|[I wrote this after my *business* trip to the UK/Turkey/Cairo. it was sometime in 2003 while i was still working in beijing]
8:45pm. Wind was whispering gently from the balcony. I flipped through the channels. There weren’t much to watch: Arabic CNN, Arabic msn, Friends in Arabic, goat cheese commercials, more goat cheese commercials, this time they put it on salad instead of Kebabs. Well, it kind of fitted the night though. It was the first time in days that I felt I was in a foreign place, taking a trip. TV programs used to be my benchmark for vacations. Everytime I saw Japanese programs on TV, be it in HK or back in the States, it reminded me of the trips I had in Tokyo. The same applies to those sarcastic commercials from the UK, or footie broadcasts.
Hotel phone rang.
“What are you doing? Watching TV?”
“Er, yes, Mr. Wong. How about yourself?”
“So Mr. Wong, how are you enjoying your trip so far?”
“Not bad, not bad. Little Dave, don’t you think the weather is superb today?”
I peeked out of the window: pitched black sky, cloudy, chilly.
“Definitely Mr. Wong, aren’t we fortunate that we have such great weather during the whole trip! It must be your good fortune, Mr. Wong! Without you, it would have rained shit everyday!”
“No, no. Ha ha ha.”
“Isn’t it amazing how we are travelling around the world, witnessing such great historical sites of the world in such amazing weather? Now we can go home, and boldly and bravely announce to our friends, our families and our colleagues that ‘We have been there!'”
“Ha ha ha. It wouldn’t have happened without your help, Little Dave.”
“It was your leadership and vision that enabled this to happen, Mr. Wong. It was my pleasure, Mr. Wong.”
“Ha ha ha.”
“So Mr. Wong, I think we should capture this valuable moment and maximize this opportunity to expand our horizons. Since the weather is so nice, why don’t we take a stroll in town now?”
“Isn’t it too late now to take a walk?”
“Not at all not at all! I am learning from Mr. Wong everyday and I believe it is important for us to seize the moment! Plus, I look at your courage and learn a great deal on overcoming obstacles and challenges.”
“You aren’t tired or anything right?”
“No Sir no. Anything to allow me to learn from you will be precious. It won’t take long, just a walk.”
“Okay then, let’s take a walk.”
“Cool, Mr. Wong!”
– Very Shallow Discussion –
First of all, due to the nature of this article, I chose to write in English instead of Chinese. It would have given a lot more accurate and colorful description of this little event had I used Chinese. Of course, because of the same reasons, I decided to elect distortion over reality. And yes, whatever happened afterwards is none of your business.
This kind of incidents might sound very obvious and common to a lot of you super PRs. However, to me, it was quite mind opening. There were two reasons for this: One, Mr. Wong’s obscurity, and second, Mr. Wong’s responsibility. I think the latter was more impressive to me.
The Chinese language is an art form, and I have to say the mainland Chinese, after 4000+ years, have really perfected the art form. Mr. Wong wanted and started everything. But I was the one who ended up being the one who wanted and started everything. Of course, I am nothing and he is everything. My life worths shit and his worths everything. ( This doesn’t necessarily reflect what I truly believe, though).
The biggest challenge I had was to test and see what he wanted. It was relatively easy (let’s just stick to this story, I am only offering the blue pill here) to guess what he wanted this time. However, usually, their patience is extremely limited. If they feel that you ain’t got the smarts to pick their brain, you are fucked. Anyways, the way I learned to deal with this was to become the one who started it. Follow his hint, and then think laterally. However, you can’t be too direct. Subtleness is the key. Packaging is the key. Why? Because this gives them room to maneuver. Yes, it is all about them. Who gives a shit about what you want and what you think?
After the initial proposition, I was immediately in the second stage. Be brave and take the responsibility. They never agree or admit anything straightaway. If you think what you are proposing is what they want, make up some grandiose reasons to “convince” them to “go with you”. Try to tap into their minds for concerns that they might have. Never throw the ball back at them. If you think you’ve picked up the bait/hint/whatever, go for it. Be reasonable (the communist way) but always be prepared to retract.
Anyways, yes, this story is probably vague as hell, and this is probably nothing for a lot of you ass-kissing experts out there. If so, please don’t waste your time bitching to yourself and enlighten me instead.