A somewhat interesting section on The Nature Conservancy in China, but described far too simply in my opinion. While there is some good general advice within the chapter, there aren’t nearly enough specifics that an executive trying to recreate this type of action could use it as a template. And somehow the banking portion seems to come front and center before the conservation portion.
Cleaning the Stables in Guangdong was interesting, but could have had some more details and data (or a better case study, given its potential value). Alas it was just a quick overview of two years of work, possibly because editors thought it might be overly boring, but really who is going to read this book, but people who want these types of details.
I find at times in the book, he becomes overly gracious and almost too complimentary which I take to mean that he is still ingratiating himself to colleagues and potential future relations.
The chapter on School for Success could itself have been a better and more in-depth case study, but was a short historical outline.
There are some occasional interesting tidbits hidden throughout the chapters which are generally illuminating, but I wish there were more useful insider tidbits of true value. So far I’m not reading anything much more valuable than could be found in overview newspaper articles covering some of the same topics.
Finished the section on the IPO of China Telecom (Hong Kong) and read through the more difficult IPO of PetroChina. There are some conflicting statements between the two accounts which I find interesting as they relate to doing business in general. I’m sure they stem, in part, from retelling the stories nearly 20 years later along with editorial oversight. In the first account he complains of not having enough time while in the second he complains of a client dragging things out and going too slowly.
The retelling of history from his perspective is perhaps a bit too measured but expected given that he’s still actively working and maintaining an image. There are a few interesting bon mots from time to time, but I’m beginning to think that reading a bit more hard-hitting history would be more enlightening given what I know of China. I’m beginning to read this more for enjoyment and entertainment that the original historical and economic visions I had anticipated.
While a generally interesting read so far, I find it to be a bit too antiseptic as if it’s either been over-edited or the ghost writer watered down all the personality.
A simple preface followed by an anecdote about the beginning of a deal relating to telecom. The style is quick moving and history, details, and philosophy are liberally injected into the story as it moves along. This seems both interesting as well as instructive.
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
“There are some who believe that an immutable law of history holds that conflict is inevitable when a rising power begins to bump up against an established one. But no law is immutable. Choices matter. Lessons can be learned.”
“Prescriptions, after all, are easier to make than predictions.”
“Note taking allows Party and government officials to get quick reads on what went on at meetings they didn’t attend. […] Private meetings with senior government officials without recoring devices or note takers are rare and highly sought after.”
“…the so-called iron rice bowl, the cradle-to-grave care and support guaranteed by the government through the big companies people worked for.”
“The Party had made a simple bargain with the people: economic growth in return for political stability. That in turn meant Party control. Prosperity was the source of Party legitimacy.”
“Messages in China are sent in ways that aren’t always direct; you have to read the signs.”
“It was the nature of dealing with China: nothing was done until it was done.”
Picked up a copy at Little Free Library #21797 at 8:29 am
ISBN: 978-1-4555-0421-3 First Edition Hardcover