Fish in a Loincloth & Being the Seventh Samurai

Too often people get hung up on whether some company or industry is “hiring”. I hear it a lot about the venture capital industry where the answer, almost always, is “No”. I mean, in a business where the average firm size is about 6 people, including administrative staff, there is very little room for a concerted college recruiting program.

Having said that, however, there are always problems that need to be solved. Perhaps it’s expertise, perhaps it’s truly unique and highly valuable contacts, perhaps it’s something else, but there are always problems, some of which sometimes can be solved by having around the right person at the right time.

I got to thinking about the preceding while reading a promo for the Criterion Collection’s new version of Akira Kurosawa’s classic film Seven Samurai:

The original script for Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai only called for six samurai, despite the film’s now iconic numbering. Toshiro Mifune, who had already strutted his stuff in Kurosawa’s Stray Dog and Rashomon, was initially auditioned for the part of the stoic, Zen-like samurai Kyuzo, who was eventually to be played by Seiji Miyaguchi. Later on, the filmmakers added the seventh samurai, Kikuchiyo, when they realized that Mifune could provide some much-needed comic relief.

Of course, creating your own position sometimes comes wth consequences, as Mifune says about the shoot:

In the extensive booklet featured in this release, Mifune discusses the shoot, which he describes as the toughest of his career with Kurosawa, singling out the scene where Kikuchiyo has to fish from a stream with his bare hands. “The problem was, I was half-naked, and the only place I could hide [the fish] was in my loincloth.”

Ah, I know a few investment banking and venture capital associates who would say that “hiding fish in a loincloth” pretty much describes their just-completed summer jobs.


  1. There is of course, another perspective . Too many people want “jobs”. Charles Handy, the management guru wrote in 1989 about the Shamrock organization – 3 leaves – a core workforce, a contractual leaf and the flexible work force leaf. But even today almost 2 decades later we – employers and employees – hope he was wrong. We want full time jobs and employers are wary of those who do not have full time experiences at peer organizations. Consulting firms love to be the second leaf for large companies, but from their own sourcing hate to sub-contract, for example.
    It is about creating value – as an employee, a contractor, an adviser. I for one love it to get 1099s from multiple clients every January – shows that I have helped a bunch of them (even though it is another little worn out practice from the old world. Even though my corporation bills them, and the IRS does not require 1099s to corporations many companies insist on still sending them to small businesses. It reinforces the distinction between the 3 Handy leaves, when his perspective was they exist – learn to optimize them )