After a week in Shanghai, I went to Beijing to launch the Mandarin version of my emotional intelligence selling book, Empathy Selling late last year. Great fun, and I was asked by LeadingCompany editor, Kath Walters, to write a blog about my experiences in China. Here are my thoughts.
Ever since 1978 when Deng Xiaoping told the Chinese to get rich quick, the Hustler zeitgeist was unleashed.
Capitalists have come out of the closet all over China. Even something as simple as buying batteries is a 20-minute negotiation.
However, surprisingly, in the training courses I have run there are few hustlers in the class. Instead, because the courses are in English, the participants have been mainly Chinese managers of overseas internationals. Typically they are a combination of politicians and engineers who have been sent along by their companies to improve their people skills.
Of course the numbers here are mind-boggling.
You ask a senior manager of Siemens how many people are employed by Siemens in China and he replies 10,000. A manager working for Phillips says they have 9,000 employees in China.
The best reply so far was from the vice-president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). This is the organisation responsible for putting the Chinese satellites into space. Supposedly it is now launching one satellite per month. He said there were 30,000 people working for CALT but then he modified that to say he was only talking about engineers! For perspective, it is estimated that there are 200,000 people working as engineers (of all types) in Australia.
To cheer everyone up, in the lead-up to Christmas, Shanghai, one of the wealthiest cities in China, was packed with shoppers, but more importantly, they were carrying shopping bags.
The shift to economic growth driven by consumer demand, which has been desired by the government here, appeared to be well under way.
This augurs well for Australia.