Apr 242004

This is a picture of Haga in from of industrial garbage. But you cant see it yet because I need to photoshop it and I left my illegal copy of Photoshop in the US. I have a new computer too. Its another P.O.S. that Tony lend to me. Actually, its a good computer, except that all the drivers were installed wrong…and it has a French keyboard.

Its been a long time since I updated. Several factors have caused me to update a little less frequently. I have been working at a real job. I have been teaching 2 online courses. And I brought my Playstation back from America and had it mod-chipped so that it can play pirate media.

OK. So I went back to US for a week. Flew in on China Eastern Airlines, which is horrible – food was disgusting and they played French and Russian B movies. I spent 2 1/2 days in San Diego. We had Passover dinner, which is always great. Then went to San Jose. I didn’t have time to see anyone for very long, but I re-connected with my cat, took care of the taxes, negotiated with new neighbor to build a new fence, bought 3 pairs shoes and 4 shirts (which, under other circumstances, would have taken me about 2 weeks of comparative shopping and style analysis), went for a short hike in the park, had a BBQ with Tony and Amy (Amy was visiting from Thailand) and saw Erik and Heidi’s new baby Christine. I did not get a chance to visit Ingrid and Josh and their new one, or any other friends. Flight back was also bad food and a different Russian movie. I think they also played out-takes of “When pets attack”, which they play on the subway train monitors as well. To their credit though, China Eastern Airlines flight attendants were very friendly and they did not care if I spend long times standing around the back of the plane gabbing with people.

So I’m a Business Development Manager. I lead a team of 8 sales people to sell organizational development and HR consulting services to companies in China. These services include leadership and team building programs – similar to Outward Bound… ropes courses, trust fall (which I made it clear I will not do because I don’t trust people to catch me), and other games designed to teach teamwork skills. Also do these programs where in we facilitate lots of discussions to develop a company’s mission statement and culture, and relay that culture to the company’s employees. And we do this service where we use some psychological testing to determine is a prospective manager is an asshole or not. Then we consult with the company to explain to them why they want certain types of assholes to be managers and not others.

I took the tests. According to the tests, I’m slightly extroverted (hah! What a joke), extremely intuitive (to the point where I don’t use my 5 senses to perceive things around me, instead relying on an internally generated logical “leaps” to perceive the world around me), highly logical, and somewhat control-oriented. The tests also say I excel at influencing people with goodwill but don’t know how to use authority, that I have little expertise, and have an adequate level of knowledge. And the tests also say that I am very assertive and maybe a little too aggressive in the way I communicate with my coworkers.

I’m also really the Marketing Manager of the company, although that title has been given to the girl who used to be the Business Development Manager. She is a great Chinese sales girl – cute and comfortable asking everyone out for drinks/dinner. But she is 25 and not very experienced in making plans. So she is the marketing manager in name and reports to me. This is causing some friction in the relationship. She also knows I don’t really know what I’m doing and I am not a great sales person. And so she thinks (sometimes out-loud), “Why should Jesse be my manager when he does not know how to do sales?” There is nothing I can do about this because she is our star-sales because of her existing relationships. To my credit, I have had many times so far when I could have blown up and made threatening faces, but I refrained. I do understand now why when new managers come into companies, they often fire the old top managers and bring in their own people.

The other people in the office seem to like what I do and the boss gushes over me. I don’t know why though…I have not done much. He told me that “just your atmosphere has improved this office. They way you pace around the office and your impatience have driven everyone to make twice as many sales calls as before.”

So… I so far have spent my time doing sales presentations (in Chinese), pushing designers and coworkers to develop the new website, implementing a contact management system to record sales information and activities (everyone likes this and is using it now except the “marketing manager”), holding sales meetings, getting other people to develop sales collateral, and getting other people to follow up with customers. I like this job even though sometimes I get bored and lazy. I think I like it because I like making other people work more so that I don’t have to work.

My boss, Gene, the CEO, is a 60 year old American. He is from Oklahoma. He has 20 years experience in the State Department and has lived in China for a long time. It seems that he has an ex-girlfriend in every one of our customers. His current girlfriend is 25. His son John, 25 years old, also works in the company. He does sales, helps out with the computers, and develops collateral. I think he thinks alot like me, but talks slower (believe it or not) and is less aggressive. So I’m always interrupting him and this pisses him off. On the other hand, he tends to agree with me when I explain things because he follows my logic. That is refreshing. I wish my friends and family can be like this. He calls his father’s girlfriend Moma. There is another guy, Chris, 25, also from Oklahoma. Chris is a big guy he comes across very soft and girly-like. Those psychometric tests that I took say that I value logic. Chris values feelings, which is a completely different way of thinking. So Chris talks a lot, asks many simple questions, and just gabbers on. I sometimes ignore him, and he just keeps on talking. Its very funny I like both Chris and John. They are also D&D; nerds and like video games. There are others in the office… Rebecca – a very elegant and intelligent girl who I recruited from Toastmasters; Anne – a French girl; Rita – an intelligent, tough-minded girl who is the girlfriend of my friend at Toastmaster; Cherry, a cool girl Chinese girl who went to high-school in Thailand and college in Virginia (or one of those redneck places); Francis, a skinny, nerdy (in a cool way) Taiwan-born Chinese guy who has a masters in International Economics and who dates a hot Muslim Chinese girl (who always seems to be wearing thong underwear and low-cut jeans); Nina, the intern, who grew up in Xinjiang and knows about good Xinjiang noodles; and Yoko and Jam, the accountant and office manager, whom don’t ever say anything.

OK. Enough about work.

Haga and I went to see a bunch of art galleries in a Northern part of the city. We took the light rail there and walked to the galleries, which were in a converted factory complex next to the SuZhou river. The exhibition was very good – Chinese modern art. I was just as interested in the building and the factory buildings next to the river. The artists chose this area because older buildings have high ceilings. But there still are active factories in the area. So An artist there asked Haga if she is a designer…the artist said that Haga just gives off a “designer atmosphere.

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