Japan has the largest global iPhone share






To put things in perspective:
US population = 314M people
Japan = 130M people

It’s astounding that even with the flailing mega corporations and unsteady economy, Japan is still a top five GDP country and lucrative market.

This place is just so bizarre…and the main reason I am here.

There’s optimism. Then there is coddling. #Japan

Saw on Twitter that Sony has slashed their profit forecast by 40%, after poor Q2 results 1

Google News in English, search results are of course all about the profit cuts.
See? (points below)
Sony US

The news in Japanese? Is a crock of shit.

Sony Japan

This is at 6:02 +GMT (Japan time) — two hours after they announced lowering forecast.

Top headline from Oct 14, 2013 reads “Sony accelerating to 3rd global smartphone brand” followed by a bunch of bullshit about their eReader.

This is TWO hours after they announced Q2 losses.

The Japanese media failing to deliver information — good, bad or indifferent — is a bit…bizarre.

I’m going to keep checking, to see if or when the Japanese outlets will report. Maybe it’s cultural differences but I just don’t get this rose colored glasses mentality, where sugar coating hard facts are accepted (cough-Nintendo-cough)

I’m so afraid that coddling will be the ultimate downfall of this country; no matter how resilient the Japanese are.

DISCLAIMER: please excuse the Windows — my work computer is a X1 Carbon on Win7 T_T

UPDATE 11/01/13

Finally, about 12 hours later, there are three news sources that covered Sony’s losses. Bloomberg Japan, CNET Japan and one Japanese publication, IT Media. Sony, is one of Japan’s icons. Their continuous downfall should be a massive wake-up call to Japan.

I believe in optimism but I also believe in knowing the full truth, assessing the situation realistically, finding a solution and working towards the solution.

Directly communicating harsh realities, isn’t the ‘Japanese way’ but this sugar coating, is very troublesome. I hope this country wakes up soon, accept hard facts and figuring ways to move forth.

Or maybe, the Japanese way is to stay in its protective, isolated bubble.

Japan: This is why you can’t speak English

One of the greatest benefits of riding in packed trains during peak commute hours, is how I can peek on people’s mobile phones to see what apps they are using, what they are browsing. Look at people’s books to see what they are reading. Basically, learning by observing.

I want to say I’m looking at the brighter side of being a sardine in jam packed trains every morning and evening, but I’m gonna keep it real — I’m very curious about Japanese people’s consumption behaviors.

Today, I had the great (dis) pleasure of peeking on someone’s English study guide and was shocked to the shit. I mean, WTF is this???

photo 1

This looks more like an econ text book than an English textbook. Look all those Japanese hieroglyphics, breaking down English grammar!!

So I zoomed into the photo, expecting some complicated business colloquialism.
Turns out, those long-ass explanations were for one simple phrase: “An exciting game.”

What the fuck???

I don’t know about you, but there is no way I’d be able to form and speak basic English sentences, with all that extra noise in the way. I’d be terrified I wouldn’t remember all the learnings and apply them.


Promise vs Reality in Newark, NJ #CoryBooker

When snow blanketed this city two Christmases ago, Mayor Cory A. Booker was celebrated around the nation for personally shoveling out residents who had appealed for help on Twitter. But here, his administration was scorned as streets remained impassable for days because the city had no contract for snow removal.

Last spring, Ellen DeGeneres presented Mr. Booker with a superhero costume after he rushed into a burning building to save a neighbor. But Newark had eliminated three fire companies after the mayor’s plan to plug a budget hole failed.

via NYT

I get it. I mean, I used to be a massive fan of Cory Booker, too…four years ago.  Fast forward four years, the only actions I’ve seen thus far, is his shameless self promotion.

How scalable is tending to every complainer on Twitter? He is not a leader. A leader, sets examples with strategy vs. tactics.

Cory Booker, has also been in city office for seven years. The president of the US of A, is expected to change the country in four. He is only in charge of one city.  Props to him for bringing Whole Foods to Newark but come ON. How does someone like that, get chosen to represent his state?

Ugh. Politics.

Leadership Starts from the Top


Our cafeteria has very strict rules so there are pictorials plastered on walls to reminds us. Our cafeteria, is also separated into two sides I nicknamed: protein side and carby side.

I tend to lean towards the protein side as the food is generally healthier. I also don’t want to be in food coma status, after gorging on curry rice or ramen or pasta or udon or soba topped with fish or deep fried stuff or massive chunks of meat at lunch. Lately, the carby side has been offering lighter options, so I’m now eating on the carby side vs the protein side.

The protein side’s manager nicknamed “Chief”, is this sour-puss man who stands with his arms crossed, overseeing the operations and ensuring company employees do not break cafeteria rules. I’ve had colleagues whose trays were confiscated for taking two desserts or more tomatoes than we are allowed. The only time I ever see him leave his post, is when he sees someone breaking the rules. He then briskly walk over to the said person breaking a rule, and informs them of their offense. I wish I could say he runs a tight ship, but why sugar coat it? The man micromanages.

The carby side’s manager is this teeny old man with bushy eyebrows. Always smiling, always greeting company employees. Just seeing his face makes me smile so much. He’s always running around, helping out where he can lend a hand.

The cafeteria ladies on the protein side are curt, rarely smiling and don’t even greet people. They are always quick to scold when we break rules — even if I accidentally pick-up three tomatoes with the tong instead of the allowed two.

The cafeteria ladies on the carby side are friendly, laughing, smiley and always greet us. Today, my tongs grabbed three tomatoes and the cafeteria lady just smiled, winked and said “enjoy”.

Two different managers. Two very different employee attitudes.
No matter the trade or organization, it goes to show how everything really does, start from the top and trickles down.

Leadership 101 :)

If you’re interested, I upload photos of my tasty free lunch here.

Bonus: check out this creepy photo to let employees know “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING”


Quote for every entrepreneur to keep in mind

“You’ve explained something for four minutes but I have no idea what this is. What you said in that time, you could say in 10 seconds. I know this is difficult in English, but I have no idea what you are doing.”

Benjamin Joffe, during JapanNight start-up competition

I really loved how Ben said that. At first, I thought it was a Japan specific problem, as it’s no secret the Japanese have embarrassingly weak English communication skills. Second thought, Ben’s comment really applies to every entrepreneur.

Having spent time in SF and NY, I’ve had the (pain) and pleasure, to connect with many mary start-ups building many, many things.  I’ve noticed how much of a challenge it is, for entrepreneurs to solidify their elevator pitches and people tend to go on and on and on without answering: this is what I’m building and why.

I hope more angels and VCs keep pushing start-ups to quickly answer the what and why, just like how Ben prompts them to.

Sidenote: I was fortunate to have dinner with Ben a few nights ago and in private, he is this super sweet, charming French guy. It was nice to see a side of Ben during the competition I didn’t get to see during our dinner ;)

Why I Still Believe in Japan


Thanks to Serkan Toto (who is by far, one of the most brilliant people I have ever met), I attended JapanNight, a start-up competition and boy, am I glad I did.

The winner was a wearable technology company called Ring and the promo video, had the entire room buzzing:

They are on their second prototype and Ring’s purpose is to complement wearable tech vs competing with monster companies like Google and Samsung — that approach is why I became a believer.

Ring, to me, epitomizes Japanese ethos: taking great things that exist and making them better. In Ring’s case, it’s taking wearable tech: Google Glass, Pebble, Samsung watch, etc. and made it stylish, minimalistic and more compact.

The other products really didn’t do much for me (some hipster app, a few niche gaming apps, a Japanese solution for Survey Monkey, some learning platform, etc.) but the websites and presentations were really well done. As we enter into the age of user experience and design, I’m excited to see how the Japanese will deliver our creativity to the world and where I fit into the equation.

I got to Japan at the perfect time, as I believe the next few years will showcase exactly why I chose to live in Tokyo — one of the best cities on the planet.

If you’re interested, Japan Night’s finalists are on their Google+ stream here.