Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter Eggs & Karaoke

After a little push from Aunt Cindy, I realized that no matter how busy one is, the blog must go on!

The job is craziness right now. I went to Shanghai over the weekend to meet two clients. I came back on Sunday morning and we took off again on Monday to drive to Tianjin for the day. Not to mention our main Indonesia client gets to Beijing this weekend. So needless to say, the pace is picking up.

Easter evening we pulled together about 15 friends for dinner. Although we ate Chinese food, I dyed eggs with the stuff Mom sent, so does that count?

And then we played the Romanian egg game from last year again. Strongest egg wins!

Rory actually gave Sarah and I cute little Easter bags with candy!

The next Monday Alex, an MBA classmate that was in Shanghai, was visiting Beijing and insisted we go sing some Karaoke. I love this picture...true Rock-and-Rollers!

The job has picked up considerably and I am doing everything from Marketing to Sales to Financing to Project Management and sometimes getting lost in the process. But it is still a great learning experience, and as you can see, we still find plenty of ways to spend time with the amigos!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Birthday Celebrations

The birthday week had 3 celebrations, one at girl's night, which you already saw. Then there was one at the office and one at the house. At the office...

They got me a fruit-topped cake...

And made me wear a pointy hat...

And then came the group picture. This is most of the Beijing office:

Then at the house, there aren't great pictures. But here are two friends shots. This is a Thai gal with her Indonesian boyfriend, my classmate last year. Sweetest people you'd ever meet:

And a group of crazies. Can you believe there are 5 IMBAs in this mix?:

All total there were 25-30 people at our "birthday/housewarming" party. I think it was a success, and definitely a fun way to break in the new house!

Monday, March 10, 2008

New Apartment

After our year lease was up in the apartment near the university, we decided to move close to where are internships are located. Since then, we've had some requests for some pics of the new apartment, so here they are! We are in the heart of the happenin' business disctrict (known as CBD in Beijing). Two blocks off of the largest and most famous street in the city. (The street that crosses through the middle of Tian'An Men Square.) So I walk 15 minutes to work, crossing a bridge over this gigantic road. The black building next to the road on the right is part of the China World Trade Center.
(In the morning on the way to work)

(At night coming home) The right side goes west into the city...always jammed up.

And for the house. This is part of the living room, known as the reading corner :)... TV on right, couch on left:

And from sitting in the reading corner...this is the dining area/hallway. But everything moved to the side getting ready for the birthday party :) (Mom, Dad, notice the birthday flowers you sent me on the chest!)

My room, gotta love IKEA!

And the kitchen, which admittedly, Sarah uses more than me:

That's all. No fancy tour like last time, but you got the picture! :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Red Classics Theater


Long story about how I got there, but me and about 8 Chinese people went to a birthday dinner at this tucked away "Red" theater. It was all songs, uniforms, slogans, etc. from the Mao Zedong era, and if you're unsure who that is, I'm talking about the communist founder of the current People's Republic of China. I was definitely the only blond in the crowd of Chinese, and got some looks, but it was quite the experience. Everyone knew the songs from lessons in elementary school, and had little red flags to waive around with the servers and performers when they were inspired. I'm not going to comment much more, because I'm not sure what my impressions were to be honest. Below is a video of one of the songs, with the servers standing on the chairs involving the crowd. Another interesting "first" for me, that's for sure.
video

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Cost of Patience

In the Chinese work environment, especially start-up companies, one needs a great deal of patience. Things seem complicated if you are an American, and many things rely on private connections that are out of your control. So I was discussing this patience with my boss. On-line I read this:

Patience is the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. It's a learned art that requires discipline. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement, and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.

However, I tend to differ somewhat with the above person's perspective. Maybe it is true in many personal situation, but not always in business. There is often a direct relationship between patience and cost. The more patience required, the more it is costing you in both time and money. The cost of patience is often high, and unmeasured by the calm manager. My reactions in my job have gone through a cycle of cultural adjustment. Reaction A- Objecting. "This is ridiculous! I can't believe we have to do it this way." Reaction B- Embracing or understanding. "Oh, this can make sense, and actually presents a good opportunity that wouldn't exist in the U.S, even though it might be complicated." Reaction C- Merging the two.

As a start-up company in China, you have to sift through the chaos of opportunities and relationships while still being good managers of your resources of time, people and money. The people have to see the light at the end of the tunnel to stay motivated, requiring goal setting, goal achievement and communication. Goals have to be met and money has to be returned with a profit, all which cannot happen if our capacity for patience is unreasonably large. Previously when some of these things haven't happened as they should, and I started to object, I was told that there were cultural differences, and I just had to be patient and let people do things their way. Lately, as I've gained more understanding though, I have been able to communicate these ideas more clearly and now we are meeting somewhere in the middle. Now we work together. I strive to appreciate the new and different ways business can be done in China, that might not follow a strict system. However, I am able to directly push my supervisors to make reasonable goals, communicate them better both up and down the line, and invoke a little impatience to make sure that they get met. Too impatient never got anyone anywhere in China. But I still hold my ground that it is possible to be too patient, because patience can come with a cost that any good investor would not be willing to bear. The challenge: Finding that middle ground.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Not All Work...

I realized some blogs might be getting too serious and that I should still include some pictures of the fun times in Beijing! Lately I've been feeling like a foreigner because we've been going to a lot of good foreign restaurants and meeting new people. Saturday we had a "Ladies only" night, which was very refreshing, and had a lot of positive energy! Here's 11 gals that showed up for fantastic Indian food! (If you're a Beijinger, I can recommend Mirch Masala in the Houhai area.)

And they surprised me with a couple of the amazing cakes from the company Awfully Chocolate and sang happy birthday, even though my birthday isn't until the 5th!

This is a long table of fellow IMBAs, either in the Chinese track or visiting Beijing in the Global Track program. Believe it or not, we were at a Mexican restaurant! (We were not very good hosts as we chose a good margarita over Peking duck, but they will have other opportunities for that!) There is something so nice about meeting IMBAs, from any graduation year. It just seems like you are meeting more family.

This is Sarah, the classmate and fabulous roommate sampling a margarita with me. We both agreed that night that life in Beijing is bizarre sometimes, because you can go with a table of people from three continents to a Mexican restaurant in Beijing, China to listen to a Filipino band sing American songs. Gotta love it.