Before You Stand in the Bread Line

By Richard Posner

“The possibilities for mobilizing the experience, imaginations, and intelligence of workers, both employed and unemployed, are limitless.”
~ Emlyn Williams~

For most of my youth (and maybe yours) when you went into a job interview you would give the interviewer the answers you believed he or she was looking for. 

Quite often those answers were lies, distortions, or lined with self-doubt.  After all, you wanted to get to work and begin holding your proper place in society. 

If it took a few distortions or naive assertions such as “I want to help your organization develop the next Game Boy,” or  “I want to lead the effort to develop cars that run on meglevs”….so be it. 

It was a means to an end, right?

Fast forward to the winter of ’09.  Many of those people who clawed their way into the system with self-deceit and lies and were then able to endure its chains during good times, are as easy to spot as a stripper heroin addict in a room of Born Again Christians.  They are unemployed or hanging onto their job by a nose hair because they never followed their dreams and their fraud was finally sussed out (slang for discovered).

Call it karma , if you must.

Japan is deeply effected by the recent dark clouds circling the economic planet.  “As GM goes, so goes America,” and as Toyota goes, so goes Japan.”   Many people have bought into this mindset, and have caused a run on the mind bank.   People and governments are gasping for air and a fresh approach.

Rewind to those first job interviews.  Isn’t what you really wanted and what you finally settled for vastly different?  You settled for a salary, and promised your employer in return that you would be a good boy or girl, follow orders, and sell your soul to the boss-devil as long as they could pay your bills plus a little alpha. 

You wanted independence, but chose the wrong vehicle – others to lead you.

This morning I watched a microcosmic view of “bread line” mentality in a New York Times video.  All the people in the video were hungry to work and many seem to have good skills and abilities.  But they are standing in line with many thousands of others at a job fair hoping against hope that they will win the job lottery for less than 40 positions offered by the boss-wo(man) inside.

You and I don’t need to stand in line.  You need to evaluate who you are:  your passions, your abilities, and your dreams…and then take action. 

You and I have infinitely more worth than the salary a boss wo(man) can offer you.  Let’s stop chasing crumbs when we can have the pie.  It’s all a matter of attitude and follow through.    Believing is seeing.

The Crap-shoot

“Lazy people may even fantasize about how nice it would be to have more, but they don’t want to do more.” ~S. Ross Ingram, from Wealth Mentality

By Richard Posner

Have you ever said or heard someone say, “That’s too expensive.  It’s a rip off”?   I’m sure you have.  

Have you ever seen someone slyly flip over the price tag of an item they feel is likely way over their budget, and when they see it is pricey for them quickly shuffle away to the bargain basement for common folks’ stuff?  I’m sure you have.

Quite often we condition ourselves to be agreeable.  When the people who share a notion of expensiveness look at each other, often they meekly nod in agreement in order to mask what their individual problem often is…

They – or one of them – can’t afford it!  The problem is often not that the dinner, dress, car or house are outrageously priced, but that they don’t have the funds to afford it.  Someone else does, or that company will soon be out of business.

In the same way, I am perplexed when people write to me and ask me to work for nothing to help them do business in Japan.  They want to know a good supplier or buyer, but in the section of my form for such services they say they are unwilling to invest even a dime or ruble.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I set up my website to provide a wide range of business and cultural information based on 4+ decades in Japan, for FREE!  It may not look stellar, but it was and is a work of love.  It may not look like much, but I have given gratis to all my site visitors a no-cost forum for people who want to buy, sell and do business with Japan or with the Japanese.  Have you looked at it?

Moreover, this blog is a gift to everyone who ever entertained doing business here and wanted to know about the opportunities and people engaged in doing business in Japan.

I hope you see my desire to be of service.  But please don’t treat your business nor mine with a crap-shoot mentality.  Nothing in this world is free.  You must give your time, your heart and sometimes your money to insure your future.  

Japan is a prosperous country because most people understand that there is always a price to be paid for success and happiness.  If you are unwilling to invest, then Japan (and many other places) are far beyond your reach.  

Let’s work together to penetrate this market.  Going it alone here is a fool’s way.  Write to me and discuss your dreams.  I’m sure there is a way we can work together for astounding success.

Self-Effacing Japanese People

By Richard Posner

Accepting compliments proudly yet graciously is not a strong suit of the Japanese people.  They – and I don’t take the use of  they lightly – will usually deflect or deny their efforts or skills when praise is given.

It is not for me to judge the good or bad of the Japanese character because it serves no purpose.  It just is.

Yet if you want to live or work here, you must understand this societal modesty for what it is:  an attempt to suppress one-upmanship in order to insure stability and cooperation in all aspects of life.

While I would tend to agree with this notion on a personal level and I do practice it in my own stealthy way in Japan, the golden rule for success here is to develop sincere modesty and deflect praise to the person giving it.

While that is a hard pill to swallow for many readers of this blog – and even though this self-effacing character is slowly dissipating among the young here – by and large you will do monumentally better in all affairs with a little bit of humility.

After all, you become better, more efficient, and more successful by learning how to place the blame on yourself when things go wrong while sharing the victory with all players when things are going swimmingly well.

That might be a bitter pill to swallow, if you like to toot your horn and bathe in others’ praise of you, but keep your eye on the ball.  The ball is successful communication and bundles’ of lovely cash in the bank as well. 

You Are A Friend, Teacher or Whatever Until …

By Richard Posner

“True goodbyes are the ones never said or explained.”
~ Anon

Japanese people can be extremely warm and accommodating to a stranger who becomes their sensei (teacher), or any other authority figure foisted upon them through proper channels.

You can teach them, boss them, and share feasts for years with them, but one day they decide that you are disposable and they disappear from your landscape like a thief in the night.

From their perspective, they are avoiding confrontation, explanation, and the uncomfortable feelings associated with parting ways.  To many westerners, however, this Japanese approach to difficult separations is feeble and insulting.

What you must learn the hard way if you live in Japan any length of time is that you are either in the group and protected or outside the group and easily disposed of on a whim.

Ironically and quite surprisingly, the Japanese are just as cold and calculating with their own tribe.  The myth that Japanese companies offer lifetime employment and a family-like setting has been a boldfaced lie for a long time.

Most corporations used to carry dead-wood employees until 62 or so.  Many now strip parasites (perhaps rightfully) of their titles in their mid fifties, then slightly to drastically reduce their wages, and finally offer a somewhat generous -though deceivingly not optional – early retirement buyout.

Most of those targeted quietly retire early rather than face humiliation in the workplace.  They may have significant savings, if their company is doing well, but they have lost their self-confidence to be somebody other than a lapel-pin loyalist to a corporate slave master.

The good news is that more Japanese are waking up to the painful reality that lifetime employment is a Faustian choice they needn’t make. 

There are alternatives to being a blind follower of a bankrupt, outdated, unworkable system that will leave many poor and disillusioned in the years to come.

We must believe in ourselves – our skills and ability to find and exploit opportunities – without depending on a crumbling, socialized corporate structure. 

That awareness in our self-worth will be the key to our survival and prosperity in the next generation.

When You Fall Down Seven Times…

By Richard Posner


Stand up eight times.  I came across this old Japanese proverb in a karate blog.  It caught my attention because I can relate to it…and probably you can too.

Nothing under the sun is perfect, but we do have a choice to either accept things for what they are and move forward or grumble about every petty and not-so-petty challenge or unfairness in our lives.

The former will allow us to run to daylight; the latter will stir us into a stew of perpetual failure and unhappiness.

The next time you reminisce about youthful heartbreak and despair, remember one point — You survived!   And nobody in this present moment (you should be living in) cares an amoeba second about what your misfortune may have been.

In fact, if you incessantly tell people about the good old days or the bad old days, they will label you a sad relic incapable of being resurrected.  They will naturally move away from you and move toward people and ideas cherishing life.

Living in the present moment is exhilarating because it is within our grasp.  It is a time zone that challenges us to take action to make this world – through our unique presence – a bigger and better place because we passed through.

Times are tough, we hear over and over again.  But the truth is that character is not built when everything is going hunky-dory. 

Sometimes Japanese stoicism makes me feel that their citizens are indifferent to and enamored from experiencing pain.  It makes me feel that maybe they never ponder anything philosophical and do live more in the present moment than many of their westerner counterparts.  In other words, maybe they are racially superior.

But then there is the dark side of giggling indifference and vapid pursuit of material things here…the more than thirty thousand suicides in Japan each year.  They scream of a society that is constipated with worry and stress unspoken and uncorrected.

Stepping back from the rush of events threatening to swallow us up is essential for sanity.  That’s why professors with tenure get a sabbatical.  In that time off they can explore new avenues which can help them better define who they are in the scheme of things and how they can best contribute to humankind.

We all deserve and must demand time to reflect.  Once we have done that, we can stand for the eighth time and never look back again.

Give this theory a whirl and see whether your life isn’t percolating within an hour.

You Are My Guest Of Honor

I am a fan of “true value” eBooks and software tools which can be used for your business (inside or outside Japan) from the get go.  So much material on the Internet is either sold or given away piecemeal.  Other tools or reference materials are far too difficult for the novice to use effectively.  Still other freebies are really just tip-of-the-iceberg appetizers of the full versions of a product, meant to entice you into becoming a paying customer.

My take on all these inducements is that about ten percent of them can help you in the here and now; while the rest of them are just bait or utter garbage to get your name, email address and other vitals in order to up-sell you again and again.  

Don’t get me wrong – I fully endorse good marketing strategies to build your online or offline business.  One such strategy is to get a targeted audience of people hungry to buy or use whatever your niche product or service may be again and again.  Any ethical bribe will do in order to get the fish – that’s you or me! – into the boat.

But once taken aboard, we must be fully responsible for and of service to our prospect…forever or until they leave us.  In this newsletter and on my website, I take your time and your desire to succeed quite seriously. 

The country I live in, Japan, has been my home for nearly 43 years.  I have met with and worked with people from every conceivable strata of Japanese society.  While it doesn’t make me an expert on Japanese culture, it does make me a catalyst for all aspiring marketers and entrepreneurs wishing to build a stronghold in this formidable culture.

On my website I  full-throttle try to deliver true value.  Notice I said value and didn’t say the free word.  There is a price to pay to set yourself off from the rabble.  If we don’t invest in ourselves, then why would anyone want to invest in us?  We are energy, good or bad.  The energy you will receive from me and the material I introduce to you is meant to wring the underachiever out of you and make you a smashing success. 

In each of my postings or alerts, I  will introduce doable or value-added products and ideas which I come across in my daily life.  I promise you some gems and perhaps a few duds, but if you read these articles regularly and start jogging your mind, surely you will find the million-dollar idea or plan you desperately want to find.  Stop being an opportunity ambulance chaser and start laser-focusing in on one idea, one concept, one market that you can lead in.  Build a system.

Stretch your mind every day.  Walk down different streets.  Talk to different people.  Look in different directions.  Vary your food choices.  Keep a journal.  Write down things which you want or need to have for a better, more fulfilling life.  Each morning pick up an object such as a comb and try to imagine how many possible uses there are for that comb (or whatever) other than its original purpose.  Find people who are chomping at the bit for success or have already achieved a modicum or more of it, and hang around with them.  Overcome shyness, one aggressive act at a time.

Though I am not a techie nerd by a long shot, I promise to provide vision and insights which you will not find elsewhere on the Worldwide Web.  This is going to be an exciting ride for all of us.  Let’s have a ball with, by and for Japan.