Steven's Blog

The Anatomy of Misogyny

Last week, Tokyo Medical University was revealed to have been deliberately boosting entrance test scores of male students to give them an advantage and to limit the number of female students since 2006. The motivation? Women shorten or halt their careers after becoming mothers, exacerbating staff shortage problems at hospitals. There is no real evidence for this, but whatever.

Misogyny, like all other forms of hate, is always rationalized as being in some arbitrary best interest of the greater common good. Continue reading


Change First, Culture Later

If you are a leader seeking rapid change in your company, forget about culture. Culture will take care of itself. Focus on new ways of doing things. The genesis of a new culture results from a change in behavior, not the other way around. Change the way people do things. Culture change follows as a result.

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No Pain Points, No Problems

What if your prospects and clients have no pain points and no problems?

Presumption of damage is never a good way to start a relationship with anyone, whether in business or otherwise.

Not long ago, I was working with a sales team helping improve their capability to ask questions when meeting with prospects. Without fail, during role plays when I played the customer, each one asked me variations of, “Do you have any particular problems?”

When I responded, “No, we don’t have any particular problems,” each salesperson was flustered and did not know how to respond. Each one, after a few awkward exchanges simply withdrew and promised to call again at a later date.

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There is No Japanese Mindset

Nationality and national culture are not granular enough to explain behavior. There is no  “Japanese mindset.”

I have traveled to more than twenty countries, and lived outside my native United States for almost my entire adult life. I speak Japanese and French fluently, and just enough Italian, German, and Mandarin Chinese to get myself into trouble. When I put my mind to it, I can even fake Spanish—and people understand me! I have worked with and known people from all over the world. Yet, I have never known any single person who could be described as typical of the country from which they come, because it is not nationality that really matters.

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Retain Just the Best

You want to retain just the best in your organization.

Why?

Retention, per se, is no business objective. It is retaining the best that counts, even in the tightest of labor markets like we are currently experiencing in Japan. Continue reading


Make Your Own Economy

Are you allowing the economy to dictate your results, or are you making your own economy?

In 1995, in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake in which five thousand people lost their lives, an American businessman told me that he had been advised to lower his expectations for the Japan market because Japanese consumers had reduced their spending, so as not to appear ostentatious or feel guilty about enjoying life in the wake of the tragedy suffered by their compatriots. 

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Conversation with IHG/ANA Hotels CEO Hans Heijligers

On June 25th, I conducted an on-stage conversation with IHG/ANA Hotels Group Japan CEO, Hans Heijligers for both the American and French Chambers of Commerce at the Tokyo American Club. Here are my takeaways from that conversation.

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Strategy on Your Own Terms

The best military strategists always choose the terrain on which they will do battle, rather than allowing the enemy to choose for them. So, in business, why would you possibly allow others to define the topography of your business environment instead of choosing the topography yourself?

Yet, that is often precisely what business people do.

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