Saturday, January 28, 2006

Got Through It All

While wearing feminine, yet conservatively tailored suits with jackets that pretty much covered my ass, I survived my two days conducting "Intro to doing business in Japan" workshops. Now I can stop driving everyone in my immediate vicinity as crazy as I was driving them and go back to just the regular, daily level of crazy driving-ness. I really had myself worked into a frenzy, but I think it was a necessary frenzy. Ever since I moved back here from Japan almost three years ago, I had this idea in my mind that I could market myself as a Japan specialist and use the knowledge and insight gained by spending a dozen years of my life in that country to help local businesses improve their odds of succeeding when doing business with companies in Japan. It kind of makes sense, but it's a big leap to go from minnow nibbling on the fringes of academia to cross-cultural consultant who can walk into a room full of international executives, have them recognize my expertise and authority on the subject and hold their interest and attention for hours while I help them learn what they need to know. It always sounded like a wicked cool idea, but now I can say I actually have done it and, judging from the feedback, done a decent job of it.
Getting the material together was not really a big problem because all that involved was sitting my ass down with all my reference materials, my mental stores of accumulated experiences over more than a decade in Japan and then set to boiling it all down into some sort of logical pattern of organization. What to wear was not as much of a problem as I thought it would be. I went out and bought some suits on sale (yeah! for shopping in January) and some nice pumps and stockings to wear with them and I was good to go for a few hundred dollars, which is a reasonable investment for the future and not more than a third of my fee anyway. What had me so worked up was whether or not I would be able to deliver the goods in the allotted amount of time, or more specifically, what they hell would I do if I ran out of material?
The first day I finished what I had planned to go over with 45 minutes still left to fill. I went ahead and started introducing some of the material I had planned to use on the second day. After the first session I went home and beefed up my Powerpoint presentation with more information regarding specifics that had been brought up during the first day. I figured out where the team would be staying when they visit Japan next month and where they needed to go and included info about transportation options. I learned that correspondence was an issue that had already come up and included some tips on how to make that aspect of communication clearer and how to avoid misunderstandings. I shared a lot of relevant anecdotes about real-life experiences-- my own, those of my friends and those I've read about. I went for four hours straight that second day without a break Several of the participants had to leave for other meetings during my workshop, but they all came back, which I think means they felt what I was doing was worth their time. It also meant I never found a good time to call for a break because it was just as one participant had to leave that another would come back.
It started to feel easier the second day. It started to feel more like one of my classes, but possibly even more laid back in a way because I was dealing with other adults and not with young adults who I sometimes feel I should shield from certain observations in order to be politically correct in a university environment. I think I could do this again and do it even better next time. And it won't have anything to do with my physical assets, which it never really did in the first place. I just enjoy having a sense of humor about that kind of thing.


Bob said...

Covered your ass?!?!!? What fun is that?!!??!

Nicole said...

Well I'm very impressed by your blog. I was looking for information on cultural norms for doing business in Japan, and came across your webpage. Your accounts have slowed down my research :P but made it very interesting. Anyways, wanted to congratulate you on a really good blog!