The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) – Singapore’s Settin’ up Franchises…

14 08 2013

… and I went to check it out (with Yan Zhihua and company from Z.H. STUDIO) and came away very, very impressed.



SIP isn’t what I expected. Think about that word… Industrial Park. Now imagine one in Suzhou, one of China’s major industrial cities. What are you picturing?

If you’re like me, you’re probably picturing warehouses… refineries… manufacturing plants… big, belching smokestacks. Not exactly a fun place to spend the afternoon. You probably weren’t thinking of this:


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The Wisdom of Paul Denlinger

29 01 2013

I’ve been very negligent in my blogging as of late, and intend to pick up the pace again. I’ve been working an internship with Z.H. Studio, a PR consulting firm that primarily works to promote industrial parks and investment opportunities to VC firms, named have the founder, Yan Zhihua (“Z.H.”). Between this and my classes at Hult- Global Economics and Financial Management, I’ve been staying pretty busy.

While I’ll have a longer post up later this week (promise!), and perhaps a new book review (fingers crossed), for now here are a few quotes from digital renaissance man Paul Denlinger that I found in a text file when I was cleaning out my hard drive. Few foreign nationals know the ins and outs of China’s IT industry better than Paul, who has been working with – and for- Chinese internet firms since the 1990s. While there are times when we wouldn’t agree on the color of the sky – and he can certainly be a wet blanket at times – I deeply respect his knowledge and experience. He has some advice to younger professionals just starting out:

“Think that a good way is to make an argument, back it up with data, and make the data fun for not smart people (like CEOs) easy to manipulate using data visualization techniques. Then they can walk away saying “Ingenious! We need to hire this guy!””

“The trick is to get hired by CEOs and show them some tricks, which they use to impress their staff how brilliant they are. And staying very quiet and floating around in the background so that you don’t steal their thunder.”

“You can think big problems and ask big questions when you are in your 50s and have proven yourself and written a few books. Now, you need to think about where your contribution can make a tangible difference. Think small. Say no to things which distract you.”

“Early in your career, focus is your single most important friend, before time becomes your enemy. Anything which takes away from focus is your enemy.”

“Start with small simple goals. Things you can do in one day, one week. Don’t aim too high in the beginning, because you will fail and fall back to the old ways (which is not good). Build up your confidence that you can change.”

Wise words from a guy who knows what he’s talking about.

Crystal Ball 2013

2 01 2013

I’m not much of a prophet (if I was, my portfolio would be considerably larger), but I’m going to go out on a limb and make some predictions regarding 2013. Come January 1st 2014, you all have a right to heckle me for being so terribly wrong. (This should have gone up yesterday, but I’d just flown back from HCMC and didn’t feel like writing.)

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CFA Exam Day Arrives

1 12 2012

The big day finally came. Was I prepared? No. I’d forgotten about three quarters of the formulas and ratios I’d tried to memorize. I still don’t quite “get” fixed income trading, or technical analysis. My head swam as I tried to keep my sigmas and betas straight.


I’ll be lucky if I break into the top cohort of failures, let alone pass. Better luck in June, I suppose.


But most importantly, I learned something today, something that has nothing to do with financial analysis, economics, or remembering the difference between accounting for amortization and depletion, or Chebyshev’s inequality and the Sharpe ratio.


I got a taste – a tiny one – of what it feels like to be a Chinese student.

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Why China Will Eat Your IT Company For Lunch: The Kingdom of Mao Bell, Two Decades Later

21 11 2012

“It works in the West, the Chinese must want my service!”


“I can outperform a Chinese competitor. I am smarter than they are and have more money.”


“My product is globally accepted, the government won’t have a problem.”

Famous last words, says Hult guest professor and e-business entrepreneur Toine Rooijmans. The Chinese ecommerce space is famously littered with the corpses of foreign companies that thought they had it figured out, only to find themselves a smear on the pavement of China’s crowded information superhighway. And we’re not talking about small-time entrepreneurs here- eBay, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Groupon and, most notoriously, Google, have all found themselves shut out of- or crushed by- the Chinese market.

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Shanghai Entrepreneurs: Shaun Rein

6 11 2012

“The key to building a great company is finding great people.”

Shaun Rein, Managing Director of the China Market Research Group (CMR), has built a controversial reputation and a competitive consulting firm in China. CMR, despite being only seven years old and led by a man in his early thirties with no prior consulting experience, manages to beat top international consulting firms like Bain and McKinsey for due diligence and market research projects in China. The company has become recognized for it’s street-level expertise and thorough (if sometimes contrarian) approach to a frequently opaque and baffling market.

I first interviewed Rein last winter, when he was promoting his book, The End of Cheap China (you can view the interview here). This time I visited him in his office overlooking Lujiazui Park in Pudong, where we sat down for a conversation about his experiences as an entrepreneur in Shanghai, developing a consulting practice, and the ins and outs of doing business in China. Read the rest of this entry »

China Doesn’t Want You

2 11 2012

To my fellow Hult students, and anyone else in a business program who aspires to come to China:

It’s not easy here.

Bloomberg Businessweek’s article “Looking to Get Ahead? China Doesn’t Want You” summarizes just how difficult it can be for aspiring entrepreneurs and young professionals in China, from non-Chinese backgrounds. Between legal hurdles, linguistic challenges, the saturation of most Chinese markets, the slowing economy, and a general anti-foreign prejudice, China can be a hard place to “make it”, and many MBAs and MBA students who came here expecting to become investment bankers, expat managers, or run a start-up straight out of the gate are often disappointed.

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Seven Rotations – October 17th, 2012

18 10 2012

(A day late, unfortunately, but I was tired last night and needed a rest.)

Busy week, as usual. Just finished up the “Toolbox” module at Hult, which consists of preliminary workshops and classes to get everyone on the same page. The Hult MIB and MBA programs being as diverse as they are, they don’t only attract people with a variety of different nationalities, they attract people with vastly different educational backgrounds. There are many business majors, economists and accountants in my class- but there are also scientists, engineers, doctors, Chinese literature students, English teachers- and even one lonely political science major-cum-researcher-cum-administrator-cum-desk manager-cum-teacher-cum-journalist-cum-entrepreneur. So, obviously, not every class could be interesting and enlightening for every student. Those with finance and accounting backgrounds found the “accounting boot camp” extremely basic; but the class also contained students who had never seen a balance sheet. I’d never taken an accounting class before, but my father taught me to read a financial statement and do basic bookkeeping when I was very young, so there wasn’t much that was new for me. Though I understand and support the principle- the other classes won’t make sense unless you have the foundation.

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Seven Rotations – October 10th, 2012

10 10 2012

(Seven Rotations is my “week in review”/narrative link dump. I’m going to try to post it every Wednesday- we’ll see how that goes.)

National Day break? What National Day break? While others tried to get out of Shanghai; I decided to stay in- after all, it seems like a bad idea to travel when a billion other people have the same idea. (EXPAT PROTIP: If you want to travel during a holiday, leave the country.)

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From NoPo to Dapuqiao, Part I: It Usually Begins with James Fallows

1 10 2012

“So, why did you move to China?”

“What made you come to China?”

“Why did you decide to come to Shanghai?”

I’ve heard numerous other variations on this same question, but they’ve all received roughly the same answer: I wanted to know just what was going on over here. I didn’t study China in college. I didn’t know a word of Chinese. I could barely even eat with chopsticks.

But after that fateful June day when I picked up an issue of The Atlantic at a Barnes & Noble in a mall in Portland, Oregon, I knew I had to come here. I knew I was going to move to China.

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