I flew from Beijing to Narita and had one night in Narita before taking a flight for Frankfurt.    It was the first time I stayed in Narita (instead of Tokyo) and it was great.    My ‘airport’ hotel turned out to be some 30 minutes from the airport – not quite what I would call ‘airport hotel’ but I had time and the beauty was that I ended up in the middle of Narita.   The weather was great, and although I arrived VERY tired (actually completely wiped) – I forced myself to go for a walk around Narita.  

IMG_0118 Great little city, very lively given the fact that I was getting air at 10PM – lots of people, happy, little restaurants – small streets, village feel but sophisticated feel.   Another thing, not so many gaigin (foreigners) in Narita – very evident by the number of people that ‘stare’ at you.  When in Tokyo, a foreign guy walks by no one looks twice.   In Narita, like in China, there is all these double takes – people still not so accustomed to the foreign face.  Kind of nice to be in a place where its still not ‘spoiled’ by world wide expansion.

Morning today was up at 8AM, but was still VERY bagged.   Was a bit panicked since I had a lot of presentation work to do, and was planning to spend the morning working on it – but it wasn’t to be – brain and body was not co-operating.   So, one thing I have learned is that you cannot fight your body – so, instead of forcing myself with coffee and coke to push through – I instead pulled up two chairs in the Narita lounge and had a snooze for a couple hours.  Then, still tired after boarding, stretched out and got a bit more rest.

The great thing was that it worked.    It was like my body thanked me for giving it a break, and after a couple of hours of sleep on the airplane, I was up, sharp, in the moment, focused and eager to go.   I suspect that I got overloaded last week – with just too many things hitting me at one time.   I had noticed this before – I can handle any crisis – ANY – but you give me 20 small crisis – and I become ineffective.   Basically, the context switching for me between tasks is quite tasking, and I think it drains me.   So, moving forward, ever so more important for me to isolate myself from the ‘small’ crisis – since the small crisis can be handled by really anyone – and to leave myself for the high value things.

So, on the great note – I put together the RedStores.com story into a power point – lucky I had developed few months ago a business plan for RedStores come.  The document was really for myself to guide me through this process – and I could not imagine how handy it came for me.  Not only reminded me how GREAT a plan this is BUT also it made it possible for me to put together a presentation in 4 hours.  In fact, as I was putting this presentation, I realized that I would be nowhere at this moment, had I not invested in the ‘small’ things in the past – like logo design, graphic standards, business plan, modeling tools, etc.  All those things I spend last 1 year working on – I would not, I repeat would not, be ready for Germany if those things where not in pace.

But, I have them, and they are great – an so I feel great – very, very ready for Germany.

On a different tangent.   I’m flying on ANA business class this time – I wanted to save a bit and went business instead of first.   I actually haven’t been on ANA for a few years – and it has been amazing.   There is a story here – and that is that – ANA’s business class  outrivals United first class by about 200%.     Just few weeks I flew to Canada and I went first, but it was United First.   You don’t fully realize how truly pathetic North American airlines are until you try the Asian airlines.  

The lesson here is this.  America has really gone down hill.  Americans have now been taught to accept mediocrity and trained to consider it as good.   Americans level of expectation has been so reduced that its actually very concerning.

So, business lesson:  Americans can be satisfied with much less – they have been trained to expect less.   By going above and beyond (like ANA does) – we can impress the American consumer.   They now live in a world where they service and quality of service has been reduced to a low, low standard.    If we can remain a bastion of quality, value and good customer service, we will win the hearts, minds and yes, wallets of our customers.