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Living in Tokyo: Lost in Transition
Sunday, 11 June 2006
Can Online Social Networks Create True Friendship ?

In my experience nothing online (blogs, emails, forum or yahoo groups alike) can really replace the initial face to face meetings that give you clues on rather the new person you have just met will become a true friend or at least share same interests.

Online social networking hasn't really changed my circle of true friends, what it does though with great effectiveness, is maintaining those links that can be reactivated when new opportunities show-up. This is really crucial for people like me, who have been able to maintain friendship over 20 years, moving across three continents, back and forth between Europe, Japan and USA.

True friends don't really mind you don't keep them posted all the time as we are all busy living our own life; although I like to send and receive Xmas card/emails as a minimum effort to make sure friends are happy and not in trouble (that might be due to my "pink side", please see my previous post "Pitch Like A Girl" to find out what it means).

This is very true with my blog too, the majority of people interacting with me, usually by sending a private email, are 99% people I met "physically" before and that I believe share same interests but don't necessarily agree with all I am saying.

I believe some of the common values we share in this virtual community are:

Embracing changes as opportunities
Respect thyself and others
Thinking diversity is good (Life is not a cookie-cutter factory!)

If you think that you don't belong to this community, PLEASE, feel free to send me an email to be removed from my mailing list. As I discovered, recently with someone, not everyone is comfortable to tell you directly they don't want do be part of your social network. You don't have to tell any reason, just ask to be removed by sending an email and put REMOVE in the title.


Posted by annetokyo at 3:24 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 11 June 2006 9:10 AM EDT
Thursday, 8 June 2006
The Dream Team Myth

In a special report, FORTUNE Magazine takes an in-depth look at teamwork and demonstrates why putting a bunch of all-stars together is a recipe for failure.

In the article 'Why dream teams fail", the author took two very good examples:

One is the movie "Ocean's Twelve" directed by Steven Soderbergh starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Julia Roberts which received flames from the critics and generated less revenues than the star-free My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

The other famous example is Enron, a FORTUNE 500 company run by a brilliant former McKinsey consultant, paying fat salaries to graduates of America's elite business schools which disappear into fraud and bankruptcy.

From my experience of building multicultural teams, one of the most important factor is TRUST. Without it, no true communication process can take place. Here again transparency is the key, if you try to hide information, to lie or manipulate others, most people will sense it immediately, althought not everybody is able to have enough self-confidence to trust their intuitions or "gut" feelings.

I guess most powerful teams are like long-lasting happy marriages, it is all about being true to yourself and to others and sharing same values.

Combining this teamwork subject with my favorite topics, building online communities and blogs, I investigated if companies and recruiters were using blogs to hire people. Apparently the answer is yes and no as I found in an intriguing blog StlRecruiting dedicated to that subject of using blogs to get people hired, although the author,a marketing consultant, is not in the HR business.

I believe that hiring teams is based on the same principles than marketing any kind of goods; you have to find the right message to deliver to the right people interested to buy "your stuff", in that case people who want to spend their most precious asset, time, to work for you, based on the shared values, vision and mission statement of the company.

Beside Microsoft or Google and other IT related companies, what about other industries ? I am wondering for example if P&G, is using its Vocalpoint network for hiring their staff ?


Posted by annetokyo at 6:57 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006 7:15 AM EDT
From Deseperate Housewives to Kimono in the Board Room

What is Mom's Job Worth ?

A recent study conducted in the United States by calculated that a full-time stay-at-home mother would earn $134,121 a year if paid for all her work. This is an amount similar to a top U.S. ad executive, a marketing director or a judge, according to the study conducted on 400 mothers.

Another study conducted in UK found that working moms are healthier and thinner! WebMD Medical News, May 15, 2006

I feel a bit frustrated by this type of articles, it only gives more fuel in the "war" opposing SAHMs vs working moms. It is a nice "eye catcher" headline, but frankly in the real world, I have never experienced such a "us versus them" thing.

Even better I discovered women with children share strong common values working at home or else. The fact is we are all working, at home or outside. There is no such thing as a "perfect mom" and what works best for you at home might be a nightmare for a full-time corporate mom and vice-versa.

As I learned during my PADI Diving Rescue Certificate you should secure yourself first before helping others; this apply to your kids too. An happy mom is what is best for everybody.

At the same time, in the male-dominated culture of modern Japan, women are increasingly choosing not to marry and find children a burden to their careers and lifestyles. Japan joins Germany and Italy among a club of nations whose populations have started to shrink with average number of children a Japanese woman has in her lifetime decreasing to 1.26 in 2004.

On top of general discrimination most women face in the workplace, few has been done by Japanese companies to accommodate working mother population such as offering flexible work arrangements, access to childcare or facilitating re-entry in the work force for women returning from raising families. In an interesting poll conducted in 2005 on 10,000 working Japanese women, nearly 50% want to have the opportunity to have a full career not terminated nor even just punctuated by baby-rearing.

On the other hand, the explosive growth of Japanese women-owned businesses over the past decade, especially B2C online businesses, has demonstrated the success of the Internet in effectively bypassing traditional barriers. See an interesting article on Japanese Women Online

Beside diamonds, is the Internet women's best friend, as suggested by ?


Posted by annetokyo at 12:23 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006 1:02 AM EDT
Monday, 29 May 2006
I Sold It Through The Grapevine

In the article "I Sold It Through The Grapevine", from Business Week Magazine, it is shown how P&G has aggressively engaged in word-of-mouth marketing program for mothers called Vocalpoint targeting messages moms will want to share, including samples, coupons, and a chance to share their own opinions with P&G.

"We know that the most powerful form of marketing is an advocacy message from a trusted friend," says Steve Knox, Vocalpoint's CEO.

Is this kind of marketer-controlled conversations still word of mouth ? Would you trust a friend's recommendation if you know she is getting paid or receive benefits for recommending the products ?

These are few of interesting questions from Kim Klaver's blog in her article "Should the P&G moms disclose they're "on the take"?

I think Klaver's got an interesting point here: "...Vocalpoint also raises a serious ethical issue: Should the person spreading the product message disclose her affiliation?"

Personally I think transparency is absolutely mandatory. That does not mean that I would not buy a product a friend is recommending just because she got incentives. I even think it is a good idea to help friends, particularly SAHM (Stay At Home Moms) to get paid for doing basically the same job as a corporate marketer. I guess most of my friends will support my opinion and I think moms are smarter and more aware of marketing strategies than most marketing executives think !

I have not read the book yet but when I do, I will try to make a review on Martha Barletta's book on Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Share of the Largest Market Segment

I think it will be interesting to have a perspective on gender marketing in Japan vs USA and will try to find something on this topic.


Posted by annetokyo at 4:13 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006 4:27 AM EDT
Sunday, 28 May 2006
Few years ago, I was really moved by Ron Howard's movie "A Beautiful Mind". Russel Crow plays a math genius (based on real life Nobel Prize-winner John Forbes Nash Jr), who struggle with paranoid schizophrenia. Although in "A Beautiful Mind" the ugliest part of the disease is not really shown; the man's career was interrupted for more than 25 years and his wife divorced him before he successfully sought treatment and recovered; the movie is ultimately teaching audiences that mental illness is treatable and that suicide is preventable.

There is a common belief that writers and artists in general suffer more from mental illness than the public and that there is a relation between genius and madness. In her book "Touched with Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament" Kay Redfield Jamison, an American professor of psychiatry who suffered herself from manic-depression (see her bio) explores the connection between mental disorders and artistic creativity. She presents an impressive collection of artists who have suffered from mental illness.

What interested me in particular in Jamison's discussion on treating mental illness is the resistance that artists may have to seek for help and once diagnosed, to stay on drug therapy on the belief they the later will make them loose their creativity. There are many creative and productive people in the world who do not suffer of mental illness leading to the conclusion that it is still possible to be creative, even when undergoing drug treatment. This is particularly important if you know that left untreated, people suffering from mental disorders such as depression, have 10 times more chances to commit suicide than the general population, without even counting all the suffering and devastating effects on families and loved ones.

Why am I bringing this topic ? This year is marking the six anniversary of the tragic death of my best friend. She was beautiful, smart and young, but she took her own life and I was unaware of the terrible pain she must have been through to decide to kill herself.

That's in part why I am sensible to the fact that Japan is a society that still stigmatizes any kind of mental illness including depression, a widespread condition across Japan but largely hidden and undiagnosed.

"Suicide has become a national epidemic" announced the Japanese Government after the number of people taking their own lives reached an all time high of 30,000 in one year. Elderly people are particularly at risk.

Social stigma, shame, and saving face often prevent Japanese people who suffer from a mental disorder from seeking health care. The problem lies also in the fact that most doctors are not aware of symptoms and treatments available, they usually also don't talk with their patients (a consultation lasts on average less than 5 minutes, between 2 and 3 minutes) According to Prof. Rihito Kimura, Professor of Bioethics and Law, at Waseda University, Tokyo, the problem has also its roots in the Japanese Healthcare System

In an article from the New York Times, Dr Shinkai, a geriatrician, said that 70 percent of his patients suffered clinical depression. "People choose a doctor according to the organ they think they have a problem with".

Depression in not an option here, suicide is !

Well, I think there is hope, Japan is changing faster than people in the West usually think and Japanese women in particular are taking an active role in healthcare according to WOM, a non-profit, independent organization made up of women. If you are interested in healthcare in Japan I suggest an interesting article on Women and Medical Care


Posted by annetokyo at 7:03 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 28 May 2006 10:48 AM EDT
Monday, 22 May 2006
Podcasting Anyone ?
Mood:  incredulous


How many of you already listen to podcasts ? I guess if you are my age or older and a woman, chances that you are just like me and never tried to go further than downloading music from iTunes Store.

Today my eyes were caught by a RSS feed from "My Life in Advertising".

First I did not understand that it was not an article but actually a Podcast and that I had to click on one of the MP3 readers to listen to it.

You can listen and see the content of a Podcast on your iPod (depending on the version, you can see videos or just listen) or on your PC using iTunes Store.

Podcasts are similar in nature to RSS feeds so you can subscribe and receive notices when the content is updated. Podcats are free

More and more people with iPods, as well as MP3 players, PDAs and Cell Phones with digital audio players, are listening to podcasts in their areas of interest.

Some have called podcasting the radio of the digital age! Others predict that up to 60 million people will be downloading podcasts by the year 2010. I guess you start suddenly to feel really, really old !!!.. but guys, it's never too late to learn !

I am interested in "Health" so I click on that category in iTunes Store and found many sub-categories and selected "Fitness" and found more than 240 podcasts !!! no clue and no time to read and check them all. So I have to look now for online communities that share same interests and get word of mouth to save me time to select my podcasts. Back to my first post when I was starting my quest on learning all about blogs!

I am not sure with all that new intelligence feeding into my brain I will become smarter, but one thing I am sure is if I want to keep speaking same language as my son, I better keep-up !

Hope this story rang some bells!


Posted by annetokyo at 6:27 AM EDT
Sunday, 21 May 2006
Blog like nobody's reading

I am not sure from whom this quote is really from:
"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt; Sing like nobody's listening; ..." But this could be the perfect credo for blogging.

Sure you can try to make money by attracting a lots of visitors to your blog and get paid from advertising on your site and eventually build an on line B2C or B2B business. But money aside, why else do you want to blog ? Blogging is actually hard work, it takes for me minimum 2 hours for each post, including reading, searching for references and actually writing the article in a way I can deliver a message in a minimum of words (quite a challenge for me!).

So what motivates me to blog? Primarily it is the thirst for learning something new every day. I am a "teaching learner ", means unless I try to explain back to someone what I learn, I am actually not sure I really understood . Therefore blogging works wonder for me, plus I don't have to bore an audience!

Of course I do appreciate if someone tells me he/she loves the stories or got something out of it but I cannot really call it a "conversation" since nobody gives opinion or suggests topics.

Having participated or created myself on line communities, including forums and Yahoo groups, I am still not sure about the value of blogs compared to those tools. I feel it lacks the interactivity of other on line media.

For example with Yahoo groups, you can control who is participating in your community so members feel more comfortable to exchange personal information. I also observed it is not really difficult to have rapidly more than 100 members using word of mouth if your group is really focusing on a clear objective, like in a support group. Members enjoy the company of like-minded individuals and ultimately get the reward of meeting peers face to face.

What I found more challenging after 2 years of managing a Yahoo group is to keep the group self-motivated and have members taking the initiative to start and keep the conversations. I think as author of the group it is my role to make sure the right people stick around but I don't feel I have ownership on the conversations.

Of course I need more experience on reading and posting including other's blogs before building my opinion about blogs. So for now lets keep on learning, in my next post, I will share my new findings on RSS and news aggregators.


Posted by annetokyo at 5:54 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 May 2006 10:57 AM EDT
Wednesday, 17 May 2006
Polyculturization: The art of adaptation
Language barriers can be both frustrating and a way that develop your communication skills. When I first came in Japan 15 years ago, I could not speak one word of Japanese but have been part of diverse networks providing access to huge variety of sources of information and support. I realize I would never had the chance to meet such a wide variety of people and get exposed to so many cultures if I would have lived only in my own country. Living abroad is both challenging and somehow can also makes your life easier.

I define the word "polyculturization" similar as the new buzzword of "glocalization", as a flow of new ideas and concepts across cultures which empowers individuals.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the concept of "glocalization" is actually coming from Japan. A good example of "glocalization" is Tokyo Dizuniirando (Tokyo Dysneyland ). Despite the claim that Tokyo Disneyland is the exact copy of the original, there is a lots of Japanization here. The gift shop for example is full of girlish toys and clothes for the "kawaii" (cute) adult women, most especially the "office ladies".

The proliferation of the Internet is facilitating social changes in the ways that people contact, interact, and obtain resources with each other. Rather than operating at the expense of the "real" face-to-face world, the Internet is an extension, with people using all means of communication to connect with friends and relatives.

Communities have been shifting towards networked individualisms.

There is an article here that is interesting on the differences between the blogosphere and other media.


Posted by annetokyo at 11:33 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 May 2006 11:03 AM EDT
Word of Mouth Marketing For New Drugs

Despite evolving in a highly regulated environment, pharmaceutical companies can't escape the growing influence of the blogosphere.

Companies who carefully read blogs on a daily basis and listen to unaided consumer-to-consumer conversations get real-time insights and ideas they would not be aware of by using other media and market research studies.

What stories are popular among bloggers? What are common beliefs ? Praises or flames, what opinions are being expressed about your products and company? All this should be carefully analyzed and taken into account into your communication strategy.

In contrast to advertising, where the message your company originated is in a medium that you own or rent, word of mouth conversations are independent of the company providing the product or service and are communicated via an open, independent medium (face to face or using the Internet).

George Silverman, a psychologist, author of "The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing; How to Trigger Exponential Sales Through Runaway Word of Mouth(2001)" and board member of the WOMMA(Word of Mouth Marketing Association) , explains how Word of Mouth is particularly effective among physicians and how to use customer seminars in his article : "How to Harness Word of Mouth in the Pharmaceutical Industry"

Silverman has clearly demonstrated that: "Physicians who are successfully using a particular treatment have mastered such things as diagnosis, patient selection, managing the patient’s expectations, correctly administering the medication, titrating dosage between symptoms and side effects, and correctly following up. As a result, the right patients are getting the right drug in the right way, at the right time, and are maintained on the drug in an optimal way. The physician is likely to have a very positive view of the drug, because it is working out in practice.
So, when the unsuccessful physician hears any of these things that are different from the way he is practicing, his ears perk up and he has something new to try. His conclusion is usually that he has not been administering the drug properly or has not instructed the patients enough on what to do and what to watch for, and he is usually correct".

Regarding patients pharmaceutical marketers must carefully plan pre-launch initiatives that get patients talking and consequently impact post-approval launch and marketing activities.See the recent article from Pre-Launch Drug Buzz: How Preliminary Buzz Impacts Post-Launch Discussion Among Drug Products’ Target Audiences.

On a more general level, I found this article on the usage of blogs in public relation very interesting:
Defending yourself against the blogs


Posted by annetokyo at 1:39 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006 1:46 AM EDT
Sunday, 14 May 2006
Is Blogging The New Religion ?

I found an interesting post on The Art of Evangelism by Guy Kawasaki.

His blog is great and I love his definition of a blogger : Blogger. n. Someone with nothing to say writing for someone with nothing to do.

In his article, evangelism has nothing to do with church, an "evangelist" is the new hot job title for marketers. Unlike other jobs, evangelists must live and love for the cause (your company, products, brands, services etc.)

As Guy Kawasaki put it : "No matter how great the person, if he doesn't love the cause, he cannot be a good evangelist for it."

In one of my earliest posts, I referred to Diva Marketing Blog where Toby is also using religious vocabulary with what she defines as the Trinity of Blogging: "Honesty. Transparency. Passion".

As I am reading more and more blogs and analyzing emotions and thoughts I have when I am blogging myself, I realize that blogs can have the same power like books or movies to tell stories that can profoundly impact others. It is true there is also evil and plenty of boring stuff in blogs but no more not less than in Hollywood!

I think that by nature blogs are very personal and unlike other media, you connect at a deeper emotional level to people who read your posts even if they don't comment.

Knowing that your voice can be heard through the web and inspire others can become a kind of mission for some people, a spiritual quest for others to live a life of greatness and contribution as Steven Covey explains in his latest book "The 8th Habit-From Effectiveness to Greatness".

For those in search for self-coaching materials, I am a big fan of the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" from Steven Covey also. I recommend you read the book but if you don't have time, take a quick look on how to write your personal mission statement using this free tool:Mission Formulator



Posted by annetokyo at 9:59 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 14 May 2006 11:29 PM EDT

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