Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 20, 2014... What the Friday? Secret Live!

I have organized another free concert for people to enjoy. 

I think these big summer festivals whereby people spend $500 to $1000 (more?) to go to a festival to see bands with crappy sound, bad food, and stand in long lines to go to the toilet are way over priced. 

On August 20, 2014, I have set up another killer show that is "invitation only" limited to 250 guests. The show features "The Man";  Also Japanese band, "Taffy" (who garnered 8 out of 10 stars from Britian's NME Magazine (an new band getting 8 out of 10 stars? Never heard of it!)  "The Twenties" and "Good Warp."  Also DJ'ing that night is the eclectic and infectious sound of "Amducias." 

I think it will be one of the best and most memorable shows of summer 2014.

The show is by invitation only and drinks are a mere ¥500 (at the door) So, I hope to see you there!

It's going to be one of the most happening parties in Tokyo summer of 2014.


Be there!

If you wanna go, send an email to: wtf@interfm.jp

TV as a Mirror of Society

I met one of the bosses of one of the biggest international television networks in the world the other day. He is a Canadian. He travels all over the world and, because he is in the TV business, he told me that one of his favorite things to do in every country was to judge by TV commercials what things were important to that particular society. 

Japan's TV commercials? Insurance for this or that; home sales; automobiles; financial instruments and plans; candy, cosmetics, fast food... Companies like Zurich, Sekisui, Kanebo.... Japanese commercials that soft sell and are emotive commercials.

I think that's right. 

He also told me that he was "astounded" by just how many over the counter drug and prescription medication commercials there were on US TV all the time. US TV commercials? Drugs, Cholesterol, Machismo ("my ding-a-ling is bigger than yours" commercials); fast food; commercials to make your dick hard, make it soft, put you to sleep, keep you awake, lower blood pressure, lose weight; not to mention commercials galore for people with extreme anxiety and panic attacks.

Oh, and don't forget the side effects disclaimers! 

Very sick society?

Maybe so.

Why is the USA this way? It wasn't that way 50 years ago, was it? 

Here's one piece of anecdotal evidence: Japan has its problems too, but here is something that will drop the jaws of all Americans... Did you know that in Japan, on any given day, you can get on a train or subway and see unaccompanied 5 and 6 year old kids going to and from school?

Little 5 and 6-year-old kids riding the trains by themselves in no fear of danger... And the other passengers think nothing of it. Why? Because that is normal in Japan. 

Think about that. 

I don't really have any conclusions to point out (I've made mine). Dear reader, please think of the ramifications of what I have written here and come to your own conclusion.


Here's a compilation of Japanese commercials, 2014, weeks 10 + 11, I just scanned quickly, but we have a candy commercial (Lotte), a Softbank mobile commercial, an AU mobile commercial, a band promo, Playstation ad, Iberico Pork Donburi commercial, and a real gem at 4:40 -- A Boat Race commercial:


Thanks to my good friend, James Santagata for co-writing this article with me! James, you are tops!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Being an Idiot AND Being in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time? Bad Combination!

I've been very lucky in my life. I've done many idiotic things and I'm still here. I've been in the wrong place at the wrong time and I'm still here.

I have had the unfortunate (?) experience whereby I was an idiot, and in the wrong place at the wrong time, at the same time, but still somehow, I got lucky and escaped.

I got an email from a good friend about this sort of thing that I'd like to share with you. You might laugh or you might be horrified.

My friend works at some sort of automotive business. Here is what he wrote:


So once upon a time, I get to take cars home just randomly under the pretense of evaluation. Sometimes I actually need the cars for work and other times I just want to drive cool shit like the Alfa Romeo. There are others just like me at the company who have the same privileges.

So, one day, this dumbfuck intern at the company thought it would be a good idea to take home a cop car (this is where the "idiot" part comes in - Mike). 

He thought it would be smart to turn on the lights on a freeway and yell at some guy, "Pull over IMMEDIATELY!" and the guy actually did. Problem is a real cop witnessed this and was quickly on the scene. Well, the intern and all three of his friends in the car got arrested. So they all got fired from the company (of course) and now our organization is blacklisted from (Name of Major US Automobile manufacturer here) recruiting for a while. 

The kicker is, the parents of the kids who weren't driving and riding in the passenger seats are now suing both the company and the driver of the car for defamation since they weren't driving nor did they tell him to turn on the lights (You know, it's a "He said, she said, situation.") and the kids who were passengers were basically blacklisted (for life?) from auto since HR talks to each other. To make the situation even more of a clusterfuck, the driver's parents are countersuing, and the company is countersuing them all.  

Here's the thing; I was pretty close with those four people and was considering going with them that very night since they said they were going to a house party and thought it would be cool to take a police car there. The only reason I didn't go along was because I had to stay in late at the office because I had a presentation due the next day so I'm luckier than the guy who didn't get on MH370. 

Holy SHIT!!!!!! IDIOTS!!!!! 

I wrote back:

Really. Holy Shit. God smiles on you! I've had many close calls like that in my life... 

He continued:

It is hilarious in retrospect. But when I first heard about what had transpired, I was shitting bricks at how close that was. 

I replied:

Forty years ago, when I was in High School, my friends and I would do the typical stupid things that high schools kids did back in those days. One of the dumbest things we did with regularity was to drink and drive all the time; it was our weekend idiot ritual. We took turns driving our cars. John (not his real name) had a small truck. Rick (not his real name) had a small Japanese car. Me, Mike (Yes, my real name) had a German sports car. I am amazed that I was never stopped even once by the police (but we did live in what was a small town at the time with many rural roads.) 

The small truck that John had that could only ride two in the cab up front and the third had to ride in the back on the bed of the truck (back in the days when that, as well as many other things, wasn't illegal). The three of us would drink a fifth of JD straight and be so drunk we couldn't see the divider lines in the road without covering one eye. (If we didn't drive one handed and cover one eye with our other hand, we'd see the divider lines on the road doubled!).... 

We did that insanity months (idiot youth!) 

One night, as usual, my friends called me and asked me to go drinking with them. I had never refused before, but that night, for some reason, I did. I stayed home that night.. I'd find out the next day that they rolled the truck that evening. 

God! How lucky I was. If I had gone with those two that night, then one of us, either me or Rick would have died. Who ever would have been riding in the back would have surely died as the truck took a sharp turn and rolled over a few times on a downhill asphalt curve... 

Since I didn't go, those two could ride relatively safely in the cab. The two of them only suffered concussions and a few broken bones (and a completely totaled truck).... And, of course, being arrested for DUI. 

I was extremely fortunate. To this day, I often wonder why I didn't go that night. I've dodged that kind of bullet many times...

Consider yourself fortunate, my friend... It is a good omen for your future... Always get in tune with your inner feelings and when you feel something "isn't right" then don't do it. 

This isn't John's truck. John's truck was much worse than this. John's truck had the cabin flattened like a pancake. It's a miracle those two guys didn't break their necks.

The moral of the story: Everyone does idiotic things in their life at one time or another. I think most people have been in the wrong place at the wrong time at something during their life too... Try not to be an idiot and in the wrong place at the wrong time at the same time; that can be a devastating combination.

I concluded my note to my young friend: 

"Some people just wind up doing stupid things and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.... You weren't one of them this time.

Do your best not to be one of them the next time also."


NOTES: Folks, never drink and drive and always drive defensively; slow down. Speeding to get where you want to go is only going to save you a few minutes (that won't matter anyway) and it greatly increases your chances of a life changing accident.  

I have been lucky all my life even when I did stupid things. Today? When I drive, I never speed and always stop at stop signs and traffic lights and haven't gotten stopped by police for any traffic violations in 27 years! So anytime I see the cops with roadside blocks checking for seat belts or traffic violations, I laugh as, since I do not break the law, they can't stop me; It's my own little revolution against the taxation system. 

To get slightly off the subject, and to read how these traffic violations and the following fines are actually a form of taxation, read: Driver's Licenses Have Zero to Do With Safe Driving: They Are a Back-door Tax! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Philippines for Vacation? No.

"A cheap holiday in other people's misery..." Sex Pistols from the song, "Holidays in the Sun"

One of my favorite writers, Fred Reed, says, "Write drunk. Edit sober." We'll I'm writing drunk and am not in the mood to wait until tomorrow to edit sober; especially since this is my first post in months. I want to write about what I saw recently.

I just came back from the Philippines. It's a depressingly destitute country.

We went to Cebu Island. Cebu Island is supposed to be some sort of island oasis. It is if you want to stay within the compounds of your hotel; the minute you leave the hotel, it is hell.

We stayed in one of the best hotels in all of Cebu... I took lots of video but no photos (that's how unimpressed I was with the place and also a sign of how derelict I am as I never felt the need to bring a proper camera).

We arrived at midnight or so and took a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport to the hotel. When we entered the hotel by taxi, they searched the car for bombs and drugs. You know, just like in TV shows? They had a mirror on a long stick to look under the car for bombs, a god-damned doberman sniffing our car, luggage, and us for drugs (or bombs) and everything else... There I was looking irritated like your typical anarchist dumb foreign tourist with my Japanese wife and ten-year-old son in the back of the car and the guard man asks me to roll open my window. He looks at me and says,

"Are you staying at this hotel?"

With my Los Angeles Dodgers hat and dorky Captain America T-shirt and looking most likely like Joe-dumbfuck-tourist, I replied, "Are you kidding me? It's the middle of the night. Do I look like I live around here?"

They waved us through...

The $100 million dollar hotel was just like any other $100 million dollar hotel at any beach resort anywhere in the world: You could wake up one morning alongside the pool and not have any idea whether or not you are in a ritsy-shitsy hotel in Hawaii, Thailand, Guam, Saipan, Mexico, Malaysia or where ever (But I will admit that they didn't have canned "Tropical Birds singing" coming over the loudspeakers like they did at another tourist trap from hell that we stayed at before.)

I guess I should admit right here that when I go overseas, I do want to see how the local people live; I wanna go to where the local people shop and where they go to eat...

I mean, why not? What's the point of going to a foreign country if all you are going to do is stay inside the safe and sanitary confines of the local hotel Ritz? They all look the same whether you are staying in this country or that.... What's the point of visiting a foreign country if you aren't willing to venture out to see how they actually live and not from within the confines of an international chain hotel?

The second day there, I took a 200 meter (200 yard) walk outside of the guarded hotel gates (Like I said, I like to see how people really live). When I was venturing out of the guarded gates at the hotel, the guardsmen said to me,

"You going out? OK. But be careful and don't go too far away. Be back by dark."

I was surprised, but not shocked, as these were the same people who were using mirrors to check the under carriage of my taxi for bombs just a day earlier.

As I walked out the gate, it was like walking into another world. It was total poverty and filth. Men were shouting at me for taxis, prostitutes, gambling and all sorts of guilty pleasures. I waved them off. Immediately I was surrounded by 8 kids (maybe 6 ~ 9 years old) trying to sell me junk and telling me they we hungry (Really! These kids had learned to beg in English!)

One kid, I'd guess he was about 9-years-old, told me he hadn't eaten in a day (I believed him, they were all so skinny!) They kept trying to sell me junk and they pestered me by following me around wherever I went.

After a while, one kid (probably the youngest at 7 or so) said,

"Mister, I'm hungry, please give me three pesos so I can buy some fried chicken." (you know, kinda like KFC, only home made)... Three pesos is about 9 cents (USD) so I said to all the kids,

"OK, I'll buy one of your trinkets from all of you and buy you guys some chicken if you promise to leave me alone..."

So I spent about $2 ($3?) and bought all of them 3 pieces of chicken and told them to sit down and eat it and I walked away.... Poor kids.

The next day, when I walked out of the hotel gates into the living hell again, they saw me from a distance and they all yelled out "Mister!" and bowed to me and, as promised, they left me alone.

They kept their promise. I wonder how many broken promises the people endured over the years from their government overlords? Here we were staying in a $100 million dollar hotel and right across the street there lived the median population of the country existing on a dollar a day...

Here I am eating more food at one dinner sitting than many kids in Cebu eat in a week or two.

Here I was staying in what is one of the hot tourist spots in Asia and the local people, across the street from some palace hotel (most likely built by some company with inside government connections... Wink, wink...), and just 20 meters outside the gates of that palace hotel, are living in stark poverty and filth.

Don't believe me? Well, OK, will you believe the Philippine government's own data?

"While poverty rates in Cebu are not quite as high as on the Mindanao or Samar islands (where poverty rates were as high as 52.9% according to the report), rates of poverty in Cebu averaged 33.6%. That means that despite Cebu City being one of the leading ports of commerce and being named one of the best island destinations for tourism in the area by magazines like Condé Nast Traveler Magazine, 1/3 of the population lives below the poverty threshold."

What a clusterfuck! The government is corrupt and totally fucked up. In many ways, I thought the Philippines were much worse off than even Mexico!

You know, you'd think that if someone built a huge assed million dollar hotel, they want to do something about the surrounding area... But, no.

You see, that's not how corrupt government cronyism works; the buddies of the people in power get the no bids contracts, the politicians get the kick backs, and the people bend over and take it in the ass....

Make no mistake about it, I am railing on the Philippine government here, but I am also criticizing all government here: ALL governments tax the people to spend on pork barrel projects rather than let the people keep their money themselves and spend it the way they see fit....

There's no way out for those poor kids in Cebu, Philippines.... Really. Of course I haven't seen all of the Philippines, but the only places I have seen that were worse were India and Bangladesh....

At least the downtrodden middle class in Philippines had crumbling shanty homes to live in and a rooster or two running around.... The middle class in India and Bangladesh don't even have that....

It surprised me that the Philippines were so bad off.... And I was in Cebu fer chrissakes; a supposed world class resort island! That's supposed to be a better part of the country....

What a shit-hole and testament to government corruption....Not to mention getting searched before entering Department stores for weapons and drugs....

Shoplifting and crime must be out of control in the Philippines....

There was one last little piece of anecdotal evidence that I'd like to share with dear reader. One day, as I was riding through the shanty town in front of the hotel in a taxi that I noticed; there were these god awful looking little red concrete boxes that were eyesores lining the sides of the roads. I'd say about half of them were as I imagined they were intended: red concrete boxes with the lettering, "Lupa Lupa City Government" painted on them and a small tree growing out of them. The other half of them were broken and in disrepair and had no tree growing or were busted up and being used for trash containers. I imagined that these containers were the local corrupt government's efforts at beautifying the local area.

In my imagination I could see some government wonks thinking up a way to make the city "greener" (It's out in the country, how much "greener" could they possibly get anyway?) I figured some government clown went on a trip to some other country and saw beautiful planters along the road with lush, well-cared for vegetation growing out of them so they thought this was a good idea to beautify the local area... But beautiful Grecian style planters (urns?) are pretty expensive, so how to do it? No problem. Great Idea government wonk's brother Carlos owns a cement factory so why not use public funds and pay his company to make the planters? Sure they aren't round and beautiful, but we gotta think of costs so they make ugly, square, painted red cement boxes. And to make sure the locals know their tax money is well-spent, they make them even uglier by painting, "Lupa Lupa City Government" on the sides. Grand idea! The locals get planters they don't need and brother Carlos gets his wheels greased by his government connection so that he donates to his favorite political group in the next election.  Everyone wins! Everyone is happy, right?

Well, no. A few years later, the people in power change and the new folks in power decide that these red planters are an eyesore and upkeep is a waste of money (they don't have) and they fail into disrepair and the project is dropped; many planters are busted up and in need of replacement and the trees need watering and maintenance. What to do? Kill the project and let the planters go to hell.

I'm sure the planters that still had healthy trees in them were adopted by the poor folks whose houses these things were dropped in front of them and those folks started to take care of the trees. The rest just lie there, cracked, shattered, lifeless and full of trash. Your tax dollars well spent.

Like I said, just another in a long line of pork barrel projects that puts money into the hands of the politically well-connected rather than let the people keep their money themselves and spend it the way they see fit....

Marvelous! Simply marvelous!

Great, eh? A supposed Catholic nation... A Christian nation. How does this crime situation and social disorder and government corruption that stack up against an Islamic and Buddhist nation? Read: ‘I Went to an Islamic and a Fascist Country…’ 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Coolest Summer Concert in Tokyo of 2014? And It's Free!

I hadn't blogged in three weeks. Didn't realize it had been so long until an anonymous writer sent this comment: "21 days with no blogging. Sure hope your life is alright."

Thanks Anonymous. I appreciate it.

My life is alright. I hope yours is too.

I've been working 14 ~ 16 hours a day, everyday for the last 5 weeks or so. Then, during that time, I had a hellacious gout attack! I don't know why, I hadn't been drinking and have been basically doing the raw food thingy. Maybe it is stress... At least, that's what the doctor said.

Then, as soon as my gout went away, I went back to my exercise routine: 90 minutes speed walking.

That was a mistake.

Because of the gout, I had been walking funny for a week and my left knee hurt from that. So, while my knee was out of whack, I went for a 90 minute walk again. On the way back, darn if my knee didn't start burning. Uh, oh... Felt like I was getting water under my left kneecap.

It was.

Within a day, my knee had swollen up and hurt like heck, but I kept working.

That was another mistake.

By the third day, I couldn't walk and was in bed with my knee under ice packs and elevated. Still was doing work from the computer.

In the meantime, I completed several important tasks and nearly completed or completed a few videos.

Video screen capture of Neatbeats, "Snakey Baby"

One of the ones that was finished was for a really awesome Japanese Beat Group called, "The Neatbeats." It stars Japan's best authentic beat music group, Mina Shirakawa, Japan's Sexy and Hot New Pinup girl and a funny sumo wrestler. I have my "Hitchcock style cameo" right at the very start (I'm the guy in the red sweater). For some reason, I can't link that video but you can view that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1L3leqBg-8

Besides these things, I've been doing my regular jobs and trying to get stuff done.

I have also organized another free concert for people to enjoy. I think these summer festivals whereby people spend $500 to $1000 to go to a festival to see bands with crappy sound, bad food and stand in long lines to go to the toilet are way over priced.

On June 23, 2014, I have set up another killer show that is "invitation only" limited to 250 guests. 

The show features the above mentioned Neatbeats. Here's a different video of theirs

The Neatbeats can easily sell out 500 ~ 600 people venues at $60 a ticket. Think people will wanna see. 

Also Japan's power drum and bass duo, Moja will perform. 

Julie will perform...

and also Mz. Moxy from London in her Japan debut.

It's a killer show and I hope that you can attend. I think it will be one of the best and most memorable shows of summer 2014.

So, besides trying to be a father and husband, that's what I have been doing...

I hope to blog again because there's so much nonsense going on right now: Ukraine, stock market, Abenomics, Justin Beiber that the world's a ripe grape ready for the picking for some blogger...

But for now, I've got to get back to work.

See you soon.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

World's #1 Video Crowd-Sourcing platform needs you!

90 Seconds TV! World's #1 Video Crowd-Sourcing platform needs you! 

Several positions in Japan need to be filled immediately!

1) Need experienced project(s) manager in Japan. Perfect business level Japanese a must. Bi-lingual English. Knows how to handle schedules and write Japanese business letters. Experienced in secretarial duties. Understands internet. Working in video production. Work at home too! Very high pay (¥450,000 ~ ¥550,000 yen per month). Apply at: www.90seconds.tv

プロジェクトマネージャー募集 業務はビデオプロダクションでのマネージメント。経験者優遇 その他、日本語英語のバイリンガル、スケジュール管理能力及び日本語のビジネスレター作成技能のあるインターネットに詳しい方を求む 年齢35才位まで 応相談在宅勤務 給与月額45−55万(税込)程度

2) Video editors, camera person, lighting, experts in video production, production managers, all aspects of video production, etc. needed for world's leading online video crowd sourcing platform. We have offices around the world and setting up Japan. Excellent pay and conditions.

ビデオ編集・カメラマン・照明・ビデオプロダクション経験者・プロダクションマネージャー 募集 オンラインビデオクラウドサーチプラットフォーム業務 ニュージーランド他各国にある企業の日本支社立ち上げスタッフです。給与条件等、経験により優遇いたします。オンラインで応募受付 www.90seconds.tv 

Sign up easy! Apply at: www.90seconds.tv

Japan site: www.90seconds.jp

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yen Strengthens 1.25% Overnight - Rough Day for Nikkei 225 Coming?

Now this is a real head-scratcher. The Japanese yen skyrocketed in price over night 1.25%.

The last time something like this happened, the Nikkei 225 had a 500 point drop later that day. But looking at the Nikkei Futures, it shows a 7-point increase.

I would have expected a futures price dropping 200 ~ 300 points for the day....

But, as my wife would say, "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?"

Can't believe that the Nikkei 225 won't drop at least 200 today. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

If you want to understand what a Japanese wants to say, listen to their hearts and not their words.

There's a very old Japanese saying that goes like this; "If you want to understand what a Japanese wants to say, listen to their hearts and not their words."

When I first came to live in Japan, I was told this by many of my close Japanese friends. I couldn't understand it at all. I mean, as a westerner, and a male, it made no sense to me... It didn't make any sense to me for the first 15 or 20 years of my living in Japan. 

My reasoning went like this: How was I to understand what someone is thinking when their words tell me one thing, but they really mean the exact opposite? I am not Houdini or some sort of clairvoyant mind reader! 

I think I got upset about this happening so much in Japan. I think all foreigners who live here do also.

In fact, I remember many years ago, a very close friend of mine in Japan having much troubles because he always took what Japanese people said at face-value and considered them "liars" because they would often say one thing, but mean another. They would rarely "speak their hearts." We had long discussions about this and he would often be angry and demand to me, 

"If they think that, why don't they just say so?!"

It is often said that Japanese people never say, "No!" Also they never say what they really mean. Their true meaning is not in words spoken from their mouths, but from their hearts. 

I used to think I needed a stethoscope to get around Japan and understand what the Japanese were saying!

My very close friend left Japan many years ago and never returned.

This doctor won't need that stethoscope to know what I'm thinking when she examines me

Now, after working in and with big companies as a lackey foreigner or gaijin advisor to high ranking executives; after seeing grown Japanese men crying at meetings; after dismissing several dozen Japanese staff from their duties when I was the only foreigner dumb enough to accept a general manager position at a Japanese company; after serving drinks (and inhaling them) at many corporate parties; after two divorces, and finally one happy marriage (today nearly 20 years); this saying makes perfect sense to me:

"If you want to understand what a Japanese wants to say, listen to their hearts and not their words."

Recently, I've had two dear friends visiting from overseas for work. I witnessed this saying in action yesterday twice within the span of a few hours.

The first example was when one of my friends (who doesn't speak Japanese) asked a nice Japanese gentleman to make a short speech in English for a promotional video. The Japanese man said something like,

"Oh, yes. I can do that."

But as soon as my foreign friend was out of earshot, the Japanese gentlemen leaned to me and said, "Mike! What should I do?"

Now, most people would think that the, "What should I do?" means, "Help me with my English." Or, "How shall I say this?" But that's not what he means. Those are his words, but by listening to his heart, I could tell what he was really saying was, "I do not have confidence in my English to make a speech. Isn't there anything you can do for me?"

I looked him right in the eye and said, "I understand. How about we do just a little comment in English and the rest in Japanese?"

His eyes grew bright and he smiled and shook my hand with a sigh or great relief, "Oh yes. That would be best. Thank you."

We held almost all the speech in Japanese. It went well. A success.

The second case was when we went to a different company to organize a project that had been ordered by the big boss. We met two sections chiefs and one of their marketing staff. We did the Japanese business card exchange ritual and sat down. The first thing out of the section chief's mouth was,

"Thank you for coming. We were ordered by our boss to make a video and told we don't have any time except today..."

Once again, any rationally thinking westerner would hear that and shake their heads in agreement.

But that isn't what the guy's heart was saying was, I knew exactly what his heart was saying, and it was this,

"Thank you for coming. We were ordered by our boss to make a video and told we don't have any time except today. This is worrisome as we just found out about it. We have absolutely no plan on what we want and how to do it. Do we have to do it today?"

They had no idea what was going on but couldn't defy the bosses orders... They were hinting to us that they wanted time to make a plan. It was plainly obvious to me. I said,

"Oh? Well, dear sirs, we are merely here to help you and it isn't necessary at all to make this video today. We are here to show you what we can do and when you folks are ready, we're here to help you. We can even attend your planning meetings, if you like."

It was like a huge balloon filled with the hot air of tension deflated right there on the spot. Our Japanese hosts suddenly allowed their backs to relax and they slightly sank back into their seats knowing the "Sword of Damocles" wasn't hanging over their heads at that very moment.

I felt good that I could understand what these two cases really wanted to say when they spoke. It was very satisfying. 

From understanding their hearts, I immediately built a bond of great trust and a sort of acceptance and intimate understanding with these good folks just like the Japanese have with each other. (Or so thinks foolish foreigner? - Me)

It was wonderful that my two foreign friends could witness this first hand when they were here.

If all of us foreigners living and working in Japan remember this, it makes working and living with the Japanese all that much easier.

"If you want to understand what a Japanese wants to say, listen to their hearts and not their words."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bad and Incompetent Management? It's Everywhere!

You've got to wonder how people, who are so clueless to even their own industry, get into management positions. 


But, come to think of it, actually, you and I don't have to wonder; someone wondered about it long ago and wrote a book on it in the 1970s. It was all explained in the seminal book, The Peter PrincipleThat book explained the phenomenon of how, in a hierarchy, everyone rises to their top level of incompetence. Then because they are incompetent, they remain in that position, unable to advance or, because of politics, be demoted.

Wikipedia says:

The Peter Principle is a belief that, in an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit, that organization's members will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. The principle is commonly phrased, "Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence." In more formal parlance, the effect could be stated as: employees tend to be given more authority until they cannot continue to work competently.

Yep. That's it. 

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have railed on incompetent management at broadcasting stations for years. Just to prove that even a broken clock is right twice a day, almost 4 years ago, I wrote (on July 24, 2010) in One More Phase in the Shattering of Mainstream Media:

I rode the Tokyo subway today and saw a sign inside the car that notified the passengers that as of July 24, 2011, terrestrial television stations will no longer broadcast analogue signals in Japan and will finally make the switch to digital.   

This signals the final nail in the coffin of many of the FM radio stations in this country and the collapse of TV Tokyo and TBS.    

I predict that *****FM will either be bankrupt or sold to a new owner by 2014 and TV Tokyo will be in the same situation: insolvent or absorbed by another company by 2016. 

I picked the first one correctly (polite applause here). The FM station was sold to another company in the summer of 2012. My prediction came true two years ahead of schedule. 

I've got a few more years left on my TV Tokyo prediction and I'm feeling very good about that. Especially since TV Tokyo is unable to payback a $5 billion dollar loan from Mizuho bank they made in Feb. of 2010 and keeps rolling that loan over every year... I wonder how long the rollover will be allowed by Mizuho bank especially since the new Japanese government has publicly stated a policy of 2% inflation which will lead to much higher interest rates.

(TV Tokyo share price was around ¥4,400 at that time. Today, TV Tokyo Holdings shares run at ¥1768 - a rise of over ¥800 from the 2011 lows - due to Abenomics?)

I haven't been writing about these stations recently, but a while ago I had a meeting with management at a broadcasting station that just made my head spin. The boss of the station said to me in an incredulous manner,

"Mike! We have to do something to get people back to listening to the car radio... Did you know that Toyota stopped putting radios in cars? Did you know that??"

Simply astounding! Doesn't this manager read business publications at all? 

It was in 2007 that Toyota had publicly announced that they were phasing out analogue radio in the automobiles within three years and that they would no longer be standard equipment in 2011 (that was two years ago!) Taking that obvious clue, I even blogged three years ago that the future of radio lay in the hands of, not the stations, but Toyota. How could a station manager, almost seven years later, just be finding this out? 

Please refer once again to July 24, 2010One More Phase in the Shattering of Mainstream Media

The future of FM radio doesn't lay in what they broadcast or how they up the ante of quality of content (but, of course, it will always be a competition between stations for dwindling audience and sponsorship dollars)...

The future of FM radio depends on what Toyota does.

That's right. Toyota is the one who decides what is going to happen. In my opinion, it is obvious that FM  is is serious trouble and that we are now witnessing the end of an era; and it's happening, in slow motion, right in front of our eyes.

But, don't take my word for it, decide for yourself. Let me explain further...

Think about this: Where do most people listen to FM radio? In cars, right?

The Japanese government and all the big manufacturers in this country, Sony, Panasonic, etc. (who, by the way, all have an incestuous relationship with each other and Toyota in stock holdings) are pushing for the digital conversion big time. These manufacturers need their flagging fortunes to get an injection of sales and profits that new broadcasting and new equipment will generate. Digital equipment costs anywhere from $500 - $2,000 (USD) a set. The Japanese manufacturers want and need for the Japanese public to go whole-hog into digital broadcasting. They need the public to dispose of their analogue equipment and buy the new digital equipment... (By the way, a cursory check of analogue equipment at Bic Camera the other day - what little I could find - showed that all the analogue products were all manufactured outside of Japan).

If digital broadcasting is a failure in this country, then it's going to hurt Japanese manufacturing for a very long time... The analogue equipment I saw was all manufactured in Malaysia, Indonesia, and I found some from Taiwan (which was surprising).

Now, how does Toyota fit into this equation?

Imagine your car dashboard. It has a GPS, CD player, and television/radio set all built together. Most people have an analogue device (with terrible TV reception!) From July 2011 there will be no cars that come with that device. They will all be digital.

After July 2011, on your dashboard, you will have a digital GPS, Internet, digital TV and digital radio. Want to do Social Media, YouTube, Twitter, U-Stream, blog? Got you covered. Need to Google or Yahoo search? Sure. When you need traffic conditions, just a click on your GPS will give you up to the minute details on traffic and road conditions. All the TV channels? No problem. Throw on top of that 6 digital radio channels and, of course, a CD player and probably an iPod connection, and you have the next generation of car entertainment system. 

Now where does that leave radio in the equation? Especially when you consider the fact that radio, unlike TV and the Internet, cannot give data on exactly how many users it has and cannot give ratings... 

Why does it matter that radio cannot give ratings? Well, because any advertising campaign expenditures from sponsors must be justified at accounting at the sponsor company. How can one justify a radio campaign in Japan when clients cannot be told how many people listen and who is listening? They can, though, get data on viewers for TV and Internet and numbers for print media.

That upper management at a station can be serious and tell me in an incredulous tone, a full seven years after Toyota's announcement, that they just found out that the world's largest car maker stopped making radios for their cars shows just how completely out of touch with reality some people are with what's going on with people's lives and the world and society they live in.

But, gee, far be it from me to tell people what to do, but I think it is the duty of management to keep apace with the market and conditions. Anything less is gross negligence. The shareholders should be, and will be, furious. It's a simple matter of time.

You be the judge! Do you think people like that, who are so unaware of the market - and even their own business merits and demerits - who seem to not read business publications on market trends - can run a successful business? They should be fired! There are employees working under them who have families to support; management has a responsibility! 

Of course, if the guilty parties ever read this, they would probably be angry at me for stating the obvious... I don't know why. I am doing them a favor.... 

But, as you know, when the tyrant king doesn't like the message, they will not consider where they went wrong, they will just kill the messenger boy... 

What was I saying about the Peter Principle?