The familiar voice of Malcom Gladwell begins. He’s describing his almost nutty obsession with cars. “I have a shelf in my office with every issue of Car magazine — the British Vogue of auto magazines — going back to April of 1999,” he says.
“I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how many cars I’ve owned over the years …[including] many years ago, a Lexus IS 250, a delightful little Japanese sports sedan, fantastic gearbox.”
Gladwell explains that he loved his Lexus, but when the lease was up, he moved on. “In my memory, I somehow filed away Lexus as just another kind of luxury car. But then one day Lexus called up and said, ‘Malcom, we’d like to prove you wrong.’” That’s where the story really begins.
“Go and See,” a podcast series hosted by Malcom Gladwell, follows the journalist and author’s immersion in Lexus culture and values as he travels to Japan to see firsthand the art, engineering and philosophy at the heart of the Lexus automobile experience. The series was inspired by the Japanese concept of genchi genbutsu, or go and see, which speaks to the idea that there’s no better way to gain an understanding of Lexus’s human-centric approach than to go and see for yourself.
Over the course of six episodes, listeners learn how a tea ceremony influences car designs, how floral arrangements influence engineering, and how the entire culture of Lexus is built on an ancient, deeply ingrained concept of hospitality. “And you thought I was obsessive?” asks Gladwell.
During this in-depth series, Gladwell covers a lot of ground. In one episode, he dives into the unique acoustic signatures of engines and how engineers capture the feeling of exhilaration with sounds. In another, he explains how the Japanese concept of omotenashi, or hospitality, is alive and present in every Lexus, from sound-proof doors and repositioning steering wheels for a better driving experience, to the smooth motion of a closing window.
Over time, Gladwell develops a great appreciation for the core philosophy that informs every aspect of Lexus’ people-centered design. And, in typical Gladwell style, the podcast is rich with detail replete with revving engines, insights from race car drivers, behind the scenes with sports car testing, and insider access to conversations with the team at Lexus. Learn at last the connection between Lexus’ grill, Darth Vader masks and Japanese samurai. For Gladwell and the listener, the series creates a home for curiosity—the same curiosity in people and their behaviors that drives Lexus to design vehicles inspired by them.
To listen to the Go and See podcast series, click here.
The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the guest(s) and/or host(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Lexus, a division of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. Please note that Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc. is not responsible for any errors or the accuracy or timeliness of the content provided. Used with permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Originally published April 10, 2020