Almost every foreign businessperson I meet in China talks about the importance of understanding Chinese culture and understanding the Chinese way of doing business if you hope to succeed.
Illustrating this, a couple of Ozzie publishers told me they would turn up to work everyday in Australia at 7am, leave by 4pm, and be on the boat an hour later. In China they have given up on the boat, and the early start. Sick of twiddling their thumbs until the rest of Shanghai got to work at 9am they have adjusted to Shanghai time.
Maybe that is what America is doing wrong when it comes to China (not that I am necessarily suggesting it is doing anything wrong – you’ll have to read July’s cover story for that). I just phoned the US Embassy in Shanghai and got an answerphone message telling me to phone back during “normal business hours” between 8am and 5pm.
Sorry guys, the only ones abnormal around here are you. As US icon Dolly Parton almost said, “9 to 6 fellas”. Then again, that other US icon actually did say, “I did it my way”.
If I remember correctly, only one of them ever had any regrets.