Managing for Creativity in Japan Talking with Foreign Executives in Japan

On Choosing your Successor

“I would be looking for somebody who can embrace change. Embrace change not only for the changes they are going to have in their life but also to be able to cope as this society continues to roll forward. Too often people like to keep the status quo or fight hard to keep things the same. That’s one thing.
The other is to have a lot of self-confidence. That doesn’t mean to assume that you are always right because actually in Japan you are going to be wrong a lot of the time. But it does mean that you need to have the confidence to just keep going – to learn from your mistakes and just not give up. Tenacity is important. That is a very general statement but it is particularly important in Japan because the society and business environment is so well developed that it takes extra tenacity to have an impact, contribute, make a difference, or change things. I get beat up everyday but I’ve got to be able to come back the next day that much better because of it.

Further, when you are missing all the social cues that you are used to even the normal things like saying hello or greeting people is difficult. I remember when I first came here I practiced for a long time how to do that so that I could do it easily. It was hard to think about it and actually do it, you know, hold my business card right……I could feel the sweat start to break out on my forehead. You need to do it until, I guess, that cultural aspect becomes imprinted on you. Then it becomes natural.”