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Creative Career Path

Making Sense with Manga2009.12.09

    Manga is the Japanese word for picture stories, used in historical drama, science fiction, fantasy, and in business. With increasing demands on shrinking attention spans, business people want stories and visual presentations, and are turning to Manga as a smart medium with a message.

    Daniel Pink, author of the bestseller A Whole New Mind said that, “Stories are becoming a key way for individuals and entrepreneurs to distinguish their goods and services in a crowded marketplace.”

    He is also probably the first business author in America to write a bestselling Manga, acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Forbes, and other business publications. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, which was written as a savvy career guide for young people, as well as the rest of us!

    In this book, the hero Johnny Bunko is trapped in a cubicle career, and learns his way to clarity and a creative career path by life lessons from a heroine who appears whenever he breaks his chopsticks. The lessons read like sayings from a seasoned guru.


    1. There is no plan
    2. Think strengths, not weakness
    3. It’s not about you
    4. Persistence trumps talent
    5. Make excellent mistakes
    6. Leave an imprint

    By themselves these lessons might sound like platitudes. It is the Manga which brings them to life, the story which engages our imagination and helps us to relate the lessons to our own career struggle.

    In Japan, Manga books about entrepreneurial heroes are brisk sellers. The True Life of Carlos Ghosn is a Manga series about the head of Nissan Motor Company, which sold more than 500,000 copies per issue. A Japanese publisher Pan Rolling has a series featuring full book-length Manga biographies of famous living entrepreneurs such as Warren Buffet and George Soros.

    Manga is a popular genre in Japan for biographies, history, and subjects that might otherwise make dry reading. Manga is the perfect medium for entrepreneurial superheroes, real people with inspirational stories that show others how to overcome obstacles and achieve their dreams. Imagine the potential for Manga in entrepreneurial education for people of all ages and stages in life.

    As opposed to fantasy Manga, the point of business Manga is keeping it real. According to Paul Gravett, author of Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics, the key to the genre is “to show rather than to tell,” to sweep you into the story through pacing and exaggerated symbolic expressions of emotion. If you engage the reader’s interest, they will come back. Less is more.

    Because Manga are commonly used in fantasy and comics, some people assume that Manga is not relevant to the real world. However, exaggeration in Manga is the visual version of what a good story teller does with the voice. It portrays emotion more effectively than monotonous text.

    Visual storytelling combines text and images, and is a powerful way to convey a message with emotional impact. Research in Japan shows that people can absorb twice as much information per minute through Manga as they can through straight text, and remember it better.

    The way to keep it real is to convey the drama behind the facts, showing how a real person in difficult circumstances overcame obstacles and achieved success. Manga is a wonderful way to illustrate extraordinary moments in our lives.

    Though Manga is popular worldwide, Japan is clearly the Mecca for Manga. Japan’s fascination with Manga can be traced back to the Manga-like renditions in Ukiyoe woodblock prints, and Manga today is a thriving genre in publishing. Even if a person is not charismatic and dynamic on stage, their story can be captivating and dramatic in Manga. Think of it as a storyboard or stage for life lessons.

    I was so intrigued with the potential of the medium for personal branding that I had my own story commissioned in Manga. The English version is available online at

    If you would like to explore this medium as a tool for personal branding, or to promote an aspect of your company or business, the key is in getting your story right, then finding the best artist to draw it. Visit Tell them I sent you, and I may be able to help you get your story told to best effect!

    William Reed





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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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