Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oct 20 2010 | Shanghai: what's your point?

today we have a speech coach in the office helping us patch together a cohesive fabric that tells a unified story. the problem is that the chinese way of telling a story about a person is to give a long narrative about the poverty they grew up in, challenges they overcame, government title promotions they received, the wife they selected, and it could have all ended there (i'm not making this up) but now they are an important powerful person. an american audience will listen to this with their mouth open and not be able to figure out what the heck was the point of that detailed biography - and they're hearing double-digits of these bios throughout the week and they all start with a poor kid in school. after hearing the long-winded practice speech and accompanying video, our american team members push back hard and say WHAT are you trying to say here? we're not getting any of the point! and the chinese speaker blurts out in a moment of defense: i'm simply trying to convey that he came from humble beginnings, defied all odds, came up with a 1 in a million business idea, selected the best possible partners, and here he is as an example of the kind of partner we want to work with. american team member says: YES! that's your speech! chinese team member says: wow what did i say?? speech coach, who has apparently been taking notes the entire time, without missing a beat, hands him a note card and says "this is what you said."

3 comments:

Dave said...

Do you think this is a true generalization about all business people in China, or specifically to Shanghai? Seems like I may be a better fit in China than in the US ;)

Dave said...

Of course I'm making a horrible generalization. But I could show you a string of draft videos that were submitted for display at our event in Shanghai next week that all start this way and only get to the point (if ever) after 5 minutes of pomp and circumstance. enough is enough :)

theresa_hart said...

This cultural disparity thing is very fascinating. Keep it coming!