In 2002, she started her idol activities at the age of 8. A talented woman who, while pulling up Hello! Project as one of the most popular members and being a model for a women's magazine, succeeded to graduate Keio University. She started her solo career after ℃-ute's disband, and her first solo live at Yokohama Arena has been decided for next spring.
She always looks perfect, but there's many doubts and efforts behind the scenes.
When asking about the true feelings of that always "serious" and "favorable" Suzuki-san, she told me about her "3 years rule" which helps her turns negative thoughts into positive ones.
What is that ?
The inner conflicts of a person that wants to be praised but is always told to "break her shell"...
- You have a good reputation for your high performance skills. I heard that when you were still in Hello! Project, there was a time members told you "That's because you're a genius" and you argued with them replying "No, I'm just working hard !".
Right. There were many times I was told I gave people a"sense of stability" or that I was "perfect", but I didn't really like it. I thought "that means I'm a boring person, right ?".
- There are many office workers who are also pretty worried because people tell them they "can do anything".
Actually, I'm somebody who likes to be praised, but instead of being praised like "That's so great !", I always receive compliments like "I didn't expect anything else from you". Even Tsunku♂-san wrote in his blog that "Suzuki needs to break her shell" (laughs)
- You didn't try to appeal with the fact you were working hard ?
I'm somebody who doesn't like to show the process of her growth. For example, even when I'm learning a choreography, if I can't do it during the dance lessons I'll train at home in front of the mirror in my room. I want to be able to do it for the rehearsals.
- People like that tend to be called "serious" or "self-aware", what do you think about it ?
"Oh, is that so ?" (laughs)
- You don't feel concerned about it ?
I think that's the case for everybody who seems "self-conscious". It's not like we're forcing ourselves to make any efforts. I just pick the best way for me to grow as a person. I don't force my efforts on people either. So I don't really attach importance to it. Also, the reason I don't pay serious consideration into what people may think of me is because I'm good at turning my negative thoughts into positive ones.
The "3 years rule" told by her mother, which turned her negativity into positivity
- That's a great thing ! How do you do it ?
There's a particular rule my mother told me, it's called "the 3 years rule". Your environment now is what makes the person you'll be in 3 years. If I'm satisfied with who I am now, it's all thanks to who I was 3 years ago. And if I'm struggling, it's because I didn't work hard enough 3 years ago.
So, even if there's something bad happening now, it's all the result of 3 years ago, and nothing will change by worrying now.
- I see... So when you feel down, you just think it's a preparation time for the future you ?
Right. If you think "Let's work harder for the future me!" then you'll be able to work positively.
When dealing with unpleasant people, move forward and do a "smile game"
- So you're really a very serious person... Do you have any other rules for your work ?
I try to connect with people with a smile, with anyone, may it be at work or in private.
- I understand how important this is... But sometimes it's difficult to be in a good mood when you have busy schedules. How do you get through it ?
There are times where I have to stay up all night. When I'm very tired, I force myself to seem very excited and just sings "Good mooooorning" with an opera voice to greets the staff. Thanks to this, my feeling of wanting to work hard with excitement can be transmitted. Eventually, the staff will imitate me with a smile, and we all look ridiculous (laughs)
- I see ! There are also times when you meet a grumpy or aggressive person... What do you do when you can't avoid it ?
Of course, there are unpleasant people. When it happens, I make a "smile game".
- A "smile game" ?
I'll engage with a positive attitude ! I smile until the end. I win if that person happens to smile, even a little. Instead of responding to a bad attitude with a bad attitude, I think it's better to make this game to lighten up the mood.
- So strong...
I believe all of life's happenings are trials given by God. When I meet somebody with who I have a bad feeling, I just believe that God is telling me "You're lacking communication skills".
Reflecting on "Suzuki Airi's team management" during the taxi rides...
- Regarding the staff, I've heard that you also pay a great attention to team management. Is that so ?
That's right～ For example, I actively hold "lunch meetings". When you do a meeting in a small room or somewhere with an atmosphere of emergency, the more experienced and professional you are, the more you're going to restrict your ideas. That's why I thought it would be better to do all of our meetings in a exciting environment like a yakiniku restaurant, to come up with more interesting ideas.
- Like "off-site meeting". You participated in all the meetings, including the ones for the design of your website and the creation of your live outfits ?
Right ! Since I became a solo artist, I started thinking about everything. Even before my debut, I compiled everything I wanted to do in a document and made a presentation in front of the office's staff. I put images and videos so I could properly convey the world I wanted to create as a solo artist.
- You're definitely a businesswoman !
However, I think it's not great to always think about everything alone. I did a self-retrospection in the taxi the other day. I saw a video which said "The reason why managing everything yourself is bad" and I agreed with some points (laughs)
I thought that always acting alone and crushing people who have ideas or opinions was bad. So I do my best to carefully listen to various opinions and rely on people for the things I can't do.
Her ability to control her emotions becomes the foundation of her hard work
- Through your talk, I've come to understand that this "as expected of Suzuki" side of you is a result of your smile and hard work. Do you have anything to let go of the stress ?
Let go of the stress, hmm... I'll switch on by going out of my house even for one step.
- As expected of you (laughs)
However, if I feel really bad, I try to cry it out before going to sleep. I write my feelings in my phone memo and think "let's use it as lyrics material", and I go over it.
If that's really a bad day, I'll watch the birds on the electric wire. Just thinking "these birds are lined up so neatly～" makes me feel calm. Sparrows are cute.
- Sparrows ?! Indeed, there's a theory that you'll start to feel positive if you look in the upper direction. Suzuki-san, you seems good at controlling your emotions.
Maybe ! It's impossible to continue to work hard if you don't have that essential precondition which is the ability to contain your feelings. Since I became an adult, I've come to understand words like "your state of mind controls your body" (laughs) I've talked about the "3 years rule", but all the people reading this should also search for a method to control their feelings that suits them !