The three C’s!! Lol. I’m absolutely forwarding that to some old co-workers of mine.
When I was a young engineer graduating by the skin of my teeth, I interviewed with Mitsubishi Semiconductor America, Incorporated (MSAI) which was just opening a semiconductor foundry in Durham, NC (right around the corner from Cats Country store, which made for quite the contrast).
This was back in the “Japan, Inc.” days. The CEO, Watanabe-san, was a real character. He kept a 4’ x 6’ portrait of himself hung over the fireplace in his home. He created a motto for the company called “The Three C’s, with thanks”. They flew in a bunch of recent graduates from schools up and down the east coast. Unlike me, most were from prestigious schools and had impressive GPAs.
There were about twenty of us sitting around a conference room table waiting to be called in one-by-one for our interviews. They gave us an our to prepare before they started calling us in. The entire interview was going to comprise of just one question: What do “The Three C’s (with thanks)” mean to us? This was somewhat different from our experiences interviewing with US companies.
If I remember correctly, the first C was “creativity.” The second was definitely “cooperation.” The last, believe it or not, was “cleanliness”! I don’t remember what exactly I blathered on about for the entire 45 minute interview, but I got the job. I do remember the awkward pause after finishing up my spiel on the importance of “cleanliness” to a semiconductor foundry (“not just in the fab, but in our business dealings, yaddah yaddah”). Eventually, the interviewing manager prompted me: “And what about ‘with thanks’?”. Caught me off balance but I made something up on the spot.
[Edit 2: My memory has clearly faded. It was Cooperation, Communication, and Cleanliness with Thanks. See below.]
I remember the group of us riffing on puns as we were waiting: “three peas no thanks”, “three beans with franks”, …
I also remember the mortified expressions on all of our newly degreed hot-shot engineer faces when we first received our first business cards … with titles of “Engineering Trainee.” They don’t teach humility in western schools.