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Advantages of Being an Outsider

  • You’re Different

    • Being non-Japanese means that you can do things differently and get away with it – you don’t have to observe the same protocols

    • Our company frequently works both top down (foreigner) and bottom up (Japanese colleague)

    • Being different gets you in the door and gets you remembered

  • But it’s Tiresome

    • The novelty factor can wear off quickly, so we have a Japanese keep the door open and work with the second tier managers

    • As the foreigner I go back in every 6 months to stir the cosiness up again

    • Good cop-bad cop routine works really well

  • Lifecycle of Foreigners

    • Foreigners are good at and respected for building new businesses

    • As a foreigner you are a foreign market and foreign technology expert

      • Massive credibility

      • Easy access to senior people interested in innovation and strategy

    • But they eventually have to take a back seat, allowing Japanese to keep the communications channels and order books open

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