Our little company is having the most interesting year so far. Right now we are in the midst of meeting with some of the larger companies/institutions that are connected to most of the fair city of Takamatsu. It’s been a very interesting experience, and I am really quite humbled through it all thus far.
I can’t give too many details just yet, as some things are still in contract-development form, but I am very excited for our company, for the year ahead of work we have cut out for us, and for future possibilities. I promise to let you know when I know more.
In short, what it all kind of came down to is that there is a significant core of people in business, and in the leadership and executive levels of these big companies and institutions which is deeply concerned with the question, “What can we do for Kagawa-ken, and what can we do for Shikoku as a whole?”
For us, our company in its infancy always had for its focal point, “All for kids.” It was simple, and to the point. Everything we did in our language schools was, and still is, for kids. As our company grew we adjusted our focus to also include an underlying mission about serving our neighbourhood, community, and city. Thus, this little website was born, and from last fall we decided to ramp up our efforts a bit.
It seems like we have caught some very positive attention in our mission to serve our community, and the needs to have services and materials translated and introduced in English has taken root.
The big question for this work, this “Inbound Shikoku” occupation is how do we reach out to people who have come to Japan, know a few things about Japan, or who simply do not want to lose the time they have set aside to come to this country lost in the concrete of the big city, and who really want to see the place that they have read, dreamed, and planned to come and see?
How can we “catch them”?
I think maybe part of the solution is not “catching” anyone. I think that we just need to “be where we are”. The right people will come. The right things will happen. We just need to patiently wave our flag, and it will get noticed in the way it is supposed to get noticed.
I think that is how we attracted the attention of some of these “big players” in Takamatsu. We just stood still. We just did our job, waved our flag, cheerfully greeted anyone we met, and just steadied our course.
The other day we were at a “business card exchange” function for the city. The governor comes too and makes a greeting, and then there is a standing buffet type dinner, drinks, and chances to chat up anyone to promote or introduce yourself. I noticed one of our business rivals there.
That person was flapping all over the place, chasing one person, then chasing another. When someone was coming towards us and seemed to want to say hello, the rival swooped in to distract and drag them off someplace else.
I suppose I should have been irritated that our business was being “interfered with”. How dare that person do that??? But, actually, I felt absolutely nothing. Just a bit sad to see someone having to try so hard.
Instead, we just chatted amicably with the people we were next to, met a few of their acquaintances and that was that. We went home. But sure enough, the next day, the phone rings with people wanting to meet privately to talk shop and to discuss how we might collaborate together. That’s how it works, I guess. Or that’s how it works I am learning.
I’m getting a little older, and maybe a little better at this. I don’t want to give anyone advice because advice is something often not welcome, and a crude tool with the intent of trying to “fix” or “help” someone. But I do want to share with you a couple of things that work for us. Maybe it might be of service to you.
The first is don’t chase anyone. If you need to chase a customer they own all the power in the relationship and then you will have to work much harder than you planned. Never chase.
The second is do the job you have faithfully and true. You are only as good as the job you are doing right now. Whatever it is. Doing the job in front of you properly, without compromising your effort, is always the right thing to do. It shows you have finishing power. It gives you confidence. It makes you reliable for the next thing.
The third is that a lot of business is like fishing. Just stand still. Be available. Be approachable. Don’t be aggressive. Bigger powers need to recruit and grow their future replacements. The “go get ’em tiger” types are too hyperactive to trust. Calm. Deliberate. Almost stubbornly slow and methodically types are teachable and dependable. I want to be more like this, especially as it seems to be paying off now.
The fourth is to not be distracted. There are rivals and people who have chosen to dislike you. Ignore them completely. I like Nitobe’s “Bushido” in his account of a Count Katsu who never pulled out his sword. In fact, the katana was so dormant in the Count’s scabbard that it rusted over. Count Katsu cautions us, “What are the words of your enemy worth? It is like a mosquito. Ignore it. Don’t lose your temper to such an insect.”
Sage advice, from Count Katsu that is…. Mine… nope. No advice for you at all. I just wanted to share a few things going on that I think have led us to this very interesting junction we are at today.
More details coming as I know them! Thanks for reading and have a great day.
What do you think I am missing from my list? What do you have for your own “rules of engagement?”