The Power of Context
Have you ever told a joke and no one laughed? Or said something you thought was clear and direct and got a confused look? You might have forgotten to give your audience the context of your communication.
If you have ever watched top notch stand up comedians, you’ll notice that they tell everyday life stories. It could take 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete the whole joke, and all the stories are connected. Jokes are not funny when you only deliver the punch line without the context.
The power of context was clearly illustrated to me recently as I watched one of my favorite movies of all time “A time to kill”. A movie about a black father in Mississippi who gunned down two Caucasian delinquents on their way to court for raping and attempted murder of his 10 year old daughter. Kevin Spacy plays the states’ attorney who always stuck to the facts of this killing by using eyewitnesses, re-telling the story of the brutal shooting. The killing was portrayed as an act of violence due to racism and the all-Caucasian jury did not sympathize with our main character. It was only at the closing speech when Matthew Mcconaughey’s character (the father’s lawyer) told the story of how the little girl was brutalized, beaten, raped and left for dead by the two delinquents that he was able to convince the jury to set his defendant free. He was able to convey to the jury the anguish a father felt, and the course of action that he took was not an act from a violent criminal, but that of a protective father.
It’s interesting that we now live in a world full of contradicting views. CNN wants us to believe that the US brought democracy to IRAQ, when others see it as a military invasion. To quote from the movie, Truth is unjust, because people are unjust. We all look at the world through our own judgments and biases.
So, my challenge for you in 2007 is to question everything! Your values, your opinion of others, your actions, what you see, hear and feel. Is this my truth, or the truth someone wants me to believe! Is there a better way?
Coke VS. Pepsi
Did you ever go to playland or splashdown park during the summer and participated in the Coke VS. Pepsi taste challenge? Did you pick Pepsi?
Last weekend, I was in Victoria with David visiting his parents. They very proudly took us to their favorite coffee shop and we had coffee with them. I had high expectations for this place due to the description from our hosts, yet when I got there, it was simply decorated, a speaker ready to fall from the wall, and hot chocolate that tasted bitter. I did not touch my cup after the first sip. I told our hosts a better coffee shop called Waves in Vancouver that I wanted to bring them to, never suspecting that I might be offending them.
After this incident, David enlightened me with my transgressions in a lighthearted manner through the Coke vs. Pepsi story. Pepsi has more sugar and therefore tastes better at first sip, Coke has less sugar but taste better when one is finished with it. Pepsi capitalized on this phenomenon and used it in their advertising, yet when you look at annual revenue between the two companies, Coke makes twice as much as Pepsi. I checked their official websites and found this to be true. At Dec 31, 2005 Coke took in $23,104,000,000 while Pepsi only took in $11,885,000,000. Pepsi won the 100 miles dash, but lost the race to Coke, because consumers decide if they want to buy more of a product when they finished using it. I learned to question my senses, and that good manner is to make others around you comfortable.
Chinese Business Etiquette
My friend Mark recently returned from a 4 month travel in China, and brought me a very interesting book called “Dealing with the Chinese, A practical guide to business etiquette in the People’s Republic Today” written by Scott Selingman. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4 Cultural Differences
1) Chinese are socialized not to question the social order or try to change it. Group is more important than individual. The actions of individuals reflect not only on themselves, but on all of their compatriots in a group.
2) The Chinese value group consensus, which sometimes takes a long time.
3) Confucius teachings of ethics and morals still governs today: Duty, loyalty, filial piety, sincerity, and respect for age and seniority. Deference to authority and to elders, rank-consciousness, modesty, moderation in habits, generosity, and avoidance of direct confrontation are all highly valued Confucian traits.
4) Chinese bureaucracy is top down, thus corruption and cronyism is rampant.
5) Face (Menzi) is crucial to the Chinese. Sarcastic remarks, insults, disrespect through words or behavior causes someone to lose face. You could give someone face though praise and compliments or gifts.
6) “Guan-Xi” or connections is a balance sheet of favors. When giving a Chinese person a gift, make sure it’s within the range that he/she may return the gift in equivalent amount. When a Chinese person does you a favor, they generally expect you to return the favor at a later date.
7) A Chinese person will never say no directly to you, they’ll say they’ll think about it, discuss it, or consider it and never bring it up again. Do not push for an answer, when their back is against the wall, it may cause them to lie to bring social harmony for the moment.
8) When a Chinese person is upset at you, they will use passive aggressive tactics to show their feelings.
9) When approaching a Chinese company in China, Taiwan or HK, it would be in your benefit to use a third party consultant that could do the introduction. Provide as much information as you could with your company and your intensions, or else your proposal might go unanswered. The Chinese do not like to deal with people they don’t know.
Dec 9th was the big staff Christmas party for my client Credential Ethical Fund. The event was held at the Law Courts’ Great Hall, with its beautiful architectural glass ceiling and 5000 sq ft of space. My challenge was to warm up this venue with atmosphere and mood. We did it with beautiful lighting with the help of an expert electrician as only 6 out of the 40 in floor plugs were operational. With over 300 staff from across Canada, everyone was dressed up for a good time. Winning ingredient for this labor of love was an exact floor plan for seating, lounging and dancing, door prizes, and a fantastic DJ. This is the first Credential Christmas party where people danced until midnight and didn’t bail at 10pm. One issue we encountered was how long it took to get a cab for our guest’s return home. It requires 45 minutes wait for one cab.
Dec 16th was “The Enchanted Holiday Luncheon”, There were 150 people in attendance including close to 50 VIPS (diplomats, government officials, etc) in attendance. Part of the days entertainment included Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie leading the room singing Jingle Bells. The 35 member Air Cadet band played very entertaining Christmas music for our guests, and was grateful for a chance to raise awareness in the community. One of the highlights of the lunch was the duet “Ever lasting Love” performed by Maria Lagayada and David Fong. Maria’s powerful voice and David’s timing was perfect. Everyone enjoyed the buffet, and all our silent auction items were bided on competitively and in total, we raised over $2000 for the Richmond Air Cadets. I was invited to their year-end Christmas party the next night, and found out that sq 655 was the largest in the lower mainland, and 2007 is their 50th Anniversary. A Big thanks goes out to all our lovely sponsors:
Lena Naidu Make Up Artistry, TB Vets Foundation, OK-Movements, Viva Pharmaceutical, Bitron Rewards Program, Richmond Review, Profitek, and Living Blueprint.
A Year in Reflection
Can you believe another year has come and gone? Life really passes us by. 2006 has been another transforming year for me. I feel like I’m finally getting into my own skin and finding myself, and yet I’m still a child.
To Recap this year:
- Took on interns from Mexico, Brazil, Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Japan, and Korea.
- Became a board member at International Special Events Society (ISES), helped organized their monthly events, and the 300 plus Motown Blue Christmas Party. See Party video on my homepage.
- Organized networking functions, fashion boat cruise, in midst of organizing a weeklong conference.
- Give Gracious Host Events a new brand, complete with new website that has pictures and videos.
- Went to ‘Millionaire Mind’ and realized that my mind has been programmed to be poor.
- Cleared up my acne
- Found the love of my life and got engaged on Dec 21, 2006
- Recognize that I don’t know a lot of things, and admitting that I don’t know only opens the door to learning and discovery.
- Realize that business success is the evolution of a person. Once you’re sure of who you are and what you want, the universe will give you everything you need. But you must believe you deserve it.
- Understand that money and success is a result of the value you provide to others. Money is not the end all be all.
- Discover the power of clothing, hair and make up. It’s all apart of ‘context’.
Intentions for 2007
- Learn to become a more effective communicator, and public speaker.
- Don’t assume, and always provide clarity when communicating.
- In the face of conflict, learn to diffuse the situation using a subtle combination of humour and calm understanding making sure to clearly understand the other persons position.
- Build up the ‘Social Butterfly Club’ to 3000 members, and find different ways to provide value for their lives. Have bigger events to service their needs.
- Move to Downtown by Stanley Park
- Get a car and Vespa
- Create great strategic alliances with others in the entertainment industry (ex: caterer, florists)
- Join BNI, and get my 60 second elevator speech down
- Learn the mastery of selling, and get over my embarrassment of self promotion
- Develop products for Gracious Host Events
- Flatten out my tummy with more exercise
- Take vitamins each day to build up immune system
- Call my over sea family members once a month
- Learn about Real Estate Investing
- Have dinner with family once a week
- Have date night with Dave once a week
- Learn to cook
- Get more female mentors
- Make more media contacts