Iowa is a great place to call home.
I’ve traveled many places in this world, and it surprises me how many people know of Iowa, know somebody from Iowa, and have high regard for the people of Iowa.
Iowans are special, and that’s all it is to it. It’s one of the smallest slices of American pie, but it tastes the best.
In fact, the reputation of Iowa is what helped me achieve a dream writing assignment in Tokyo.
I won’t divulge who I am freelancing for – I don’t want to jinx anything – but it is a prestigious newspaper known worldwide, and they hired me to write a profile on a Japanese band.
Here is where the trail started:
When Lisa and I first moved to Tokyo a month and a half ago, one of Lisa’s former co-workers, Toriumi-san, and his wife invited us out for lunch. Lisa and Toriumi-san weren’t particularly close, but he apparently wanted to meet me.
As lunch progressed, Toriumi-san told me that he worked closely with a man named Jay, who now works for Morgan Stanley but used to be a Tokyo correspondent for a major American newspaper.
Shortly after lunch, Toriumi-san sent me an email, telling me that his friend Jay would be happy to meet me for lunch. So later that week, I had lunch with Jay at a very nice restaurant, his treat, and I gave him my recruiting spiel.
Shortly after that lunch, Jay sent me an email saying that he had contacted Jake, who was the editor in chief of the Tokyo bureau, and he was willing to meet with me.
So the next week, I met with Jake in his Tokyo high-rise office. He told me they only hire people who are bi-lingual for full-time positions. However, he said he would send my story proposals to the Asia life and style editor in Hong Kong.
The next day, I received an email from Jake, and he said the life and style editor, Andrew, was “intrigued” by my story proposals. So I sent an email to Andrew, saying I would love to get in touch with him.
Then I waited.
It was almost a week before Andrew contacted me, which was this past Tuesday, but yes, he wants me to write a profile on the Japanese band, which I had proposed.
I was floored. Through a series of lunches and meetings, I had contracted a freelance job with a newspaper that back in the States would have dumped my resume in the trash before even opening the envelope.
I sent an email to everyone that had assisted along the way. Jake, the editor in chief, wrote back, “You earned it through your hard work.”
But there was one key ingredient that got the whole ball rolling.
See Toriumi-san, who invited us out to that first lunch, spent a part of his youth in Iowa on a home stay program, and just last year he had visited Iowa with his wife and young son to introduce them to the Midwest.
Lisa told me that Toriumi-san’s wife (who works with Lisa at the Bank of Japan) asked him the same question that both Lisa and I were wondering – why was he so eager to meet me, and in return, why was he willing to introduce me to such high level members of the Tokyo news establishment?
His response: “He’s from Iowa.”