Steven's Blog

Who’s Eating Your Lunch?

I can often sell my clients’ businesses better than they can sell themselves. Some have little sense of the magnitude of strategic value they are capable of providing their customers, whereas others have sales staff who rarely communicate such value, much less understand it.

As a result, they undercharge their customers or otherwise find themselves merely pushing product to low-level buyers.

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Eschew the Putative Best People

Your company should not have mass appeal as a great place to work, if it is exceptional people you want to attract.

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Campaigns Don’t Shape Brands

Campaigns don’t shape brands. Leaders do. Campaigns merely project to the outside world the brand as perceived by the people inside your company, whether that brand is how you like it or not.

Dissonance will cause any branding campaign to fail, no matter what you do.

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Ignore The Competition

Focusing on what the competition is doing in considering your own strategy tacitly enables your competitors to force you to compete on their terms.

For breakthrough strategy, forget about the competition.

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Sense, Not Sensitivity

The greatest impediment to success in international business is cultural sensitivity. Yes, that’s right. Now take a moment to vent your outrage if you need to, and bear with me. It is not cultural sensitivity but rather cultural sense-making that you want, and these are not the same thing. Don’t get me wrong. I am no xenophobe. It is good to make yourself an expert in a foreign language or another country’s culture. However, there is a difference between using your expertise to adapt to the culture around you, as opposed to changing it.

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Japan’s Generous Paternity Leave

When a new father asks for paternity leave, a manager can become defensive, even  though paternity leave as stipulated by Japanese government regulation is one of the most generous in the world, with up to a year’s leave if desired. Government regulation has achieved nothing in terms of healthy work style behaviors because regulation is not the root cause of excesses. Whether excessive overtime or forgoing paternity leave, the root cause is never because of government regulation or company policy.

The root cause is always a deficit of leadership capability.

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Fire Your Distributor and Thrive

A number of CEOs hesitate to go direct even though their distributor relationships have outlived their value. However, there is absolutely no reason to avoid bypassing your distributor no matter what you may have been told.

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Don’t be a Japanologist

Japan-fatigue is real and can be fatal to your success and career. Don’t try to explain how Japan is different to executives in your head office. While such conversations are great for dinner parties, talks with students, and war stories with friends, unless executives in your head office are interested in Japanology as a hobby, it’s best to leave Japanology to academics. Executives will find discussions only frustrating and tedious.

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