The World is Round

Here is my amazingly technical blog which was developed from hours of hardwork and a superior intellect most can only dream of! Enjoy.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Final Reflection

Ahhhh yes, China. Land of the free and the home of the...No wait, that's not right. Let me think... Oh, China... The communist country with the most capitalist economy on earth? Seems to make sense, right? Well, whatever you think, it is time to take notice of China and begin to prepare for its continued presence on the world scene.

Plain and simple, this trip was amazing. The business meetings and the tourist activities were all very memorable, but my lasting memories will be the great times I had with all the students and professors on the trip. This group of people, from the professors and organizers on down, is a one of kind group. I could not have asked for anything better to cap off one amazing year than a trip like this.

Although I was sometimes tired and grumpy, well rarely grumpy but often tired, I enjoyed every bus, train, boat, and plane ride that we took. I enjoyed every intelligent, funny, witty, and even obvious, question that my peers presented to each firm, and I am proud to say that I am part of the 2006 MBA graduating class of Cal Poly's Orfalea School of Business.

Although my fondest memories will be of my classmates and all the great times that we had in China, I did learn a few important business lessons. The first and most important lesson that I learned was that I do not want to do business with the Chinese. The corruption, the bribes, the confusing policies, the atrocious working conditions, and "the way business gets done in China" does not appeal to me at all. I can not deal with being told one thing, and having that person do another. I have been raised on the good ol' fashion American way of doing business - my word is my bond - and any other way of doing business, in my humble opinion, is inferior. From what we were told directly, and indirectly, by the many executives we met with, I gathered that the Chinese constantly lie, cheat, and steal in order to make a buck. This is not an environment in which I want to work, or have my family surrounded by.

That being said, I did find two positives that can be taken from the Chinese business model and applied to Western business practices. First, the concept of "guanxi" has been slowly disappearing from business in the United States. We are so focused on each deal that the human aspects of business are overlooked at times. We must remember that relationships, networking, past history, reputations, and friendship have a formidable impact on the creation of lasting business partnerships.

The second lesson that the United States can learn from the Chinese is in relation to customer service. Their clients are always completely taken care of and their needs are catered to. Now, there must be a fine line drawn between treating your clients right and bribery, but the way in which the personal side of business has dwindled in the United States seems to suggest that we are being too cautious at times. In every restaurant, bar, shop, hotel, or exhibit that we visited, the employees were at our beck and call. Some of this exceptional customer service has been lost in the United States. I'm not suggesting by any means that drastic changes need to be made, but by analyzing the Chinese culture we can be reminded what it takes to continue to be the best.

Switching gears a bit...

This trip was an eye opening experience. I have never seen such poverty and such poor living conditions - especially when much of the time they coexist right next to a brand new hundred story skyscraper. I know that this type of situation is not unique and that many large cities experience similar juxtaposition. However, I have been to many cities throughout the world and have never seen the type of massive poverty that exists like it does in Beijing and Shanghai -scattered throughout city in many different pockets and areas.

Despite the poverty, despite the massive pollution problems, despite the censorship (if the people are even aware of it), and despite having a communist government the people of China are remarkably happy. In every city we went I had locals go out of their way, far out of their way at times, to help me order food, find my way home, or just simply to talk. Our group was always met with a smile and I can't even begin to count the numerous instances when I was bargaining that both sides were laughing hysterically and enjoying each others company. The Chinese are an amazing race of people with a great heritage that I respect tremendously.

My Favorites:

City: Suzhou
Food: Peking Duck
Bar: Banana Bar - Beijing
Tourist Place: Forbidden City and Westlake
People: Everybody!
Night: Two top spots tie - last night in Senzhen and night out at the Banana Bar
Firm Visit: CBRE (first one)
Quote: From our beloved Drew, "I don't put anything in my mouth for less than thirty reminbees."
Beer: Tsingtao
Hotel: The one-nighter in Hangzou followed with a close second by the first Beijing place!

More to come...