Working in Laos: Taku Mori, self-made media man

Taku Mori

Taku Mori came to Laos eleven years ago as a tourist. He now runs his own publishing and event management company, is brand manager for Yamaha and runs the Japan-Lao CyclingClub in his spare time. Taku tells us of his adaptive strategy for doing business in Laos and offers advice for media graduates and young entrepreneurs.

WLL: Taku Mori, you began your career as a chef, attending cooking school for four years in Osaka, Japan, where you studied Japanese, Chinese and French cuisine. After training as a chef, how did you end up running a media company in Laos?

Taku:After graduating from cooking school, I wanted to move to Tokyo to improve my skills but I decided to take a break first and travelled southern Japan. I enjoyed traveling, and planned an overseas trip to China, Tibet, India, Thailand and Europe. This was in 2001.

WLL: So I guess you came to Laos as a tourist, originally?

Taku:Yes, but at that time I didn’t really know much about Laos. I was on my way to Thailand when I travelled through Laos the first time. After traveling further into Indonesia and Singapore, I came back to Laos because I felt like I missed Laos. The people in Laos are very friendly and it’s a wonderful place.

WLL: So you never made it to India or Tibet?

Taku:No (laughs).

WLL: How did your career in Laos begin?

Taku:My first job was with a travel company called Jumping Tours. In the day I worked for the tour company and in the evenings I managed their Japanese restaurant, Tokyo Kitchen. I then moved to a state owned tourism enterprise called Lao Youth Travel, where I worked for two years.

WLL: I see. And how did you move from travel to publishing?

Taku:  When I worked at the travel company I realised that the Japanese market was very small. There was not much information about Laos available in Japan and so I wanted to introduce Laos to Japanese people.  I got a job at a publishing company that was responsible for the Lao Airlines in-flight magazine at that time, which was called Discovery Laos. That was where I learned about publishing.

WLL:  And from there?

Taku:At that company I first produced and published my Taste of Laos magazine. The magazine has been in print for nine years now.

WLL: That’s a long time! And this was the first Japanese language magazine in Laos, right?

Taku:That’s right. In the beginning I did all the work myself. I did the design, sales, writing, delivery, accounting. Everything!

WLL:  Your business generates its income through advertising. Who are the main advertisers in your magazine?

Taku:The magazine targets the tourism industry, so our main advertisers are restaurants, hotels and travel companies.

WLL: Why did you decide to focus only on the Japanese market. Why not create a magazine in English targeting all nationalities?

Taku:That would be difficult to manage because it would require a lot more editing.  My magazine targets the niche market of Japanese tourists.

WLL: How many magazines do you distribute and where?

Taku:I distribute 8,000 copies per issue, which makes 32,000 copies per year.  The main distribution is at the airport and of course at all our major sponsors, the JICA office and at the Japanese embassy.

WLL: The magazine is now published under your the company, Studio IKKYU.

Taku: Yes. It comes from Japanese. Ikkyu-san is actually a Japanese cartoon character!

WLL: Interesting.  And I understand your company also does TV spots, public relations and media coordination, right?

Taku:Yes that’s right. I have been coordinating for Japanese television for many years, mostly when they come to produce programs about Laos.

WLL: So what type of staff do you employ?

Taku:I have Lao administration staff and one Japanese staff member as well. I also employ freelancers in Luang Prabang and Bangkok from time to time.

WLL: What differences do you notice between the working culture in Laos and the working culture in Japan?

Taku:The biggest difference is that Japanese people love work, while Lao people love family!  I believe there are good things and bad things about both these attitudes. Lao people enjoy spending time with their family, which is something I respect about Lao culture, and so I adjust my office culture to suit this environment.

WLL:  Tell us about Yamaha. We understand you’re also working as brand manager for Yamaha at iMusic.

Taku:I know the owner quite well and as he needed a brand manager, someone to communicate with Yamaha Japan, I volunteered for the job

WLL:  What are your responsibilities at Yamaha, as brand manager?

Taku:There are so many things to do! My section is marketing and mostly I coordinate with Yamaha in Japan.  I take care of compliance from Yamaha, basically managing the brand itself in Laos.  I spend a lot of time training staff as well, because many of our staff are musicians but haven’t worked in a large company before.

WLL: You run a publishing business, do event management and you are brand manager for Yamaha. These are all fantastic achievements. What’s next?

Taku:I really want to develop media in Laos, in television, radio and publishing. I believe this is important for the country and something I would love to do if I have the opportunity.

WLL: How would you do this?

Taku: I believe that human resources must be developed first. There is definitely a shortage of human resources in the media sector. There are not enough skilled people working in this field, even in publishing. I would happily hire people without experience, so long as they have an interest.

WLL: What advice do you have for any university graduates or young people looking for jobs in media or publishing?

Taku: My advice is to try this type of work for two to three months first. Then you will know if you really have a passion for it or not.

WLL: Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs or people who would like to start their own businesses?

Taku:Take it slowly, start small and grow your business step by step. You have to know how much you can manage. That is important. Then develop yourself and develop your company, little by little.

WLL: Lastly, what is it about Laos that you enjoy the most? Why have you stayed here for eleven years?

Taku: Lao people are good people. That is the best thing for me. I respect the culture, the language and the people.

 

This article is part of our “Working In Laos” series of interviews in collaboration with 108job.

By: Cameron Darke
Translation: Keovisouk Dalasane

 

???? ????: ????????????????? ??? ?????????????????????

 Taku Mori

???? ???? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????? ??? ??? ????????????????????????????????????? ??? ?????????????? ?????????????????????????????? ???????????? ?????? brand manager ?????? Yamaha ??? i-Music. ??????? ?????????????   Japan-Lao Cycling Club ??????????????????.

 

???????????????????????????? (?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????) ???????????? ????????????????????????????? ??? ??????????????? ???????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????. ??? ?????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????. ???????? ????????? ?????? ???????? ???????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????.

 

WLL: ???????? ???????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????? ???????????????? ?????? (????????????????? ???????????????????????????) ???????????????. ?????????? ??????????????????????? ???????? ??? ??????????. ?????????????? ??????????????? ???????????????? ?????????????????????????????????

????:????????????????? ???????????????????????????? ???????????????????????? ??? ???????? ??? ??????????? ????????????? ??????? ??????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????. ?????????????????????? 2001 ???????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????? ????? ?????? ?? ??????????????????.

 

WLL: ?????????? ??????????????????????????????????????

????:???????? ????????????????????????????????????????????. ??????? ??????????????????????? ????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????? ??? ???????. ??????????????????????????? ??????????????????????? ????????????? ??? ???????? ????????????????????????????.

 

WLL: ?????????????? ?????????????????????????????????? ?????? ??? ????? ???????????????????

????:??? ???????? ?????????????????? (???)

 

WLL: ?????????????????????????????????????????

????:??????????????????????????????????????????????? Jumping Tours. ?????????????????????????????? ???????? ??? ???????????????????????????????????? ?????? Tokyo Kitchen. ????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????.

 

WLL: ?????????? ?????????????????????????????????????

????:??????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????????. ??????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????? ????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????? (????????????? Discovery Laos). ??????????????????? ??? ???????????????????????? ??????????.

 

WLL: ???????????

????: ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Taste of Laos. ????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????.

 

WLL: ?? ??????????????????! ??? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????

????: ???????????. ???????????????????????????????????????????. ?????????? ????????? ?????? ??????? ??? ?????????. ???????????!

 

WLL: ?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????? ?????????????

????: ??????????????????????????????????????????? ???????? ???????????????????????????????????? ?????? ??? ???????????????.

 

WLL: ???????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????? ?????? ??????????????????

????: ????????????????????????????????????? ??? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????.

 

WLL: ????????? ???????????? ??? ???????????????

????: ???????????????????? 8,000 ??????, ????? 32,000 ???????????.  ??????????????????????????????  ?????????????????????? ??????? JICA ??? ???????????????????????.

 

WLL: ???????????????????????????? Studio IKKYU ????

????: ???????? ???????????????????  Ikkyu-san (?????????) ?????????????????????????? !

 

WLL: ?????????????. ??? ????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????

????: ???????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????.

 

WLL: ????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??? ??????? ?????????? ???????????????????

????: ???????????????? ?????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????? ??????? ?????????????????????????????!  ?????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????? ??? ???????. ??????????????? ??? ?????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????? ???????? ?????????????????? ??? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????.

 

WLL: ?????????? Yamaha ????. ????????????????????????? brand manager  ???Yamaha ??? iMusic ??????????.

????: ???????? ???????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????? brand manager ?????????????? Yamaha ??????????????? ???????? ?????????????????????????????.

 

WLL: ????????? brand manager ???????????????????????

????: ??????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????? ??? ??????????????????? ??????????? Yamaha ??????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????.

 

WLL: ??????????????????????????? ?????? ??? ???? brand manager  ???Yamaha. ????????? ??????????????????????

????: ??????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????? ????????? ??? ?????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????? ??????????????????????????? ??????????.

 

WLL: ????????????????

????: ??????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????. ?????????????????????????????? ????????????? ??????????????????. ???????? ???????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????.

 

WLL: ????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????? ?????? ????????????????????????? ??????????????? ??? ???????????????????

????: ????????????????????????????????????????????? (??????????) ??????????????????. ??????? ????????????????? ??????????????????????.

 

WLL: ??????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????

????: ???????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????? ?????????????????? ?????????????. ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????. ????????????????. ??????? ?????????????????????? ??? ????????????????????????.

 

WLL: ?????????? ?????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????

????: ??????????????? ?????????????????????????????????. ???????????????????????, ???? ??? ??????.

 

??????: Cameron Darke
?????????: Keovisouk Dalasane