Dinner with the Yakuza
The phone rings in my office. I picked up; the Sales VP asked me to come to his office as our Japanese partners arrived to greet them. I was not prepared. I was in jeans and a t-shirt as we had to install a lot of computers for the new shops. Anyway, I went down.
Our Japanese partner, who brought a translator with him, a woman was standing there, and I greeted him the European way. The translator translated, and of course, as European, I looked into her eyes.
That’s not done! Let’s say I completely messed up the first impression to put it nicely.
To fix it, the day after, I went back, wearing a suit and followed the Japanese politeness rules. The Japanese partner just replied politely “Nice to meet you”, and that was it, they sign the deal for the next fashion season, and they left back to Japan.
To put this in the right perspective, I was Head of IT worldwide for a Fashion company during the day, during the night I did PR and the Japanese partner was interested in our Kids Fashion Line. The Japanese partner was the CEO; let’s call him Haruto. This story happened around 20 years ago. I can talk about it, but I will not reveal names. people who know me, know about who I am talking about, that’s enough and that the story is real
Easier said than done… a whole table of business people not talking about business. And as you can expect… they started talking business. I needed to chance the subject fast. First about easy, simple topics, but every time Ranbir and Haruto switched to business.
I had no other choice than going some more explicit, some more non-political correct matters. So I asked about Tattoos.
Haruto second hand told me that Tattoo’s in Japan are related to specific cultural groups, and Ranbir said to me that Tattoo’s in India are often related to religion. I explained Tattoo’s in Europe is more about fashion and expression of the individual.
After 10 minutes talking the culture and religion parts of Tattoos, Haruto put his hand around my shoulder, he started to speak English to me, saying “I like you, I observed you, and you came here with us while others don’t want to join us. Then he told that his friends and partners have the jacket tattoo (the typical tattoo of the Yakuza)
The only thing I could reply was “you speak English?” He laughed and bowed his head
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