China for business, or personal growth

I was stuck in the middle of a rope bridge between two mountains near Tibet. It was snowing and I felt my hands go numb, but I could not move. There were three large monkeys in front of me, and one had just attacked me.

Fortunately a team of local mountaineers armed with bamboo sticks came to my rescue and helped me cross the bridge safe and sound. It was my first year in China and I decided to go on an adventure, one of many to come.

Two years later I was at a company retreat near the lush tea fields of Hangzhou. I was on a stage together with a local government official, singing Mao-era communist songs in front of a crowd of a 100 local businessmen and officials.

In between I was an actor, and at some point even became the promotional face of a city in China. They needed someone white and tall, I needed some money and was hungry for a new experience.

China is an exciting place to live and work for those that crave adventure and are not afraid to take risks. It can also boost your career, but depending on where and how you live, it can be a tough place to live in as well.   

I’ve lived in China for nearly 7 years, learning the language and working with Chinese and international companies on their marketing strategies. Now I have decided to take a break from China for some time, but not before I explain to you why you should at least experience the Middle Kingdom once.

If you are playing with the idea of working in China, or if you’re simply interested in doing business in China, then here are some reasons that might motivate you to take that leap, or as Nike says it so eloquently: to just do it.

  • Experience an accelerated pace of life and work: China is developing faster than any other nation in the world. You will find no better place to live, work and learn fast.
  • Learn how to deal with Murphy’s Law: Murphy’s Law states that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. If you want to learn how to prepare for the unexpected, China is your country.
  • Experience the creation of a new society: From a dynasty to a republic, to a communist state and from poor to rich. Chinese society is continuously reinventing itself and it can be magical to experience the every day changes first-hand.
  • Become part of a new world-power: China is here to stay. Why not become part of it? Learn the Chinese language and culture and benefit from it in the (near) future.
  • Enjoy living in a travel hub: Where did you go on your last holiday? I flew over to Indonesia in a matter of hours. Living in China means you can explore South-East Asia without a jetlag or breaking the bank.
  • Start to appreciate the mundane things back home. Breathing clean air, drinking water from the tap and eating high-quality foods are just some of the things you will learn to appreciate more. But you will also learn how to live without it, and realize how easily you can adjust to new living circumstances.
  • Enjoy the hustle and bustle of big city life. I grew up in a town of 20,000 people. Now I live in a city with more than 20 million people. It can be challenging to find peace and quiet at times, but simultaneously it’s hard to get bored.

I won’t bore you with the ‘broaden your horizon’ and ‘build your global network’ clichés. You can do that anywhere. But I will tell you this: if you’d like to experience those clichés to the extreme, then hop on a (AIR FRANCE KLM) plane and go on an adventure in China.

Image by Fabien Lelard, via Wikimedia Commons

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