It has been 3 days since Mel and I started working together in China.
I’m proud of how far we’ve come in this short timespan and it has taken me this long to process my thoughts because honestly sometimes it is hard to keep up with myself…
I’m constantly thinking…waking up in the middle of the night to answer emails/LINE/wechat for personal and business reasons. The pro’s and con’s of having your clients and friends in different time zones. You are never alone.
And while my head has been on overdrive, my heart has been in strange and unfamiliar territory. Dealing with relationship/dynamic “I like like you but do you like like me? Is this going to work? Can we still be friends? Are you going to break my heart?” issues and my head to be honest hasn't been able to concentrate 100% at work while I am at work. I think we’ve all been there.
But Mel has been super awesome and patient with me as I look up from my phone air-headed and answer her questions about supplier/client relations and filling her in on the deets about our company organizational structure.
Her growing interest and passion in the family business has been the source of light and happiness for me since coming back to Asia. I’m so happy to see her work alongside my father and talk about the future and the start of an R&D team. How we need to create a vision and teach those in China about community and become reunited with a vision and shared goal. There’s passion and interest. When both are in the mix, creation comes easily.
I gave her a COEXIST reMINDmeband for her first day as she nervously stepped into our office. Our Yiwu branch recently opened up 4 years ago and she’s never met the 30+ employees before. Before coming to Asia, we bought a Sam’s Club bag of mixed Hershey chocolates from Colorado to share. I told her pass them along and ask everyone for their names as I had done during my first day.
“What!? They aren’t dogs!”
“Seriously, it will ease the awkwardness for you…and you really do need to learn names this time.”
Let’s face it. When it comes to mixed cultures with different language and cultural differences, we in general all become awkward beings. A lot of us don’t even try to carry on a conversation under the pretense that the other person just won’t understand them. I blame it on indifference/apathy. But we can’t do that here. I won’t allow for it.
“I’m nervous. My chinese is so horrible. They won’t understand me.”
“They are even more nervous than you..believe me. Just smile. You’ve got nice teeth. Use it.”
As she walks past the cubicles and eyes stare at her for the first time in awkward shy curiosity, I notice her starting to pull her cellphone out as a defense mechanism (nobody likes to be stared at…especially boss’s first daughter) and I quickly whispered, “Stop it. Look up and acknowledge.” #coexist
I read in a leadership blog that the first 10 seconds a manager walks into an office every morning leaves the biggest first impression for how the rest of the day goes. If you look distracted or pissed off then your employees may shirk away from you. That’s when I’ve started to give everyone eye contact and smile courageously as I walk 6 aisles down to my office desk. #truth #respect
It really makes all the difference. We are after all a Taiwanese-run trading company, and we will by Buddha, bring Taiwanese manners to this cold freezing industrial polluted China environment!
While I’m typing all of this down now in frantic “must get all of this out before I forget” notion, my dad and sister are in training mode. Looking at diadems, headbands, elastic hair ties, layered chokers as he fills her in on “how things are made,” rundown on design concept, costs, etc.
She looks like she understands and starts to make colorways from her intuitive fashion design sense back in her art school days. I realize as I'm looking at her work that I haven’t really learned how to read her expressionless face. But just in case, I give her the LEARN reMINDmeband. She appreciates it as I’m sure all of this influx of information all at once is overwhelming. I give my dad COLLABORATE. They look up impatiently as I try to take pictures of them and tell them to stop moving. I realize I’ve been doing a shit job on marketing @reMINDmebands on instagram and if I wanted 2015 to “put myself out there” I have to do uncomfortable things and get “the stare of death” often.
My dad has a meeting with us and his two most loyal employees that have been with ODES since inception 28 years ago. He gives a great motivational speech along the lines that we’ve got a great foundation in production, supply, and distribution. That Melody has experience in textiles and fashion and will run the R&D department while I focus on Marketing/supplier-client relations. And that with everyone’s help, we can finally bridge the gap between what the rest of the world wants in real time and what we can provide.
We’ve been passive in the past with reliance on our clients and retailers providing us trend reports. In the future, to keep up with how quickly the fashion landscape is changing, we need to rely on designing and aggressively pushing trends to show the world what we are capable of...
World domination. #LINning #itstartsinCHINA
Haha jk. I mean come on...we produce girly low-end fashion accessories similar to what you would find in a Forever 21…
Sorry, I just looked back on that. I need to be more proud of what my dad had created. He had mentioned his history for the first time and I couldn't be more impressed with how he built a manufacturing complex ground up. I need to learn some humility from him.
The point is… the future is ours. And there’s infinite potential. And I feel it in my gut, that its only a matter of time that more meaningful stuff will come out with the right team, the right mindset, and the right kinda passion.