The Question of Longevity


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If you take a look at a list of the oldest companies in the world, you’ll see the glaringly obvious fact that the majority of the companies listed are Japanese.

Germany makes a good argument for having a fair few, while the U.S. begins a late charge once they broke away from British rule. The rest is a mish-mash of European countries and developing countries (at least in the later part of the list).

So why does Japan have such a strong command of business, and what it takes to survive?

There are a few reasons. As someone who’s heavily influenced by Japanese culture, one of the things I’ve always admired about their business approach is how they encourage innovation and information-sharing from the bottom up. Everyone has a voice – it may not be used, but it will be heard.

Another reason is the permanent employment system Japanese companies use. This sees workers employed from college, but without a particular skill set to take to their new job. So, instead of being stuck in one division, the new recruit really does learn all about the company and its culture as he or she works their way through it.

Yet perhaps the biggest pointer on why Japanese companies often succeed where others fail is due to one simple reason, and one that’s more prevalent through smaller companies as opposed to the larger ones.

New employees are given mentors, and they spend years learning their craft, honing their skills and understanding every part of a machination or process that their employer goes through every day. They focus on needs and future needs as opposed to current successes.

It’s probably no surprise that this system can be found in Germany, under the term Meister – perhaps the reason Germany is second only to Japan when it comes to longevity and success.

So, simply put, knowing what you’re talking about and how to transfer that to what your customer needs is the secret of not only Japanese business’ longevity, but longevity in general when it comes to you too.

  • Make your blog your fountain of knowledge as opposed to your drainpipe of loose facts.
  • Make your speeches your topic of personal knowledge as opposed to a Googled equivalent.
  • Make your business the one that finds the answers it doesn’t have, as opposed to your customers finding them first elsewhere.
  • Make your job the one that educates you for your next position as opposed to the one that educates you on killing time.
  • Make the books you read enhance your knowledge as opposed to entrench your growth.

We all want long-term success. We all want to be recognized or known for what we do, long after we don’t do it anymore. But sometimes we think achieving longevity is something others do, not us.

The funny thing is, longevity is a lot easier to come by than we think it is – you just have to know how to find it, and funnel it.

Ready to start learning?

image: mharrsch

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown is partner at Bonsai Interactive Marketing, a full service agency offering integrated, social media and mobile marketing solutions. He is also founder of the 12for12k Challenge, a social media-led charity initiative connecting globally and helping locally.


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