I ran into one of my favorite major company executive at a train station today. Our exchange was brief, but what he said blew my mind.

Exec: “How many people do you have in your company now?”

Me: “Oh, it’s not like that! I work as an independent contractor on project basis now.”

Exec: “What?! No! Person with great ability should form a company to provide jobs for others!”

I usually give him hard time, especially at public conferences asking him hard questions. This time, he paid me back for them all, and more.

Social responsibility. I’ve never even dreamed about my role in that context. I know it’s not unique to Japanese society, since there is shining example such as what Howard Schultz did with Starbucks. I thought my range of social responsibility ended at providing for my family, raising kids who will make contributions to the society.

This conversation reminded me of what another major company executive I admire said to me a few years ago.

“People with great ability can take care of themselves. What we need to do is take care of those people who depends on us to provide jobs.”