How to build a global team while establishing a company in non-international cities

The infamous Japanese work culture that we wanted to get away from

However, even now, some applicants for Gojo ask me, with slight concern, “I understand that Gojo is not like a quintessentially Japanese company, and is my understanding correct?”

6 things that Gojo has done to make a global team

The challenge was that I have never studied or worked abroad. It is not a start-up founded by an immigrant who studied in the US. Due to some reasons, we established the company in Japan but wanted to build a global team. Here are what we have done.

1. Start the company with foreigners

The founders of Gojo were one Japanese, one Indian, and me (stateless). Then within half a year, we recruited one Cambodian, one Sri Lankan, and one Indian. If you establish a company with foreigners, you need to talk with him/her in lingua franca. Otherwise, the company’s foundation, such as the business plan, website, corporate principles, etc., would be defined in the local language. Do I want to join a company where important documents are written in a language I don’t know? Surely not.

2. Establish a quota and stick to it

Our first business plan stipulated that any nationality group should not exceed 40% of the members. Although we could not have been very strict on the quota, we have tried our best. Gojo’s Japanese full-time member ratio has never been higher than 50%.

3. Delegate

Most entrepreneurs are arrogant or overconfident at least. That is why they start a company to change the world. Many mediocre entrepreneurs, including me for the first 3 years, tend to think that they can do everything better than any other team members.

4. Be true to the mission and values

Most companies have a beautiful mission statement and corporate values. Many startups say that they are founded to change the world.

5. Hire based on Principles

Since the beginning, we set forth our Guiding Principles, and we have tried to recruit people in light of them. Our principles imply that technical expertise matters, but they put much more emphasis on values alignment.

6. Keep in touch and wait

Good people don’t move in haste. They must be assuming an important role at their current workplaces. So we have to wait until the time comes — it could be a completion of a project, family matters, or any other events. The key is to keep communicating, even if your offer gets rejected once. They may join you someday.

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Taejun

Taejun

Founder & CEO, Gojo & Company, Inc.