2017-03-29T17:18:34-04:00September 3rd, 2013/Self Improvement/By /

Self Improvement: The Best in the World: Lessons from The World Greatest Sushi Chef

I was browsing Netflix a year ago and stumbled onto a movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

I expected a film about the history of eating raw fish, but instead I watched a manifesto on improving your skills and becoming the best at what you do. The documentary goes into the daily life and philosophies of grandmaster Sushi chef, Jiro Ono.

Who is Jiro Ono? He is a 3* star michelin chef who is unanimously recognized as the greatest sushi chef in the world. The Japanese government has recognized him as a living national treasure. If you want to eat at his restaurant, you have to call ahead and be on a wait list for months.

One of my favorite ways to learn is to study people at the top of their respective fields. What are their thought processes, what motivates them, and what are their daily routines like?

I watched the movie a year ago and have since implemented a few of his philosophies into my life, and I hope what I share can benefit you.

Quotes From the Movie

“Once you decide on your occupation… you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably.” – Jiro

Most people view their jobs as just a means to an end, and that the end product, money, is the most important thing. The movie talks about the Japanese Shokunin spirit – it means to be a master craftsman and to work on elevating your art.

Are you 100% focused at work and doing your best, or are you just going through the motions and waiting for the clock to strike 5pm? Make the most out of your situation. If you are just an office manager assistant, then be the best office manager assistant you can be. You are there for 8 hours anyways, why not make the most out of it?

That extra effort is what leads to a promotion or better opportunity. Who wants to promote you if you can’t even do entry level tasks perfectly?

You know I wasn’t “passionate” about internet marketing when I first started. I fell in love with it the more I immersed myself in it, and the better I became. Passion can be developed.

Part of my happiness these days does come from my work. So many people are just drifting through life without purpose, and through my work I have a reason to get excited in the morning.

Protip: I highly recommend reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport for about passion and careers.

I’ve been in this industry for half a decade, and my motivation and passion for it remains strong. It’s not actually natural and there are a few practices I do to keep it up.

  1. I outsource any tasks I don’t enjoy doing. I don’t make creatives, translate landing pages, or upload ads. Instead I free up my time to focus on developing my skills in optimization, the bidding process, strengthening relationships, and the creative process.
  2. I pick and choose niches and verticals that I enjoy working in. Just because something makes more money doesn’t mean I want to run it. How much time does it take, how much can I learn, and how much do I enjoy it?
  3. I keep myself healthy through exercising and eating healthy. I think part of burning out comes from the body not being able to handle the stress levels some of us are placing on it.
  4. I take frequent breaks. If I feel that I am starting to get burned out from life, I take a trip somewhere for a few days. I find while I’m on vacation, I start missing work and come back with ferocity.

“I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.”

Jiro made me re-evaluate my days and redesign them to be full of routine and full of repetition. My goal is simple: improve my knowledge and executions a little bit each day. Greatness is not achieved in strides, but by the tiny steps you take each day.

My philosophy with campaigns is similar. I get campaigns profitable through relentless and consistent testing, more so than focusing on gimmicks. If I am at 200% ROI, I am still testing to try and achieve 300% roi. Consistently pushing myself is what helps me refine my skills.

What’s the top? I don’t know. I don’t compare myself to those who are ahead of me, and I don’t compare myself to those who are behind me. My happiness comes from being superior to who I was last year.

“When I was in first grade, I was told “You have no home to go back to. That’s why you have to work hard.” I knew that I was on my own. And I didn’t want to have to sleep at the temple or under a bridge so I had to work just to survive. That has never left me. I worked even if the boss kicked or slapped me. Nowadays, parents tell their children, “You can return if it doesn’t work out.” When parents say stupid things like that, the kids turn out to be failures.” – Jiro

“These days the first thing people want is an easy job. Then, they want lots of free time. And then, they want lots of money. But they aren’t thinking of building their skills. When you work at a place like Jiro’s, you are committing to a trade for life.” – Shrimp Dealer

Too many people these days have an “entitlement mentality.”

My friend and I were talking and he brought up how he wasn’t too happy with his life. He makes $40k a year, and only gets 2 weeks vacation a year. He kept mentioning how he deserved more than what he was getting. Seriously?

I didn’t give him any advice. I’ve grown socially aware enough to know when someone wants advice, and when someone just wants someone to listen to. If he asked for advice then I would’ve told him you are where you’re at because of the decisions and actions you took in the past. If you want more in life, you have to become more. 

What is money?

It’s just a reflection of how much society values your skills. Want more money? Become more valuable. If no one wants to hire you or pay you more, it’s because you’re not stepping it up enough. 

If you’re not where you want to be, then make some changes. Maybe you should’ve studied more instead of clubbing every weekend. Maybe you should save more of your money instead of blowing it on designer clothes. Don’t blame your parents or the economy. No one deserves anything in life.

I think a lot of this comes from how we raise kids these days. Everyone gets an award just for participating. Losers get the “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose speech.” Apparently every kid is so smart or a genius these days. What happens is these kids grow up with high expectations in life, but never developed the fire to get it.


Jiro’s goal is to make the best sushi in the world. He doesn’t serve anything else in the restaurant but sushi. How does he make the best sushi? He’s always in search of the best ingredients and works on improving his techniques.

I remember one scene that showed him serving fish that were the “catch” of the day. The patrons would eat fish for lunch that were caught at 5am that morning.

Would Jiro be the best if his restaurant served sushi, tonkatsu, ramen, udon, and omurice? Maybe, maybe not. 60+ years of only making sushi gave him certain skills and technique that could’ve only been perfected through constant repetition.

Are you one of those affiliate marketers running too many traffic sources and offers? How can you be the best if you’re going against guys that are 100% focused while you are only 20% focused?

Working With the Best


[on one of his fish vendors] His grandfather was known as “the god of sea eel.” He was a legend. I’ve never met him in person, but that’s what I’ve heard. – Jiro’s Son, Yoshikazu

Not only is Jiro the best, but he only works with the best. His main tuna vendor comes from a family lineage of fishermen. His rice vendor makes the best rice in Japan.

It really made me re-evaluate the employees and virtual assistants that I was working with. Were any of them as dedicated as I am to what I do? They were decent enough workers, but I realized they were lacking that x-factor. I wanted graphic designers that worked on their own projects for fun on the side. I wanted the kind of programmers that dream about code.

I did a complete overhaul of my employees and it has paid off dividends. I slowly started hiring new workers. The two main things I did differently were I increased the pay to find higher quality workers, and I focused more on pre-qualification and the interview process.

There’s is a huge difference from working with “A+” and “B-” employees. I have guys that can think rather than just wait for my instructions. They don’t make mistakes because I tell them to double check their work, and to take pride in it.

Being the Best

Work hard. Take pride in your work. Simplify.

The answer to bettering your life is to look inside and ask yourself, what can you do each day to improve? Ask yourself are you putting in as much effort as you possibly can into what you do?