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Q&A with Stephen Ibaraki, Chairman @ REDDS Capital

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Stephen Ibaraki, Chairman @ REDDS Capital

How could you describe your career path in few words ?

There are three inflections points that positively transform career paths.

My first inflection point happened when I was ten and I became absorbed by this innovation called computers and so I decided to build one. The lesson here is dream big and then execute to turn the idea into reality. That process of stretching at the limits or boundaries of what you know always leads to unbounded growth.

My second inflection point occurred when I was in my early 20’s and though highly technical and shy, I started teaching, writing, and went into sales – all concurrently -- to master the communications and interpersonal skills required to progress. In retrospect, these skills are 95% of career success, and the resulting trusted networks and relationships, you build from social skills. The social aspects, where I had little experience, turned into an asset by taking on social roles. I immersed myself, leveraged and studied best practices, to become knowledgeable. Whatever the skill or task required, there are best practices to ensure you can master the required skills. I didn’t let my technical orientation, define who I was. I looked for areas I needed strength and then programmatically developed expertise by embracing the challenges. I reframed the challenges of developing social skills into an opportunity for growth which aligns with my first inflection point – unbounded growth.

The third inflection point happened when I left teaching and took on multiple roles to have measurable impact for global good. Here daily hurdles are the norm and frequent “No, it’s not possible!” Embrace, what feels chaotic, and reframe into small steps, each step representing a micro-challenge to be solved and becoming an opportunity. Taken together, success happens! No becomes yes as you provide conditions for the Yes. Be mindful of group think within each community and by encouraging diversity, you maximize options, creativity, and talent.

What’s the most important key success factor for you based on your experience ?

My key success factors are:

  • continually embracing stretch goals and growth opportunities. I ask myself; do I feel challenged every day?

  • taking time for active listening, understanding, and respecting others; looking for common ground as a foundation for collaboration and co-creating

  • living agility and diversity in thinking

  • problems and challenges are reframed as opportunities to grow by overcoming the challenge

  • opportunities are reframed for positive measurable impact and multi-stakeholder “omni-win” value delivery – return on value which is broader than return on investment

  • uncertainty is clarified by stepwise refinement into discrete small steps forward to continually reduce the uncertainty

  • manage striving for perfection where it impedes executing towards goals

  • vision and ideas must be translated toward specific and measurable goals in a specific time frame

  • always look to run experiments founded on stretch goals to test ideas

  • “No” means it can be done by working harder to understand the parameters for success and executing

  • persistence, hard work, focusing on execution.

When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think ?

Why do I feel surprised, and can I explicitly state the factors for the surprise? What do I feel this is a unusual or uncertain situation and can I explicitly state the factors for this uncertainty?

What are the variables behind the unusual situation and which ones can be managed and how? Which variables are beyond control and why?

What are the possible outcomes and the most probably outcomes in the near, medium, and long term? What is the risk or opportunities in the near, medium, and long term? What domains, communities, sectors, are involved? How does this align and not align in areas of interest?

When something unusual and chaotic happens, where there is uncertainty, I look for the drivers of the uncertainty. I drill into the unusual and chaotic context to understand it. I ask questions and what if scenarios. I seek diverse points of view. It’s an iterative process where I am studying the base conditions and factors that are amplifying the uncertainty. I run thought or actual experiments and simulations for outcomes to reduce the uncertainty.

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