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Claudia-san, the salaryman.

Maybe breaking the rules is not so very bad.

Today, I found a pretty interesting website that explains a lot about the corporate sales environment as well as the business culture of Japan. It is rather lengthy, but certainly based on experience. As many of the statements are just what I see, in front of my eyes.

Particularly touching, is the story of Tanaka-san, the salaryman which essentially, revisits many of the things I have talked about in the past. From constrained educational systems, through recruiting process and strict culture. Endless meetings, slow decision making and the process that controls life.

Women may leave the office, but will remain in charge of the family. Just like junior employees do, women will spend their life preparing material, as input for the final approval via consensus among the senior management team or husband, for the household case.

Japan is the country of service. Customer first, for real. What makes your vacation so nice, will make your life so tough. Because local customers are prepared to pay the premium, but their quality expectations are extremely high. This is because of the natural environment I think. When earthquake/tsunami/typhoon hits, failure is not an option. People may die. Rock bottom needs to be excellent, when compared to global standard. Also, that's my personal understanding on why are people cautious and don't take risks - as the impact may be fatal.

It's rewarding to work towards such level of skill, but this requires a lot of time, effort and specially, relationships. In a country where people work for the same company during your whole life, relationships (both internally, with your former colleagues, and externally, with your long-term suppliers) are a key component.

Japanese are loyal. Loyalty, is the hidden trade barrier.

Foreigners coming here, make tones of mistakes. Because we cannot understand (even with the interpreter) that the people in front of them are saying no, but in a polite way. It takes time, but you develop the ability to read their face.

Japanese living here, also make mistakes. I know that manner expectations are much higher on them, because of being part of this strict culture, they sometimes compromise too much. Some people say yes to anything. Not the way to go, either.

Collaboration and mutual understanding is really key in this environment. As a foreigner, you get a chance to peep through this intricate system of relationships, face readings, tradition and skill. Which is extremely fascinating, specially if you have the chance to count on someone more senior that explains things to you. As a local, I guess it can be relaxing (or really annoying) to work with easy going people that may even thank you if you happen to object to them, with a good reason.

I have never felt discriminated. Just that because of the lack of women, I happen to stand out a bit. 

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