Q&A with Rena Suzuki, Co-founder and Leader of Lean In Tokyo

RenaSuzukiimage2Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting on ‘Leaning In’ in the workplace, we’re featuring a Q&A with speaker Rena Suzuki, Co-founder and Leader of Lean In Tokyo. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality. Here, Rena reflects on following her passion, the power of connection, and the heroes that inspired her to co-found Lean In Tokyo.

Don’t miss this inspiring speaker this Thursday, February 9th. Find out more about the meeting here.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To be surrounded by the people I love and to do what I love. I think I am very lucky to have most of that.

What is your greatest fear?

To lose my family. I am now able to do what I love because of my family’s support. However, if I lose them I will lose all of my happiness.

What is your current state of mind?

I am very energetic! Since we started Lean In Tokyo, I’m always energetic. Last year, I learned how to use most of my time doing what I love to do and follow my passion and this makes me super energetic!

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Modesty and the perception that quitting is a bad thing.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My husband, Felix. We fell in love during university, and got married after 1.5 year long-distance relationship between Singapore and Germany. During our long-distance relationship, he supported me from far away. We finally got married last October after both of us moved back to Tokyo.

When and where were you happiest?

When I was in high school as an exchange student in Wisconsin. It was my first time to be exposed to new cultures, new ideas and new ways of thinking. That is when I learned how to be confident.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To inspire others. I have met many leaders who inspired me, and I would like to be as inspirational as those people. I think it is very important to find a passion first in order to be inspirational. I have found my passion, which is women’s empowerment, so I think I am one step closer!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

To found Lean In Tokyo. I had not found my passion until that time and I never had any opportunities to lead something and experience what I am experiencing now. However, thanks to my co-founders Satoko and Yoshie, I was able to find and live my life’s work.

What is your most treasured possession?

An accessory that I received from my grandmother. The accessory is a horse shaped necklace. I really do not know why she gave it to me and I could not ask her before she passed away. However, I believe that is my lucky charm. It makes me feel that I am like a horse and can overcome any hurdles.

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty. Since I am the type of person who can’t lie or hide my emotions, I want others to be honest about their thoughts and emotions as well.

Which book do you think is a must-read for women?

“LEAN IN”!! I truly recommend reading this book. If you have not read it, you should!

Who are your heroes in real life?

My biggest hero is my grandmother. She was president of her family company and kept working until she passed away. She loved working and she was so inspiring that many people followed her. It was very rare at that time for a woman at her age to become president of a Japanese company. Thanks to her, my mom learned that it is normal for women to work or to be leaders. That’s why I never questioned women taking on leadership roles and becoming successful at business.

What does FEW mean to you?
FEW is a model support group, or what we call a “Lean In Circle,” of active, talented women. I wish there were more support groups of this kind.

When have you have felt most empowered?
When I see people connecting. I truly believe in the power of connection. I see people connecting everywhere, such as at Lean In Tokyo events/meetings, or other events such as FEW events. Connections empower people and causes through mutual support, especially our Lean In movement. The entire women’s empowerment movement thrives with each new connection. Together, we are better and stronger.

What is your motto?

Be authentic!


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