Friday, September 17, 2010

Japan's Top 3 Companies for 2010

I have spent the last year going around to many companies and meeting the staff and management to discuss new ways to promote, do marketing and PR. I have seen the very inside of these companies and gotten "into the heads" of many to see what kind of people they are. It has been a great and fun learning experience and a real eye-opener. If only they would write what I have learned in a company prospectus, then investors could learn much before risking their money investing in stock in a particular company.

Or maybe most companies don't want to write this as they fail miserably. Today I will write about three that are excellent.

As a voracious reader and a devout follower of the principles laid out in business classics such as James Collin's "Built to Last" and "Good to Great" as well as Malcolm Gladwell's classic, "Blink," I have come to be able learn much about a company merely by walking into their offices and talking to their receptionists and observing the esprit du corps. Within 15 minutes of meeting the staff I can tell if this is a company that I wish to work with or not.

Being able to "read" how well a company is managed and how well they are doing is not a special talent. I think anyone can do it. You definitely can too.

Think about this: Whenever you go to any organization, how clean is it? Is there dust on the picture frames or window sills? Are the facilities old? Are the toilets dirty? What are the staff like? Are they wide-awake and attentive? Do the staff go the extra mile when attending to your needs? Do the staff make you feel like you are important?

Does the organization have a buzz of activity akin to that of a healthy beehive?

If they do, then you can bet that these traits are the signs of a healthy company.

Ten or fifteen years ago there were many companies in Tokyo that shared these traits. Today, unfortunately, I can only mention three that I know of that do; and those three are Apple Japan; Google Japan; and, All Nippon Airways.

It will not surprise the reader that I mention Apple and Google. Those two companies are Triple AAA plus rankings in everything they do. They capture the imagination of people and create dreams. The esprit du corps at their offices is superb.

It might surprise some that I do not mention Yahoo Japan or Softbank. Yahoo offices are starting to get the feeling of a run-down company; the reception services are B rank. While Softbank has a great HQ, some of the carpets in the meeting rooms are tattered (bad Feng Shui) and many of their outside shops are pig pens. The Softbank shop near my home in a upper-crust shopping district in Futagotamagawa is looking run down.

In today's list, though, is a company that few in the west know of, but I predict will be world famous in 5 - 10 years, if things keep going the way they are, and that company is All Nippon Airways.

All Nippon Airways is known as ANA here and was, until recently, Japan's number two airlines. Today it is number one and the reasons why are easy to see. The ANA offices are run with extreme care and the guards and receptionists are incredibly professional, courteous and kind. They go the extra mile in their duties. When you enter their offices, they make you feel wanted and respected.

The offices of ANA are immaculate and they are buzzing with activity. Throw on top of that the attitude of the staff and you have a company that is headed for greatness.

Sometimes I go to companies and meet the staff and they are arrogant and seemingly conceited. They act as if they are royalty and I am some sort of servant to them. Of course I am not their servant... But what this shows me is a problem with company culture and company morale and how they treat other people. If they treat me bad, it is probably pretty easy to guess that they do the same to other people. This is stupid and a good way to get people to do half-asssed work for you.

Instead of me preaching to you how bad this sort of thing is and how damaging it is to a companies profitability, let me tell you the story of Teddy Roosevelt.

As a child and young man, Teddy Roosevelt was a conceited, spoiled rich-kid. He ordered everyone to do his bidding and had few friends. He alienated everyone yet he had great ambitions. As I understand it, at age 22, his grandfather pulled him away and had the talk that would change Teddy Roosevelt's life. His grandfather told him, "Be humble and become a servant to everyone and then people will do anything for you and follow you anywhere." Teddy Roosevelt would later go on to become the 26th president of the United States.

It is this unwavering dedication to client, customer, and co-worker happiness and satisfaction that sets apart the really great companies from the companies that do well, but not great in the long run.

It doesn't surprise that I rank Google and Apple as top, but it probably greatly surprises that I rank ANA in the top 3 too. Go to ANA offices or fly their planes and you will see for yourself.

ANA is world class and, like I stated, one of Japan's Top 3 companies for 2010! Look for great things coming out of this company in the next decade. Here is a company that has captured the imaginations of young Japanese people and society-at-large.

ANA is an airlines company but it also sells dreams. Buy them, they are top class!

PS: If you are thinking abut investing or working with a Tokyo-based Japanese or a foreign company with an office in Tokyo and want my opinion (for what it is worth) or what the average man on the street thinks, let me know by e-mail:  mike (dot) rogers (at mark) universal-vision (dot) jp 


All Nippon Airways, ANA, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, Teddy Roosevelt, Google, Mike Rogers, Apple, Malcolm Gladwell, Good to Great, Built to Last, James Collins, Blink, Marketing Japan


Andy "In Japan" said...

Speaking from experience, Mike is absolutely right on ANA. Great service, much better than JAL and so much better than any USA based airline it isn't even funny. ANA management seems to really know what they are doing. My only question: Are they making money?

mike in tokyo rogers said...


Well from where I'm looking, it sure seems like ANA is making money and they see their chance... I heard rumors today that the new chairman of JAL is so fed up with JAL management that he's ready to quit.

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