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Staff Profile: Hitoshi Gotani

Title: Programmer

Education: B.S. in Mathematics, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

How long have you worked at Flow Science? I started work as an employee at the beginning of 2005, but I was involved in development before that for about a year as a contractor. So, in total, it has been over 3 years.

What is the best part of your job, or why do you like working at Flow Science? The flexibility and open environment. The working environment and decision making are open most of the time, and this is one of the most important things for me at work. I also like being in a small company. I used to work on a big project in a big company, but it was not fun. If you compare a big company to a small company, one has 10,000 employees, and the other has only 20. Your work in the big company is only about 1/10,000 = 0.01%, but you could contribute a lot more to the small one, at least 1/20 = 5% or more. See? That's why I like Flow Science. Plus, you know everyone at work in the small company.

Hitoshi Gotani
Absence makes the heart grow fonder: We made
Hitoshi pose for a picture while he was in the office.

What is the most challenging or interesting project are you working on right now? Sometimes the decision of how we develop is the most challenging and interesting part of my work. Because, once we decide to implement a new feature, we will spend a lot of time developing it, and customers will be using the feature for awhile. So, in other words, the most challenging and interesting project is to try to keep the customers happy, and of course I am enjoying that part.

You've recently gone from being a telecommuter to a regular commuter. What is different (and hopefully, better) about coming to the office every day? Actually, I am still a telecommuter most of the time. I visit Santa Fe often, though, usually for a week every month. I think it is important for a person to be able to telecommute. However, if you are away from a company for a long time, you may miss out on some things. So, each has pros and cons, and I get to see both sides. I am enjoying meeting my co-workers onsite, and when I need to concentrate for awhile, being at my home office is also good.

Like many other Flow Science employees, you play a musical instrument. How long have you been playing the piano, and does it really get you free sushi? I have been playing Yamaha’s Electone, which is an electric keyboard, for almost 30 years. When I was a kid, I wanted to become a piano teacher, and I was doing that part-time for a while. I sometimes play the Electone at my friends’ weddings, parties, etc. And I sometimes play in a restaurant or in a bar, and get food in return. So, I could say I play music for sushi. By the way, sushi is one of the typical Japanese foods, but we don't eat that every day, usually only on special occasions, since it is expensive.

Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? There is not a particular person who had the greatest influence in my life. However, many people have influenced me in a good way. I can learn a lot of things by meeting a person or being involved in a project. I started working part-time when I was a kid, and experienced and learned a lot while I was still studying at school. So, I started learning how businesses work when I was a teenager, and I can say that these experiences influenced me and made me what I am today.

What do you do in your spare time (when you're not at Flow Science?) My primary residency is in the San Jose area in California. I have been living in the USA since 2001, and one of my top priorities living in the USA is that I keep living as a Japanese. Even in the USA, I can live like being in Japan, if I stay in California, eating Japanese food, but not only sushi, reading Japanese books, watching Japanese TV, etc. Another thing that is also important to me is being healthy. I go to the gym every day and run long distance weekly.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of? Playing the Electone at the Snow Festival in Sapporo a few times. The festival has strict auditions and examinations, and the process is very long. Another accomplishment would be that I ran several marathons (42.195kms). It is really hard to do, but I felt great after that. But I could not move at all after that for a couple of days...

What would best describe your approach to life? Keep on moving, keep on investing, keep on challenging, keep on improving, and stay healthy hopefully!

Speaking of investing, we hear you are a major real estate holder…any tips for us poor salarymen? I am not sure what to say here, but I can describe my policy. One of the most important things for any kind of investment I think, is to get as much information as possible, from professionals, websites, TV programs, newspapers, local people, your friends, etc. And try to understand the process and what could happen in the future as detailed as possible. Plus, don't expect too big of returns on investments, and be ready for the worst case scenario, so that you can minimize any risks. Interviewing several business partners and attending any kind of seminars are important, too. Try hard and keep on studying, but do not gamble. That is what I am always trying to do.

What are you reading right now and why? Some books on International Business. Doing business in a foreign country is more difficult than doing it in your country. Many things are different, such as language, culture, history, food, values, climate, and how people think. I would like to learn how people are doing business all over the world.