The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Breaking with Convention

By Brandi Goode

Before moving to Asia in 2009, I worked in the marketing department of a cosmetics manufacturer. One day our Spanish CEO arrived with a gift for everyone on the team, a bright red volume he deemed required reading.

This month’s cover story features the author of that very same marketing bible, the man beyond Lovemarks and the global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts.

Our ACCJ Journal interview was quite unlike any I’ve ever experienced. Roberts’ straight-shooting demeanor, disarming candor, and glaring conviction to be the best really got me thinking, and I hope readers enjoy the text as much as I enjoyed our round of table football (I only let him win out of respect, no matter what they say).

Perhaps what Japan needs to kick-start the next era of economic prosperity is more mavericks of the Kevin Roberts or Tadashi Yanai breed.

New digs
Although the new CBRE offices may not boast any fussball or billiards tables, as does the Tokyo headquarters of Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon, the company’s new way of working is anything but conventional.

Most of the offices I’ve seen in Japan are thankfully cubicle-free; but there is still a sense of ownership that seems to prevail over one’s desk territory and, perhaps, the red stapler or fountain pen you love so much.

Promoting mobility in a workspace facilitates, even necessitates, sharing with those around you, which can only lead to improved collaboration. From the sound of it, the new café at the CBRE office is another huge draw.

It makes sense that well-fed, well-caffeinated employees are more likely to pour their energy into their jobs. These are simple yet effective means for driving productivity and “happy bunnies,” to borrow a turn of phrase from Kevin Roberts.

Collaboration is the theme of another section this month, on the mutual efforts of the ACCJ and the European business community here, represented through the advocacy-oriented European Business Council (EBC) and the 18 chambers of commerce of EU nations.

As we all look ahead to the future of Abenomics, in addition to the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, there are bound to be plenty of opportunities for joining forces.

On the social front, signup has begun for the 12th annual Mercedes-Benz Japan Cup, sponsored by the ACCJ, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and the EBC. The North American contingent won the trophy last year, but the October event promises yet another fierce battle on the green, all for a good cause.

August is typically a quiet month at the chamber, as many members and staff will be away for summer holidays. Perhaps you want to hone your golf skills during the break to clinch the Cup for the fifth time in a row—but who’s counting. •



Brandi Goode