a) I'm always struck at how differently, both from a positive and negative perspective, each country is faring, in stark contrast with the (English or local language) published news media. Japan, while still growing extremely slowly, isn't doing nearly as badly as the Western world might be led to believe. China is clearly on track to suffer slower economic growth, but it likely won't be a "hard landing." Conversely, seemingly placid Hong Kong is more frustrated than the media is reporting, with doubts about the new leadership and how things might be changed through Beijing's oversight.
b) Relationships are still the sole currency through which people communicate throughout the Pacific Rim. This latest trip again reaffirmed this. Like prior trips to Tokyo, I reunited with my Japanese co-workers I went through training with in the early 1990's. During dinner, it was as if time had stood still, in that we were as close as ever. After many years of nurturing arm's length business relationships, in order to schedule unique company visits for my BC programs, in 3-4 different cases we've now become close friends. The head of ex-Japan Asia for a large, publicly traded company included me in a house party he was hosting, during which I met several other successful ex-pats. Then, in Hong Kong, I had drinks with a leading economist and lunch with some executives from a local firm. Socializing with so many of these people outside of the office was grand. In Asia, an acquaintance, or friendship, is difficult to establish in the beginning, but once achieved, is held in much higher esteem than it often is in the West, and has multi-faceted dimensions extending well beyond regular business involvement.
c) Although operating within the confines of disparate geographies, cultures and languages, everyone is still gallantly trying to achieve success one way or another. I'll concede that the local, national and international challenges each executive faces cannot be easily compared across firms, and in some countries requires almost Herculean efforts to get to the same end point, but the tenets of hard work, attention to detail and sincerity were apparent throughout each of the executives we visited. It's reassuring to know I'm neither the only one stuck in my office at 9:30 pm trying to keep my clients happy, nor am I unique in encountering "communication problems" when trying to deftly navigate through international business obstacles.