In China 5 kinds of friends

In china business, family friends by Michael Michelini8 Comments

Chatting to my friend, Qui Qui (Jane) online the other day, and I thought I would share this, and maybe get some input from others.

qiuqiu says:
the sequence is that 1) a strange man who help you 2) understanding friend 3)bosom friend 4) intimate friend 5) a friend just like myself – a friend who is very very understand you and know what you say, what you want, what you have, is tiptop friend , he is know you, just like yourself

She tells me there are 5 levels of friendship in China – from lowest to highest:

  1. Stranger You help on the street
  2. An associate who is an ear when you need
  3. A bosom friend – means a friend who you hold close to your heart, see fairly often, outside of the work world.
  4. An intimate friend – you share your secrets with, have a trust relationship with, and have a level of information passed between each other that hopefully won’t travel outside of the circle of trust
  5. Tip Tip friend – one who is almost exactly like you, knows what you are thinking, understands you without even needing to speak,

And many friends, and readers of the blog say I should have a Chinese business partner, someone who can help guide me in China so that I do not have so many difficulties. Others say I should have learned the chinese culture more before moving here, or maybe learned more in china before starting a business.

Yes, I was a bit quick moving to China. Its documented here in the blog, but I spent time in NY working the day job for Deutsche Bank over 4 and a half years. Then spent about 8 months with my good friend Piotr in San Diego, developing the startup and making a plan. I did come to China a month before I decided to move here. And I was, during my time in California, spending alot of time TRYING to communicate more closely and deeply with those in China….but I was on the outside looking in.

Maybe….then I should have traveled more in China before coming here? but I am noticing just recently, after almost 3 years, I am building true relationships here. And I don’t think those relationships could have been developed while living and working in USA. For Sure.

I mean, no one can change the past, and I try not to ever regret. everything happens for a reason. And this was my MBA for sure. and in my opinion, a better investment by far. I think it helped make me stronger, develop, and prove to people I can withstand the TEST.

And in a way, its like pledging (initiation) in a fraternity. you have to show people that you can withstand it, that you are dedicated. You are not all talk. That you can take some “beating”, take some “lumps” and you still want to be in it. I remember pledging my fraternity (Delta Tau Delta), and there were some times I wanted to quit. That I wanted to give up. But those tough times brought me stronger to the other brothers in the fraternity. Especially my pledge class (those initiating with me). And the fraternity brothers respected those newcomers more.

In a way, I feel I too paid my dues. Factories tested me, businessmen watched me. There are people I have known since 2007, and finally they are trusting me. I don’t think this could have been done any other way. And now I am developing my real friends and relationships in China.

This is the “bootstrapping”, scrapper, “fighter” way to do it. Sure maybe I could have gotten some huge investment together, and walked into China with a bag of cash and experienced managers from USA. But maybe that would have failed miserably. I kind of feel it would too. Because learning more, Chinese people are much more skeptical of a new foreigner. So many come and go. Give up after some frustrations and head back to their home country.

And I think they don’t like a big foreign investment coming in, with foreign managers. They want the “real deal”. And hopefully, to most who have seen me here, can respect me for trying my best, getting angry and frustrated, but still here and still standing.

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  1. Damn right, Mr. China baby, there’s no getting rich quick in this market – you have to dig in, build those relationships that take…. forever to build heh. To me the idea is to get enough good solid compatriots on your side that your success is guaranteed because even if one venture fails you’ll still have the most important pieces which are the relationships with those people that can put your puzzle of success together no matter what business your in.

    I like to think my mission is simply to become so valuable and helpful to the right people that I will basically have to become successful. They won’t let me not be. Sounds romantic – but it’s a piss-shit load of work and frustration to get there in my humble opinion.

    1. Author

      yea…..well if I was a mainland chinese I know ways I would have gotten rich quick… certain times there are disadvantages to having a US passport and social security number connecting to you!! grrrrr.

      but yes, you and i are on the same boat….long term relationships here. Seems that can’t go wrong anywhere in the world, but especially here in China, they want to see your face a few years before they trust you.

      And away we go….

  2. Not sure about that 5 kinds of friends thing though – that’s the first time I’ve heard that.

  3. Hey, Friend. i got a link from David Ho’s blog. Enjoy your life in China, Enjoy your life in Shenzhen !

  4. I agree with that 5 kinds of friends.
    Tip Tip friend —that’s kind of friend is difficult to find,to meet.
    everyone may be your friends,but maybe for only 1 or 2 days. Or for benefits.
    it is happiness to have real friends,even if only one.

  5. Can you explain it for me please? the deep sense of the saying?i think i will learn a new knowledge.

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