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Japan business trip

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I just came back from a Japan business trip and thought that it is timely to blog down some of my thoughts arising from the experience. This is the 6th time that I visited Japan and previously they were all business trips that lasted only a week. What made this trip quite memorable was that I had the chance to visit several interesting places at Tokyo with my colleague.

The first place that we visited in Japan was Daibai to see the giant Gundam robot at Gundam Front Tokyo. I am not a big fan of Gundam but nevertheless was infected by my colleague’s enthusiasm. The place is really unique as there is a Gundam museum with hundreds of Gundam robot figurines and a movie theatre playing Gundam shows.

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Beyond the fanfare of Japanese anime and manga culture, I think it is important to recognize the Japanese’s culture of innovation. After all, the Japanese have created so many timeless icons such as Godzilla, Doraemon, Gundam and Dragonball. To develop such a culture is not easy and requires a nation to constantly dream big and think out of the box. In this respect, Japan is way ahead of Singapore.

Just think about it, what icons have Singapore generated over the decades that managed to capture the imagination of the world? None I would say.

We often pride ourselves as being an efficient society but actually that is a nice way of saying that we are merely good at conforming to an established system. Most Singaporeans, including me, are unable to innovate new ideas and come out with creative products because most of us are brought up in a rigid ranking education system whereby creative alternative solutions are not accepted.

I still remember that I have to memorize Chinese stories and history textbooks for my secondary school examinations! I reckon that is why successful local bred entrepreneurs are so far and a few in Singapore.

To be successful wealth builders, sometimes we need to think out of the box and create opportunities instead of passively waiting for opportunities. The Japanese has certainly shown that nothing is impossible – they have recently created robotic domestic helper!

During my trip in Japan, I also witnessed another interesting aspect of the Japanese. I saw many young Japanese doing jobs that Singaporeans perceived to be either too low paying or too manual – such as construction workers, waiters, machinists and sale assistants.

From what I observed, they took pride in their jobs and sometimes I could even feel their passion. This is unlike in Singapore, where our locals shun the service and construction industry, hence relying on foreign workers to do these jobs.

Perhaps we are the victim of our own success and as a result, local Singaporean graduates tend to have high expectations of themselves. In this regard, I do think that our younger generation should learn from the Japanese and focus more on how they can contribute to their employers’ success and do their jobs well.

Nowadays, the first things that most young Singaporean workers talk about are salaries, work-life balance, career progression and job prospect. Most of them conveniently forget that in the workplace, it is always a two-way street and that they need to be able to deliver first before demanding for rewards.

Will share more insights from the Japanese trip in the coming days.

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Updated: June 12, 2017 — 3:39 pm

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