I recently went to Guam with the wife and kid to spend Christmas on the island. It was a wonderful one week. I will write about the actual vacation later on probably this week.
Left: No. Right: Yes!
When the vacation ended, on the flight back to Japan, on a US carrier that claims to be “a premium airlines” (chuckle)…I noticed that all the flight attendants were male and, well, unattractive… They were all older men, as a matter of fact. I’d guess our main cabin attendant was at least 55-years-old, had all white hair and a beard and was about 50 pounds overweight. It wasn’t pleasant at all and, pardon my sexist tendencies, but I’d prefer to see a charming young lady or even a charming young man as our cabin attendant. (Caveat: I don’t think seeing overweight older women attendants is pleasant either – we had those on the flight to Guam.)
I don’t want to see a fat old man, especially several of them, servicing our flight. I know that idiotic US labor laws and unionization of the work place have made an environment whereby older people are “protected” but I actually think that, in many ways, this is bad for business. And when it’s bad for business, it’s bad for all employees, not just one. I wonder how making the user experience less satisfying helps with sales? Follow that train of thought with how decreasing sales can be good for anyone.
Like I said, these kinds of labor laws and unionization have greatly helped to hurt western businesses. Protecting people due to seniority is a very bad idea (Japan used to do this at the office place – bad enough. But when dealing with the public do you hire beautiful people or old and fat people?) When people feel protected by a group, rather than their own good efforts at being their best, then their work quality drops. and they become lazy. Do you need proof of this? Just go to any US Postal Service office anywhere in America anytime of the day and you can see a prime example of this.
Image is everything in business today. There isn’t a person alive who would prefer flying an airline that has old and overweight flight attendants over an airline that has young and beautiful people handing customer service. Because that’s what flight attendants are: customer service. When union rules or protecting the rights of the individual take precedence over the total welfare of the company (read: all employees) then there is a definite problem.
This girl is a real stewardess for a China based carrier.
Her name is Sun Qing.
That’s what they’re supposed to look like.
That, for example, Asian carriers do not have to deal with this sort of union rules and can hire pretty stewardesses or handsome stewards shows that the customer comes first. That’s one of the big reasons for the success of these airlines.
Some western airlines still “get it”
But I digress. This is not a post about idiotic labor rules in the west. It is a post about committing yourself to quality over quantity as you get older (that includes looks too if you are a flight attendant, stewardess, on TV, etc. etc.)
I used to ride the very early morning train into Tokyo a few years back. There, everyday, I met an older German gentleman. His name was Karl, he was 65-years-old, and he was the head chef for all the Westin Hotels in all of Asia. He was in Japan at the time to help set up the in-house restaurants and catering for the new Westin Hotel just built near Ebisu station in Tokyo. Even though Karl was 65, he was an extremely friendly and energetic guy. Karl was running up the stairs full speed to catch the connecting train every morning until I showed him an easier way. I’m a nice guy like that!
Karl and I would ride the train together and he had many good stories to tell about his job. I love talking with people and by letting them talk, I get to learn many things. Karl was so enthusiastic about his job. Even though he was head chef, his area of true expertise was in making pastries. He’d often tell me about having to make several hundred pies, tarts or cakes… The part that always surprised me was how he would go into details about costs and time spent per unit of pie. I’d ask about making soups or roasting large birds, and Karl would always say the same thing,
“We have to carefully calculate the costs of gas and electricity for cooking and preparation time in order to judge if it is economical to create the dish for several hundred guests. Everything must be calculated down to the last penny to make sure that we don’t run over costs.”
Hell, that really surprised me. Whenever I roast a turkey at home, I just open a bottle of wine, start drinking and fire up the oven without a care in the world. Calculating the cost of the gas and electricity in order to roast the bird?! I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Karl had cooking down to a science.
Karl also had great advice for work as he mentioned to me that he was about to retire. He said,
“Mike, as you get older, you must always be concerned with these costs, but you must mostly be concerned with having your name associated with quality. When we are young, there are many in our same field of work. But as we get older, the field of people doing our job narrows down to just a few…”
I asked him how many people in the world there were like him and he told me that there were only three like him who knew how to go into a country and set up a large hotel and organize the entire kitchen, room, service, restaurants, bars and train the staff and set up the accounting procedures for all food and drink related services. Wow! Think about that! Only three guys in the entire world and, of course, they all know each other…
“That’s is why, Mike, as you get older, you must concentrate on quality and delivering the best. If you decide to concentrate on quantity, you will lose. Because when it comes to a quantity issue, then you start dealing with lower quality… You will not be able to beat a younger competitor… You will not be able to beat a McDonald’s.”
I’ve always remembered what Karl told me. That’s why I want to do quality work and not half-assed work.
Now, think about that. How does this relate to our 55-year-old flight attendant? Who is happy with that? I’m sure the customers aren’t. And if the customers aren’t, then I imagine that translates into a lower repeat and customer loyalty and return customer base… Hell, think about that poor guy too. Do you think he is happy being a flight attendant for 30 some years? I don’t.
He should have moved up to management of flight attendants long ago. But he didn’t… His just so-so service also gave me a hint as to why he didn’t climb the ladder long ago. To give an example, I was wearing a headband made from the leaf of a palm tree given to me by a local and I was on a flight from Guam and the guy said to me,
“What’s that? Is that headband some sort of religious item?” Duh! What’s it look like? Were on a flight from Guam. You know; Guam. It’s a South seas tropical isalnd. Palm trees, beaches, local people… It isn’t rocket science. If we were returning from Hawaii would he ask me what the flowers around my neck were?
Anyway, the point is clear: As we get older the thing that sets us apart from the rest is our experience gained. If we do not use this experience to better our game all the while doing as energetic a job as a youngster, then we are setting ourselves up for a bad situation.
Remember folks, when it comes to your personal branding: Quality beats quantity any day.
It’s a day after Christmas and things have really started to wind down. Most dad’s are home from work – excepting in Japan and other non-Christian countries and, trust me, there’s lots of those. So most of these dad’s will take the time, hopefully, to spend some time just being a kid and playing with their kid.
There’s nothing more important that a dad can do with their kid than just being with them and doing what the kid wants to do. That’s so important. We always take the kids someplace to do what we want to do. But how often do we sit right down with them and do exactly what they want to do?
Guam December 2011
Sure. “I do that all the time.” But do you really? I think most dads, when the child says, “Daddy! Let’s do this (or that)!” Will do it for 10 – 20 minutes or so, but get bored quickly and stand up and say, “Well, that’s enough for daddy right now” and walk off.
I am reminded of my son wanting to play with Thomas the Tank Engine toys when he was 3 or 4. I thought it was totally boring. That is, until, I got right down and looked at it from his point of view. I got low to the ground and imagined that I was the train conductor and that I was driving the trains. I had to slow down at the dangerous curves and be careful of trains crossing my way. I actually became involved with the game and interacted, rather than just push some cars around in an uninterested fashion.
It soon became fun! The next thing I knew was my wife came up to us and smiled, “My! You two seem to be having lots of fun!” It was! It was fun and time went by really quickly. The next thing you know two hours had passed. We had a great old time.
I am reminded of that time often and, since it is the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, I’d like to remind you fathers and mothers too (but I suspect that most mothers don’t need reminding). Recently, I went to a southern Pacific Ocean island with my wife and son and we stayed at a resort. The resort was geared towards families and so they had a water park and a game center. Of course, my son wanted to go to both all the time.
The first day there, I took my son to the pool and water park then to the game center. I found the game center extremely boring as most of the machines were broken and the change machine was in disrepair. Even so, we had a good time playing Foosball.
The next day. I was exhausted and took a nap. My son was frustrated because he wanted to go play with me. But I had to sleep. After an hour or so of napping, I woke up feeling guilty. That’s when it dawned on me again; I am not on vacation here for my pleasure, I am here for his pleasure (we are on vacation after all). I woke up and asked him what he wanted to do.
It was during the day time and he said wanted to go play Foosball. I thought that was a waste of daylight and wanted to tell him, “No! We are going to the pool.” but I decided then and there that I would do whatever it was that my son wanted to do.
After all, it was his vacation time too. If he wanted to waste daylight playing Foosball then what difference does it make to me? I’d decided to go have fun with him so whatever he wanted to do was fine by me. I mean, what difference does it make to me if we go Foosball for the first two hours and swimming for the next thirty minutes or so, then swimming for the first hour, then Foosball for the next two hours?
Whatever we do, I had decided that I was going to make him happy by doing what he wanted to do. Whatever it was.
Remember dads and moms… Our true happiness comes in making someone else happy, especially our kids. They aren’t going to be kids forever let them enjoy it while they can…
And, if you can allow yourself to do so too, become a kid with them while you play. It is wonderful to return to the purity of our childhood, if even for a moment, if you can.
Try to do this for a day or two this holiday season… I’ll bet it will truly be the present that your child remembers.
“Money is usually attracted, not pursued.” – Jim Rohn
“The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket.” – Kin Hubbard
In the last two days, I’ve had two people ask me about making money by blogging. Or, more specifically, one person asked me,
“Is it possible to make money blogging?”
To this person I answered (in my usual long-winded self), “Well, I don’t accept advertising on my blog now as I want to be able to write whatever I want and to say what I want. It is hard enough to always talk about those things as it is. I am always worrying about what other people might think about me when I honestly state my shortcomings, my chequered past, my failures and complaints. It’s hard enough to do that as it is without having to worry about what paying people might think. So I don’t have advertising now. It keeps me from having just one more worry. But you can make money blogging.”
54 and still here – chequered past still here too!
The other person asked me,
“Mike, I want to blog and make a bit of money with it. What do you suggest?”
I told him that he should just start blogging and then worry about how to make money with it after starting. I also quoted Lao-Tzu:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step” – Lao-Tzu – The Way of Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)
This is a good quote but allow me to be completely anal-retentive about it. Even though this is the popular form of this quotation, the correct translation should be:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.”
Rather than emphasizing the first step, Buddhists, Taoists and Lau Tzu believed that action was something that arose naturally beginning with the act of being still. Another potential phrasing would be “Even the longest journey must begin where you stand.”
I think, in today’s modern language this would translate into something like,
“Well, don’t just stand there. Do something!”
Lao-tzu saying something important
Making money blogging? Hmmm… Can be done. The easiest way is to allow pop-ups click through ads on your blog. I dabbled with that long ago, but stopped it because it seemed like the algorithm was bad. Why? Well, I’d write a blog post railing on Groupon and calling it a crummy company, yet on my page, there’d be ads for Groupon. Stuff like that happened all the time. I didn’t like it, so I stopped it.
Then, just the other day, I got another letter from a company overseas who wanted to pay me $150 a year to place a banner on my blog. I don’t know if I want to do that or not. Far be it from me to poo-poo $150, but, in Japan, $150 isn’t a lot of money and I wonder how I’m ever going to get the money anyway from a foreign company. Hell, I think the bank transfer will cost them $50-some dollars. Are they really going to pay? I wouldn’t. And, do I really want an ad for some UK marketing service on my blog?
Anyway, there are ways to make money from blogging… Probably not a lot at first; probably not a lot ever. But, you have to at least start somewhere.
As for me, I don’t blog for money. I blog because, and I’m dead serious about this, I think logging has helped me to become a better person.
Blogging has kept my mind working.
Blogging has helped me to become a better parent.
Blogging has taught me patience.
Blogging has made me feel good.
Blogging has helped me help other people and charities.
Blogging has helped me make friends around the world!
I think blogging has it’s own rewards… Even better than money.
You should blog too. Blog about what you want to blog about.
Everyone has a wonderful story to tell. We’d like to hear yours!
Every year at about this time, Santa Claus visits the mothers and their children who have been diagnosed with incurable diseases. In Japanese, “incurable disease” is 難病 (Nanbyou).
The good folks at the NPO Nanbyonet (Nanbyonet.or.jp http://www.nanbyonet.or.jp/) help Santa and his helpers to visit these wonderful children and to try to brighten their day and spend some time with them and bring them happiness and Christmas cheer.
Santa tells me that he thinks that Nanbyonet.or.jp is one of, if not thee, most reputable charities in Japan. Nanbyonet.ot.jp helps to raise funds to give these children some happiness and enjoyment in their short time on this earth and to bring people closer together.
Besides Christmas events, Nanbyonet.or.jp also arranges camping for the kids, poolside and swimming events, arts and crafts, musical events and others to create enjoyment for these wonderful little people. Nanbyonet.or.jp also arranges training and support for the parents of these special needs children.
Today, Dec. 6, 2011 Santa Claus and his helpers got an early start and had the pleasure of going to Juntendo University Hospital in Tokyo, near Ochanomizu Station to visit several dozen children and their mothers in the hospital.
Santa brought presents to all and took pictures for the moms and the kids to keep forever.
Of course, Santa can’t show you all the pictures with his friends and their mothers, but here are a few that you might enjoy…
Oops! This little girl was out at the moment so Santa left a present behind on the bed. Luckily for Santa, when he came back a little later on, the girl was waiting for him!
In the three wards Santa visited were about 60+ kids with varying degrees of illness. In spite of that, you probably couldn’t find a more positive and happy bunch of kids and their moms anywhere else in the world! Ho! Ho! Ho!
This little girl thought Santa was scary! Maybe the yelling, “Merry Christmas” loudly in the usually quiet hospital hallways was a bit much. Next year, Santa may have to tone it down a bit in front of the very little tykes! But no! Santa is sure these kids are all going to get better and I will see them next year too…. … Happy and healthy at their homes!
All the children Santa met were wonderful and loving, special children. One little girl, her name was Miki, sang a song for Santa and, even though she couldn’t see Santa very well, she asked Santa to sit next to her so she could feel Santa’s beard. She even gave Santa a big Christmas hug… Not only that, she handmade the best Christmas present any Santa could ever receive. She made Santa a candy cane out of red & white pipe cleaners with a bow on it! What a beautiful present from that lovely little girl’s heart. How thoughtful! Santa took it home and showed it to Mrs. Santa and promptly hung it on the Santa family Christmas tree.
Candy cane present from lovely Miki san!
Santa will never forget, Miki san. That’s a promise!
Now, every year, Santa is going to think about Miki and all the wonderful children who shared their time with him this year. Santa loves you and is praying for you all and may a miracle happen to you and may god bless you all!
Santa and his friends and helpers from Juntendo University Hospital and Nanbyonet.or.jp
CHRISTMAS NOTE: Every day of every year, some child is struck down with a terrible disease. While medical science desperately searches for cures, there is something you and I can do to make these children’s (and their parents) lives just a little bit better. We can volunteer our time or donate to a worthy cause.
Won’t you consider all the good things you have and just how fortunate we really are and give some of your time or donations to a just cause?
You’ll feel better about yourself. I know I do. I wish I could do more. Won’t you help this Christmas season?
(Sorry Japanese only! Trying to convince them to make English info ASAP)
Thanks to Nanbyonet, Fukushima san, Ogisu san, Okado san, Pfizer KK Hirata san and all the great folks at Juntendo University Hospital!
This idiocy is just getting out of control. I told you that the recent crackdowns on the Yakuza are actually motivated by recent lower government revenues from taxes leading to a fear amongst the Metropolitan Police Department that they are going to have to face budget cuts (so they create a straw man like Yakuza crimes) to justify massive over expenditures, but now they went in a busted a bar because of unruly foreigners (isn’t it the bar owner’s right to refuse service to anyone they please?) and because, heavens, people were dancing after-hours!!! Dancing! In a night club? What’s the world coming to?
TOKYO (TR) – The weekend bust of two popular nightclubs within the Gas Panic chain was due to the presence of undesirable foreigners, reports Nikkan Gendai (Nov. 30).
Well, hell, if you ask me, anyone who frequents Roppongi, foreign or Japanese, if “undesirable.” I hate that place. Give me the neighborhood Moe’s or local yakitori (chicken BBQ on sticks) anyday!
Moe’s bar. That’s me on the left in the red shirt.
Early Sunday morning, Tokyo Metropolitan Police entered clubs Gas Panic Bar and Club 99 in the Roppongi entertainment district and arrested managers Hidenori Wakita, 36, and Fumiki Nishihata, 35, for allowing dancing after 1 a.m. — a violation of the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses.
Dancing!? After 1 am? In a bar in Roppongi!? Never heard of such a thing. Weird, eh? People want to go to Roppongi to drink and dance on a Saturday night? Go figure, eh?
I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you to find dancing going on at this establishment!
A journalist who covers the adult entertainment industry says the chain of foreigner-frequented bars is popular for those on low budgets, but in recent times police have been taking notice of trouble. “Recently, poorly behaving foreigners from the Middle East and South-East Asia have started showing up,” says the source. “They make others not want to come around, and maybe some neighbors complained.”
“They make others not want to come around..” Well, maybe, maybe not. But they can’t possibly be more misbehavin’ than the US military who are now confined to bases for being naughty, raising hell and committing serious crimes.
“…and maybe some neighbors complained”? What do you mean, “maybe”? Anyone who lives in Roppongi near these types of establishments cannot possible complain about drunks, foreigners or loud noises (or even, perish the thought, dancing!)
The tabloid says that the raid of Gas Panic Bar occurred just before 2 a.m. “There were close to 200 customers in the place,” says a salaryman present at the time. “As the name says, it was a panic. At first, I thought they were targeting drugs or gangs. I was stunned that it was due to licensing problems since this sort of thing has been going on for 20 years.”
The salaryman is quoted, “As the name says, it was a panic.” What!? An establishment does what they advertise that they are going to do and this is a problem, officer? And this has been going on for 20 years? Gee, who’d a thunk it? Just one more piece of evidence that this, like clamping down on the Yakuza for the horrendous crimes of ticket scalping, gambling, prostitution and, Mercy! Wining and dining TV producers!? What are we going to do? If I were prime minister, I think I’d declare martial law and do something stupid like bomb another country….Say? Isn’t Pearl Harbor day right around the corner? Just asking.
Obviously vicious, dangerous and drunk.
Writer’s rendition of drunk salarymen who may have been dancing!
The issue concerns the type of license. Establishments within the Gas Panic chain are licensed as bars, which under the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses are not allowed to provide entertainment, such as dancing, after 1 a.m. without special authorization. Only drinking, however, is permissible.
Oh? I see. I own a bar or club or whatever. And I need a license to serve drinks. I cannot provide entertainment without another license. So what is “entertainment”? pray tell. Isn’t the BGM music that I hear when I walk into Denny’s, for example, considered “entertainment”? Well, it sure is as the establishment owner must pay music publishing royalties to play music. And, I need a license for dancing? G*ddamn! This place is starting to sound like the United States! Now, if two people hear some music and start dancing, as a bar owner, is it my duty to stop them? What constitutes “dancing” may I ask?
Dirty Dancing? Footloose? Any Ho’s in da house?
Not in this establishment you don’t ladies. Not without a license!!!
As an aside, there’s far too many stupid people, foreigners included, who are trying to make money off this “Yakuza criminal underworld” nonsense by writing and selling books about non-issues. Once again, let me state, I’m sure the Yakuza and the dirty dancing certainly doesn’t kill nearly as many people as the USA and NATO do annually (sometimes with Japan’s support).
This was the second arrest in two years for Wakita. In 2009, police found similar violations at Club 99 and GP Bar, which is also within the Gas Panic chain, and took the manager into custody. After that, Gas Panic Bar installed a security camera at the door to alert management to turn the music down if police appeared.
Smart guys. I’d set up a camera too. But this is the only place that I think the Gas Panic people screwed up big time. Head should roll. Better security against police raids, guys! Your customer base deserves to be able to have fun in the security of your establishment and NOT be hassled by a bunch of criminals or SS officers or gestapo who wish to eradicate things like dancing!
This nonsense is outrageous! The police are obstructing business. If it is too loud or people are dancing, the rational thing to do would be to go visit and ask them to turn it down. The last time this guy was hassled was 2009? Disgusting. (Oh, and by the way, notice the timing? In 2009, after the Lehman Brothers crisis, the economy was tanking and the government and police stepped up this kind of nonsense.)
“I won’t dance! I won’t! You can’t make me!”
If there had been any recent problems at any establishment such as Gas Panic, the proper thing to do would be to contact the manager in a business-like manner and discuss the matter. Busting in and arresting the guy and causing a scene during business hours is Nazi State BS and a clear-obstruction of business issue.
And what of the customers dancing? They are having fun. Are they supposed to know the business license arrangements with the establishment? Is the establishment owner to post signs that say, “No Dancing” on premises? And, even if they did, would anyone think that a “No Dancing” sign was anything but a joke?
Wakita was eventually convicted.
Oh, what was I saying about the government and police needing money? So, the guy was convicted… For what? Not having a proper dancing license?
This latest bust sends a message, continues the adult-entertainment journalist. “The crackdown will expand,” the writer says. “There are tens of thousands of improperly licensed clubs. Gas Panic is a big name, and they have continued to ignore warnings. Perhaps the police are taking a step forward to show the serious consequences to everyone else.”
The true message this sends is that the licensing business is a farce. It also shows us that the powers that be are completely and totally arbitrary in enforcing the law. When government coiffures run low, you can bet they will find some boogie man for which to try to gain revenues or, at least, makes sure certain department’s within the government are not forced to take budget cuts. That they make a big scene and use the media to force the issue shows that they want to instill fear in other establishment owners in order to get them to pay up and buy or renew licenses.
Business is bad enough as it is for establishment owners. Increasing their costs will not help. Using fear to get them to cooperate is proof that this is coercion and a taxation problem.
Recently, I have been seeing many road stops whereby the police are arbitrarily stopping drivers without due cause to look for some reason to fine them. The escalation against the Yakuza and the media BS is another indicator of this absurdness… Now, Gas Panic gets hit. For what?
For not having a license to allow dancing?*
If this is how things are going then, I say we bring back the 憲兵隊 (kenpeitai) thought police. Who knows what sorts of evil things people who dance are thinking about. They are dangerous…
Or maybe we can make money for requiring a license for any sort of body movement or even thinking about going to the toilet in a bar!
The possibility for new revenues are endless… Just thinking could be taxed.
NOTE: Oh, but I know what you are thinking: Taxing sex won’t work as Japanese don’t have sex.*
One-quarter of married couples in Japan have had no sex in the past year, a survey showed.
Sex is particularly elusive as people grow older, with the study finding that 37.3 percent of Japanese married couples in their 50s were not having sex.
There was no comparable data for other countries but earlier surveys by condom manufacturer Durex has put Japan among the world’s least sexually active nations.
See? Maybe they don’t have sex, but they think about it. So that’s where the revenue comes from.
* I know that the license is not specifically for dancing. It is the difference between a bar and dining establishment. But the point remains that this is a taxation issue. If the government were sincere, they wouldn’t make these huge scenes and public mass media showcases. Proper business manners would call for mutually respectful discussions (not that I think the licensing is anything but coercion).
Thanks to Tokyo Reporter!