2 Steps to Chinese Domination (1st Post!)
This is my first attempt at a blog so bear with me here people. I wanted to talk about a fascinating thought I heard about a couple of weeks ago. I fucking hate the radio, but I’m not going to tell you why now (that might be the name of my second post) so when I’m driving in my car, I like to listen to podcasts. In particular I love to listen to Tim Ferriss. Tim is probably the most interesting person on the planet and although this post isn’t about him, He is the reason why my long car commutes have become bearable so thank you Tim! If you don’t know who Tim is-kill yourself, otherwise you better start listening. You can start here.
Tim recently had a guest on his show. His name is Kevin Kelly. Kevin is the founding executive of wired magazine but more importantly he is an absolute genius and forward thinker dedicated to educating others and preserving the precious story of our people.
Here is a little bio about Kevin from Tim Ferriss’s website: Kevin is Senior Maverick at Wired Magazine, which he co-founded in 1993. He also co-founded the All Species Foundation, a non-profit aimed at cataloging and identifying every living species on earth. In his spare time, he writes bestselling books, co-founded The Rosetta Project, which is building an archive of all documented human languages, and serves on the board of The Long Now Foundation. As part of the last, he’s investigating how to revive and restore endangered or extinct species, including the Wooly Mammoth.
So ya, Kevin is super interesting and smarter than you and I combined. Now on to what I actually want to talk about. Whilst being interviewed on Tim’s show a couple of weeks back, Kevin was speaking about China and how he believes that China is on the breakthrough of a new world changing order. He didn’t say what it is, all he said was in the next five years, expect China to reinvent the wheel of some process completely. This may be in the field of robotics, aviation, Fintech etc. What Kevin went on to say then is what this post is actually about. Sorry if I haven’t gotten to the point yet, I’m still learning how this game works. Ok let’s get at it then.
Kevin says that before China achieves this breakthrough, they need to address and fix two issues. The first issue is how Chinese people deal with failure and the second being how they deal with authority. This is all that Kevin said but there’s so much more to this, it deserves a blog post.
1) How Chinese people deal with failure
Chinese people are notorious for being really tough on how they deal with failure. Remember that one movie where the one gangster is late to meeting and a he has to cut off half a finger as punishment?? I mean come on! And what’s worse is that he did it without a compliant! He knew what he had to do and just got on with it. Imagine that type of behavior in South Africa, none of us would have any fingers and China would have to invent a technology that automatically opens every door in your house! Oh wait they’ve already done that!
The point here is that there are two types of people in this world. There are those who don’t get things right the first time they try, failing miserably and then there are liars. Nobody gets is right the first time! That’s not how life works. A friend of mine recently told me about the theory of version 37. He said that by the time a presentation goes from version one to client, its actually version 37. So the problem with Chinese culture is if you don’t get it right the first time and end up failing miserably, you don’t have enough fingers to go up to version 37! What you have now is a culture where people are too scared to try things because of their fear of punishments. The exact opposite of innovation!
2) The problem with Authority
The second problem is an issue that is deep seeded in ancient Chinese culture. Chinese youth are very respectful to their elders. It is a tradition lasting thousands of years. The culture of backchat did not rear its ugly head in China, oh no, it came from the United States. Malcolm Gladwell has a whole chapter in his book Outliers about ancient Chinese culture and why Chinese planes crash. At first you may think, Chinese planes crash because they’re old and perhaps the pilot might not have enough fingers to fly the plane. That is entirely incorrect. Gladwell speaks about a true story where an older more experienced pilot was flying a plane through a tricky storm with a younger co-pilot. In his navigation, the older pilot made a mistake. The younger pilot immediately noticed the mistake but because of this cultural block, he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to disrespect his elder and the plane ended up crashing. Now that’s fucking crazy, I mean come on! The younger pilot should’ve said something, but no, this is not the way ancient Chinese culture works. The plane had to go down so that the older pilot could preserve his integrity.
That’s a huge problem for China. There comes no innovation and change if people don’t speak up because they are afraid to disrespect their elders or even anyone for that matter. Chinese people are so polite! It sucks.
On an individual level, the Chinese people are dealing with these two issues. But on a collective level, these two issues really remain the barrier restraining China from creating a world changing system/technology/way of thinking.
A word of hope to end this post: China will solve these problems and sooner than you think. Within the next five years, these problems will be an all but past part of ancient Chinese culture but don’t bet your fingers on it!
Thanks for the inspiring though Kevin Kelly!