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Business Strategy

What the Heck is Pachinko? 3 Unexpected Ways this Japanese Gambling Game Can Help You Craft Your Business Masterpiece

Marisa Murgatroyd

I’m diving into the second book in my new book review video blog series (in case you missed it you can check out my very first book review here). I’ll be alternating between fiction and non-fiction books for these reviews.

Why? Because part of me wants to learn something that’s relevant to what we do as entrepreneurs and part of me wants pure escapism… I want to enter a world that’s nothing like my own and Pachinko definitely did that! 🙂

Pachinko was recommended by my friend Laura Belgray. I ask Laura for book recommendations because she’s a world-class copywriter and I’ve found that reading really good fiction is one of the best ways to quickly improve your writing… plus it’s fun!

So, what does Pachinko mean? It’s a type of Japanese gambling game… basically Japanese-style slot machines.

And when I started reading the book I was like, “What is this, a Shakespearean tragedy?” Because — I kid you not — 8 people die in the very first chapter!

But I decided to hang in there and I’m so glad I did because Pachinko turned out to be an “un-put-downable” read.

Here are my 3 biggest takeaways from the book.

Takeaway #1: Awaken Your Fear

The first insight or takeaway is related to the fact that, as I mentioned, 8 people die at the very beginning of the book.

Just a few hundred years ago, death was pretty much an everyday occurrence for human beings. Most people faced death at least yearly, if not monthly or weekly.

In some cases, it was daily!

Today, so few of us face the possibility of death on a regular basis. We simply don’t fear it as much.

Yes, that’s a huge improvement from the old days but sometimes I think it’s also to our detriment.

Here’s the thing…

When you’ve got that fear of death in you, it motivates you to take action and make the most of your life.

People talk about insecurity being a huge problem, but I think “oversecurity” can be an even bigger problem…

Because when you feel too secure, you’re no longer moving towards things that make you come alive.

As humans, we feel fully alive when we’re at the edge of our comfort zone and we’re going for something that’s just beyond our grasp…

That’s the place where danger is real and failure is possible.

The trick is to balance that need for security with opportunities that create challenge and growth.

So, here’s a question for you….

What are some things that can awaken or reawaken your fear? Maybe you don’t have a fear of death. Maybe for you, it’s the fear of public speaking (that’s worse than the fear of death for many people!).

I want you to remember that it’s good to find your fear and feel it.

Fear shows you that you’re moving towards something outside of your comfort zone. It’s an indicator of challenge and growth and it means you’re taking action and doing something that you don’t know how to do.

Fear shows that you care and it means you’re alive.

So, I’ve come to realize that I need more fear in my life. It doesn’t have to be fear of death, but I know I need to do things that scare me.

I want to identify my edge and the actions or experiences that are going to push me towards that edge and reawaken my fear.

At our last Message to Money Live event, I asked myself, “Where’s your edge, Marisa?” It was the 7th time I’d facilitated that event and it was the BEST time because I asked that question…

And my answer was this: vulnerability. It was about sharing more of myself, emotionally and showing my audience even more of who I really am.

It was about leaving my blood, sweat and tears on that stage.

So, during the three days of that event, I shared even more of myself than ever before. I shared things that were scary for me to share and in doing that, I stepped into a whole new space of vulnerability and personal power.

I shared so much of myself that it got to the point where I wondered if people would judge me for what I was saying and that’s when I knew I was there — I was at my edge and I was in the zone.

So, how can you reawaken that fear of death, adventure or growth… or whatever fear that’s going to get you to be more of who you are?

Takeaway #2: You Are Ready

Min Jin Lee wrote an award-winning masterpiece and the idea for the book came to her 30 years ago.

She was in college at the time and attended a lecture about Koreans living in Japan and the racism they faced (that’s what Pachinko is basically about — Koreans living in Japan).

Min Jin Lee was fascinated by what she heard in that lecture. It was a side of both Korean and Japanese history that she never even knew existed.

In fact, she was so fascinated and curious that she started to write about the topic. It took decades to really flesh out the story and craft her masterpiece.

And I think a similar thing happens so often in business. We have these amazing ideas that stay with us for years… even decades.

I remember a student of mine trying to complete one of my exercises designed to help people identify their entrepreneurial superpower and she was struggling to figure it out.

Then she found this drawing she did as a five-year-old child.

She realized that she already knew what her superpower was, back when she was five but then she totally forgot about it for the next 40 years of her life!

When she found that sheet of paper, she remembered the deeper meaning behind her work in the world and what her business is supposed to be.

So often, the business that you’re meant to build was planted in you as a child or a teenager and the idea germinates for decades.

Maybe you believe it’s too late for you right now, but think of it this way…

You’re like vintage wine.

You’ve been growing older and accumulating all these delicious elements — experiences, connections and ideas — and all of that’s making the wine so much tastier, so much richer.

No matter how long you’ve been brewing the idea, it’s just gotten better and better over the years…

And so you’re ready… right here, right now.

Takeaway #3: Talk to People

The third takeaway also happens to relate to Min Jin Lee’s journey as an author and her process of writing this book

As a Korean American, she didn’t really understand what it was like to be a Korean living in Japan 200 years ago and she couldn’t write the book, the way the book needed to be written.

So, she got a fellowship and lived in Japan for a while where she interviewed hundreds of people about Pachinko, about the Yakuza and about all kinds of aspects of Japanese culture and cuisine.

It was only after she spent time in Japan that she was finally able to create her masterpiece.

So often, we try to create masterpieces in our business, all by ourselves. We don’t talk to the people who understand the problem we’re trying to solve or the solution we want to provide.

That’s why I tell my students to go talk to their audience, clients and customers — their tribe — and to do it sooner rather than later.

The truth is the vision you have for your business — your 6, 7 or 8-figure business or whatever it happens to be — is NOT going to happen when you’re all by yourself.

It’s going to happen when you take time to talk to people who are impacted by the problem you solve and the solution you offer.

You need to really get to know them because these are the people who are going to bring your business to life. They’re going to bring your products and your services to life.

You need to connect from the heart and you need to hear their challenges and hear their desires through their lens.

You can’t create a masterpiece without having heart-to-heart conversations with people who are impacted by the problem you solve and the solution you offer.

If you tried to do it alone, it would be like Min Jin Lee trying to write her epic novel about Koreans in Japan 200 years ago…

With zero knowledge of what it was like be a Korean in Japan 200 years ago!

So, those are my three life-changing takeaways from Pachinko. It’s a thick book but it’s a very good read. I got so immersed in it while on vacation that I could barely put it down and get out of the house!

Now, I want to make sure you’re following my book review series because it helps me stay accountable. I really want to stay on track reading two books a month because I know it’s going to help me grow, stretch and learn… plus I get to share my learnings with you 🙂

So, here’s something that I hope will encourage you to keep watching and reading these reviews…

Whoever shares the most interesting, insightful comment below will receive a copy of Pachinko. I read it on Kindle but I ordered a physical copy so I can send it to the winner.

So please leave a comment. If you win, I’ll send you a copy of Pachinko AND I’ll write a personal note inside especially for you!

And if there’s a book that you’d love for me to read and review, let me know that too 🙂

I hope you found today’s review insightful and eye-opening and I hope you implement these lessons in your business and in your life.

Now, go out there and Live Your Message!

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Lisa-Ann Barnes

    Thanks, Marisa, for sharing this book and your reactions to it. Fear is something we have been taught to ignore and avoid. Yet when we look at fear as a reaction to change and moving out of our comfort zone, fear is something we should embrace and use to move us forward. Thanks for the reminder!

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Totally Lisa-Ann, and once you embrace fear, it loses some of its power over you 🙂 Thanks for sharing! <3

      Reply ·
  2. Laurie

    Marissa,
    It’s honestly refreshing to see you in action; to witness your carefully considered insight’s shared. In many ways, I stand at the opposite side of a young business woman’s world. For I am fast approaching my latter 50’s. But, as such, I clearly can see that you’ve handily encapsulated perhaps one of, if not the wisest choice in advice, and especially for professional women, in your video. It is one from which innumerable others naturally will follow.

    Regardless of the new millennia in which we live and the changes we see in the likes of the Me Too Movement, the fact remains that women face markedly deeper challenges in the business world as do we in those politically and academically centered. That is not at all to suggest that we need nor deserve a blanketed and special hand up or other such consideration, no. For we ALL face multitude but quite differing challenges, if many nuanced. It’s after 30+ years devoted to entrepreneurs in the micro-cap segment of the US capital markets that I suggest that as we purposefully choose to accept the challenges that so often do face we women where they may not men; that when we gracefully but determinately say to ourselves ‘you’re on’ do we then mount pathway to far greater – just as have you offered herein. We must challenge ourselves and we must consciously decide that we can undertake; that we should undertake and that when we do, we will not only persevere but we will succeed to far greater degree. It is perhaps a grittier undertaking. However, there is a far keener win awaiting us if we do accept and battle such challenges. For inside them are sets of often deeply personal challenges that as we climb to ever greater, continually will fuel and thus empower us. Respectfully, your advice herein is most valuable, Marissa. Please, let’s just keep the small successes reached each day in mind, as I believe in doing so we stand far greater chance of reaching what will likely be not a sprint’s finish line, but a marathon’s. In closing, I humbly offer that yours is very most insightful advice. It’s a pleasure to watch you in action, as is it to see you step ever upward, grow and succeed whilst lending a hand to multitudes. Similarly, it is most helpful to undertake your sage advice as I determine to take on my own next and upward moving second career – regardless of age or of gender. Thank you!

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Aww thank you so much Laurie! And these are great insights, thank you so much for sharing <3

      Reply ·
  3. Nadira

    Oversecurity! I think that’s so true. We want to stay comfortable. Procrastination, lack of action are there because there is no dire need for the action. If you don’t do it you will still be just fine. The fear of doing something new is greater than any ‘fear’ of staying the same. The desire for the action, change must be greater than the fear you experience in going after it. Or perhaps reframing the fear itself. The ‘problem’ is how to deal with the fear in-the-moment when you decide to step forward or step back into comfort.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Great point Nadira! Procrastination is a luxury of our time lol there was no dragging your feet when a lion was running straight at you 😉 Thanks for sharing!

      Reply ·
  4. Richard Gault

    Seize your fear for motivation, listen to your heart to find your busineess life passion and talk and listen to the people that your business idea impacts so your solution is their solution and you both own it!!!

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Totally Richard! Love this <3

      Reply ·
  5. Bernice Suma

    Hey! I Feel Like ,This is me. Have started my business and had my first conversation with the Amalpack company the biggest carton production company just yesterday 14/5/2019 in my city Lae and country Papua New Guinea. That idea that I had within me since 2004 has now come to light. Talking to people about my passion and what I can do for my people to help educate , build and empower them to grow individually as well as organizations. They have now given me the opportunity to run the Workplace health Safety and fire safety training,coaching and mentoring for the workforce. Yes, now I truly understand and see how I have planted the seed within us that has grown over time as we invest and equip ourselves to be very good at it and only when I have fought that fear within me to go out and talk to people who are impacted by the solutions I am providing to the problems they faced right now in relation to compliance requirements. I have now hear their desires and what they want. I can provide the solutions to meet their need. I am heading for a greener pasture and with this book it will help me rise to the next higher level.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Totally Bernice! And congrats on the progress you’ve made! That’s awesome!

      Reply ·
  6. Janette Holland

    Marisa, your insights from Pachinko resonated with me. I don’t have a fear of death as such. As an older woman, I am conscious that my time is limited and that at the end of my life I don’t want to have the regret that I settled for mediocrity and smothered the essence of who I am. Sometimes I think “Is it too late for me?” At those times I settle back into the present moment and know that there is so much more growth in me and it is exciting to go on that path of adventure. I know that challenges that don’t scare me limit my growth. Part of that growth is having the courage to set foot in new milieux, both real and virtual, allow myself to be seen and use my voice as a means of expression and connection.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Love this Janette! And so true, there is always time and room to grow and develop, no matter your stage of life! Thanks for sharing <3

      Reply ·
  7. Francisco

    O #3 tem tudo haver comigo,preciso falar com as pessoas.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Absolutamente Francisco, é tão importante! (Thanks Google translate lol)

      Reply ·
  8. John Moore

    Hi I so understand against life’s problems
    I go crazy with anguish and when the
    numbness wears off I realize that I already
    have the answer all I have to do is juggle
    with things I already have. New things bring fear because
    It’s a leap into the void but when you do it it’s natural. Someone said when you are about to die you will not be desperate about the things you did but will be about the
    things you didn’t do. Like the fear of asking a girl to dance, you’ll never know what would have happened. They also say no man is an island so why not mixe it with the rest? It’s not always that easy.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Totally John. We are most “alive” as humans when we are taking risks and pushing the edges of our comfort zone. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      Reply ·
  9. Shel Horowitz

    I love the way you made the challenge of facing your fear real in a world where most of us enjoy a reasonable degree of personal safety. And as a writer, I’m intrigued that your other two takeaways were about the writing process. My wife and I are both writers, but we have very different processes. She is a fiction writer and very internally focused. I write non-fiction, and I take my inspiration from the world around me. Both are legitimate come out both have resulted in some very good works, and neither would work for the other one of us.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Absolutely Shel! 🙂

      Reply ·
  10. Martina Landolt

    Great story Marisa. Thank you for sharing. Fear has been a driving force to propel me to the next levels in my life , even when doubt set in. Fear of change, fear of what others think. I believe fear is helpful as fearful as it sounds. Fear drives my determination to push past my doubts and my past limiting beliefs to take risks in a new business I was meant to pursue since I was eight.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Absolutely Martina! There’s a reason we feel fear as humans — to protect us & push us to new heights. A healthy dose of fear can get you out of your comfort zone just enough to take the risks necessary to grow 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

      Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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