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My (Second) First Full Day…

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Today (Friday) was my first full day of work at Rakuten… or at least it was supposed to be.  I went to bed at a reasonable hour in order to be well rested for my morning presentation to many of the stakeholders of my upcoming project.  Things do not always go according to plans, and I was awakened (for good) at 4:00am by a phone call from my wife who needed help.  It seems we have a sick child back home, and she had to cut short her road trip to go back to take care of him.  I do not fault her one bit… she needed help on a time sensitive matter, and the extra two hours of sleep would have cost a great deal.

I think my presentation went well despite my fatigue, and was well received.  I have delivered hundreds of presentations to tens of thousands of IT Pros, but this was the first time I was doing it as the lead architect of a major project for a large organization in a foreign land.  Fortunately I was well prepared, and covered almost all of the bases.

Following the meeting – and a great Q&A session where Mark and I were able to answer a lot of questions and allay a lot of peoples’ fears – I arranged to have lunch with one of the key players.  He is a huge proponent of the project, and of Microsoft technologies, making him a breed apart from many of his colleagues.  Fortunately I was able to convey the message I have always emphasized, that IT shouldn’t be about religion, but rather about the best tools for the job.  He and I had another great lunch in the cafeteria – I am again not quite sure what I ate, but this time I am reasonably sure it was vegetarian, possibly a grilled squash variety.

That is one of the problems I am having here, albeit I do not consider it a difficult one.  You see, I have been on a weight management program for the past month, during which I have religiously recorded in a tool called MyFitnessPal.com everything that I ate so that I could keep track, know what I am eating, and of course know when to stop.  It is simple to do in North America where I know what everything is (or can ask), but here where some things are just foreign to me, and many of the people cannot explain what I am ordering in English, it is a challenge.  With that being said I am reasonably sure that i am eating far fewer calories throughout the course of the day than I did even during the first month of the diet – during which I lost 14lbs – and what I am eating is almost entirely healthy and in smaller portions.  I look forward to stepping onto a scale in six weeks and seeing if I am right or not…

English: View of Shinjuku skyscrapers and Moun...Today is the first sunny day since I arrived, which is to say that it rained the day I got here and the following day.  It is an amazingly bright and clear day, which afforded me a wonderful and unexpected surprise.  As we dined in the cafeteria on the 13th floor (yes, I know) of Rakuten Tower 1, my lunch companion pointed out that we were very clearly able to see Mount Fuji in the distance.  It was truly an amazing sight… one of the world’s most famous mountains, and being able to see where it poked above the clouds was a true delight.  I hope during my stay to make the journey to Fuji, which is apparently a little over two hours from Tokyo by public transportation.

The last meeting I attended today was a division-wide monthly meeting, which had hundreds of people attending.  I was amazed that they invited several team members from across the business unit to present in English about what they are working on and why it is exciting and important.  It was not only impressive because of what I was learning about the company, but I could not imagine a company in Canada deciding one day that the primary language of the company would be Japanese, and three years later having a meeting of hundreds of people entirely in Japanese.

The company where I am working – Rakuten – owns a baseball team.  They did not simply go out and buy a team; several years ago the company formed a team which now plays in the Japanese Pacific League.  It is based in Tohoku Rakuten Golden EaglesSendai, in the Miyagi Prefecture.  I am not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds to me like it is where the team is located.  Anyhow the Eagles won a huge game yesterday – they clinched the team’s first ever Pacific League Pennant… and only two years after their stadium was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

I bring up the baseball team because today was a great day of jubilation at the company – many of the presenters included pictures of the team celebrating, and even of the CEO (Hiroshi Mikitani-san) being lofted high by fans.  In my experience while corporations do own franchises in North American sports, it would be unlikely that the Montreal Canadians would ever be renamed the Bell Canada Canadians… or the Toronto Blue Jays being renamed the Rogers/BCE Blue Jays.  However it seemed today at Rakuten that everyone was an Eagles fan… if only for the day, and only for the corporate spirit and camaraderie of it.  Rest assured I will be bringing my kids shirts or hats with the Eagles logo on it!

So the weekend is here, and I found out at 4:00 that it is actually a long week-end, with Monday a national holiday.  While I have a quasi-work commitment tomorrow (in the guise of a wonderful social lunch at a colleague’s house) I will still be exploring… a lot.  This evening (Friday) I will likely not venture far from my hotel… I will probably try another quaint little restaurant along the way as I did last night.

Aside from my lunch tomorrow I will probably be exploring Tokyo.  As for Sunday, I am quite tempted to venture outside of the city… maybe my trip to Fuji, possibly a bullet train to… I don’t know where.  There is so much to see and do that I am not quite sure where to start, and I think my best bet is to broach the subject over lunch tomorrow.  So stay tuned, but I promise you this… I am charging my camera batteries this evening, and starting tomorrow the pictures on the blog will be my own!

Thanks for reading… and keep your comments coming! -MDG

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2 Comments

  1. 5xmike says:

    I’ve enjoying visiting Japan again vicariously and I have to admit that I am a little jealous of your long stay. We crammed a lot into our 10 day vacation, but it isn’t the same as immersing in the culture. If you are a fan of baseball even causally you should try to get to a game – lots of fun.

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