4 imminent changes Pokemon Go will bring to business


(Source: Pokemon Go official website)

Pokemon Go was released in Japan 2 days ago, where I am currently living with my wife. I was half curious/half annoyed by all the Pokemon hype, but the feeling changes quickly as I downloaded the app and started playing. After playing for 1 day, I realized this cute little game is about to bring massive waves of changes into the way we do IT business. Some may agree and some may not, but I just wanted to write down how I felt about the game after the brief (and on-going) experience.


  1. Rise of true O2O service: Existing so called ‘O2O (offline to online)’ services have been actually not offline to online, but more like web to mobile. By using this service, companies will realize the true ways to utilize O2O service, and many will begin to jump onto the bandwagon as soon as they realize the value of this new O2O aspect. The most beneficial companies will be the ones with many offline stores, such as coffee shop franchises or convenient stores.


  1. New marketing channel: Mcdonald is the first case to use ‘sponsored location’ for Pokemon Go. If you play the game, not only there is a unique feature that you can only play in Mcdonalds, but in-app features even tell you to go to Mcdonalds nearby to be able to get something done and calculate how far the store is from your current location. By using this, SME (small medium enterprise) will be able to attract tons of new customers just by saying ‘we have rare pokemon in our store’. This will be a powerful new marketing channel and existing tools such as SEM or Facebook might get some direct hit from this.


  1. Even more focus on content business: To be honest, I don’t think Pokemon is the strongest content to tie up with AR-based game, although it does appeal to wider audience and probably easy to approach. But they became massively successful, as they were the first-mover and they delivered the game with quality. But imagine if you can do this with other more powerful, engaging contents like Star Wars, Marvel heroes, and maybe even real celebrities. This whole AR mobile game will further strengthen the power of content, and I cannot wait to see which one will be the fastest to bring this into the market.


  1. Instant hype of outdoor products: Let’s say you are the alien from another planet and you have been observing humans for some time. What you will see on the surface is that bunch of humans suddenly going outdoors and walking around for hours with random directions. If you really don’t cover what’s happening inside the app, what can be observed on the surface is that people are just walking a lot more into parks, beaches, and downtown areas compared to pre-Pokemon era. This indicates that outdoor product needs will rise imminently, and sales of sunblock lotion, mosquito repellent, walking shoes, and portable battery will be massively benefiting from this phenomenon.


7 ways to make an offer that cannot be refused (without killing anyone)


(Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/multimedia/archive/00803/c9a1b970-6bc3-11e4-_803974b.jpg )

I have been working as a business consultant, regional marketer, pitching new business investments, and also arguing with my wife to get something I want throughout my business career. (Although the wife part has been relatively new and this one requires a slightly different approach..!)

Based on that, I would like to provide the ‘7 ways to make the offer that cannot be refused’.


  1. Forget your pride. Life is full of strange ironies and this is why what you need to get is often owned by someone you really hate. When I was younger, I used to walk away from this opportunity since it was against my own policy. But as your career grows, your goal is not only about your individual goal, but the whole team’s objective. This means that if you suck up your pride and do this for the team, everyone will win. So for the sake of the team and the objective, you need to focus on the value and let go of your pride.
  2. Minimize their effort, maximize yours. When you are suggesting something to someone, already remember that you are the one initiating this conversation, and you are the one who needs this deal. Hence, you need to tell them in the context of ‘you need to spend a tiny amount of your time and I will take care of the rest’. Otherwise, they will have no reason to drop whatever they were doing and listen to you.
  3. Clearly show the win-win value. Every proposal should be win-win, and it should never be someone doing favor for another. Therefore, clearly specify what kind of value they will win by working with you, and why this opportunity will be better than their current status. If you are able to show clearly how their business will improve by taking this solution, the chance of partnership will greatly increase.
  4. Start with the strongest punch. Now this one could be debatable, but this is what I prefer personally. In Asian culture, people usually start building the relation first, and slowly they get to the business proposal. I find this approach to be 99% failure in my experience, because people thought you were their friends but then you throw in the business which will create a small sense of betrayal. If it is business, start with the strongest/straightforward proposal and then try to win their heart with the first presentation. If first conversation goes well and you successfully build your image as a professional businessperson, chances are everything will go well afterwards. I say it will even be easier to become their friends!
  5. Be a pro, not a bro. Starting out as a friend may not be the best approach, especially in a situation where business is growing rapidly. In that case, everything will be decided on purely business perspective, so any relationship building will be good to have but not the key decision driver. Focus on your professional value rather than approaching them in a casual manner.
  6. Prepare the plan B. I am not saying that going with plan B means you are successful in getting the deal you want. The effect of having a solid plan B is simple: it gives you a safety net in case of failure, and this will ironically enhance your chance of success for plan A, because it will strengthen your level of confidence. Knowing that you have a way out will always help you to stay calm and bring your best quality.
  7. Make sure there is no hidden (or rotten) agenda behind. If there is any internal conflict or political agenda that you are not aware of, your offer will not stand a chance even if you have perfectly done everything above. For example, if your counterpart was already bribed and was going to take another solution other than yours, whatever you deliver will just waste your time and his/her time. This is why you need to spend some time researching for any hidden agenda.





Understanding core product value: Frisk and Michelin

I have been blessed to work in multiple countries throughout my career, and one of the big benefits is that I get to witness and experience many different consumer products based on different market needs. Some countries might have a strong product lineup for dehumidifier due to highly humid weather, while some countries might have a high demand for mosquito repellent due to frequent rain and hot weather. This will show many different aspect of business opportunities, and I would like to share my recent case here.

If your business is not in the IT industry, whatever you are doing might be facing challenges. Any physical material is taking a direct hit from cost increase of the material as earth is getting older everyday, and therefore you constantly need to look for new ways to make profit for your business. When you seek for the new business directions, it is extremely important to consider the following.

  • It is almost always better to have some kind of technological/knowledge leverage from your existing business.
  • Your brand awareness was built over long period of time, therefore you don’t want to damage your existing brand and also want to utilise it whenever possible.
  • New business itself should be profitable, and a rather promising (or proven to be profitable already) area where people will almost certainly spend money.

Based on above, I found the cases.

<Case #1: Frisk expanding into body soap and shampoo area>

As some of you are aware, Frisk is famous for its breath mint candy product. Their product gives extra chill feeling of the mint, and is often related to the image of ice due to its cool, chilly taste. Frisk gained considerable success in many markets, including Japan. in 1995, Frisk even became the first imported product ever in Japan to win the ‘Best product of the year’ award.

The other day, I found out Frisk has decided to expand their business into body soap and shampoo industry. This is amazing example of connecting their core brand image (and probably also the product value) which is the ‘cool, icy feeling’ into the new business. As a consumer, I could immediately expect the Frisk body soap to give me cool, menthol feeling if I use that product to shower, and this means company is saving tons of advertising money to explain its core product value! (FYI, I ended up buying the body soap and have been happily taking showers with Frisk until today)

Here is the picture of the product.


(Image source: http://getnavi.jp/wps/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gn160512-03-1-760×348.jpg)

<Case #2: Michelin partnering with Under Armour>

Michelin is a famous car tire company that almost everyone knows. This French company has been around the market since 1889, which means it is not more than 127 years old. Michelin has been using its friendly ‘Michelin man (the man covered with multiple tires)’ mascot since 1894, a few years after the company’s birth. They are well known tire company with good quality up to this date.

I found out that Michelin also began an interesting new business, or a new partnership. I discovered this while I went shopping for my flip flops in Tokyo. Michelin now has a partnership with an athletic sportswear company ‘Under Armour’! Michelin is famous for its comfort as a rubber tire, and they use the same core value to supplement for the cushion of athletic shoes..! I was immediately tempted to try on the Michelin-based shoes, and it was unbelievably comfortable and bouncy. I see this as a win-win case, as Under Armour can benefit from Michelin’s brand and Michelin can also successfully step into the new business area.

Here is the photo for your reference. (and notice the clear logo on the bottom!)


I think these are great examples of clearly understanding their core product value and also a very valid attempt to link the value with other relevant industries. I definitely hope to see more of these attempts, meanwhile I will begin to bust my brain to find what I can do for my current company.


PS I bought both products.. greatly satisfied!

Content convergence: The next big wave

I still remember vividly. Our professor said that the big debate was the device convergence, and everyone was speculating who will become the one to unify the device world. Phone, camera, mp3 music player, electronic dictionary.. they were all going after the ‘trophy of single device’ so that they can be the center of the convergence when it happens. Result? This American company called Apple came up with something called ‘iPhone’ and then you know what happened next.

It’s been almost 10 years since the first iPhone was introduced into the market and became the single survivor that converges all the others, and now I think another big convergence will happen very soon. And this time, I don’t think it will be on the hardware level. Of course there will be some hardware or technology integration, but my personal expectation is that the biggest convergence will happen on the format.


The content format.


I recently played a few games on Playstation 4 and realized that the story of the game is now just like- or maybe even more engaging than- good movies you can watch on screen. Actually, some of these games are becoming so real: ‘Call of Duty’ series already hired an Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey to play one of the characters, and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ series used the actual map of LA in the game, and Japanese game ‘Yakuza’ series took it even further and placed the actual stores within the game and allowed players to go into the store and buy the actual products.



<Yakuza: Screenshot of actual store named ‘Don quijote’ in Shinjuku>

(Source: http://www.4gamer.net/games/094/G009425/20100126050/TN/001.jpg)


<Call of Duty Advanced warfare: Screenshot of Kevin Spacey>

(Source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/qglaz4cyuTM/hqdefault.jpg)



At the same time, online videos are also evolving and now there are 360 degree videos available. Users can look around and sometimes even interact with the surroundings. With the development of VR (Virtual reality) platform, this content format is expected to become very hot very soon.

Movies are also improving with 3D glasses and also 4D experiences, although the degree of reality is probably behind VR or games mentioned above. But since movie is the most widely accepted form of media among the mentioned, movie industry still has a lot of potential to change and improve.

In the end, I expect movies + games + online videos will become a single format, so that viewers can interact with the content and potentially impact the storyline. One of the basic motivations of watching movie is to be able to see yourself as a different identify (i.e. superhero, historical person, animal, etc), and this type of content format will further allow viewers to feel that. Everyone will take a few extra steps into the story, and impact the ending in the way they prefer. This kind of viewership change will bring a few big opportunities:


  • Viewer will watch the same movie multiple times, to experience different endings.
  • Product placement marketing will become super effective, as the story will be more engaging compared to traditional movies.
  • New devices such as VR viewers (for viewership) or Gopro (for production) will be widely sold, and they might even begin to have additional features such as listening to music or calling your friend.
  • The data collected from the popular user scenario will become extremely valuable indicator for consumer companies, and will be utilized for other movies.


With Oculus and a few other companies beginning to seriously commercialize VR tech, I hope to see this content convergence happen quickly, so that I can enjoy the movie in my own way. I personally expect the game industry to take lead on this, as I think they are the ones who really know how to create the most engaging interactive storyline, but we will see what happens.

Replying to ‘Is my salary enough to move to Singapore?’

A good friend of mine sent me an email the other day to ask me that one of his acquaintances is considering to move to Singapore for this job offer. He specified the amount, and he asked me if it would be enough to be moving to Singapore. I replied back to him, but wanted to share what I wrote as I think this could apply to many other cases. Please note that the view is my own, and the opinion can be different by people.

Here goes the reply.


(Source: http://www.relocation-today.com/cmsadmin/uploads/fish_out_istock_000019866253xsmall-1.jpg)


First, I needed to clarify a few things before providing my view.
– How many years of job experience do you have? (My guess was less than 3 years here)
– How motivated are you in terms of moving to Singapore? (My guess was ‘somewhat’)
– What is your most important values when it comes to making a career choice? (salary, brand, learning, culture, etc)
Please note that my view will be based on general perspective, not specific to certain situation.
1. Cost of living: It is very high. Draft beer will be $10~14 and housing will cost you around $1,000 monthly (assuming that you are not married). You won’t be saving much (or at all) with salary range you think is questionable. I joined as a manager level and couldn’t save much. (but I spent a little more on housing, but didn’t take any vacation) Basically, you won’t be going to Singapore to save money unless you are a director level or above. If you go to Singapore, you go there for something else.
2. Work experience: 3 top cities to have on your resume will be New York, London, and Singapore as they are the cities with most amount of expats. Working in those cities automatically says you speak good English, competitive, intelligent, and also embraces adventures which is another big hidden factor of successful global career. Work will be tough especially in terms of quality (in Korea or some Asian countries, work is tough ONLY in terms of quantity, but almost never in terms of quality). So if you want to learn and have more career choices in the next 3-5 years, Singapore might be the best choice. (Especially if you don’t speak Chinese)
3. Position: I strongly suggest to evaluate the value of the position before looking at the salary. If the position itself has a lot of value, your compensation will come to you in the next job you get, even though your current salary might be a little low. It’s the learning that counts, especially when you are young. (I am assuming he has less than 3 years of job experience) If the position has enough value (i.e. key strategic role, digital/mobile oriented, client facing, etc), then salary should be less of a factor.
4. Next move: Things will be more clear if you ask yourself about what you plan to do when you leave this company. Do you want to go to a competitor company in Singapore? Do you want to stay there for more than 5 years? Do you want to come back to your home country and get married? Do you want to study more and try for an MBA degree? If you know what the next move will be, it should become an easier question to answer whether moving to Singapore (or any other country) is a right choice or not. If you don’t know what to do next, moving to Singapore might be dangerous, as it is not a place you can survive without having a solid plan.
I think above 4 factors will be quite enough to evaluate this opportunity. I have also written a blog about relocating to Singapore and their working culture, so you might want to take a look. Here is the address.

12 steps of relocating to Japan: The land of papers and processes


(Source: http://cdnimg.expatfinder.com/images_html/Moving_to_Tokyo_-_ExpatFinder_Tokyo_Guide_1.jpg)

It’s been 4 painful weeks since I relocated to Tokyo for my new job, and I would like to share every details of this nightmare so that hopefully I can save at least a few people from this horrible headache.


Basically, here are a few things you need to keep in mind before we begin.


  1. Everything will be in Japanese, so please make sure to learn at least how to read the Japanese alphabet. Otherwise, you will need someone to help you the whole time.
  2. All procedures will take more time than expected, so expect delays.
  3. If anything is not in the manual, it cannot be done.
  4. You will re-enjoy the good old system of paper mail (I confirm this is NOT email, but a physically touchable paper you send through post office, which takes days and weeks to arrive), and also fax machine.


Keeping the above in mind, let me begin.


  1. COE: your employer will issue the COE, which is short for ‘Certificate of Eligibility’. Please keep in mind that this is definitely NOT work visa, but a previous step for getting the work visa. After you get COE, you need to take this to the Japanese embassy office in your country, and apply for work visa. COE will also arrive to you by mail (NOT the email, but the paper mail), so expect this to take at least a few weeks.


  1. Work visa: After you get the COE, you can take the original document with your passport and go to Japanese embassy office in your country to apply for work visa. If you go in the morning, it will take about 1.5 days to get it. If not, it will take about 2 days. (In my case, the visa came out 2 days before my departure to Japan, so make sure this doesn’t happen to you)


  1. Arrival + Residence card (Zairyu-cado): When you arrive at the airport, you need to show certain documents to the custom. They will go through your documents and issue you a residence card on the spot. (by the way, this is the part where you will begin to face massive amount of Japanese language, so please be prepared. Nobody will understand the word ‘residence card’ ever, so please get used to the term ‘zai-ryu-ca-do’ which is Japanese for residence card.


  1. Getting the address on Zai-Ryu-ca-do: This is an EXTREMELY important step, because without the local address, you cannot do anything in Japan. Anything here includes making phone, getting home, credit card, bank account, everything you can imagine. If you say that you will stay at a temporary residence, they will put ‘Not determined’ on the address section. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. Most likely you will stay at a long-term residence (not hotel, because hotel will be too expensive to stay for 2-3 weeks), so just make sure you have your residence’s address and put that address in the card. I made a terrible mistake of not doing this, and this gave me ridiculous amount of pain and rejection for the next 2 weeks.


  1. Getting the prepaid phone: Without the local address, you cannot get the local phone. But, WITHOUT THE LOCAL PHONE, YOU CANNOT GET THE HOUSE. I felt like I was stuck in some kind of wonderland here, but soon I realized the way out of this loop is to get a prepaid phone in Japan. You can use this prepaid number to apply for house, and with the house, you can get the smartphone. Therefore, THIS IS THE FIRST KEY TO YOUR SURVIVAL. In Japan, there are 3-4 telecom companies, which are NTT Docomo, Softbank, AU, and Y-mobile. Among these companies, ONLY SOFTBANK has the prepaid phones. Also, ONLY ROPPONGI STORE SELLS THEM. (Roppongi is a name of a place in Tokyo, which is known for having lots of foreigners) I found this out by hard way, by visiting around 10 Softbank stores to face a very kind and polite rejection of ‘we don’t sell prepaid phones here’. The best way is to get a prepaid number in the airport right after your arrival, but if the flight arrives after 9pm, go to Roppongi store. It is right here. https://www.google.co.jp/maps/place/%E3%82%BD%E3%83%95%E3%83%88%E3%83%90%E3%83%B3%E3%82%AF%E5%85%AD%E6%9C%AC%E6%9C%A8/@35.6632165,139.7287337,16z/data=!4m5!1m2!2m1!1sroppongi+softbank!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x649d66d4957a8153?hl=en


  1. Getting the stamp (Han-ko): In Asia, there is a culture of having a personal stamp to use for official documents. This works just like the signature in Western culture. You need to get this in order to get a house and other bunch of stuff. はんこ(pronounced Han-Ko) is how you write ‘stamp’ in Japanese, so you can use this word to search for any stamp maker in the city via Google maps. You can have your last name in English, and this will take about 1~2 hours to make. The cost should be USD 20~30 in most cases.


  1. Getting the stamp registered: After getting the stamp, you need to go to ward office and register your stamp. But of course, like any other step, you will face the irony of ‘you need to address to register your stamp, but you need a stamp to get a house’. So what I did was, once you get the initial document of your house, just use the stamp without registration, and register right after you get the house approval from the real estate agency. Registering will take about an hour, and they will issue a ‘stamp registration card’ which looks like a credit card of some sort. This will also cost you a few dollars. Ward office is in every district, but they also have branches all over the cities so make sure to find the one close to your office your house. (otherwise, this is another 30~40-minute trip)


  1. Getting the house: Actually, this step should start around step 3, which means it is better to find a house or at least an area to live before you actually get to Japan. There are many real estate agencies, but I recommend Able (http://www.able.co.jp) as they are big and they have many branches to help you. If you specify your conditions, they will come up with around 10 recommendations and take you around with their car. A few things to watch out here is: Tatami (Japanese traditional flooring) is not recommended as it may smell a little weird, having a garbage disposal system within the apartment will save you tons of trouble, you need permission for having any kind of pet, and most importantly, IF YOU DON’T SPEAK JAPANESE, YOU MIGHT GET REJECTED BY THE LANDLORD. So make sure you can speak at least a few words, so that you can impress them. Once you find an English speaking real estate agent, he/she will take care of most things.


  1. Paying for house contract: In Japan, you usually have to pay for 3 months rental in the beginning, so make sure you have enough cash. 1 month rental is a deposit, and 1 month rental is for the first/last month. Also, there is this thing called ‘Rei-Kin’, which is a pocket money you need to pay to the landlord. You cannot get this back, and this is usually 1 month fee. If you decide to move in during off-season (maybe during summer/winter break of schools), then there are ‘No-Reikin’ promotions quite often. If you are lucky, you might not need to pay for this. Oh, and the management fee is excluded from the monthly fee, so make sure you also check the management fee amount. By the way, from finding the house to moving in usually takes more than 2 weeks, so you might want to book at least 2 weeks on your temporary residence. In my case, I moved into a new home at the end of 2nd week, which was considered to be impossibly quick.


  1. Getting a smartphone: If you got to this stage, I encourage you to have a beer and pat yourself on the back, because you have done a lot already. If you have your house and your stamp, you can go to the telecom store and make the phone easily. To ensure a smooth process, I recommend you to go to the Roppongi store (the same store you went to make the prepaid phone) because they always have employees who can speak great English. This will also take about an hour, sometimes could be even two hours depending on situations.


  1. Getting a furniture: Most houses in Japan are unfurnished, meaning you need to buy them from the store yourself. I tried to buy a bed and carry it myself, but it took me less than 2 seconds to realize that this was a stupid idea. What you can do is to go to the furniture store and order directly to your home. (and of course, please keep in mind that NOBODY in the store will speak English, so prepare yourself somehow) I recommend Nitori (https://www.nitori-net.jp/store/ja/ec) as they have relatively cheap but good quality furniture. IKEA is also in Japan, but it is really far away from downtown Tokyo, so I suggest you go to Nitori. One other thing to keep in mind is that ‘Houses in Japan are super small’. What I strongly suggest is that you always bring a measuring tape, and measure your room size in detail, and buy the appropriate furniture accordingly. Otherwise, your pretty furniture might not go into your room!


  1. Credit card, bank account, internet connection, etc: I am on week 5 but still haven’t finished the rest of the processes here. But I suppose this is where you just need to be patient and just wait for them to send you the mail. You will not face any rejection, as now you have three most important elements of Japan life: House, phone, stamp. So be patient and apply for these things. I don’t have any specific recommendation in terms of which bank or internet company might be better for you or foreigners in general.



Hope this helps. (Actually, this WILL help you) Once you go through these painful steps in the beginning, great things are waiting for you. Kind people, great quality/variety food, endless entertainment, crazy toys.. all for you to enjoy. Welcome to Japan!

Why one incompetent manager will do triple damage to your company


I recently realized that the ultimate homework of all the companies are ‘how to successfully identify and get rid of incompetent middle managers’. Everyone knows they are damaging the company culture and performance, but I came to realize that the damage they do is actually far worse than it looks. Here are the three additional damage they do to the company.

1. High performers will be discouraged and leave the company

If you allow incompetent managers to stay, they will discourage the high performers as they will see that you don’t need to do the best job to become a manager. This will lower the overall performance standard, and high performers will begin to lose motivation. If this continues, high performers will begin to think that performance is not recognized in this company, and they will look for other opportunities where high performance and industry knowledge matters. And very often, this kind of opportunities are offered from the competitor companies. Another aspect is that incompetent managers cannot do the job themselves, so they have to rely on high performers for getting the job done. But of course, managers get the credit and high performers don’t. Another reason for them to leave the company.

 2. Incompetent manager will bring in more incompetent people

For incompetent managers, high performers become a big threat to their survival. Therefore, they will block the high performers from getting the well-deserved recognition, and instead bring in the similar incompetent people who will keep the performance standard low. Having more incompetent people within the team will bring more pressure to the high performers, as the workload usually increases with the headcount. This will accelerate the process for high performers to leave the team, and the business performance will quickly drop without the good people.

3. Juniors in the company will not learn anything (or learn the wrong ways to survive)

This might be the worst problem of all. Junior employees will either not learn anything at all, or learn the wrong way to survive within the company. Not all juniors are equipped with potential to become a great leader, and not all of them will be able to do it without the help of a good mentor. If all they see in the company is ‘smart/hard working people get their rewards stolen, and incompetent/political people win all the time’, this will become their understanding of company culture and therefore result in additional case of wrongdoing. Leaders in any market is partially responsible for growing the economy, and letting the juniors go the wrong way will definitely have negative impact within 5-7 years.