The Negotiation

WPIC Marketing + Technologies

China is the 2nd largest economy on the planet, yet it's the most difficult to enter and manage well for foreign brands. However, success stories are starting to emerge as brands begin to rely on experts in China market-entry to build and execute new strategies and end-to-end China consumer digital experiences. The Negotiation delivers interviews with those who understand how to be successful in China, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make expansion to China a winning proposition for any company.

The Negotiation With Todd Embley
Trailer 53 sec

All Episodes

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Contemporary China through the lens of fashion and culture●      The new thinking around fashion and individuality among China’s younger generations●      China’s fashion scene today and how it differs from that of New York●      Does China have fashion icons?●      China’s urban underground scene●      The future of fashion in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Elsbeth van Paridon, a sinologist, journalist, and lover of China fashion, lifestyle, and urban culture. In 2018, Elsbeth founded The China Temper, a print and digital publication which “offers a gritty slash grungy look at contemporary China through a fashion-focused lens.”Aside from her work with The China Temper, Elsbeth serves as an editorial consultant at the Beijing Review, an editor at WeAr Global Magazine, and a contributor to SupChina and RADII China.“With economic development comes the development of the individual,” says Elsbeth. With regards to fashion and culture, for the longest time Chinese people as a whole have shied away from standing out from the crowd as individuals. However, in the last decade, those living in Tier 1 cities have largely shifted away from this attitude dramatically.Elsbeth gives her thoughts on the idea of individuality in the country, from the rigid conformism of Mao’s China to a new generation “caught between tradition and innovation”. She refers to the modern fashion scene itself not as “trendsetting” but as “trend-dictating”, driven by the power of the stories behind the clothes.She goes on to speak on China’s urban underground, particularly in Beijing (as she contends that “everything in Shanghai is above-ground”) and the trends that have emerged out of it, such as tattoos.Finally, Elsbeth believes that gender-fluid fashion—which unbeknownst to most actually has strong historical roots in the country—is here to stay. Key Quotes:“With economic development comes the development of the individual, and fashion is a major part of that. It is a complete reflection of what is going on in society.” “Fashion is a daily conversation between you and the world.” “I only make fashion statements. I don’t make political statements. That way, it’s quite easy to create content. I’m telling stories about China from a completely different angle. Nobody’s doing it, and it’s the ultimate soft power.”

Nov 30

46 min 2 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The story behind Control Risks and how it expanded to other markets●      Defining “political risk” and its relevance to businesses in China●      Does the government move as fast as the economy and how do businesses adapt to changes in China’s regulatory landscape?●      How to do due diligence in China versus other North Asian markets●      How should political and regulatory issues be considered when approaching due diligence?●      With what types of situations can business intelligence and political and regulatory risk analysis be helpful to businesses in China? Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Rosie Hawes and Carly Ramsey of the China division of Control Risk, a global risk consultancy headquartered in London. The firm’s clients include national and multinational businesses of all sizes in all sectors, law firms, government departments, and non-governmental organizations.“Political risk,” says Carly, “is very relevant to businesses in China” due to the country’s strong drive to turn China into a modern, developed nation.  Regulations abound, therefore, to ensure that business growth in almost every sector is steering the nation toward accomplishing its various political objectives.And these political priorities, Carly continues, “are not new. Those are long-standing, multi-decade long priorities to develop China into a modern country.” Businesses should operate with this strict regulatory environment in mind by having the right people in place who can closely follow these developments and translate those observations into company action. “This is where we focus: Are you set up to manage this shift?”Rosie stresses the importance of considering the political and regulatory landscape when conducting due diligence no matter the size of your company as “any company that wants to succeed in an unfamiliar market needs to test the information that they’re being provided”, preferably via a neutral third-party. Key Quotes:“‘Political risk’ is just the risk from political decisions, political events, political actions on business. That is very relevant to businesses in China. [...] There is a strong political priority to develop China into a modern, developed nation. That means that there are political goals in almost every aspect of society.” ~Carly “Regulatory enforcement is here to stay. It will continue. And new firms and sectors will be targeted. That is just the reality now. But it’s also equally important to remember that Beijing does want the private sector to thrive—and foreign investment to thrive. But there is no hesitation now to make sure that businesses are falling in line in terms of meeting these higher-level political goals.” ~Carly “We do have to be careful to balance Chinese reporting with Western reporting because both have an element of truth and both have an element of bias. A lot of our clients are not familiar with China so the first thing they will do is Google the company and get a very limited set of information, if at all; or, something that is perhaps not fully contextualized so they really don’t understand what they’re seeing. So, a lot of what we do is trying to make sure that the broader local context is provided so that they can assess how good or bad what is being reported in the media really is.” ~Rosie “We do work with smaller firms as well. Really, any company that wants to succeed in an unfamiliar market needs to test the information that they’re being provided, and really need to understand—through a neutral third-party—the extent to which their potential supplier or their potential investment target is really trustworthy and really capable of delivering what they’re saying.” ~Rosie

Nov 23

42 min 12 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How Singles’ Day performed relative to Jacob’s expectations●      Platforms that will gain traction at next year’s 11.11●      Notable creative or marketing tactics used at this year’s festival●      How this year’s GMV may compare to 2020s●      Whether there is still room for foreign brands going forward●      What to know about Pipl (Personal Information Protection Law)●      WPIC’s plans for Southeast Asia●      Demographic differences in China versus Southeast Asia Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jacob Cooke who shares his observations on Singles’ Day in 2021 and how closely the festival met his expectations.In his words, how 11.11 unfolded was “almost bang on” with what Jacob anticipated, with a couple of categories “going a little bit over” and toys being the only underperformer.It was a “Tmall-dominated shopping festival” that was largely untouched by the influx of new government regulations this year which, again, Jacob expected. He predicts more platforms gaining traction at next year’s 11.11 as Walled Gardens continue to come down and cross-platform functionality increases in scope.Platforms also doubled down on live streams which had already been immensely popular in the Chinese market for some time, precisely because they know that live streams have become such an effective way to move product.In many ways, “China is starting to become comfortable in their skin,” pushing for local champions in each of the different categories. While the country had been playing catch-up as recently as a decade ago, today local brands have been dominating in the market.Finally, Jacob gives his thoughts on how companies will have to deal with the legal implications of Personal Information Protection Law, WPIC’s budding work in the Southeast Asia market, and demographic differences between the China market and that of Southeast Asia. Key Quotes:“There are a lot of misconceptions about why local brands are doing well. In a lot of cases, they have an easier time because they’re focused solely on China. Very few of them have global ambitions because the market is so large here.” “I don’t think we’re done with regulators in terms of what’s done with personal data. I think that’s actually going to be further enhanced. [...] I think that what’s happened this year [with Pipl] is that the regulators have started to take action to make people take these new laws seriously.” “eCommerce has normally been adopted by younger consumers. China’s done a really good job at making eCommerce universal.”

Nov 17

20 min 52 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Launching Founders Space in China●      Why Steve wrote Make Elephants Fly●      China’s unique (and commonly misrepresented) approach to innovation●      Mentoring Chinese vs Western entrepreneurs●      How evolving family dynamics and the Westernization of much of today’s Chinese youth influences the country’s perception towards entrepreneurship as a career path●      What Western startups need to know if they want to enter China, and what Chinese startups need to know if they want to take their business abroad●      Why Steve wrote The Five Forces That Change Everything●      Steve on whether China will win the battle for AI supremacy Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Steve Hoffman, venture investor, serial entrepreneur, and award-winning author. He is Chairman & CEO of San Francisco-based startup accelerator Founders Space, which was ranked the #1 incubator for overseas startups by Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazines.Steve remembers the moment he was first invited to establish his first Founders Space in China. This was the start of a plethora of opportunities that came his way almost overnight: That same year, Steve was simultaneously doing speaking tours, launching his incubators in other cities, and had just published his first book Make Elephants Fly. His big “break”, however, came in the form of a talk he gave for Tencent which made Steve China-famous.Steve makes the case that China’s business world is actually quite innovative, contrary to its “copycat” stereotype. In fact, he says that it is precisely due to their ability to see what’s working, and to be able to improve upon these products and adapt it to their local market, that defines China’s truly innovative spirit.Asked for his experience in mentoring Chinese entrepreneurs as a foreigner, Steve says that, in order to get the best out of a local, a mentor needs to know their limitations. Specifically, as a foreigner, Steve can only teach from the point-of-view of a Westerner. But that is okay—the Chinese entrepreneur will even appreciate that unique perspective.He then adds that a true, well-rounded business education comes when the foreign mentor collaborates with local Chinese mentors, filling each other’s gaps and complementing each other on a cultural level.The same principle applies when it comes to Western startups who are looking to enter the China market. “Entering China is tough,” says Steve, “because it’s an entirely different ecosystem.”A big part of this is culture, which is centered on relationships. Those who succeed, then, are founders who have a firm grasp of the language and culture of China. At the very least, it pays to have local partners who have an intimate understanding of this ecosystem. Key Quotes:“The reason startups work so well is, by their very nature, they are limited. They are limited in size—they only have so many founders. They are limited in money—so they have to use their resources very cleverly, forcing them to innovate. And they are limited in time—so they have to iterate really, really fast. A big corporation doesn’t have those limitations.” “[Chinese entrepreneurs] are really receptive. Chinese entrepreneurs want to succeed. They are open to ideas. And because I’m a foreigner, they’re really open to our perspective. So, I’m not going to give them the same advice that a local Chinese mentor or innovation instructor would give them. I give them advice from my culture, my background.” “[Chinese] understand that it’s not about what you wrote on the paper. It’s about your relationship with them. And it’s not just about your relationship with one person in China—the person you’re doing business with—but, it’s your relationship to all the other people in that person’s network.

Nov 9

51 min 1 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Problems that Axis aims to solve●      How Axis helps to develop resorts●      How is China preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics●      How Axis is preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics●      Snowsports culture and the hospitality industry in China today●      What Chinese consumers have taught Justin and the Axis team●      Building ski resorts in China versus other countries●      The development of four-seasons resorts in China●      The future of winter sports in China●      What the West can learn from China’s snowsports industry Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Justin Downes, President of Axis Leisure Management, a firm comprised of hospitality, leisure and business experts specializing in winter sports, hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, retail, golf courses, tourism authorities, entertainment companies and various other establishments related to the services and hospitality industries in China.Axis was founded to address the fact that, at the time, “there [was] absolutely no expertise in the China market for building international-level ski resort destinations.” The management firm was thus established to “bring a global, high-quality standard experience across the board into the winter sports market in China.”The company prides itself not only on its ability to facilitate business management but also on the capability of its team of experts to take someone’s vision out of their head and onto paper.Listen in as Justin shares how China is preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which he says is dependent on the evolution of Chinese industry, the actual preparation and production going into the Olympic Games, and how the governing body intends to navigate COVID-19 before and during the actual Games.The lead-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics bodes well not only for the snowsports industry in China but for the country’s sports world in general. Both the public and the government have contributed to drastic growth in the health and wellness industry in recent times, and the countdown to the Olympics has only accelerated that interest and growth.Finally, Justin explains the ins and outs of developing ski resorts in China, including considerations around establishing and managing four-seasons resorts. Key Quotes:“Finding a piece of land in a remote location, in China, is quite easy. It’s really about, ‘Who’s going to come there?’ and ‘How are they going to get there?’ In some cases, the Chinese government builds fantastic infrastructure such as a rail with nothing at the end of that point, or they build a fantastic destination but no way to get there. We try to link these two components into a more organic growth solution.” “China performed a fantastic job in 2008 with the Summer Games. It’s not as if they’ve not done this type of thing before. [...] From an execution standpoint—if you take COVID out of the equation—I think China will deliver a flawless athletic experience.” “There’s been a lot of interest and pressure, both from the public-up and the government-down, to create an environment where people are healthier and happier. [...] General health and wellness in China is off-the-charts as far as opportunity and growth.”

Nov 2

54 min 9 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Trends that shaped consumer behaviour in 2021●      How different categories have fared over the past year●      How consumer trends have evolved in the past 18 months●      Sectors to lead the charge in China’s economic growth going forward●      Which categories are predicted to be successful on Singles’ Day●      New tactics brands will use aside from discounts●      How important it is to have inventory on the ground for Singles’ Day●      How the impact has impacted manufacturing and logistics●      Potential long-term effects of this year’s 11.11●      How brands are preparing for fallout due to supply chain issues Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jacob Cooke, co-founder of WPIC Marketing and Technologies, to get his pre-and post-11.11 insights and predictions. As 2021 comes to a close, Jacob does a deep dive into the consumer trends that have emerged in China over the past year.The biggest factor that rippled out into all aspects of commerce and consumer behaviour in 2021 was operational continuity. Both buyers and sellers are no stranger to having to navigate ever-changing logistical challenges in the market, and this has led to increased vigilance and meticulousness in the way people purchase.Online retail quickly became the preferred way to shop, the health and wellness category has soared, and even high-end fashion has seen a resurgence over the past year as brands have finally learned to adapt to the limitations brought about by COVID-related restrictions and other obstacles. On the other hand, mother and baby brands have fallen due to lower birth rates. Most other categories, Jacob observes, have seen linear growth.The result of these adaptations is that brands have now gotten their predicted sales down to a science. They do not expect to overperform or underperform on Singles’ Day as big data and machine learning have given companies the ability to calculate the precise amount of inventory they would need to prepare in time for 11.11.“Nothing is truly made in its country of origin,” Jacob reminds us. As manufacturing and logistics continue to experience complications, inventory will become increasingly precious. Companies will largely be playing on defense to preserve the inventory they have along with finding more creative solutions to moving product beyond discounts. Key Quotes:“In general, when we look at the history of 11.11 (I think we’re at year 12 now), a lot of the growth in those early years was from DAU (daily average users) and MAU (monthly average users). A couple of years ago, Tmall hit that $900 million mark [and] reached saturation in the market. Growth then started coming from increased spends between that $900 million but also from broader and broader categories.” “This 11.11 may potentially be smaller than last year’s 11.11 due to the supply crunch. It’s going to be the biggest issue. I don’t think it’s been in the press nearly enough. [...] This is not a new problem. This has been going on for several months. I think now people are starting to notice it with empty shelves; but, it’s no different anywhere in the world. Global supply chains are extremely complicated.” “The Chinese eCommerce system is very public. Those comments are always there. The ratings are incredibly important. And it all feeds back into the search algorithm. So, you have this monstrous platform, but you’re also up against a ton of other brands. Customer feedback is incredibly important. Your reputation is everything. You don’t ever want to misrepresent the products that you’re selling. You want to be as accurate as possible. And if there are disadvantages to your product, you want to be clear about that, too, and provide reasons. You don’t want any consumer to be surprised about the item that they receive at home versus what they think they’re purchasing online.”

Oct 27

28 min 49 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The focus of the China Institute●      How the Canada-China relationship has evolved since the 1950s●      How China and Canada may recover from their strained relationship that reached a low point in December 2018●      How the relationship between Canada and China may look ten years from now●      What lessons can Canada and other Western countries learn from China, especially when it comes to spurring economic growth●      Common misconceptions about China in North America’s academic environment●      Key differences between the academic environment in China and that of North America Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jia Wang, Interim Director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta. She brings to her work over 15 years of experience in international relations and public affairs management.Having previously worked as a TV producer and news anchor, today Jia is a sought-after media commentator and public speaker on Canada-China relations as well as the Chinese economy and politics.Born and raised in Beijing, Jia had always been fascinated by the “outside world” thanks in large part to her globally-minded father. After completing her bachelor of law degree at Peking University, she left for Canada where she studied International Relations at the University of Toronto.Through her current work at the China Institute, Jia and her team focus on “policy-relevant studies that are applicable to the real world as China gains increasing importance on the global stage, both economically and on the international relations front.”Listen in as Jia breaks down the evolution of Canada-China relations, specifically between 1950 to 2000, then from 2000 to 2010, and finally from 2010 to 2018. She traces this history from the wheat exports that began in the late 1950s to the point wherein China developed into Canada’s second-largest trading partner.She then shares how she believes China and Canada may “restart” their strained relationship following the rocky events of December 2018. She hopes that the two countries may engage in dialogue centred around common goals such as tackling climate change, all the while becoming more tolerant of each other’s differences in values and governance practices.Finally, Jia explains the common misconceptions that Americans have about China, as well as the differences between the academic environment in China and that of North America after over a decade of being immersed in the latter. Key Quotes:“We focus on policy-relevant studies that are applicable to the real world as China gains increasing importance on the global stage, both economically and on the international relations front. We want to help Canadians better understand where China is coming from, what the country is doing, and hopefully use that information to help policy members and the public to better understand China and to better manage the relationship between Canada and China.” “We do need to know what China is thinking and hoping to do, and of course China needs to know what Canada is hoping to do. Without dialogue, we just cannot move forward.” “China is rising and China is here to stay. It is impossible to try to decouple from China and try to isolate China as if it were the 50s. So, we do have to find a path forward, and we do have to have a strategy that is more forward-looking, and to include China in the global discussion on how to tackle pressing global issues.”

Oct 20

42 min 13 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How Freddie is working with Burton Snowboards to create a network of snowboard academies in China●      How technology is being used to improve and scale snowboarding in China●      Will snow sports in China see more international instructors becoming involved in the future?●      The rise of four seasons resorts in China, and considerations around operations and logistics●      How the lead-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics is shaping the snow sports world in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we continue our conversation with Freddie Bacon, an expert in the snow sports space with over 14 years of global experience. He is currently the Director of Sports Development at Axis Leisure Management.Freddie talks about the long-term goals for the Burton Snowboard Academy’s growth in China, focusing on retention of first-time ski or snowboarders, and creating the instructor certification program that is in line with the international standards so that it is a world-class certification program. They plan to have 20 locations in China in the next 5 years.Freddie believes that technology will pave the way for the business of snowboarding in China to become the gold standard for service quality and customer experience. He sees rapid technological developments as one factor toward the rise of four seasons resorts that will contribute to the overall growth of the snow sports industry.Finally, Freddie talks about the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and how the lead-up to this historic event has caused an explosion of interest in skiing and snowboarding, and what all of this means with regard to the future of Chinese snow sports. Key Quotes: “The way things are developing in China, I honestly think that in a few years’ time, the resorts here will be leading the charge in terms of service quality and customer experience levels, through the use of technology.” “What’s different between China and perhaps other markets in North America and Europe is that the traditional retail store seems to be on the decline in many places; whereas, in China, the retail store is doing very, very well with these lifestyle brands looking at expanding their retail footprint.”

Oct 12

35 min 29 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Running snowsports schools in China compared to the West●      Chinese parent-child dynamics at snow sports schools and how instructors can manage expectations●      The economics of lift passes, equipment, logistics, and instruction in the world of snow sport in China●      Removing the cost barrier that continues to prevent many Chinese from accessing snow sports schools Episode Summary: Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Freddie Bacon, an expert in the snows sports space with over 14 years of global experience. He is currently the Director of Sports Development at Axis Leisure Management.Headquartered in Beijing, Axis provides a wide suite of services to establishments in the hospitality industry. These include business planning and positioning, resort and facility management, operational consulting, brand management and representation, architecture and design, and construction supervision.Freddie is also leading an initiative by Burton Snowboards to create a network of snowboard academies in China, with the goal of establishing over 20 locations by year five.In today’s conversation, Freddie discusses the cultural differences when it comes to running snows sports schools in China versus those in the West. He touches on the uniquely Chinese attitudes held by instructors, young students, and their parents, and also why private lessons are far and away preferred over group lessons in China (97% of lessons booked are, in fact, one-on-one).He speaks on the changing economics of the snow sports world in China. For a long time, attending these schools has largely been a privilege for the elite. But there has been a push in recent times to provide mass-market solutions that make snow sports schools more accessible to a middle-class Chinese family. This is thanks to initiatives by the government and certain businesses and academic institutions. Key Quotes:“I personally believe that many snow sports schools are grossly undervaluing their instructors—particularly their professional skiing and snowboarding instructors—that are trying to make this a career. There are a growing number of people trying to do just that.” “It is a hugely expensive process to go skiing, particularly if you have a family. [...] Whilst there are millions of people that can afford that, there are also millions that can’t. [...] We do think that there is an element of community responsibility. If it’s done right and the experience is good, skiing and snowboarding are fantastic things to be a part of. We would love to get less-affluent individuals involved in the sport and to work on sustainable ways to ensure that we can have mass participation.”

Oct 5

33 min 44 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Trends taking place in China that may soon quickly spread to the rest of the world●      Why offline retail continues to prevail in the West●      How views toward entrepreneurship and working in the tech industry have evolved over the past decade in China●      Emerging Chinese tech companies to keep an eye on●      Why lookism has become “rampant in China”●      Why Rui revisited Agora and her thoughts on sinophobia and the education crackdown in China●      The future of cross-border investments Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we continue our conversation with angel investor and fund consultant Rui Ma, whose work involves identifying superior technology investment opportunities in both the US and China.Rui is best known as the creator of Tech Buzz China, a paid community for investors and operators interested in China tech. Rui also co-hosts the biweekly Tech Buzz China podcast.Live streaming in the eCommerce space is poised to explode in popularity in a few countries outside of China, including India and much of Southeast Asia. After all, according to Rui, “There is nothing culturally Chinese about live commerce.”However, eCommerce penetration is still lower in the U.S. compared to China due to greater development of, and continued preference for, offline retail. Further, major eCommerce companies in China have gone all-in with regard to KOLs, whereas American companies, by large, have not.Over the past ten years, entrepreneurship and the tech space have seen drastic changes on a cultural, economic, and political level. Rui shares how the government “made it socially okay” to become an entrepreneur, whereas as late as 2014 the choice for a young person to go into business for oneself was seen as irresponsible by many parents.She then speaks on the phenomenon of lookism that she believes has become “rampant in China”. She says that “People believe that their economic opportunity or worth is tied to their physical appearance.” That is, lookism is the belief that how good-looking a person is has a direct impact on their job prospects.Finally, Rui addresses the “lack of China perspective” among many Americans, particularly in the business world. She says that it is “very irrational to completely abstain from the Chinese market because it is already so influential, and it’s going to be even more.” Key Quotes:“You probably want to look at all the big consumer brands and consider that there could be the possibility that the number one player, in ten years, is no longer hailing from the United States.” “Overall, there is a human bias for [good looks] as being a proxy for confidence; but, I think that it is even deeper in China versus in America.” “For a lot of people who are not taking a lot of time to understand China, they, unfortunately, take a shortcut and make all of these assumptions that are not true, which I think is a pity because China, whether you like it or not, is a very large economy and Chinese entrepreneurs are very savvy and are now very-well funded, as well. So, regardless of whether or not you want to have anything to do with China, I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to deal with China in one way or another, and it’s better to understand your competition or your potential partners than to resort to some really simplistic assumptions that are often not true.”

Sep 28

36 min 37 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Rui speaks on her work with the Tech Buzz China podcast and community●      How accurate is the data we are getting today from the fundraising world in China?●      What is it like to do due diligence on Chinese tech companies looking for investors?●      Rui describes the trip she conducted in 2019 to bring foreign investors into China●      Trends in China’s tech scene today●      The impact that new data privacy regulations have had on social media in China●      Business trends that are commonly misunderstood by foreign investors●      Western digital ecosystems versus China’s Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Rui Ma, an angel investor and fund consultant whose work involves identifying superior-tech investment opportunities in both the US and China.She is the creator of Tech Buzz China, a paid community for investors and operators interested in China tech. Rui also co-hosts the biweekly Tech Buzz China podcast.Finally, Rui is the Executive Chairman of the nonprofit Rookie Fund, which aims to be the best student-run fund for discovering and investing in student entrepreneurs in Asia.Asked how often companies release prevalent misleading or outright fraudulent numbers to potential investors, Rui says that transparency has become the norm in recent years, especially in the tech world. She adds that doing due diligence on tech companies in China is virtually no different from how one would do so in the U.S.In any case, she contends that due diligence is less about determining the accuracy of data, but about understanding the wider economic and even political or cultural context around the company’s performance.What is more important is doing “character diligence” on management, and this can only be done effectively from having extensive experience on the ground as well as being in touch with the right industry contacts.Rui speaks on current trends in China’s tech scene. She directs much of her energy towards cross-border eCommerce which has been on the rise since the market is becoming increasingly populated with both foreign-educated entrepreneurs and those who have simply accumulated a lot of experience working in China’s tech space.Also, many companies are now putting their focus on creating their own branded products instead of exporting unbranded products wholesale, which China had been known for in previous years.            Finally, Rui describes common misconceptions that foreign investors have about the business world in China, including the “opportunistic” mentality of Chinese entrepreneurs and business leaders and their continued reliance on Western companies when it comes to deciding on best practices for starting, scaling, and managing their organizations. Key Quotes:“Of course, you hear stories of fraud and such; but, really, it’s about understanding the details of what you’re looking at, because, whatever the company presents to you—you just need to double-check that you fully understand. You could have a contract for x, y, z-million dollars, and it could be true. But when you read the contract and understand the contingencies, you may want to discount that number or look at it differently. The details really matter here. I don’t think it’s at all different from what you would do here in the U.S.” “The most important thing [when it comes to due diligence] is not necessarily data itself, but whether you truly understand what is driving the force or what is behind the economics. [...] I found that a lot of the information or ‘additional color’ that you need—that you can’t get from the data—is very important. This is where being on the ground and having experience and having industry contacts and having worked there a long time really helps you because then you can do, let’s call it ‘character diligence’ on the management.” “These days, if you don’t have the skill to build relationships and execute deals completely virtually, then you need to develop that ASAP because lots of people can and there is a lot of willingness to do that. You do not need to meet face-to-face.” “The opportunistic mentality of Chinese entrepreneurs and companies is underappreciated by investors globally.”

Sep 22

39 min 17 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How changes in China’s economy and business landscape over the last four years influenced John’s work●      Challenges faced by foreign versus local Chinese startup entrepreneurs●      Potential advantages for foreign startup owners in China●      Changes in the education space in China●      The evolution KOLs and influencer marketing in China●      Problems that unpackAI aims to solve●      What AI is really capable of and how China is exploring these capabilities compared to America Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with John Kaller, a German entrepreneur based in China with an extensive background in AI Product Management.John is the Co-Founder of unpackAI, an e-learning startup that makes AI and deep learning education as accessible as possible by offering affordable, virtual, and project-based bootcamps to business professionals.He is also a Program Consultant for The Startup Yard, a global Think Tank that provides a pre-accelerator bootcamp for international budding entrepreneurs looking to kick-off their startup in China.John volunteers his time as the Managing Director for The German Innovators in China (GINN), a nonprofit that seeks to build bridges between entrepreneurs and innovators from German-speaking countries and the innovation landscape in China.Looking back over his four years in China so far, John has observed that “the market reorganizes itself” at a speed much faster than in Western markets. That is, in a few short years as an entrepreneur in China, John has seen trends come and go, and technological and logistical innovation is a regular occurrence. He also foresees a new wave of foreign entrepreneurs making their way into the China market in a post-COVID world.On succeeding as a foreign startup entrepreneur in China, the biggest challenge is almost always navigating cultural barriers along with a lack of fluency in the language. But, as John says: “You’re not trying to be Chinese or trying to do ‘better’ than Chinese entrepreneurs.”Rather, the key is for the foreign entrepreneur to position themselves as an expert in their particular industry and serve as a “gateway” into the global market for their local Chinese investors.            John also speaks on the progressive democratization and privatization of China’s education and influencer marketing spaces. Finally, he discusses the future capabilities of AI and the differences in how China innovates in this field compared to the U.S. and Canada. Key Quotes:“Especially in China, the moment you are able to speak the language, you are able to access such a wide field of people that you normally wouldn’t have access to because they simply don’t speak English.” “Doing a startup is very, very difficult. However, the set of problems that a foreign startup owner encounters in China [versus that of] a Chinese startup owner in China are just different. They’re not worse or easier—they’re just different. As a foreign founder, you have to be able to still show yourself as an expert in a certain market while being in China, while maybe not being able to speak fluent Chinese [or encountering cultural barriers.]” “Education in China is a huge topic because it’s seen as the lever for families to prepare their children for newfound wealth. [...] Education is a cornerstone in China. The willingness of families in China to spend and invest time and money into it is a lot higher than it is in the West.” “KOLs and the influencer space are wildly different from the West’s. It’s a more evolved version. Why is that? It’s because people in China, especially the current generation, have grown up with technologies that were way more embedded in their normal life. Examples of that are payment, education, and social media. They are a lot more ingrained in the culture using digital and phones compared to the West.” “Both the U.S. and Canada are far ahead when it comes to AI research. [...] These are published in papers and top journals that are widely accessible to anyone. However, the application of AI is mainly happening in China, where these techniques are actually being used and put into practice.”

Sep 14

38 min 38 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) have evolved over the past five years●      Co-founding one of China’s top-ranking beauty KOLs, Melilim Fu●      The team behind Melilim Fu, and how KOLs are typically managed●      KOLs versus Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) versus micro-influencers●      Launchmetrics and the problems they aim to solve in today’s marketplace●      Scaling a startup in China as a C-suite executive●      The dramatic rise of influencers in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Elijah Whaley, VP of Marketing APAC at Launchmetrics, the leading Brand Performance Cloud used by Fashion, Luxury and Beauty (FLB) executives to connect with the modern consumer in a constantly changing landscape.Elijah is also the host of the PARKLU China Influencer Marketing Podcast, a bi-monthly show which features guests who share their unique insights and perspectives on industry developments.Elijah speaks on the development of Key Opinion Leaders, or “KOLs”, in China over the past five years. Before turning into a huge industry in China’s eCommerce space, the impetus for KOLs began with passionate fans of certain products who shared their purchase experiences with a small online community via blogging and live streaming. Elijah speaks specifically on co-founding one of China’s top-ranking beauty KOLs, Melilim Fu.The greatest and most inexpensive approach to customer acquisition is retention. Elijah believes that there is too little focus being placed on customer retention, especially since the real power of retention lies in a brand’s ability to leverage these loyal customers as communication or marketing channels—Key Opinion Consumers, or “KOCs”.            Finally, Elijah discusses the dramatic rise of influencer marketing in China—a natural evolution in consumer culture due to the country’s inclination to “feel special about themselves by being involved with a group that they consider special.” Key Quotes:“The intersection between education and entertainment is the sweet spot when it comes to content marketing or content development. Everybody wants to be entertained. To be educated and be entertained at the same time provides the maximum amount of value and bang for your buck as far as your time investment into anything.” “I believe KOCs are something that has existed for a long time: a brand advocate. But it’s a digital brand advocate. [...] A KOC is a brand’s customer. When they talk about your product, they generate more sales. As a brand, if you’re able to identify these customers [...] you can put this label of ‘KOC’ on them and put them into a new basket and say, ‘Hey, this person is an extremely valuable asset to our organization. We need to treat this person differently and leverage them as a communications channel.’” “When the customer comes into the store, we need to overdeliver, surprise, and delight, and create it in a visceral way so that someone wants to take their phone out, capture it, and share it. We know that this is the most impactful way of communicating with other potential customers because it’s word-of-mouth from individuals that others know, love, and trust.” “Timing is the big secret in the startup world. If you can hit that wave right, if you see the swell and you start paddling and you position yourself properly, that’s the big, big secret.”

Sep 8

47 min 24 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How has merchandising transformed in the age of eCommerce?●      Justice’s typical day as Director of Merchandising at WPIC●      Examples of companies that exemplify effective online merchandising●      Why it is so difficult to master online merchandising●      Global merchandising trends, specifically focusing on trends in China●      The future of merchandising globally and in China●      Why did WPIC develop its merchandising capabilities? Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Justice Hampton, Director of Merchandising at WPIC Marketing + Technologies.Justice joined WPIC in March 2021, bringing with him 15 years of experience in merchandising. He previously held roles at a number of luxury apparel brands, including Lululemon, Abercrombie & Fitch, Coach, Ralph Lauren, and Club Monaco.Justice speaks on how the world of merchandising changed forever with the rise of the digital era. At the same time, the fundamentals remain the same, and these fundamentals should, in fact, be the basis of all decisions made by the merchandising department. That is, social media and eCommerce platforms are at their most powerful when they are used to “amplify the things that you [already] do at the brick-and-mortar level”.Asked for the best examples of digital merchandising done well, Justice points to menswear brand Mr. Porter for its masterful translation of the unique visual and tactile experience of shopping in-store to the online shopping environment.Justice looks at the market in China as “aggressive” wherein consumer products are advertised—in large part by KOLs—as “need-to-haves” more often than not. Chinese consumers also spend a large amount of time on Tmall beyond browsing for products to buy. True to its name, Tmall is very much the new mall-going experience for the modern Chinese.For every new social media platform adopted by the masses, the merchandising world evolves. From Facebook to Instagram, and now to TikTok, the online marketplace has found itself having to adapt to changing consumer trends at a faster rate than at any other time in history. Key Quotes:“Despite all the changes, what makes a really solid merchandising strategy is being able to use digital technology to amplify the things that you do at the brick-and-mortar level. You have all these amazing ways to accentuate your product story and meet the consumers where they are on multiple platforms.” “One of the really cool things that certain online brands do really well is, they take best [practices for great] in-store experience and they figure out a way to replicate [them] as seamlessly as possible online.” “You can localize a brand by having the right look that is appropriate for the country, having the right logos, having the right copy, and having the right visual experience online. But you also have to localize the assortment. This is where the merchandising role comes in.”

Aug 31

34 min 40 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The economic, cultural, and athletic impact that the 2008 Beijing Olympics had on China●      China’s reaction to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics●      China’s expectations for the 2022 Winter Olympics and future games●      Popular and not-as popular sports in China●      The intersection of sports, politics, and business in China’s fitness industry●      China’s growing interest in health and fitness●      How China is investing in infrastructure to aid in the development of the sports industry●      Team sports versus individual sports in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Mark Dreyer, a China-based media and sports professional. Mark has been based in China since shortly before the 2008 Olympics, where he has worked with several media outlets, both domestic and international.Mark is the Marketing and Communications Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the Founder of China Sports Insider and the China Correspondent for SportsBusiness Group.Asked how the 2008 Summer Olympics influenced China economically, Mark says that, while the event itself was not profitable for the country, the Olympics cemented China’s dramatic rise in the 2000s as a major player on the world stage.Culturally, and in the sports world specifically, the nation gained a massive amount of soft power as a result of their virtually flawless handling of the Olympics—not to mention having won 51 gold medals—showing the world a side of China previously unseen.Mark gives his thoughts on the growth of the Chinese sports industry as a vehicle for bolstering national pride. He shares how this intersection of sports, politics and business manifests itself, such as in the famously “manufactured” athletic prowess of NBA star Yao Ming.However, Mark believes that the top-down nature of Chinese society is limiting the country’s potential in the world of sports. With regards to soccer, for instance, instead of allowing a “grassroots” movement to nurture a competent player base over a decade or two, the Chinese leadership would rather search for ways to create Olympic-level athletes in a matter of a few years.Mark believes that the key to creating a thriving and enviable sports industry in China is to make sports something that people voluntarily do for fun and because they simply love it, as opposed to the current culture of handpicking and grooming promising players to compete solely for national pride.In his words: “How do we get people to play sports in a way that they actually, genuinely want to?” Key Quotes:“China is very, very good at the summer games, less so at the Winter Olympics. [...] Ten of their 13 gold medals are in short track speed skating. As you’d expect, that is where there is a lot of interest for the Chinese people when it comes to the Winter Olympics.” “When your country—when your athletes are winning gold medals—it does make it that much more exciting for your country. [...] That patriotism, that nationalism is more of a factor in China than it would be in other countries.” “China has always struggled to create grassroots sports. Soccer is probably the prime example. Everything here in China is top-down. It is a top-down society. To have success in a sport like soccer, you need to build from the bottom up. That contradiction is, in large part, what has prevented China from becoming a global soccer power as it has many, many times declared it wants to be.”

Aug 24

56 min 34 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Working in the APAC market●      The differences between UI, UX, and CX●      What is “product-market fit” and how do you know if you’ve achieved it?●      Why neglecting to build the right local team is one of the biggest mistakes a foreign company can make●      Tools that Kaizor uses to collect and interpret data for clients●      Defining the “fractional” C-suite executive●      Elaine speaks on her seven-step methodology to creating products and services that successfully cross cultural barriers between the East and the West Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Elaine Ann, Founder and Fractional Chief Xperience Officer for Tech Startups at Kaizor Innovation, a consultancy that helps companies research, strategize and design new product/services innovation for the China market.Elaine is the author of the book Xperience Innovation, in which she details a seven-step innovation methodology to guide foreign companies in creating products and services that translate well in the China market.From 2006-2020, Elaine was the organizer for IxDA Hong Kong. Since January 2021, she has organized events for the Vancouver chapter. The nonprofit aims to advance the discipline of Interaction Design through a series of international events that bring together members of the IxD community. Today, IxDA has over 100,000 members and over 200 local groups around the world.Elaine speaks on how she helps her clients home in on product-market fit, which includes a good amount of cross-cultural translation, whether the company in question is in the F&B or health & wellness space.Without understanding differences in the market, a company will not be able to design, much less sell, a product that fits that market. Elaine explains how important this reality is, since even refrigerators and vacuum cleaners in China are designed differently to those in America.Cars, which are primarily owned by the well-off in China, require different marketing as well. This goes especially for higher-end brands such as BMW, because owners of these cars usually hire drivers instead of driving themselves. “So, now, who is the end-user?” says Elaine. “Is it the person who buys the car or the person who drives the car?” Key Quotes:“Sometimes, our biggest challenge is that our clients don’t know what they don’t know. [...] Once they land in a different country and they experience the place for five-to-ten days, they notice all these nuances. But it’s harder than if they’ve never been to China.” “In the U.S., everybody drives. In China, the people who own cars are relatively well-off. The people who own BMWs most likely hire drivers. So, now, who is the end-user? Is it the person who buys the car or the person who drives the car? And the person who drives the car may have grown up in a village and can’t even read that well. So, the whole context changes when you’re in such a different market.” “China is very good at micro-innovations and refining something that already exists. But in terms of fundamental innovation, I still think that U.S. companies have an edge, and it has to do with education and culture.”

Aug 17

52 min 4 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      A description of the Shanghai startup scene today and how it compares to France’s and the U.S.’s●      What it is like to be a foreign entrepreneur in China●      How to know whether you should start your business in China●      What most Westerners do not know about F&B in China●      Why Shanghai is not representative of China as a whole●      How the F&B space and food’s fusion with tech has developed over time in China●      The impact of the health and wellness industry on F&B in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with serial entrepreneur and angel investor Gregory Prudhommeaux. He is the Founder of NextStep Studio, an accelerator for businesses in food, F&B and food tech-based in Shanghai. He is also a Foreign Trade Advisor for Les Conseillers du Commerce extérieur de la France.Gregory is the Co-President at La French Tech Shanghai, a community aimed at gathering the local tech community with an interest in France and building bridges between major innovation hubs. The community facilitates the cross-fertilization of competencies and helps French businesses & entrepreneurs to foster their development in China.Gregory kicks off the conversation with his thoughts on the evolution of Shanghai’s startup scene and how it compares to France’s and the U.S.’s. While many foreigners have seized the opportunity to set up shop in China, it is a difficult process, particularly when it comes to acquiring seed funding.Unlike France, which offers a number of financing options for the aspiring startup entrepreneur, China is a place where knowing the right person—and knowing how to build a relationship with them—is probably the most important factor. Gregory says that the U.S. is more casual when it comes to networking, whereas “it is a bit trickier” in China.Calling Shanghai “the Los Angeles or the San Francisco of China”, Gregory says that the technologically advanced city of 25 million does not represent China’s market as a whole. This is for many reasons, including the transitory living situation of many in Shanghai, its multiculturalism, as well as Shanghai’s relative independence from fellow Tier 1 cities and the seat of power in China, Beijing.Gregory goes on to speak on his journey as an entrepreneur and investor in China and why he specifically chose to specialize in F&B. He explains what sets this space apart compared to the West and how Chinese attitudes toward food and beverage shape the industry. Finally, he describes the merging of food and tech and how COVID-19 accelerated many developments that were already underway. Key Quotes:“As a foreign entrepreneur, you can start a business anywhere around the world; but, I don’t think China is necessarily the place where you want to start. There are a lot of other difficulties, because of the Chinese culture and the Chinese tech landscape which is very different from the rest of the world. Whatever you do in China will have a lot of specificities due to the market and the digital ecosystem.” “Shanghai is the Los Angeles or San Francisco of China. The administrative and financial power is in Beijing. The industrial power is in Chongqing. [...] Trade is in Guangzhou or Hong Kong. Shanghai is a massive city with 25 million people [...] and very advanced, technologically speaking.”

Aug 10

54 min 22 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      What exactly is “antitrust” and why is it so important in the relationship between business and government globally?●      What has China’s relationship with antitrust been historically, and have the events of 2008 and 2013 affected antitrust enforcement?●      The conversations around antitrust at a time when big tech companies both in the U.S. and China are more influential than they have ever been●      Why Angela titled her book “Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism”●      The main consequences of China’s ascent on the global antitrust policy landscape●      What the West often gets wrong about how Chinese policy is formed●      Is the delay of Alibaba’s IPO due to the current state of China’s antitrust policy?●      How Huawei is being affected by China’s antitrust policy●      The future of U.S-China relations Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Angela Huyue Zhang, Associate Professor of Law at The University of Hong Kong and former Senior Lecturer in Competition Law at King’s College London. An expert on Chinese law, Angela Zhang has written extensively on Chinese antitrust enforcement.Angela is the Director of the Centre for Chinese Law, which promotes legal scholarship with the aim to develop a deeper understanding of China and facilitate dialogue between East and West. She is the author of Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism: How the Rise of China Will Challenge Global Regulation (2021).Angela’s research has helped her become a four-time recipient of the Concurrence Antitrust Writing Award, which honors the best antitrust papers published in academic journals each year.Antitrust, which Angela defines as “an area of law that mainly deals with the anticompetitive effects arising from monopoly”, is an incredibly powerful tool for governments to rein in big monopolies—particularly big tech in the modern world.With its state-owned economy, it was debated for a long time whether China should have an antitrust law put in place at all. But one was eventually established in 2007, in large part due to the influx of foreign multinational companies that leave domestic businesses (mostly small enterprises in those years) at risk of being left behind.Angela describes the interdependent relationship between how China regulates and how China is regulated. She also explains why, through its sway over global antitrust policy, China is “nudging” big tech companies to become more integrated.Angela speaks on recent and current issues surrounding antitrust and the clamping down of various big tech companies, including former President Trump’s actions against TikTok and WeChat, the delay of Alibaba’s IPO, and the Huawei situation.Finally, Angela gives her optimistic take on the future of China’s relationship with the West. Key Quotes:“Antitrust is an area of law that mainly deals with the anticompetitive effects arising from monopoly. But I have to clarify that having a monopoly power does not necessarily mean that a firm is in violation of antitrust law. Antitrust law only intervenes when the monopoly firm has abused its power, say by exploiting its consumers or its suppliers or have excluded competitors to the detriment of consumer welfare.” “The fundamental feature of the Chinese bureaucracy is that power is fragmented: Different agencies have a very specific scope of functions. At the same time, the division of labor is not entirely clear; so, there can be overlapping duties over a specific sector or a specific company, and that could potentially give rise to conflicts and competition among agencies. Turf wars are very common in Chinese regulation.” “In terms of how China regulates, its government structure is both concentrated and decentralized. You can see pervasive state influence and fierce competition among Chinese firms at the same time. That makes China an elusive target for regulation.”

Aug 4

46 min 39 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      What brands can do if they want to succeed in China among the millennial and Gen-Z cohort●      Major events that have impacted Chinese millennials similar to the Great Recession in the U.S.●      What are the differences between millennials who grew up in the Mainland and those who studied abroad?●      How prevalent is conspicuous consumption in the life of the average 25-to-30-year-old Chinese individual?●      What makes a good brand in China?●      How environmentally conscious and focused on diversity and inclusion are Chinese millennials? Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we continue our conversation with Zak Dychtwald, Founder and CEO of Young China Group, a think tank and consultancy with a focus on the emerging influence of China’s millennial generation on the marketplace, workplace, and international politics.Zak is the author of Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World (2018). The book explores questions of identity impacting China’s young generation, specifically the 420 million or so people born after 1990.Asked about what separates the winning foreign brands from the rest of the pack when it comes to finding millennial and Gen-Z fans in China, Zak says that it comes down to “empowering your local Chinese team to drive strategy.”However, the difficult task for local teams when working with multinationals is that they will almost always work slower than native Chinese teams with native Chinese executives who understand, intuitively, what the Chinese market looks like.Another point is to “stop creating products and thinking about marketing to Tier 1 cities.” Trends do not necessarily trickle down from Beijing or Shanghai to Hangzhou or Chongqin. Recognizing trends that do not originate in Tier 1 cities will give a company a head-start over other global brands whose thinking is still mired in that Shanghai bubble.Zak goes on to peel back the curtain into the mind of the Chinese youth, from how a restructured education system in the post-Tiananmen era divided generations around how they perceive history, to how the 2008 Beijing Olympics created a newfound sense of national pride and modernization for China, and finally to how Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign in 2012 served as a huge pivot towards meritocracy for the whole country.He then explains why Chinese students who study abroad now have greater incentives to return to China after graduating; why conspicuous consumption has moved from a need to look wealthy to a need to develop an identity; and current attitudes toward environmental friendliness, diversity, and inclusion. Key Quotes:“Empower the heck out of your local China team and do it so that they can be fast enough to compete with local brands.” “The problem with the city tier visual is we imagine trends cascading downwards from Tier 1. [...] That’s not necessarily the case, and I think it’s a little bit of linguistic determinism. I think that’s the fault of the tiered idea.” “[Conspicuous consumption back then] was a way to posture, particularly around the wealthy class. What you have now is conspicuous consumption oriented toward brand tribes and identity.” “A lot of our definitions of what it means to be ‘Chinese’, even within China, are based on the past. No longer. This generation is deciding what it means to be Chinese in modernity and going into the future.”

Jul 27

41 min 47 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Who are China’s millennials, and how do they differ from millennials in the Western world?●      The downstream effects of the one-child policy on today’s market●      The state of mental health among China’s youth●      What employers expect from millennial hires Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Zak Dychtwald, Founder and CEO of Young China Group, a think tank and consultancy with a focus on the emerging influence of China’s millennial generation on the marketplace, workplace, and international politics.Zak is the author of Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World (2018). The book explores questions of identity impacting China’s young generation, specifically the 420 million or so people born after 1990.Having first arrived in China in his early 20s, Zak was amazed by the “vast chasm” between the China he was always told about, and the China he was experiencing at that moment. He was inspired to bridge that chasm, and so began his multifaceted career journey around the country.“We believe in a people-first perspective on China for a better world,” says Zack, referring to the thesis of not only his book but of his work as a whole.Listen in as Zak defines the unique gap in China between the strict traditionalism of the previous generations and the modernization of the new, and the “identity formation anxiety” that the youth face in trying to reconcile “the pressures of tradition and the needs of modernity”.He also speaks on China’s education system as undervaluing innovation and people skills, and how this translates into a workforce currently in transition. Key Quotes:“The China that gets described to us versus the China that I was seeing and experiencing on the ground—there is a pretty vast chasm between the two.” “We believe in a people-first perspective on China for a better world.” “I call this young generation the “Restless Generation” for a reason: It’s because they are in charge of defining China’s modern identity.” “In order to understand the children, you have to understand the parents.” “In China, the biggest investment that most families will make is in their children.” “When we’re talking about consumption in China, it’s not a matter of where you’re from, but when you’re from.”

Jul 20

43 min 9 sec

Ambassador Barton Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The major trends witnessed by Ambassador Barton in China since the early 2000s●      What lessons should the West learn from China’s drastic growth over the past two decades?●      Why Ambassador Barton wrote China Vignettes in 2008 and the book’s main takeaways●      Key thinkers and thought leaders in China and the broader APAC region that Ambassador Barton followsSarah Kutulakos Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The most promising sectors in China today●      What the West can learn from China●      How business relationships between China and the West may change●      Whether China is experience an over supply of white-collar workers●      Interesting pivots that have taken place in response to the pandemic Episode Summary:Dominic Barton, Canadian Ambassador to the People's Republic of China.Previously, he spent close to 20 years working for McKinsey & Company with a focus on China, at first serving as Chairman of Asia for the firm before taking the helm of Global Managing Director from 2009 to 2018 amid China’s rising prominence on the world stage.Other leadership roles that Ambassador Barton has held in the business world include Chairman of Teck Resources and as Non-Executive Director at the Singtel Group in Singapore and Investor AB in Sweden.Speaking on the trends he has personally seen play out over the past 15 years in China, Ambassador Barton notes that urbanization, infrastructure and logistics, education and the bolstering of human capital, and technocratic leadership have all been top priorities for the country, and will continue to be through to 2030 and perhaps even beyond.There are many lessons that the West can take away from China’s drastic growth over the past two decades, the most important of which, according to Ambassador Barton, is to not treat China as a “monolith”.Rather than looking at it as “China Inc.”, operated solely by its government, the U.S., Canada, and Europe would benefit from acknowledging the different layers that influence the Chinese economy, which also include small to large businesses, consumers, and regional differences between each.Ambassador Barton goes on to touch on the main insights he covers in his 2008 book China Vignettes and why he decided to dedicate the work to the country’s human element.Finally, Ambassador Barton shares his favorite key thinkers and thought leaders on China and the APAC region. Noting the importance of “balancing the macro with the micro”, he lists a wide range of resources, including works of fiction that offer unique perspectives on the Chinese people that one would not be able to find in any textbook.Episode Summary:Sarah Kutulakos, COO & Executive Director of the Canada China Business CouncilSarah talks about her conversations with Western organizations in China regarding current market conditions and where the business world is headed in a post-pandemic society.Canada’s exports to China have only continued to grow in 2021 since the onset of the COVID-19. In particular, the raw materials, consumer, and energy sectors have seen favorable conditions in the past year-and-a-half. In the long-run financial services should also fare well.Sarah describes the most enthusiastic Western organizations in China in this way: “If you are aligned with China’s policies—which would include things like the five-year plan, increasing consumption for their new economic model, etc.—then you’re probably more excited about the market.”“The ability to turn on a dime—that flexibility in business,” is the top quality that Sarah believes every company should try to emulate. Applying this to CCBC, Sarah always encourages Canadian companies to embrace speed and “be more aggressive in going after China.”In a very short period of time, China has transformed its market into a leader with regard to its big data capabilities, and in its emphasis on the consumer as king.Another reality that came about relatively recently is that improved education—not to mention greater access to universities today—has resulted in countless qualified Chinese nationals that are highly sought after by multinationals. Ambassador Key Quotes:“I think there’s too much of a view in the West of treating China like a monolith: It’s China. It’s the government. When we do that—and we all tend to want to simplify stuff as humans—we should first think about our own countries, whether that be Canada or the United States. What is an American? What is a Canadian? We’re all different. And I really think that that gets lost in the haze of ‘China Inc.’” “[I wrote China Vignettes because] I felt I was being too economics-driven or macro-driven [...] and not really thinking deeply enough about the people: What is the consumer like and how might they be changing?”Sarah Key Quotes:“If you are aligned with China’s policies—which would include things like the five-year plan, increasing consumption for their new economic model, etc.—then you’re probably more excited about the market. “[Chinese] companies don’t get married to a particular business model and they move fast to meet opportunities in the market.” “One of the things we’ve tried to do with CCBC is to keep going at that clock speed and to encourage Canadian companies to be more aggressive about going after China, because they tend to sometimes be a little complacent and that puts us at a disadvantage versus Americans or Europeans that might be more energetic in the market.”

Jul 12

39 min 10 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Joseph reminisces on his time in Beijing during its “up-and-coming” days in the early 2000s●      How differently entrepreneurship was regarded in China from 2000 to 2010●      How Joseph’s footwear design house became the number one seller in the shoe category on Kickstarter in 2013 and 2014●      The opportunities that came out of Joseph’s time at Tangential Consulting●      Best practices for setting up a business in China●      Countries that are particularly more difficult to penetrate●      Advantages and challenges of working at a company based in China as an ex-pat●      The evolution, and the future, of urban mobility Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Joseph Constanty, who has been steeped in China's business world for over 16 years. Since 2016, he has been the Director of International at NIU Technologies.As the largest smart scooter company in the world, NIU has been doubling down on its international expansion efforts as the global economy continues to rebound strongly from the lockdowns of the past year and a half.Alongside his work with NIU, Joseph is also a Co-Founder and Advisor at NextStep Studio, an accelerator specializing in the food tech and F&B companies in China.Having entered China back in the early-to-mid 2000s, Joseph reflects on why entrepreneurs were a rare sight back in the day, and the factors that led up to China’s drastic rise to becoming a force to be reckoned with when it comes to innovation and commerce.He compares Beijing in particular to Southeast Asia. While these countries may differ culturally from China, they are now exhibiting the same drive and resourcefulness that the tier 1 cities are known for. He regards them as primed for exponential growth in the very near future.Joseph goes on to share how he found success in a variety of fields in China’s startup world; how he helped to build the largest smart scooter company in the world and a shoe brand that became the most funded footwear Kickstarter project two years in a row.He also describes the advantages and challenges of working at a company based in China as an ex-pat and explains why those looking to found a company in China should consider initially establishing it as a consultancy.Finally, Joseph speaks on changes in and the future of urban mobility through the years and how COVID has impacted the industry. Key Quotes:“[In the early 2000s, entrepreneurs] didn’t exist because, culturally, it wasn’t acceptable for them. Their parents, or those born between 1975 and 1985, needed to get a job, get married, buy a house, have a kid, be financially successful, and do all that by the time they’re 30. Running a startup wasn’t part of that equation.” “What we took away from Kickstarter was simply the power of storytelling and building a brand from nothing. We were literally building it with almost zero marketing and just riding the Kickstarter traffic and influencing those people that were interested in helping makers at the time through the story we were telling.”

Jul 7

53 min

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Opportunities in architecture and design within China●      How the design space in the West differs from that of China●      Design trends in China today and potentially going forward●      The relationship between developers and the local government●      The leeway designers have in localizing big foreign brands for China●      China’s design influence beyond its borders Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Andrew Sigfrids of ASIG Design and ASIG BIM. Established in 2010, ASIG Design is a multi-disciplinary architectural design firm specializing in the interior design of restaurants and coffee shops.With offices in Shanghai, China and San Francisco, ASIG has worked with large companies like Starbucks, ABINbev and the Li Ka-shing Foundation, as well as small independent business owners. Andrew also heads New York-based landscape design firm Urban Terrace and San Francisco-based direct-to-consumer furniture brand CABA Design.He speaks on his foray into the architecture and design space in China. Realizing that the industry in China seemed to offer much greater “freedom of design expression” compared to that of America, which requires newer designers to go through a “rite of passage” via years of drafting before being allowed to actually spearhead projects.Another primary difference between the West and China is the cost of construction, which is much higher in the West and leads to more conservative designs. Since the cost of labor in China is lower, designers and architects are given more freedom, from the big-picture project designs to smaller interior details such as the design of sockets.Yet another distinguishing factor in China is “a mixture of owner, client, and consumer drive for wanting something new and different, pushing people through the doors via an interesting space.” Unique, selfie-friendly spaces are also growing in popularity.On the other hand, the West is far more driven by efficiency and brand consistency over innovation. However, many big Western brands are now embracing the reality of localization if they want to do business in China, even if that demands an almost complete rehaul of their established branding in the West. Key Quotes:“Another factor [that differentiates America’s design space from China’s] is a mixture of owner, client, and consumer drive for wanting something new and different. [...] The general Chinese consumer is always seeking something completely new and something completely different. [...] The West is far more driven by efficiencies, in things such as service, and general brand recognition. For us, it’s about pushing people through the doors via an interesting space.” “You feel so free as an individual [in China]. In business, it’s the same. The government typically leaves you alone with how you want to run your business and how you want to make your money—until you get big.” “The path to success in China changes year after year. The success path, entering now in 2021, could actually be very different from how it was in 2016—only five years later. The consumer base has changed so much that you might actually want to go a different route in how you design your space and how that tells the story of your brand.”

Jun 23

36 min 55 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Recent and potential developments in the Chinese business world●      Air quality and pollution in China●      Key mistakes that Western organizations make when they take on projects in China●      How foreigners can nurture strong business relationships in China●      How businesses in China can manage their relationship with the government●      Why it is important to be on the ground in the country when doing business in China●      AtmosAir Solutions’ target customer●      How AtmosAir Solutions’ sales funnel in China differs from that of America●      How negotiations take place between two parties in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Sam Michael, Executive Director for the China market at AtmosAir Solutions, a leading air purification technology brand from the United States. Sam made his foray into China in 2008 working in real estate, both with Asia's largest industrial developer and one of Europe's most successful luxury outlet developers. He was brought onboard AtmosAir Solutions’ Shanghai office as Executive Director of Sales and Operations in 2015.Since arriving in China a little over a decade ago, Sam has watched the world of commerce change drastically. In response to the explosion of eCommerce solutions, malls and physical retail stores have put more focus on creating experiences for consumers. Hence the rise of F&B in and around retail establishments in China.Alongside this, there has also been increasing interest in the health and wellness space, including air quality—most especially for ex-pats. Sam does not see this trend slowing down in a post-pandemic world, especially since even China’s industrial sector has finally begun to prioritize air quality.For Western companies seeking to do business in China, the number one consideration is localization, which can be done by finding a reliable local partner, or even a Western China expert like Sam himself, who can work alongside the organization on their strategy. By extension—and as it always has been—it helps to forge strong business partnerships, the old-fashioned, face-to-face way, in the China market. Key Quotes:“If I want the thing, then I’ll just buy the thing online. But people need a place to spend their time. [...] So, it’s nice to have these retail centers where the focus of their tenants has been less and less about the products that you’re going to buy and more about the experiences that you’re going to have with them.”

Jun 15

49 min 12 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The state of COVID in China going into the second half of 2021●      Why a work-from-home culture is probably not the future for China●      How consumer trends have evolved in the past 18 months●      Sectors to lead the charge in China’s economic growth going forward●      What to expect at the 6.18 shopping festival this year●      The development of the live streaming/commerce craze●      How the IPO of JD’s logistics division will impact consumer behavior, shipping, and logistics in the China market, along with Alibaba’s competitive relationship with JD●      How the Biden administration is doing so far with regard to the U.S.-China trade war Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jacob Cooke, co-founder of WPIC Marketing and Technologies, to gain an up-to-the-minute understanding of how well China is economically recovering from COVID and what consumer trends to keep an eye on.Asked about the latest developments around COVID in China, Jacob says that the new normal is well underway: establishments are reopening and flight delays are once again a reality. The vaccine rollout has also been fairly smooth, even in big cities like Beijing.Travel, however, is still quite restrictive, severely limiting the opportunity for ex-pats to return to the country. It is unlikely that the work-from-home culture, at least among foreigners with business in China, is here to stay. From the challenges of working in oftentimes widely different time zones to a lack of high-touch relationship-building and collaboration, Jacob simply concludes, “I don’t see work-from-home as being a thing here in China.”Regarding the shifts in consumer trends over time, Jacob says that there has obviously been greater interest in the health and wellness space, particularly around remote classes and online education. Fashion and cosmetics, which had both seen a downturn at the onset of lockdowns, are fast becoming thriving industries once again.Last year’s 6.18 shopping festival saw a much bigger bottom line than 11.11. With the economy’s drastic reawakening in 2021, the outlook for this year’s festival seems even brighter, especially as the popularity of live streaming/commerce continues to organically attract more people to these thriving online consumer communities.JD Logistic’s IPO will incentivize up-and-coming eCommerce platforms to tap into the resources of these giants. By extension, these new platforms will soon have the opportunity to compete on a relatively fairer playing field as long-time monopolies finally begin to operate independently. Key Quotes:“I’ve never been a real huge fan of work-from-home. I think you lose a lot in the collaboration between your team members. I think you lose a lot in terms of the relationship-building, the creativity—those moments of brilliance that you get from just working together. I don’t see work-from-home as being a thing here in China.” “What we like about Southeast Asia as an up-and-coming market is that we’ve got income levels rising very fast, as well as it being a very young base.”

Jun 9

25 min 15 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Using the power of design for social impact●      Why Kseniya reframed the Belt & Road Initiative as a “sociospatial set of challenges” in her thesis●      How Ballistic Architecture Machine factors into the New Silk Road●      China’s strengths and weaknesses in architecture and urban design Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Kseniya Otmakhova, a Schwarzman Scholar and Director of Public Relations at Ballistic Architecture Machine. Her role as a PR manager comes with a focus on furthering research on the New Silk Road with the goal of developing it into one of several of BAM’s unique “Urban Initiative” projects.“I have a strong desire to use design for social impact,” says Kseniya, describing what initially motivated her to study urban planning at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. She also helps us understand that proposing concepts is not enough; the key is in convincing stakeholders by understanding the outcomes they desire.Kseniya was thus drawn to the Schwarzman scholarship, not only for the professional opportunities the program would bring but also for the access she would get to sharp minds around the world (including over 100 fellow scholars) to be able to have conversations on global issues with people from a variety of backgrounds.Listen in as Kseniya explains her thought process behind reframing the Belt & Road Initiative as a “sociospatial set of challenges” in her thesis and the three themes that anchor her research.She then describes the mission-vision of BAM, the multidisciplinary design studio based in Beijing and Shanghai, and how the studio’s focus on urban landscape design guides its research on the development of the New Silk Road.Finally, Kseniya discusses the incredible speed and agility of development China is known for, particularly in the world of architecture and city planning, and why this can be both a strength and a weakness for the country’s urban development. Key Quotes:“The Schwarzman program is a one-year Master's program in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing. It’s a very young program—six years old. It’s a scholarship that was created specifically to respond to the geopolitical landscape of our current times. That means China’s growing interactions with businesses around the world and also the realization of the founder, Stephen A. Schwarzman, that there is not enough understanding of this region in the West.” “The Belt & Road Initiative is at the scale of an entire continent. My question was: ‘What does it mean to build infrastructure for win-win collaboration—a structure that will create new people-to-people bonds?’” “I truly believe that the success of the Belt & Road Initiative depends on the built environments and the on-the-ground conditions that are created through ‘Happy Cities’.” “Just building a new highway that will bring your country money is not enough to create people-to-people bonds; to foster collaboration; and to create new, vibrant environments.” “One of the main aspects that brings a lot of professionals—from the best architects, urban planners, and the like—to China is the speed of developments. Things get built very quickly and, as such, an architect working in China for five years might see one or two projects completed; whereas back in Europe, they might as well spend ten years behind the drawing board.”

Jun 1

43 min 3 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Why is it vital for 21st century businesses to focus on data●      Innovations in the data and AI space in China●      What is “growth hacking” and why is it most applied to early stage startups?●      What distinguishes data collection and analytics in China from those of other countries?●      The typical customer journey in China versus that of the West●      How an expat stays on top of all the tech developments in China●      Creating brand loyalty in China●      How businesses can avoid data overload●      Data collection tools businesses can use and Daphne’s favorite strategies Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Daphne Tuijn, a specialist in China’s eCommerce and technology space.She is the Co-Founder and CEO at Chaoly, a Shanghai-based company that offers a proprietary cloud-based data platform that integrates their clients’ data together with big data sources from major Chinese platforms such as Tmall, Baidu, WeChat, Weibo and Little Red Book. Chaoly’s Insights-as-a-Service then provides actionable insights and intelligence derived from the data.Daphne is also the Co-Founder and CEO at WebshopinChina.com, a full-service eCommerce agency with offices in Shanghai and Amsterdam.With 900 million internet users in the country and 52% of all retail being conducted online, China is truly a pioneer in the eCommerce space, globally. This has naturally led to China becoming known for its enormous data collection capabilities; however, Daphne says that data availability is one thing; being able to use it is another. In fact, in China, “there might be too much data. As they say, ‘Data is the new oil.’ But similar to oil, data needs to be refined in order for it to be used.”Daphne also shares her best practices for creating brand loyalty in China as well as how the role of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) differs between the Chinese and Western markets. She also touches on the various ways brands can collect data in China both personally and from third-party sources while avoiding data overload. Key Quotes:“Data is extremely important in two ways: On the one hand, it allows you to make educated decisions instead of basing your decisions on gut feeling. [...] Using data as a preparation point to understanding the market is a good way to assess your success and to see if, indeed, you should put your money on [a decision]. Also, data helps you assess whether your performance is okay.” “In China, the issue is not the availability of data. On the contrary, there might be too much data. As they say, ‘Data is the new oil.’ But similar to oil, data needs to be refined in order for it to be used.” “You can look at the data but, ultimately, data itself is just a snapshot.”

May 27

35 min 29 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How sports evolved in China over the past 1500 years●      Why team sports have been slower in China●      The role that the Chinese government plays in sports●      What reform in the Chinese sports industry currently looks like●      How the sports entertainment world looks in China with regards to live events●      How foreign organizations can connect with sports fans in China●      What is a “venue” in China?●      What Greg expects for the 2022 Winter Olympics Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Greg Turner, an industry leader in live sports and entertainment events and venue management in China. He is the Founder and Managing Director at High Performance, which manages and promotes events at Shantou University Sports Park. Greg himself led the development of the STU Sports Park; a $110 million project donated by the Li Ka Shing Foundation to Shantou University.Before Greg’s involvement with STU, he served as the General Manager at XingYang Sports Culture Development, having been recruited directly by China’s first-ever Winter Olympic Gold medalist Yang Yang to manage her investment into the development of ice sports in China. During his eight months working on the initiative, Greg led his team in building up various grassroots programs for ice hockey, figure skating and short-track speed skating, establishing Feiyang as Shanghai’s premier public ice-skating facility.Listen in as Greg talks about the factors that shaped the development of the sports industry and culture in China, from their unique government-driven character to the Soviet-era roots that motivate the nation to dominate the global sports world.Greg then talks about the differences between sports cultures in the West and in China, what foreign organizations should focus on when looking to establish themselves in the local sports industry, and the reforms that the industry is currently undergoing.Finally, Greg explains how live events are organized and promoted in China as well as his thoughts on the 2022 Winter Olympics. Key Quotes:“Sports in China operates a lot different than what we’re used to—it’s very government-driven. Government policy lays the framework for how it’s going to be developing. That dates back to 1918 when the first paper that Mao Zedong published was on the lack of personal fitness for Chinese people and how that was impacting their ability to build a strong nation.” “[China aims to have sports consumption] become one of the new pillars of the Chinese economy. They’re shifting away from manufacturing and they’re trying to have more of a balance between service and manufacturing—maybe more on the service side. Sports are seen as part of that basket of industries that are going to develop the national economy and help it keep growing.” “Sports, [for the Chinese] is just one piece of the entertainment diet that they have. If they have to choose between watching their favorite player or favorite team play a game or watching a movie with friends, it’s actually a really difficult decision. If you add in dinner, they’re probably going to choose the dinner first and foremost. So, sports doesn’t have that same drive and passion that it has in the West.” “Doing business in China is kind of like boiling water: There’s nothing going on for a long time then, all of a sudden, everything explodes. [...] I think sports is right on the cusp of boiling point.” “With everything going on in the world in China and in the U.S., one of the things that I take heart in is that sports is a great uniter. We’ve seen that in the past and I hope we can see that again as we go through the next few years.”

May 18

36 min 44 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Marketing a football league in China●      How other EU teams are finding fans in China●      Do foreign clubs have limited time to grow their followings as the Chinese government looks to expand local football culture?●      How different countries grow their sports and how closely China intends to follow those existing strategies●      The future Yao Ming of football in China●      Where the majority of Borussia Dortmund’s marketing spend is going●      Tactics for growing a sports brand in China●      Why China and Germany have such a strong relationship Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Benjamin Wahl, a brand strategy, business, and sports development expert. He is Head of China for the German professional football club Borussia Dortmund. Prior to this, Benjamin led the China strategy for Bayer 04 Leverkusen from 2016 to 2017, establishing a youth football academy in China in the process.Listen in as Benjamin talks about his five-year experience as a sports solution professional working in the China market. He speaks on how his own Borussia Dortmund was able to gain a foothold in the country and the marketing efforts they have been most focused on in order to spread the club’s culture and fanbase.Benjamin also touches on how other EU-based clubs are doing in China by comparison and what makes Germany stand out with regard to its relationship with China compared to those of other European countries.Finally, Benjamin shares tactics that other organizations and clubs can use to grow a sports brand in China and describes Borussia Dortmund’s branding and marketing strategy that he refers to as “The Challenger Approach”. Key Quotes:“When I go to [local football games] I’m always surprised at what a real fan culture they already have. When I speak to fans, I think it’s common that they have two clubs here: the local club attached to a region or a city [...] and a second team in Europe.” “With a team sport like football, and probably even basketball, it takes time—years—to establish the sport and a big base of players.”

May 11

39 min 49 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Charles’s history doing business with China and his current role at WPIC●      How Charles defines “creativity”●      Maintaining creativity in-house versus outsourcing creativity to KOLs and KOCs●      How brands should go about looking for KOLs or KOCs in order to maximize ROI●      Teaching creativity●      Differences in creative processes between the West and the East●      How brands can stay creatively consistent in different markets●      How foreign brands can cut through the noise in the Chinese market Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Charles Lavoie, who leads and manages WPIC Creative Labs.Prior to joining WPIC in April 2021, Charles had served as the Marketing Director at BIOTWIN, the Director of Strategy and Business Development at PBB Creative, and China advisor to both Can Life Sports and CareerUp. He is also the co-founder of Beijing-based Infina Vodka and is responsible for the growth of the company from the ground-up to distribution across 10 different cities in China, Hong Kong, and the Northwest of Africa.Charles’s career so far has seen him developing brands, design thinking strategies, and advertising campaigns for clients such as Acura, Uber, Daimler, Tencent, Tourism Vancouver, World Bank, as well as the Quebec and Canada Governments.According to Charles, the challenge of the creative professional is to bridge the “gap between invention and commercialization”, which requires innovation, and not necessarily about creating something new but looking instead at the existing brand and their existing resources, and from that fashion an idea that benefits the business by being both profitable and relevant.Listen in as Charles compares the strengths of in-house creative control to those of outsourcing creative to KOLs and KOCs. He also gives his thoughts on how to “teach” creativity to your team, navigating differences in creative processes between the West and the East, and delivering creativity through a consistent brand framework in different markets. Key Quotes:“[Creativity] to me is bringing past or existing concepts or inspirations together to create something new.” “The gap between invention and commercialization is innovation. [...] We can be creative as much as we can, but the big challenge is to be creative and relevant.” “China is way stronger in anything that is technical and the West is stronger in everything that is strategic.”

May 5

31 min 35 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How Yoann’s work with startups and founders differs from his work with corporate clients●      Clients that Yoann typically works with as a sales trainer●      How B2B selling has historically been done in China compared to today●      The value of WeChat in sales●      General differences between how sales is done in the West versus in the East●      What Yoann has found to be the most difficult lesson for his coaching clients●      How Chinese buyers differ from Western buyers●      How is public speaking perceived in China and is it used as a tool for sales? Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with sales trainer Yoann Delwarde, Founder and CEO of Infinity Growth Ltd, a Shanghai-based firm that offers sales coaching and consulting to a wide range of clients, including multinationals, startups, MBA students, and accelerators and incubators.Yoann is one of twelve Experts in Residence for Chinaccelerator and a strategic advisor for allrites, Atiom, and GloCoach. He is also a lecturer on sales management and entrepreneurship at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai as well as Emlyon business school in Écully, France.Infinity Growth aims to bridge the Western and Chinese mindsets toward entrepreneurship to ensure that they maximize their clients’ sales capabilities. Their key indicator of success is in the fact that they primarily attract their clients via word-of-mouth.Because “it’s so easy to lose your reputation in China”, Infinity Growth looks at their increasing clientele as a sign that their sales training approach is resonating with and leading to great results among the local entrepreneurs and business professionals they work with.Yoann shares what distinguishes sales in China compared to America and Western Europe, including differences in buyer behavior, the role of public speaking in the business world, and how eCommerce and social media are used differently in the East and the West. Key Quotes:“If there’s one thing I came to understand in China, it’s to always under-promise and over-deliver. [...] It’s so easy to lose your reputation in China, it’s insane.” “If I take the angle of B2B sales, I think the main difference [between how sales are done in the West versus in the East] is around trust. In Europe, and even in the U.S., first, you make business, then you become friends. [...] In China, first you become friends, then you make business.”

Apr 21

46 min 24 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The rise in ice hockey’s popularity in China over the past decade●      Does the lack of infrastructure growth for hockey in China limit how much interest the sport receives?●      How Can Life lets the Chinese youth experience the “hockey culture” that Canadians are so familiar with●      Why has the development of hockey been emphasized in China lately?●      How is China developing players to be potentially drafted into the NHL?●      What is the extent of the NHL’s involvement in the growth of hockey in China?●      Which famous hockey players have the most sought-after jerseys in China? Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Kevin Hui, a serial entrepreneur and marketer who has worked across the sports, film, education, and capital markets industries with a focus on early-stage businesses.Kevin is the current President of Beijing-based Can Life Sports, the leading company in developing and growing ice hockey in China launched in 2011. He is also the Co-Founder of Northern Lights Media, which provides production and post-production services as well as Chinese localization of foreign content.Kevin attributes the rise of hockey’s popularity in China to the growth of the ex-pat community in the country over the last decade. However, the 2022 Winter Olympics is what has truly skyrocketed interest in the sport. Also, in 2015, the same year the announcement was made that Beijing would host the Winter Olympics, Andong "Misha" Song became the first Chinese-born hockey player to be drafted into the NHL.Since the spike in interest in hockey in 2015, interest has slowly receded. “Hopefully what we’re doing here [at Can Life] and what the Olympics is going to do for the industry will allow it to steadily grow,” says Kevin.The lack of infrastructure growth in China is a huge barrier to entry for those looking to get into ice hockey. In spite of this, Kevin believes that the key to growing the sport in China is by exposing the youth to the same “hockey culture” that he and many other Canadians are so familiar with. The key to this, he says, is the fun factor. “When you get to experience fun, that’s just something that you don’t forget.” Key Quotes:“At Can Life, we promote the competition but we focus more on the fun, the friendship, and the hockey culture that we grew up experiencing in Canada.” “[Growing hockey in China] is about spending five to ten years working together, failing, succeeding, failing again, and creating their own system that’s adapted to the international way of operating but creating it for the local market.”

Apr 14

43 min 10 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How translation technology has evolved over the past 20 years●      The difference between translation and interpretation●      How to train interpreters●      Why translation and localization of content is so important in China and Japan●      What to look for when hiring a translator●      Examples of localization gone wrong and how to make amends if this happens to you●      Understanding cultural and consumer nuances when translating in a foreign market Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with language translation expert Wendy MacKenzie Pease. For almost two decades, she has been the owner and President of Rapport International, which provides high-quality foreign language translation and interpretation services for businesses.She is the author of The Language of Global Marketing: Translate Your Domestic Strategies Into International Sales and Profits (2021).What differentiates Rapport from other translation services or technologies is the company’s focus on culturally adaptive marketing copy, which currently cannot be replicated by a computer. While Rapport does not use machine translation, it does use translation memory. This allows translators to record phrases or descriptions used over and over again by a particular company. Translation memory helps maintain message consistency across marketing campaigns.According to Wendy, “Translation is written. Interpretation is spoken.” Each activity is done by professionals of different aptitudes: Translators are those who love writing and research while interpreters are naturally empathetic communicators.Human translation and localization are so important for companies doing business in China simply because of their enormous presence in international commerce. As touched on above, today’s machine translation technologies are too inefficient and sometimes outright cumbersome to rely on for such a vital step in a business’s marketing efforts.For foreign brands looking to translate and localize in China—or any country, for that matter—the first step is to have a detailed long-term corporate strategy, which will inform their specific marketing strategy. Finally, this leads to the creation of the company’s global, or multilingual, marketing strategy. All three of these strategies need to be clearly defined and aligned before a company enters a new market. Key Quotes:“Translation is written. Interpretation is spoken.” “Be careful who you’re picking to do your translation. Even though your business partners may speak English well, they may not understand it enough to do the translation. [...] Make sure that you’re getting a professional who’s a trained translator.”

Apr 7

43 min 26 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The evolution of China’s outbound foreign direct investment●      Is China’s outbound FDI being used primarily for political or economic reasons?●      Where outbound FDI is headed in the next five years●      Differences between China’s bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements●      How partner nations have changed their approach to China over the years●      The future of the Belt and Road Initiative●      How U.S-China relations will evolve under the Biden administration●      Where opportunities for the U.S. to collaborate with China lie Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Professor Min Ye, an author and an Associate Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. Her expertise includes Chinese political economy, China and India comparison, East Asian international relations, and globalization with focuses on transnational immigration and foreign investment.Min Ye gives a broad overview of how globalization, state capitalism, and outbound foreign direct investment have evolved in China in the last few decades. She describes China as a “latecomer economy in Asia”. When the country opened itself to doing business internationally in the late 1970s, it embraced outbound FDI because it had to fast-track its technology and manufacturing sectors and make exports earn foreign exchange as quickly as possible.Due to the COVID-19 crisis, alongside shaky U.S.-China relations, outbound FDI may see a change in strategy to adapt to the reorganization of global supply chains. Also, there will be a greater focus placed on China’s digital, health, and ecological sectors.With regard to free trade agreements of any kind, Min Ye explains that China will always take the most pragmatic approach that is conducive toward globalization. “It depends,” she says, “on China’s internal readiness and the external environment.”Asked about the future of the BRI, Min Ye says that, after eight years of laying the foundation for this massive global infrastructure development strategy—and not to mention on the heels of the pandemic—China is now much clearer on what they can and cannot accomplish. She expects “a sharper focus and a clearer context” going forward, including a more risk-conscious strategy, a willingness to cooperate more amiably with recipient governments, less of a need to “create political and social impact”, and a greater focus on digital infrastructure—which is to be the BRI’s core.Finally, Min Ye believes that, with a less hostile approach, the U.S. will be able to better cooperate with China under the Biden administration, especially today when the two countries are sharing pressing concerns around public health, climate, business, and data security. Key Quotes:“Because I understand that domestic politics in Asia typically shape their regional economic policies, I created this framework called ‘Critical Juncture’: When a crisis occurs, domestic leadership and policy networks interact across countries and that leads to new institution-building in the region.” “[With regard to bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements,] Chinese elite thinking and policy establishments do have strong convictions toward globalization. But their perspective on globalization is very pragmatic, so it doesn’t really prioritize one way or another. [...] It depends on China’s internal readiness and the external environment.” “In dealings with China, style matters hugely. I feel like Americans suddenly forgot that it’s about creating relationships when you work with China.”

Mar 30

43 min 46 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      What are modular buildings and why are they generally stronger than regular buildings?●      Stack Modular’s typical customer●      How developed is the modular housing industry in China?●      The limitations of modular housing and how they are overcome●      Shipping modular buildings across the ocean and keeping them intact●      3D printing and home manufacturing●      Why Stack Modular has no local customers in China●      How COVID-19 has affected Stack Modular’s business operations inside China and sales outside of China●      How Jim, a foreigner, is able to manage a business with so many moving parts in China●      What the future holds for Stack Modular Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jim Dunn, President at Stack Modular, a Vancouver-based construction company that manufactures modular buildings for residential, hospitality, commercial, and resource sectors. He is also the President of Dunn Global, Ltd., a Shanghai-based procurement firm now considered the leader in Chinese manufactured housing exported to North America.From his native Canada to Los Angeles to Africa to China, Jim’s passion for the building world brought him globe-trotting opportunities through the years. Today, Jim splits his time between China and North America pushing Stack Modular into exciting new modular fields, from resource housing to hotels to office spaces.The modular housing industry in China has grown exponentially in the last several years, surpassing even the industries of the West. This came after a realization that buildings can be built faster, cheaper, and stronger, and that these can be produced at scale.Jim goes on to talk about the unique budgetary, logistical, and labour-related challenges that come with the territory for Stack Modular, why the construction industry has yet to undergo major innovations in 2021, and how the pandemic has impacted Stack Modular’s business operations both inside and outside China. Key Quotes:“Over the last half a dozen years, China says to itself, ‘Wow, you can build a building faster, cheaper, and stronger in a factory environment. They saw something that made sense and they acted on it. Here in Canada, we’re slow to act.” “People have reinvented every industry that you and I use every day, whether it’s communication, technologies, textiles, or agriculture. Everything’s been reinvented, except construction. Construction is the low-hanging fruit.” “If you can’t hire quality people, passionate people, loyal people, your business will never take off, much less in China.”

Mar 23

41 min 41 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      A general overview of the cosmetics market in China●      The most popular beauty products in China compared to the rest of the world●      The popularity of live streaming in the beauty space●      A primer on Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs)●      How consumer behaviors in China differ from those in the West in the cosmetics market●      Hero products by the largest cosmetics brands in China●      Why there are significantly more male consumers for beauty products in China than in the West●      Advice for cosmetics brands looking to enter China●      Cutting-edge marketing tactics particular to China●      What up-and-coming companies are doing to compete with large, even global, brands●      How COVID-19 has affected the Chinese cosmetics industry●      L'Oréal’s China strategy Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Chloé Goncalves, Asia E-Commerce Manager at L'Oréal. Previously, she served at Alibaba as a Digital Marketing Manager, working up to the role of International Business Development Manager for Tmall Global before leaving the company in January 2021 to work with L'Oréal.The cosmetics market has grown exponentially for the past several years, and today is the second-largest in the world after the U.S, with an estimated revenue of $22 billion—an amount that is expected to triple by 2024. 25% of sales take place via E-Commerce, and this number has been rising faster than ever thanks to COVID-19.Chinese women generally have a more extensive skincare routine than those in the West. Skin whitening products are also a staple in the market. Also, because of the high pollution problem alongside high-stress lifestyles, Chinese consumers tend to seek products that address specific problems, including blemish, wrinkle, and acne removers. Finally, there has been a rise in the popularity of male grooming, which includes makeup, in China.Live streaming is hugely popular in the beauty industry in China. The country is the largest live streaming industry in the world today, with the pre-COVID number of over 500 million live streamers having no doubt skyrocketed in the past year.Chloe mentions that Chinese consumers use E-Commerce not only to save time but to spend time. That is, even without the intention of buying anything, they visit platforms like Taobao or Tmall to watch live streams or read blogs not just from Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) but, even more so, from Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs). There are now more than 100 apps and platforms in China that offer live streaming features.For foreign brands looking to enter the Chinese cosmetics market, Chloé’s first tip is to find great local partners to take care of operations, marketing, and logistics. Her next piece of advice is to home in on ten key, hero products that would best fit China’s particular market instead of bringing in its entire suite. Her final tip is to invest in a marketing strategy that will help the foreign brand cut through the noise that is made up of countless existing brands as well as countless existing E-Commerce and content creation platforms. Key Quotes:“What’s really interesting in China is that consumers use E-Commerce not to save time, as we would do in the West, but to spend time. So, even though they don’t want to buy anything, they would connect on Taobao and Tmall to watch live streams and videos and read blogs and articles.” “[For brands looking to enter China,] the first tip would be to find the right partner; especially if you’re a small brand and don’t know the market well, you really need to have a local partner that will help you do all the operations, the marketing, the logistics, etc.” “China is a long-term journey. In terms of investment, we usually advise brands to invest 20-30% of their annual sales target in marketing to make sure that they can achieve their sales forecast and sales goals.”

Mar 16

46 min 42 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Factors that developed Mark’s interest in doing business with China●      Building relationships with Xinhua News Agency and Tencent●      The demographics of the ski industry in China and why locals prefer to ski abroad●      Promoting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and local winter sports in general●      Ski locations in China●      The economic drivers behind the development of ski hills●      Why many resorts in China have not been able to develop year-round destinations●      What about ski TV appeals to Chinese audiences●      The difference between programming for a Chinese audience and a Canadian audience●      Emerging winter sports in China●      What the future holds for ski TV in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Mark Kristofic, Managing Partner at S-Media, a television, print and digital production company that provides advertising, marketing, and production in Canada and China. S-Media also owns Snowsports Media, which includes a ski travel show featuring different destinations around the world. Mark is also partnered with the nonprofit events management company, World Snowsports Events Group.Because skiing worldwide had been relatively flat in terms of growth, Mark identified China as an emerging sports market. His interest in expanding into the market only grew with the announcement of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, where sports would be a state-sponsored initiative.In October 2017, S-Media began talks with Xinhua News Agency. They had their first meeting in Beijing that December and, only a month later in January 2018, began filming around China, their partnership official.Asked how S-Media was able to build a relationship with Xinhua, Mark says that there were two keys to their success. For one, “they actually wanted the Western validation of the ski industry.” Secondly, they focused their messaging on the two elements that Xinhua wanted to highlight: regional culture (depending on where they were filming) and how the development of snow sports in China led toward their goal of hosting a successful Olympics.S-Media has since partnered with Tencent as well. Mark explains how his company, working alongside Xinhua and Tencent, programs for a Chinese audience compared to a Canadian one. He also goes on to speak on winter sports in China in general, and how the upcoming Olympics is contributing to the industry’s growth around the country.  Key Quotes:“Once we had that formula where we knew we needed to talk about the ski area, their preparedness for the Olympics, and the culture, then it became quite simple to produce the product [for Xinhua].” “The content that we built for Xinhua was really information-driven and coming from the mouth of the government. We did have a massive number of views, but whether that was appealing to the audience or not, we don’t really know.” “What really resonates with the Chinese viewers from an entertainment standpoint is having influencers and celebrities involved.”

Mar 10

45 min 34 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      An autopsy of the Trump administration with regard to U.S.-China policy●      Why the conversation around China has changed dramatically in recent years●      Does China just not care how it is perceived globally?●      The secretive nature of the CCP●      Is there more transparency between the U.S. government and citizens today?●      What to expect from U.S.-China relations during the Biden administration●      How technology and security will fare throughout the Biden administration●      Has there been an increase in racial tensions around Asian-Americans?●      New “big players” to watch out for in the U.S.-China story Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with James McGregor, author, journalist, and Chairman of APCO Worldwide, Greater China.To James, the U.S. has “changed the conversation on China, globally.” Since China had “overreached and gone too far”, particularly following the rise of Xi Jinping to power, pushback would have been inevitable even if Hillary Clinton was elected.One of Trump’s successes was to have brought attention to China’s activities in Xinjiang via sanctions and the blocking of imports. However, James believes that Trump left U.S.-China relations in a messy state that Biden now has to clean up, pointing to Trump’s mercantilist policies that address none of the major problems between the two countries.China may have seen America and Western Europe as experiencing “inexorable decline” in the last couple of decades, especially after the Global Financial Crisis, of which China was spared—just as it was spared from the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, for that matter. These observations and more may have led China to believe that its time had come to become a global superpower.“China considers themselves a great country and that it’s up to us to realize that,” says James. “They operate in a very closed world.”  Key Quotes:“[The U.S.] changed the conversation on China, globally. There was a pushback coming even if Hillary had been elected because the business community was exhausted with China and so was much of the world’s diplomatic community because China had just overreached and gone too far.” “China considers itself a great country and that it’s up to us to realize that. They operate in a very closed world.” “[U.S.-China relations under Biden] is going to be smarter but it’s going to be very rocky because China does not seem to be willing to bend in any direction. It’s got its narrative and it's going to stick to it.”

Mar 2

29 min 1 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      An autopsy of the Trump administration with regard to U.S.-China policy●      Reasons for the dramatic change in the West’s perception of China in recent years●      Does China just not care how it is perceived globally?●      What to expect from U.S.-China relations during the Biden administration●      Will the tariff war end during the Biden administration?●      How the Chinese tech industry will involve in the next few years●      New “big players” to watch out for in the U.S.-China story Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Anne Stevenson-Yang, Co-Founder and Research Director of J Capital Research, on the overall successes and failures of the Trump administration as it relates to its U.S.-China policy.To Anne, Trump “really flubbed international policy, particularly with China” and is hard-pressed to find a single success with regard to relations between the two countries. However, she attributes much of the current hostility between the U.S and China—as well as increasingly negative global perceptions of China—to Xi Jinping himself.“The most important thing for the U.S.-China relationship,” says Anne, “is to be the America that we used to be or that we try to be.” This means more focus on the import of talent, an innovation center for technology, and a diverse collection of people looking to come to America to join startups. One of Trump’s missteps then, according to Anne, is that he has slowed legal immigration as opposed to only illegal immigration.The West’s perspective of China has undergone a dramatic change in recent years. Anne says that this is due to two major factors: a reduction in money flow into China from America and, more crucially, Xi Jinping’s rise to power in 2012. His Belt and Road Initiative, for example, “has no particular purpose except to obscure China’s money management” and has led him to antagonize the countries targeted by the BRI. She also mentions the “money sink” that were China’s smart mega city projects.In spite of China’s hardliner image on the world stage, its leadership has demonstrated throughout the years that it is open to negotiation. Anne says that Biden would do well to rekindle the relationship between the two countries and take a more nuanced and selective approach when it comes to rejecting elements that do not align with the U.S.’s interests. His top priority should be, and probably will be human rights. While China’s policies toward Xinjiang and Hong Kong are unlikely to fundamentally change anytime soon, “there are ways to ameliorate” current conflicts. Key Quotes:“It’s really hard to find a success. We’re looking at a much bigger trade gap than we used to have, a lot of hostility, a reduction in interchange between the two countries. What has been gained, exactly?” “The most important thing for the U.S.-China relationship is to be the America that we used to be or that we try to be.” “The general hostility toward China and the labelling of China as an evil actor just doesn’t really accomplish anything. It is not focused on anything.” “It’s this zero-sum game [for China]. You treat absolutely everything as a zero-sum game because it’s more important to maintain the image of infallibility than it is to actually accomplish policy.”

Feb 24

28 min 16 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      U.S.-China relations under President Biden●      What Biden’s top priorities should be with regard to China●      How much of the tariff war is really just about knowing how to apply for exemptions?●      How the tech sector has been impacted by tariffs●      The changes in manufacturing, distribution, and consumption throughout 2020●      China’s shifting relations with other countries regarding supply chain logistics and commerce●      Addressing “cracks” in the Belt and Road Initiative●      Will U.S. business and consumers benefit under a Biden administration? Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jacob Cooke, co-founder of WPIC Marketing and Technologies.There has obviously been a lot of talk about how U.S.-China relations will be affected under Joe Biden’s presidency. But Jacob does not expect there to be major changes because the administration will, for at least its first half, have its hands tied with internal issues. He also suggests that many on both sides of the aisle may have overestimated how the tariffs will be handled by the new administration within the next four years.“At the end of the day,” he says, “the people on the ground are still trading at record numbers.” There are more exemptions being put on current tariffs all the time, both on China and the United States. Even without travel, business is still being done between both countries and is growing at a promising level.The supply chain is particularly complicated when it comes to technology. With all that complexity, if even one element is hampered, the entire process is impeded. For instance, there are automobile lines shut down right now in China (and in other parts of the world) because they are not receiving the right chips.“There’s going to be more homegrown tech all over the place,” says Jacob, speaking on just one factor in the ongoing evolution of manufacturing. The other side of the coin, distribution, has been and will continue to see global changes as well. Many companies now seek, more than ever, diversified supply chains to stay on top of these changes. Key Quotes:“I don’t think there’s going to be additional tariffs put on anything. You can apply for exemptions for your individual products. We’ve been pretty lucky that we’re getting those exemptions on imports into China about 75% of the time.” “I think it depends on the size of the enterprise more than it does on the geographical location. If there’s an issue with the United States, they’re going to go after Apple and Boeing. The other 700 or 800 companies that do business out here [in China] are really going to fall under the radar. If anything happened with Sweden, expect IKEA to get picked on, but really, nobody else.” “Every time an election cycle comes, people with very high expectations end the cycle really disappointed. Everybody juxtaposes on Biden what they want to see; but in general, the coalition who brought him to power is very fragmented, and a lot of them aren’t going to get what they want out of this administration.”

Feb 16

24 min 42 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The explosion of fitness culture in Asia●      Mainland China’s consumer sporting goods market●      Columbia’s brand strategy for the Chinese market●      Differences between the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean sports apparel markets●      How the 2008 Beijing Olympics impacted the country’s sports apparel market●      Establishing a digital and physical presence as a new sports brand in China●      Do big-box stores for sports apparel exist in China, or are they independently managed?●      The current state of Japan’s sports apparel market●      How Japan’s work culture influences shopping habits Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Bill Tung, who currently works as Managing Director at Peaks Consulting. Bill discusses the rise of the sports apparel world in China, Japan, and Korea, which he experienced firsthand as Vice President of International Sales and Market Expansion at Columbia Sportswear.Bill recalls, upon joining Columbia in 2003, that China was “virgin territory” for the brand. Working with their distributor in Hong Kong, they explored potential strategies to introduce their products into the Chinese market. While Columbia was eventually able to foray into the country—and gradually built brand recognition with in-store marketing—it turned out to be a huge challenge because very few Chinese engaged in outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, camping, or trail running.Indeed, one of the more unique elements of the sports apparel market in China is that fashion, rather than function, is the biggest selling point for most consumers. Compared to Japan or Korea where people buy these products for the sport or to stay warm, Chinese consumers of sports apparel tend to value style over technology. Columbia’s success in all three markets is owed to the company’s “flexibility and foresight to localize design” while keeping “the DNA and the history of the brand intact.”New brands looking to enter a foreign market need a multipronged approach going in, and it starts with everyone in the organization, from the C-suite to the rank and file, embodying that global mindset. Marketing and product design has to be specifically tailored to the unique culture of the country in question.With regard to China, the most important part of any marketing strategy is building brand awareness through local eCommerce and social media platforms. But the company has to have a physical presence as well because part of the experience for the consumer is feeling the product. Key Quotes:“For Columbia, it was very much dictated on the features, advantage, and benefits of the product to justify those price points. In China, anybody could buy a down jacket, but why would they buy your products?” “For a new brand that’s looking to go into China, whether you’re a sporting leisure brand or a luxury brand, it’s all about getting online.” “Ignore the concept of Japanese uniqueness at your peril.” “If you can satisfy Japanese consumers’ expectations about quality, you have the rest of the world covered.”

Feb 9

41 min 47 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The landscape of sports in China today●      How motivation to go into sports differs between kids in China versus kids in the West●      The development of sports infrastructure in China●      The importance of sports celebrities in driving the popularity of sports in China●      Popular sports in China today●      Physicality in Chinese sports●      Educating Chinese parents in the world of sports●      Chinese athletes going international Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Radley Mackenzie, Founder and CEO at SinoSports Development, “a China-focused international sports and education platform, supporting Asian student-athletes with online and offline expertise and exposure” based in Toronto. Radley is also the President of consulting firm Radley Hall International and the Toronto Representative for high-tech manufacturing company Saimen.To this day, education is a higher priority for the youth in China than the arts or sports. Radley notes that, originally, “sports in China was closely tied to national program development. The Chinese government has always thought sports were an important flagship for them globally.” He likens it to the Soviet approach to national pride.The government’s traditional approach was to handpick who they consider to be the best performers and optimize their athletic capacity in isolation, i.e. without the support athletes in most other countries enjoy.Fortunately, this decade has seen a wider adoption of sports. On one hand, parents now see sports as a great way to complement their children’s education at school. On the other hand, the government itself now sees the economic benefits of sports and has encouraged wider participation in recent years. In fact, the Chinese government has announced that they would like to have 300 million winter sports enthusiasts involved in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.Over the last 20 years, badminton, ping pong, and martial arts have been the most popular sports in China. Western sports have seen massive growth in more recent years, in particular basketball, soccer, and tennis. Last year, according to the NBA commissioner, there were 300 million basket players in China. Today’s soccer players number around 30 million, and tennis players around 15 million. Figure skating is also seeing greater popularity, with around 1 million skaters across China. Key Quotes:“Originally, sports in China was closely tied to national program development. The Chinese government has always thought sports were an important flagship for them globally. “SinoSports was originally founded on increasing human contact between coaches and players in both markets.” “Sports are a sector right now where China is desperate and eagerly looking for foreign expertise and have recognized that they can’t do it alone.” Resources Mentioned:SinoSports Developmentradley@sinosportsdevelopment.comWeChat: radleym

Feb 2

43 min 55 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Where the recent shift in perception of China’s global power originated●      The future of U.S.-China relations as China increases its manufacturing capabilities●      How the Biden administration’s attitude toward China compares to that of Trump’s●      How economically-tied the U.S. and China currently are●      What Biden’s return to multilateral institutions (i.e. WHO) means for U.S.-China relations●      Ways in which China is trying to surpass the U.S. as a world power●      How the rest of the world views China today●      What many in the West do not understand about China’s internal challenges Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with John Pomfret, foreign correspondent and contributor to the Washington Post. He is the author of The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China from 1776 to the Present (2016).Xi Jinping’s rise to power in 2013 was the beginning of a new phase in China’s evolution as a nation. Up until that point, the CCP believed that “China was becoming increasingly infected by ideas from the West.” Xi Jinping galvanized the party against Western thinking, cracking down against dissidents and human rights lawyers. He then accelerated a relatively aggressive foreign policy against the rest of the world, but specifically within China’s neighborhood in terms of the South China Sea, pushing back against Japan, India, and others in the region.China’s first push to decouple from the West also came with the announcement of the ten-year “Made in China 2025” plan. It is another aggressive plan to bolster the nation’s own sovereignty by severing its alliances with Western technology companies that it has heavily relied on in the past.The failure of America and Western Europe to effectively deal with certain problems in today’s world, particularly with regard to COVID-19, when China claims to have done a better job dealing with the pandemic within their borders, has also led to a dramatic shifting of China’s image on the world stage.John says that, with America currently trying to get their own house in order, the U.S.-China relationship is not going to be a priority of the Biden administration until Biden can really concretize his position as a relatively successful president in his first two years. China’s aggressive, imposing diplomacy in other parts of the world, in the meantime, continues to negatively impact how China is viewed by other nations. Key Quotes:“The Chinese Communist Party would like to deal with a world in which America is irrelevant. The reality is, though, it can’t. Even in terms of technology, it’s going to be a long while before China can have potential in any way, shape, or form to become independent from the United States, specifically high-level chip technology.” “The idea that decoupling on a massive scale is going to happen is just a non-starter. The issue is: How do we make the relationship while you also have an understanding that it’s going to be increasingly difficult and the competition is going to be increasingly fervent between the two systems and the two economies?” “By trying to get the American house in order—which is a Herculean task, mind you—Biden is going to follow the ideas of many people around him saying, ‘We cannot really deal with China from a position of weakness. The only way we’re going to be able to get things done with China is if we come to China from a position of relative strength.’” “China’s trade surplus with the United States was breaking records over the last four years. The amount of business that continues to be conducted between the two sides is extraordinary.” “The Chinese are uncomfortable with the American-led system but they don’t quite know how to lead themselves.”

Jan 27

46 min 22 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How Gang Lu became the founder of the premier tech media in the country●      The transition from a competitive to a collaborative startup environment in China●      The connection between changing family dynamics and the rise of innovation and entrepreneurship in China●      The business of media in China●      All about BEYOND Tech Expo 2021 in Macau●      The future of the 996 working hour system●      Gang Lu on the U.S.-China trade war●      The current state of blockchain in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with tech influencer Gang Lu, Founder and CEO of TechNode.com. Formerly known as MOBINODE.com, Technode.com today is “the leading bilingual tech media in China covering startups and large listed companies, entrepreneurial community, and angel/VC investment activities.” Gang Lu is also the Co-Founder of OpenWeb.asia Workgroup, a blogging network focused on the Asian web industry and enhancing “the intercommunication of local Internet markets.”Gang Lu speaks to the parallels between the relatively recent relaxing of the top-down cultural dynamic in the Chinese family and workplace as the key that sparked the level of entrepreneurship that we see in the country today. With the government now encouraging the growth of new tech startups, Chinese society has become ripe for innovation that, according to Gang Lu, is only beginning.The world of media is obviously very different in China than it is in the West. For one, copyright is not enforced at nearly the same level, leading to a lot of outright plagiarism between companies. Advertisements are also valued much lower in China. Instead, to stay profitable, media companies rely heavily on sponsored articles. It of course follows that since articles can be commissioned by outside parties, the integrity of the information being published is often questionable.With the rise of the tech industry in Asia, TechNode, in collaboration with the Macao International Grand Events Promotion Association, is organizing the first two-day BEYOND International Technology Innovation Expo at the Venetian Macau on June 17, 2021. Gang Lu believed the time had come to shine a spotlight on Asia-based tech startups and other companies at an Asian venue instead of in the West where most of these events are usually held. Calling Macau “the Vegas of Asia”, he pinpointed the Venetian as the perfect place to kick off the first BEYOND Expo.Finally, Gang Lu speaks on the 996 culture, the U.S.-China trade war, and blockchain. To these three developing topics, he adopts a wait-and-see mindset, saying that China does not currently seem to be budging in its big-picture economic priorities despite (or maybe because of) the ongoing pandemic, increasing global dependence on digital solutions, and the transition of power in the U.S. Key Quotes:“I think, before 2011, you didn’t see that many startups. But after 3G took off, suddenly you saw the mobile market booming.” “If we look at the global tech space, there are so many new companies that are not in the States or Europe. They are in China and other Asian countries. We need not just an event, but a platform where people can go every year to showcase their technologies and innovations in Asia.” “Why is China moving so fast? I think China, for many reasons, is able to open the market to adopt new applications and infrastructures like 5G.”

Jan 19

44 min 2 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How workspaces change as people’s work change●      Efficient communication with clients in the design space●      Redefining the purpose of the office●      Differences in the work environment in China versus the West●      The impact of COVID-19 on the way work is done in China●      Commercial architecture in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Nabil Sabet, Group Director at global workplace design firm M Moser Associates in North America and Greater China. The company “has specialized in the design and delivery of workplace environments since 1981, with clients from the corporate, private healthcare and education sectors.” Nabil’s experience in the China market goes back to 2006 when he worked as a space manager at M+W Group in Shanghai.Nabil shares his thoughts on evolving work environments as the nature of work itself changes. He also discusses how different sectors vary in their understanding and appreciation for workspaces that are appropriate to what they do. Ownership of space in the tech sector, for example, is relatively low because there is a lot of sharing of spaces. Legal work, on the other hand, is done in more segmented, even hierarchical, spaces.However, Nabil says that the COVID crisis has put the office space in “an existential crisis”. Due to the many uncertainties that most businesses continue to face moving forward into 2021, Nabil and his team are spending a lot of time “redefining the purpose of the office altogether.” He also explains how China in many respects was able to rebound relatively quickly in spite of the pandemic.Nabil gives his observations on the differences between how Westerners and the Chinese approach work, and how these differences impact the design of their respective work environments. He says that the workforce in China “really has a strong sense of obligation” to the country, the company, the team, and their leaders. This collective attitude makes work incredibly fast and efficient. In the West, there is “a stronger sense of rights and individuality”, meaning organizations spend more time creating consensus among their people.M Moser owes its effectiveness as a design firm to its complete focus on environments to which people go to work, including research centers, office spaces, innovation centers, and so on. This narrow focus allows them to collect an abundance of data and a thorough understanding of both “the hard stuff and the soft stuff”.There are many factors that go into an office that is totally dependent on the nature of the work to be done, and M Moser positions itself as a company that “owns the entire problem”. Key Quotes:“When people’s work changes, then the environments that support that work also need to change.” “The office is a gathering place for the team. The real purpose of the office is for people to come together. Yes, there’s an element of focus: You go to the office and you focus and you work. But, largely, the reason we will be going to the office is for human connection. It’s for connecting to other team members; corralling around a common purpose; getting inspired about our work and seeing our contributions as part of a team.” “Depending on where you live in the world and the culture, the home setting can be more conducive or less conducive to remote work.”

Jan 12

31 min 43 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The increasing simultaneous “closeness” and “friction” between California and China●      What makes California special to China as opposed to other U.S. states?●      Matt speaks on co-hosting the Heartland Mainland: The Iowa China Podcast●      Emerging tech trends in China●      Eroding trust in Chinese tech platforms●      Key takeaways on MacroPolo’s October 2020 report on what China will look like in 2025●      How AI, blockchain, and other emerging technologies will transform Chinese society●      How China is able to consistently stay on the cutting edge of AI●      Why China has been incredibly malleable and willing to overhaul its society over time●      What Silicon Valley thinks of Chinese tech Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Matt Sheehan, Fellow, and Researcher at MacroPolo, the digital think tank of The Paulson Institute. MacroPolo covers politics, economics, technology, and energy in China. Matt’s portfolio features writings on technology in China and its interactions with the U.S. and the rest of the world. His subfield focuses on artificial intelligence, a topic to which he has dedicated 90% of the last three years of his work.In 2016, Matt wrote The Transpacific Experiment: How China and California Collaborate and Compete for our Future. His thesis for the book is that “California is Ground Zero for a new era and a new type of U.S.-China relationship.”Matt notes that the relationship between the U.S. and China back in 2010 was characteristically more distant and “trade-based”. Around 2018, that relationship had become more “ground-level and face-to-face” as a result of the opportunities generated via the gradual influx of Chinese students, investors, immigrants, and homebuyers over the years. Matt’s book goes into how California (i.e. Silicon Valley and Hollywood) and China have been both collaborative and competitive at the same time.Listen in as Matt explains how the multifaceted powerhouse that is California influences the trajectory of China’s economic growth. He also dives deep into what he means by the two regions being collaborative and competitive at the same time.Matt then describes Iowa’s unexpected importance to the U.S.-China relationship and why he, in fact, co-hosted and co-produced the Heartland Mainland: The Iowa China Podcast. He goes on to speak on the future of the Chinese tech ecosystem as written about in MacroPolo’s October 2020 report. Finally, Matt reflects on shifting perceptions of China through the years and how the country is able to stay so malleable all this time. Key Quotes:“Even as California and China have become closer in recent years, that closeness also brings a lot of new frictions.” “In five years, I don’t foresee chip restrictions and export controls hobbling Chinese transition to this industrial tech juggernaut that it wants to become. But as we stretch it out further to 2025 to 2030 and beyond, I do think that restrictions on China’s ability to access leading-edge semiconductors are eventually going to serve as a bit of a cap on how far they can go with this foundational technology.”

Jan 5

49 min 31 sec

This episode is a look back at all of our podcast guests and the topics we covered in 2020, putting together some of our favorite moments for you into one single episode of goodness. The guests featured in this special episode are William Bao Bean, episode 22 released on January 7th; Scott Silverman, episode 28 released on January 31st; Scott Laprise, episode 34 released on March 6th; Dr. Julie Klinger, episode 42 released on April 13th; Gen Kanai, episode 54 released on July 17th; Wei Liang, episode 55 released on July 28th; James McGregor, episode 57 released on August 17th; Anne Stephenson Yang, episodes 58 & 59 released on August 25th and September 1st; Aynne Kokas, episode 61 released on Septmeber 16th; Kevin Xu, episodes 66 & 67 released October 27th and November 3rd; and Matthew Brennan, episodes 72 & 73 released December 8th and 15th.

Dec 2020

38 min 10 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      What is the “middle platform” and how does it benefit ByteDance?●      Other innovations by ByteDance that other companies are trying to imitate●      TikTok versus Snapchat, and why the former is thriving while the latter is dying●      Up-and-coming tech companies to keep an eye on●      Why Oracle attempted to partner with TikTok●      The future of TikTok in the U.S. with a Biden administration in place●      Why America is seen as a high-risk market in China●      The ramifications of Jack Ma’s speech on the Ant IPO Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we continue our conversation with Matthew Brennan, a highly sought-after speaker on Chinese internet and tech innovation, with a particular focus on WeChat and ByteDance. He is also the author of Attention Factory: The Story of TikTok and China's ByteDance (2020).Matthew is the Co-Founder of China Channel, which “provides digital marketing services for brands wishing to perform better on WeChat and China's digital ecosystem.” China Channel also organizes “China’s largest WeChat marketing conference series for international companies, China Channel delivers regular presentations, workshops, trainings and events globally about WeChat.”The “middle platform”, first conceptualized by Jack Ma and Alibaba, is a third-party group that does the “heavy lifting” in terms of technology and resource management. ByteDance’s apps can all plug into this central service called the middle platform, allowing these resources to be shared and ensuring no overlap between different teams.ByteDance has risen to prominence in the China tech space—and that of the world, by extension—through a myriad of innovations, from launching their unique internal tools as a product, selling their recommendation algorithm ala “recommendation as a service”, and their various avenues for growth hacking.Listen in as Matthew goes on to discuss the importance of how psychology can inform the potential success (or failure) of a social platform, other tech companies in China set to explode soon as ByteDance did, make sense of Oracle’s decision to partner with TikTok, and what a Biden administration (as well as current, strained U.S.-China relations) would mean for the future of TikTok and ByteDance as a whole. Key Quotes:“It wasn’t always obvious that TikTok would be so successful because they almost ruined it in the early days.” “When it comes to apps such as TikTok or Snapchat, it’s really important to understand the psychology behind these applications. It says so much about them and where the opportunity is in terms of business.” “When you speak to entrepreneurs and VCs on the ground in China, nobody really wants to invest in America anymore. It’s too risky. They don’t want to launch apps there. They just see it as a high-risk market.”

Dec 2020

38 min 14 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How Matthew built a fascination for WeChat and digital innovation in China●      Writing objectively about big tech brands in a country known for heavy censorship●      The huge potential of sharing short videos via these newest social media platforms●      What is ByteDance, exactly?●      How ByteDance compares to the other tech giants in China●      What makes TikTok unique?●      Localizing TikTok’s content in other markets Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Matthew Brennan, a highly sought-after speaker on the Chinese internet and tech innovation space, with a particular focus on WeChat and ByteDance. He is also the author of Attention Factory: The Story of TikTok and China's ByteDance (2020).Matthew is the Co-Founder of China Channel, which “provides digital marketing services for brands wishing to perform better on WeChat and China's digital ecosystem.” China Channel also organizes “China’s largest WeChat marketing conference series for international companies, China Channel delivers regular presentations, workshops, training, and events globally about WeChat.”Matthew says that his interest in digital innovation in China transcends geopolitics. Since writing his book, there has been a swell of controversy around TikTok as the U.S. and India worked to ban the popular social media app. Matthew, however, would rather focus on the bigger picture that is the trajectory this opens up for internet usage, globally. Short video is changing the way we use the internet, we are only in the early stages of this new trend.Listen in as Matthew goes on to share how ByteDance and TikTok came to be and how they sparked massive innovation in the mobile landscape, as well as how ByteDance compares to China’s other tech giants today and what the future holds. Key Quotes:“I do believe that short video is a very important trend for internet usage, globally. What TikTok provides is a new way that people are using the internet, and it’s not going away.” “China is all about mobile. It’s an app economy. People don’t tend to use browsers that much. Browser usage is very low in China.” “ByteDance has the potential to be a viable option to the Facebook and Google duopoly around online advertising globally.”

Dec 2020

37 min 4 sec

Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Commercial and residential real estate trends in China from 2008 to 2011●      How real estate investors tend to operate in the China market●      Where the real estate industry is going in the next ten years●      Why China’s economic future may mirror that of Japan’s●      China in the new normal●      Property Passbook’s mission●      Running a global business based in Shanghai●      How COVID-19 has changed real estate planning in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Colin Bogar, CEO and Head of Product Development at Property Passbook. His 12-year journey in China also saw him as Chairman on the Board of Advisors for The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, an Associate Professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University, the Managing Director of MGI Pacific, and Head of Research at Colliers International.Colin discusses his observations on both the commercial and residential real estate markets in China over his decade-long career. With regards to urbanization today, he touches on how bigger cities tend to have a much greater influx of new residents looking for opportunity as opposed to the country. Anecdotally, the first-tier cities of Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen have seen the most growth during Colin’s time. Second Tier cities and below are not expected to see growth anywhere near the same pace as populations and wages stagnate.Listen in as Colin goes on to share how COVID-19 affected the real estate market both financially and around health and sanitation, projected reductions in investments toward office spaces in a post-COVID world, the aim of his startup Property Passbook, the advantages of doing business as an expat in the melting pot that is Shanghai, and whether or not megacities are soon going to be a thing of the past. Key Quotes:“Real estate developers in China today are less concerned with green as much as they are with health.” “People in Western countries tend to want to be green and do the right things to fight global warming, but sometimes their solutions are not the most practical.” “By doing business in Shanghai, you have a pulse on the direction in which the world is going.” “COVID-19 and tensions with the U.S. aside, it’s hard not to be extremely optimistic about China’s economic future.” “Soon, travel to China is going to bounce back in a bigger way than most people would imagine.”

Dec 2020

48 min 17 sec