Category Archives: Personal

A Welcome to Chinese (And Non-Chinese) Readers

I get reports on how people come to this blog, and recently we’ve had quite a few visitors from mainland China.

I just want to send out a warm welcome and invite them, or any Chinese speaker, to post a comment or a question any time. You can write it in English or Chinese, and if you write it in Chinese, I can read both simplified and traditional characters.

And please, everyone who reads, understand something: I am an unabashed Sinophile.  I love the history, culture, art, and language of China and Taiwan. Heck, I even enjoy visiting overseas Chinese communities. When I write about cultural differences in communication, I try to be objective, but I also don’t hold back my real thoughts. If that is offensive to some, please accept my apology. It is not intentional. I have been in the trenches of business, consulting, corporate training, and education in greater China for 20 years now, and I enjoy providing a little insight into cross-cultural issues (including learning Chinese) to my readers. I welcome anyone who wants to learn more about how Westerners and Chinese people bridge the communication gap to join in the discussion here anytime.

As for my next post, I’m working on a few ideas, but am unfortunately so limited in my free time (think eight substantial projects, frequent travel, a book deadline, and a hundred details) lately that I haven’t been able to get anything finished. I’ll post something interesting soon.



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Happy Year of the Rat!


From the wikipedia entry on Chinese New Year:

First day of the new year

The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth.

Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time when families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.

Indeed, my extended family members are all out doing their religious duty. They will repair to our home later this evening for an American meal I have prepared for them: Potato and bacon pie; lamb in mustard sauce, glazed carrots, salad, chicken corn soup, and apple pie. That sort of meal is decidedly not traditional, but such is the life of a multi-cultural family.

We had our traditional meal last night, on Chu Xi (New Year’s Eve), and I ate my lucky chicken, fish, soup, and sticky rice cake. We handed out red envelopes full of cash to the kids and to my father-in-law, and performed the traditional ancestral remembrances.

Here’s an article on what makes the Year of the Rat special:  It’s the Year of the Rat

Best Wishes for a wonderful new year!

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The Hands-Off Manager Reviewed in the Shanghai Daily

The book I wrote about in this post was co-authored by my uncle, Duane Black.

It was reviewed Oct. 27 in Shanghai Daily at this link.

Shanghai Daily is one of two English newspapers in Shanghai. The other is the China Daily.

The writer gives the book a positive review, and elucidates many of the points from the book quite accurately.

Unfortunately, the reporter didn’t get the title right (she calls the book The Hands-Off Management), but we’ll take the review anyway.

This book really should be translated into simplified and traditional Mandarin and sold throughout greater China. Managers here need it–the younger, talented generation simply won’t put up with dogmatic, authoritarian manager types anymore. They walk.

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The Hands-Off Manager in Greater China

My uncle, Duane Black, and his co-author, success coach Steve Chandler, released a book in March 2007 entitled The Hands-Off Manager: How to Mentor People and Allow Them to be Successful. My uncle sent me a copy of the book in early April, and I read through it immediately. The book is only 207 pages long, but packed with life-changing wisdom.

Yeah, I know. “Packed with life-changing wisdom” sounds like a trite sales pitch. Well, beginning in late April, in one of my presentation skills courses at a large multinational north of Taipei, I asked the participants to prepare presentations on effective leadership. After several practice and coaching sessions, I delivered my own presentation on the same topic, mainly as a way of demonstrating effective presentation techniques. I centered my presentation around what the book teaches about leadership.

What I thought would be a half hour demonstration turned into two full sessions devoted to discussing the content of The Hands-Off Manager. I have since used material from the book in other training courses, and am now preparing proposals for leadership training courses based on the book.

The Hands-Off Manager teaches managers to lead by coaching and mentoring, rather than judging and criticizing. In the courses where I discussed the book, I ended up applying several of its concepts to relationships with suppliers, with customers, and with relatives and friends.

Managers in Taiwan are eating it up.

I’m sure that my uncle and Steve Chandler wrote this book for an American target audience, but it is interesting that groups of managers in Taiwan are so energized by its teachings. The book’s treatment of vision, its encouragement to approach relationships without judgment and to face problems with neutrality, and the advice to fit a job to person rather than try to force a person to do a job he’ll never be great at has really hit home with the people who manage the Taiwan divisions of the multinationals who are my clients.

It’s a small world after all.

The book is not totally devoid of Chinese philosophy. The section on neutrality fits very well with Taoist ideas about Yin and Yang, the two symbiotic life forces whose interaction is believed to have a major impact on health and spiritual and mental well-being.

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