Stop focusing on the yen exchange rate! Your best hedge is innovation!

Many business executives are fretting about the weakening, and a lot of them were present at a yen forecast briefing I attended yesterday. Lots of charts and graphs, elaborate assumptions, and caveats. In the end, it boils down to the yen could up, or then again it could go down. Continue reading

Much ado about Piketty

Thomas Piketty, French economist, and intellectuel célèbre, was recently in Japan to speak about his much talked about book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty is on record supporting most aspects of Abenomics, and hence the interest. A flurry of opinion pieces on Piketty’s controversial work ensued as there always is whenever there is serious talk of wealth redistribution. Continue reading

Takeaways from lunch with Jim Thompson, Billion Dollar Entrepreneur

From left to right, Steven Bleistein, Jim Thompson, and Thomas Shockley

From left to right, Steven Bleistein, Jim Thompson, and Thomas Shockley

On February 5th, I organized a lunch with Jim Thompson, CEO and founder of Crown Worldwide. The lunch, hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, was fully booked with twenty people in attendance.

You may not have heard of Crown Worldwide, but they are one of the largest logistics, international relocation and document storage companies in the world. You probably have seen their trucks, present in many cities around the globe. They bright red sporting a yellow crown. Continue reading

Takeaways from my Conversation with Steve Dacus, CEO of Seiyu and Walmart Japan

My February 3rd Conversation With Steve Dacus event, jointly hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan was fully booked with over seventy people in attendance. As with all my “Conversation With…”I leave ample time for the audience to ask questions of the guest directly, and like always, this audience participated with zeal. Continue reading

The Art of the Stomach and Pitfalls in Communicating with the Japanese

Haragei (腹芸)in Japanese is “the art of the stomach.” Many Japanese people have not heard of this expression, but all Japanese are surely familiar with what it represents. Haragei is the art of understanding what someone means in conversation without his or her having to say it aloud. Haragei also means conveying meaning without explicitly saying it. Continue reading

If you had a magic third arrow, what would you use it on?

I ask that question to CEOs I meet. All have clear targets, from relaxing of import regulations to freeing up the labor market–a full quiver. Abe’s problem is not a lack of third arrows, but a lack of a third bow to launch them. Expectations may be low, but what if Mr. Abe succeeds? Be careful what you wish for. When that third arrow finds its mark, what will be changed in your economy, not just your business. Are you ready? Continue reading