Steven's Blog

The Secret to Persuasive Strategy

All senior level executives and managers are asked to develop and present a strategy, whether global strategy, regional strategy, or simply strategy for a team or department they oversee. Many managers create long slide presentations with lots of data to justify why their strategy is right. However, the most persuasive managers talk about all the reasons their strategy might be wrong. Continue reading


Attitude Trumps Experience

I advised the vice-president to hire the less experienced candidate and you should hire the less experienced candidate too. Let me tell you why.

Between two candidates for a sales manager role at a major international company, I advised a vice-president of sales to hire the less experienced candidate over a more experienced candidate because the former was growth-oriented whereas the latter was confident that he knew his business and alluded he had little left to learn. The vice-president hired the less experienced candidate.

What do I mean by growth-oriented?

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Using R&D to Make a Sale is like Eating Your Young

I often see sales people offer highly valuable expert services from an R&D division to a customer for free in order to make a product sale, even when the customer would likely have been happy to pay.

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New CEO Manifesto

Are you are new to your role as CEO in Japan, or have you been a CEO for a while?

Below are ten pieces of advice for CEOs in Japan based on issues most frequently raised with me.

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Mothers Outperform Men

Prime Minister Abe recognizes that getting more Japanese women into the workplace, including women with children, is the greatest potential domestic resource for boosting Japan’s GDP rapidly. He is, of course, right in terms of economics. However, he may not realize that getting more women with children into the workplace may also solve Japan’s low productivity and excessive overtime problem at the same time. 

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Automate HR, Proliferate Mediocrity

Machine learning algorithms are no smarter than the humans they learn from, and in most cases not nearly as smart.

I am no luddite. I am aware of the power of big data when used with good analytics and artificial intelligence in automating functions like logistics, supply chain management, manufacturing and market intelligence. However, business leaders ought to treat automating human resources with particular skepticism and caution.

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White Collar Work Reform is not a Labor Issue

The Japanese government has lately been working in partnership with industry more than usual to promote white collar work reform to address perennial issues of low productivity, habitual overtime, and health issues related to overwork including death from overwork, known as karoshi. Reforms under discussion address mostly policy around regulating how people work and are paid, such as overtime limits and remuneration. However, these fail to address underlying cause, which is not about how people work, but rather is how managers with staff lead, or rather fail to lead.

White collar reform is not a labor policy issue for government. Click To Tweet

It is a leadership capability deficit issue for companies. Continue reading


Conversation with AIG Japan Holdings K.K. CEO, Robert Noddin

I conducted an on-stage conversation with AIG Japan CEO Bob Noddin yesterday. This was an American Chamber of Commerce in Japan luncheon event, held at the posh Tokyo American Club. About one-hundred people attended, and everyone got a free copy of my new book!

Robert Noddin and Steven Bleistein

While this event was off-the-record, allow me to elaborate on what my personal takeaways are from the provocative conversation with Bob Noddin. Continue reading