I recently found myself in a game of pick up sticks with my husband. Interesting to think how people from different cultures, speaking different languages play the same game – even with a few slight rule differences.
However, I had an interesting thought when we were playing. My husband seldom uses stick to help to flick other sticks, instead he prefers to use his hand picking the one that on the top of other sticks. That makes me realize that we actually have different thinking style and structure to solve problems because we have different cultures and social norms.
A lot of employers, from innovative startups to decades old multinationals, should consider this point to actively hire foreign people as a way to help their company think through strategies, approaches, services, and products outside of the “American” box. Nowadays, new ideas are the money. The more dynamic employees a company has, the more they can think differently and meet different niche market needs.
If you want to be on the edge, don’t reject foreign talents… Now all we need is help from legislation reform and startup visas!
Several days ago, I saw the movie Les Miserables, wherein the major character's name is Jean Valjean. I thought I watched Les Miserables movies and cartons in mandarin version several times as a child – so why his name doesn’t ring a bell. Suddenly, I realized the character I saw in mandarin version sounds like “Rava Rean” - seems like different name.
I suddenly felt unfair for me as a foreigner. Even though I have read and watched about a lot of master pieces in mandarin, when I talk about people’s name or locations in Chinese version with my English speaking classmates and my husband or other people from other countries, they will be totally lost, not understanding what I am talking about. Besides the language boundary, there is also the cultural differences. As one time I talked about “xi qu ke ke （希区苛客，Alfred Hitchcock）”, even I said he is the master director of detective/scary movies, my husband still didn’t get it who I talked about, he asked me to name his movie names, I couldn’t either. Because the movie name translations are totally different. I went to the details about the movies, my husband got more confused. I suddenly feel I am in the “lost translation.” I have to go home and use google translation to continue the conversation.
I feel that my education in China except Mathematics are almost wasted in the US. I couldn’t use my cultural knowledge to have conversations or play any knowledge games with Americans. Plus my elementary school level of English and grammar, I often feel fooling, not cultural at all, regardless I am passionate about and spent decades of my life learning about music, opera, impressionism painting and modern art.
Why in China does everything need to be translated and learned in Chinese, especially foreign names? How come names cannot be identical to the names in the original language, so people who go abroad have some common “culture” to share and can talk. In the movie, leave the original name underneath of the Chinese translation. On the text books or novels, put the original “Real” names beside the translations. Why not teach Mandarin and English together, so when we come to the original countries, we can realize and identify what they are talking about and join the conversation with a common knowledge we learn.
Wake up people, as the world becomes more globalized, education needs to be globalized too. Otherwise, even though we’ve learned a lot in Chinese, we still look like idiots without any culture basis. For the foreign people living in the US, too often we end up hanging out only with the people who came from the same country, have common “culture” to talk about things happened before we left the countries. It is Les Miserables!!
I recently read BusinessWeek Google’s bid to be Everything to Everyone
, talking about how Google purchased Motorola Mobility to gain 17,000 patents into its portfolio. The market is also surmising that Google is testing new audio devices since Motorola is already the market leader in cable set-top boxes. Such a device could be used to distribute television, movies, and other digital fare. Google is not only a search engine, it covers everything high-tech and to everyone. I was talking to an in-house digital advertising marketer who said he doesn’t use an advertising agency. Rather all businesses he does is only with Google. They paid Google for the top search engine position in the focus categories, and use Google webmaster to figure out best SEO practices. They display the ads on Adwords and use Google Analytics to track and analyze traffic and insights from customers. They upload video ads on YouTube. Today I saw this Google Play video, which also shows Google’s ambitions to cover more media aspects including gaming, music, books, and movies.
However, Google doesn’t necessarily cover everyone, at least not at the one of the biggest, hottest, sweetest pies - China. When Google left China 2009, it had 24% market share of the domestic search engine, now only 0.24%. To be a global company, Google has to develop targeted global strategies for different countries. China, India, Brazil, Russia, each country has its own business habit and culture for investors and businesses. China is spending tons of money on technology infrastructure and aiming 2050 it will be the global leader of the technology. Going to a country, Google needs to engage to the local market and business culture, really listen to what local market needs and wants and adopt the market first and then considers to influence and change it.
Google, please be more aggressive to cover everyone including China, because we are welcome the convenience the high-tech has brought to our life. Covering China, Google will be a truly cross-industrial Guru, unbeatable in the world.