“We need to work with others …
so what can we do to make ourselves more effective in dealing with others?”

Leading the revolution

Dale Carnegie Training Japan equips businesses for the changes to come


FEBRUARY 2020 Investig in Japan / Text by Toby Waters / Photos by Benjamin Parks

People look to their leaders to guide them through challenges and changes. But as corporate Japan confronts the need to revolutionise its many outdated practices, are Japan Inc.’s leaders up to the task?

According to Dr Greg Story, president of Dale Carnegie Training Japan, the sluggishness of the nation’s economy over the past 30 years has contributed to a lack of effective leadership training at many companies.

“After the asset bubble burst, companies cut their training budgets expecting the downturn to only be a couple of years, not three lost decades,” Story says. “That means there are a couple generations of leaders who never got any training except the training from their supervisor. Since staff are promoted based on how long they’ve worked at the company — not by their expertise, performance or ability — the chance of getting a boss who’s a star performer is pretty low.”

Last month, Japan’s Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) recommended that companies begin to adopt performance-based approaches to promotions and to invest more in training. A shift of this magnitude, away from the traditional lifetime employment model, is certain to shake up corporate structure at every level. It also means that professional development courses, such as those offered by Dale Carnegie Training, will become more valuable to Japanese businesses than ever before.

“When the most conservative business lobby says we should go for a performance-based system, I would suggest that we are at the very beginning of a revolution for training needs in Japan,” says Story.

For more than 100 years globally, and 58 years in Japan, Dale Carnegie Training has not strayed from the principles laid out by its eponymous founder in his perennial best-seller How to Win Friends and Influence People. And this has seen it become one of the biggest training solution providers in the world, outlasting innumerable fads and trends.

“Dale Carnegie’s idea was very simple,” says Story. “We need to work with others and we need to get along with others, so what can we do to make ourselves more effective in dealing with others?”

Its courses cover the spectrum of sales, presentation, communication and leadership, while emphasising where these areas interconnect. Story is proud of their usefulness.

“An MBA may have a broad sweep across various facets of business, but it’s at a very theoretical level; when you get to your desk on Monday morning, there’s nothing you can implement on the spot that day,” he explains. “With our courses, it’s immediate. That’s what differentiates us.”

With its long history, and a satisfaction rate in Japan of 98.3% among attendees, it might be easy to think that promotion for Dale Carnegie Training takes care of itself. Instead, Story makes extensive use of personal branding to promote its courses and to give the firm a friendly face.



“To me, personal branding is being a good person who’s good at something,” says Story. “If your personal brand is built around morality and good service, then you’re going in the right direction. We will make good profits and build a successful business if our driver is to help other people.”

Author of Japan Sales Mastery, Japan Business Mastery, and the upcoming Japan Presentation Mastery, Story believes that businesses of any size should be making the most of today’s tools — including print, video and audio — to effectively promote themselves and their brands. In the age of the internet, he notes, when managers have the opportunity to present themselves to the public in a consistently authentic and professional way, the good feelings they instil in their audience will be transferred to the firm they represent.

“There are three crucial steps to success in business: know, like, and trust,” Story explains. “If you don’t know someone, you can’t do business with them. You may reluctantly work with someone you don’t like, but no one ever works with someone they don’t trust. Personal branding helps with knowing and liking, and as you get to know someone, trust follows.”

Story came to understand the potential of personal branding after he began writing personal-development thought-leadership pieces for a number of publications. He soon realised that, while the articles were well received, publishing them with a photograph of himself attached was more effective in cultivating an audience — and keeping him and Dale Carnegie Training in readers’ minds.

Soon after, he began producing podcasts and YouTube videos featuring interviews with some of Japan’s most influential business figures. Story has learned first-hand that putting out a diverse range of content creates several touchpoints for potential customers to discover him, and therefore his business.

“None of what I put out is propaganda for Dale Carnegie,” Story says. “I’m putting out free content to help people improve, and people associate that with the high-quality work we do here. When we are in the public eye, we are commanding not just our own brand, but the brand for the whole company.”

Story insists that personal branding can lead to powerful results for smaller companies. By consistently creating strong content, SMEs can level the playing field with their larger competitors.

“Personal branding is how even smaller businesses can compete, and ‘know, like and trust’ comes with it — you can punch above your weight if you’ve got the goods,” he says. “If what you present looks professional, and the content you produce is relevant, it doesn’t matter how big you are — and viewers or readers won’t care how big you are.”

Global business has changed dramatically since Dale Carnegie gave his first training session in 1912. But the firm stands as proof that, if you stay true to your core values, you can create a brand that can endure — and become a leader that others look to during times of change. 

“We will make good profits and build a successful business
if our driver is to help other people”