Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Communication Conundrum

After 9 years + of keeping at in China, the way communication flows here still baffles me and an area in which I constantly have to apply self-discipline.

Communication does not freely flow here.  My wife Leeds and I joke that it’s sort of the concept of squeezing the close-to-empty toothpaste tube.  You have to squeeze a little, get a wee bit, squeeze a lot and get a little.  But without a doubt if you are expecting to be freely and liberally updated, you are setting yourself up for a complete failure. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Don’t Despise Small Beginnings

Small beginning but this guy will grow
(photo credit: GR Sipe)
Small beginnings:  many times they are what lead to the “Big Middle” or “Successful End” (although there never really is “an end” only milestones we reach).  Many of us in business didn’t start out where we are now.  Especially if we own our own business, many of us started from humble beginnings, some beginnings more humble than others. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Keep Your Cool_Part II

People make the low cost goods that you use.  The goods are not made by machines, although machines are involved, but by people.  Many overseas buyers are surprised when they come for factory visits in China and learn how much of the processes are actually done by hand. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Keep Your Cool_Part I

Before I moved to China back in 2001, I was under the impression that the Chinese were a very calm bunch.  I think many Westerners have this idea (stereotype?) in their minds of the solemn, stone-faced, cool-as-a-cucumber Chinese from the mysterious and ancient land.  Even the Chinese play this up;  they do teach to keep your cool in any and all situations.  A calm spirit is an admired spirit here and folks exalt this ability.  In comparing and contrasting Chinese to Westerners (again all from my worldview and time here spent), the Chinese themselves think and say that Westerners are emotional and excitable and Chinese are calm and logical. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Humble Beginnings (China Expat)

Friday's guest blogger is my colleague and friend, Mr. Shakiri Murrain.  See his previous post here, see his LinkedIn profile here

I first came to China in 2006 to advance my professional career and for the personal growth that comes with living abroad.  When I decided to move, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I did not have any Chinese friends, didn’t understand the culture and most of all couldn’t even say hello in Chinese.  But from what I could see on TV and newspapers, it seemed that the entire world was beginning to focus on this place.  (The Chinese Mainland is correctly nicknamed “大路” or Big Street)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Toilet Paper on the Office Desk

It may look tacky, but it gets the job done
When I first came to China, one thing that struck me as odd is that you would see a roll of toilet paper sitting on someone’s desk in an office.  Not only office desks, but in restaurants, you would see one of these babies on the table. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Staffing in China

One of the largest obstacles dealt with in running a business in China is staffing.  I think any expat entrepreneur , multinational company and even Chinese business owners will agree that finding quality, long-term employees is a mountain to climb.  I know, I know, it’s hard everywhere, right?  But….since I lean towards China being the center-of-the-universe and based on my loose experience and memory of dealing with my home country, I’d wager that it’s even more of a pain in the gluteus maximus here in China.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Development Breeds Opportunity

A Picture of Development:  Ugly at first but need to
take a few steps back to make forward strides.
(Folks it’s my great pleasure to introduce Mr. Shakiri Murrain.  Shakiri is an old friend of mine.  We both got our start in China with the same company.  Our first meeting was in 2007 and we maintained contact from then on.  Shakiri is well seasoned in international business and trade.  Starting in Nanjing, China, he built a strong China foundation (language, adapting, maneuvering in business) and carried on his language studies when he returned to the States from 2009 to 2010.  Thankfully in 2011, he’s joined the JLmade team and he makes us even stronger in manufacturing and servicing our brands in the promo and branded merchandise industries.  He is the “guest blogger” for this post.  Hoping he’ll write one once a week and even encouraging him to start his own blog. Without further ado...)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Handling Issues in China_Part II (Spills into Production)

Unity: If supplier / buyer relationship is off balance,
you're building business on a "shaky" foundation
“Jacob, I read Part I. So things are a bit “weird” in problem solving:  big deal?  Can’t you simply adapt to it and learn to love it?”

That’s what I’m saying:  you must adapt to and at least accept it or you’ll lose your mind…and possibly your money.  In this blog will discuss how solving issues in China can overflow into the manufacturing realm and affect your offshore production.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Handling Issues in China_Part I

In the Chinese culture, there is no right way and wrong way to do things. In China, there exists an impersonal force of “right” and an equally impersonal force of “wrong” and by chance, by time, by multiple attempts you may….eventually….arrive close to one of those perceived notions.