Saturday, January 28, 2012

When People Stop Caring - Stop! Quit and Save Your Life!

I wrote yesterday that artists and writers need to know that love and hate are the two sides of the same coin. It is great if many people love and adore your work. It is good also if people hate your work. If people love or hate your work, that is much MUCH better than if they don't care either way about your work.

If people don't care, that is death. If people don't care then you should stop. I've always believed that everything happens for a reason. It's like the advice a wealthy friend gave me once about a dysfunctionate company we were both at when he realized that that company was a waste of time and he quit. He said to me as he was leaving, "Save your life and stop. Start doing something else." 

Then he walked out the door. 

These last 3 days, I have had a feeling of depression somewhere deep in my heart and been under great stress. It's because of that letter I received from the president of the major Japanese broadcasting corporation that I wrote about the other day. This morning, I have decided that I have to take my own advice to stop working with poor management and dysfunctional people and leave that place of business forever.

I had to make a decision. I've made it. 

I should have done it long ago. That ridiculous letter from the president was just another in a long history of absurd things that have happened to me at that company over the years. When you read the story and understand the roots of the problem, you'll know why, as I said, that company loses so much money every year.

And don't think I am merely being bitter about this one station. That is not true at all. I have worked, and still do, with many other stations. I have never seen an organization run as ineptly as today's topic... (Gee, when I put it that way, I must be stupid to have stayed there so long, right? Agreed.)

I have worked in TV and radio since 1985. I have "worked" (in a sense) in the music business since 1978. If you wonder what that means, let me say that I have played music and, while not getting paid enough to support myself, I used to get checks and I was paid to perform. The most I ever received at once was about $1,100 in 1979 or so. Not bad.

When my son was born, I threw away my TV set. It was soon after the Iraq war had started and I was so fed up with the lies on TV. I had to work with TV people because of my job. But I decided that I didn't want to bring these people into my house (and in Japan you have to pay a monthly licensing fee if you own a TV) so I threw them out. I don't want to pay to bring liars into my home.

Soon after that, I quit having anything to do with TV. Even though I own a company that makes TV and radio programs and TV commercials, I do not do that myself anymore but, my staff have families and mouths to feed, I won't stop them from pursuing their chosen career.

Over the years, I have made many radio programs. By far the vast majority have been at a FM radio station in Tokyo. I have a love/hate relationship with this radio station and its people.

Fact is that there is only a couple guys there at that station who are kind and honest. Just a few. Sad.

I don't want to talk about that station too much (anymore) but allow me to spill my guts this time. Please let me give you an example of how people at that station operate. This one example is like many that have happened to me while working for that company. This event happened at least 12 years ago... But, today, it is the same. The names have changed but the way the station operates doesn't.

At the end of the nineties, I produced and co-hosted one of the most famous late-night radio shows in Tokyo. So popular was that show that sponsors approached us and asked if they could become our sponsors! That is extremely rare! The Program Director at that time told me that if I could bring in sponsors, then he would pay me a sales commission. So I did. I brought in the largest record chain in the world as a big sponsor.

The station was doing poorly and losing money. But I wanted to be a part of the "team" and to help out wherever I could so I decided that, after the record store chain became a sponsor, I didn't need a commission. I didn't need extra pay. I wanted to show that I was part of the family - hell, I wanted to be a part of the family - so I wanted to forfeit my commission and give it to the station to show them my heart's feelings.

When I went to see the Program Director to happily tell him my decision, before I could get a word out of my mouth, he rudely snarled at me, "We're not paying you any commission!" And with that he turned around and stormed away without letting me say anything.

I was shocked. I didn't want commission. I just wanted the satisfaction and happiness of telling someone that I was giving them something they wanted. I felt like the small dirty faced boy who looked up and handed the single yellow flower that he had picked to a lady and that person took that flower from him and crushed it under the heel of their shoe in the dirt. As doing so, the evil in their eye showed through, cursing from the snarl of their lips...

I was speechless... "Why was it so necessary to hurt my feelings?" I thought. 

It's a really sad situation when people are so dirty and despicable that they cannot allow people a small moment to share happiness. Have these people no compassion or self-respect? 

Like I said, that was many years ago. I feel like this sort of thing has happened many times. I have brought in many sponsors and yet, I am treated rudely. Forgive me for feeling sorry for myself....

Two days ago, I wrote about a president of a company who wrote me a letter that was just shocking. This isn't sour grapes. His letter wasn't really worthy of an adult and certainly not worthy of one written by a person in an executive position at a large company. I had been writing professional business correspondence to this president, but he wrote back to me a letter that looked like it was written by a 14-year-old complaining about his companies past inter-staff squabbles and fighting. I'm writing about business and he's airing his families dirty laundry out in public - and I hardly even know the guy! 

I couldn't believe it (you wouldn't believe it either. Refer to: Be Professional! Working at a Japanese Company - Any Company - Filled With Low-Quality Dysfunctional People and Management - Don't Do That to Yourself). 

I didn't add to that article one very important point; that this company president would write such an amateurish letter to me is even doubly more astounding when you realize that my company is a sponsor to that station and, while not a massive sum, we spend ¥900,000 (nearly $12,000 a month) on commercials at that station. 


Well, perhaps not so incredible when you look at the past record. I have to be one of the few who have brought sponsors, some huge ones, to that station and yet, whenever I hand them flowers, I feel like they crush them in the dirt in front of my face

Now? What can I do? If I go to war with this child-president, I have every right to cancel all the commercials immediately and without penalty. The story will come out what happened and this president will most likely get into big trouble at his company for writing such an idiotic letter. He could even lose his position if the news got out to famous advertising companies, which it would if we go to war.

But does that do me any good? No. Why?

Because, I can't act like a child like he does or they do. I have to act my age and control my emotions and not seek revenge. I have people working at that station who work for me. Those people are good people and they have wonderful families and mouths to feed. I can't do anything to hurt those people.

There are people on my side, at my company (and inside of our investor - one of the most famous companies in Japan) who are furious about this mail and they want me to take that company president to task. They have every right to think that. After all, if you were paying nearly $12,000 a month and then found out that the person you were paying that money to stated that he didn't want your business and said he didn't want to work with you, wouldn't you want to quit? Of course you would. It is natural and common sense that anyone would. Most people would cancel their cellphone or cable TV service for more minor infractions than that.

But, I can't act like a child like the broadcasting company president. I cannot be like that. So, like I said, I must take my own advice. And, at the same time, this is Japan, I must take personal responsibility for this problem. 

When a business dies or when a team or marriage ends, it is, in a way, a sad day. But, it is also a day for celebration. It is a day of freedom. The chains are removed and you are released. For me, that day has arrived. It is hard for my heart to let go, but let go is the only choice I have.

The other choice is war and war will hurt too many people I care about. I cannot go to war and damage this president; a pyrrhic victory isn't a very good victory at all, is it? The best choice is to be a mature individual and to quietly bow out.

Therefore, I hereby resign for ever doing any work with that company ever again. 

If you ever find yourself in this sort of situation, then take my friend's advice. Walk out the door. There is a better opportunity waiting for you. 

"Save your life and stop. Start doing something else." 

There is a reason for everything.

This was written for T.U. Thanks for everything you've done for me. I won't forget!


Anonymous said...

It seems you've done all you can. Maybe the company will be different in 5-10 years. Maybe it will to the same, or maybe it will go under. Live your life as well as possible, don't try to live someone else's...

boo said...

I feel for you, losing a big sale for these reasons, but an experienced sales professional like you surely knows that decisions like this are made all the time, and whether the company is profitable or not has nothing to do with it.
A company looking for a CRM tool has no shortage of choices. They are well within their rights to choose not to work with a company that hires people they consider to be dicks.
It would seem you weren't aware of your employee's past as a person who is remembered primarily for being a dickwad at this place. The president took the time to write and let you know, and maybe this is a chance for you to work out a plan with that employee to take remedial action.
If it is beyond salvage though, be comforted that you know your employee better now than you did before.

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