How A 90+ Year Old Sushi Chef’s Advice Can Help You with Your CFA Exam Preparation

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By Christine

Today, instead of covering an aspect of CFA prep, or insight into the exams, let’s take a small tangent and focus on the drive. The drive that propels you in your career, and in your CFA preparations. To discuss that, today we’ll discuss an amazing film that you should watch as soon as you can.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary about a really, really good sushi chef. It’s also one of the best damn things I have seen in a while, sushi-lover or not.

It’s not that it keeps you at the edge of my seat, or dazzles you with jaw-dropping stunts or CGI. It’s that it inspires, makes you a little happier and more optimistic going forward. And gives you lots of things to think about. It was highly inspiring in an age where everyone wants the shortest, fastest and easiest ways to anything and everything without appreciation of the journey towards achievement.

It’s actually a little inaccurate to call 91-year-old Jiro Ono “good” at making sushi; he’s one of the most badass sushi chefs there is. Probably because he’s been making sushi for 81 years (that’s right, he started when he was 10 years old) almost everyday in relentless pursuit of furthering not just his skills, but the entire sushi craft as well. A person who embodies the artisan spirit of the relentless pursuit of perfection through his craft, or a shokunin.

Being regarded as a shokunin in Japanese culture is one of the highest accolades you can receive in any craft. There is a poignant scene in the movie illustrating this, when Jiro Ono first refers to one of his apprentices as a shokunin in making tamagoyaki. The simple joy expressed by the apprentice when he reminisces about this shows how much this means to him.

We highly recommend watching this film. Besides being a calming experience and (probably) a welcome break from CFA prep and the general hustle of life, this movie inspires one to view their trade and craft much, much more as a simple means to an end, but a driving force of how you live your life.

It’s also a sobering reminder: during the struggle to pass the CFA exams, it would be a huge shame the skills, ethical conduct and industry experience are missed while blindly trying to simply pass.

Watching this film, it’s amazing that how much of the spirit embodied in the people featured also applies directly to your own career and CFA preparation. Some inspiring quotes:

“Always look ahead and above yourself. Always try to improve on yourself. Always strive to elevate your craft. That’s what he taught me.”
– Yoshikazu Ono, Jiro’s eldest son

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“When I was in school… I was a bad kid. Later, when I was invited to give a talk at the school, I wasn’t sure if I should tell the kids that they should study hard… or that it is okay to be a rebel. I wasn’t sure what advice to give the kids. Studying hard doesn’t guarantee you will become a respectable person. Even if you’re a bad kid… there are people like me who change. I thought that would be a good lesson to teach. But if I said that bad kids can succeed later on like I did… all the kids would start misbehaving which would be a problem. Always doing what you are told doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in life.”
 – Jiro Ono

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“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 Ono

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“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 Ono

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“I’ve never once hated this job. I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it. Even though I’m eighty five years old, I don’t feel like retiring. That’s how I feel.”
– Jiro Ono

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“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.” 
– Sukiyabashi Jiro shrimp dealer

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Have you seen this film, and has it inspired you? Have other films inspired you as well? Share your thoughts with us below!
Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan


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