Sometimes playing the long game is the surest way to victory. That’s certainly true of Tsuyoshi Komori, the representative director of Coresco Co. Ltd. Coresco is a syllabic combination of “Consulting Resources Company,” and was founded by Komori in 2014.
“I’ve spent a huge chunk of my life thinking about communication on a global level,” says Komori. “The typical Japanese corporation has a long way to go in terms of asserting itself, forging equal partnerships and just general communication skills. I myself grapple with these issues all the time, so I set up Coresco — to reach out to companies facing globalization issues and provide advice and training, including communication improvement programs.”
To that end, says Komori, English is imperative. His English is fluent and he exudes a powerful confidence many Japanese spend decades trying to make their own.
“It was never easy,” explains Komori. “But I worked hard. It helped that I have loved studying English ever since junior high when I was fascinated by its possibilities.”
His mother was a key influence.
“She subscribed to the Student Times (a predecessor of Alpha) and urged me to read the Asahi Evening News, too. I also listened to FEN (the Far East Network) and Voice of America and immersed myself in English,” he says. His family wasn’t wealthy and “I was plagued with fear I’d have to give up college. It made me very anxious,” he adds.
Reading news articles out loud and making scrapbooks from newspaper cuttings calmed him down.
“I read out loud all the time until my mouth hurt,” recalls Komori. Thanks to that and his natural diligence, he got into the top-tier Hitotsubashi University. Upon graduation he was employed by Nippon Life Insurance Co. and five years later, Komori found himself studying English again, this time to get an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
“I reverted to my trusted method of reading English language newspapers out loud,” laughed Komori. He bought The Japan Times and The Nikkei Weekly, made scrapbooks of relevant articles and exercised his vocal cords to the max.
“It’s not a very glamorous way to study but it really works,” stresses Komori. “By using your voice, you’ll lose your fear of talking to foreigners. Plus, you learn vocabulary and phrases not taught at school here — real, here-and-now English. Real English is an invaluable asset, not just to businesspeople but to everyone who wants to aim a little higher in their lives.”
Given his career, you’d think Komori had dedicated his life to studying business management, but at Hitotsubashi he majored in social anthropology.
“I’m intensely interested in how individual thoughts and behavior form patterns that affect society as a whole,” he said. His other love was karate.
“These two things helped me a lot when I left Nippon Life Insurance to work for McKinsey & Company. I wasn’t just another Japanese employee among many others. I had to carve out my place in a foreign company.”
Both his English and karate skills won people over.
“People see a Japanese male and they think, ‘martial arts.’ Sure, it’s a stereotype but in my case, this worked in a good way. I figured, we’ll start off with the stereotype to break the ice and over time, people will be bound to see and treat me as an individual.”
That’s exactly what happened. Komori went by the nickname ‘Komo’ and he utilized his Japanese-ness to full advantage.
“I filled out my MBA application with a calligraphy brush,” he smiled. “I love calligraphy so I thought I may as well make that part of my personal brand, along with karate and English.”
Komori summed up: “I know I can’t speak like a native, but I’m very fluent. When people hear me speak, they sense that I’ve made the effort and studied hard, so they treat me with trust and respect. In Japan, verbosity tends to be seen as a flaw but overseas, it’s welcomed as a vital communication skill. And the more you communicate, the more you learn about the world.” (Kaori Shoji)
Words to live by
古森剛 （こもり つよし）