When I started Blue Heron Holdings in 2005, I was driven by enthusiasm for “doing China business.” With nearly 20 years of first-hand experience in the field, I wanted to help US companies prioritize and seize opportunities to build value in China. I’d worked in media, heavy industry, and the nascent IT industries there, and knew there was a lot going on that was not on the radar of many North American companies. My intention was to spread the word and lend a hand, with commercial success for all who followed!
At that time, working as a US-China consultant meant building awareness of China’s growing market potential and explaining basic rules and principles of operation. In effect, back then the focus was on working with clients to implement and execute well. Executives new to China were into happily building “strong mutual relationships” by giving the right symbolic gift and using chopsticks at meals, while Chinese executives in the US were relatively non-existent. Knowing how to operate in China, and how to speak Chinese, were the main points of value at that time.
Fast-forward a full Chinese zodiac cycle to 2017, my concept of “doing China business” has expanded well beyond “operations and opportunity.” These twelve years have been dog years in China in terms of scope of economic expansion, development of global sophistication and technological advancement. Speaking the language and knowing the rules are now the barest of requirements for interpreting China. It’s knowing “what comes next” that is critical – and is, of course, inextricably linked to the past, favoring those who have been around a while and have a clue about history.
My business focus has evolved to center on knowing the context of what is happening in and with China and providing sound advice to clients – helping them make predictive and preemptive choices strategically. Basic commercial decisions are far from simple when there are geopolitical, national security, and a myriad of other related forces that can ultimately influence business outcome, and these forces are always in motion.
The re-launch of the Blue Heron blog is aimed at providing information, insight and perspective on China, US-China and global matters. My goal is to put ideas, concepts and issues into a broader context: to explore connections and look at the WHY and the HOW instead of just the WHAT. The primary objective is to look at China in current context. The US-China relationship is pivotal to global well-being and success. Knowing and understanding is key in today’s’ connected, interconnected world.
Stay tuned for regular postings and please comment and share at will!