What can marketers learn from Jiro the sushi master

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary about the 85 year-old sushi master, Jiro Ono, who has been working his entire life improving his Michelin 3-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo. I recently had a chance to watch this documentary on the plane. Like many other documentaries and good films, the philosophies in them apply to many different things, in both professional and personal situations.

Jiro Ono, like many other Japanese legends or masters, is all about mastering one skill. He fell in love with the art of sushi. While many sushi and food experts (Joël Robuchon being one of them) think that Jiro’s sushi is the best in the world, he never stops looking for the perfect piece of sushi. He believes that every single detailed effort affect the outcome, he dislike holidays and he dreams about sushi from time to time.

“I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.” – Jiro Ono

It’s interesting to look at this as a marketer. In this fast moving “360″ media environment, people need to have different skill sets to survive and understand the marketing landscape and it’s changes. We were taught to learn as much as possible; speaking 5 languages, learning how each social channel works, perhaps some computer programming, or hosting brainstorm sessions, all sound ideal. We are busy learning, busy working, dealing with personal issues in life, while both smartphones are popping up whatsapp messages. But we should realize one thing –  we are just doing what everyone in our industry is doing.

In order to have a different point of view and professional approach, we need to behave differently. That does not mean we should only do things that our industry people wouldn’t do. I believe mastering a skill like Jiro Ono will give us the edge, especially in marketing agencies in the future, they start to realize that a group of “360″ know-it-all talents can only, and will always develop mediocre work. I believe in slowing down, knowing life balances, and feel comfortable to be disconnected from “the world” and THINK. Talk less bullshit, do and think more, love what you do and really put your heart to it!

“Once you decide on your occupation… you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably.” – Jiro Ono

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