“Every 40 years, for the last few centuries at least, we’ve gone back and forth between a ‘me’ oriented culture and a ‘we’ oriented culture,” says Eiji Morishita, founder of Movement Makers. “And right now, we’re in a ‘we’ oriented time.”
The collision of social entrepreneurship, conscious capitalism and consumer awareness is no accident. The last “me” era reached its peak in (and came to epitomize) the 80s. According to Eiji, we’ve been in a “we” centered era since 2003. He predicts that early in the next decade our “we” consciousness will plateau and continue until about 2043.
As a speaker, coach and thought leader, Eiji dedicates his efforts to helping entrepreneurs and business owners align with the ‘we’ movement.
Discovering the power of movements
Though he’s an economist by trade, much of Eiji’s work has been shaped by his the evolution of the marketplace. A first-generation American, Eiji didn’t learn to speak English until he was five years old. Growing up, his heritage and background were often an impediment that made him feel different from other kids. He found refuge in the Japanese sushi restaurant that his parents took over from his grandparents.
At first, the restaurant only seemed to attract the local Japanese community. But the market shifted, and sushi became popular. Eiji began waiting tables at the restaurant in high school. His regulars included hipsters decked out in Miami Vice-style attire — a far cry from Japanese ex-pats looking for a taste of home.
In 2004, after Eiji began his career as an economist, his parents decided to open two new restaurants. They enlisted their son to help. By then, the market was oversaturated with sushi restaurants, riding the wave his grandparents started decades ago. The Morishitas began to lose $10,000 to $20,000 a month.
With his family’s financial future at stake, Eiji doubled down and invested more effort into the restaurants than ever before. He began to see his family history in a new light — realizing that his parents were pioneers in America’s sushi industry.
Eiji rebranded the restaurants as owned by America’s “First Family of Sushi.” The change paid off. The renewed interest, positive press and awards skyrocketed the restaurants’ profit from $460,000 to $1.2 million in less than two years.
Making a movement for movements
In many ways, the current “we” cycle is a continuation of the hippie movement in the 1960s.
“What’s happening right now is we’re seeing a lot of mainstream professionals, people like you and I who went to college or who have corporate jobs are tech jobs or some sort of mainstream background, and they’re concerned with and actively taking on causes that activists in the 60s and 70s were fighting for,” says Eiji.
Fifty years ago, the Black Panthers were viewed as fringe extremists. Now, Black Lives Matter has evolved their efforts and ignited dialogue about the treatment of black people across America. Major events like the Miss America protest, Take Back the Night and the Ladies Home Journal Sit-In have evolved into the fight for more social equality for women, better pay and even the #MeToo movement. Anti-capitalist movements have evolved into a call for a $15 minimum wage and preventing corporate interests from influencing the political process.
For the past seven years, Eiji has been running a training company called Movement Makers. He works with entrepreneurs on leadership skills and strategies to build and scale their companies. Recently, he’s focused more and more on empowering entrepreneurs to become part of the “we.”
What do “we” do?
“Conscious consumerism is on the rise, and it’s really important for individuals, entrepreneurs and companies to stand for something positive,” says Eiji. “To give back to their communities or to actually stand for something that makes a social impact. And more and more, it’s becoming important to practice transparency in the way your company operates.”
TOMS Shoes was a game-changer by creating the one-for-one model — donating a pair of shoes for every pair sold. But not every company can have “we” so encoded in its DNA.
Companies can become part of the “We” movement by:
- Donating a portion of profits to charity
- Raising awareness for a cause through marketing and advertising
- Giving employees paid “days off” to volunteer at a local non-profit
The free market forces of capitalism may force companies to consider the “we” movement. Many will have to choose to either become more conscious or lose business to their competitors who are. And that clears the way for competitors who care.
“I really feel that those who are aligned with the new paradigm of giving back and doing good will survive and thrive and those who don’t will lose a lot of influence over the market,” says Eiji. “When people are working in a job that they don’t like, or they don’t care for the company’s values, those companies will start to go out of business more and more.”
Focusing on “we” helps “me”
Eiji admits that his desire to build a “we” oriented world has some “me” oriented motivation.
“At the end of the day, I have two little children,” he explains. “I want to make sure that the planet is in great shape for them and their children, their grandchildren and for humanity at large, because right now the trajectory that the planet is going on, it’s not a good sight. But I feel good about the people who are looking to change things for the better. I’m working with them. And they’re inspiring more people to join the movement.”
There’s an old saying that you should become the hero you need. From business to the Hollywood box-office, that idea may have finally reached its peak.
Eiji says, “I grew up in the eighties, so I’ve always wanted there to be a real-life Justice League. And in some ways, in the work I’m doing, I’m seeing a form of that starting to happen. And it’s amazing to see. But I don’t look for villains. I just want the world to be a better place.”
The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.
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