Friday, December 7, 2012

"Japan's Mojo No Go No Mo!" or: Non-Genki Corporate Japan Culture Ver. 2012

There's lots of reasons why the Japanese economy is in the crapper. For a brief rant on that and a few reasons why see: Japan is Collapsing.

But besides the usual suspects in Japan's economic mess, there is another, more subtle player in action here that I think many people have missed. And that is that today's Japanese Corporate environment is not "Genki" at all anymore.

What does "Genki" mean? According to "Genki" means, "Genki" is a fantastic Japanese word that means "fun", "lively", "energetic", "full of life."

This being Genki is important. It is like Feng Shui! Feng Shui says, in a nutshell, that if your business or life is to be positive, energetic and lively, then don't have things like dead plants at the front door; don't have dirt and filth around; keep it clean. Great ideas and things are nor borne from dirt and filth; they are born from cleanliness... After all, they do also say, in the west that, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." (read more at: Feng Shui means, "Make More Money!")

In my opinion, one of the big problems with today's Japan and the economy in general is the lack of "Genki" in todays corporate Japan. I think it is well agreed upon that mood is a very important factor in the market economy. And when mood is bad, how can people be positive? It's like Japan is under a curse or something.

It didn't used to be this way.... In the 80s, it was an entirely different ballgame.... In the 80s, the Japanese were Gung-ho as hell. Sometimes it was a bit scary.... I remember those days when people felt that, besides going the extra 150 miles, they had to dress and act like they were going those extra miles too... There was a director at a radio station who showed up for work every morning in a three-piece suit! What the hell for? At the station, no one outside was going to see him. It was just us four or five people and we were all in jeans and T-Shirts.

I asked him why he dressed like that and he told me that it was to "Show the world that I am ready to take over!" He really did say that. He was the Zeitgeist of the Japan of the mid-80s. 

Today? Guys like him seem long gone.

Let me tell you how it is today. Let me tell you about a place I go to work at once a week...

I work at a company that is full of the most un-Genki, unfriendly people, you could ever have the "pleasure" of meeting. 

I always walk in with a big smile and say "Hi!" and "Hello!" to everyone. Even to people I don't even know! Doing that makes me feel good. And you know what they say, "When you feel good, you look good."

When Mike Rogers walks into that company, everyone knows it. The people there always laugh and smile when I come in... Perhaps some people think I am a brash and ostentatious foreigner... But, generally speaking, I know people there like me. I like to think of myself and one of the "fun" people who gets things done and does a top-quality professional job doing so - and doing that while having fun.

The other day I had some fantastically fresh and deeeeee-licious Tuna Fish Jerky I got from my friend David and I walked into the office with them and gave out 40-some packs to all the staff. It was an early Christmas!

I don't want to give too many details about this particular company but I can tell you that they are involved in the entertainment business. Get it? They are supposed to be entertaining people but the place is like a funeral. When I walked in, the atmosphere was quiet and solemn, as usual. 

I shouted "Merry Christmas!" and started throwing packs of Tuna Jerky (did I say the stuff is awesomely delicious? I did? OK) onto everyone's desk. They all smiled brightly and laughed. Then, I went into the next room and did the same. It was fun.

That's what it is like when I, and a few other people, go there. I like bringing light and brightness to people... Other times at that station? When new people walk in, no one even greets them and says,  Welcome!" It's like a funeral parlor; dead, lifeless and grim.

It didn't used to be that way... Like I said, in the 80s, Japanese companies were like beehives; the atmosphere was often electric and buzzing with excitement. Now? Walking into far too many Japanese companies is like walking into the office to get your drivers licence: Dark, damp, and dusty.

What happened?

I remember offices in the eighties when anyone would walk through the front door all the employees would stand up and say, "Ohayou Gozaimasu!" They all did that. Sure, most of the staff probably didn't want to do so, but the boss made them do it. The boss made them act Genki. The boss created that corporate culture....

Where are those bosses today?

Now, at so many companies, when you walk in, not a single person looks at you and says a word. If it keeps going this way, it's going to get like death and that Kurosawa film, "Ikiru." People sitting around and waiting to die...

It's a sad state of affairs and one, I think, that has to be fixed before this country can be Genki both spiritually and economically again. Until then, like I said, "Japan's Mojo no go no mo!"

Come on Japan! Get with the program!


Andrew Joseph said...

I would be lying if I didn't admit that Canada seems to be the same as far as corporate un-genkiness goes. I am the oddball... the one who is nearly 50 but is well known in the office for always having a smile. It should be the other way around... the one we should all know is the ONE person who doesn't smile. Watashi-wa genki desu.

Andrew Joseph said...

I have never had tuna jerky. It sounds awesome!

Anonymous said...

Hope for mojo:
1 Happy Youth in Desperate Country
2 Youth of the ice age

mike in tokyo rogers said...

THANK YOU ANONYMOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Oh, wait a minute... I watched the video.... Maybe not... Nihilism?... OR, maybe... Goddamn... I'm getting old.... No. Not "maybe.".... I am.....

Anonymous said...

Something I wanted to ask the other day, but didn't:

Is it possible to regain Mojo after it's been lost?

I'm starting to think, no.

- IndividualAudienceMember

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