Archive for the 'globalization' Category

The Global Romp and the Daily Grind

Ditto what Phil said.

I am currently working with a team based in Asia Pacific, and it’s … so many things. I sought this assignment and am loving it for everything that I’m learning out of it. But the jet-set lifestyle it’s not. What it is instead, is an always-on, what-time-is-it-somewhere else continuum that you drift through. Work intersperses with your personal life in a weird way, and upsets the traditional schedule that’s often expected of you from US-oriented colleagues.

I have trapsed to Shanghai, Tokyo, and Sydney and enjoyed them all. But junkets they were not. They are intense learning experiences, mentoring opportunities, project jam sessions, and social outings cum business meetings. They are long working days, and short sleep-adjusting nights. And you often make the mistake of checking email when you get back to your hotel room – yikes!

You take a lunch break, but you also take a dinner break. You are back on the phone after kids are in bed. You start taking your free time in the US afternoon, and you leave early Friday afternoon (Saturday in Asia) because you are starting early Sunday night (Monday morning in Asia).

Is this what we have all signed up for with globalization? Maybe the Eastern Standard Tribe is not so far off. 没问题 – I’m on board.

Posted at: 1:15pm Shanghai, 2:15pm Tokyo, 3:15pm Sydney – tomorrow.

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China and the Swarm

China. In a word: wow. I was only there a week, but I feel like my brain swelled with information and experience. It was stimulating from the word go – from my first ride to the airport to my last. I had a fairly empty slate going in, I really wasn’t sure quite what to expect. I came away knowing just a little more, but with amazing expectations for what is yet to come.

China is amazing in many ways to me. For one thing, it’s an incredibly pedestrian society. It’s lightweight and limber at the lowest levels. Buildings are literally flying up all around Shanghai, and yet you see the bricks arrive on site via handcart and bicycle basket. I can’t imagine the amount of goods in China that are hauled around by individuals rather than machines. Is that inefficient, or the product of a behind society? I don’t think so. I think it’s amazingly limber and responsive. The West is in the process of trying to discover or re-discover the swarm. China is the swarm.

China is tenacious and the pace of growth is unbelievable. While geotagging photos in flickr, I had trouble finding locations because where I visited a mall or a skatepark (note the construction in the background), the flickr map shows an empty field. Peeking out the window in Shanghai, you see yesterday’s thoughts being erected all around you. I’m sure if and when I go back, it will be even bigger, more amazing, and more modern that it was last week – even if I’m back next week. It’s an unbelievable pace and a place that is constantly re-inventing itself.

In Shanghai you don’t exactly buy the place you live – you purchase a 70-year lease that cannot be handed down to your heirs. So if your kids want to live where they grew up, they need to re-buy it when the lease it up. But don’t worry, say the locals, by that time they will have knocked it down and built something altogther new. Is there permance in Shanghai?

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The View From Shanghai

I am in Shanghai this week for work and it’s been fantastic. I have learned a ton about our local business environment in Asia generally, and China specifically. I have also heard about and experienced the Great Firewall – very interesting.

The flight over actually went great – 12 hours to Tokyo and then another 3 to Shanghai, but the 12 leg was not nearly as bad as I thought I would be. I sat next to a very cool, young Japanese couple. Yumi-san gave me some Japanese lessons and she and Kanai-san shared thoughts on life in Tokyo which was fascinating. Kanai-san is a screenwriter for a weekly Japanese TV show and had some interesting stories that he wrote up for his show. They very graciously invited me to stop by their house, but my layover was nowhere near long enough. Some day, but not this trip…

Shanghai is huge and fascinating. My hotel is in the Pudong area, as is the main office. But I also visited an office near Puxi and the contrast was amazing. My host has been getting me out in the evenings and helping me navigate the wild mix of food. I assumed but never realized the extent to which Chinese food is in Americanized in the States – I mean sour jellyfish and smoked goose livers??!! For the record, they were both great… everything is served family style, but I’m devouring it like it was just my order!

Getting around Shanghai is a breeze. There are train lines which I haven’t needed to use yet, and taxis are everywhere and cheap. You can ride clear across town for just a few US dollars. There are tons of bikes, electric bikes, and scooters – with dedicated commuter lanes. Very cool to see such a bike-friendly community. I am self-conscious taking photos of people in public, but need to start getting shots of the variety – I have seen a family of four riding on a scooter like a Shanghai mini-van, vendors hauling goods and people in 3-wheeled bikes with a pick-up style bucket in the back, and people hauling more stuff than I have hauled in my car tied down on the mini-rack over the back wheel. I love it!

But the days have been long. We have been working well into the evening at the office, then going out from there to take in Shanghai. For some reason – don’t know if it’s latent jet lag, my enthusiasm for being here, or just being hopped up from free tea all day long – I am still not sleeping well, and wake up extremely early but don’t feel as exhausted as I would think. At any rate, I’m not going to be taking time to blog this trip as much as I had planned – the action will be micro-blogged over at flickr and YouTube, so check those out if you want to play along at home.

UPDATE:How ironic – Simon is in China right now, too!

Watch Out Shanghai

I will be in Shanghai for a week later in August for work – if anyone out there happens to be in Shanghai, please drop me a line. I would love to connect with someone who knows the local beat – I hate fending for myself in a new spot, and would much rather hook up with someone who knows their way around.

It’s interesting getting ready for a totally new experience like this. I recently discovered Shanghai Diaries and Dan’s fantastic article on Shanghai hot spots. Pefect timing! I will definitely be hitting Chun – how can you resist a restaurant with four tables??!!

I have also been subscribing to Shanghai-tagged photos at flickr. I have never done this before to get to know a place before a visit, but from now on I always will. It’s really an unbeliveably diverse preview of what you will see – I highly recommend this.

Anyone else been to Shanghai? I would love thoughts, recommendations, etc. I am definitely not the tourist type so would appreciate any thoughts on more out of the way places.

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