We had begun the week with a very interesting ride from the airport to the hotel where our adventures with Chinese driving began. As Don and I began exploring the area near our hotel we learned the Chinese Tourist maps don’t really map to the streets you come across, later we found out in presentations that within 6 weeks a new freeway can be added so this could explain our challenge in finding the right to street. Our first incident started when Don tried to call the hotel to invite Tim to join us for drinks in the fun French Concession area and began to lose his buzz as he thought it would be easier to call India for support than try to connect to a room in our hotel. Later we found that his room and my room no longer existed. As the night went on we found that, “Oh MY GOD! Mr. Bean has joined our class in China for the week.” And then the first best quote came out of Mr. Bean, “I think I’m driving drunk even though I am not driving.” We met a great couple from Coca-Cola who gave us much insight. We learned from them that guanxi, recruitment and retention of employees are huge and China has been a great learning experience for them, but they miss Munich.
As we moved on to our first full academic day we learned that only $4 is the price for every great knock off watch and that they are the best authentic counterfeit. Poor Chuck found out in one of his conversations that went a little something like this… U want Rolex, No, I already have one, see. Oh, u pay too much. During the day’s lessons we learned that BooYow will be the most important word we learn for the week. We also learned that it’s easier to learn Chinese than Microsoft Vista. Billy let us know we can’t be Chinese until we learn to want to eat everything. We experienced a minutes of silence for the earthquake victims in the Yu Bazaar. We saw the #3 most famous rock in China, later followed by #17, #28, #42 and #158… later we learned we will have no problems—It doesn’t matter you speak American. By the evening, we learned it would be critical for us to figure out is it beer after wine never fear or beer before wine always fine? (Tim, Lucy and I decided wine after beer was the key).
Day 2 we learned the meaning of Chinese propaganda and that all of our hypotheses were way off and incorrect. We also learned that a little Chinese start-up company is going to beat Microsoft at Virtualization and that all the companies in Seattle and California copied the elevator LCD business from a Chinese start-up company. We later tried to figure out “How do I eat this and become one with the culture?” That later became easy as we learned the cougar ate dog food. By the afternoon, we knew the answer to business success relied on the Business Scorecard and companies in the US just didn’t get it as good as China. As we were learning this we realized, Uncle Irv made me want to pollute became a reoccurring theme for many. And even more amazing, what you would like to know my opinion? After Irv all we knew is the only way to top the day would be to go shopping. Billy got us into the very special top secret room where Joe later became, you # 1 joke man. No, I help you and not Mr. Joke Man. Later we find out that Bryan has a gift of negotiations that will prove to help folks on day 2 of the special shopping store that looks like a movie theater. By evening we learned even a more significant notion, that Hooter Girls in Shanghai wear spandex pants and not the short orange shorts and that Mr. Bean needed to go in there and teach them how to properly wear the Orange Shorts. We also learned that Mr. Bean didn’t need a massage just an arm tickle. Through a maze of elevators, stairs and hallways we made it to the 87th floor for drinks to toast to Gary’s Birthday! The view was fabulous and we learned it was perfect time for Team Building.
By Day 3, we learned that if Billy hosted 60 minutes it would take an hour and a half to watch and if we continued to compare ourselves to him we would never be happy. We had no idea this would be our best day by far. We kicked off with Stanley who took a 3 hours presentation and squeezed it into 30 minutes and we were meeting the Chinese Donald Trump who made more than 150 million annually. Our favorite presentation was the panelist. Susan learned all about KTV and the rest of us learned that majority of our hypotheses were dead-on and we all wished we could have Oki join us for drinks. All the GFU ladies learned that Shanghai women have it made, as the women manages the money and the family while the husband caries the purse, cooks dinner and cleans the home. While in the water village we realized Bryan is huge in China but he is also Mini-Me. Later a local boat driver tries to take Lucy out as he heads for our boat. As we spoke and couldn’t believe there were not more auto accidents, we later found that are all reserved to the water. The best part of the day came to the entire eMBA cohort hanging out drinking beers in a tiny little teahouse on the canal- who didn’t serve beer but went next door and brought them to us. We never thought German food would taste so good as the Shanghai Hauf Brau and we met our buddy Elvis.
Day 4 became the longest day of the week as we trekked all the way to Suzhou. Dawn spotted Chinese road rage with a gentlemen getting out of his car to deck the driver in front of him. We learned what they called farmers would move into the city for 1-3 years live 8 to a dorm style room and while one group of 8 worked another group of 8 slept in the same beds and then they would switch. Many are young mothers coming to make money for their family and wouldn’t see their children for over a year. When we head back to the US and in 6 months looking at Black and Decker and Nike apparel in stores will have a whole new meaning for all of us. We also learned KFC in China is nothing like KFC in the US and they may need to learn from McDonalds consistency. Later Tim, Bryan, Dawn and Don learned that Rane’s Chinese Hamburger and Tim’s Chinese Pizza would have been the better lunch bet. At the Chinese garden we learned from Billy the best way to remember the Tims–Venti Tim, Grande Tim and single-shot Tim, you can determine who is who… We also learned Bryan had sweat glands where we didn’t think we could sweat and life would have been much better if he just had a Maxi Pad. We then headed out to an amazing dinner with Billy at the Chinese version of SoHo area. We learned that TimDonJo had horrible Shanghai Cabi Love and that this would continue for taxi rides to come. That night Bryan would be yelling pass that cab while the cab passing us had Don yelling I will pay you double if you just slow down.
Our last day, we learned the brilliant branding and execution of Coco-Cola in China and stories of investment banking from an amazing woman in Finance at Capital 8. We were surprised that by Day 5 Tom continued to sleep through all presentations. These two companies helped us with our final validations of our various hypotheses. I think many of us were surprised to learn that the new Labor Law is really serious and not just a way for the government to appease Western Businesses. It was explained that it has swung a little too far that is now almost impossible to fire someone which makes recruitment even more important. We also learned that the Chinese government is really trying to learn from the Western countries and create the best mix for China it is just with this explosive growth there are so many challenges that they have to prioritize and this prioritization makes these laws hard to enforce. We also learned it was time to just open a can of Altoids and just let it go…Lucy, Bryan and Rane found that Kinko’s and Konica are impossible to find and saw a Chinese scooter brawl. The evening would end on an amazing high note with the Chinese Acrobats. We had singers, dancers, motorcycle stunts, trapeze artists, balance stunts, jumpers, acrobats and the unforgettable man who must have had a metal plate in his head as he tossed and juggled a 30 pound pot like it was a soccer ball. The eMBA cohort then truly felt Tim’s Integra and LOVE at Rane’s Farewell Dinner (thanks everyone). At dinner we toasted to our missing teammates: Gerry and Jon. We also did a salute to those who have retired from our team: Raju, Ann, and Jeff. We then ended the night at KTV as we karaoked away until 3:30AM. Poor Grace endured our off pitch singing all night and taught us how to use the Chinese Karaoke machine- by the end Dawn had mastered the navigation. A few of the quotes that Tim got through the night in my little quote book….
· Mr. Bean does YMCA
· There just isn’t enough alcohol
· I am way to sober to be singing this much
· Check-out my skrobou
· I’ll sing anything if you can just get them back on the screen, please!
· Someone help me, I gotta send a txt to my kids they will never believe I am up and out and it 2:45AM in a KTV bar
· We feel like such a fool after hearing Grace close the night!
Please look to the album on the right for pictures from the trip. A couple of my favorites are below.