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    • March 4, 2021
    • September 26, 2022

    How to Run Small Businesses in Japan: Kaizen in Japanese Companies

    Small and medium enterprises are lower in productivity? In Japan, most of the small and medium enterprises (SME) like us may disappear in the near future. The SME Basic Act defines SME are companies with a capital of less than 300 million JPY or with the number of employees less than 300. According to the definition, 99.7% of the companies in Japan are categorized in SME. Soon after the change of government last year, the current prime minister organized an advisory board, and has implemented economic policies based on the advice of the board. The board members always treat SME like an enemy. They claim SME are the main cause of low productivity, though I strongly object to it. The cause and effect are reversed They always bring up a gap in wages in order to substantiate the low productivity of SME. I admit there’s a wage gap by company […]

    • February 26, 2021
    • September 26, 2022

    Japan’s Overwork Problem: How the Problem Occurs

    Karoshi, death from overwork It’s very difficult to summarize this problem briefly because it is so deep-rooted. Are you ready to gaze into abyss? The Japan government has started frequently using the word “Work style reform” since 2015. Sadly, a new girl working in the top advertising firm committed suicide due to overwork that year. Her average overtime hours were reported to exceed 100 hours a month. That is almost the same as that of mine when I worked in the Ministry of Finance. The painful sad news made many people including me think “That could be me.” Even now, about 300 deaths from overwork are reported annually. Japanese employment systems I believe this is a structural problem, stemming from the structure of employment systems in Japan. Although the structure is gradually breaking down, the basics of employment systems are still the same. It is a set of these two […]

    • February 23, 2021
    • September 26, 2022

    How to Survive Meetings and Make You Look Smart

    A hardship destined for Japanese workers You won’t read to the end of this article because the average human attention span is down to only eight seconds. It’s one second shorter than that of goldfish. I remember I read many articles mourning over the short human attention span when the above survey result was released some years ago. Today, it’s not about human attention span but about meetings that I hate. I don’t mean I hate unproductive meetings. I hate them because meetings themselves are basically unproductive. As a hardship destined for workers in Japan, I’ve endured a lot of meetings. In addition, we spend a lot of time to prepare meeting materials. What is even worse, a preparatory meeting is sometimes held beforehand. There may be more poor people who have to hold a pre-preparatory meeting. Anyway, we should limit meeting time to eight seconds for productivity. Tricks to […]

    • February 12, 2021
    • August 23, 2022

    How to Be a President: A Leader with the Times

    Super optimism Innate optimism is the most important quality required for a leader. This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned from the current (third) president. I joined this company just after the start of his administration since 2013. For about seven years since then, we have traveled all over the world. As I sometimes wrote, most of the trips were grueling, such as moving one country to another via overnight flights in a row. Even on the way back home from such long tough trips (even if they were ending up with no results), I’ve never seen him pessimistic or stuck in negative thinking. Mentor with anger management These days, the purpose of working becomes diversified. Once, people just worked for bread and butter. Now, someone may work for self-fulfillment; others may for social contribution. Accordingly, required leadership styles become diversified. I think the previous two presidents are similar in […]

    • February 8, 2021
    • August 23, 2022

    How to Be a President: A Man of Logical Thinking

    A great successor The Matrix Reloaded, Blues Brothers 2000, Speed 2, etc. These movies prove it’s very difficult to surpass the great originals. On the contrary, there’re some exceptions such as Terminator 2 and The Hustler 2. The second president of CondeHouse can be said to be one of such exceptions. I’m not flattering just because he is still at the desk near me as the chairman of the company. It is more like retrospective or hindsight. The company is still thriving (and I’m here) because he was a great successor. If I explain in short, from my personal perspective, he is a personification of logical thinking. An audacious project In 1984, the company transferred him (still in his 30’s) to the US to establish a branch office. The first thing he worked on was CI development. He brought together experts and prepared everything such as a brand name, a […]

    • January 28, 2021
    • August 23, 2022

    Buy Less, Choose Well, Make It Last

    A shift in perspective The political turmoil over the US presidential election seems to have settled down, but there still have been a lot of related news. In the aftermath of the election, I found a name that hasn’t been seen for a year or two. It’s Greta Thunberg. I didn’t mean to discuss the rights and wrongs of her words and actions. As a matter of fact, her speech at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 made her world-famous. To be honest, my inner reaction left a strong impression on me, rather than the speech itself. At that time, I listened to her speech on the side of people who are criticized and responsible to the environmental problems she posed. I’ve finally realized I become an adult, though it’s too late for my age. Roles of youth and adults In my youth, the same as many other people, I […]

    • January 18, 2021
    • September 30, 2022

    Heros Are Ordinary People Who Make Themselves Extraordinary. Nothing to Be Ashamed of Being Ordinary

    Status quo bias Have you ever experienced the Japanese commuter rush in the morning? No? Lucky you. While living in Tokyo, I had endured the cruel treatment every morning for more than three years. On the platform of any station in Japan, door positions are marked up. Seeing long queues at the marks on the platform, morning commuters sigh at the thought of a great trip ahead. Strangely enough, people in respective morning commute queues were always almost the same. Me? Yes, always in the same queue without a rational reason. I don’t think other people also would have had a particular reason. Every morning, the usual faces in my queue reminded me that I was firmly caught up in the status quo bias. It seems human beings really dislike changes. Today, I didn’t mean to criticize from a height, saying “You should change,” but try to defend the human […]

    • January 14, 2021
    • September 27, 2022

    b8ta Launched in Japan: Now Is the Age of Just-Looking Customers

    What is b8ta? The epoch-making business was born in the Silicon Valley in 2015. It’s b8ta, and finally arrived in Tokyo, Japan last year. Let me explain their business model in very short. The shop of b8ta is divided into some compartments. Brands display their products at the compartments by paying a certain amount of money to b8ta. The monthly fixed rate includes everything, like the costs of staff, inventory management, logistics support, POS, etc. The highlight of their system is detailed marketing data provided to brands. The number of customers stopping at a product, how long a customer picked up a product, not to mention demographic data. Many latest sensing devices watch all the customer responses, and b8ta provides those data to brands. This concept of their business impressed me most. The main purpose of b8ta shops is not to sell products. They call their business as RaaS (Retail […]

    • December 22, 2020
    • October 1, 2022

    The Effective Marketing Tips: Empathy to Others Is the Key to Survival in Business

    The business world is a battlefield where wolves are killing each other? In the movie “Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort sounded off “I’ve been telling you guys not to take no for an answer, to keep pushing, to not hang up the phone ‘til you get what you want.” In the movie “The Founder,” Dick McDonald regretted making a business partnership with Ray Kroc, saying “There’s a wolf in the hen house.” The business world is a battlefield where wolves are ruthlessly killing each other. Many people would think like that. At least, I did. When I worked at the Ministry of Finance, what unfolded right before my eyes was exactly that. One mistake can lead to the end of a career. The mistakes of others taste like honey. IT giants are not wolves As naturally imagining the same dramas would happen in Silicon Valley, I was surprised by […]

    • October 14, 2020
    • September 22, 2022

    What Do You Work for? Money Is Not Worth Our Time!

    Investing is more profitable than working according to Thomas Piketty Life is hard. No matter how hard we work, we will never be rich, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. This is not my personal feeling but a truth proved by a French genius, Thomas Piketty in his best-selling book, “Capital in the 21st century.” His research revealed a harsh reality—Investing is more profitable than working. Don’t jump the gun. I didn’t mean to incite a worker’s revolution. While highly expecting government to keep income gaps within acceptable limits, we need to re-define the purpose of working. I think it’s too hard to keep working only for salary, looking sideways at millionaires building up fortunes without working. What about working for a friendship? What about a friendship? Don’t you think it could be a good purpose? As it’s rare for Japanese workers, I have changed jobs a […]