Coastal Angler Magazine: How to NOT Win Friends and Influence People

I often get emails out of the blue from people asking for help with business in Japan. They usually want an introduction or want information. I usually try to help them too.

In fact, I think I could give out an entire list of people who’ve I helped with their business in Japan and haven’t asked them for anything in return. (I’m hoping that some of them might comment and give confirmation of that fact at the end of this blog.)

I’m the kind of guy that wants the economy to get better (funny, that!) and think that if I can help my friends or connections to make more money, and create jobs that benefit everyone, then where’s the downside? I am sometimes offered monitary reward and, of course, am eager to accept it, but I think just about everyone I’ve helped can attest to the fact that I have never been pushy about money.

I think people should be honest and pay what they think is fair.

Until now, I’ve helped at least a good three dozen people. I made connections for them because I have a good reputation. You don’t live, as a foreigner in Japan, for nearly 30 years unless you build a reputation of someone who works hard and is trustworthy.

Ask any of the old-timers in Japan and they’ll tell you the same thing: “About 97% of all foreigners in this country are undependable and shady. All the ones who have been here a long time and have a good reputation all know each other and trust each other.” This reputation is as good as gold.

I use my reputation and trust to help people. I am not bragging but because of who I am and how I operate business, I think that’s why I can call up the president or ranking executives of major Japanese and International corporations directly on the phone and make appointments with them; they know if I call, I am not wasting their time and that I have a reason or idea that has mutual profit potential.

Mutual profit potential? Those are the key words here. When the business idea is good for everyone all around, people listen. I never bring along business ideas that are one-way streets.

Of course, there have been a few who used me to get connections then dumped me. But that’s OK. My connection, that I took over a decade – sometimes over two in many cases – to build are loyal to me and not to the people I introduced. I’ll ge my just rewards sooner or later. Long-term business partners take care of each other.

That’s just the way it is.

The other day, I got another letter from a guy who runs a fishing magazine in the USA. He wanted me to basically work for him for free. It’s OK. I get lots of those. But I thought, “What the heck? I’ll see if I can find someone who this can be mutually beneficial with and introduce them.”

I wish I hadn’t done that.

The guy’s name is Ben at Coastal Angler Magazine (I’ll hide his last name because, well, you’ll see why later). He seems confused. He is rude and certainly doesn’t know how to write business letters. He, who began by asking me for help started becoming rude as time went by and it was quite obvious, from his emails, that he seemed not to understand his own business. Finally, I became irritated at his bad attitude and asked him not to write to me anymore.

I think you’ll find this exchange a great example on how to NOT do business in Japan – or anywhere else for that matter. Ben’s mails will be in yellow. My responses in blue. And I will also add commentary between.

Here it is:


Hi Mike,
Coastal Angler Magazine is one of the largest outdoor publications in North America, with a circulation base of 500,000 copies per month. There are countless Japanese manufacturers who seek to sell their products to our readership, but we don’t seem to be able to bring them in as advertisers. I’m looking for a liaison that can rep our publication to the Japanese marine (fishing) industry.

You seem to be an adman much like myself. Why don’t you visit our website at and either let me know if there’s a direct fit or if you can advise us on finding an “on the ground” Japanese representative. I assure you the potential advertiser base is huge and that this will be a very lucrative endeavor for the right person. By the way; do you like to fish?
Most sincerely,
Editor In Chief
Coastal Angler Magazine
The Angler Magazine


Well, he starts off nice enough. I like to fish. So I answered. This sounds like it could be a fun job for one of my friends who might need some business – in this day and age, who doesn’t need some business? So I answered:



You kiddin’? Before I left the USA to move to Japan, I went fishing 4 or 5 days a week, every week for 6 months (I was a stock broker and had already earned my commissions for the next 6 months and, since I was leaving, there was no reason to keep selling as I wouldn’t have received the money…. So… Why not go fishing everyday?)

I was fishing off the rocks in my secret hole along the California Coast about 15 minutes drive from Camarillo. It was a hairy climb down the rocks but the fishing was awesome and there was never anyone else there (maybe it was too dangerous and they were too smart and I was too fishing crazy!)… I got so good at it that I knew just by the way the weather conditions (direction of wind, temperature, tides, etc) were if I would catch a lot of fish or not (but, you being a pro yourself, you already know that!)

I love fishing. I dream about fishing…. In fact, I dreamt about trout fishing in Oregon last night (seriously!) Here’s a humorous article I wrote on Lew Rockwell that mentions how I had a major gout attack and could hardly walk, yet that didn’t deter me from fishing:

Interestingly enough, also last night I had dinner with the biggest tuna dealer in the United States, David Leibowitz, and advised him on selling his Tuna Jerky into Japan. His tuna are all line caught so I suspect that, while a tad bit different, I’ll bet he has connections to makers like Shimano and Daiwa.

Let me look at this and get back to you over the weekend when I have more time.




Well, so far, so good, right?



David has appeared on numerous covers in our Boston edition. Where are you located? Have you seen our publication?
Editor In Chief
Coastal Angler Magazine


Wait a minute? “Where are you located?.. Have you seen our publication?” What? Isn’t this the guy who wrote to me saying, “I’m looking for a liaison that can rep our publication to the Japanese marine (fishing) industry”? My address clearly states that I’m in Tokyo… What does he mean “Where are you located?”

Here I began to get a tad bit suspicious that this guy drinks too much. Nothing wrong with drinking. Nothing wrong with fishing and drinking; definitely something wrong with drinking and writing business correspondence though… Still… I ignored this bizarre part… (Like I wrote, “I love fishing!”


Hi Ben,

I’m in Tokyo. David lives about 35 minutes away from me.

I haven’t checked the magazine yet… I will tomorrow…
Mike in Tokyo Rogers


My son and I on the cover of Coastal Angler Magazine. By the way, I asked David Leibowitz if he knew Ben and if he was ever on the cover of this magazine. David replied, “No!”


Hello Mike,

I am still in need of Asian sales representation. I am certain that a strong market exists, I just need someone there to go get the money. Let’s talk further to see if this project is of interest to you.
Editor In Chief
Coastal Angler Magazine


Woah! Wait a minute! First off, initially, the guy wrote that, “I’m looking for a liaison that can rep our publication to the Japanese marine (fishing) industry (emphasis mine)….and either let me know if there’s a direct fit or if you can advise us on finding an “on the ground” Japanese representative.” But now he says he wants “Asian sales representation”??? I wonder if this is one of those people who thinks that ‘Tokyo is the capital city of China’? (Really, I have been asked that question many times).

Second, he wrote that he wanted a “Japanese representative.” Now, I know that many people have a hard time with written English, but when I see “Japanese representative” that says, “A Japanese national to represent his company” Not “Some guy (foreigner included) to represent his company in Japan.” It seems there is a huge difference, to me, between a “Japanese representative” and a “Japan representative.” If there are any third grade English teachers out there reading this, could you please confirm that?
Nevertheless, I ignored that part (again) and I had asked two of my friends who work at fishing magazines about it (hell, I don’t know. I figured they might). They gave me a very common sense answer that made me think, “Oh? I kind of thought so…. Sorry to bother you guys!”


Hi Ben,

I sent your materials to two friends that I know that might be of assistance… The basic reply I got was that they said the local businesses (Daiwa, Shimano, etc.) are de facto different businesses than the ones operating in the west even though they have the same names. I get the impression that what they mean is that the US distribution of “Shimano” is actually a different company in that it is a subsidiary. This means that the domestic side wouldn’t set aside a budget to advertise in a foreign magazine because sales there do not benefit them.

Of course, I don’t know the details, but I reckon this is true.

For advertising in the USA concerning, Shimano for example, you’d have to talk to these people:

Not Japan.

For example, Shimano in Japan does all sorts of stuff like sports bicycling, etc. You need to talk to the USA reps.

Wish I could be of more help.



I don’t know. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was trying to be polite and professional.


From Ben
Feb 26 (5 days ago)

to me

I am very familiar with Shimano. There are 100′s of manufacturers there who do make US ad buys.

Sent from my iPhone

o Ben


Ben seemed like he didn’t like what I wrote and got a bit pushy and most definitely
rude. This is, after all, Japan and one doesn’t write short and curt mails to
people they are asking favors of. Faux Pas Ben! I wonder why he can’t see the contradiction
in what he wrote, “There are 1007s of manufacturers there who do make US ad buys”?
Well, of course, for one, he is exaggerating… For two, if that were true and he knows
that, then why can’t he make the sales himself? As Homer Simpson would say, “Doh!”

Still, once again, I tried to be polite…


Thanks Ben,

Can you tell me the names of some of these companies? I don’t know.

I am under the impression that the Japanese companies sell all their products to USA subsidiaries or they sell by a “No return” policy. A no return policy would mean that some middleman company buys these products and would handle the advertising.

I’m not arguing with you at all, just trying to understand this situation…


Right after sending this email to Ben, I decided to call one of my friends directly at the fishing publication to get his two cents. Then I wrote back to Ben again… Basically my pal said, “Mike, think about it. Why would a business that is trying survive in the domestic market advertise overseas when there is already an overseas branch with a budget and sales team to handle that market? It’s a jurisdiction issue.”


I just talked to my friend, Hiroshi, who is an executive at this publisher that is the biggest fishing/water sports magazine in Japan…

He seems to think that what you are saying is incorrect; that domestic manufacturers wouldn’t advertise in the USA unless they had representation in the USA… And if they had representation in the USA, they’d let them handle it.

This seems to make very much sense to me as I know this is the same situation in other businesses due to tax laws in the two countries.

I am willing to ask again for you, but I need more specifics rather than “100′s of manufacturers.”


It’s true. I know that. The big Japanese manufacturers have US subsidiaries for tax and other business reasons. Companies structure this way and territories fall under different jurisdictions. There is no reason why the, say, Japan branch of the company, who is only concerned with sales and profitability in Japan, would advertise to foreign countries… Sales there benefit the local subsidiary. Shimano world, for example, might annually set aside a budget for their US branch, but the US branch would have jurisdiction on how that budget is used. The Japanese branch would not. Still, Ben won’t have it. I guess it is understandable that a guy who works at a fishing magazine wouldn’t have a clue as to how jurisdiction over territories works in international companies… Why should he? He knows how to edit print and tie a hook. He doesn’t know jack about how big companies – especially big Japanese companies – work.

Yet, still being a nice guy (dumb guy?) I ask that he furnish me with leads on this “100s of manufacturers” as I don’t work for free (nor am I interested in ‘letting my fingers do the walking – for a few hours for no pay – in the Yellow Pages’) and, if they do exist, then he should at least tell me who they are….

Ben then writes me a very dumb question that is a sort of challenge, I suppose:


Why then would these same manufacturers attend expensive trade shows in the US.

Ben Martin
Coastal Angler Magazine


Frankly speaking, I couldn’t believe that Ben wrote this. “Why would these same manufacturers attend expensive trade shows in the US”???? Are you kidding me? Ben! Have you never worked at or with a manufacturer? Are you so out of touch that you don’t know why they attend trade shows? They certainly don’t do it for fun, you know. They do it as it is part and parcel of their business; they need to know what’s going on in the market and what other manufacturers are doing and going to do. They go to see new products. Have you never been to a trade show? Hell, if not NO WONDER YOU CAN’T SELL ADVERTISING TO THESE PEOPLE! I’ve been to lots of trade shows, maybe one hundred of them by now. I know why these people attend. It’s obvious.

This really made me convinced that Ben hasn’t a clue as to what he’s doing. Of course if you want to sell something to someone, you have to get to know them and understand what their needs are. It’s called “Needs selling” and a very basic concept for any salesman: “Get to know the client. Understand their needs and sell them a solution for those needs.” Ben doesn’t understand his clients enough to know why they attend trade conventions? Astounding!

Well, with that, I am fed up with Ben… If his understanding of his own business – and business in general – is so rudimentary, then I can’t help him. I wrote:


You’re kidding with that question, right?

Of course they attend these trade shows (like all manufacturers in all businesses do – not just fishing related – because they want to see what other manufacturers are doing. And, maybe, make business connections! Pretty basic, stuff. Ben.)

It shouldn’t come as any big news to you, should it, that the Japanese have traditionally been accused of copying (stealing) ideas.

I am surprised by two things, Ben;

1) If you know that the Japanese are coming to these trade conventions? Then why the heck don’t you guys approach them for sales? Why are you asking me?

2) You are asking a stranger to help you (me) but your arrogance and bad attitude are certainly a big minus for you.

No wonder you have a hard time getting clients.

Please don’t bother me anymore.


From: Ben
2:19 AM (3 hours ago)

to me

No problem dick head

Sent from my iPhone


Wow! In his initial email to me, Ben wrote:

“There are countless Japanese manufacturers who seek to sell their products to our readership, but we don’t seem to be able to bring them in as advertisers.”

Is there any wonder why he can’t bring them in as advertisers? Well, Ben, from my point of view, there’s no surprise there. Hell, that Ben, with an attitude and lack of knowledge like that, has any advertisers at his magazine is a point of wonder

And there you have it, folks. Seriously is there any wonder why Ben’s company can’t get advertisers? Is there any wonder why he can’t get any help selling his magazine? Nope.

Is there a good lesson here for the rest of us? Yep.

It’s a great lesson in how NOT to be a good salesman and it’s a great lesson in “How to NOT Win Friends and Influence People.”

Thanks Ben!

NOTE: I placed Ben’s name and contact here as a favor to him. Hopefully some fishing manufacturer will see this and contact Ben for advertising. If Ben does get any ads from this, I get 18% commission, the Japan standard rate for selling advertising. – Signed “dick head”

NOTE: I really did ask David Leibowitz if he knew Ben and if he was ever on the cover of this magazine. This is David’s real reply:

“Maybee also
“Hustlers and Ho’s”
“Pimps – The real life”
“Makkin and Jacking”
“12 inch plus”
“steroids today”
“bald is best”
But not “bass fishing jerk off” it’s a scam