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10 Social Media and Leadership Stories on the Tragedy in Japan

It’s been a pretty heady and devastating week, but here are ten important and sometimes disturbing social media and leadership stories that deal with the Tragedy in Japan. The beautiful photo to the left was taken on 3.15.11 in Nagoya, Japan by ka_tate.

1. Tips from the Better Business Bureau on Donating to Earthquake relief efforts in Japan

2. Real-Time Japan News Resources

3. Tweeting in Japan: The Good, the Bad, and the Panicked

4. Japan’s Emperor Akihito reassures citizens in rare address

5. Growth After Disaster: Going Beyond Resilience

6. Anderson Cooper live Tweets from Japan

7. Wikileaks reveals Government warned about nuclear safety in 2008

8. Instant Stupidity: How idiotic and insensitive  comments and attempts at humor can’t hide in the world of social media

9. New disaster-centric phone apps already being rolled out

10. Flaws in Japan’s Leadership?

Leadership On the Edge

Japan’s Poltical Leaders Must Manage Expectations

It is a truism that political leaders need to manage expectations. In Japan, it should be the first item of concern.

Here’s an excerpt from a story in the Washington Post about Japan’s leaders and polls…

“In Tokyo the people of Japan love opinion polls that measure the popularity of their prime minister. The problem is, they almost never love the prime minister himself. The public calls him weak. The media grill him about his plummeting popularity. The prime minister, in turn, becomes increasingly aware of his tenuous support, making him weaker still, and of course even less popular. ‘He has to take on these issues and sell it to the public,’ said Gerry Curtis, an expert on Japanese politics at Columbia University. ‘Problem is, he has shown no skill in mobilizing public support. . . . If his [popularity] numbers break below 20 percent, he’ll be forced out.'”

BLG Leadership Insights

Shaping Creative Energy: The Birth of the Graphic Novel

Yoshihiro Tatsumi is the father of the graphic novel. He took his passion for Japan’s daily children’s cartoons (Manga) and used it as a vehicle to tell gritty, poetic, stories that attracted adult readers.

He called his new art form Gekiga and it became explosively popular in Japan throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Thirty years later Gekiga, Tatsumi’s idea of a graphic novel, would become popular in Europe and America.

In the 800-plus page autobiographical graphic novel, A Drifting Life, Tatsumi explains how he created Gekiga and the obstacles he faced while he changed the face of the publishing industry in Japan.

Tatsumi was 10 years old when Japan lost World War II. He grew up poor, his older brother was desperately sick, and his father was a perennial business failure. Tatsumi, named Hiroshi in the book, found excitement, humor, and fast thrills in the daily comic strips that ran in newspapers, magazines, and books. He spent the entirety of his free time copying the comics he liked and sending his original ideas to cartoon contests and publishers. By high school Tatsumi was published in many comic books and had even completed two-book length comics.

Tatsumi failed at getting into college because he was too focused on drawing comics and earning the respect of his idols in the industry. While his friends began their studies, Tatsumi started to sell his work in order to support himself and his family.

In these formative years Tatsumi wasn’t happy mimicking the trends and styles of other magna artists. Further, he didn’t enjoy seeing his work fall under the children-aimed label of ‘manga’ since it trivialized his work and discouraged adult readers from developing an interest. He wanted to define himself and reach a new audience.

Tatsumi began to insert adult plots into his comics and borrow camera angles and cinematic tricks employed by directors like Hitchcock and Kurosawa. Later he would draw a great deal of inspiration from the pulp-fiction writer Mickey Spillane, the progenitor of hard-boiled prose (“I walked and I smoked and I flipped the spent butts ahead of me and watched them arch to the pavement and fizzle out with one last wink.”)

His comic innovations became widely popular in comic rental stores that charged customers by the hour to read the merchandise. He mastered the art of the high-impact short story and began composing serious full-length graphic novels. The energy and creativity of his work attracted fellow magna artists who began to emulate his work and bring in their own influences. Geika, the graphic novel movement, was born.

Tatsumi’s story can be read as a classic sweat-to-spoils story, but it is more nuanced than that. He wasn’t simply trying to reach a new market and find a bigger paycheck; he was looking for the best way to translate his imagination and interests to readers. It’s really a story about a kid trying to learn how to use his creative energy.

The entirety of A Drifting Life is focused on Tatsumi’s relationship with his work. The highs he gets from creating, the lows he feels when he can’t write, and the anger he experiences when he gets lazy. It’s about the quest for new ideas and the ingenuity it takes to turn them into sellable concepts. Tatsumi tells us about the back-breaking work involved in shaping a dream into the confines of a money-making industry.

It’s essential to remember that Tatsumi wasn’t simply the creator of a good idea; he was also its primary pusher, salesman, accountant, and secretary. Tatsumi gives us a simply drawn account of the work and the skills necessary to take an idea and mold it into a reality that you can be proud of. Tatsumi concludes that he has always made demands of his dreams and it’s the reason he has achieved his success.

Buy the book here: A Drifting Life

Picture: Yoshihiro Tatsumi Drawing, Credit: The Doodlers

BLG Leadership Insights

Entrepreneurs Aren’t Exactly Lucky (Neither are Leaders)

Franklin-BenjaminAre entrepreneurial people gifted or just lucky?

If you’ve ever read an article about a successful self-employed person you’ve probably thought they were blessed with a large dose of talent coupled with good fortune. The years of hard work, trial & error, and perseverance, are usually summed up in a few lines that sound like this:

“After college Mr. X worked for 3 years in a high-paced marketing department where he made contacts and began constructing his aggressive business plan. A few years later and Mr. X was entering into negotiations with another round of angel investors and his new marketing company was already pulling in some serious revenue.”

The passage is deceivingly simple and wholly frustrating.

Leadership On the Edge

Leadership Link Round-Up: July 13-17