Hello again people! Again, I’m in Asia. it definitely looks like my 4 months in Hong Kong and all the travelling wasn’t enough.
However, I am having some insight in the Asian culture by now and my perceptions are changing quite a lot. This post is about the South Asian countries like Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. The first impression one normally gets in these places is that they are totally underdeveloped. Frequently with a pity feeling for a side dish.
I’ve spoken to dozens of travellers and what normally comes after is a feeling that it’s only a matter of time before they develop to where we are now. We usually perceive that globalization is also helping them to reach exportation markets and that they will eventually develop the technology to become importers of raw materials and low-added value manufactures, just as we’ve done in the past. The case of China is normally exposed because they ARE getting out of poverty and increasing at two digit growth rates. However, I totally think that China is a totally different story from the one of the countries mentioned above.
After some deeper thought and analysis I came to a third level of conclusions. Ones that of course can change as the others did but that looks more right and it’s a bit more open-ended, which normally fits reality more (or at least increases your safety margin incredibly). I have tried to know some local people wherever I went and at no moment did I have the feeling that they were unhappier than European people. Actually, I found them – in average – much happier. That made me think. I analyzed their way of life and they seem to be much much more entrepreneurs than us. There are an uncountable number of businessmen here: the guy with the pancake-trolley, the guy with the 10 bungalow resort, the guy with the 2-3 boats that gives you a ride through the floating market or the Thai islands, the woman who cooks you some tiny chicken/pork/strange-stuff brochettes in her small BBQ for 10 bahts (.25€…) and a long etcetera. They are micro-business owners, but they do own their business and assume the risk implied.
To fully understand why they do what they do we have to understand what their (job) options are. I will try to extremely simplify it in two possibilities: when a Thai wants to work they can either 1. try to get hired by a company or 2. start their own (micro) business. For the first one to happen, in general basis, the company has to have ambition to grow, otherwise you wouldn’t hire more and more people absorbing the new population entering the labour market. But! That ambition does not exist here, not at least in the way it does in Europe. And that in my opinion, has to do with their level of happiness with their current life. In order to be ambitious you have to want to improve, otherwise it’s not worth the risk. But the combination of having a pleasant and relaxed life and not really knowing the opportunities that exist out there make local people here not ambitious (generally speaking). So, coming back to the point: They don’t get hired because the companies are not ambitious to grow. They are then frequently only left with the second option, which is starting their own business.
Finally, as a conclusion of all the arguments exposed above, I believe it is only natural to think that they are never going to develop “our way” not because they can’t, but because they don’t want to. And, honestly people, I don’t know how many Thai people you see in Europe, but this is full of Europeans and Americans who have decided to spend their lives here, not to speak about all of us who decide to escape here when we have the chance.
Comment your ideas on the subject! What are your experiences and opinions about this?
It’s been a long time since the first article. Although I have finished the course I am busy working in my internship in Telvent, a TIC multinational company.
Artists are after all workers and art is after all a product. If this product is priceless, valuable or worthless it is another question. Whether it is cinema, painting or music it makes no difference, the process always is: Design a product, Do it and Sell it. However unstandardized, complex or abstract the process is. The investment requirements are mainly time and knowledge, together with the expenses of studios, producing and marketing. For these reasons, it seems to me that they are actually entrepreneurs, with their pros and cons.
As any business, there are a lot of ventures and new projects that get started and a few that survive the market. Of course, if they succeed there is an established demand for all kinds of art – specially for cinema and music which are huge – which will give profits to be shared between all the shareholders and some stockholders. In the music industry: producers, musicians, studios, concert halls, etc. Some of them with fixed prices or salaries – normally studios and other workers – and others with variable ones – like the musicians themselves or the producers and record companies. They truly work as any other business in the world, with the supply and demand law.
Focusing in the music industry, it can be considered totally information intensive, therefore supply is virtually endless and the market will be driven by the demand of a certain product to establish its price among other variables.
In Spain there is a significant ongoing debate about the SGAE (www.sgae.es), which is the Spanish version of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). This organization aims to manage, charge and distribute artists’ copyrights and intellectual property distribution. It also looks after editors’ interests. It has more than a 100 years, but controversy has come lately as they have intended – and succeeded – to include extra charges for electronic devices. It created a digital canon for all electronic storage devices (CDs, DVDs, USBs, hard disks…) and copying hardware (CD/DVD recorders, scanners, photocopy machines, etc.) on the pretext of systematic illegal copying of music records and other material. This measure attempts or threatens the presumption of innocence as it presumes everyone will use these devices to make private copies – as they call them – of protected material in the first place, and share them illegally in the second place. Controversy about the subject worsened as they have attempted to charge royalties to charity concerts several times and only accepted to return the money after the the public and internet media deeply criticised those decisions. This has contributed to create some associations like “Todos contra el canon” – All against the canon – which strongly disagree with the SGAE.
The president of the management board of the SGAE – Teddy Bautista – has been interviewed by the Spanish financial newspaper “Expansion” and published the 25th of July. The title is The pirates’ most hated man (“El hombre mas odiado por los ‘piratas’ ” in its original version in Spanish) and you can find the article in Spanish in this link. In the interview he says that the digital canon’s purpose is not to give some more money to the popular singers or artists, but to guarantee the minimum wage for local artists. This is contradictory with the public opinion that believes the canon benefits most the popular and leaves very little for the unpopular. But moreover, are they not businessmen? Are they not entrepreneurs risking their resources in order to achieve profit sometime? Shouldn’t they therefore be paid as so? In my opinion, this organization is interfering the market and it is introducing measures that make cultural exchange more difficult. All this with some poor ethical values. What do you think? Vote in the poll and comment about it!
Last Friday, 5th of March, Kenneth Morse gave some Inspirational Entrepreneurship Lectures at Esade Business School, and sure they were inspiring. You can understand that better when you know he is the former Managing Director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center and has started some very successful technology start-ups among many other things during his life. He has not always been successful, but failure, as I believe to know, can teach you more than success itself.
The lectures ran through the importance of following good communication channels, through the importance of networking and how matching people can be a very useful and valuable ability. Mr. Kenneth P. Morse explained to the audience how simple strategies like starting mails with “You” instead of “I” or going to business cocktails with a well-trained wingman that gives you 30 to 55 seconds to speak with whom you are interested can improve very much the contacts you manage to make and the attention paid by others. Good advice for a beginner like me, student in the 4th year of the Business Administration Degree, who tries to discover the path between attending class and successfully starting a company in the future. Not an easy path indeed, but definitely the most rewarding as the founder and chairman of the E3 club from Esade, Ivo Vasilev, said last Tuesday in an event where 6 entrepreneurship clubs from Barcelona met.
Trying to figure out how to walk through this path I asked Mr. Morse how to take the first steps, how to build my own network and how to start a company. A difficult question which he answered with extreme simplicity and huge personal impact. “After this, go there and talk with 5 people you haven’t met before […]”. This sentence, as simple as it may seem, did not only make me talk with some very interesting people after the lectures with whom I expect to maintain contact, but got much further: in less than a week time, in the Barcelona entrepreneurship club’s meeting I gave the same advice to 3 students of BBA who ended up contacting many more people than they expected. So, when it comes to entrepreneurship – and with great remorse due to my scientific points of view – energy cannot only be converted but also created and multiplied.
So what is this energy? What shall move us through the unknown and the exciting life of discovering new paths? Mr. Morse explained how passion was one of the most important values that one should find in a management team, passion is that thing that turns intelligence into something real that everyone can see, that thing that won’t allow you to stop in your way. In his words: “Motivation will support you through the darkness of entrepreneurship”.
This energy, motivation or passion for the mission is your most powerful resource, the one that will really make the difference, the one that will change failure as a barrier into failure as an ingredient for success. This is my inspiration….hopefully helped to build yours too.