Monday, January 6, 2014

About a big-time Japanese businessman who eats the competition for breakfast



So there we were first thing in the morning on the second day of the year, at the lobby of the Peninsula Manila, living a Travelife.

We were there to meet a big-time and famous Japanese entrepreneur who not too long ago made the news all over Japan for thinking out of the box, fighting the status quo and getting his own way.

Almost every single time.


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A BUSY DAY AHEAD

Actually, he was the guest of an old friend and they were exploring new business opportunities together in Manila.

Then the day before, I just happened to mention an idea of mine to this old friend, and he'd suggested I join his meeting.

I told him: "Can't. I have a really busy day ahead."

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SOME PEOPLE JUST LOVE THEIR WORK

It was January 2 and while most of the Philippines was still in a New Year's hangover, I was raring to get to work.

In fact, I'd been raring to get back to work since Christmas.



There were a million things lined up, and I also had a Pilates session first thing in the morning -- the perfect way to begin the year, I thought.

But somehow I got persuaded to cancel my morning and join the meeting, and that was how I found myself at the lobby of the Peninsula Manila that early morning.

DOING MY HOMEWORK



Before meeting the guy, of course I'd studied up on him.

He's the equivalent of a guerrila businessman without fear of absolutely anything.

He'd made a ton of enemies along the way to great success and fabulous wealth, and he'd never hesitated to stomp the living daylights (figuratively, of course) out of anyone who got in his way.



I said figuratively there, but that's not quite accurate.

I unearthed one news report about how he'd boxed someone who'd displeased him on the streets of Tokyo.

Anyway, all this was enough to intrigue me.

SMOOTH AS NAILS



When I finally met him, he was extremely polite and nice.

But beneath the smooth surface, you could see guts of steel and a really strong character.

My friend and I said to him, even if both of us were fully in work mode: "It's still a holiday over here."

In reply he said, with a bit of pride: "I haven't taken a holiday in 25 years."

UP 16 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS

After the meeting at the Peninsula, we went on to a second location for a briefing and another meeting. It was at the penthouse of a building with a small elevator that I imagined was not too new.

So I told the guys: "I'll walk up. I'll see you there."

A GREAT WORKOUT



They both looked at me like I'd just announced I was moving to Mars. My friend said incredulously: "Walking up? 16 floors?"

I nodded happily and began my ascent. As I disappeared from view, I heard the Japanese guy say: "Very impressive."

Whatever. I just don't like small and old elevators. So that was my workout for January 2nd, in place of the Pilates session I should have had.

BREAKFAST FARE



Later on, when I got a minute alone with my friend, I said to him: "Careful about this guy. He's a real fighter, although of course that's probably how he got so far in life as well."

My friend is always cool and even-tempered.

He looked at the Japanese businessman seated across us and said to me: "He seems nice enough."



We'd just had a nice and quiet, and very pleasant morning coffee, after all.

I smiled at him and said: "That's because you're not on opposite sides. Wait till you become the competition. Then you're breakfast."

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And isn't that true of everyone?

It certainly is, I believe, even for me in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

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