Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I had the fortunate opportunity to travel to China for the first time last week - what an amazing place.  I got on the plane alone, with no colleagues, and only an itinerary of my flight there and my flight home.  I was invited as a guest of a Chinese entrepreneur.  I cannot imagine a better way to see China than as a guest of a business leader.  And, being alone enabled me to consume the experience at all times - no opportunities to fall in to catty "American-centric" conversations.

I come away from the trip seeing more similarities than differences - among the people, within business, and even in how this Communist government operates.  Conversations were frank, direct, and untethered by political doctrine or even perceived social norms of Chinese culture (unlike my experience in Singapore).  The mode of business is one of service and immediate opportunity.  And, the government is trying to have the best interests of its people at heart, despite its often authoritarian ways.

I have a newfound sense of scale - there are 10 cities there larger than New York.  As I explored Dali City, a city roughly the size of Austin, my stomach churned at the site of what appeared as overbuilding to me at the time.  The bulk of the city appears to have been built int he 80s, if not prior.  It consists of Russian-style architecture, or Bali style native to the region.  Yet, there were several complexes recently completed, and by my count well over 50 projects underway - everything from a 5-star hotel to 5 - 10 building complexes.  It appeared that they are expecting the population to double overnight.

However, after discussing it with my Chinese friends, I realized how little is needed to fill these new apartment buildings, given the scale of growth underway and the vast population still living in the rural countryside.  I am still trying to understand how this scale impacts my view...