My background and influences? I am Canadian, born in Victoria, BC. After completing an MA in modern Chinese politics (from UBC, Vancouver) I travelled to Chinese Asia for the first time: January 1985. My plan was to study language and culture for 18 months, then go the US for a Ph.D.
After six months I realized that what I was learning on 'the street' about the Chinese was different from what I'd learned from textbooks and professors. Not that the books/profs were wrong, just that the first-hand experience was different. As my goal was to learn enough to act as bridge between China and the West, it seemed dumb to return to the West to learn more from texts and pasty-white professors.
I never planned on staying 14 years, but that's what happened. I started my first company and married my first wife in 1988. I build the company to 25 people before going spectacularly bankrupt, and along the way got divorced as well. 1989 was not a good year for me.
I remarried the next year and started a new company, Treasure Mountain. But my 40th was getting close, and I wanted to see if I could actually get a job. A McKinsey partner took me to dinner and gave me the bad news, "You are the exact type of person with the exact skills we need, but we will never hire you. You are too much of a entrepreneur, and we'll never be able to mold you into a 'McKinsey' man." The term "loose cannon" was used during the second bottle of wine.
So, being unemployable I found my own work. Until 2003 I led major performance -related region-wide projects for multinationals, designing then implementing quality management, business process improvement, reenginering, performance management and balanced scorecard projects. Teaching Chinese workers about measuring performance was (and still is) a challenge.
My 50th birthday present to myself was to give up leading projects to return to my first love, cross-culture. I started offering workshops, speeches and consulting (to Chinese as well as Westerners) on overcoming cross-culture problems. I published my first real book (I'd already written many textbooks and such), "Wearing Chinese Glasses: How (not) to Go Broke in Chinese Asia."