It’s not “What you do,” it’s “Who you do it with.”
It’s not “What you do,” it’s “Who you do it with.”
Just like the term “The Fun-Loving Corporation,” this too is a key phrase we’ve held dearly since our inauguration.
When we first set up KAYAC, we hadn’t planned what we’d actually do at all. We were three friends from school, we’d gotten together, and the only thing we’d decided was to “Make a fun company with our friends.” That was it.
But, strangely enough, we know from experience that if you’re picky about who you do something with, the decision about what you actually do ends up making itself.
What kind of people do you want in your group?
So, how do you decide who you want to do something with? Unfortunately, there is no correct answer for that question.
Hopefully it will be someone sincere, who doesn’t blame others, who can get the job done, with a sense of humor, who has good morals, and is kind to people, and someone who’s interested in the same kind of things as yourself… There’s no end to the list you could make, and nobody is perfect.
But, if you had to choose just one criterion, the answer might be, “Someone who truly values the fact that it’s not what you do, but who you do it with.”
That sounds just like a Zen riddle.
Most people might agree who you do things with is way more important than what you actually do. However, the truth is many people out there value the “what” more.
For example, let’s say you were in a situation where you knew you’d lose a battle if you were with a certain person or group. Not many people would stick with that person or group to the end just because they were the partners they had chosen.
But if you think about it, it should be a straightforward problem. Out of all the activities we do in our lives that follow a certain set of rules, things like sport and work are examples that are very limited. If that’s the case, and you want your team to win, it doesn’t matter who is on your team – you should simply focus on choosing exactly what you are going to do.
Nevertheless, we at KAYAC want to remain a group of people known for focusing not on what we do, but rather, who we do it with.
Why doesn’t it work out when friends start up a business together?
The three representatives at KAYAC were friends that one day decided to set up a business together, and we’ve stayed together for the past 20 years.
People often ask what our secret is. Well, we always got along well, we each had our own distinct role to perform, the three of us continued to mature, etc. – we can rattle off a few reasons why, but to be honest, they were all just lucky punches. The true secret to our success is, it’s all just turned out nicely by chance.
But we guess you could say the only thing that’s close to being a secret to our success is the fact we all believed, “Who you do something with is more important than what you do.”
Why is it that businesses don’t usually pan out when friends set them up together? That’s because in most cases, the underlying fundamental in “work” is that it operates according to calculations about profits and losses. Merits and demerits.
On the other hand, friendships often have nothing to do with any considerations about “merits and demerits.” Friendships are relationships that are formed simply because the members feel good together, or because they share a common hobby, or because they were in the same club at school – that’s about all there is. And there’s no hierarchy – everyone’s an equal. That’s why we think businesses formed between friends don’t go so well – it quickly becomes a full-fledged activity requiring a whole lot of decisions about merits and demerits, when the relationships started off so simply and innocently.
As such, if you want to set up a business with your friends and make it work, we think you should choose one of the following options: a) agree that, as far as work is concerned, you are not all equal, and instead introduce a hierarchy based upon calculations regarding merits and demerits, or b) set it up with friends that truly believe who you do something with is more important than what you actually do.
These words are not only meant for those within our company.
This key phrase of ours – “It’s not what you do, it’s who you do it with” – is not just something we apply in-house. In our relationships with other companies, and even with our shareholders, we hold dear the ability to say to each other, “We want to be with you.”
However, if we put it like that, people can take it to simply mean, “Enjoy working with just with the people you like.” However, if that’s all you do, you’ll never widen your own possibilities. At KAYAC, we believe we must keep maturing and changing for the better, and remain broad-minded enough to work with as many people as possible, and at the same time, give ourselves such a presence that people would want to work with us, too.
“There may be other options, but I’m going to choose you because I want to share the joy with you. Even if someone more talented comes along, we’ve chosen each other, so we’ll see it out together, to the very end. Until then, all we can do is our best, and become a presence even more talented.”
Are you determined enough to say that, or not. It’s not about which is right, or better – it’s just part of our philosophy, and we hold it dearly.
Have the power to help your friends. Have the courage to let them help you.
Now for a few words regarding our thoughts on “friends.” We believe KAYAC’s members all hold a common aesthetic:
“People who only think about themselves are not beautiful.”
We help out our friends when they’re in trouble, because that is natural to us.
In this day and age, when any individual can work so freely, isn’t that the very reason you would bother becoming a member of an organization?
Sometimes friends help each other out, and sometimes friends disagree vehemently – but it’s through these interactions with people that we truly mature. It’s not just about you growing, because you’re also committed to assisting in the growth of your friends. And then, one day, when your friends show they have changed for the better, you can rejoice more than anyone else. It’s these kinds of interactions that make it all worthwhile for an individual to become a member of an organization.
That’s why we at KAYAC make our organization one that fusses over our friends.