“Hai Di Lao isn’t just your typical hot pot joint. It’s an experience.” – Peter (Canadian friend in Beijing)
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of experiencing the best customer service in China. If you’ve ever been to China, there is no such thing as customer service. Seriously, I’ve had to go and pick up my own chopsticks, spoon, and other eating utensils at restaurants. I always have a pack of Kleenex on me because you never know if the restaurant would have any on the table.
Seated at Hai Di Lao, Peter introduced me to his friend Mark. Mark is such an inspirational person with a great story that I just had to write a post on him. Meet Mark, older man (mid/late-40s) that has been living in Beijing for the past 7 years with his wife teaching English. I’m thinking, wait – what? Isn’t this whole teaching-English-in-China-for-young adults (20-30 yr olds)-who-dont-know-what-to-do-with-their-lives? Right? Not a teacher by trade, he ended up getting a connection in China that sparked the interest to live abroad and experience life outside of America.
It’s been so rare to speak to someone who knows what their insanely-big dreams are. Mark knew what he wanted. He made his impossible goal, possible.Mark applied a motto to his life of “No problem, and..” since he worked for a demanding boss and managed/owned his coffee in a mall in SoCal. He had loads of debt and things weren’t going well as it was the recession. His landlords were taking advantage of him, but he kept on saying “no problem, and…” for months and months. He always played around with living abroad…and then something happened. Someone put a bug in his ear about an opportunity in China. He hummed and hawwed for awhile. He had a business to run. How could he go to China? When he turned down the job in China, his landlords heard that he wanted to test out this opportunity there. . that’s when the tipping point pushed him over the edge. As if his landlords were feeling guilty of some sort, they offered Mark, free rent until all his debt was paid off and moved his coffee shop to the centre of the mall, his partner bought his ownership off him (perfect win win scenario for him).
Mark believes that after working on the “no problem, and…” mantra, that relationship with his landlord became stronger. They trusted him. They trusted him a lot. It’s funny that that had worked because it is just so un-American. If you know you’re getting scammed, you’d put up a fight! The “no problem, and…” way of thinking, is exactly how it can work to your advantage in China.
This is how Chinese businesses operate. It’s on “no problem, and…” Don’t make a fuss. Don’t throw a tantrum. For one to be successful in doing anything in China, you need something called “guanxi” meaning “connections” or “relationships.” This is so crucial to the business life in China and the “no problem, and…” mantra works here.
“It is SO typical for a laowai (foreigner) to act abruptly/rashly and jump away from a car headed AT them, only to be HIT by a bus in the next lane.” – Mark
With his story, there’s a lot of key elements that totally line up with my own views/beliefs/thoughts that altruism (acts of selflessness) is good for the soul. It’s also good to keep moving on (especially when you are in a bad place in life). To stay stagnant is a dangerous place. Moving slower makes it easier to see things more clearly and is less intimidating.
Imagine driving a car at 40 km/hr. Do you notice the giant tree on the road? Do you notice the bicyclist at the corner of your eye? Did you see the kid kicking a ball beside the tree?
Imagine driving a car at 120km/hr. Could you notice all these small details? Probably not. Breathe and take it slower. Life isn’t a race.
In a happier/fulfilled life, I believe:
1. Moving slow is fast and moving fast is slow.
2. Do more to help others without expecting anything in return. It will pay back ten fold in ways you cannot even imagine.
What do you think?
Only fitting that I had this song stuck in my head all week: