Last week, the CEO of Leave a Nest visited Singapore for a business trip, and as such I had the invaluable opportunity to interview him. The only other time we had met was when he was my interviewer, so it was a funny feeling to be sitting on the opposite side of the table this time. I had been waiting for this chance to speak to him for over 2 months now, because I deemed it important to understand exactly why and how this company was established, so that at Leave a Nest Singapore (or any of the other subsidiaries), we could accurately capture the essence of Leave a Nest’s mission and vision when sharing this with others.
Prior to this occasion, I had spoken to Jo-san, one of the other co-founders of Leave a Nest. At that time, he had shared with me the importance of finding “good friends”, when establishing a company and allowing it to grow. As such, my first question for Maru-san was:
“How did you find Jo-san?”
Maru-san laughed and began to reminisce how he and Jo-san used to be in the same band during their younger days. Maru-san was the lead singer and Jo-san the drummer. As band members, they wrote and performed original songs together, which was the start of their journey in being “communicators”;- putting together original ideas and presenting them to important stakeholders so they could develop a better world.
Maru-san said that in university he had a heart-to-heart talk with his lecturer who played a pivotal role in spurring him on to achieve his dream of setting up Leave a Nest. Maru-san describes himself as someone who has always liked to keep developing new things, and did not want to join companies as a graduate where he would feel restricted and not be creative or innovative. As such, unlike his friends who did not get a job as researchers in university and went on work for bigger companies, Maru-san decided to set up his own company to achieve what he wanted in life.
As part of the Business Lab for Students (BLS), Maru-san began to share his vision with fellow students at university. BLS in Japan was modelled after the student circle at MIT and Stanford at that time, where they brought in individuals with experience in business to inspire university students. It was through BLS sharing sessions that Maru-san and Jo-san found the last core member of their founding team- Ikegami-san. Maru-san recollects having their first business meeting at Mcdonalds, and their friendship and partnership remains strong till today.
Maru-san’s background is in Life Sciences, with a focus topic on blue green algae. He had selected this field of study because he found it to be cross disciplinary and not falling into the standard categories of that time (i.e. biology, chemistry or physics). With science and discovery at the core, Maru-san began looking out for more members to join his team, which he does not define as “a company”. He would just like to bring together people who are passionate about science and research and would like to use their skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world.
As such, he lets everyone in Leave a Nest be a “project leader”, and he himself will be a member of their team to achieve something they believe in.
Through the interview, it became very clear to me why each project needed to have its own leader;- because only then can the vision and passion be delivered with true sincerity, based on our own individual experiences and desires. The drive to realise one’s vision is what allows the leader to find and convince other team members to collaborate with him/her till the end. When Maru-san recollected his journey over the last 15 years, I could appreciate how Leave a Nest in its entirety has grown to become what it is today through his leadership. In January 2018, Maru-san will be launching his book in Singapore, summarizing that journey with Leave a Nest, and the concept of [passion ←→ innovation]. I hope that listeners here in Singapore can appreciate how this could serve as a bridge between Japan and Singapore for them to realise their dreams.