Hang out with Tokyo’s finest CEOs
Imagine that you have been introduced to that exclusive CEO entrepreneur club by one your friends in slightly higher places. He told you that
with your rare and high value offer all you need to do is network. Those guys will jump on you.
So instead of investing this years profit in a MacPro, a 36” LCD screen and that laser printer, you decide to get a slower 23” iMac and join that exclusive high end CEO club.
No one rolls out the red carpet…
Of course no one rolls out the red carpet for you. The suits and costumes stand there in groups, and everyone obviously knows everyone.
You try to find something to say when talking to the organizers, but you are really not too good at small talk. Smooth as Tony Blair when it comes to communication about communication technology, but in the direct communication you are still that Swiss boy from the mountains. You don’t know these people, what is there to talk about? some voice inside tells you…
He’s a real nowhere man…
You stand there and try to look natural and you sing that Beatles tune to yourself. At least you haven’t lost your humor. But still there is nothing natural about a grinning dude standing alone with a mute whistling expression on his face. Of course everyone sees from the corners of their eyes that this newbie is in fact a nobody, maybe even a real creep. Better stay away from that nobody, he might be weird.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, you think. Get out of this isolation, dude. So I take out my photo camera and start taking pictures of that amazing view the Tokyo American Club has to offer. One like this, one like that. Ah maybe, I should turn of the flash. Look at that panorama ahhh. As you turn around more eyes are looking at you than ever before. Good job, you think. That is the first time when you think of that movie…
Finally you spot one guy, standing alone there with a glass of wine trying to look natural – just like yourself. You walk up to him. He quickly glances at your company badge and turns his head away; literally 90 degrees to the side, while you stand in hand shaking distance in front of him.
Would he turn his head away if your badge said “General Electric”, “Sony” or “Merryll Lynch”? Who knows, but, it is a pretty tough moment for a shy nonnative speaker like you. You stand there and wait for him to turn his head back. Instead he looks up to the ceiling. You say: “Hello, I’m…” And he walks away.
Now you walk a way, nodding, mumbling, and trying desperately to find a pair of eyes that would agree with what you’re mumbling. Maybe this is all just a huge mistake, you think. Why didn’t you just buy the big Mac and do what you do best – work?
Talented people are important
The speech that some economy professor from Lausanne then holds is promising: Mergers in Japan. He takes his jacket of and says: Let us all take our jackets off, we’ll be more relaxed and honest if we do so. Nice captatio benevolentiae, I think. He then dives right into the speech. His presentation turns out to be a little dry, but he has a nice way presenting himself. In short, this is what he said:
- People are key for a company
- You only need the talented people
- You need to get rid of the lazy ones
- You need to listen to them and lead them and let them lead
- In Japan you need more patience to get rid of the lazy ones because of the lifetime employment system
So this how the big economists think. It’s all not that surprising. Don’t we all think like that? Yet he had to fly over from Lausanne to tell us. Get a hotel, deal with the jet lag. Maybe he met some nice people on his trip. True things are the difficult things, made obvious through simple expression. Some alcoholic told you so at some airport bar at 2 am.
What a silly boy you are
The hoped for turn of events doesn’t happen either at the sushi snack after the speech. You still don’t know anybody and still no one wants to know you. Maybe it’s your messy too long hair, you think, but actually the hair looks quite alright in the reflection of that silver white wine cooler.
Why, oh why, don’t they want to speak to you? Finally some people give you a little attention. But after two or three words they get that expression on their faces: That actually-I-don’t-know-you expression. And it’s not because you’re intrusive. You don’t even talk about your business, you don’t sell, as you’re not only to shy to talk to strangers, you are also too proud to sell yourself. After all they need you, not the other way round, huh? What a silly silly boy you are.
The real face is on the back
Finally you meet an American guy from some Swiss chemical company; he lived in Switzerland and can’t wait to go back to work and live there again. Talking about Switzerland makes you forget about that odd networking stuff. You start to relax; but that relaxed conversation gets constantly disturbed by those other guys that absolutely want your new friend’s important chemical business card.
And here he comes the 90 degrees guy walks up to you and, without looking at your face, stands in between you and the American guy, turning his back on you, acting all nice to the front while showing his real face on the back.
The 90 degrees guy changes cards and gets replaces by a somewhat more creepy guy that is trying to sell some kind of corporate training to your American friend. The American looks quite desperate. He doesn’t want no training, he wants to talk about the Gellert and the Spalentor and the winter night sauna at the border of the lake of Zurich.
Anyway, now that you’ve proved you’re worthy talking to, you get in touch with a couple of people and they’re mostly quite nice and you start realizing that most of the real big shots are the nice guys while the obnoxious ones come from medium or small sized companies. Of course some of the big shots are scared that you are going to try to get their business card and send them your s**** emails or sell them some creepy corporate training right away. But the way to deal with that fear is simple. You just keep your card to yourself and chat.
In the end you go home with good hopes for the business world and one good contact for a possible collaboration on an upcoming web project you are setting up right now. You were looking for that translation company for quite some time. So, no red carpet and no jumping at you. Yet that translation project is a good step closer to completion as this guy has exactly what you needed to make this work. Wonderful. Paid off after all.
Checking the bathroom mirror back at the office you notice some organic element on your upper lip. Some rice grain with wasabi that looks like it actually belongs in your nose, or even better: In your handkerchief. The image of Peter Sellers at the party comes back to your mind. Maybe you should have become a comedian, not a company owner. You never have a second chance to make a first impression, but you imagine that maybe you’ll just do better at the next event.Ð