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Be Fair and Righteous

March 18, 2022

After graduating from UC Riverside, I went to work for an accounting firm; “CPA” had a nice ring to it, and it seemed like a job with some status. In my actual experience, however, I continued working uninterestedly at something that was staid and monotonous. Almost on a daily basis heard my more experienced colleagues complaining at length about how our work wasn’t more enjoyable, and how they didn’t like our work environment. It was a fine company name to have on your business card, but I couldn’t imagine myself continuing like them, developing a greater dislike for work that I didn’t enjoy, and so after a number of years I quit.

“I just want to do quality work,” was a simple thought that I had when I started my own firm. I continued forward in the belief that if I could just do quality work then my clients would be happy. And the business slowly expanded. But I realized something unexpected about four years ago: My employees didn’t seem to be enjoying their work. Naturally, they began quitting. At the time, I was busy teaching everyone all the proper procedures and methodology for the production of “quality work.” But by focusing on the work itself, “what we do” became the purpose of work, while I was failing to communicate the importance of “why we work” in the first place.

Unless we understand the significance of “why we work,” then the work itself becomes a mere series of operations. I realized that I had turned my staff into “mindless workers” who were essentially operational processors. In order to better clarify the significance of work, I began taking people out on what became known as the Beer Bash, discussing “the purpose of our work,” and creating “TOPC Axis” to represent the coordinate axes of the company. More recently we use Beer Bash events as opportunities to explore these coordinate axes one by one in both Japanese and English for all of our staff. For example, last week the theme was, “Be an Educator.” Further, staff at senior levels engage in a program known as “Management Training,” where we learn together about what great company founders thought, why they started their companies, and how they grew those companies.

I myself, even while supervising all of our departments (comprised of Auditing, Taxation, Accounting, Management, and Systems Development), continue to participate in all the Beer Bashes, both Japanese and English, as well as each of our Management Training sessions. It’s an extraordinary workload, and I find myself spending most of my waking hours working or doing work-related things. Week after week, we spend over an hour on each of the Beer Bashes and Management Training sessions, which aren’t directly connected to our operations; sometimes I think TOPC may be the only accounting firm in the world that does this kind of thing even in the midst of our busiest season. I know that’s not the standard approach, but I believe that thinking about “why we work” can be more important on occasion than the work itself.

After four years, my own way of thinking has been beaten into shape, to the point where, basically, I myself no longer work for money or prestige. The real point of my work is to be always thinking about how our staff can provide the best possible service to our clients, and how we can support our clients’ growth to the greatest possible extent. And when we receive praise from our clients, I want that praise to be for the staff rather than for myself. I’ve arrived at a place where I’m really not concerned about receiving affirmation on my own account; where I can be genuinely happy for our staff when they receive recognition.

Each of us has a way of life. Mine is to support the personal development of all of our employees to the same degree or even more so than my own family, whereby our staff can contribute to the growth of our clients, and our clients can contribute to the wellbeing of society. That is what I live for. For me, work is a means toward achieving significance in life. TOPC Potentia, unlike many other accounting firms, is organized as a corporation, so unlike partnership or LLC, the company’s profit is completely detached from my own personal financial interest. This arrangement is symbolic of the fact that, as I often state, our staff members are working for the growth of our clients, and not for my enrichment.

It is said that a company is determined by its top leaders. The company’s growth depends on the level of passion that is continually conveyed to the employees, and on the level of effort that leadership can sustain. Accordingly, the mission of our company must indeed be my own belief and conviction, and TOPC Axis must be my way of life. That is why I strive every day on the job to work in a way that conforms to our Axis.

I imagine that some readers would be thinking, “But TOPC still has developments to make.” That is definitely the case. I am doing my level best, but I must continue to earn the respect of my employees in order to fully implement my ideals. My commitment in the meantime is, every week, every time we meet, to continue to communicate the significance of working at TOPC and of “making our people and our company stronger.”

We are still in the midst of our journey, and perhaps there will be times when we disappoint you, but we will be striving towards our growth nonetheless. I, therefore, ask for your continued cooperation and dedication.


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