Would Bad Weather and Other Unforeseen Circumstances Destroy Your Business Plans? Successful People Exploit Bad Luck!

“Any fool can have bad luck; the art consists in knowing how

to exploit it” – Frank Wedekind

Many business people are guilty of blaming lack of success or just plain out and out business failures on unforeseen circumstances and things, “Out of their control.”

How often have you had a great plan or a great team and the idea or project that you were working on just didn’t seem to turn out as you planned it? Of course, there’s always an excuse for the luke-warm results: Something happened that you hadn’t planned on or things changed on the ground.

Often these things that some people take as bad luck and as reasons for failure, others take as opportunities and vehicles for success. The winners take changes in a situation to show their ability to adapt and overcome. That is what we all need to work on everyday.

Instead of me citing a specific business example, let me use a personal family one to illustrate. The example I want to use has nothing to do with business, but think of it as a sort of parable that can relate to business. Yesterday, I took my family to Disneyland.

We had the plan all laid out months ago. We like to plan ahead. Planning ahead is smart as you can get everything at massive discounts. Sometimes up to 60% off on hotels and entry.

When we woke up yesterday morning, it was pouring rain. We checked the weather report and it showed a 70% chance of rain all day until the afternoon of the next day. It was raining hard. I considered for a moment blowing the entire trip off.

Nevertheless, we loaded up the car and headed out to Disneyland. Even if we cancelled the hotel, we’d still have to pay. Also, since I am such a famous cheap-skate, my family considers merely staying in a hotel as fun.

When we arrived at Disneyland an hour and one half later, it was raining even harder than when we left home. There were very few people at Disneyland. I suppose the heavy rains scared most people away.

We decided that since we were at Disneyland anyway we’d go in, ride a few rides, and then see how it goes. I thought it impossible, but mentioned that it might clear up. Heck, we were there at 8 am. The hotel check-in wasn’t until 3 pm. What were we going to do? At the worst, we could get in a few rides and, if we got soaking wet, we could warm up and hibernate in one of the huge restaurants inside of Tomorrowland. Of course, my son eagerly agreed.

Funny that, when you stop to consider; children are far more open to opportunities and positive thinking than many adults and businessmen would be.

Well, we went in and it began to rain harder and harder as the time went by. It was nearly freezing yesterday at 2 degrees Celsius (about 35.2 Fahrenheit). By 10 am our feet were soaking wet and our toes freezing walking around with wet feet and socks and shoes in that frigid temperature is not good at all. I began to entertain thoughts of leaving and going somewhere where we could dry our feet off.

But, once again, we thought of the best way to save the situation. My wife went to look for children’s rubber boots and socks. FYI: Folks, they only sell boots for children up to about 4 or 5 years old. There’s only two shops in all of Tokyo Disneyland that sell boots and socks… Anyway, my wife bought the dry socks for all of us. But what to do about the wet shoes? If you put on the dry socks and put your feet in the wet shoes, your feet will just get wet again.

Here’s where so advice I got from my marine dad and time in the boy scouts came in handy: We got a bunch of Disneyland vinyl bags. We dried our feet off well and put on the dry socks. Then we put the vinyl bags over the socks and put the shoes back on tightly. Wallah! Like magic! Dry and warm feet (plus I didn’t have to pay outrageous prices for Disney boots!)

Of course, most people wouldn’t be seen dead walking around with plastic bags over their feet in public. I think we probably looked like homeless folks walking around with those plastic bags over our feet. But, hey, these were special circumstances and special circumstances call for special measures!

The end result? We were able to stay at Disneyland all day and did not have anymore trouble with cold, wet feet again… The extra bonus? Because we didn’t give up at the very start and blow off the entire trip and went to Disneyland as planned, we got to go on everything and their were no crowds.

Bigger bonus? At about three o’clock the skies cleared up and it actually became sunny. We were walking around Disneyland and it was sunny and there was basically no waiting over 15 minutes at any rides! By seven o’clock in the evening the wait was zero for everything! We walked into the entrance of attractions and straight onto the ride. We even had our own boat on It’s a Small World!!!!

Feeding ducks. You can see the massive Disney crowds in the background.

Because of this, I think we set a record for rides at Disneyland in one day. Well, for my family we did. And trust folks, I am from Southern California so I had been to Disneyland more times by the time I was 10-years-old than most people go their entire lives…

Yesterday, we took what seemed to be a bad (and cold and wet) situation and turned it into a fantastic day with great memories. Today, 24 hours after the rain? No one thinks about how wet we were at the start. Everyone thinks about how great a time that was and how amazing it was that we were able to see so many attractions in one day. Everyone only thinks about how amazing everything turned out!

Let me get off the point for a second: Moms and dads who have taken their kids to Disneyland!… Let me brag about this. That place was empty! Here is a chronological order of the events, rides, restaurants and attractions we enjoyed:

Monsters Inc.

Star Tours (the Star Wars ride)

Captian EO (Michael Jackson 3D show)

Tomorrowland Terrace (restaurant)

Buzz Lightyear’s Astro-Blasters

Haunted Mansion

Mickey’s Phiharmagic (New 3D show – highly recommended!)

Country Bear Jamboree

Mickey Jubilee parade down Main Street

Pirates of the Caribbean

Blue Bayou restaurant

Jungle Cruise

Buzz Lightyear’s Astro-Blasters (2nd time)

Grand Circuit Raceway

Star Tours (2nd time)

Man’s Greatest Dream (Song and Dance show at Showbase theater)

Monsters Inc. (2nd time)

Pan-Galactic Pizza Port

Grand Circuit Raceway (2nd time)

Pinocchio’s Adventures

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (kinda scary for little kids actually!)

Electrical Parade

Peter Pan Adventure

Mickey’s Phiharmagic (2nd time)

It’s a Small World

Star Jets

That’s 27 attractions, events and rides we saw in one day! My son is still a bit afraid of Space Mountain, so we didn’t go on that. By 5 pm we were wondering, “Gee. We’ve been on everything. What are we going to do?” So we decided to ride everything twice and go on really little kids rides. (Man! Are my legs tired!)

Us on front of Cinderella Castle. There wasn’t anybody around. (Notice my wife’s plastic bags on her feet – my son and I were able to hide them under our jeans!)

The lesson here is simple: When unforeseen circumstances arise, don’t give up and don’t throw in the towel so easy. This is a good lesson for everyone (me too) who quickly contemplates cutting and running when things look difficult. Think. Use your minds creatively. There is a solution.

And, remember, your competitors are probably dealing with the same sorts of challenges. If they are giving up then that gives you a golden opportunity.

Golden opportunities are rare these days. When they come, take them. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade…

Even if you do have to be seen in public with plastic bags on your feet.

It Takes a Long Time to Build Trust – It Takes One Action to Destroy That Trust by Mike in Tokyo Rogers

“I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself” – Robert E. Lee

“People ask me why it’s so hard to trust people. I ask them why it’s so hard to keep a promise.” – Unknown

“It takes a long time to build trust. It takes one action to destroy that trust.”

Are you helping yourself and your business by being a dependable, trustworthy person? Or are you making the consistent mistake of changing your mind and, more importantly, what you say, and what you tell people, for the goal of obtaining short-term profits? Or, as the old saying goes, are you tripping over the quarter to pick up the penny?

Are you building the image of a person that the people around you can trust to do what they say they will do, when they say they will do it, on time, every time? Are you working everyday to build that trust amongst your coworkers, clients, business partners and customers so that they know, that you are a 100% trustworthy person who they can depend on and, in the case of your coworkers and partners will work for and follow through thick and thin?

If you are not doing that, you are making a big mistake and you are damaging your business chances of success on the long term.

I work with a guy whom I trusted and worked hard with for ten years. Oh sure, sometimes we get into disagreements on how our business should be run, but, ultimately we are heading for the same destination so sometimes there will be differences on how to get to the goal. That’s okay. As long as we are going to the same place, then it’s okay to argue on how to get there; maybe he wants to take the train and I want to take the bus.

Recently though, we have been getting into disagreements because he keeps making promises to people and breaking them. I wince when this happens. In the life of a business, it’s okay for a company to test the waters and see how things and new business plans float. Sometimes, perhaps even often, it’s okay to stop in mid-stream and cancel projects or even completely change the direction of the company. But I don’t think it is okay to make promises to people that you are going to “do this” or “do that” on Monday then, on Tuesday, tell them that you won’t do what you promised.

Like I said, businesses change. It’s okay to change and change your mind. Breaking promises is something that happens sometimes, but breaking promises to different people once a week or everyday is completely out of line and way over-board.

I had to have a polite word with him about it yesterday. It was a good talk.

One day, about one month ago, the boss of another famous company in Japan called me up. His business had dropped 30% over this last 12 months. He told me that he needed to do something and he wanted me to come up with a new promotion plan for his new service which was starting up in 2.5 months. He wanted me to do it because he said he knows my reputation and he needed a “quick to react” plan. That’s what I excel at. Within a week of his asking, I had spoken to several of my trusted people in my buzz marketing network and arranged a comprehensive plan that ran for 6 months starting within 3 weeks! I presented it to him and he said he loved it and wanted to do it for certain.

He also told me that he needed to clear it with his staff but it shouldn’t be a problem. That was a Friday. He promised me that he’d call me back that next Monday. He didn’t call back. The next day, Tuesday, I sent him an email since time was critical. There was no reply. I also sent an email on Wednesday and Friday, still, no answer. The next week, I called him up and spoke with him on the phone and he said the staff were all right and he wanted to talk with the local government organization for the promotion. I stressed, once again, that we were losing valuable time. He said he understood and he promised me he’d call me back that evening.

He didn’t call.

The same thing the following week. Finally, three weeks after the first meeting, I spoke with him on the phone on a Monday. He profusely apologized for not getting back to me and then he said, “I am keen to go on these plans. I’ll definitely get back to you Wednesday, Thursday at the latest.”

He didn’t call me back again! That’s 3 times he promised to call me back and didn’t.

Now, I know everyone is busy, but too busy to pick up the phone and make a 20 second phone call? I don’t believe that.

Now some people will say, “Maybe he just can’t say ‘No!’” but this is a foreigner we’re talking about. Not a Japanese. So saying, “No!” shouldn’t be a problem.

The plan I came up with was contingent on a few other parties getting involved. It was an organic buzz marketing solution. This means that there are two or three other companies or entities that tie up for the promotions and create a synergy to promote an entire concept to a much wider audience than if the promotion was ran by just one company.

In some of the pieces of the promotion, I talked to two of the most famous companies in Japan to become partners with this initial company that contacted me ran by this foreigner. These other two companies are huge organizations and we have done several organic, buzz marketing promotions together over these last 4 years. They completely trust me and I trust them.

They know that I am going to do what I say I will do. I know they will reciprocate; they will always do what they say they are going to do. That’s how you build trust. That’s why we enjoy working together.

This foreign boss who can’t even call people back when he says that he’s going to call? I didn’t tell him to call on “Wednesday, or Thursday night at the latest” he volunteered that by himself.

Is this person trustworthy? Do I want to allow this sort of person into my trusted network of folks who work in organic and buzz marketing? Do I feel confident that this person won’t piss off my other partners? Would you, dear reader, trust this person and introduce him to your trusted partners?

No way. I don’t think so.

I gave this guy a chance and tried to trust him, but now I can’t. I don’t want to work with him. I can’t.

I now understand why his business is down 30% over the last year. No surprise there. Does it surprise you?

I also know that he is going to call me and, at the last minute, ask me to arrange the promotions, but I am going to have to decline. I can’t depend on this guy not to make me look bad to people whom I’ve worked with and built a reputation of trust. I’ve mentioned before that sometimes the jobs you reject are just as important as the jobs you keep. Heck, if we’re not going to do great work, then I don’t want to do it.

Incredibly, the “Untrustworthy meter” does go to minus eleven

Like I said,

“It takes a long time to build trust. It takes one action to destroy that trust.”

This guy has committed three of those “one actions.” I can’t trust him. I mean, would you?

Don’t be like this guy. Build trust.

It’s hard to measure the value of trust in a relationship but we know the cost of losing it.

Giving Away Things For Free is the Best Promotion and a Key to Making Money by Mike in Tokyo Rogers

Yesterday, I went to the barber for my once-every-six-months haircut. As I was talking to the girl who cut my hair, I was amazed that here was this 25-year-old woman, cutting hair, who understood more about the Internet and the new media than 90% of the company executives – especially at big media – that I meet. Perhaps it is because she was young that she can easily grasp simple concepts.

The first simple concept is that giving things away for free is the future of marketing and advertising. We see successful companies and people around us doing that all the time, but far too many organizations cannot make the logical connection in their heads and make the jump to that end in order to help their own company.

Giving away useful items or content for free is the best (and cheapest) form of promotion you could possibly get. When she had finished cutting my hair she gave me a freebie. It was a plastic business card carrying case that had her hair salons name imprinted on the top. Every time during the day that I give out a business card I see that name. Now, many people would think, “I wouldn’t be caught dead with a plastic business card holder that had some other company name on it!” But not me. I find it wonderfully useful and smart.

Simple, cheap, effective. I look at it several times a day.

I went to a meeting at a huge television content, DVD sales, marketing and distribution company yesterday. I showed it to them. They were marveled at the simplicity and low-cost (and effectiveness) of this promotional concept (I mean, once I explained the logic).

Most company executives cannot get their heads around the concept of giving things away for free in order to make more money. But think about what I have always said, “Google is one of the most profitable companies in the entire world today and they give away everything for free! Now, how do they do that?”

Google is one of the most profitable companies in the world, right? So why don’t you and your company emulate them?

I often go to TV stations (alas, they are all sinking ships!) and ask them why they don’t monetize their web pages. Every single major broadcasting station in Japan still has a web page that looks like it was designed in 1999; it is just a digitized company brochure.

I have to explain to them the concept of Web 1.0: Digital brochure; Web 2.0 using blogging and two-way communication with bloggers and users; Web 3.0 user generated content like Facebook or Twitter.

Web 1.0 was popular between 1999~2003. From 2003, smart companies started instituting Web 2.0. From 2005~2006 very smart companies started instituting Web 3.0.

Today’s major broadcasters in Japan? ALL of them are still using Web 1.0 concepts. They are losing money on their web pages. Seriously, it’s all I can do to stop crying (or laughing).

Think about that Google quote again, folks; ”Google is one of the most profitable companies in the entire world today and they give away everything for free!” Can you imagine for a second the massive advantage a TV station in Japan has over Google? Google didn’t have a broadcasting arm that they can use that is already in the homes of over 130,000,000 people! The TV stations did! They do! But they don’t use that to their advantage!

It is even more ridiculous when you consider that the initial phase of designing something like the basic Twitter platform probably cost in the neighborhood of $150,000 ~ $200,000 (USD) but to make and produce a 30 minute TV show for 6 months costs about $400,000!

It is even more ridiculous when you realize that almost every old TV station  person you talk to thinks that if they give away free content on their webpage, no one will watch their TV shows anymore. Talk about not seeing the forest because of the trees! What in the hell are these TV people thinking about?

The real question could be, “Do these mass media people really understand the market as much as they like to claim they do?” I don’t think so.

Here’s a good example of a TV station (in the USA of course) that understands what I’m talking about and now 1/3 of their profits are derived from the Internet:

The major broadcasters and media in Japan refuse to entertain the idea that their web pages can become a profit vehicle. They know their businesses are dying but they insist that, “We are a TV station” or “We are a magazine”… Why don’t they realize that they are “media” and “consultation” to provide sponsors what the sponsors want to buy?

When, oh when, will these people open their eyes?

But I digress….

The other interesting thing this hair-stylist told me about was that she and her friends have come to stop looking at the very top results of a Google search. Why? Because everyone and their sister have figured out it’s a paid advertisement at the top that’s been highlighted and no one believes in paid advertising anymore!

I thought that was very telling about the way young people think and perceive. It was the same for us long ago with the Yellow Pages, right (remember them)? We knew that the paid ads were not from the best services or products but from the ones that had big budgets. Everyone knows that big budgets do not necessarily equal good products… Just look at General Motors cars for evidence of that!

As an aside, here’s a funny example. Below is a screen capture of a Google search for “London Flight”:


At the top of the page you’ll see a paid ad for British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa. These paid ads cost about $15,000 (USD) a month (maybe more) average. British Airways pays more as they are at the top. Everyone who sees this page knows that those top three are not the cheapest, nor necessarily the best flights or deals… In fact, since they are paid ads, they are viewed with, for lack of a better term, suspicion by most people. People have become smart enough and sophisticated enough in 2012 to recognize that those top three are paid advertising. People today, no longer look at those. They will look lower down the page, to the top 5 or so after the paid ads.

In this case, who do we see? Guess what? Cheap flights shows me that they are most probably the cheapest and best deal: they didn’t spend a penny to get the true #1 rankings on a Google search! I won’t tell you how they do this (I know – and you can find that information in this blog in many places as I have written about it extensively before)… But you can bet that a company, like British Airways that is spending, in Japan alone, a few hundred thousand dollars on this sort of advertising cannot be cheap (nor smart?)….

Oh, but you say, “What about people who want better service or flights?” Folks, don’t misunderstand. I’d wager a donut that cheap flights also offers those and I’d like to point out that British Airways does not need to advertise to their existing customer base. Advertising to a new customer base and getting new customer is the Holy Grail and entire point of advertising.

Bad marketing campaign’s don’t only happen in real world

Oh, but I’ve gotten off the point here again. The point is giving things away for free in order to get new customers. Think about that. How many, especially Internet, companies offer free services then, once someone likes the product or service, the upgrade costs a bit of money and membership?

Aha! Those are everywhere! That’s right. Google does that; Linkedin does that; there are too many to name.

Find a way, THINK of a way to give away free content and product or service in order to gain new customers. Actually make an effort with your team in doing that today! Get out of the old fashioned mold and the old fashioned way of doing things.

Find that FREE! and you might be finding a goldmine!

Thanks to Ed Jones for the FREE blazing sun red with glitter Gibson air guitar! I will always cherish it, Ed!

Today’s Economy is Rewarding Ideas, Art, Innovation, Deep-Thinking and Daring… Can You Make the Change?

It couldn’t have come at a moment too soon for a world economy faltering (definitely including Japan’s too) that the time has come for the economy to start rewarding people for having initiative and new ideas.

The old order of putting in long hours and sacrificing family life (and the time for truly living like a real human being and spending time with the family while attending to their needs) for work is coming to an end. The days of long hours of work in order to be “productive” (or what was confused as “productive”) and actually achieving very little have fallen by the wayside.

What I mean by that is people are starting to figure out that just sitting at the office and spending time (because everyone else is doing it) is no longer the norm. Working smart and working efficiently so that when you are working you are focused and incredibly productive is the new norm.

Last night, I received this from Seth Godin and really thought that we are on the exact same plane in this way of thinking:

But bravery does.

The challenge of work-life balance is a relatively new one, and it is an artifact of a world where you get paid for showing up, paid for hours spent, paid for working.

In that world, it’s clearly an advantage to have a team that spends more time than the competition. One way to get ahead as a freelancer or a factory worker of any kind (even a consultant at Deloitte) was simply to put in more hours. After all, that made you more productive, if we define productivity as output per dollar spent.

But people have discovered that after hour 24, there are no more hours left. Suddenly, you can’t get ahead by outworking the other guy, because both of you are already working as hard as Newtonian physics will permit.

Like I mentioned, the old order of putting in long hours to try to beat the competition are over. Do you really think you can do more and work longer and cheaper than a factory worker in China? Or an illegal immigrant from South America? I’ve written on this subject before. In that article, a world-famous chef was giving me advice on work and survival of the fittest. Please refer to: Quality Over Quantity, Especially as You Get Older. the chef told me:

“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…”

“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.”

It is no longer useful, nor should it be acceptable, for someone to be sitting at the office basically watching the clock and accomplishing nothing. THat person needs to break the mold and get outside and see the real world, get real world experiences, see how the real world works and spend time with family to reattach their minds with how normal people live. These workers needs to reattach to what normal people think and what they want. They need to get out of their box.

Several months ago, I was out on a sales call with a salesman in my company. He is a very hard worker and a great salesman. I want to keep him and worry about him as my company does not yet pay him what he worth. When I met him for the sales call he looked completely exhausted. The night before he had been out with clients and didn’t arrive home until 3:00 am. That happens a lot for salesmen in Japan. We went to our meeting and, after one hour, it ended. As we walked to the station I asked him where he was then headed. He answered;

“Back to the office.”

“Do you have more meetings or urgent matters to attend to?” I asked. He answered in the negative but added,

“I have to go back to the office because everyone is still there.”

I told him that it was ridiculous for him to do so and that doing so was actually counterproductive as he’d be still tired tomorrow (in Japanese it’s called, 効率が悪い “koritsu warui” – something like results are inefficient”). I told him that we don’t do things that way and instead of falling asleep at his desk, I’d prefer that when he is at work he is doing a great job and being efficient. I sent him home.

The new economy – for you and me at least – is not going to be “process oriented” (we won’t beat the Chinese and Indonesians for that) but it is going to be “results oriented.” Sitting at a desk for 12 hours a day being inefficient is a waste of everyone’s time. Using your work time efficiently and effectively is the future – your future.

Doing a good 5 hours of work a day and actually getting something great done beats 14 hours of plodding along.

Can you make the change?

Mike in Tokyo Rogers’ Personal Blog Hits 1 Million Page Views in 1.6 Years!

Thanks to everyone. Thank you so much!

By the time I post this article, this blog will have surpassed 1 million page views in 1.6 years. That’s pretty awesome if I say so myself. That may not be the record but it must be pretty close for a guy who just started blogging with no fame or corporate backing to help him out. Thanks so much to everyone. I could never have done it without you all.

Major companies can get a million page views, they have status and name-value. But for a personal blog on a very niche subject like mine (Japan, marketing and media – and in English no less), that is an incredible number. I have asked a few Internet expert friends about it and they told me that it was “amazing.” I like to think so.

When it comes to blogging about Japan in English, I would venture to guess that there may not be another 3 or 4 personal blogs in the entire world that have surpassed 1 million views! It is especially rare when you consider that I never blog at all about gadgetry or gaming. (I do know that there was a very excellent ramen one that I passed by one time that did have more than a million views and I’ve looked for it to show you, but couldn’t find it.)

I like blogging. But there is frustration… Well, I should say that blogging, in and of itself, doesn’t frustrate me that much but when I am asked for marketing advice (mostly buzz marketing of which blogging is an integral component), the frustration comes in when people (especially corporate types) – just don’t seem to understand… They give lip service to blogging and her sister “Organic Marketing“, but when push comes to shove, they just don’t “get it.” They invariably will go back to old ways and pay money to have their paid advertising show their company at the top of a Google search result…

Oh hopelessly lost souls!

You’ve really got to stop and wonder why in the year 2012, when the Internet is so integral to our lives and thing like, say, Facebook has over 750 users that most corporations have a Marketing section whereby not a single one of them blog… 44% of Japanese companies don’t even use Social Media… And those that do, do it poorly… Alas…

These sorts make great bloggers.

Blogging is like being a mad scientist in a laboratory: You are basically on your own trying out different subjects, titles, word combinations, file namings for images, tags and keywords to see what gets good results. There really isn’t any textbook for doing this. The closest thing is David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing and PR but that’s already nearly five years old! And, in the life of the Internet, five years is ancient history! (By the way, David Meerman Scott and I have corresponded and he greatly encouraged me to start this very blog!)

Here’s some of the great things I’ve learned through blogging over this last year:

1) How to get #1 rankings on a Google search without paying any money

2) How to do the same for images that will lead to your website without paying any money

3) Credibility is very hard to get, it is nearly impossible to buy. Blogging and Organic Marketing are truly credible methods to get the message out.

4) Merely by blogging and experimenting, you will understand more than 98% of all people – even Internet engineers - how marketing works (or doesn’t work) on the Internet.

Blogging is a study experience for me. I do this to learn new techinques. Things are always changing the only way to do it is to, well, do it. Like I said, this blog is like my laboratory and I am the mad scientist. I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out how this all works… But, I must admit, one thing doesn’t change: In Japan, sex and cute sell.

It frustrates the beans out of me when I write something that I think is really good and intellectually fulfilling, yet it gets few reads; but when I write something with lots of photos of sexy Japanese girls, it will get thousands of reads… Er, maybe i should say, “views” from all over the world.

But, even that is a learning experience because I know how to take the exact same content and get a few hundred views or get 100,000 views. There is a method to the madness!

The things that make me happy the most about blogging is getting nice mail and intelligent comments, even if they disagree, and meeting new people.

Blogging can be exhausting, but it can also be rewarding. Through writing, I think I help myself to become a better person as writing is excellent therapy for the soul. In that way, I suppose, it wouldn’t have mattered if I had never even reached 100 readers.

As an old Zen Buddhist saying goes about charcoal ink painting: “The valuable thing is the moment of painting, not the the final picture.”

Absolutely the same can be said about blogging.

My next goal is to hit 2 million page views in January 2013. Thank you so very much for your visiting this blog sometimes. I do sincerely appreciate your time and most kind consideration.

NOTE: Finally, please allow me to indulge myself in this self-congratulatory message and to thank my friends who helped me to get here: First off, my friend, Lew Rockwell, who gave me my very first break in blogging in 2004; Koji Kamibayashi ”Nihon wo Genki ni Shitai;” My friend Mish Shedlock over at the Global Trend Economic Analysis Blog; Yuka Rogers ”Official Blog,” David Meerman Scott, Tim Williams,  Jimbo “Jimbo’s Japan,” Andrew Joseph “It’s a Wonderful Rife,” Ryu Oni “Monkeyman in Japan,” and so many others (especially bloggers) who have come and gone over these last 20 months. Oh and I have to thank Seth Godin for his great books and the one he autographed for me!

Finally, to my friends and to those who are thinking about blogging; Most bloggers don’t last more than 2 ~ 3 months. It gets frustrating. You write your heart out and then only three people read what you wrote. In the first two months of this blog, in my archives, I have many tips on how to get more page views, if you are thinking about blogging, or want to know how to get more views, perhaps you can find something useful there. I hope so.

Or, you can do it for yourself… That, my friends, is where, I think, you’ll find the real rewards.

Once again, thank you to everyone!

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Bad Sales and Marketing Promotions – If You Are Not Going to Do it Right, Don’t Do it At All – by Mike in Tokyo Rogers

I see some really bad promotions and marketing all of the time. They make me want to pull my hair out. Spending money on promotions is great, but if you run a company and your folks aren’t going to go out and spend the effort, elbow grease, sweat  and time to make the promotions a success, you shouldn’t do those promotions… Or you need to find someone who will spend the effort.

I think the biggest mistake of promotions, and you won’t find a company executive who disagrees with me, is thinking that throwing money at a promotion will make it good. Even though you won’t find a company executive who doesn’t agree with me, you’ll find one heck of a lot of them who are guilty of doing this very thing or, at the least, allowing it.

I see it all the time.

Frankly speaking, if you are not going to do a promotion right, then don’t do it at all. Little things are what really make or break a promotion to potential customers; to me, to you. Far too many company executives look at a promotion purely from their point of view and fail to see it from the other side.

Need proof that little things make a BIG difference? Here’s one that everyone has seen: When you see a clock in public and the clock is broken do you think well of that clock makers merchandise? No. No one does. Of course.

How much more basic can you get than that example?

Here’s a few other examples that I can give you of promotions I saw recently with my own eyes that were absolute disasters.

I recall a time at a very famous record company when they were preparing the release of the CD of a new artist. The artist management was demanding (as they should) all sorts of promotion and cooperation from the label.

The label promised this and that. The one item I clearly remember was the label boss bragging to the artist’s agent that they were going to go all out and print the most in-store flyers they’d printed in years to push this one artist. A few months later, when sales didn’t materialize, I was visiting the record label. There I saw, under the desk of the promotions manager, stacks and stacks of unused flyers for that artist stored under his desk. There must have been 50,000 flyers there. This was two months after release.

So they spent a lot of money on the promotion but the people were too lazy to get off their rears and hit the streets and distribute those flyers. Needless to say the promotion was a flop as well as a waste of money.

That was several years ago. Last I heard was that this same guy was still in charge of promotions. Any wonder why their sales do not increase?

The guy is lazy. That’s all there is to it.

Another example that made me want to pull my hair out was a promotion for a famous automobile company. It was a charity banquet at one of the top hotels in Hong Kong. There were famous politicians and movie stars there too. Besides those folks, a lot of movers and shakers in town were also in attendance.

Banquet table. Can you pick out the automobile promotion?

An American automobile company was a co-sponsor for this event. On the banquet tables they put boxed automobile models of their newest car. Guess what? No one knew what was in those boxes because they didn’t bother to open one and make the model for display for each table. They left the model cars in the boxes!

Now, that is inexcusable. Any good promotion will allow the potential customer to recognize instantaneously what the service or product is. That the end user has to pick up the box, look at it and think, “What is this?” is just plain embarrassing for the sponsor. How long does it take to recognize a Coca-Cola promotion? One one-hundredth of a second?

On the cluttered tables at the banquet, the cars got lost in the shuffle and few people knew what they were (I took home a dozen to give to my kid and his friends). When I was taking boxes of models, one lady (who sat next to me all night) asked me, “What are those?” I showed her and she exclaimed, “Oh? I want some for my kids too!” and she grabbed a few from the neighboring table… Why not? No one at the neighboring tables took any home. Why should they? They didn’t know what they were either. (By the way, including opening of the boxes, it required the average chimpanzee about 30 seconds to assemble one of the models).

Great promotion, eh? These things are sitting on a table right in front of people and no one even knew what they were.

Just before the banquet started, I asked one of the guys from the automobile company to open the boxes so that people would know what the heck they were but he told me that he “didn’t have time.”

Think about that folks. The guy from the automobile company says he “didn’t have time.” So what he is saying is that, “I didn’t have time to get my butt over here an hour or two early to get the job done right.”

Hell, they could have at least tried to display the cars correctly on some of the tables. But they decided that they didn’t have time to do them all so they didn’t even start or make an attempt, so they didn’t do any!

The guy is lazy. That’s all there is to it.

In spite of what you see going on around you, folks, there are a lot of people who are observant and thinking. In both the examples above, anyone can see that this is incompetence.

Now be honest with yourselves? How do these examples reflect on the companies that ran these promotions? Good? Bad?

I think the impression is decidedly bad. It is half-a*sed and poor work. It is unacceptable.

Question: What does a model car in a box look like? Answer: A box.

Think about it: If, say, an automobile company can’t even handle a simple promotion at a dinner show, how am I to expect that they will make their cars or run their business? How can I confidently purchase their vehicles? I can’t.

The point? If you are going to do a promotion then do it right or don’t do it at all. A poorly run promotion is damaging to a company image.

Now why in the world would a company spend money on a promotion that is just going to create a bad image or hurt their brand?

This is my rendition but, anyone can see, within one-twenty-fifth of a second that above the black boxes is a model car. It shouldn’t be too difficult to figure that this is an automobile promotion.

How to Stop Worrying So Much and Become More Successful – by Mike in Tokyo Rogers

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain

In today’s world, there are plenty of things to worry about and the list seems to grow everyday. There’s war, the safety of the food we eat, nuclear accidents, car accidents, “Will our children be safe?” There’s diseases, pollution, taxes, will we still have a job next year? The list goes on and on. There’ a million and one things to worry about. Take your pick.

You want to be a worrier or a warrior? Take your pick.

I have plenty of friends who seem to worry constantly. The biggest thing they worry about is work. I think it is pretty safe to say that they are their own worse enemy.

The funny thing is they think I don’t worry about work or these other things at all. But I do worry! I am a “worrier” for certain. They just don’t know! I think, up to a certain point, worrying is perfectly normal human behavior, and we all do it. But my friends think I don’t worry because I’ve found a good way to control it and I’m glad I did. It’s easy to do and just takes 3 minutes every morning. That’s a better deal than worrying all day, right?

Many years ago, I used to worry so much that I wouldn’t sleep well at night. The funny part is that I’d be worried about work! Think about that! I’m worried about work so much that I cannot sleep well. Then, the next morning I go to work and I’m tired. I’m so tired that I don’t do a good job. So I worry so much about losing my job that I lose sleep and then, on the job, do a poor job because I’m sleepy because I didn’t sleep well because I was worried about losing my job! What an idiot I was!

Doesn’t make any sense, does it?

Worrying all the time is a proven cause of unhappiness and stress. Stress is a proven cause of a wide array of physical and mental illnesses and disorders. Life is rough enough as it is without our own thinking placing a heavier burden on our shoulders than we already have.

Think about it, is there any one of us who can do our best and achieve to our capacity – or even higher than that – when, in the back of our mind is this crawling negative fear – a worry – that binds us? Of course not.

So why do we do this to ourselves?

Today I want to give you two really good tips that can help you control your worrying. First off, I’d like to recommend that buy yourself a $1.00 pocket notebook and that you write down your top 5 or 10 goals first thing in the morning when you wake up everyday. Do it like religion or brushing your teeth.

Writing down your goals will help your subconscious mind to focus better on what is really important to you in your life and it will also allow the Law of Attraction to work in your favor. (There are several links at the bottom of this post to other articles with more details that you might enjoy reading).

Here’s how I do it: I wake up and sit down and think about what is really important to me. Do not cheat by looking at what you wrote the day before. Think. Really think about what is important for you and write it down. If you do this everyday and do not look at the previous day’s goals, the things that are important to you and your life will naturally flow to the top. I used to write things about money and business as my top goals, but after doing this for so many years, I came to realize what is truly important in my life is not that. It is my family.

These are my recent top four goals (and I always add today’s date at the end):

1) I am a wise and patient father and husband. I am a kind person.

2) Thank you god for all the wonderful things I have and am about to receive today.

3) All my loved ones are healthy and prosperous today.

4) I am a very successful businessman and 2012 is my best year so far. 2013 is even better!

Recently there are another 4 on the list, but those have to do with my work and financial goals. Everyone would be different, of course.

Actually, writing these things down is not my original idea. It is the method of success in life and business for many extremely wealthy people and the basis for a best-selling book: “Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible” by Brian Tracey. May I suggest that you do yourself a great favor and read that book and apply some of the simple rules to your life?

By the way, one of my dearest friends read this book and later I asked him about it. He said that he does write down his goals in his iPhone. Folks, the advice of millionaires say to buy a handy pocket notebook. It is extremely difficult for any computer or hand held device to be faster than a pen and paper. Why ignore the advice of these people who have succeeded and are rich for the $1.00 it costs to buy a pocket notebook?

Also, I find that having a handy pocket notebook is great for lowering stress in that I never forget anything. Anytime I have a good idea or something that I must remember to do, I jot it down. It’s so much faster with a pen and paper than any electrical device could ever be!

The second good piece of advice I have for those of you who find yourself in a serious pinch whereby you are worrying so much that it has engulfed your entire being is to realize that your brain can only think about one thing at a time. Seriously. It’s true. The human brain can only process information about one thing at a time.

There will be people now who think I am wrong about this, but I am not. Just because you can multi-task at work doesn’t mean that your brain can think about more than one thing at once. It cannot. Your brain can switch back and forth quite quickly so that the skilled person can multi-task but that doesn’t mean that the brain can focus on more than one matter at any given moment.

Here. Let me prove it to you. Here is a sentence. Read it and them repeat it over and over in your head. You will see that, as you are repeating it, you are unable to think about anything else, unless you switch off the repetition. Here is the sentence:

“I am a positive and hard working person and today is the best day so far this year and tomorrow is going to be even better!”

Read it and memorize it. Now, repeat it over and over in your head. Do it many times.

See? Your mind can only focus on one problem at a time. This is why constant worry is so dangerous. Because if you are only worrying, you will begin to make things worse as you will focus your entire being on that worry. It is a vicious cycle.

Stop it right now!

Anytime of the day, if you catch yourself starting to worry, stop. Take a phrase like the one I have given you above and repeat it in your head over and over until the worrying goes away. If the worrying (or panic) comes back, then start up the phrase and repeat again until the fear and worrying subside.

Some astute readers will recognize what I have written here as a form of meditation, chanting, or prayer. Call it what you want, it will help you to defeat the worrying that is destroying your health and your life.

I hope that, if you start to worry, that you’ll try these these two simple exercises that will help you set your mind free and help you to relax. They’ve helped me greatly. I know they will help you too.

I do recommend the book, ”Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible” by Brian Tracey but, if you are a cheapskate (like me) and need more evidence, I’ve written extensively about it here below:

Major Japanese Magazines and Writers Come Out Agreeing with Me on New Yakuza Laws by Mike in Tokyo Rogers

Well, look at what we have here! It’s not often that I get to blow my own horn so allow me the indulgence:

Tokyo Reporter has the story that Nikkan Gendai as well as some very famous Japanese writers have come out publicly against proposed legislation that is supposed designed to curtail Yakuza activities:

Since its institution in October, the prefectural legislation has been called “overkill,” with critics calling it a violation of basic human rights since gang members and their families are first and foremost people.

“Laws should be enforced based on deeds and not on a person’s social status,” Sataka said.

Nikkan Gendai believes that police are aware that an opposition movement may spread, which would render the legislation to be ineffective.

I wrote at length about this in Legislating Morality. I also complained that carte blanche laws and rules that hurt people and their families due to guilt by association could not possibly be legal and is not up to standard in a so-called democratic nation that respects human rights. I also wrote that I was extremely suspicious of this sort of legislation. Refer to: Japanese Insurance Companies Stop Payments for Jews, Catholics, Cross-dressers, Left-Handed People, Club Members, Punks and Yakuza

The recent crackdown on the Yakuza in Japan is not motivated by any recent domestic developments or problems on the home front. I submit to you, dear reader, that this crack down is motivated partly by US government pressure and is just another of many scams being perpetrated by our government to steal money to help pay for the financial disaster that the western governments (Japan included) have engineered that is about to befall on all of us regular people in the working class. On top of that, it is just another boondoogle for a government agency (the Japanese police) to try to justify massive public tax expenditures and to try to avoid budget cutbacks next year…

Well now we have the Nikkan Gendai and these writers agreeing with me but, as was expected, they have a bit more inside information that I do and accuse the government of hijinks on a different level. They accuse the government of creating these new laws to protect the Good Old Boys network in Japan whereby retired government workers (read retired police fat cats) get high paying jobs at private firms after retirement. They call it Amakudari here.

More from Tokyo Reporter:

According to Miyazaki, the real point of the legislation is the preservation of amakudari, or the process by which government officials assume positions at corporations upon retirement.

“At the time of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty in 1970, many policemen were recruited,” Miyazaki said. “This is a big problem in guaranteeing them an amakudari positions upon retirement. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and, Tourism and the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry are different. Retired police officials do not have any special skills that can be carried forward into the business world. However, if laws (related to organized crime) become more strict, companies would need former officers for consulting purposes.”

The article notes that the January 28 issue of Toyo Keizai magazine says that there are 83 listed firms, including Sharp CorporationNYK Group, and the Chugoku Electric Power Company, that have former police officials on staff.

Therefore, the strengthening anti-gang laws at the prefectural and national levels would require more former police officials “to descend” into positions within corporations for compliance reasons, Nikkan Gendai says.

Here, once again, as I have repeatedly stated; the government always has some sort of motivation (not the public good) for what it does. It is the goal of all governments, be they Democratic, Communist, Fascist, Socialist to use whatever crisis exists to expand upon themselves and increase the size of government. History shows us this to be true.

This nonsense is a waste of our tax monies. Japan is up deep serious economic problems. We have debt at 229% of GDP. Total debt at 492% of GDP. A declining population which is destroying the savings rate and our productivity and these idiots in government and the police are concerned about ticket scalpers, hot young actresses, mutually consented sex between adults, and members only clubs… And they are concerned that the Yakuza are involved with all of the above and, heaven forbid, making TV shows?!

Obviously with criminal intent

Don’t want to get off the point too much, but, as an example; what people need to realize is that the mafia are and have always been involved with entertainment business in the west too! In Japan the Yakuza have been involved in the entertainment business in Japan for easily over 400 years. Here’s two choice tidbits from Wikipedia:

“They are very prevalent in the Japanese media…”

Despite uncertainty about the single origin of yakuza organizations, most modern yakuza derive from two classifications which emerged in the mid-Edo Period (1603 – 1868): tekiya, those who primarily peddled illicit, stolen or shoddy goods; and bakuto, those who were involved in or participated in gambling.”

If you want to see just how much more absurdist this entire thing gets. Here is the original Tokyo Reporter story that the – surprise! – Yakuza are involved in TV! Heavens! What will we ever do? Hot Young Female Japanese Actresses, Yakuza Gangsters, Sex and Japanese TV and Mass Media – This Post Has it All!!!

… In the meantime, drip drip drip… nuclear waste leaks at Tepco, our debt grows by the minute, idiots want to double sales taxes so that we can pay for government expenditures (such as chasing skirts on TV sets) the economy stumbles… And the Keystone Cops want to chase ticket scalpers and skirts?… Doomed, I tell you!

Charles Bukowski, Gary North and Me – The Best Writers Don’t Care What People Think by Mike in Tokyo Rogers

They don’t care what you think. The best writers, I mean. I read the famous ones a lot. I think, sometimes, I read new, young ones that could be really good or great someday.

Charles Bukowski

Alas, I am not a great writer but I had a guy as a sort of teacher and advisor to me who is a great writer. In fact, I had two of them who really influenced me greatly. I’m not talking about some writer whom I have never come in to contact with excepting their written words in books I’ve bought, I’m talking about two who I have actually corresponded with who have written notes and letters to me. Those two guys really influenced me. Their names are Gary North and Charles Bukowski. Everyone knows Charles Bukowski today. He died a few years back. In the early 80′s, he was a cult writer and few knew him. After he died, he became famous. Gary North is well known in political and historical circles. He is still alive. I expect that he will be very famous after his demise.

Gary North

Not to be too flippant, but dying is very bad for someone’s health but I think it does wonders for an artist’s or a writer’s career…

I will always be grateful that Gary North, years ago, would volunteer advice to me as to how to be a better writer as well as  helping me to publish my book. I’ll get to Charles Bukowski in a minute.

One of the best pieces of advice Gary North ever gave me was something along the lines of “find your topic. Create a thesis. Study it well, write it and rewrite it. Rewrite it again after that. And finally, stick by your guns until someone can prove you wrong with facts or data. If new data comes up then rethink your position.”

That was important advice for me. It was important because all writers  want people to like what they wrote. All writers want to think that they are correct in their thinking. All writers want to be popular and for everyone to like them.

But that is just dreaming and not realistic thinking whatsoever. The writer who writes in an attempt to please everyone – will be relegated to writing boring fiction and fantasy (which could be an honorable profession and much more profitable than writing nonfiction, by the way).

The best writers, actually, are the ones who don’t care what you or I think. The best writers know that readers really loving them or hating them with a passion is the best way to be. When people don’t care either way, that’s the death knell of any art. People must love you or hate you. That’s what Charles Bukowski taught me.

The following story about Charles Bukowski and me is pretty unbelievable – if you don’t know me very well. I know my friend’s will hear this story and say, “Yeah? That sounds exactly like something Rogers would do.” I have lots of stories like this. Stories where I met the Ramones, Blondie, Arnold Schwartzneggar, George H.W. Bush, Phil Spector and a bunch of other people that I can’t recall at the moment….

Anyway, here’s the story about Bukowski and how he affected me…

In the early 1980s my best friend, Jeff Hughart, and I started a free underground magazine in Southern California called Sixty Miles North. It was a punk underground rag that got pretty popular in a very short time. At that time, free underground magazines were a novel and new idea. Ours was one of the first.

At that time, there was this old man who was a popular poet and writer in the underground who (pardon my French) didn’t give a sh*t what you thought. He had written a few books about how crappy his work life was and Jeff and I thought those books were awesome. His name was Charles Bukowski. Since my friend and I were ex-punk rockers we thought everything in mass pop culture and modern consumerist society was horrible crap so we gravitated towards “dark” writers and artists like Joy Division and Charles Bukowski. Bukowski’s novels, we thought, showed total disgust and contempt for modern society and modern life and we liked that a lot.

It seemed it was obvious that Bukowski didn’t care if people liked his writing or not. Bukowski thought everything was sh*tty and said so. That’s why we thought he was way cool.

Back in those days, Bukowski wasn’t popular in the mainstream and was a cult artist. Bukowski lived in Los Angeles and it was well known that he liked the horse races. That was convenient for me because I lived near Los Angeles and so did my parents. In fact, my folks liked the horse races. They were horse race crazy too and, this is no exaggeration, by the time I was 15 years old, I had been to every race track in Southern California  a hundred times. As kids, we’d run around the horse races areas and knew all the best places to hide and play.

Great, eh? I spent many weekends playing at the horse race track while my parents bet. Now wonder why I am so screwed up today?

Jeff and I spent a lot of time on that magazine. It was our release from our jobs and it was fun. It was our creative outlet. We thought that we could get Bukowski to write for our underground magazine.

I got a photo of Bukowski and showed it to my dad and mom and asked them if they had seen this guy down at the track. They weren’t sure. Since Bukowski was a published author, and pretty old, I figured that he’d relax in the horse track’s “Club House.” In the Club House it is not crowded as tables cost a few dollars and one can sit, relax and not have to deal with massive crowds of people. Bukowski wrote that he hated the humanity at the horse track. From being there hundreds of times, I knew exactly what he meant, so from that, I also knew he must have sat in the Club House. (If you’ve ever been to the horse track you know the “smell of humanity”: sweat, sh*t and stale cigar smoke….) In the Club House you could have your space and not be pushed and shoved. The Club House was relaxed. Like I said, my parents were regulars so they knew most of the people in the Club House. There were lots of famous retired actors and actresses there. The most famous one that I can remember was Mickey Rooney. He and my dad would often sit at tables next to each other and talk.

My parents saw the photo but couldn’t remember if they’d seen Bukowski or not. So, I went to look for him. Seriously. If you don’t know about horse racing, this might seem impossible to do, but if you go to the track a lot and know that certain race tracks are closed when others are open and that there is only one Club House where the regulars hang out, you’d know it shouldn’t be so hard to find some old guy betting on the horses. It’s be akin to walking into a huge bar with, maybe, 200 customers or so and finding your guy.

Mickey Rooney played Mr. Yuniyoshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

So, I went looking for Bukowski at the horse racing track… I figured if I found him, I could give buy him a coffee and hand him a magazine, and a stamped envelope addressed with our mailing address (this was way back before the days of the Internet) and ask him to jot down some junk and send it to us for publication in the magazine.

At the track, I showed his photo to some of my parents friends, the workers there and Mickey Rooney. People said they recognized him but hadn’t seen him for a while. I tried three different times but I never found Bukowski at the Club House. I gave up.

Jeff, on the other hand, tried an approached that I thought would never work in a million years. Jeff then sent him a letter out of the blue to his publisher and included the same sort of stamped envelope with the same tack that I tried. I figured my way at least had a small chance. I figured that if I could just speak to Bukowski personally, I could convince him to write for us. Jeff had other ideas.

In Jeff’s envelope he included a sample of the magazine and a letter asking for a short poem or submission with a “Thank you.” Jeff sent it off and we forgot about it.

Well, you can imagine our shock and surprise when the envelope came back to us from Bukowski two weeks later. We were thrilled… You can also imagine our disappointment when Bukowski hand wrote on our letter a “No thank you!” message saying he wasn’t interested in writing for our magazine. We were, as Southern California people said back in those days, “Bummed out!”

But not to be deterred and being two guys with a huge sense of humor (and this is the part where you’ll think, “That sounds like Rogers”), we decided to run his rejection letter as “Bukowski’s writing for our magazine.” I think we called it, “Rejection from Bukowski.” We printed his rejection letter as is and told the story. We bragged how our “zine” had finally hit the “big time” as even famous writers like Bukowski refused to write for us (remember we were a punk rock underground magazine so that was cool!) I have that magazine around here somewhere, stacked inside of some boxes so I’ll have to find it and show it to you sometime.

After that magazine came out, we, once again, sent one to Bukowski with another note. This time he wrote back to us something along the lines of, “I can’t believe you guys are so hard up for material that you’d print my rejection letter.” He then added two or three (I can’t remember how many) short poems that we printed in the next issue.

U2′s Bono is a wanker

From that I learned a great lesson in life and from Bukowski. The lesson in life I learned was anything is worth a try and you can’t achieve the impossible until you try to do so and, you have to do what you want. Bukowski’s writing, at that time, was very hard core and seemed extremely negative to me (OK. I was negative when I was in “punk mode.”) I could have never guessed at that time he’d become so famous and popular. So popular, in fact, that wankers like Bono from U2 would try to increase his coolness factor by acting like he is a friend with Bukowski.

Oh, and that reminds me. I do recall one poem he wrote much later, after our initial correspondence. Here is what Bukowski wrote about the time when Bono from U2 called him: (this is from my memory so it isn’t word for word):

I got a call from Bono the other day…

He said “Hi!”

I said “Hi!” and asked how Cher was doing…

We didn’t talk for

long after


Isn’t that hilarious? Bono from U2 is so conceited that he thinks everyone knows who he is so he calls Bukowski to kiss his a*s. But Bukowski is not impressed (or he really doesn’t know) and puts him down with the comment about Sonny and Cher! Sensational!

Sixties pop stars Sonny and Cher (Bono)

Today, I still read material by Gary North and Charles Bukowski sometimes and other great and famous writers. Now, thanks to the Internet and blogging, I think I can spot almost immediately some of those people with potential to be good or even great writers someday. In the day of print and paper, it was more difficult and costly for writers to say what they wanted to say. They had to tone down their message. Now, thanks to blogging, writers can say what they want.

The best writers start off as arrogant and obnoxious. They have the raw material to become good someday. These are the young people, though, who need to read and study and refine and write and rewrite. These are the people who need to open their minds and realize that they have so much potential if only they’d throw away preconceived notions.

It is as a famous Zen story goes:

A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Fellow bloggers, especially you that are young, become great writers!

Here is my advice to you: Find your topic. Create a thesis. Study it well, write it and rewrite it. Rewrite it again after that. And finally, stick by your guns until someone can prove you wrong with facts or data. If new data comes up then rethink your position.

Always, do not care too much what other people think… Good art is not democratic.

And, ALWAYS keep an open mind and realize that many of the ideas we believed at 25 we find out at the age of 50 are completely wrong.

Lastly, let me leave you with this quote (and get off my soapbox):

“We have to abandon the idea that schooling is something restricted to youth. How can it be, in a world where half the things a man knows at 20 are no longer true at 40 – and half the things he knows at 40 hadn’t been discovered when he was 20?” Arthur C. Clarke

For Ryu, Andrew, Jp and Allison