The Sony visit

So it’s Howard Stringer and about 15 Japanese dudes all wearing identical black suits, looking super solemn and contrite, not saying a word and just staring down at their identical black Japanese business shoes. We go up to the conference room and Howard says he is here with his top management team to apologize profusely for the flaming batteries. Then he looks at his guys, and nods, and two of them stand up and leave the room. Howard goes on for a while more about how Sony will make this right and accept the blame, will pay all the costs, does not want to lose us as a customer, and so on. Suddenly the guys who left come back dressed in kimonos. They stand there, rigid as boards, staring straight ahead. Stringer goes, The man on the right is Yamamoto-san. He runs the division that designed the faulty batteries. He is going to commit seppuku. The other man is his second. He will assist him.

Stringer nods, and I swear this is true, the guy on the right pulls out a knife. Larry’s eyes just bug out of his friggin head. He’s practically got drool coming out of the corners of his mouth. I start to speak but Larry grabs my arm and says, Don’t interrupt, You must let him do it, or you’ll dishonor him. I’m like, Dishonor him? The guy’s about to cut his stomach open in my friggin conference room!

Larry says, Steve, trust me, just go with this. I had a guy from NEC do this once in my office. It’s incredible. After he cuts out his intestines, his second will slice his head off. Then the others will carry him out on their shoulders. Oh God! I love the Japanese.

But I said, Look, Howard, I’m sorry, but I can’t let your guy do this. Howard says, Well, if you dishonor him like this, he’ll have to do it back at the hotel or something, and the shame will hang over his entire family. And I’m like, Whatever, Howard, we can’t just have guys killing themselves in our conference rooms, it’s bad for the vibe, I’m sorry. Please. Everyone. Just go.

So they all file out and Larry says, You know what, buddy? Sometimes you really disappoint me. And he stomps out after them, asking Stringer whether they really are going to do this back at the hotel, and if so where are they staying, and can he attend?

So, that’s how I spent my day. Same old same old. How about you?