More than 23 years ago, my husband, Steve, came home with great news for his career and horrifically bad news for my career.

Steve worked for Hewlett Packard where an international assignment was necessary for career advancement. As luck would have it, he had been offered the opportunity to relocate to Tokyo and run marketing for Asia. It was a big job and I encouraged him to accept the offer.

I thought it was obvious why I would not be joining him. I had an equally fulfilling career and there were scant employment prospects for women in Japan, much less a Chinese-American expat. I offered to visit as often as possible.

He refused to accept the position unless I accompanied him and because I refused to make such a big sacrifice, we were at a stalemate. Steve’s boss, Colin, invited me to a swanky lunch and asked what it would take for me to go. I presented three outrageous demands:

  1. Send me for intensive Japanese lessons;
  2. Give me seed capital to start up my own company since there would be no opportunity to otherwise work in Japan; and
  3. Introduce me to 10 expatriate women in Japan who are professionally thriving.

Colin said “yes,” “yes” and “yes.”  I felt totally played.

I had the last laugh. Colin chuckled at my offer to give HP stock in my new company, Triage Consulting Group. It is now the largest health care consulting firm in the U.S. Our family loves Japan and returns every year to explore another corner of the islands where our language skills are critical. The amazing women I met in Japan are some of my closest friends and made my life in Japan rewarding.