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If you're low-income, here's what you're doing wrong

89 Comments

Poverty in the midst of riches is a persistent and widening Japanese theme. “Japan Inc” stumbled badly in the 1990s and has yet to right itself. Companies stopped hiring. Young people graduated from university with no place to go. For want of better opportunities, they took part-time jobs.

Now, more than a third of the Japanese work force is part time. Even full-time employees complain of being overworked and underpaid. Pleading penury, many have put off marriage, indefinitely if not forever. Anger gave way to resignation, of which the “herbivorous male,” easygoing, disengaged and unambitious, is a prominent symbol.

Spa!, in an annual supplement, cracks the whip. If you’re earning less than 3 million yen a year it’s your own fault, it says in effect. The economy is bad but yields to those who squeeze it. What’s the difference between high and low wage earners? Essentially, in Spa!’s view, failure of the latter to grow up.

Eternal youth has its place but not in business. “I spend my weekends rehearsing and partying with my rock band,” says a 46-year-old at the low end of the medical supplies business. Your privilege, sniffs Spa! – but clinging to teenage dreams is no way to get ahead in the world.

Two points emerge from the magazine’s interview with investment consultant Tokio Godo. One: Communication is life in the business world. Be good at it and you’re on your way to success. Shrink from it – as many young people do nowadays – and your present rut will be a permanent one.

Two: Don’t lead two lives, one on-duty, one off. Be “on” all the time. Even hobbies, even shopping, should be, however distantly, work-related. Both, to the true communicator, offer scope for enlarging knowledge and contacts. Being a weekend rocker is no disqualification, but the man’s attitude (Spa! says) is – he works only to live and lives to rock. Maybe he’s happier that way. Maybe we all would be. But that’s another subject.

Surveying 200 low-income company employees, Spa! discovers some dreadful personal habits that, in its opinion, make rising in the world pretty much impossible. They include workplace behavior but are not confined to it – naturally enough, if, as Godo claims, anything you do anywhere reflects the attitudes and skills you bring to your job. For example: 81% of respondents have never been to a wedding. So what? It matters because it indicates a narrow (or nonexistent) circle of friends, and a corresponding lack of social savoir-faire. Can that possibly be good for business? Eighty percent say they often back out of engagements at the last minute, which suggests not only unreliability but discomfort with people and a preference for solitude. That’s not a preference that favors the corporate ladder-climber.

Among the most common workplace sins are spending too much office time surfing social networking sites, which 97% of respondents confess to, and a tendency to daydream at work (75%). Evidently many people find their jobs less than absorbing, and seek to escape them rather than make them better.

Then there’s shopping. What’s in your shopping bag reveals more about you and your potential than you may realize, Spa! finds. The relentless pursuit of the new and fashionable is a bad sign – it shows lack of firmness of purpose. The man who drops into a convenience store and spends 3,000 yen, as 64% of respondents sometimes do, is on the wrong track – he settles too easily for the easy way out. Likewise for the man who buys lottery tickets instead of investing in stocks.

Fully 98% of respondents use their smartphones at mealtime. It’s the most widespread vice of all, edging out the 97%, mentioned above, who troll SNS sites during working hours. If economic revival depends on a more focused attention to the off-screen world, it could be a long time coming.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

89 Comments
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Likewise for the man who buys lottery tickets instead of investing in stocks.

When you are a low income, how do you buy stocks? If you can afford to buy 10 shares of ACME, that won't make the cut.

Where I work, big Japanese inc, they hire 100s of new people every year. Many quits first year, yes, but not hiring, from my experience is not true. Maybe the author should precise this small comapnies that don't hire.

There are palenty opportunities.

0 ( +5 / -6 )

The writers of Spa! seem to be poor in empathy.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Hey, if everyone was high income, we'd have rampant inflation!

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Haha Serrano, but it's true. It's simply a consequence of capitalism that not all will earn the same. Some people work hard and earn more, some people work hard and earn less. But capitalism gives more optimism and opportunity for upward mobility than any other economic system. Buying your first yacht won't happen without earning that next paycheck.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

This article has some good points and the one I like the most is that you have to make an extra effort to have a social life. It is easiy to be alone when you have all the shopping in the world at your finger tips and all the movies, tv shows, etc, streamed to you hand held device. But if the focus of the article is to be successful at work, having a good and active social life does help.

4 ( +7 / -2 )

This article is typical conservatives rubbish in claiming that the poor can only blame themselves for their poverty. The articles only "proof" is a collection of doubtful anecdotes. The fact is that economic downturns impoverish people, no matter who diligent they are how many wedding they attend. Success has much to with privilege and luck especially in hard times.

16 ( +17 / -3 )

This is one of the more depressingly conservative articles I've ever read on this site. What I find most bothersome is that it is thinly guised as a way of helping people buy offering some advice.

Yes, think about work more to help your boss, not yourself. Yes, invest in stocks to help the company more, not yourself. Could it help the individual? Yes, certainly possible. But the owners of these magazines publish this for their own purposes; it is far from anything empathetic.

8 ( +9 / -2 )

I think that there is some truth in the "failure to grow up" part. Some young people these days have a very passive attitude, almost as if they believe that all they have to do is sit there and wait for good things to happen to them. One of my students is typical: he's very well-educated and highly intelligent. And yet he's working in a pachinko parlor and living with his mum. Every time he comes to my lesson he whines about not being able to get a girlfriend or a high-paying job, but he makes no efforts at all at self-improvement. Does he really think sitting around and complaining for the next ten years is going to change his situation?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

A work-related life? How crazy is that? Just as we eat to live, not live to eat, we work to satisfy, not satisfy to work. Try that in haiku.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

The writer makes it sound like you can buy stocks at 7/11. Took me 6 months of heavy research before investing a small amount.

I'm guessing japan Inc's shift to part-time workers was an answer to the web surfing and daydreaming at work, and the strict laws about firing unproductive workers.

But yeah, blame the people for being lazy. GEESH!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@trevorPeace1 But seriosuly. It is basically 100% Japanese culture to "live to work" If you ask people in the USA. only about 20% or people will say they "live to work" as opposed to "work to live" That 20% is also usually doctors, lawyers, CEOs. People who are either rich or find a real purpose to their their work.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Many workers in Japan are poor because they can only get part time work at a miserable hourly rate that does not even compare with other civilised countries. I know people, even people with special skills who are forced to succumb to such a system. They also work hard and are deserving of much better pay.

They certainly dont have time for surfing the net and wasting time. You cant blame people for having a bit of a splurge on lotto tickets- it`s probably the only hope they have. Anyway, buying stocks is just another form of gambling. That is poor advice for people who can not even manage to pay in to the archaic pension system which is just another tax in disguise.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

95% of people have no drive or motivation and would have no clue about being self motivated or how to use their brain to better themselves. Quite comfortable to eek out an existence in the daily grind and too useless to get off their butt and use some initiative or take some risk.

You can see millions of them on the trains every morning.

They find easier to do that everyday and then just put their hand out each month for their pay, most couldn't make it on their own if it wasn't for the company they work for.

That is a good thing about this system though because there isn't enough room for everyone to be smart enough or motivated enough, the system relies on those who will accept there fate easily.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

I hate weddings. I have friends. Whoever wrote this is an idiot.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

They certainly dont have time for surfing the net and wasting time.

I wasn't talking about the part-time workers.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why equate wealth with "getting ahead?"

Some of us recognise that there's more to life than money.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Good for the guy in the rock band. He enjoys it and has an interest in music and performing. Most people I meet around Japan "sleep" as a hobby. You don`t need to work for a company to be successful.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

I disagree with the tone of the article, but I agree with its messages. My current line of work is basically my teenage years' hobby, I enjoy it a lot. It's not gonna make me a millionaire ever, but pay is good, people are awesome, work is full of fun and challenges.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

well said pointofview.

Two: Don’t lead two lives, one on-duty, one off. Be “on” all the time. Even hobbies, even shopping, should be, however distantly, work-related.

Excuse me? Whoever wrote this should seriously get his head examined.

11 ( +11 / -1 )

This should more accurately be titled - "What happened to the Showa-era workerbots? They made Japan great!" The only thing people should care about is income and climbing the ladder, everything else is secondary, including life satisfaction. You should be a workerbot like your parents generation. It really worked for them!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Focusing on work and money and having no hobbies not related to work? Anybody checked the suicide stats for salarymen?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Point two is a very wrong one to go! You should work to live, not the other way! Keep your job and your private life strictly separated or it will go awry sooner or later. Unfortunately, thanks to the fast-lived, oh-so smart Internet generation that takes being hypocrisy for granted, that point obviously is a must-do today.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@StormR, "there isn't enough room for everyone to be smart enough or motivated enough, the system relies on those who will accept there fate easily."

I hope you are not in the business of deciding who is smart enough, since you don't seem to understand how to use the word "their": "those who will accept their fate easily". Now we can get back to bashing the semiliterate working poor.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Even hobbies, even shopping, should be, however distantly, work-related.

He did not just say that!! @@

Unbelievable.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Thank god the vast majority of people can recognize this... errr... 'article' for being the utter tripe it is.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Remember when we all read this article to know what we were doing wrong.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Be “on” all the time.

Are you kidding me? That's a recipe for burn-out, poor performance, and in all seriousness physical sickness. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer, and it's all the poor's fault. Bah, humbug.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Stupid article. Not to mention the fact that just being invited to a wedding costs you minimum 30,000 yen. If you are on a low income, that's a lot of cash to part with...

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Spa!? It's a great magazine. Tokio Godo? He wrote a great book a year or so back about "escaping from Japan".

Spa! and Godo are for people interested in "money". I guess poor people might not find Spa! mags or Tokio Godo books a good read, or might prefer to spend money on something else. (I've seen Godo's books at the library though, needn't pay even a 1 yen plastic coin)

Buying lottery tickets doesn't make sense to me. I've never bought one, but to me the chances of winning are so low I've never seen it as an option. Why not buy a can of coke instead? What use is a worthless piece of paper?

While not knowing how much a lottery ticket goes for, it doesn't take a lot of money to get started investing / speculating. These activities are one legitimate way to start supplementing one's income, and you also learn about the world in doing so. If you are young and poor then it's the best time to start. There is little to lose but loads to be learned through early mistakes.

If it took 6 months of your life to study before just starting to invest, so what? Those 6 months of your life might turn out to be the most precious. Even if it takes 3 or 6 years in the long run it could absolutely be worth it.

A man raised poor can find himself well off in retirement, if he builds his life thoughtfully and/or learns investment. Of course there is no way to get rich over night.

I would hazard a guess that investing has made far more people rich than buying lottery tickets or casino visits ever has (unless we are talking about the casino owners and lottery organizations!)

pointofview,

You don`t need to work for a company to be successful.

True. Godo owns his own company, if I recall correctly. Whatever you do, if you are amazing at it, you can be successful.

Sorry in advance if my call-it-as-I-see-it comments are too "conservative"!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

What a cold, callous article that was. Seems to imply that unless you are some kind of machine you aren't a good employee. I can't wait to get out of the office at the end of the day. Soon as I am out the door I am me... that 'off' switch is flicked and I am in 'me' mode.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Guys, this is Spa! We're talking about (& JT has hooked us in, with it!)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

On one point I agree totally - lottery tickets are a stupidity tax.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Jeez, I'm so glad I haven't taken any of their bad advice (Spa/Godo)! ¥3,000,000 a year, I haven't made that in 10 years thankfully! The more you make, the more taxes you pay. I was a worker-bot from 20 - 35yrs old in the city. Now I rarely work more than 20hrs a week, enjoy my hobbies everyday, and just cruise through life like the rest of my friends.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

When you have people with a high income, then naturally there must be the other end with a low income. Whichever your behavior, when you happen to be among the low income group there will be some stupid journalist bashing you.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Two: Don’t lead two lives, one on-duty, one off. Be “on” all the time. Even hobbies, even shopping, should be, however distantly, work-related. Both, to the true communicator, offer scope for enlarging knowledge and contacts. Being a weekend rocker is no disqualification, but the man’s attitude (Spa! says) is – he works only to live and lives to rock. Maybe he’s happier that way. Maybe we all would be. But that’s another subject.

This is supposed to be a reminder to this generation about how their fathers and grandfathers worked themselves to death for their business. They only lived their jobs/companies, and Spa is telling this generation to do the same in not so many words, but to be dedicated (to the death) to your job and company.

What a load of crap.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The rich love to preach about the dignity of hard work while taking care themselves to remain undignified in that way. ~ Bertrand Russell

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I met a one of the "successful" guys at the gym the other day. He's dedicated to his work. He's on his computers all day trading stocks. First he told me he is going to slow down as a rise in the capital gains tax is demotivating him and he is thinking how to hide his money overseas. He also told me he feels so pent up and wants to get a life.

What does this example show: this singular dedication to money and getting ahead made him a greedy guy who doesn't want to give back to the society that allows him to make his money in the first place. And he feels he is now narrow minded and not enjoying life.

Spa! should have interviewed him for some perspective.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The writers of Spa! seem to be poor in empathy.

The problem is, empathy doesn't pay the rent. This article may be a bit cold, but it's certainly better than an article saying "it's not your fault - you're a victim of corporate greed and government corruption." That's akin to saying someone should just lay down and die.

People in affluent societies tend to forget that survival is more important than life balance. You have to survive before you can have a balanced life.

And, whether it's true or not that the system is rigged and corrupt, that's something you can't change overnight. We have to deal with reality - fair or not. People sometimes have to hustle to keep their family above water. And Japanese people in particular are not used to being in business for themselves. Well, until a century or so ago, being in business for yourself was the just about the only way to make money - and we are headed back to that.

Things aren't going to get any easier in Japan in the near future, and any article that gives people a little push to stay afloat is a good thing in my book. All the empathy in the world isn't going to keep food on the table.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Well, people with low income should avoid spending too much buying unneccessary things. They should also stop coming to the pachinko. It is usually our lifestyle that pulls us down. But offcourse, we can improve our encome by doing our job well so we can get promotions or find another part time job that can give us extra income.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

warispeace,

What does this example show: this singular dedication to money and getting ahead

You met him at the gym, so it sounds like he cares about his health or something besides money too...

made him a greedy guy who doesn't want to give back to the society

How did you get that? Capital gains tax is a pretty good deal for a society that only needs to let him sit at his computers all day trading stocks. Hell, society doesn't even have to pay his power bills for his computers, I'll wager.

Consider it:

Society has little to lose if he fails, but takes a nice chunk out of him if he wins.

He has a lot to lose if he fails - he is the one to go down the gurgler not society, but if he succeeds, he gets monetary compensation for the risks he's taken (albeit have society take that chunk out of him for his efforts).

And he feels he is now narrow minded and not enjoying life.

Maybe, but I wonder if this 2nd hand account of the conversation is an accurate portrayal of how he feels.

Spa! should have interviewed him for some perspective.

He sounds just like the type that Spa! does interview with regularity!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Failure to grow up." Right. This can be said about a lot of successful professional people and I know and read about daily. Privileged people have no incentives to grow up. Low income people grow up very quickly, knowing that the system is not for them.

Success depends a lot on networking with successful people. This is something that poor don't have. They have to work harder to achieve success and a significant failure rate should be expected.

One interesting thing is that success lets you out of suffering over your job all the time in lots of cases. I know doctors who jam with their bands on weekends, highly successful independent business people who travel, run in marathons and various professionals who take photographs with expensive cameras.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

what an insulting article. Glad the low income are doing something more interesting with their time rather than at the boring office or reading Spa!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Towing the old meritocracy line is just a fail.

There is no economic logic to this article but if you take it seriously that is sad. Can only recommend a deeper grasp of actual geopolitical issues and researching deeper.

Good starting point would be Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School who spoke about this issue recently*. [no affiliation personally]

http://www.thersa.org/events/video/vision-videos/the-capitalists-dilemma
-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@fxgai

If it took 6 months of your life to study before just starting to invest, so what? Those 6 months of your life might turn out to be the most precious. Even if it takes 3 or 6 years in the long run it could absolutely be worth it.

Sorry in advance if my call-it-as-I-see-it comments are too "conservative"!

Not sure why you've decided to focus in on my comment. I didn't mean for it sound like I was complaining. Yeah, I did and do enjoy my investing, but what I meant was, it took me 6 months to understand "Japan's" stock market and stocks, plus translating it all, setting up an account, etc.

I would not say your comment was "too conservative", more "off base" or "out of context", from what I wrote anyway.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Not earning enought money" would sem to be the strightforward answer. Spa magazine really does print some nonsense.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The number of job offers to graduates has decreased, and the salary paid has also decreased. Some graduates who are low-income were out of work, and took what they could find, which in turn makes finding a better job more difficult. For those who didn't graduate, things are worse. While there is no shortage of people who need to grow up, I find the tone of this article really arrogant.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Apparently not going to weddings is bad for your career. The article does not explore the possibility that low earners cannot afford the minimum gift - if you are on the breadline, earning 1000 yen p/h, can you really afford to give 30,000 yen to a virtual acquaintance?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Strong medicine is the best medicine. Too often we tell people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. These people then go through life thinking that they are doing the best they can, and if it isn't good enough, then it must be someone else's fault.

When I was younger, I worked as an assistant for a very wealthy real estate developer. He always pushed at me to do better, and not to become comfortable with what I was doing. He said in the world there are what were called the "haves, and the have nots". He said this was totally false, and that the world was made of "do's, and do nots". He said everyone was given the ability to choose what they wanted to do, and how to do it. He said people were only as successful as they wanted to be.

He pointed out the fact that I, a university-educated young man, was working for him, a man who hadn't finished high school. I lived in a small apartment and drove an old car, he owned several beautiful homes, and had a new car for every day of the week. He pointed out that until he was in his thirties, he was an unemployed alcoholic, and that if he could become a success, anyone could. I thought it was all BS, and that he had gotten his wealth for simply being in the right place at the right time. Such is the foolishness of youth.

Unfortunately, it took a long time until I began to understand how the workd works, and how right my former boss was. I was forced into trying to fend for myself when the company I was working for suddenly went bankrupt. After being unable to find another job quickly, I liquidated everything I had, and opened a small business. At the time, I was carrying a lot of debt, and a bit of savings. My net worth was $10.

My third year of being self-employed generated $100k in income, and it was a proud moment for me. But most of that money went back into my business, and so it goes now. I now have three businesses, and am no longer a one-man show. But I am also no longer a wage slave, bitching about how much I hate my job, and complaining about my pay. If I want more money, I go out and make it.

If your income isn't what you want, don't complain, do something about it. Working hard helps, but it is also important to work smart. Pretty much anyone can do it, but most don't.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Sangetsu understands what its about

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sangetsu... what stirring stuff. You could bottle that and sell it as undiluted go-getter ambition.

Trouble is we aren't all full of that get up and go. Some of us don't want to clamber to the top of the pile, squishing people as we go. For me working isn't about enjoying my job... my job funds my life away from work. My job is boring and dull, but it pays for my car, my lifestyle, my hobbies and my holidays. I work because I have to, not because I want to.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Apparently not going to weddings is bad for your career. The article does not explore the possibility that low earners cannot afford the minimum gift - if you are on the breadline, earning 1000 yen p/h, can you really afford to give 30,000 yen to a virtual acquaintance?

Ain't that a fact! And if you are given an invitation (printed) they are still counting on your money to cover the costs. Screwed either way.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Trouble is we aren't all full of that get up and go. Some of us don't want to clamber to the top of the pile, squishing people as we go.

I used to be that way. I had doubts that I could do better than I was doing, and my job was too busy to give me much time to think about doing something different.

For myself, "climbing up to the top of a pile " never sounded attractive, especially when it was someone else's pile. Fortunately, I was able to make my own. As for squishing people, the opposite is true. I have to buy the goods which I sell, and this of course benefits my suppliers.

The most difficult thing is to start, the second most difficult thing is making your idea work. Once you figure out how it works, you realize that it really wasn't that hard, and you wonder why more people don't try. Success is a great motivator. I enjoy what I am doing, the work is not much different than what most people do at their jobs every day. But working for yourself more fun. There are certainly more risks and worries, but learning to manage these is part of the game.

I now look forward to each day, and seeing what there is to do. Dealing with my suppliers and customers is not unpleasant, and looking back at the end of each month and seeing what I was able to get done (by looking at the balance sheet) gives me a sense of satisfaction. It is also nice to be able to afford things which I could only dream of having only a few years ago.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

What a load of guano! The writers and editors of Spa! (not to mention Tokio Godo) should try living on or below the poverty line for a while; let's see if they feel the same way when they can't afford the latest gimcrack fashion accessory or “lifestyle experience”. Maybe they wouldn’t be quite so eager to blame the victim if they WERE one. Of course, we will all die of old-age long before any of them have the gonadal fortitude to actually DO that; I imagine they’re far too attached to their expensive comforts to be able to give them up, even for a day.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I knew, I just knew, that we would get at least one self-made man story that divides humanity into hardworking rich people and lazy bum poor people. There are two problems with these sort of stories, both in themselves and as moral tales. First, in-your-face self-made men seldom if ever tell the whole truth about their successes. Second, ambition alone does not guarantee success. I saw lots of ambition and lots of success and failure stories in the Silicon Valley, New York and here in Japan. The burst dot com bubble in Silicon Valley devastated a lot of self-made men almost overnight.

One thing the ruling classes do not want is ambitious working people. They form unions, and sometimes start revolutions.

Rubbish like this Spa! article tend to surface during hard times, or in places where gross inequalities prevail. I cannot recall anything like the article under discussion being published during Japan's bubble economy years. If there were such articles they were not about Japan's working population. What we did get, over and over, was how hard-working the Japanese all were. Following Spa!'s reasoning, can we conclude economic downturns create laziness? Did Japan's 20 year slide begin when one grey day Japan's hard-working people decide to become lazy?

I am writing this as a successful person (phi beta kappa, Ph.D. job that I love for starters). I will tell what any other honest successful person will tell you: no matter how hardworking, bright and talented you are, a large part of your success will come about because of good luck.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I always wonder why some people are offended by success. Perhaps it is something like penis envy...?

One thing the ruling classes do not want is ambitious working people. They form unions, and sometimes start revolutions.

This is laughable. When garden-variety working people become ambitious, they usually revolt by saying "take this job and shove it", and open a flower shop or a restaurant. Those working classes who revolt against governments or form unions do so when they are directed by leaders or organizers to do so. And these leaders and organizers are part of yet another ruling class, using the working class for the benefit of themselves. Am I wrong?

no matter how hardworking, bright and talented you are, a large part of your success will come about because of good luck.

Francis Bacon said "A wise man makes more opportunities than he finds". Intelligence and talent are nothing in themselves, and luck is far less relevant than hard work. The difference between some people and others is that some expect bad luck, and take precautions against it.

Did Japan's 20 year slide begin when one grey day Japan's hard-working people decide to become lazy?

The slide began when the rest of the world adapted to the pressure of the Japanese economy, and improved the ways they did business. Ironically enough, the Japanese seem unable to do the same thing. Working hard is not the same as working hard.

Most people see the world the way they want to see it, self-made people see it the way it is.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@sangetsuo03

I agree entirely with what you say. I cam to Japan and started my own business rather than be an "English teacher" like most westerners seem to do. This was in 2001 and where i am now has been due to hard work and valuing what this means to my family and my customers. I have had many say that i am lucky etc, i must have had family help. No, i did this myself, from my first business which is my main income to now having two more sidelines which i can grow any time i feel the time is right. If you do a good honest job, you will respect yourself, your family friends and neighbours also do so and the work is not a chore but enjoyable. I often say to people everyday to me is a holiday, i look forward to it all, in improving my business and everything about my life, this is what being self employed can do to anyone. You need to be dedicated though and i personally never have a day off, whether that means just answering emails or what. I live the dream but i have earned the dream and anyone can do the same.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I live the dream but i have earned the dream and anyone can do the same.

I respectfully disagree. While you have found success for yourself not everyone has the same intelligence or know-how to succeed and are blocked from opportunity because of countless numbers of reasons.

I also believe that it is unfair and a touch arrogant to say to someone who is poor, "Take charge" "You can do it" those are only words, and it's easy for someone looking down rather than up to say them.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Yubaru

Everyone apart from those with either a very low I.Q, or with a severe mental or physical handicap can do, in Japan at least. Am i super intelligent? not really. Did i go to business school or have a rich family? no. Left school at 16, from a working class family and educated myself about how to succeed by looking at the world around me and how to best utilise my skills.

There is no excuse for a foreigner in Japan with average abilities not to be successful in business in Japan, you don't even need to be fluent and Japan is very business friendly. Happiness and living the dream does not come easy to most but is ready for the taking in Japan.

Most people will make excuses as to why they cannot do this and stay in the rat race, it is the easy option and the one that the elite want people to take. That is why education is so poor at making independent hard working people in first world nations. People who can think on the feet, adapt to changes at any time, communicate , delegate etc are not wanted as a nation full of those people would destroy the current system which makes people feel trapped and helpless in crappy jobs.

I have helped a few other ex pats start up businesses here and am always ready to help decent people but i find those that moan the most about their lot in Japan are those that say they don't need or want advice and are happy.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

You make your own luck mostly L U C K = L abouring U nder C orrect K nowledge, the negative is always the hardest to over come for those who cannot see the positive. Often its easier for them to just give up and reside themselves and accept the simplest situation.

You can only blame yourself for where you are today and anyone who functions properly can succeed it just takes the right mix.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

To be successful in Japanese, you have to work long hours. That's about all you have to know.

Oh, it's good if you know how to backstab and gossip as well. That way you can "rise" on the corporate ladder and make all your "kashikomarimashita" worthwhile. Most of all. Do never, ever, take time off. Even if you're sick. Just put on your little mask and gama the hell out of your life.

Seriously, Japan has sick worth ethics. And what worked for the minions and the rise of Japan Inc. has long since passed, even if the many old people around fail to understad this. In fact, it is that too big generation of oldies that hold Japan back. This country need to move on, with new ideas and fresh perspectives but with so many people stuck in the past it's gonna take a lot of effort.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I also believe that it is unfair and a touch arrogant to say to someone who is poor, "Take charge" "You can do it" those are only words, and it's easy for someone looking down rather than up to say them.

Did you ever play sports in school? Have you ever had a coach yell at you for making mistakes? Did you think he was being arrogant and unfair? I did. But I was wrong. He knew more about my skills and capability than I did, and though I thought he was being mean and unfair, he was really trying to help.

The problem which most of the people in the world have is that they only do the mininum they need to do to get by. Most people don't have the slightest clue as to what they are capable of doing. Most will never know, which is a shame.

Success is not a bad word, and most ambition is not bad. The device you are using now to read this post was made by a company which was founded by an ambitious person who was no doubt successful. Similar ambitious people created the companies which make the clothes you wear, the funiture you sit on, and the job you have. Where would you be, and what would your life be like had no one gone to the trouble?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Reading this thread its quite easy to see who the motivated go getters are , the rest seem to think its all too hard and they lack the right stuff, "and are blocked from opportunity because of countless numbers of reasons".. truth is , most of it is all in their head and a lot to do with attitude.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Amen....

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It is common sense that behavior and culture are factors in success.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have helped a few other ex pats start up businesses here and am always ready to help decent people but i find those that moan the most about their lot in Japan are those that say they don't need or want advice and are happy.

Come back and tell me about how many poor Japanese you have assisted and started their businesses and taught them how to get out of the vicious circle of poverty.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Yeah, I guess I am pretty unmotivated or I wouldn't be sitting here writing anonymous postings.

Let me repeat something. What Spa's article is saying was not made an issue during the boom years. In those days conservatives held up Japanese workers are paragon of diligence (so obedient, working long hours, never striking, etc.). Now with this a 20 + year recession we get spurious stuff like this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Yubaru

2 Japanese and 5 ex pats. Though why you need to know is beyond me. How many have you helped have a better life BTW?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I find that people who are "on" all the time are extremely self-centered, annoying, and boring... I can't stand to be around such people. I support myself and two kids on only 4.5 million per year (I have no spouse to earn a second paycheck). While I am far from "well-to-do", I am able to eek out a living while doing what I like to do, with people who I like to work with...I wouldn't have it any other way...

LIFE is NOT all about WORK. If I worked all the time, then I would have no time to spend with my kids! I REFUSE to live that way...Go stuff yourself, Spa!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

FizzBit,

I wasn't particularly focused on your comment, I just read a whole load of comments and gave my own. (My apology for my "conservative" were to placate a few earlier posters who complained about the "conservative" nature of the article. I am not American, but I take it that the nature of the article would be considered "conservative" in an American context - conservative has a somewhat different meaning in other parts of the world)

what I meant was, it took me 6 months to understand "Japan's" stock market and stocks, plus translating it all, setting up an account, etc.

I didn't and don't get your point about that, then, but never to mind!

I'm not in Japanese stocks, but I took me longer than 6 months before I started to see the benefits of the effort I put in to it. But I didn't devote my entire life to it, either, and not suggesting anyone should. But I don't feel a great deal of sympa for anyone who complains about their lot or expects to have everything easy without making at least some kind of effort themselves.

sangetsu, StormR, thanks for your comments, I enjoyed them even if a few others did not :)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@sangetsu03, what you write is very true, on an individual level. Many people could do much better and in order to be successful it doesn't even take much. You just have to be a little bit - but consistently - better than others. What you fail to see is that there can't be only people who do better than the others. Just imagine that everybody would do the same way like you. As a consequence you might become one of the working poor when a sufficiently high number of people are performing better than you. Would you put the blame on your behavior, the same which you praised before for your success? While it's fine to to tell some individual to get his *ss in gear when he deserves so, doing the same for the poor in general is just incredibly ignorant - and arrogant.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He always pushed at me to do better, and not to become comfortable with what I was doing.

I will always be thankful the people in my life who did the same thing, even though I hated them at the time! For example, early in my working life in Japan, I received some very harsh criticism about my teaching techniques from a boss, and although I was furious at the time, I really had to stop and think: was I as lazy and complacent as he said? Didn't I have the potential to do better, much much better? His words jolted me into action. Over the next few years I worked my butt off, improved my techniques, did a lot of extra-curricular study, made a lot of connections, and although it was hard at times, I'm reaping the rewards (lecture at university, work at an international school as an advisor, regularly get invited to hold workshops around the country, run my own little business at home). I can honestly say that I enjoy every day of my working life ... and that I make a good living at it, too. And it's all thanks to the people who told me frankly what I didn't want to hear, but badly needed to.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yeah. Spend your whole life striving and screwing over others, be an achiever. And when you die you get a gold coffin, unlike the plebs who only get plywood or cardboard, so you WIN!

Congratulations....

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yeah. Spend your whole life striving and screwing over others, be an achiever. And when you die you get a gold coffin, unlike the plebs who only get plywood or cardboard, so you WIN!

The value is in the journey, not the destination.

All roads lead to the same place, so one can't waste the limited time one has doing as little as one can. Life is about growing and realizing potential, not about becoming a tiny part of someone else's corporate machine. The only people who are really s crewing themselves over are those who sell decades of their lives for a wage, however large (or little) they believe it to be.

In the end, my coffin may be no bigger than anyone else's, but in the meantime I can live in a larger home in a better part of the city. I can eat whatever I like, wherever I like, whenever I like. I can provide my family with all that they need, and most of what they want (pet dinosaurs are out of my price range). If there is a place I want to travel to on my vacation, I can go, instead of just dreaming about going.

But keep on doing what you are doing, but looking back 20 years from now, don't be surprised if you feel some regret about what is, and what might have been. Your future is of your own making, and not anyone else's.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I can provide my family with all that they need, and most of what they want (pet dinosaurs are out of my price range).

Are you sure?

http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/offer-listing/B000ZXEF4O/ref=dp_olp_0?ie=UTF8&condition=all

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Got to agree low-income doesn't have to mean or being poor. All depends if you can live within your means and ,IMHO, many 'rich' people caN'T.

Wealth is about what you can do within your means and not about how much can waste, UMO.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Spend your whole life striving and screwing over others, be an achiever.

What on earth makes you think that it's necessary to screw people over to be a success? It's not. In fact, some of the most successful people I know are always willing to lend a glad helping hand to others ... as long as they can see that the people they help, are willing to help themselves. Most of the people who have helped me in life - and there have been many - have asked for nothing in return except that I give it my best shot. I like to think that their faith in me was rewarded.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Wealth is about what you can do within your means and not about how much can waste, UMO.

Where do you work right now? If you are like almost everyone else here, you work for a company or business of some type. Most of the employed people in the world do the same thing.

What if the person who started your company, and those who started all the other places where people work decided to follow your advice, and contented themselves with having a low income. Would the world be a better place?

For myself, I don't waste, fully 40% of my income is reinvested into my business. With this money I buy more and more stock from suppliers and craftsmen, who use the money I pay them to take care of their own expenses. Would they be better off if I contented myself with a small income? The rest of my income goes to regular overhead and taxes, and some I use to support my family. I don't have a garage full of cars, but if I did, the people who made and sold the cars would be better off, right? It takes hundreds of people to design, build, sell, and deliver a car, all of whom get a part of whatever I pay for it. Am I really wasting my money when I buy one?

Your logic is rather backwards. The best way you can improve the lives around you, and to make the world a better place is to try to be as successful as you can. The type of low-income lifestyle you describe is normal in the third world, but I doubt you or anyone else here would trade places with someone living in a developing country. But anyone in the third world would change places with you in a heartbeat if they could.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Reading this thread its quite easy to see who the motivated go getters are.

No really? I'd guess it's the people telling us what motivated go-getters they are. I'd have missed it, only they told me anyway.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The best way you can improve the lives around you, and to make the world a better place is to try to be as successful as you can.

Yes! This, a hundred times over.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

How many have you helped have a better life BTW?

How many hundreds is more like it. I help save lives DAILY. There is a HELL of a lot more to life than just being focused on money and YOUR perception of success.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Yubaru

Never have i said that i am focused on money and that is MY perception of success. My definition of success is continual self improvement and being able to look after myself and my family at all times.

You save lives daily? well done. If that is your employment, then it means nothing, no more than a job for a teacher a police officer or teacher. I have the same respect for a librarian, a street cleaner or military person. What you do outside also matters and that also includes respecting others. Saving lives as paid employment is different than helping people reach their potential for free and without financial reward.

Being successful means a lot more than making money and those without success or unable to get there cannot see that and they often make snide remarks which do nothing to better themselves.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Much obliged to you, Spa editors, for the helpful hints. Could you perhaps further assist by suggesting to my employer that its loyal workforce receive a pay-raise?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is a HELL of a lot more to life than just being focused on money and YOUR perception of success.

I am not focused on money, I am focused on work. I find that I am much more satisfied working for myself, than for someone else. I get to make the decisions as to my working hours, the place where I work, and what kind kind of work I want to do. In regards to money, at least I can control how much I make, rather than let someone else pay me as little as they can get away with. If I need or want more money, I find a way. This may sound difficult, but it is not, it can actually be fun.

It is very easy to rationalize things, even when they are irrational. People often lie to themselves, saying that they are happy with what they are doing, or that they don't need or want more than they have. I am sure every day that they see something they would like to have, but which they cannot afford, or dream about what they would do if they won the lottery. They are not really happy with what they are doing, they have just become familiar with what they are doing, and are uneasy about leaving their comfort zone.

I look at the crowds of people in dark suits commuting to work to endure their long day, the delivery drivers and construction workers who are doing the same. I don't envy them at all. They do what they have to do, and no more. They have glass ceiling above their heads which they themselves created, and will likely never climb through it. They will always be at the mercy of their employer; getting a raise when the company feels it is necessary, and getting a few days off if they ask nicely, and the company thinks they can spare them the time.

For myself, I spend most of my time at home. I lease a large office which I visit three days each week. Most of my business can be done on my computer from anywhere. I employ a couple of university students who do part-time work packing boxes and running errands, and who help me communicate with my suppliers (I speak little Japanese). It is not intense or demanding, the only skill necessary is determing what my customers want, how much they are willing to pay, and then going out and finding these goods. It is a constant learning experience, and the more I learn the more I make.

For every door I open, I find two more. There are more opportunities than I have time to exploit, but it is as easy to find a comfort zone in owning a business as it is in working for a business. The goal is always to grow, not just in a financial sense. I have learned a lot more running the show than I ever could by simply performing in it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The owners and writers of Spa! of full of themselves and out of touch with everyone.

Heaven help them when THEY lose their jobs and/or friends/relatives!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

After losing your job the being forced from your home to live in a tent in a park HOW do the expect the poor people of Japan to buy stock when they can not buy enough food to eat each day weekly?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some people are just TOO LAZY!! They do not study, they do not want to work, they want their PARENTS to support them the rest of their lives, NIITOS etc..who stay locked up in their rooms and never come out, etc...no idea why people become so selfish! But Japan has way too many of these wierdos and at the same time too many BAD companies that over work their employees, do not pay enough and still expect them to be happy??

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Work to live, fine to me. Just dont forget to have a social life. Tanks all for your comment showing face of the world. I am part of the lucky ones to have a nice and healthy family in a peaceful country... Rest is philosophy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good stuff, Sangetsu, but unwelcome advice for the demographic here, which skews young and entitled.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

falseflagsteve: "You save lives daily? well done. If that is your employment, then it means nothing,"

Saving lives means nothing, steve? really? Career or not, saving lives means a LOT more than serving a hot fudge sunday, my friend. And if people find satisfaction and reward in that (or in serving hot fudge sundays, for that matter) all the better, and all the more motivation to work. You say you are not motivated in terms of making money, but it sure seems that way from your posts.

"Being successful means a lot more than making money and those without success or unable to get there cannot see that and they often make snide remarks which do nothing to better themselves."

As opposed to your remarks, I guess?

Aside from specific goals like winning a race or what have you, 'success' is an objective term and experience. I agree with you that you do outside is what really counts in terms of being successful and happy (though you don't touch on the happy part). But given your comments on this and other threads, I really don't see you seeing it objectively.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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