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Who do you like to work with? E-mail
Featured - Business
Written by David A. Dayton

Probably who you identify most easily with. A year or so ago my then 5 year-old told me, in all seriousness, “Dad I’m like Kobe, not white like you.”  Suppressing laughter I responded, “Actually, you’re more like Yaoming than Kobe.”  But he was insistent.  He was “black like Kobe” he told me. Now he wants a Knicks jersey–bet you can guess which number.  Yup, 17.  Jeremy Lin.  My boys are all over him.  Of course so is everyone else with any connection to China.  Or the NBA for that matter. But it makes sense.  Not only is he good, but generally people more easily like what they can identify with–educated, christian, Chinese, underdog story–he’s hitting just about all the right buttons.  Similarly, Obama gets 90% of the black vote regardless.  Ditto Mitt Romney and the Mormon vote.  And Lin and the Chinese community are the same.

What’s More Important? E-mail
Featured - Business
Written by David A. Dayton
What’s more Important for a successful business in China: Cultural knowledge or business knowledge? While the debate between anthropologists and accountants rages on, about the only thing that everyone agrees on is that it’s great for book sales. Personally, I’ve met a ton of Westerns that can’t speak a lick of Chinese and don’t know chopsticks from Fengshui but do quite nicely financially in China.

I’ve also know more than a few companies and individuals who were fluent in Mandarin who lost their proverbial shirts over here. So what’s The Answer? Yes. We’d like to stake out a nice seat on the fence for this fight. Why so decisive? Well, without a doubt if you don’t know your own business you are not going to be successful anywhere – even in your home country. You’ve got to know what your core capabilities are and stay focused on those.

Xi'an: A Market Report E-mail
Featured - Business
Written by Wang
Since the 1999 launch of the national Great Western Development Strategy, Xi’an has grown rapidly as a major gateway to western China. With annual economic growth exceeding 13 percent, the city was spared the effects of the global financial crisis that affected China’s coastal areas. Xi’an’s rapid development has boosted incomes and fueled development of its food market sharply increasing interest in high quality imported foods.

Demand is also being driven by the city’s rapidly growing tourist sector, which is attracted by famous sites such as the 2,300-year old terracotta warriors. In the years to come, increasing development will make Xi’an a “must do” Emerging City Market in northern China. Located near the geographical center of China, Xi’an is the largest city in the northwest. It is also the capital of Shaanxi Province and its largest population center. Of the 37 million people in the province, Xi’an is home to 8.2 million.

Another Headache... E-mail
Featured - Business
Written by David A. Dayton
We've been working on samples for a large order of clothes for over a year now. The clothes are cool, new, fun. But it's been a very difficult process getting to the end of the road—the start of actual production. We've got the PO signed, the deposit paid and what happens?  Factory tells us: “We don’t think that we can do this order.  We’re really busy now.” 

This, of course, was the response to the payment of the deposit.  No indications prior to the placing of the order that there would be any problems.  We’ve talked EVERY day in the two weeks preceding the actual transfer of funds and every conversation was great.  “Of course we can meet these dates.” “Of course we’ll work with your QC.”  “Of course we’ll meet all the QC standards (you’ll never be as strict as our Japanese clients.)”

Being a “Boss” in China E-mail
Featured - Business
Written by David A. Dayton
Last week I had the opportunity to eat dinner with three bosses from four factories that we were doing a couple projects with this last month.  One owns a large-box printing factory with 200+ employees.  Another was the owner of a plastics stamping factory with about 150-200 people.  And the most vocal guy was the owner of two factories, a wood furniture factory and a clothing factory. (I’ve written about bosses before and I find these guys, a generation of true entrepreneurs in China, to be fascinating.)

As we sat around the table they started to tell me how difficult it was to be a boss in China nowadays.  At first I took this as the usual “poor me, I’m not making (enough) money on your project” ploy.  But as it went on I realized that there was much sincerity in what was being said regardless of why and I started to take (mental) notes that I immediately wrote down once I got in the taxi to go home.

The Chinese Dichotomy E-mail
Featured - Business
Written by David A. Dayton
I spent 12 hours in a factory on Monday resolving concerns, fighting with resistant engineers, negotiation with managers, hobnobbing with the owners over lunch, discussing solutions with line managers, reviewing standards with QC/QA folks and generally working though every single production issue imaginable to try and jump start a stalled project.

What did my 12 hours get me? A signed agreement that the factory will deliver the promised product a month late and I won’t be charged for it! I was quite pleased. Really. Now this factory is world class—in terms of production capabilities, machinery and facilities, that is. They have over 3000 employees, are privately owned and some minority owners are Japanese technology companies who are also the biggest customers. But problem solving, customer service, real-time communications and “win-win” are concepts that management has yet to embrace (or even define).
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