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The other day I had two incidents which made me think of “being out of place.”  The first was how I felt when I made congratulatory speech at Entrance Ceremony at Mita Campus for incoming students.  It was the first time for me to attend this type of ceremony at Mita and I felt it was an honor to be given this opportunity, considering that I have spent just 2.5 years at Keio and I am retiring in 6 months.  Naturally I was a bit nervous and checked the video archive of the past speech by the President Seike!

I felt a bit out of place  after the ceremony, because I was the only female on the stage (others were all men) AND my speech was quite different from remarks by the President Seike and the student representative.  Theirs seemed to be  formal, while mine was not.

That evening, I gave a brief talk to a group of executive women.  I talked about the need to develop own skills and to continue learning  in order to make an impact in the world where diversity is still an issue.  (I realize that we need institutional reform for this issue, but I myself am more interested in helping & supporting individual skill development.)  I emphasized the importance of having your own position and view and sharing them with others to make the world better place.

My talk was quite informal and casual, as I talked about my own personal experiences–how disappointed I am at myself when I do not practice what I preach and how I get out of the slump.

After the meeting, some 30 of us had dinner together at the nice Chinese restaurant nearby.  As I talked with many at different tables, some asked me the question related to expressing their view at the board meeting when they are the only female director.  They seemed to have difficulty expressing their views because they were often very different from those of other members.  They said they felt “out of place.”  I tried to encourage them to follow their intuition and to express themselves because different views are now needed at the boardrooms of many Japanese corporations.

Later it dawned on me that their feeling of “out of place” must have been exactly the feeling I had at the entrance ceremony at Keio Mita campus.   I felt I understand what they must have felt and share their rather uncomfortable feelings.

It was the day where “feeling out of place” connected two different occasions, but pinpointed the same issue, nonetheless.

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