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Using Rhythm to Transcend Language: Drum Cafe West Heads to Japan

MetronomeWe’ve said before that rhythm resonates so deeply, but never before have we felt it as tremendously as we did last month in a very special event with GAP Inc in Japan. We’ve worked with GAP here in North America, leveraging the power of rhythm as a key component of their Leadership Academy, and we were honored to bring the program global. We were brought in to help GAP Japan celebrate their accomplishments in the global arena and support their regional and division managers in taking the brand to the next level. Not only has the brand been successful in achieving their target sales, but their “Do More” campaign has helped them raise sales associate wages and invest in their employees’ growth, not only as professionals but as people.

It is an incredibly unique situation for us, as English speaking people, to present a program for a group in a place where we do not speak their native language. We had to be conscious of our verbiage in the program to ensure that the translation would embody the true message. We learned to count in Japanese, and from there, we just had to trust that the spirit of Ubuntu would be understood.

As about 20 members of the GAP Japan senior leadership team helped us drum the participants into the room, it was instantly clear that the message was received exactly as intended. You see, the concepts of the Drum Cafe West program are universal. From the moment the attendees entered, they were ready to drum. There was a presence, a sense of purpose that was shared throughout the event that ignited our team. We talked about their leadership initiatives to better coach, direct, energize, execute, innovate, relate and thrive. Those concepts, like those of our program, transcend any cultural or language barriers. They are essential to every organization and every leader.

The event gained more momentum as we went on, splitting the group into sections, each playing a different rhythm to together create a symphony. It was spectacular to experience the power of nonverbal communication. With nothing more than hand signals and a drum, Natalie was able to bring together an audience who couldn’t understand a word she said, but completely understood every beat she played. With every beat of the drum, through the crescendos and the rests, the entire room understood that they were each there as individuals contributing to one common purpose.

While there isn’t an exact term for the concept of Ubuntu in the Japanese language, there is a deep sense of connection through one another embedded in the culture. We may not have understood the conversations that took place once the event ended, but in the time we drummed together, we understood everything. Our entire team was deeply impacted by this event, as it gave us a renewed sense of purpose and power in what we do. We unite, uplift, and inspire. It doesn’t matter what language we’re speaking, what culture we’re celebrating, or what nation we’re in. When we unite in rhythm and harmony, we truly find our greater purpose and connection.

Using Rhythm to Transcend Language: Drum Cafe West Heads to Japan


We’ve said before that rhythm resonates so deeply, but never before have we felt it as tremendously as we did last month in a very special event with GAP Inc in Japan. We’ve worked with GAP here in North America, leveraging the power of rhythm as a key component of their Leadership Academy, and we […]

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