The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


December 2013

The WIFM strategy could help further your career

By John Ghanotakis, Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan

What’s in it for me (WIFM)? In almost any professional situation, there is room for you to improve your performance and advance your career.

When communicating, consider the message you want to convey, what could motivate the audience to give you their attention, and then how the reader or listener might think about what you are saying. Reflect this in your pitch.

This fail-safe approach is not only for salespeople. It can be applied to almost any business setting. Moreover, it is especially important in Japan.

WIFM works equally well for an internal memo, a 30-second car commercial, an announcement to clients, or a phone call to set up lunch with a business partner.

This soft skill will help you work with people outside your company, internal teams, and larger groups. In the office it will help you focus on those around you—a leadership skill that works.

Many ACCJ members are in work environments with a rich mix of Japanese and non-Japanese staff. Thus, despite the broad debate regarding personal motivation when people work in teams, you can demonstrate your leadership skills by tailoring your speech, presentation, or memo according to how it is likely to be perceived by your team.

Certainly there are many books about Japanese and American business that cover general themes and business codes. But tailoring your interactions to fit the cultural norms of those with whom you are working is always the best way to earn trust.

Yet remember: within any culture, there are large variables in attitudes and personal experiences.

Applying the tenets of the WIFM approach—which may initially seem self-serving—will motivate you to gain a perspective on the culture and attitudes of your audience.

Imagining another’s thought process can help you empathize with that person. And, in the end, you will benefit.

Applying the WIFM strategy can be particularly advantageous when you are trying to develop a relationship, whether you are interacting with an individual, organization, or a target group.

A case in point is what we three do in organizing the Young Professionals Group Subcommittee. When announcing events, we bear in mind our members and how best to communicate with them.

Of course, sales or business development professionals make careers out of using this kind of technique. However, even if yours is far from a client-focused role, this communication strategy can help your career. By focusing on how to communicate with colleagues, you can develop a detail-focused mindfulness that will enhance your professional performance.

Linking your goals to those of the listener is a great way to create synergy and focus motivation in any business relationship.





John Ghanotakis (chair), Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan (vice chairs) are members of the ACCJ Young Professionals Group Subcommittee.