Change & Liberation

They say that all good things must come to an end. I don’t know if that is literally true but I dearly hope it isn’t. But change is inevitable and that can be crushing or liberating, depending on your attitude.

In my own case, after almost nine years as the managing director of the China subsidiary of Libbey Inc., a U.S. multi-national maker of glass beverage ware and related products, and then the general manager of the Asia Pacific region, I’ve left the company. It’s time for a change. I need a fresh environment and the company, I’m sure, will benefit from a fresh perspective.

I’m not retiring. But I am going to take a little break. I’d like to join a couple of boards, do some high-level advisory work, and, of course, write. Geography, with a few limitations, is not a limitation. My wife and I are empty nesters and pretty adventurous. We lead very simple lives.

I’ve been in the corporate and investment world for 38 years now, with titles like CEO, COO, president, managing director, general manager, operating partner and the like for companies like Oneida, Lionel Trains, and Wellspring Capital Management, a New York based private equity company. And I’ve served on four public company boards and was chairman of the Audit Committee on two of them. (I’ve got a resume if you’re really interested in the details and I am a member of LinkedIn.)

There’s an old story in China that a foreign writer came here once to write China’s story. After a month she said she had enough material for a thick book. After six months, however, she had only enough material for a magazine article. And after a year she didn’t have enough material to write anything. The longer she was here the more mysterious it all got.

That is China.

Wonderfully exotic; wonderfully down to earth. Incredibly complicated; refreshingly simple. All rolled into one exciting and stimulating experience.

I haven’t run out of things to say. I believe I’ve figured out why the story about the foreign writer came to be. Most Westerners don’t understand the fundamental differences in logic and worldview that underlie the differences in Western and Chinese culture.

I noted to a good friend of mine recently that a lot of service providers here provide discounts if you join their club and pre-pay for future services and my Chinese wife belongs to most of them. Given the nature of the non-Western nature of the Chinese economy he wondered if my Chinese wife truly understood the economic side of why merchants offer these discounts. I replied, “She’s an inductive thinker; she doesn’t care why they do. She only cares that they do.” (For more read my latest book, UNDERSTANDING CHINA: THERE’S REASON FOR THE DIFFERENCE.)

At any rate, I’m going to take a little break from posting to this blog until I figure out what to do next. (If you have any ideas on what that might be I’d love to hear from you.) I won’t take the blog down, however, and will let you know when I’ve decided where to take it from here.

In closing I would like to thank all of my readers for their support. I am truly humbled and honored. It’s a lot like work coming up with fresh material for a blog but my ever-growing number of subscribers, now in the thousands, motivated me on.

You can contact me at understandingchina@yahoo.com

I would welcome your thoughts and meditations.

Gary Moreau

Beijing, China

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