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David Wagner

David Wagner & Company

Date of birth: Jan. 29, 1961

Hometown: Denver

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 32 (as of May 2019)

David Wagner
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

In 1982, I was an exchange student at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka. I immediately fell in love with the culture and felt at home in Japan. As the years have passed, my respect and admiration remains the same even in the face of radical change.

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

“If not now, when?” We are on the planet for a limited time. Using that time to craft the life you want to live is top priority. I wanted an independent work life and made it happen. An example of this was approaching NHK myself, offering to make a TV show, designing it, editing it and appearing as the host for two years. Take control. Make it happen.

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

I’ve spent my working life helping Japanese to better communicate with the outside world. I’ve trained and coached over 30,000 Japanese during three decades, pushing them to attain a successful style shift to stand on equal footing with those they encounter. Giving them tools to succeed has been very rewarding.

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

I always want one foot in the game. Whether I continue to be based in Japan or not, I plan to proceed with efforts to help Japanese business people with media engagements to manage the media through effective messaging and message delivery.

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

Be patient and respect cultural norms. Japan is a place where non-Japanese can experience impatience due to cultural phenomenon such as nemawashi (reaching a group consensus before making a decision) which takes time to proceed smoothly. Respecting those norms and learning how to “read the air,” accept that “it can’t be helped,” "grin and bear it” and even reading one's mind make a big difference. But I must admit that after 30 years, I am still rather poor at mind reading.

Last updated: May 27, 2019