• November 27, 2020
    • October 26, 2022

    Japan Travel in the Know: The Sound of Silence in Hokkaido in Winter

    Funny Japanglish by the Prime Minister In 2000, the then Japanese Prime Minister wanted to make greetings in English at the first summit meeting with President Clinton. He tried to cram the following exchange of basic phrases: “How are you, Mr. President?” “I’m fine, thank you, and you?” “Me, too.” Finally and unfortunately, the time had come. The PM made a big mistake right at the beginning and said with a big smile “Who are you, Mr. President?” When the whole world went pale, President Clinton tactfully replied “I’m Hillary’s husband.” The PM, exactly as he had learned it, proudly said “Me, too.” I’m not self-depreciating the poor English skills of Japanese people, but just want to get your attention to today’s subject: wordplay. Geniuses, Simon and Garfunkel I will never forget the strong impression I got when I heard the song, or the title of the song, to be […]

    • November 24, 2020
    • September 25, 2022

    What Is a Home? Where Is Your Home?

    The definition of a home Where are you from? Because of my work (overseas sales), I’ve exchanged this question many times with many people around the world. There have been many people living outside their countries of origin. Some of them said they would be back after retirement; others said they would stay out there for the rest of their lives. Every time this question comes up in conversation, I’ve got more and more interested and come to think deeply about the definition of a “home.” Is it a place where you were borne, you lived longest, or your parents live? How do you define it? Where are you from? A home is a place to go back to By the way, do you like TED talks? I do and one day happened to find a good definition of a “home” in one of them thrown by Pico Iyer. He […]

    • November 20, 2020
    • October 13, 2022

    Marketing Tips: Don’t Be Obsessed with Efficiency and Rationalization

    All the cities become like each other Before the COVID, I traveled around the world. When it was best in efficiency but worst in working environment, I visited five countries in a week. Such hasty trips got me disoriented. Soon after waking up, I sometimes couldn’t remember where I was. That should be blamed mainly on a lack of sleep (or my poor cognitive skills), but I believe commoditization also has some effect. To be more precise, sceneries get similar anywhere in the world, especially in new development areas and inside new buildings. Some people may give up or even pay no attention. Should we just give up, saying it’s a result of rationalization? I don’t think so. Let me tell you about the short-term crisis that commoditization implies. Be on guard for commoditization Everything that can be numerically evaluated will be commoditized. We makers are struggling to differentiate our […]

    • November 17, 2020
    • October 24, 2022

    A Lesson Learned from Zappos: We Work for Something More Than Money

    The customer-obsession policy of Zappos creates many loyal customers The other day, right after passing through the cashier of a supermarket, a pack of eggs slipped from my shopping basket and fell to the floor. In that moment, everything appeared in slow motion to me. I snapped back and fearfully saw my wife still standing at the cashier. Of course, she furiously glared at me. I very well knew what she was going to say. “What have you done?” Literally in Japanese, that is “Why did you do that?” If I was a Congressman, I would like to immediately prohibit this kind of meaningless questions expecting no answer. Anyway, I was in despair waiting for the time of judgement by my wife, but surprisingly enough, an angel came down instead. Accurately, it was a clerk running up to me and saying with a smile “No worries. I’ll get you another […]

    • November 13, 2020
    • October 13, 2022

    Marketing Tips: Love It or Not Rather Than Good or Bad

    MBA frameworks are no longer sufficient AIDMA, PDCA, SWOT, PEST, 3C, 4P, STP, KGI, KPI, etc. I was so excited when learning these business frameworks in an MBA course more than 10 years ago. I naively believed I had gotten a key to the truth of the market. Later on, the world was soon full of MBA holders to commoditize all the above frameworks. I didn’t mean they were wrong and no longer worked at all. The frameworks can still lead people to correct answers in business, to the same answers, in other words. The problem is, such correct answers are necessary but insufficient in order to survive in the current market. The value of quality is declining High quality is absolute justice—most people believe this policy is correct especially in the manufacturing industry in Japan (like us). Our production people always keep making sincere efforts to improve quality more, […]

    • November 10, 2020
    • October 13, 2022

    Psychology Trivia: The Measure of Intelligence Is the Ability to Change

    What is the standard of beauty? Modesty is such a holy word in Japan. We hardly ever hear people brag about even their relatives, not to mention themselves. It is considered as a virtue to be modest or humble. However, the magic of love or the curse of youthfulness seems to drive us crazy sometimes. When I was a college student, there was a friend who boasted a lot about his girlfriend. He always said “She is gorgeous and looks like XXX (actress name I forgot).” One day, I saw him walk with the girlfriend. It was the first time for me to see her. She was just different from what I imagined from what he had said to me. Since then, human evaluation criteria especially in beauty has been in my research list. As I wrote before an article about beauty, this article is a little different from the […]

    • November 6, 2020
    • October 15, 2022

    Business Tips: Great Expectations Are Hope That the Sun Also Rises

    The wane of the king TOYOTA Elon Musk started TESLA in 2003. Only 17 years from then, he finally snatched the world top position from TOYOTA in the total market value. The news made me feel the big change of the times and somehow remember a scene from the movie “BACK TO THE FUTURE.” Doc said “No wonder this circuit failed; it says Made in Japan.” Marty said back “What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.” I imagine if someone came from the future to the present time, s/he might be surprised to see cars are still made in Japan. Today, rather than just mourning the economic downfall of Japan, I’d like to express my appreciation for the heritage inherited from our ancestors. The dawn of the Japanese manufacturers When I first saw the movie, I was just under 10 years old, not a […]

    • November 3, 2020
    • January 1, 2023

    The Charm of Hokkaido: Hunger Is the Best Sauce

    A home is a place to long for from a distance A journey itself is worthless, but it’s what we learn from a journey that counts. It is a part of the subject of my previous article. As some of the readers may notice, it is inspired by the words of Marcel Proust. The above image is not him but Marcus Tullius Cicero, by the way. Marcel Proust says “The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” I have lived in many places so far, and so, I feel like I can have some new eyes, hopefully. Today, let me introduce a funny characteristic of local people of Hokkaido that I can find from a distance through my new eyes. Hokkaido is the northern-most part of Japan. Because of a long winter, we Hokkaido people are under the spell of snow even […]