Become fearless—Say yes and explore

Makoto Yuasa

Representative Director, Japan

November 26, 2020

The CACTUS Way #6: Dream big and take risks; overcome the fear of failure.


Back in 2012, we were throwing around ideas for CACTUS’s 10th anniversary celebrations in Japan.

We wanted to keep it simple: hosting a party with some 100 loyal customers in a hotel and starting with a speech about our growth. But I started asking myself, if I was the client, would I enjoy attending a party just to hear someone’s success story? Shouldn’t we do anything that will be meaningful to our customers?

The team started a year-long exercise to meet customers—individual  researchers and universities—and understand how they function, what obstacles they faced, and what could be done to improve the research environment. I also started meeting industry leaders and sought their views on how science was managed and conducted today.

Japan’s economy was seeing a downswing, and many researchers were concerned about the future of research in the country. Researchers criticized the poor science and technology policies. Science policymakers were also unhappy with the way research was managed in Japan, but they had a different perspective.

It was clear that both sides wanted things to improve, but they weren’t talking to each other. This was an important issue to solve and efforts to identify solutions would definitely be widely supported by the scientific community.

This led to an idea—What if we brought together researchers, policymakers and government representatives, and the presidents of institutes and gave them a platform to discuss and debate what’s ailing science in Japan and what can be done to fix it. This idea birthed Science Talks.

I knew nothing about this topic though and had never managed such an initiative before. I met people from the industry every week to learn more about the industry. I needed someone who could give me direction. Someone from this new network I had formed suggested that I meet Mr. Oyamada, who went on to host Science Talks for three years. He agreed to come onboard after rejecting the offer twice. But third time’s the charm! He brought onboard young researchers and policymakers as well as senior industry leaders, and we formed the Science Talks committee. We held more than 10 events with the committee.

I went from thinking it was an impossible task to pull off to pushing for it after being inspired by the people I met who saw hope in the initiative. CACTUS wasn’t an established name in Japan like it is now, but I had faith in what we were trying to achieve and I overcame my inhibitions about approaching senior people. One senior industry leader even said, “I have not come across a private company that is so committed to connecting academia; it is too much work with little reward. I will do my best to support you.” This spurred me on. There were some difficult interactions with people who didn’t think I knew enough, but I considered it a learning opportunity.

Science Talks took off in 2013 and now it’s widely known by academia. People now see us as a partner to academia. This initiative helped us differentiate ourselves from competitors and helped me grow. If you truly believe in what you do, then you have no fear of failure because you’re only thinking about success.


This writeup is part of a series called The CACTUS Way Leader Stories. The CACTUS Way is what we collectively call our 8 guiding principles. We asked the senior cadre at CACTUS to share personal experiences where they practiced or identified with these guiding principles. These stories of struggle and reinvention, despair and hope, conflict and collaboration, and self-doubt and self-discovery make for an interesting read.

Learn more about The CACTUS Way here:

By Makoto Yuasa


Representative Director, Japan

Makoto heads the Japan and South Korea operations. Armed with a law degree from Nihon University, Japan, he took a detour into the world of marketing and sales. A significant player in the marketing and promotions of CACTUS’s editorial offerings to researchers in Japan, Makoto has been a key player in handling business development for publication support, education, transcription, translation, and design services. Since 2013, he has served as the Vice President of the executive committee of ScienceTalks, CACTUS’s initiative to build an interactive platform to enable authors and researchers to connect and exchange ideas in real-time. Makoto has a deep understanding of cross-cultural business differences after having lived in Japan, India, and the UK, and he uses this understanding to engage stakeholders and expand CACTUS’s work and imprint.

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