Welcome to Hell Camp

A renowned Japanese management school opens a U.S. branch

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Takarabe left the details of setting up the American operation to Fujimori, who last November began advertising the $2,400, 13-day course in the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. As a site for the training program, Fujimori chose the remote Calamigos Ranch conference center in California's scrub-covered Latigo Canyon near Malibu. Among the ten students who took the first class in mid-February were several self-employed salespeople, two advertising staffers from the U.S.-Japan Business News weekly newspaper, a sales representative for Singapore Airlines, and Patenaude, a therapist who specializes in massage. The group also included a father-and-son team: Carl Craig, 49, an electronics salesman, and Anthony Craig, 20, a rock musician (stage name: U.D. Quantum).

On the first day Instructor Galitz was blunt: "Our training methods will challenge you and make many demands upon you that you may initially consider too much." Forbidden was all nonschool material, including books, magazines, newspapers, TV and radio. The course, Galitz said, was aimed at encouraging concentration and deep thought. Each student pinned two rows of "ribbons of challenge" on the white tunic worn during the course, a ribbon to be shed only when a crucial test had been passed.When all the ribbons were gone, a student graduated.

Out on the exercise field, the group looked like an awkward, overage boot- camp platoon, learning how to bow, count off rapidly and report in a loud voice. "Shouting," says Fujimori, "makes every person know his own force or weakness." Spare time was spent in pairs or small groups shouting recitations and learning the lessons, including the salesman's ten commandments. Among them: "No shilly-shallying. Always be punctual"; "Completing an action without reporting it is worse than not doing it"; and "Promise yourself you will achieve the best results in the shortest time."

The initial bewilderment of the students eventually gave way to satisfaction. Carl Craig got a "high five" from his son after passing the ten-commandments test and shedding the first ribbon. After passing the "sales crow" test at Janss mall, the elder Craig was bubbling with pride: "When you turn that ribbon in, you feel like you have just climbed Mount Fuji."

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