China; A Lesson In Time

  6a0133ec87bd6d970b01bb08fe52c6970d Chinese_numeral_wall_clock_redWhen Mao Tse-tung was asked in 1968 his opinion of the French Revolution, his response was that it was too soon to tell. 

"Anthropologists list the toughest things to cope with in a foreign land. Second only to language is the way we deal with time" 
Heinrich Lienhard

I am currently in Shanghai for the China Toy Expo. This is a show for the domestic Chinese toy market and, as a result, it can be a challenging show for those of us from the West. Chinese, not English, is the lingua franca and chopsticks, not knives and forks, are the utensils of choice. Such circumstances force us to rethink our own cultural norms. One of these is the notion of time.

The United States is home to the "New York Minute", fast food and the "to go" cup. We are in a hurry and expect results, if not in an instant, pretty damn fast. Businesses work on the quarter so success or failure is frequently defined by the last three months.

My Asian friends sometimes have to remind me to slow down my expectations. "Slow, slow, slow" is their mantra.

What they mean is that patience is essential to being successful and no more so than in entering the Chinese domestic marketplace. Many western companies are already doing business in China but those who expect quick results are going to be disappointed. In order to achieve success in this country, which, is expected to be the world's number one toy consumer market by 20211, it will be essential to take this long view.

So, we may want to rethink some of our time expectations. After all, we live our lives in the long term and not by the quarter. 

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