My Joy Luck friend Colleen who worked at China Central Television in Beijing tells of a time when friends were playing a game whose objective was for the contestant to fill in the blank to complete a sentence.  The sentence was:  "I went to a dance the other night.  When I walked in and saw someone wearing the same dress as me, I felt so ( fill-in-blank) "The westerner responded with words like 'humiliation' and 'awful'.  The West celebrates individuality.  The Chinese responded with words associated with 'proud'.  Proud to fit in with the trend.  Asians revere homogenous harmony. 

How does one extract the best of East and West?  In business, I found that by learning the "system" in the playing fields of Hong Kong and Singapore, I could play the "system" within the rules but use my western trained management approach. 

Do not be afraid in foreign territory.  Through my friend Winston in Hong Kong I found the hoped for real estate jewel in high end luxury single family residences in an unfamiliar territory which we eventually code named 'Tycoon Village'. The property was coveted by many and had been neglected since the '80's.   After much sleuthing, I eventually figured out that the property could not be sold since the deceased had three wives the estate was complicated.  One of my most satisfying moments in my entire career was when I was contacted in Toronto where I was developing 500,000 square feet on the waterfront to hear that the offer to purchase I had submitted on that estate in Hong Kong was accepted by all parties.  My methodical western training of Company Search contacting all 15 beneficiaries of the estate in advance allowed me a conquest in foreign territory.  Approach is key.  Learn to use the system.

It matters not that one has all key information.  The key is being organized to access the most relevant information instantaneously.    With the internet nowadays, anything is possible again.

Study the "system" to determine acceptable practice, manners etc. on a local level.  The strategy for success is think local but act global.  In the west there is lots of information available publicly.  The advantage is knowing how to access this information.  Those who control the information for decision making in business have power.  In "systems", in both east and west, assume that your competition will access the best professionals to make the Best decision.  One doesn't have to know all the answers but simply to know where to go to get answers quickly.  This is key to 'bust' the system.  Be sensitive to what constitutes "taste" so opinions are not judgmental.  Good taste depends on definition within the context of the local environment.  Think global; act local.        - by Andrea Eng                                                               


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