Interviewer: Mayumi Banno
Theme：The Herbivorous Younger Generation
Banno For a change, I`d like to talk about the younger generation today and their nickname as “herbivores” or “introverts.” Since I have been with LPA, I have had the opportunity to travel abroad often on business trips. Especially in China, you can really feel the energy, vitality, and an air of excitement, almost the opposite of Japanese society. The current status of Japan scares me as businesses are getting harder to expand and the need to look at foreign markets is building. However, this younger generation of herbivores and introverts is also growing. The future of Japan is a little worrisome. Mr. Mende, you are anything but an herbivore. Were you already thinking outside of Japan in your 20`s?
Mende Well, for starters, I really love my work and it doesn`t really matter if it is in Japan or another country. However, the approach to projects in Japan is different and of course, the language is different. This can get messy and cause a lot of headaches, but if you slowly increase your vocabulary, it can really be a thrilling opportunity. I have always had a rich sense of curiosity, so this challenge just inspires me to move forward. In other words, it depends on whether one is willing to repeat over and over again these “small adventures” that make up our life.
Nowadays, the young generation is hooked on the internet. Everything comes off the internet! They have the been-there-done-that attitude and are satisfied with an instant, surface answer and not motivated to dig further.
Banno Yes, I think so too. Everyone is so familiar, maybe too familiar, with the internet leading to a lack of curiosity and the willingness to go and search for one`s own answer. I like “small adventures”, but what about recent college students? You interact with students often. Do you see any changes?
Mende No doubt, they are drastically changing. In this age of instability, there is no way that they cannot change. The area that I feel the most degradation is in speaking ability and communication capacity. It’s a challenge just relaying one`s opinions and ideas. I have been told; “As my professor, I can`t express myself to you very well, so please read by blog.” If you want someone to listen to your ideas, the first step is to listen to those around you, however student nowadays, all they do is listen and nothing bounces back. Too many “good students.” I was so sassy in my younger days and always colliding with my professors!
Banno To have an opinion and then the ability to express it in your own words. It’s a sad world when we are not even able to do this.
Mende Yes, everyone is too cozy with each other and it is hard to differentia one person from the next. Somewhere inside, everyone feels that they need to be the same. If you tell someone nowadays “ Hey you`re a little strange!” there are going to be hurt feelings. When I was younger I took it as a compliment!
Banno I think they don`t want to be embarrassed or fail in front of people. It is said that you should learn from your mistakes while you are young.
Mende Don`t expect to succeed the first time. I recommend humiliating yourself a few times over! For me to be able to speak English, I don`t know how many times I have embarrassed myself! Oh, you just hate yourself and feel frustrated and mortified, but these are the experiences that hold me up and help me to become a better person.
Banno No matter what age, we shouldn’t be afraid of failure.
Mende By the way, the opposite of herbivore is a carnivore. I don`t think it’s a good idea to be too greedy, though. You can never go wrong with vegetables for a healthy body, so an herbivorous personality might not be too bad…but, sometimes you get hungry for a premium steak, right?! How about an omnivore?! An omnivorous feeder eats anything and may be the toughest of the three. Sometimes we need to be nice to others and look at ourselves severely; or enjoy the slow life, but occasionally get in the fast lane. Not an herbivore or a carnivore, but an omnivore might be the answer we are looking for.
Banno This might be the right answer!! In work and play, balance is important. I think I will work towards an omnivorous life!! Thank you for your time today.