I had the unique opportunity to live and work in Japan for two years back in 1994. I lived in a small rural village in the alps of the Nagano Prefecture called Kiso-Fukushima. Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. A very special place. An even more special culture.

If you look up the words “nursing home”, “senior living facilities”, or “retirement communities” in a Japanese/English dictionary, you will find it difficult to translate. The reason – Japanese culture, for the most part do not put their elderly in these homes, facilities, or communities. For hundreds of years the Japanese have looked at and treated their elderly very differently than most western civilizations.

Traditionally, if you are the first born Japanese son, your role and cultural obligation is to move back into the home you were raised in and care for your aging parents. If you marry a first-born son, your role and cultural obligation is to care for your husband’s aging parents. Homes in Japan are passed down from generation to generation. From first born sons to the next generation of first born sons.

Elders are at the top of the food chain in Japan. They are respected. They are listened to. And they provide wise counsel. Western cultures think differently of their aging. They value youth over age. They want the younger CEO. The younger workforce…. encouraging folks to retire by sixty-five……or even younger. I think this has hurt us in business. And hurt us even more as a society.

If you look back at all your meetings, lunch appointments, and breakfast dates in 2017, how many of them, excluding relatives, were with people over the age of seventy-five? My guess is that number is shockingly low.

Last week I had breakfast with Barry Dawson. Barry will turn eighty years old next month on April 29th. Barry has been married to the same woman, Gloria, for 58 years. Three kids, two grandchildren, thirty-six different jobs and eight careers over the last sixty years. Do you think Barry has something to teach us about marriage? About change management? About leadership?

Lynn Fruth is the CEO of Danberry Realtors, one of the largest and most successful residential real estate companies in the Metropolitan Toledo, Ohio area. I had the honor to speak to their 260 agents and 35 support staff a few years ago. Lynn, now 68, and I have remained friends. He and I had breakfast two weeks ago when I was back speaking in Toledo. I learned that Lynn has been part of a “mastermind” group for the last eighteen years. I was impressed with what I learned.

Twice a year, Lynn and a dozen of his mastermind colleagues (founders, CEO’s, and Presidents of leading residential real estate companies from around the country) get together for two days. Each time they get together they rotate locations – visiting the businesses of all thirteen mastermind members. The rules are simple. Mandatory attendance. Mandatory confidentiality. Mandatory candor.

The first evening the mastermind group’s dinner is purely social. The following morning the twelve mastermind members spend the entire day visiting all the offices and locations of their host’s real estate company. They meet with their employees. They interview their senior management team. They call on their customers, clients and community partners. They do a full day of extensive research on the successes, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to their peer mastermind’s organization.

At the end of the day the entire mastermind meets for dinner. The rules are even simpler. The host pays for dinner. And the host sits at the head of the table – listening to feedback – all night. No comments are allowed by the host. Their job is to receive feedback and take notes.

Imagine twelve experts from like-minded companies pouring into you and your organization for an entire day and night. Imagine what you could learn. Imagine how much you could grow. Imagine all the pitfalls and mistakes that could be avoided.

Heart-Led Leaders value counsel. They seek advice from those that have walked the path before them. And they join peer networks, forums, and mastermind groups to not only better their organizations, but better themselves.

You don’t have to live in Japan to seek wise counsel. There are thousands of retired leaders that are starving to share their knowledge and wisdom with you…to become your Chief Wisdom Officer. All you have do is pay for breakfast…and listen!