Catbird seat

Occasionally, people who know that I lived in China for two decades will ask me what I miss about the place now that I have been living in the US again for nine years.

I miss the people, of course, but I still keep in touch with a lot of them. I missed my in-laws very much, but over the last year, they have both passed away.

And I miss taking the train everywhere, especially High-Speed Rail, the G-trains.

That is almost enough to convince me to go back. But the idea of sitting through a thirty-day quarantine simply to deal with the compound challenges and red-tape that now enwrap domestic travel in China carries little appeal. Sadly, my next high-speed rail journey will either be Acela or EuroStar, and I don’t know when – or if – I will ever find myself on Harmony again.

But those were good times, and I want to tip the hat to David Feng and all of the wonderful people on China High-Speed Rail. Thank you all for helping me rediscover my love of rail travel.

Books of 2021: The Myth of Chinese Capitalism

It wasn’t that Tiff told me anything I didn’t already know. It is, rather, the way he lays all the facts out in a cogent argument that made me stop and think. Creating new terms and adding modifiers to frame China’s current economic system and business climate as “capitalism” was once a hopeful expression that China was somehow transitioning to something recognizably capitalist. Today it is clear that any concessions to capital were temporary and expedient, and that the Party has never strayed from its desire to build a centrally-controlled economy that can satisfy the material needs of the people while building national power and prestige.

Delightful Cheat Lunch

I am still learning about life at my relatively advanced age, and I have learned more about food in the last three years than I had in most of my life prior.

My lesson today was this: there are meals with memorable food; there are meals with memorable company; and there are those rare and precious occasions when both come together. Today was one of the latter. Those occasions are rare, and are exactly the times when one should go off-plan.

Three veterans of China technology public relations sitting around a table in California and reflecting with gratitude and humility on the amazing era of change that we lived through was every bit as fulfilling as the remarkable dishes we enjoyed. Thank you, Yuling, for giving Sunny and I an excuse to come into town!

Mugology – Travel Companion

 

My wife bought this insulated steel travel mug one day when we were standing in line at the Pinnacle Plaza Starbucks in Beijing back in about 2001. The motives were purely mercenary, as Starbucks in China was offering to take ¥1 RMB off of the price of a coffee each time you brought your own cup.

Given how often I was going to Starbucks in Beijing, I’d take this with me each day. I started traveling with it so that I could get similar deals elsewhere in China, and then found they were even offering such incentives in other countries as well.

This mug, my first, went everywhere with me. It has been dropped, kicked, and bounced by me, by the occasional bumbling barista, and by the reliably gentle baggage handlers it encountered, and it shows the dings and dents you would expect. But it still holds coffee, still stands mostly straight on the table, and still travels with me.

Happy Friday!

Necessary Introduction

I have had the opportunity to speak in front of dozens of groups, but of all of the introductions I have ever received, my favorite was back in 2008 when I was giving a talk at the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce, and the Chamber president introduced me as follows:

“Our next speaker is Mr. David Wolf, President and CEO of communications and marketing strategy firm Wolf Group Asia, columnist at Media magazine, and author of the respected blog Silicon Hutong. David has been described as ‘A morally upright community and thought leader who can still drop the laser-guided F-bomb.’ Please join me in welcoming David Wolf.”

Ah, the things that make up our reputations…

Team Shanghai

Shanghai Office, 2018

As I walk through our US offices I cannot but wonder how my younger colleagues would react to an office environment that would have them sharing a 7’ x 7’ table with six other colleagues – not as a conference space, but as a an office.

After a week here – seated on a bench in a tiny storage space with my lap as my desk, hemmed in with boxes filled with brochures and swag – cubicles began to seem luxurious.

I will always be filled with admiration and gratitude for this team, who performed miracles in business growth and client service with a bare minimum of overhead, and yet sustained remarkably high spirits.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑