Thursday, August 31, 2006

I want to introduce a very talented man whom I had the opportunity of knowing for the past several years. He is, in my opinion, one of the best Financial Gurus, I have ever known. He is able to take very complex economic and finance issues and write them in a way that anyone can understand.

Mr. John Kim of Smartknowledge UT

Here is his latest and most insightful article.

> Subject: Ezine Issue #015: Does McDonalds Really Sell Burgers and Fries?
> Does McDonalds Really Sell Burgers and Fries?
> What does McDonalds really sell? And what about Nike? I know what
> you're thinking. You're thinking what in the world does understanding McDonalds'
> and
> Nike's marketing strategy have to do with building wealth. As you'll
> discover in this article, understanding this has everything to do with
> how successful you'll be in building wealth.
> So what does McDonalds sell?
> If you guessed hamburgers, fries and milkshakes, guess again.
> Your second guess is probably wrong too. Because I know with today's
> marketing industry obsession with "lifestyle" marketing, most people
> believe that McDonalds sells a feeling of comfort and a
> family-friendly atmosphere. Just look at their Happy Meals, the fact
> that the only fictional character more recognizable than Ronald
> McDonald is Santa Claus, their frequent Disney promotion tie-ins, and
> their "You Deserve a Break Today" jingle. But McDonalds doesn't sell
> comfort either.
> Pure and simple, McDonalds sells real estate. If the quality of the
> food were McDonald's number one concern, then people wouldn't become
> obese from eating their food and you wouldn't be shocked to find out
> what's inside your meat (Just read the book Fast Food Nation if you
> really want to know what's in your Big Mac. If you're too lazy to read
> the book, good news - there is a Hollywood version of the book coming
> soon to a theater near you). In 1968, McDonalds operated just 1,000
> restaurants. Less than 40 years later, it operated over 30,000
> restaurants and opens 2,000 new restaurants every year.
> As I said, McDonalds sells real estate. If you still don't believe me,
> Ray Krok's (the owner of McDonalds) right-hand man and business
> partner, Harry Sonneborn, once stated, "We are in the real estate
> business. The only reason we sell [ ] hamburgers is because they are
> the greatest producer of revenue from which our tenants can pay us
> rent." Of all the major fast food franchises, McDonalds is the only
> one that owns or holds the lease on their restaurants.
> That makes them one of the largest landlords in the United States. And
> the cost to buy one of their franchises? About a cool USD $500,000.
> Actually that's cheap compared to the USD $1,500,000 franchise tag per
> restaurant for their major competitors. But their competitors don't
> own or hold the leases on their restaurants. That's the difference.
> And What about Nike? What do they sell?
> Given that Nike does not own a single sneaker factory or have a single
> person directly involved in manufacturing their sneakers on their
> payroll, it is most definitely not shoes. They outsource every single
> step of the manufacturing process so they can spend the greatest
> percent of their annual budget every year on marketing. Nike's largest
> budget percentage is overwhelmingly allocated every to their designs
> and marketing department. And what do these employees do?
> They manufacture "ideas" and "dreams".
> Before Nike paid Michael Jordan more than enough money that he could
> ever possibly know what to do with, the sneakers every kid wanted on
> their feet when they went back to school were Adidas. Nikes were what
> kids wore when you couldn't afford Adidas. Back then, Run DMC cut a
> track titled "My Adidas", not "My Nikes". Back then, Adidas had the
> respect of the all demographically-important hip-hop community, not
> Nike. When Nike realized that the key to success was to sell not
> shoes, but the concept that wearing Nikes would make you a better
> athlete, make you "cooler", would make you stronger, run longer, run
> faster, give you more endurance, even make you jump higher "just like
> Mike", only then did they started selling more shoes than anyone else.
> In
> fact, before they hired Michael Jordan to promote their ideas, Nike
> was losing so much money that they almost went bankrupt. But few
> people remember those days. In fact, this strategy of selling ideas
> proved so successful that Nike even coined a term for it.
> They call this process "bro-ing" (Source: No Logo, by Naomi Klein, p. 75).
> They
> would take their prototype shoes to the inner-city playgrounds of
> Philly, Chicago, and New York, approach young kids, and say "Hey bro,
> check out the shoes" to build a buzz around them (this stuff is just
> too good to ever make up). Nike shoe designer Aaron Cooper stated that when he went on a "bro-ing"
> expedition in Harlem in New York City, that kids would tell him that
> Nike was the most important thing in their lives. Number two was their
> girlfriend.
> Nike
> determined from that point on, they were going to "bro" people to death.
> Since
> that decision, Nike has long replaced Adidas as the "it" sneaker among
> the "in-crowd". Simply put, Nike is a brilliant marketing company.
> So what do the big global investment firms sell?
> The big investment firms employ some very sharp minds as well. They
> understand that selling a customer a dream and not reality will gather
> more assets.
> That's
> why they don't attempt to sell you great returns even though this is
> undoubtedly one of the very top things that every investor wants. How
> else can you explain why most investment firms always tell you never
> to expect more than 6% to 10% maximum returns a year from your stock
> portfolio? Do those returns sound dreamy to you? If this was their
> major marketing campaign, how many private wealth management clients
> do you think they would have?
> Can you imagine a slogan: "Because we make you 8% a year"?
> Somehow I don't think such a slogan would drum up much business. So
> the global investment houses, just like McDonalds, have figured out a
> way to sell you something else instead. Because they are not
> interested in trying to earn more than 6% to 10% a year for you, and
> this concept could never be sold as a dream, they sell you trust, and
> in the case of a post 9-11 America, sometimes even shamelessly sell
> national pride. Just look at some of the slogans they have used.
> Prudential. "Growing and Protecting Your Wealth". Merrill Lynch.
> "We're bullish on America". And Goldman Sachs: "We Stress Teamwork in
> Everything We Do."
> The message has always been, "Trust us, because we know what we're doing.
> Since
> we're the authorities, if we can't earn you more than 6% to 10% a
> year, then you certainly won't be able to do any better on your own."
> And in the case of Merrill Lynch's slogan of "We're Bullish on
> America", if that's true, I'd like to take a look at their CEO's stock
> portfolio in mid-2006 and see exactly how much of his portfolio is
> allocated to the U.S. stock markets. If you so desire, you can trust
> them right down the path of mediocrity when it comes to performance.
> A simple way to determine what is the core of a company's mission is
> not to read their mission statement, but to observe what companies
> spend all their time and money doing.
> McDonald's spends all their time and money building new restaurants.
> Conclusion: McDonald's #1 goal is to sell as much real estate as
> possible through selling what enables their tenants to pay rent - fast food.
> Nike spends the lion's share of their budget on marketing.
> Conclusion: Nike's #1 goal is to brand itself as the "it" brand to own.
> Global investment firms spend all their time and money training their
> financial consultants how to gather more assets.
> Conclusion: Global investment firms' #1 goal is to gather as many
> assets as they can, not to maximize the returns of your portfolio.
> If you really are skeptical of this, just call up you financial
> consultant and ask him (or her) how he spends all of his time every
> day. Ask him (or her) to describe an average day to you and calculate
> how much of every day is actually spent in activities that will
> maximize the return of your portfolio versus how much of every day is
> spent in activities that will maximize the amount of additional assets
> gathered for the firm. And therein lies your answer.
> --
> J.S. Kim
> Managing Director
> SmartKnowledgeUT

Mr. John Kim's website is Http:// Here is his active blog:

Which are you more concerned about? 50 of your critics or the 25 customers who like doing business with you? The answer is obvious you focus on the 25 customers and ignore the 50 critics. It's that simple. At times, you can't be the sunshine to everyone and at all times but you try to focus on what you can do now for the people/customers who need your help.

It is great to receive constructive criticism and learn from them but don't pay much attention to the gossip. Rumors abound in Tokyo but at the end of the day, it's results that count and your reputation among true business professionals.

That's it for now! TGIF and have a great day!


Friday, August 25, 2006

Yes, do soul searching but don't take forever!

The opportunity or path that you were meant to take in life won't stay in front of you forever. This isn't my poor attempt to have you just take any opportunity in front of you but to act decisively when you have made your decision.

In my life and career, I have been given choices to make as to where my career should follow. At times, despite what friends would suggest, family members would say or mentors, I followed my "inner voice". I find that when you have listend to all the opinions, suggestions, advice and recommendations, what works best is what your "inner voice" says you should do. Of course, sometimes outside advice can be helpful and should be considered but at the end of the day, it's your decision and your life! You know yourself, what your strengths and weaknesses are and where you'd like to be now and in the future so go follow it no matter what people say. Who knows better about you then yourself? We look forward to speaking to your inner voice soon.

Thank you for your positive feedback on my blogs.

We appreciate all the new people we met these past two weeks and welcome them
to our inner circle. Congratulations to all those candidates we helped recently on
accepting excellent offers!

Have a nice weekend and talk to you soon.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Reality check - for clients.

I have been witnessing the trend of IT companies offering positions to highly qualified engineers after the 1st or 2nd interviews. What used to be quite rare is now becomming the norm. My advice to any clients who interviews our engineering candidates (SEs, PMs, Pre/Post Sales, CTOs and others) is to offer the position when you feel the person is a good fit and as soon as possible. Good Engineers most likely are interviewing with 2 - 5 other potential employers before they sit down with you since the job market has picked up steam since early 2006. Therefore, you must be very aggressive in offering the position for the right candidate quickly with a good competitive package. If you think you can buy a Porshe for the price of a Daihatsu, it's not going to happen so go all out and beat the competition by getting the best people fast. Money isn't everything but sometimes it does take Cold Hard Cash to hire the right people. It will help any company to build a great team by hiring the best quickly.

Well, got to get back on phones.


Sunday, August 06, 2006


(a photo I took on my cell phone this year's Ohanami)

To our Candidates:

First of all, thank you very much for giving me your trust and allowing us to partner with you in your job search. Even with the many calls, emails and inquiries we have been receiving lately, we will always try to respond to you within 24 hours.
I am online for most part of the day as most of you know but feel free to call me on my cellphone at anytime. In this highly competitive market, it is best to be open to hearing about career opportunities even if you are comfortable and happy at your present postion. The ideal job may be here and may not be avaialble when you are ready. Timing is everything and when the conditions are right, the people are great, you get the opportunity to use your skills and expereince and learn new ones, you should go and take it. With us on your side, we're going to help you with each step and with you throughout the whole process. Just as the best Hollywood stars have great agents, so should you!

We are now designing a new website and will let you know soon.

Latest hot position:

HR Manager - Consumer goods company- to manage a a small HR team and to be in charge of the HR department. Reporting to the CFO and pays 15 million yen total. Let me know if you are interested in this position. High English Fluency, native Japanese language ability. 10 years of HR experience required.

Systems Engineers are needed by 5 clients.
Ask me for details.

Take care and hoping to hear from you soon.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

10 Questions you should ask during an Interview.

I found this article on the web, LA Times

Not all may apply but it gives you some good tips on the "artful conversation" that you will be having with our clients during an interview. Thanks, Al

LA Times, May 2005

When preparing for an interview, most applicants concentrate on formulating well-crafted answers to potential questions from their interviewers. However, not many realize it is just as important to prepare a few good questions they should ask during the interview.

"When interviewing job applicants, I often learn as much from the questions they ask as from the responses they give," said John Langland, president of Langland & Langland Consulting. "What potential employees inquire about reveals what they deem important -- as opposed to merely answering my questions with information they think I will find important."

What can asking questions in an interview do for you?

Show your interest in the position and the company

Give you an active role in the interview

Offer explanations about the position and the company, which help you decide if you want to work for that organization

Showcase the depth of your knowledge and help you guide the discussion into a particular area of expertise

Langland suggests preparing at least three questions in advance and taking notes during the interview to record the responses.

"A few insightful, knowledgeable questions can speak volumes about you and distinguish you from other job candidates," he said. "However as important as asking questions is asking bad questions, such as, 'How many vacation days does the company offer?' is worse."

Langland advises asking these 10 questions during your next interview:

1. What are the top three tasks you want the candidate to perform after being hired?

This gives you a concrete idea of the projects you will be working on if hired. Often job ads list general qualities and capabilities the position requires, but the answer to this question will lay out the actual specifics of the job.

2. Why did you choose this company?

The answer will help you determine the organization's strengths and weaknesses with this insider's perspective.

3. How do you see me benefiting the company?

This tells you exactly what they're looking for in a candidate and where they see your strengths.

4. Is there room for growth and advancement?

This points to your drive and initiative and underscores your intent to secure a career, not just a job.

5. Are there opportunities for professional training or further education?

This shows a willingness to learn and adapt as changes in the position or industry occur. Adaptability is very important in today's fickle employment market and may make you very valuable to the company should a reorganization occur.

6. How will I be evaluated and by whom?

This provides insight into the company's corporate culture and the department structure in which you will be working.

7. What is the general culture of the company?

This can tell you if you will fit into the organization. If they're strictly a "suit and tie" operation and you're all about comfort clothes, you may want to rethink the position.

8. Are there other job responsibilities not mentioned in the ad or Recruiter?

This reveals exactly what the ad meant when it said: "...and other duties as assigned." Will you be helping other departments in a pinch? Making coffee?
These are things you should know before going any further in the candidate selection process.

9. When will you be making a decision on the successful candidate?

Knowing this helps you gauge when to follow up on the interview.

10. May I call you if other questions arise?

This keeps the door open for further communication.

The interview is an artful conversation designed to help both parties learn more about each other
Agency Day

I was fortunate to be one of many recruiters to be invited by a well established consumer goods company on "Agency Day". It was an excellent venue complete with top class presentations by some of Japan's best in the marketing, finance, research and HR fields. Complete with simultaneous interpreters using state of the art interpretation wireless systems, free corporate gift and a very elaborate and absolutely gorgeous buffet lunch.

I am most appreciative to the client for inviting me and other recruiters to learn about the current openings at your company. It was quite interesting to see the new faces in the recruiting industry and some familiar ones. Now, the fun begins and need to recruit a good FMC Brand Manager, some Management Trainees and Finance professionals. Let me know if you or someone you know may be interested.

Take care and talk to you soon.