Definitely feel I have gone “full circle” in life….I went to engineering school to get to Wall street, to go to China to do manufacturing, to get into internet, to come back to engineering school in NY/NJ, Stevens Institute of Technology where I studied, and speak about business in China. But really, I feel I am fully utilizing my degrees of Engineering Management and MS in Technology management I received back in may 2003 – as I am utilizing project management, sales and marketing in my daily work life of internet marketing and e commerce (yes, for those of you reading my blog I guess it doesn’t exactly show how I am really working….but yes I am “hustling” every day)
Today I spent the majority of the day at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ where I met with good friends I have in the administration office, like Pam from the Office of Career Development. She let me borrow a vacant office there to make some conference calls and catch up with emails from my laptop (trying to do everything from my mobile, but man do I need a laptop sometimes to really type things out and get work done).
Afterwards, met Carl Pavarini for lunch – one of my favorite professors during my studies, teaching a class titled “technogenesis” which represents the new generation and development of technology in the business world. I am totally running on adrenaline these days, and he could see my mind was working a mile a minute, asking me to breathe and enjoy my food.
Later after lunch and chit chat, we went to his 3pm Technogenesis class and I started with a quick 20 minute powerpoint presentation covering the differences I have notice doing business in China and USA. MAN, that is hard to cover in 20 minutes, each of those slides could be its own class, and its own book. I had also presented this same presentation in China before, to a Chinese internet user group in Shenzhen – at a “punch party” and the Chinese audience seemed to agree with points and enjoyed the presentation, so I thought it would also be great to American undergraduates in engineering and technology.
Getting up in front of class and looking at the students brought back memories of the times I was sitting in that chair: stressing about homework and projects coming due. Maybe also some kind of club, or friend problem, maybe a dispute with a girl I had been dating. Just thinking about all the things that now are so frivolous in my daily life, as I am into “bigger and better things” (well, who could say that, its really all perspective) – but man, in school we really get into those bubbles, as we are only surrounded by other studying and not facing the real life issues of financial independence.
But it was awesome to speak in front of them. They really seemed to enjoy hearing the stories of business I had been through. Here is a brief summary of the different points.
- What Built My Perspective – To start, I wanted to be fair, I have to present WHO I AM, and my background before I can really go and JUDGE.
- Payment – there are basically the same debit cards and credit cards between China and America, but I think it is (or was) much easier to get credit in America, and it is more culturally acceptable to be in debt and spend now, pay later – whereas in China most people only spend from what they have already earned.
- Buying Online – how do people shop, bargain, chat. Chinese expect to pop up a chat window with the seller and bargain pricing with them. Americans normally expect the price online to be the best price, and the price offered is automatically the best deal, (why waste time bargaining, right).
- Trust – Americans are more “cowboys”, and give limited trust quickly, and if it goes right, grow from there. I think this is also because the American culture is so young, that they don’t have the chance to have these large family relationships and pre-determined relationships – the country developed in a couple hundred years and there wasn’t time to “play around” to get to know people, just had to give chances and hope for the best. Whereas in China, the culture and family lines are much more developed, and you have to break into that “circle of trust” by dedicating a decent amount of time.
- Regional Offices – connected to the “Trust” factor, in order to grow your business (if you are selling in China) you need to have an office near your customers, so probably in Hong Kong (or Shenzhen), Shanghai, and Beijing. Also to note, PAYPAL has offices in China, where you can meet your account rep, etc – WHERE IN USA can I see PAYPAL rep??? Perfect example.
- Business Through Referral – obviously relationships are critical anywhere in the world. but again because of the trust factor, Chinese ask friends for connections before buying things. Its much more common, while I think Americans almost sometimes are shy to say they don’t know people so they want to find answers on their own. GENERALLY here.
- Clothing / Presentation – In China, it is more of a symbol of respect for those you are meeting. I think younger America is more casual, and looks at people more for their intellect then their clothing. Again, this is industry to industry, but for example in the internet industry in China, you have to wear suits, whereas in American internet conferences, much more laid back in clothing.
- Gifts for Clients / Customers – I remember at Deutsche Bank made me sign off that I would not give gifts to customers over $100usd. It was a wall street wide rule. Could not “bribe” people to do business with you. Again, its a bit of a “grey” area in China, but because relationships are so important, lots of dinners and trips happen in the sales process. Not going to get into details, but the larger the deal, the more costly it can get.
Of course, this is much more fun for me to talk about in person, I get really excited and into it! You can download the presentation here – Differences Doing Business Between USA and China