William Reed, Samurai Walk – InnovaBuzz 296

William Reed

William Reed, Samurai Walk

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, William Reed who is a Japanologist with over four decades of experience in Japan, and in-depth knowledge of the Japanese language and culture. He is dedicated to bridging the language and cultural gap to make accessible the Ways of practical wisdom in Japanese Budo and traditional arts. He is Professor of Japan Studies at the International College of Liberal Arts (iCLA) at Yamanashi Gakuin University, where he teaches to Japanese and International Students from over 30 Countries. His focus is coaching and training in application of Aikido and Renaissance Samurai principles to idea generation, speaking, and personal branding in a business environment.

Will is the author of several books in English on Aikido and Shodo, and has written a number of books in Japanese; including two which became number one bestsellers on Amazon in Japan, one on the Art of World Class Presentations, and the other on Mind Mapping and Creativity. He is a weekly commentator on Japanese television . He has also appeared in several documentaries as a navigator on Samurai Code and Culture, including the Aizu Samurai.

In our discussion, Will and I talked about:

  • His passion process to help get clarity, focus on the right activities, serve, and profit from your passion,
  • Lessons from the martial art, Aikido, to business and life – particularly the alignment of head, heart, and body,
  • Why “Always Be Learning” is such a powerful mantra

Mark Robinson in episode 254 introduced us to Will. 

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Narrow your passions down and make sure that everything that you do is connected to those. Things start to happen when you focus. @William_Reed on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

Show Notes from this episode with William Reed of Samurai Walk

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • The more things that you think, the more confused you become. If you chase 2 rabbits, you lose them both. 
  • Aikido trains you to align the head, which relates to your wisdom and mental clarity; the heart, which relates to love or your emotions; and the Hara (lower abdomen), which relates to your vitality. Aligning these three centers – the head, the heart, and the hara, enables you to maintain, develop, and cultivate your wisdom, love, and vitality.
  • You can get caught up in things that are rapidly changing but keep in mind that there are also things that are unchanging, and those principles can be your guideline.
  • Learn something new from the old.
  • Nanba literally translates to a difficult place or a tough spot. It’s the art of physical finesse which can help you get out of a difficult place.
  • The 3 Principles of Nanba – don’t force, don’t twist, and don’t disconnect. 
  • When you find yourself in a difficult situation, train yourself to respond in Nanba terms. Do the reset. Go back to something that is very basic and easy to practice, so that then you can start to intelligently deal with the problem.
  • Take a walk. Sitting is the new smoking. Sitting down for 8 hours a day puts your health at risk.
  • Words should be aligned with action. 
  • Calligraphy is the art of painting Chinese or Japanese characters, where your state of mind is completely reflected on the page. You can’t fake it. You have to really concentrate to produce a nicely balanced piece of art. It’s a great way to train and develop your concentration as well as to enjoy and appreciate philosophy and the arts.
  • Iaido or the art of drawing a sword teaches us a great way to concentrate, focus, and protect yourself. 
  • A tea ceremony is an amazing way to reconnect with your senses and the subtle changes in the seasons.
  • Learn to become a super learner like the ninjas. Ninjas are information gatherers. They were very good at learning new dialects. They penetrate into new environments and constantly learn new professions so that they can blend in. 
  • The 4 Steps to Pledge, Pursue, Present, and Profit from Your Passions:
    1. Pledge and clarify your passion – what is it that you really care about and that you really want to focus on? Clear away the clutter in your mind so that you can focus on what matters most to you through the Passion Test.
    2. Purse them – connect your passions to your calendar. 
    3. Present your passion – put them on a platform so that you can share and present yourself to the world.
    4. Profit from your passion – get paid to do what you love and make it your mission.
  • Narrow your passions down and make sure that everything that you do is connected to those. Things start to happen when you focus. People see that more and you’re not giving them confusing messages. 
  • Once you determine what your passions are, ask yourself if you are living those at a high level. Start taking action. 
  • You may be in love with your idea but remember that what you want may not necessarily be what your customers want. Tweak your idea. Pay attention and find out what they need. Focus on solving the problem through your passion.
  • Jōnetsu is the Japanese word for passion, which means “heated up emotions.” Passion is usually a personal thing. It is about yourself.
  • Kokorozashi is the Japanese word for mission that is written in two-character parts – Samurai and mind. The Samurai Mind is the mission. It’s about wanting to help others. It means that your primary motivation is to help others.
  • Tradesmen in the Tokugawa period had a thing called sampo yoshi, which means being good in three directions – good for you (you make money), good for your customer (it’s a good product/service that helps them), and good for the environment or society. In addition, it also has to be good for your ancestors and your descendants. It is adding the time dimension to it. 
  • To overcome the waves of life, you need to have the alignment of the mental, physical, and lifestyle components in your life.
  • Free your mind by taking some time to focus on things outside of yourself. Get back in touch with yourself, with nature, and with the people around you. 
What you want may not necessarily be what your customers want. Pay attention and find out what they need. Focus on solving the problem through your passion. @William_Reed on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Will’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Listen to the interview to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Always be learning. The minute you think you know something, you kill all innovation. Curiosity should always be your main drive.
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Pursuing what might have started as a hobby or a passion to a professional level. Shumi is the Japanese word for hobby that is written in two characters which means “to run and take” and “to taste”
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – Mandala chart. 
  4. Keep project/client on track – In the beginning, ask them what they want to achieve, and at the end, ask them what their biggest takeaway is. 
  5. Differentiate – Life long learning, reading, and people. Do more than just one thing. Go out of your industry. You will be the same person in 5 years except for the people you meet and books you read. You can’t do it yourself so draw from the wisdom of others. 

To Be a Leader

Take advantage of this time to reflect. Read books and meet with people that can really change your life and take those changes to your heart. Take advantage of the extra time that you now have to add new skills and to clarify your passions. When things get back to normal, don’t just step on the merry-go-round. Take a clear assessment of where you really want to be and who you want to help.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Will through his website.

Suggested Guest

Will suggested I interview Craig Valentine of the Speak and Prosper Academy. So Craig, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of William Reed.


Cool things about Will

  • He has an 8th-dan in Aikido with the Yuishinkai and holds a 10-dan rank as a professional Sensei of Shodo Calligraphy.
  • He is the Director of WA no Mori, a company dedicated to revaluing Japanese Culture through experiences of Samurai Culture in beautiful natural and historic sites in Japan. 
  • He earned a Bachelors Degree from Earlham College in Japanese Language and Area Studies, and a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Missouri.
Always be learning. The minute you think you know something, you kill all innovation. Curiosity should always be your main drive. @William_Reed on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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