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Jeff Crawford

Co-Founder & Lead Consultant
Zo Digital Japan G.K.

Hometown: Michigan

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 14 (as of December 2018)

Jeff Crawford
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

I spent three weeks here when I was backpacking through Asia in 1993. I had a Japan Rail Pass, a “Lonely Planet” guidebook, and not much else. I fell in love with Japan then, and still love it now.

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

In the business world, communication is paramount. Expressing yourself clearly with knowledge and confidence is a really important skill. 
However, I was never the “center of attention” kind of guy. So I tend to favor listening over speaking, and prefer to communicate by asking intelligent questions. 
This motto really helps me to be a consultant.

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

In a previous life, I worked at a number of well-known Silicon Valley companies and shipped some great products. But what I am most proud of is coming to Japan by myself in 2004 knowing very little, then take it to where we are now with Zo Digital.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

Right now, I see so many amazing businesses in Japan with incredible products. However, I am flustered because these businesses have poor websites and poor digital marketing practices. They are losing billions of yen every year and don’t realize it.
I hope to change this.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

In my 14 years here, I have seen a number of instances where managers and executives come in from overseas with “guns a-blazing,” looking to instantly fix everything they think is wrong in their business or organization. I have seen that approach fail spectacularly many times. As a foreign executive, you need to apply principles like nemawashi (quietly laying the groundwork), and let things bubble up to the top. You also need to set expectations accordingly with foreign stakeholders.

Last updated: Dec 28, 2018