Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I fell into conversation with a guy on an airplane recently. You know, that kind of easy, open talking that two people do when they know they are only going to be knowing each other for the next 90 minutes. After the usual "What do you do? Oh, that's interesting," "What do you do? Oh, that's interesting, too," we knew a bit more about each other.

He knew that I worked with foreign companies to find the right market opportunities and appropriate entry strategy to succeed in China. And I knew that he was hell-bent on totally destroying his company by entering the China market by doing a really stupid deal with a Chinese company that he knew NOTHING about. So I told him so. Hey, I had nothing to lose, and people have disliked me much more for even less reason in the space of 90 minutes. But it was something that HAD to be done.

OK, you might call me judgmental here. How did I know enough to determine that he was like a boat captain conning his company into the rocky shores of the China market without a clue as to how to avoid disaster, or without a lifeboat to save the straggling survivors, if there were to be any? Good question.

When Captain Kangaroo told me that he was in the process of signing a deal with a Chinese company to represent them in China, I asked him what anyone would ask someone about to get married: How did you meet your intended, and how long have you been dating?

He answered the questions this way: “At a trade show” and “one week.” Did you get that? They met each other at a trade show and, after one week of e-mails and phone calls, he felt he knew enough about the Chinese company to sign up for a significant relationship with them. Not necessarily “till death do you part,” but certainly “till bankruptcy kills one of you.”


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