Are you a British entrepreneur moving to China? The Media Pioneers wants to hear from you

China is the new land of opportunity these days, from tourism to tech (Facebook is trying very hard to get in and Snap is reportedly eyeing a way in).

It’s also a tough nut to crack, with some American companies already deciding their big China opportunity is over. Some brands get it hopelessly wrong, and some people lose it completely.

As such, Chinese adventures make compelling television, as programmes like An Idiot Abroad confirm (though Karl Pilkington’s experiences were not a patch on mine). As luck would have it, TV production company The Media Pioneers is looking to hear from budding entrepreneurs who are leaving the UK to start a business in China for the purpose of chronicling their journey.

At a time when shows like The Apprentice feels passé (why start a business in London when you can have a go in the world’s second biggest economy?) and Brexit supposedly means Brexit, now feels a good moment to turn the spotlight on entrepreneurs in Shanghai rather than Shoreditch.

If interested, email: ubutt@themediapioneers.co.uk or mliang@themediapioneers.co.uk (and good luck!).

Be bold in post-Brexit 2017

Shanghai skyline by night

It’s fair to say that 2016 was a year of upsets. One after another, punches rained down on the status quo, beginning with a flurry of celebrity passings. Authoritarian Duterte was elected leader of the Philippines, Trump landed the presidency and Leicester won the Premier League. It doesn’t get much odder than that.  Oh, and the UK voted to leave the European Union.

While we still don’t live in post-Brexit times, because Brexit technically hasn’t happened yet, there has been an awful lot of conjecture, hand-wringing and strained voices. Many people are unhappy, which is understandable. But we can’t go back, only forward. To undo a democratic vote would set a dangerous precedent. Besides, we’re better than that: pragmatism and resilience amidst adversity are two British strengths (I’d take those over cheery optimism any day).

Turning crisis into opportunity

I’m not a cheerleader for Brexit (I voted Remain), but we have to survey the changing landscape and recognise that there are golden opportunities. The rest of the world, beyond the EU, helpfully sees Britain in a positive light: a survey from the British Council and Ipsos MORI revealed that worldwide Brexit has had a more positive impact on the attractiveness of the UK. The survey, As Others See Us , polled 40,000 Milliennials in G20 nations:

Rapidly growing economies in Asia, from China to ASEAN, signal new possibilities in this increasingly topsy-turvy world of ours that we should pounce on.

Adman Sir Martin Sorrell recently called on young people to obtain work experience in China – an idea that Chelsea’s Oscar has apparently fully embraced with his mega-move to Shanghai:

And to use a football metaphor, the goals keep coming as China and Britain are now gelling nicely, from arts and culture to trade and education:

Another so-called BRICS nation (is the term still used?), Indonesia, is already popular with digital nomads who flock to the gentle rice fields of Ubud. But there is so much more to this sprawling archipelago than Bali:

That’s not to say the UK should turn its back on Europe. Far from it. But there is simply little point in looking to the government for direction, or huffing over a democratic outcome. The world keeps moving.

If anyone in the UK is curious about opportunities and needs pointing in the right direction, from Brazil to Vietnam, I’d be more than happy to help.

Young Brits encouraged to acquire China work experience

Great Wall of China

Big advertising boss Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP, has posted a rousing article on LinkedIn, To Move Upward, Move Outward, about the importance of acquiring overseas work experience, China specifically, explaining that:

In a world becoming smaller every day through globalisation and digital connectivity, we need people who can demonstrate they have what it takes to succeed in this environment. Increasingly, employers are looking for knowledge of markets beyond the West, an international outlook and the willingness to be mobile.

Sir Martin was writing as a “Leading Light”, or influential figure who has benefited from China, championing the British Council’s Generation UK: China Network, which recently celebrated its first birthday. The initiative aims to connect all UK nationals with China experience so that they continue and deepen their engagement with China. Specifically, it supports student employability and skills development, and provides a platform for Brits to further their business, academic and entrepreneurial connections to China.

As part of the campaign, the British Council will be hosting an event this Thursday on opportunities to study, work, teach or complete research in China. If you are flirting with the idea of moving to the Middle Kingdom, head on down to the British Council’s London HQ on 13 October. The two-hour event will start at 11am (full details and registration here). Who knows where a stint in this extraordinary country might take you?

British nationals with China experience already, meanwhile, can apply to join the Generation UK: China Network on LinkedIn, now numbering almost 2,500 members, to connect with other China alumni. Joining the network also provides access to high-profile speaker events, Alumni Awards and career opportunities. Sounds hen hao to me!

Shenhzen shows the way for makers and creatives

Shenzhen

Hong Kong has always been a popular – and iconic – expat destination in Asia. But could next-door neighbour Shenhzen steal its thunder, at least among creative and technology types?

The capital of global hardware manufacturing (home to Huawei, DJI and Tencent, among others), a major design hub and popular with Silicon Valley startups, Shenzhen means serious business.

Writing for Make: magazine last year, Gareth Branwyn commented:

If you’re serious about taking any type of consumer electronics product to market – robots, microcontroller-based projects, mobile phones, laptops, internet appliances, 3D printers, etc. – there is only one city where you need to be, and that’s Shenzen.

To show just how extensive this “maker” revolution is in Shenzhen, Meijing He of British Council Hong Kong has shared a downloadable PDF map of maker spaces, incubators and accelerators (10 MB). And for those of you based in the UK and wanting to get involved in the maker scene in China, here is an infographic:

Makers in China and UK-infographic

Let’s Make Great! CEO Brian Tam: “Internationalism is the new normal.”

Jing'an District

I’m taking a break from my favorite Korean TV show, with my favorite Canadian band playing in the background, drinking a cup of Colombian coffee that a German friend brought back to my Shanghai apartment.

At first, I was worried all of this might sound a bit pretentious, but in reality this internationalism is the new normal for many of us.  Take a second to think about your global life. I can point to my Dutch buddy working for a Chinese Austrian joint-venture and dating an Irish/Cantonese fashionista.  Or another American-Chinese friend who speaks 4 languages, dances Cuban salsa and is dating a Swiss guy, who himself speaks 7 languages and works for a Chinese gaming company.  The list goes on and on.

Its stunning how common this is for so many of us now.  As our cities become increasingly international, so do our lives.  What are the implications of these huge changes?  Will our cultures become muddied with foreign values?  Will we forget who we really are?

For me, this global lifestyle presents the opportunity to discover a more authentic version of me.  The “American” tag that I was born with never quite felt 100% accurate.  Yet, for many many years, I blindly lived and worked under some over-generalized stereotype and wondered why was everything a struggle, why others didn’t understand me, why my career didn’t move forward?

Now that I moved cities, met expats and mumbled new languages, I’ve shed that over-simplification in favor of the complex realities of who I really am.  I suddenly see in finer shades of grey.  All of these diverse points of views has proved useful as I opened my creativity consultancy, Let’s Make Great!, in Shanghai more than 2 years ago.  My clients depend on me for fresh ideas, to provoke a unique point of view, and to inspire them to have more of this open mindset as well.

How do my team and I do it?

  1. Collect experiences – The first step is exploring — to go beyond the superficial depth of “nationalities.”  Take the chance that this phenomenal website presents to understand exotic cities, work on meaningful new projects and learn from complete strangers.
  2. Curate your favorites – discover the things that resonate with you.  For me, I realize my humor is mostly Korean “Running Man,” my soundtrack is “Broken Social Scene” and my home is Jingan District, Shanghai.  Feel free to pick your favorites and choose yours.
  3. Create your new identity – Like old t-shirts from the 90’s, allow yourself to let go of old identities.  Who do you want to become next?  Beyond your past experiences and your favorite things, what
    else is out there for you?  Its a continuous exploration of who we are to become.

Pico Iyer, the ultimate global citizen, says it best

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves.

brian tam
creativity catalyst & founder of Let’s Make Great!
website: letsmakegreat.com