Interview duration, ‘More than 3 hours’.

The other day, we published a casual conversation with GACKT-san about ‘The Thought Process of Those who Achieve Results’. While we managed to speak to him about the planned topic for about an hour and a half… Just as the interview was about to come to a close, he said something unexpected:

“If there’s still anything else you want to ask, let’s just get through it all now.”

W-what a surprising turn of events…! Is this what the generosity of a top-class celebrity looks like? He’s on a whole other level.

And so, this time, we have added a last-minute interview about ‘the difference between the right and wrong efforts’. In the book, “GACKT: The Art of Super Thought” which is packed with GACKT-san’s way of thinking, there is a section which reads, ‘Doing your best alone is pointless. Don’t be mistaken about how you apply your efforts.’

So, what is ‘the right way to make an effort’ as told by GACKT-san…?

Thus, this heated lecture that ended up spanning over 3-hours begins!

※As in the previous interview, this is conducted remotely from Malta.

〈Interviewer = Sano Tomoki〉

【GACKT】Actor, singer-songwriter born in Okinawa prefecture in 1973. Presently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Aside from being the first Japanese national to be awarded “Best Asian Rock Artist”, he is also an entrepreneur and businessman in a wide range of industries like real estate for the affluent, food and beverage, and others

The misconception that ‘I’m the one working the hardest’. GACKT’s “days as a part-time mover”

Sano (S):
Today, I’d like for you to teach me about ‘the right way to make an effort’.
Recently, this particular thought has been coming to mind a lot when I’m at work; the question of, ‘Why aren’t I getting anywhere even though I’m working so hard’…

GACKT-san (G):
I actually understand how you feel.
Because when I was in my teens, I also kept wondering, ‘Why is this person enjoying themselves so much more than me,’ and thinking, ‘Although I’m working so hard, [nothing’s coming of this]’.


When I was 17, I had a part-time job as a mover.
Two of us would get in a truck and go to various houses, move the parts of a study desk into the kids’ room and then put it together. That sorta work.

(I can’t imagine GACKT-san as a part-time mover at all)

So, we’re moving big boxes into the rooms, but… whenever we go up the stairs, I’m always the one supporting the weight from below.
Those things are super heavy, and I’d always look at my partner and wonder, “Why’s this old geezer putting me in the more arduous position every time?”
Like, “Why? Why am I always below??”

I could finally imagine it and he must’ve been quite adorable

So, at the 7th house or so, I said, “I’ll go in front.”
When I said that, the uncle asked… “Are you sure?”


While wondering what he meant by that, I went up to give it a go and… it was completely impossible for me to lift.
The truth is, it was far more strenuous for the uncle who was carrying it up front.
It felt like he was doing everything. No matter what the job, he would just pick the more difficult end of things without saying a world and simply let me follow.

Ah… that does happen…

In the bottom of my heart, I thought, “I was a fool.” Whenever someone thinks, ‘I’m the one working the hardest’, most of the time, it’s a misconception.
There are tons of people in Japan who live with the constant thought of, ‘Why am I the only one’ but it’s better to throw that belief away right now at this moment.
As long as you’re holding on to that ‘non-existent persecution complex’, no matter how hard you work, you’ll never be happy.

Do you think ‘being tired’ = ‘having worked hard’?

In the very first place, most Japanese people have got the meaning of ‘working hard (頑張る)’ wrong.

What do you mean?

Do you know about the ‘worker ant law’ ¹ ?
It’s the law that when ants are put together, they will definitely end up with a ratio of 8 to 2 in terms of the number of hard working ants to the number of ants which slack off.

It’s the theory that if 20% of the ants are hard working, 80% will be slacking off, right?

That’s right. The present state of the Japanese society is very close to that right now but…
The biggest problem about this is that it’s the “80% who are slackers” who believe that ‘I’m the one working the hardest’.
To those reading this article now, I’d like to ask one thing.
Do you think ‘being tired’ = ‘having worked hard’?

‘Being tired’ = ‘having worked hard’…?

Right now, most people in Japan are working in ‘salary-based’ jobs, right?
They’re being paid by the hour or the month for ‘the amount of time spent working’.


In other words, money is generated simply by ‘being present’.
That’s why Japanese treat ‘being in the office for 9 hours’ as the purpose of work, and end up thinking ‘Ah, I’m tired out today too = I worked hard’ even if they didn’t achieve any results for the day.
Among them, there are also people who act like they’re tired to make others think that they’re ‘working hard’.

I think I honestly might’ve gotten that feeling…

On the other hand, the people who fight it out in the world of ‘incentive-based’ jobs and get paid based on their achievements are by far the most ‘results-driven’.
And that is only because they’ve been fighting in a world where ‘achieving results = having worked hard’.
They don’t ever give excuses like, ‘I couldn’t do it because of this reason.’ Because, you see, if they don’t produce any results, they won’t be able to feed themselves. The only option is, ‘I’ll figure it out.’

What do you think will happen if all the world’s businesses switched to an ‘incentive-based’ system?
Japanese society would crumble in an instant. It will be overflowing with people who can no longer make a living will because there are too many people who don’t have ‘the ability to achieve results’.

But in actual fact, salary-based companies are still more common anyway…
And I think that… it’s not a problem for us to continue living like this…? (mumbling)

It’s been fine so far. But the situation has drastically changed.
Everyone needs to be aware of the fact that in this COVID-19 pandemic, the “time when (you) have to improve the quality of your efforts in order to survive” has come for the people who have been surviving by ‘just being in the office’.
What I want to say is, ‘This is precisely the way it is now.’

The fork in the road for the people who look to be paid for simply ‘being in the office’ is now right before their eyes

Many companies have fallen into financial difficulties this time around with the COVID-19 crisis.
What do you think is the ‘correct application of hard work’ needed in such a situation?

T-the ‘correct application of hard work’ for the COVID-19 crisis…!? That’s a tough question…

Try thinking about it from the management’s perspective because then you’ll get it in one go.
The head of the company isn’t a person who sits at the top of the pyramid and rests on their laurels. Instead, the CEO, the head of the company is the person who is right at the bottom of an inverted pyramid supporting the whole structure.
When it comes to the topic of hiring, they’re said to ‘think only about money’ or that they’re ‘cold blooded and unfeeling people’, but that’s not true. They have to pay attention to results and generate profits otherwise they won’t be able to feed their colleagues.

That’s true.

From this perspective, if the pyramid only grows bigger and bigger, there will come a time when they can no longer support it.
The decision to keep capable people who can produce ‘results’ and cut out the ineffectual ones is a natural choice to make in order to protect their colleagues.
Next, it’s a question of who are these ‘ineffectual people’.

We’re looking at each other through the screen but the tension in the interview room is rising

You don’t even need to think hard to figure this out. It’s the people who look to be paid for ‘just being present’ and who have not developed the ability to produce results.
If they want to survive, their only option is to change ‘the way [they] work hard’. And this fork in the road which tests whether they’ve realised this or not is now right before their eyes.
… What is your next move?

… As someone living in these present times, this isn’t something I can ask anyone else about.

Whenever I’m giving advice to those younger than me, I’d always say, ‘Step in the shoes of the employing end’.
Even if it’s just once in your life, even if it’s just for a short period of time, it doesn’t matter how small a job it is. Just look at things from the employer’s side.

Why do you advise them so?

Why don’t you try paying for this with your own money by starting a business and becoming the employer?
You’ll immediately understand exactly what ‘working hard’ means. You’ll understand how little people take initiative.
Only then will they truly realise for the first time exactly how worried they should be about their way of working hard, of ‘just being present’.

So, it’s something that you’d understand once you’ve experienced being on the ‘result-seeking side’.
I guess this is something that can also be felt when you ‘have subordinates’ or ‘become a team leader’…

Japan should, as much as possible, refrain from creating more ‘poor people’ or ‘rich people’, and increase the number of ‘middle-class people’ instead.
And politicians are saying, “Look. The unemployment rate in Japan is only ever falling. Don’t you think we’re a wonderful country?”
But are people truly happy living a life where they spend 9 hours everyday simply ‘being present’? How do you want to live your life? … Now is the time to think about it properly for once.

Luck is a bonus that only comes to those who work up to 90%.

In your book, you wrote, ‘There are times when you can’t get all the pieces no matter how hard you work.’ Meaning that there also has to be an element of luck.
Is this to say that no matter how much you employ the ‘correct application of hard work’, there are still occasions when it doesn’t pay off after all…?

Make no mistake that having or not having ‘good/bad luck’ is a thing. This is a fact.

I thought so…

But to me, having ‘good luck’ is when I get to 90% yet achieve 200% of the intended result in the end.
Conversely, ‘bad luck’ is when I get to 90% and can only achieve 95% of what I needed to when I run out of time.
This is the only difference. In other words, ‘up to 90% of everything is dependent on your own hard work’.

3 hours of this and he continues to dish out wise words…

That is to say that no matter how bad your luck is, you’ll always be able to achieve 95%.
That’s all luck is. Something like a bonus.

Like an add-on?

That’s right. Strictly speaking, it’s an add-on which only happens to ‘people who have worked hard to reach 90%’.
There are far too many people in this world who expect to get that bonus without doing anything.

Luck is the bonus of a huge opportunity that only comes to those who have made it to 90%.
Yeah, this, there’s no doubt about this…

At this point, the interview finally ended… The time was 12 midnight in Japan! It was so immensely condensed…

GACKT-san, truly… thank you for these 3 hours today.

One last thing… In this day and age, you can read as many ‘words of wisdom’ as you want.
But even if you read this article, nothing will change if you don’t do anything.
It depends on what you do. It all depends on yourself.

We’ve made it through the intense, tumultuous 3-hour-long interview.

In retrospect, GACKT’s message was very simple.


I think I’d just be adding unnecessary words if I continue rambling any more than this, so I’ll end it here gracefully.

I’ll work hard too. I will try.

〈Interview/Text = Sano Tomoki (@mlby_sns) / Editing = Amano Shunkichi (@amanop)〉

¹ Looks like he’s referring to this article:


Translation: Yoshi @ GACKT ITALIA Team

Translation © GACKT ITALIA