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4 lessons to learn from Japan’s first self-made woman billionaire


Yoshiko Shinohara is one of the finest examples of entrepreneurial zeal . Shinohara, 82, is Japan’s first self-made woman billionaire who without any formal education has made huge strides in the country.

She lost her father at age six, got divorced in her 20s, and made it to the billionaire list without any graduation from college.

Shinohara founded TempStaff, a staffing agency in 1973 from a one-bedroom apartment in Tokyo.

She broadened the workplaces for women where they could apply their skills. Presently, TempStaff has 313 offices and touched revenues of $4.5 billion last year.

Shinohara’s idea was almost illegal but she did not lose hope and lobbied to get the laws changed.

“Soon after my wedding, I realized that I would rather not be married, that this was not the right person for me. So I decided I had better divorce as soon as possible, a decision that my mother and brother were very angry about. After the divorce, I said, ‘I have to do something with myself,” she told the Harvard Business Review in 2009.

Like Shinohara, there are many people who want to create something of their own and serve the society. Even though Shinohara never set out to be a billionaire, she was focused on making a mark through her business.

If you want to share the same zeal as her, here are 4 traits that you can learn from Japan’s first self-made woman billionaire

1. Never lose:

In one of her interviews, Shinohara said she never wanted to lose. She kept going with her idea with all the passion. She lobbied to get laws changed for her business, which was almost illegal. You have to be focussed and a go-getter.

2. Risk

Shinohara was willing to risk everything. When she ended her marriage, she said ‘I have to do something with myself’. She also took the risk of starting that was illegal in 1973.

3. Working for society:

Shinohara never concentrated on becoming a billionaire. Instead, she wanted to help Japanese women and serve the society. Billionaires have always vouched for this-don’t run after money. Work for the society.

4. Listen to your instincts:

When she started TempStaff, it was only for women. But the idea began to lose steam and then she thought of employing men. In 1988, she asked her managers, “‘How about if we put some men in here?’ Her managers advised her otherwise but she listened to her instincts and brought in men. There was a spike in sales again.

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