Monday, June 30, 2008

Ignore this directory

Let's bring a smile to their little faces :)

We have an ongoing project to bring in a cutting edge product to the Japanese market and to support that product a new division has been created inside the company and a very knowledgable guy has been recruited as director of that unit. He's a very relaxed and pleasant guy to be around and not as stiff and boring as many Japanese people his age and position can be, so that's good.

Recently I'm trying to help him in straightening out his marketing plan for the product since that's not really his strong side. That's not something I mind at all and I do my best to make sure his ideas come out in an understandable way that European marketers can relate to and straighten out the message, the flow of the presentation as well as make sure the language is suitable.

So I'm working on this and get to a slide where the product positioning statement is and it goes something like this; "To bring a smile to patients through our superior product with (various features)". Well, this might be a bit corny, but still workable you might think, but considering that the patients that gets treated with our products are balancing between life and death, suffering from terrible injuries from a car crash, organs giving up one at a time and our product can save their lives.

Trust me when I say that these patients are not very prone to smiling... Here in Japan Mac Donalds has "smile" on their menu for 0 JPY so if it's smiles we want to have we'd be better off going to MacD...

I revised the positioning quite extensively, so now we're happy if the patients can recover, the smiles can come later...

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Caretaker

The caretaker of my apartment building likes me. In principle, I like him too. However, he shows an interest in my private life, and especially in my love life, that is borderline creepy considering that he probably has the master key to my apartment. Also, he has a tendency to forget or pretend to forget things that I have told him earlier.

His current project seems to be in finding me a Japanese girlfriend and he keeps ignoring the fact that I tell him that I have a girlfriend and therefore really not interested. Earlier today he kept promoting a girl in the building to me, carefully laying out feature and benefits (goes to a prestigious university, father a lawyer etc. etc.). With some effort I managed to dodge this one.

In fact, he reminds me a bit of a Japanese version of the Jack Nicholson character in the movie "The Shining". Not so much because of the way he looks, but the overall creepiness combined with a certain likeability... But it's always good to be on a friendly foot with the caretaker!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Let's improve on the organization!"

So, in order to break the intense tension and speculation from my previous post, it's the marketing manager that got the option to become a sales rep in the northern Japan region or to hand in his resignation. But it seems like he didn't roll over just so easily so now negotiations are undergoing on how to deal with his demands, but this doesn't really concern me.

What does concern me was that I suddenly and with very little warning got appointed to be the marketing manager and to take his place, something I was not too hot about since it demands a lot more national travel and getting my hands dirty with things I was hoping to avoid this time around, but since I have experience in this and an overall light workload I had problems finding a way out of this little mess I found myself in.

Then yesterday, an informal board meeting was held to discuss some changes in the organization again and I got called in to this meeting since they wanted to have my opinion. The board consists of older Japanese men with an average age around 55 or something.

The conversation went something like this, and as always, feel free to act this out with friends, family or long lost lovers:

Mr. Shachou: (Proudly holding up the organization chart) So Mr. Salaryman, this is how I think the organization should change to, what do you think about this?

Mr. Salaryman: (Slightly aggressive) No! That'll never work, it's a really bad idea!

(a few seconds of stunned silence follows with the board members looking slighly shocked)

Mr. Salaryman: (Firmly) But if we do it like this it'll work much better (quickly shifting some things around)

(another seconds of silence followed with the board members looking slightly curious)

Director 1: (a bit surprised) Yeah, that probably works better!

Mr. Shachou: (energetic) Well, yeah, this is much better, let's do it like that, thank you Mr. Salaryman!

Mr. Salaryman: (casually, while leaving the room) Sure, anytime.

Oh and yeah, through this slick manouvering I managed to move the marketing manager responsibility to another person but also picking out the work from that position that I actually want to manage. All in all, I feel pretty satisfied with myself!
Also, with this new organization soon to be announced I can brag about being the shortest marketing manager in the history of the company with one week in the position before escaping!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"You're fired!"

Japan has pretty decent labor laws and generally it’s pretty hard to fire people unless there are obvious reasons such as skipping work or blatantly breaking work rules etc. However, one pretty devious route is open for companies that want to get rid of a certain person. This secret weapon is called “relocating”.

The reasons has to be somewhat anchored in reality, but it can be pretty farfetched in some cases.

Say you’re in the management and there’s a person that rubs you the wrong way and you want to get rid of him, but he/she is not breaking any rules, just being incompetent or rubbing you the wrong way.
You want him/her to quit, but the person is not budging or showing any inclination to leave, despite withheld bonuses, bad reviews and whatnot, you still have one lethal weapon left in your arsenal, the Relocation bomb.

With this little weapon you can confront the person in question with a choice of handing in his/hers resignation or be relocated to the crappiest region that the company can think of to ponder the error of his/hers ways. Believe me when I say that doing sales in Morioka is not that attractive if you have your life in the Tokyo area...

Oh, yeah, this type of activity is currently ongoing in the company against someone...

Another one bites the dust...

Granted, when put up against the massiveness of the US, Japan got very little to come with in terms of serial killers and mass murderers. But one of those who tried to keep the Japan flag up there finally, almost 20 years after his crimes, met his fate today Tuesday the 17th at the end of a rope in a Japanese prison by the hangman's hands.

Obviously I'm talking about Tsutomu Miyazaki, one of the few and brave that has been trying to hold the Japanese flag high in the face of such legends as Jeff Dahmer, Ted Bundy, JW Gacy and all those other high profile killers. Miyazaki might not be able to touch any of those in sheer numbers, but the insanity is definately up there with the worst of them. Not only killing little girls but eating parts of them, keeping body parts as trophies and then tormenting the families with mocking notes and being hardcore into anime and gore movies is pretty high up there in terms of insanity. Also, he was from Saitama, an ugly and barren place which is a breeding ground for people like this...

The wheels of justice grinds very slowly here in Japan and maybe in twenty years the Akihabara knife psycho might be getting his due. However you feel about the death penalty I think the conclusion here is; if anyone deserved this, Miyazaki got what was coming for him.

Meanwhile, in Yokohama, Issei Sagawa is cooking his dinner...

Friday, June 13, 2008

"The Manko of the day"

I was retelling the "turd of the day story" to the Boy and a few ex-colleageus over a few beers a while earlier and I'd gotten so far as where Ms. Sunshine mistakes "Kyou no wanko" for something else and at that stage The Boy bursts out laughing, saying "I get it, I know what she thought you said! Kyou no MANKO, right?"

I'll leave it to you to look up "Manko" if you don't know the word, but granted, that would've been kinda funny too!

Back in Business…

I apologize for the lack of updates recently; I’ve been down and out in a pretty bad case of fever but am back in the game now.

While I was away it seems like the rainy season has now come over Japan . But it’s not that bad yet, the temperatures are endurable and the real heavy humidity has not yet come over Japan although the heavy rains make it a bit difficult to get out of bed in the mornings some days…

If we discount the crazy guy who decided it was a good idea to run a truck into geek paradise Akihabara, jump out and stab anyone nearby with a knife leaving 7 dead and many wounded, Japan has been peaceful lately. If you allow me a brief flash of black humor, you could argue that the crazy knife guy made a very wise choice in executing his plan in Akihabara since most people around there are not used to physical exercise and can’t run very fast.

To put things in perspective, I remember the summer a few years back when all the loonies were out in force back in Sweden :

We had the “Iron bar Man” who bludgeoned at least one person to death and injured others since he was convinced the were trolls and it was his job as a secret agent to kill them.

Then we had the “Samurai Man” who attacked a couple of elderly ladies with a samurai sword (hence the name) due to some delusion I can’t remember, he fortunately never managed to kill anyone though.

And to end the summer on a high note we had the “Radio controlled Man” who drove a car full speed into a tourist walking road in the Old town in Stockholm and managed to kill several people. Obviously he didn’t want to do it, but CIA agents, masons or someone were controlling him through an implanted device in the brain by remote radio control.

This was all in one summer in a country with less than 10% of the Japan population…

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Turd of the Day

This morning, I woke next to the always wonderful Ms. Sunshine and as we were having breakfast we were having the tv on to one of the many Japanese morning shows. As Ms. Sunshine was in the kitchen getting something a segment called "kyou no wanko" (today's dog) started and since I know that she's a big animal friend I gently called out in Japanese "kyou no wanko desu yo" ("today's dog is on now) to her to which I got back a surprised and pretty loud "what? What did you just say?". To which I replied in English "It's that puppy thing on?".

A relieved laugh from her "I thought you said "kyou no unko!"" Which would be translated to "today's turd". But hey, this is Japan so you can never be too sure, maybe it's the next big thing!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Songs for Japan

I went through my iTunes and out of the 11,000 songs there, the following songs are my Japan themed songs in case you were yearning to know!

Big In Japan - Alphaville
Down In Japan - Holy Toy
Japanese Bodies - Leætherstrip
Japanese Boy - Aneka
A Japanese Dream - The Cure
Turning Japanese - Incubus
Life in Tokyo - Moskwa TV
Kyoto Song - The Cure

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Don't question the good times!

I'm not sure really what's going on now, but I assume I should just shut my mouth and be thankful. I've previously been promoting the new albums out by Tiamat and Universal Poplab, but this spring it seems like a lot of the groups I like have been plotting to release albums at almost the same time!

First we had the Tiamat and Universal Poplab albums that didn't dissapoint me one bit, granted I felt that "Seeds" by UP wasn't as great as the previous album "Uprising", but that was an amazing album, so it's not that easy to top.

Then, Swedish Bitpopers Thermostatic release their new album "Humanizer", Danish industrial artist Leatherstrip releases a 3 CD box "Civil Disobedience" and ex-Nitzer Ebb frontman Doug McCarthy releases a new album with his new project Fixmer&McCarthy...

Well, I shouldn't question this, just enjoy the good times while they last!

"Don't ask I'll tell" policy

The internal politics in the company are getting more and more interesting and after now spending roughly two months back in business I feel that I am now starting to get a handle around the different factions and their agendas. Generally, my sympathies usually lies within the sales division since it's the salespeople that ultimately has to be out there representing the company and trying to push our products.

However, the current sales division manager has given me a very weak impression with a generally pretty rude and ignorant attitude. It doesn't help that he's universally hated by all the reps I've been talking to, and I know most of them since previously and they're pretty open with me.

So now I'm going to make a sport of openly challenging him and calling his lack of knowledge and inability to make decisions for himself. Since both of us report directly to the president I have no particular reason to fear him. So I will start implementing a "don't ask, I'll tell" policy towards him. Since he's got a good 20 years on me I'm sure that this will offend him immensly, something to which I'm looking forward a lot towards!

I never was particularly impressed with him, but the latest incident that annoyed me immensly was when he called a sales meeting requiring a 3 hour bus ride out to the middle of nowhere and making the meeting start at lunch time and going on until very late in the evening requiring most people to stay overnight and get their Saturday morning ruined with getting back to Tokyo (I obviously left early since I refused to have my Saturday ruined due to a poorly planned meeting). Not to mention a horrible agenda basically just wasting everyone's time.
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