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Japan: Customer service and duty-based ethics

Japan's customer service?

Legendarily good, yes?

Partially!

Japan has extraordinary amounts of customer service since a large bulk of their belief and daily practice is based around duty-based ethics. This is a rare thing to most Westerners - in the West, we're very willing to fudge the rules to provide a better outcome. It's expected, even.

In Japan, the ethical systems are more along the lines of rules than outcomes. We're generalizing, of course, this isn't everyone. But it's most people here.

Stealing Ideas

On Danny Schmidgall

In many cases, I'm a big fan of stealing other people's ideas. You shouldn't take credit for ideas that aren't yours, of course, and I also wouldn't recommend stealing ideas if the sole purpose of stealing them is to stay competitive with the person/company you're stealing from. 

In most other situations, though, I encourage stealing ideas. First, actively looking for ideas to steal means always keeping an eye out for improvements. Need some help on getting organized? Call the busiest people you know and figure out what their secret is. Want to open a new business but not sure how to make it unique? Travel to a few cities and look to see what other people are doing. I know several restaurants that are great, but the owners clearly have no intention of expanding. Talking to the owners about how and why they are successful can go a long way in helping somebody else start a (noncompetitive) business of their own.

Of course what I'm really talking about is sharing ideas. However, many people have great ideas, but for whatever reason the people don't take any action to spread their ideas. I'd love to see a website similar to TED, but 1,000 times bigger and with way simpler concepts. Essentially, it would aggregate all of the useful, daily tips and suggestions that people can use to improve their lives. The internet already has this information available, but finding it won't happen unless we all know how to search for it.

This reminds me of a story I once read (help me out if you know the source) about Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Supposedly, he would often gather a team of some of the best doctors and scientists he could find, representing several different specialties. Then they would all sit in a conference room together and just talk. Each individual would get a chance to talk about the top need in his field, the one thing that would mean saving the most money or saving the most lives or whatever the case was. In many cases, somebody else in the room would already have a very similar solution developed in their own field. In other words, the answers to our biggest problems exist already, but we're all looking in too narrowly.

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