a sense of duty and courage.

I once got into a car accident and scratched an oncoming car, and somehow my father became friends with the owner of that car, and we had such a good relationship that before I knew it, he had become a regular customer at the restaurant. When I invited the executives of my company to a yakiniku restaurant, my father was having a great time without me, throwing out questions like, "What do you think negotiation is?”

In fact, such a worldview has its good points. It is like the power to live and set values. I even think that is a uniquely human power. It is a totally different value system from the way we build it up by calculating, taking exams, and acquiring skills.

Human beings can move according to values, making judgments of truth, goodness, and beauty. When I say "work," I mean work that benefits society, even if it is not translated into money, such as helping the old woman next door. In other words, I define "work" not only in terms of monetary income, but also in terms of being actively involved in society. I think this is a good society, where people are interested in society, give form to what they think is good, provide value, receive feedback, and tune in, all in their own way.

I feel that in the past, the values of those close to you and their world often shaped the future of the children there. If you talk about the future with your closest classmates and they disagree with you, you may feel peer pressure and lose motivation. That might lead to a discussion about why we believe falsehoods when there is an abundance of correct information out there. In other words, it is a “filter bubble.”

As I reflect on what I have learned from the people I have met, I wonder how we can systematically generate the opportunity to go outside of our assumptions. I think it might be meeting a mentor or a teacher who can expand my interests a bit. 


6. Launching Career Forth

Hiro: At first, I was proposing a business project similar to the vocational education business Rizap*. 


*Rizap is Famous Japanese company. RIZAP’s personal training gym offers private rooms for training, allowing customers to train without worrying about others’ eyes. Their program focuses on muscle activity, which increases basal metabolic rate, making the body less prone to weight gain. The program is supervised by various experts and provides total support for “exercise habits”, “eating habits”, and "sleeping habits". They support on application for daily communication. They watch your daily food consumption and the diet. It's High cost but also High return.


Japanese salarymen are sometimes put in some kind of position even if they have no skills. They are asked to solve a problem they have never solved before, and if it is a new challenge for the company, they naturally do not know the answer even if they ask their seniors.

So, I decided that I needed something that would allow me to get one-on-one advice from professionals, both inside and outside the company. Using the analogy of a supervisor as a manager, the idea was to be able to quickly gather batting coaches and pitching coaches to assist employees.

In the course of our research, there was some discussion related to changing jobs. Some people commented, "I long to be a freelancer. I want to live freely." There were also comments such as, "Continuing to climb within a company is a winner and changing jobs is a loser." Many of the team members were foreigners who had developed their own career strategies, and I remember being struck by their casual comments.

"Their opinions were both so extreme that I found them a little irrational. It's not that one is better or worse than the other, it's a matter of strategically analyzing opportunities from a flat perspective and making a decision at the right time."

From this discussion arose the hypothesis that "the lack of future prospects is due to a lack of analytical literacy necessary to see an occupation or career through." It is important to be able to proactively analyze where you stand in the various career paths and how to change your options from there. some members of Moon had a methodology for developing their careers.

This is the kind of thing where you analyze the industry you are in, where you stand in it, how you function in it, etc., and then compare your orientation and direction to the growth potential of the industry, identify the next person to approach, and then narrow down your next path based on conversations with people you meet in coffee chats. It was similar to the process I went through when I was doing M&A at Mitsui & Co. The process involved creating a long list and a short list, matching the acquisition target with the company's strategy, and determining the value of the company as an investment target.

I wanted to introduce such a decision-making process based on objective data into the Japanese job change scene. However, this is a difficult task for the uninitiated. We decided to take on this task, visualize complex career information in an easy-to-understand manner, and make it usable by anyone. We wanted to provide an environment where anyone can easily install the steps necessary for career advancement with a single smartphone. As a result, we began to develop the concept of mapping, a one-touch visualization of where you are in your career and your past and future possibilities.



Until now, we have been forced to adapt to existing frameworks. Today, society is moving away from rationalization and efficiency toward diversification. Technology is finally becoming able to respond to individual needs.

If you can use the Career Forth mapping to clarify where you are in your career and visualize what possibilities exist before and after that based on objective data, you will be able to step outside of your assumptions and envision a new future for yourself.

I want to create a society where people can choose the future that suits them best, where they can be proud of their past, and where they can have such hope, where they can pursue an immersive professional life, anytime, anyone, from anywhere, and for any length of time.

Career Forth is a career exploration tool that provides individuals with possible career change options leveraging big data and market trends.

Since its launch, the service has partnered with five recruiting firms, including a company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and is currently developing features that will enable customized career path proposals for individuals and prioritization of job openings.

The service is currently not open to the public, as it is for corporate clients only. Questions can be directed to Naruhara himself. If you would like to experience the service, please contact us at the contact information below.


Hiroyuki Narihara
Founder, Career Forth

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