After 23 years in the media and entertainment business in the United States, including 10 years International media, I decided to take my experience and skills to Japan. I have loved Japan since I was a young man, but my life’s direction led me away from my dream of living in Japan for a number of years. Fortunately during that time I was able to amass a good deal of International business experience and training.
For ten years I held the position of Director of Production at Fox Sports, a division of twenty-first Century Fox Film Corporation, one of the world’s largest and well-known media producers. In that position i oversaw a staff of over a hundred production professional producing materials in English and Spanish for the U.S. Domestic and international markets.
The position gave me the opportunity to work closely not only with American business leaders, but also with the European, South American and Japanese business communities as well. Through my experiences there I gained first-hand knowledge of international business practices.
As a trainer I spent some years as an advisor for college media studies programs, and I received a post-graduate level TEFL training certificate from The University of California-Los Angeles, one of the top twenty universities in the world according to the Guardian newspaper.
Arriving in Japan I realized quickly that English and business training is underperforming. In fact, despite the current training, communication between Japan and Western countries has not improved at all. I asked myself why in this country where so many people earnestly learn English and spend so much time and money abroad, there seems to be a problem with international communication. It think the reasons are as follows.
There is a common misconception among students and trainers alike that students are not skilled English speakers and not familiar with Western business practice. As a result, training curriculums are often designed without the actual students needs in mind. In fact many trainers seem to have no idea what the students actual needs are. Some have little connection to the business culture whence the students come. The miscommunication begins at the first day of training, or even from the day the curriculum is decided. No wonder we see so little success in cross culture and English training.
Further many trainers and programs seem to approach this issue as a student problem. But how could not succeeding be a student problem only. The trainers have a responsibility to reach the students as well. Both side have a responsibility but to achieve success the trainer has to reach the students first. Like a coach, he or she must give them the motivation they need to progress.
As long as these current trends continue, I can’t imagine an improvement in business training. The first thing I want my students to understand is that they can speak English. They can perform in an international arena. Without this belief in themselves building true confidence is difficult if not impossible. The result is a lack of confidence or worse yet an artificial aggressive “confidence” that harms business relationships and negotiations.
At Venture English I focus on the skills the students already have. We build confidence by using the skills and building on the skills naturally, while defining what skills are actually necessary to improve. When a student leaves a Venture English seminar he or she will know that international business is challenging, but they will also know that they are up to the challenge. As hard as it may be, they can do it. That is the message of Venture English, and that’s what I try to accomplish in every seminar. Because to achieve success in an international business arena you must believe in yourself first.