A Collection of Company Newsletters by Mitsui Seiki’s Scott Walker

Originally titled 'Learn, Teach, Repeat'

Learn, teach and repeat became the formula that generated a long series of company newsletters. The best of the teachings from these newsletters have been gathered into a readable, enlightening book.

I have but one small criticism of Scott Walker’s new book, which is a collection of selected newsletters written for the staff of Mitsui Seiki USA, the U.S. sales arm of Mitsui Seiki, a machine tool builder in Japan best known for large, high-torque five-axis machines for titanium aerospace work. As president of the U.S. company from 1999 to mid-2018 when he became chairman, Scott distributed these newsletters to staffers with their bimonthly paycheck. My criticism is this: Instead of titling his book “Rantings of a Machine Tool Salesman,” he should have called it “Teachings of a Machine Tool Salesman.”

Angry people rant, often with more emotion than reason, whereas thoughtful people who care seek to teach, to enrich, to edify. Reading even a few of the newsletters in this book shows that the authors (Scott penned most of the newsletters, but a few were contributed by his associates) clearly intended to teach—to convey insight, knowledge and perhaps most of all, wisdom. I’ve been sampling the newsletters in this book (there are 216 altogether) in the past few weeks and I can say that I learned many things about the inside workings of a machine-tool sales organization, the ups and downs of selling high-ticket machine tools, the intricacies of dealing with a Japanese parent company, the challenges of managing a small team of dedicated staff members and more.

However, Scott has much more to teach than what he thought his small band of employees needed to know on the job from payday to payday. That’s because Scott apparently never stopped learning. He is one of those individuals who always wants to know more about the world, the inner life of the mind, the nature of things and the mysteries of existence. It seems that every time Scott learned something from his own experiences (on or off the job), he made that the topic of his next newsletter.

Because Scott has so many interests, which are remarkably wide-ranging and diverse, what he learned was equally wide-ranging and diverse, and strikingly profound. He learned from his travels, his winemaking, his barn building, his scuba diving, his parenting, even his daydreaming and his night dreaming (some of his accounts of crazy dreams from a deep sleep are entertaining and surprisingly enlightening.) In each newsletter, he sought to relate what he had learned to what his readers could learn to their benefit. This is what the best teachers do.

Scott’s teachings are sincere, honest and personal (I admit squirming a bit at times). Scott names names, gives dates and locations and tells it like it is, or at least as he sees it. He can be frank, even blunt, but only when he needs to be to get the teaching across. A few selections are, in fact, rantings, but they add spice.

Over and above the content of these newsletters, managers should note these additional lessons about serving a workforce.

  • Regular communication with employees is vital.
  • Communication should be respectful and relevant.
  • Openness and honesty breed trust and loyalty.
  • Never stop learning. Never stop teaching.

Scott’s selections are organized in chronological order and grouped by decade. He introduces each group with a comment that summarizes the spirit of the times. Many of his newsletters start with a brief explanation to clarify the context or reinforce the point he is making.

I’m grateful Scott published this book. I will be dipping into it for a long time.