Ikigai & ikigai: A Guide to a Concept and Our Culture

Our North star at Ikigai is meritocracy. 

With that as a foundational, guiding constant, we have designed and built our culture upon several essential principles and philosophies. 



One of the least internalized truths of the current technology-rooted economic shift: meritocratic principles and processes are expanding. Personally and professionally, individuals are becoming increasingly responsible for their precise contributions, or lack thereof. Our North Star at Ikigai is meritocracy. With that as a foundational, guiding constant, we have designed and built our culture upon several essential principles and philosophies.

Fulfillment and long-term success for individuals on any team are best achieved through the alignment of several core principles and philosophies. We’ve written this guide to document and share these primarily as a reference for current team members and individuals looking at joining the Ikigai team. It will also be useful for Ikigai’s varying stakeholders. We hope you find it helpful in understanding Ikigai Asset Management and how we do ikigai. 

Curiosity is ikigai's engine. Courage is its fuel. Courage demands action.



Ikigai is an ancient Japanese term that means “a reason for being.” When you see ikigai with a lowercase ‘i’ we are referring to the concept, not our organization. As a team, we are blessed to have such a well-founded concept to look toward both as a lens for others to understand how we operate and also as a goal description of our nature. Your ikigai exists at the intersection of what you are good at, what you love, what you deserve to be paid for, and what the world needs. Working toward your ikigai requires immense effort and is fantastically difficult. How many of your friends have you heard say: “I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t know what makes me happy.”? This is a common perspective. Unfortunately, it is also an unhealthy perspective that inherently diminishes individual personal responsibility. Becoming good at something, finding your passions, and being deserving of compensation all require consistent, unrelenting effort. These are not handed to you. These are not accomplished in 21 days. While we do like magic internet money at Ikigai, these do not magically appear, instantly making you happy and fulfilled.

Curiosity is ikigai’s engine. Courage is its fuel. Discovering the fulfilment and happiness inherent in your ikigai is equivalent to intrapersonal genius. At a minimum, genius requires 1) intelligent thought, 2) novel ideas and 3) courage. Unlike courage, intelligent thought and novel ideas do not inherently require action. Whereas, courage demands action. Consequently, genius without courage is no more than a beautiful dream inevitably leading to mediocrity.

Remain courageous.


Blending meritocracy and ikigai is where our culture truly stands apart. This blend has been and will continue to be a foundational reason Ikigai wins championships. 

Championships are what we call our goals for Ikigai. We are highly convicted that the crypto asset space is going to create and capture trillions of dollars of value. Out of that, there will be an opportunity for multiple multibillion-dollar asset management firms. Ikigai has been building and continues to build with every intention of not only being one of those but being the best. Ikigai is building an organization with the credibility, reputation, and trust requisite of being an established advisor to globally influential companies and government organizations. 

When an individual establishes trust and credibility with the team through the demonstration of intellectual horsepower, exceptional work ethic, and a winning attitude, the team is empowered to consistently support and lift that individual up if they may fail. Analogous to a professional sports team – where if someone earns a spot on the team, a common understanding pervades that you are all there to help win the championship – team members at Ikigai share that same common understanding. 

Throughout each season on a professional sports team, there is daily communication about how each person and the organization as a whole can iterate, improve, and increase the likelihood of winning. Subsequently, regardless of age or tenure, the best players start each week. The collective expectation of contribution toward the team’s common goal is the foundation of an ecosystem in which merit rules. Achieving elite levels of success in a business career is highly analogous to competing at a world-class level in a sport. Experience does not automatically translate to expertise. The most innately intelligent or athletic don’t inherently end up champions. 

Wise, compounding decision-making is always borne of ownership. Knowledge that fails to beget consistent, proper action only leads to mediocrity.

To improve performance, we must work hard, practice discipline, fail, seek feedback, examine introspectively, deliberately design improvement, and repeat. Therein lies the power of blending a meritocracy and ikigai: with credibility and trust around those expectations established, the team picks each other up after each failure, opting to incrementally shift one’s responsibilities closer toward what they are good at, what they love, what they deserve to be paid for, and what the world needs.

The breadth of Ikigai’s business and investment mandates in combination with the speed and multi-disciplinary nature of the crypto asset space only furthers our ability to iterate on a team member’s role, shifting closer and closer to ikigai. However, this is understandably philosophical. To bring this home to something more pragmatic, we explicitly communicate, actively discuss, and routinely help one another actualize our essential principles and philosophies. 

A sour corporate culture can actually make an entire society unhappy. This means that a strong corporate culture can have a positive impact on a society.
— Simon Sinek



A fundamental difference exists between having knowledge and owning it. One can thoroughly understand a concept and yet demonstrate a lack of ownership through continual failure to follow through and execute wise, compounding decisions borne of that concept’s mental model. Ownership is cardinal. Over three billion of us now have internet and the effectively unlimited access to knowledge that affords. We can all — in mere moments — access a specific piece of information (and therefore, “have knowledge”). 

Pervasive access to information — while fantastic — can easily give an individual the power to create an illusion of expertise or value for themselves; however, without ownership, no foundation is built over time, and the scheme is nothing more than a castle in the sky.

Wise, compounding decision-making is always borne of ownership. 

Unfortunately, we often acquire ownership through the pain of hard lessons learned. Knowledge that fails to beget consistent, proper action only leads to mediocrity. Use this understanding as a lens when working toward incorporating and consistently demonstrating these principles and philosophies. 

Again, remain courageous


Merit. Each member of the Ikigai team is expected to drive value relative to other team members and relative to the organization as a whole. We are inflexible in the adherence to our high standards. In our organization, there are many, many invisible little things needing to be done well. These are not typically public-facing or even oft-noticed activities. We do our best to ensure that a sense of urgency or need for “public output” do not get in the way of attention to detail and effective execution. Focusing on appearance surely detracts from performance, output, and value creation. 

Consistently ship product that is fully representative of your level of expertise and competency, thoughtfully balancing the middle ground between perfection/high standards and timely/untimely. 

Do not require others to manage you. Demanding another to think and accomplish work for you is negative time leverage – exponentially value destructive.

Communication. Hyper-communication and radical honesty work in conjunction to ensure any information vital to the organization’s success is delivered timely and accurately. Communication is not intrinsically for your benefit only. Investing the time into thoroughly and accurately synthesizing your thoughts into words for others requires selflessness. Equally as important, refined listening skills are paramount to effective communication. Ask better questions, crafting them to explore and provide value, not compete. 

When every team member proactively demonstrates this selflessness – collaboration and effectiveness skyrocket. Selflessness opens the door for substantial autonomy, mastery, and purpose – creating an ecosystem requiring zero managers. This is another championship for Ikigai: built on selfless, proactive communication, we can continue earning multiple rings without a single manager.

Experience does not automatically translate to expertise. The most innately intelligent or athletic don't inherently end up champions. To improve performance, we must work hard, practice discipline, fail, seek feedback, examine introspectively, deliberately design improvement, and repeat.

Culture - Academy.jpg

Selfless Service. Every individual at Ikigai is encouraged to wake up every day actively searching for ways to make their team members lives’ better. Each individual in the organization is positioned via their unique skill set to take as much as possible off of their team’s plate in every expected way. They are also uniquely qualified to take as much as possible off their team’s plate in every unexpected way – ways in which only they are uniquely capable due to their skill set. Creative, self-starting application of one’s unique skill sets is critical to driving value for the organization as a whole. 

Value Creation. We explicitly acknowledge that non-directly-revenue-generating activities are vital to the success of the organization. The operations of Ikigai are the bedrock of our success, empowering the investment strategies built on top. Be comfortable with going slow and doing things correctly versus merely doing them. Any task genuinely worth doing (i.e., something that sustains or creates value) is worth investing real, substantial effort and taking as long as necessary to complete correctly. Respect the craft and make something beautiful – with as much attention to that which no one will see as to that which everyone will. 

Effort. Putting forth maximum effort and subsequently failing hurts. Extreme humility, maturity, and vulnerability are required to genuinely invest 100% of your effort and fail. We actively strive to create an ecosystem in which individuals feel confident in investing maximum effort to chase the championship every day. 

Everything is earned in time with consistent achievements of increasingly difficult milestones. We focus on ensuring every necessary step is made in pursuit of a goal – zero shortcuts. 

Honor. We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate anyone among us who does. We have adopted this from the Honor Codes of the United States Air Force Academy and Texas A&M University. Consistently trending toward working with and surrounding Ikigai with increasingly professional, intellectual, reliable, and – most importantly – honorable individuals is a daily effort. Life is too short to invest time into toxic individuals. Constantly iterate and improve upon your circles of influence. 

Across all of this, set the bar incredibly high. Set world records. Set an example that inspires others. Every second spent fantasizing about the possibilities desired will be seconds you are robbing yourself and everyone around you of actions that will lead to realities actually attained. You don’t wish success into existence, you will it into existence.

Me, I believe you measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.
— Morgan Freeman, The Bucket List



Anthony Emtman