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The Man Hotter Than the Sun


At Japan’s Nidec, the CEO as Comic Book Hero
Eating contests. Shouting matches. Cleaning toilets. Just another day under the leadership of the country’s “best CEO”

by Jason Clenfield and Masatsugu Horie
July 17, 2015 — 3:51 AM JST

Ambition matters more than brains in Shigenobu Nagamori’s world. As chief executive officer of Japanese motor maker Nidec, Nagamori is known for his eccentric management style. Prospective employees have faced off against each other in eating and shouting competitions; new hires at headquarters in Kyoto have had to clean toilets. “Motivated people can do anything if they work hard,” Nagamori says in his autobiographical comic book, The Man Hotter Than the Sun. “It’s not people’s talents that matter,” the CEO tells his acolytes in one strip. Passion matters, and enthusiasm, and tenacity. And, if Nagamori is a role model, something else matters as well: a sizable ego.

たたき上げの経歴をrags-to-riches riseとしています。

He boasts of a rags-to-riches rise: Starting with three employees, he made small motors in a prefabricated hut next to his mother’s Kyoto farmhouse. Japanese companies, questioning the upstart’s abilities, refused to place orders with him. So Nagamori went to the U.S. and landed a contract with 3M to make a smaller motor for a tape recorder. “With this, Nidec Corporation’s reputation grew both inside and outside Japan,” according to the comic book.

Nidec employs about 128,000 people globally. Corporate executives such as SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son seek Nagamori’s advice about acquisitions and management. The CEO has met with such leaders as Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, where Nidec recently built a factory and has four more under way. Executives polled last fall by Nikkei BP, an influential Japanese business publication, voted Nagamori the country’s best CEO.


Not everyone finds working at Nidec so magical. Setsuo Matsui, who retired in 2010 after 42 years at a Sankyo factory in Nagano, says that after Nidec bought the company, Nagamori demanded that workers come in early every day to clean the facility; vacation was discouraged, and a chill came over the place. Matsui still remembers the unpaid Sunday he spent at a training session on office manners. Nagamori ordered that everyone learn how to bow properly. “I didn’t feel comfortable claiming overtime or taking time off,” Matsui says. “Neither did anyone else.”


A page from a Nidec comic book (read right to left).





"The Man Hotter Than the Sun"
The Story of Shigenobu Nagamori, the founder of Nidec Corporation
"I will be a president in the future!"
Mr. Nagamori continuously entertained his big dream of creating a leading business. He founded Nidec Corporation in 1973 in order to create a large business involving motors, devices that he had so ardently devoted his passion to from early childhood.
Within his lifetime, he has transformed Nidec into a global enterprise with business bases located all around the world.
How did Mr. Nagamori engineer this rapid growth?
His dramatic half lifetime of effort will be introduced in cartoon format.