January 2014 FEW Meeting Recap: Interpreting Your Own Brand

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Integrating a  Multicultural Mindset in Japan

By Christina Hanazawa Gallagher, FEW Vice President

Imagine having the courage to start a business after your first business nearly went bankrupt, your first book failed to sale, and still thinking big enough to successfully go after Al Gore as your first major client in your new start-up company?

That’s exactly what FEW’s January speaker, Eriko Sekiya did five years ago when she started Premier Links, Japanese Translation Services, a translation company for renowned figures.

“The biggest hardships or the biggest obstacles can lead you to becoming a brand. At least, in my case, recognizing hardships and overcoming them has helped me bring myself to where I am today,” said Sekiya.

As a female entrepreneur, she has grown her brand across several platforms including radio, television, online and successfully sold 11 books. Her best-selling books have been about how to communicate more effectively in the workplace for Japanese speakers. The books are wildly popular because she explains mistakes she has made in her own experiences managing products and brands at L’Oreal and Itochu dealing with international colleagues and clients.

Since starting Premier Links 5 years ago, she has also gone onto translate for notable figures such as the Dalai Lama, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg, as well as leading figures in business and technology.

Despite her success, Sekiya admitted to still feeling “small”, but she pushes past this by drawing upon inspiration from her clients.

When she translated for the Dalai Lama at his talk in Canada she recalled him telling an audience member who questioned whether all her business obstacles were telling her she was in the wrong field.  “Do it with all of your energy and all of your resources, no matter what. Believe in what you’re doing. Because the ones who suffered the most, are the ones that made history,” he said.

Sekiya also cautioned fellow businesswomen to not limit themselves to the notion of success being related to age.

This fall, as she approaches 40 years old, she plans to attend an elite business school in the States.

“I am going to business school so that I can learn more, absorb more and make myself, my brand a stronger one in the years to come.”

About our speaker
About Eriko Sekiya is a radio host, published author, simultaneous translator for renowned figures including the Dalai Lama and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and owner of Premier Links Ltd.