Introducing Kay Deguchi, Owner of Ochanomizu, an Innovative Orthopedic Rehab Center – Part 2

As this is Part 2 of a wonderful interview with Kay Deguchi, please refer to Part 1 before reading Part 2.

A second life lesson she shared with me was the fact that our time is running shorter by every second.

Steve Jobs once said, “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”

Our days pass by, so it’s up to us to actively participate in life. So why not live life to the fullest, instead of complaining all the time? It’s our call.

For example, instead of thinking that you are having a bad day because you had a negative interaction with a patient, you can instead choose to focus on how you’ve brought a smile to a patient’s face, helped progress the life of another patient in his/her ROM (range of motion) scores, and had even one positive exchange with another human being. All of these examples are ways to enhance the quality of your life.

Every one of Kay’s jobs, life experiences, and countries she lived in, was an opportunity to learn to adapt as much as possible. Kay’s perspective is that life is an “ever continuing journey of learning.” And I concur. Whenever we feel like were are no longer learning, we need to take the initiative to challenge ourselves and make ourselves more well-rounded people with outstanding characters.  

Needless to say, Kay chooses to play a very active role in society. Not only does Kay Deguchi currently run two businesses where we met — a rehab center with ~200 patients per day, and an orthopedic shoe clinic, but she also sits on the boards of 3 listed companies, lectures at Keio University, and is a Professor at the Business Breakthrough Graduate School, where she teaches both Entrepreneurship and Corporate Finance. 

Even with all of her experience and busy lifestyle, Kay is a warm and caring person. We effortlessly laughed together, as talked about how we are both over the Christmas age of 25, a.k.a the age after which women cease to be optimal for marriage in Japan.

Although I was never asked about marriage in America, since moving to Japan, I have been asked if I will get married at least 10 times. In Japan, women are expected to get married early — the earlier, the better. After all, it’s very important to have children and raise a family.

But an increasing number of women are choosing not to get married due to the enormous restrictions placed on them. Even for me, I know that I will not be able to marry anyone who is not extremely international and willing to take on at least 50% of the household work, if not more!

Late one night, Kay and her father chatted over drinks. Her father mentioned that he would never want to work for her, as it’s hard for men (especially older men) to work under a female boss. And in that moment, Kay knew that this was quite a prevalent mindset.

Here in Japan, women generally do not work after getting married and especially after having children, unless it’s a part-time job. As such, it would be completely unfathomable to have a female boss. And while this mindset is very typical for Japanese men, Kay chooses not to complain about it, or worse, be defeated by it.

Instead, Kay’s perspective is that all humans are inherently biased, and will never be bias-free. Instead of thinking of this type of mindset, as a glass ceiling, or some other restriction, we can find a hole in the wall, a brand new door, or learn how to work within those boundaries.

And I concur. After all, it’s the healthiest way to think about any challenge that comes one’s way. One’s perspective on an obstacle is the point at which a person can choose to be defeated by, or overcome a challenge!

One of my favorite quotes is by Daisaku Ikeda.

“Before comparing yourself with others, win the battle with yourself. Strive to be better today than yesterday, and better tomorrow than today.”

When I read this quote, it reminds me to focus on how I can become a better person each day, take one step forward in my research vision, and help make even one person happier!

And this quote is emblematic of Kay’s perspective on life, especially after one of her best friends told her something that struck a resounding chord in her life.

He bluntly stated: “Don’t be so humble. You aren’t that great!”

Kay heartily laughed, as she retold that story. After all, it made her realize that she did need to enjoy life, and not take herself so seriously. She explains: 

“When I am cremated, how many people would ever remember I existed … let alone know if I were a CFO, manager of 100 people, or a cleaning lady? All this façade about wanting to present myself as an impressive individual, stemmed from my feigned self-esteem. It shouldn’t matter how people see me. If I make my life meaningful for myself, and help others along the way, then I know that I’ve lived a good life!”

Throughout our 1.5 hour interview, I sensed how Kay Deguchi works tirelessly to live a meaningful life! Not only did I walk away with so many golden nuggets of wisdom, but I also felt truly inspired. It was the most fulfilling use of my time, and I hope to share her wisdom with as many people as possible on this blog and in person.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and Part 1. Read more about other female entrepreneurs here, specifically Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, Kanoko Oishi, Mariko Fukui, and Yuka Fujii.