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Archive for May, 2010

An American Girl in China, Part II

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

I SHOULD be writing a paper right now for law school.  Instead, I had to take advantage of borrowing a full sized laptop (thanks, Nic, and Dell – your minis aren’t exactly super conducive to writing long winded papers..).  Here’s what else I’ve learned in China thus far:

1.  No one here is fat.  I haven’t seen anyone obese.  That means to me that they are living healthier lives, despite some issues with their environment.  A group of us went out this morning on a 6 am power walk, only to discover that there were some older people on the track kicking our butts.  By the time we left the track, it was full.  This is on a Sunday morning, people.  They also have very little sugar in their diets.  Although, right now I am TOTALLY jonsing for a burger and fries! 

2.  The people here are really trying hard to learn English and work with the rest of the world. There’s a pond area on campus here at Remnin where Chinese go to practice their English in the form of…get this…Shakespeare!  This morning we saw them out practicing.  Now, is anyone in the US working on their Chinese?  In public?  Also, a group of students gather on Friday nights at another place on campus to practice their English too.  I also met a random economics professor who just sat down and started talking to me at breakfast the other morning.  Her English was pretty good, but my Chinese was terrible.  We still managed to have a good conversation.  Her son is also studying at…get this…NYU. 

3.  They don’t believe in diapers here.  Some of my friends are really disturbed by that…but I’m starting to think with all the waste in the world, there could be worse things.

4.  The Forbidden City (which we all visited yesterday) was super cool, but it was jam packed with visitors.  If you ever get the chance to see it, go, but just don’t go on Saturday morning.

5.  Here’s what I miss (besides that burger) at this point: 1. COLD beverages – WITH ICE.  2.  SUGAR. 3. Cheetos.  4.  Wi-fi. 5. Air conditioning, and 6. blue skies. 7. Cheese. 8. Facebook and Twitter.  Ironically, cold beer is cheaper and more available here than water (TsingTao, anyone?).

6.  Last but not least – here’s my economic development opportunities for ya’ll before I go: 1. Steak and Shake, get here.  2.  Denny’s – ditto – they could use a grand slam or two over here.  3. WISCONSIN – you make cheese.  China has no cheese.  Seriously – this is a billion $ economic opportunity for ya here…! 4. Frito Lay – you’ve got stuff here – but no Cheetos – what’s up with that? 5. Eskimos – sell your ice here. 

Ok, back to the REAL work now! And, if you have an ice cold drink - raise a glass for me.  Really.  I could use a cold toast….!

An American Girl in China, Part I

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I just got in to Beijing about 3 hours ago, in what seems like the never ending day.  Although, I really skipped a day.  It right now as I write this is 11:15 PM, and back in the states, it is 11:15 AM eastern time.  Needless to say, I’m a little fried.  We all had a bit of a breakdown this evening after the airport – because we had to get essentials like bottled water and cash…so we could do things like eat and brush our teeth.  Already I have witnessed some of the things we take for granted – like potable water.  But luckily, I have some.  I will keep you posted on my ‘progress’…for the next few weeks…!

From Bloomington to Beijing, All in One Week

Monday, May 17th, 2010

It is rare for me to get intimidated.  But today, I met for the first time a Nobel Prize Winner, Dr. Elinor Ostrom. At first, the idea of meeting a Nobel Prize Winner seemed a little daunting, but in the end, it was fantastical. Even after driving 2+ hours to and from Bloomington in the rain, it was totally worth it! As an added bonus, Dr. Ostrom invited me to work with her on a task force she put together on healthcare.  YAY!

Later this evening, I just finished packing for a trip to China that I’ll be taking this summer, with a home base of Beijing. Needless to say, I’m super stoked about this opportunity too.

People often ask me if my life turned out the way I thought it would thus far, to which my reply is always, “No”.  Actually, it is SO MUCH BETTER than I ever would have imagined.  I’m really lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to go from Bloomington to Beijing all in one week.  Already this week I’ve been reminded that it is OK to be intimidated; what you choose to do with your energy (i.e. by facing your fears in whatever form they come in for you) is the best thing you can do.  Why? Because you never know where it will take you…and sometimes, it takes you to an even better place than you ever could have imagined for yourself.

3 Things I Hope To Learn in China

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

One week from now, I’ll be on another continent.  I’m really excited about it!  China is a place I never thought I’d get to…but if I do get there, here are the top 3 things I will be investigating:

1.  Where the country wants to go in the future – particularly around economic development…and not the sole bottom line, but most importantly, where they are in terms of the triple bottom line – people, planet, then profit.

2.  How they’d like to work with the US – us or the U.S., I’d love to know how the PRC wants to work with the US.

3.  The history and the context of where they are coming from – they’ve got hundreds of years of history, which is more than our very young democracy – I’d love to know their philosophy, why and how they got to where they are, and of course, back to #1, where they want to go.

I can’t wait – and I hope to share my travels as an American Girl in China with you…if I can reach my blog postings while there!

Writing Under the Gun

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

I have a pretty big writing assignment due this week.  But the muse just isn’t showing up.  She’s apparently on vacation.  Or fried extra crispy.  Or both.  I can’t say I blame her.  Honestly, when I have to write on a deadline for others on a topic I’m not passionate about, the muse tends to flee.  Heck, I flee.

It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t read anything for fun in (what feels like) the past 4 months either.  My library card has expired. (I can’t even believe I shared that – WAY too embarrassing!)  I’ve resorted to buying a bunch of books to take with me to China soon so if I lose them I’ll be able to suffer the loss on my own.

I’m writing this post to try and inspire me to write…but clearly it is not working.

As U2 writes, some days are better than others.  This day is not my best writing day.

Thankfully, there’s tomorrow!

Can More Really Lead to Better?

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

I was intrigued by this post I read this morning. It fits nicely with Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule as well.  It also fits with my much less eloquent rule, which is this:

The train to Awesometown goes through Suckville.

But the flip side, or put in another way – this is GREAT news!  The more you do something, the better you potentially get at it.  In the blog post, the more the art students produced in QUANTITY, the better they produced QUALITY.  In Malcolm’s world, one must practice their craft for 10,000 hours to really master something.  In my analogy, failure, practice, and more practice is just a brief stop on the way to the land of awesome.

Whichever way you think about it, just try to do more of what you’re doing if you’re really trying to get good at it.  And as I’ve shared before, embrace the fail, because that’s just one step closer to success.  It’s all good…and in this case, I think more really CAN lead to better!

Why v. How

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

My message from the universe this morning told me to not compromise on the ‘why’ of my dreams, but to be flexible on the ‘how’.  Also, I read a really cool quote this week (now on my office door) in a school brochure that said something like the following:

Your dreams aren’t something you have during your sleep.  Your dreams are instead what keeps you up at night.

I like both of these, which obviously lead to this blog post.  We should never compromise the “why” of our dreams, passions and hopes.  Instead, we should try to be willing to compromise on the “how” something gets put into the universe.  If you feel really strongly that something is unjust, something must change, and something can be improved, go for it!  It’s really not a question of why, but HOW.  How are you going to turn that passion into reality?

Another excellent example of the why v. the how: writing a book.  When I get an idea for a book, the passion and the why tends to get stronger and stronger as I work on it.  However, the “how” sometimes and most times usually ends up differently than I initially thought.  Books take on a life of their own.  However, the idea, the “why” am I doing this? core idea never really changed in the books I’ve written.

So, next time you’ve got something big that has you up at night that must get into the universe, don’t question the why if you think it’s going to make the world a better place.  Instead, focus on the how, be flexible, and next thing you know…the why will be out there!!!! Yay!!!!

The Rockstarian Chase

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Ok, I’ll admit it – as a rockstar anthropologist, the toughest part about my job is chasing after rock stars.  I call it “The Rockstarian Chase”. For me, I try to treat it like a little game. If you find yourself today or sometime in the future chasing a rock star or two yourself, here’s some advice:

1.  Persistence trumps talent…and a lot of other things.  Rock stars are chased all the time…but are YOU going to be the person who gives up?  NO WAY!  Don’t give up!  EVER!  Never!  Ever!  Be Winston Churchill – NEVER EVER GIVE UP!

2.  Have something interesting to say if you DO catch your rock star!  They get the interesting and cool in their face ALL THE TIME.  You’d better have something something super cool/interesting and fun to put in front of them…think shiny, glittery and fabulous.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

3.  Be insane about follow up – granted, there’s a fine line between “pleasantly persistent” and “stalker”.  Just make sure you are the former and not the latter.  Once they’ve said no, either try changing your angle, or go chase another rock star.  But UNTIL they say yes or no, keep on plodding along and stay in the face of the stars.

No one ever got anything by waiting for it to just fall out of the sky.  Go chase those rock stars, and if you catch them…congrats!  Just be sure what you’re doing is catchable!

The Dazzling Dozen: of M&A

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

I’ve not been posting as much as I’d like, because I’ve been entrenched in the fascinating world (and lingo) of M&A: Mergers & Acquisitions for my upcoming (and final) final this semester in law school.  I have what is sure to be a very painful final next week in the course…but that aside, I dig the terms that peeps have invented in this somewhat mysterious and gray area of the law.  Here’s a few of my favorite hits.  (WARNING: I’m not a M&A lawyer – I may have these terms wrong…there’s my disclaimer!)

shark repellent – takeover defenses for a target.  Usually a supermajority vote requirement for action to happen at a company, which is next to impossible…and the requirements need to be in the company’s charter.

poison pill – a type of shark repellent – and there are several types – but generally, it is a strategy to  increased the likelihood of negative results over positive ones for a party that attempts any kind of takeover. Trigger to initiate the pill is when 20% of the stock is owned by someone else.

chewable pill – a type of poison pill that is more shareholder friendly.  Need a supermajority shareholder vote to initiate the poison pill.  (A lot of Canadian poison pills are chewable!)

macaroni defense – tactic where target company issues a large number of bonds that come with the guarantee that they will be redeemed at a higher price if the company is taken over.

pacman defense – get so big by acquiring other companies that you can’t be acquired yourself as a company.

golden (and tin) parachutes – big, hunky payouts to execs who leave a company at merger time, which is supposed to get them to think more in tandem with shareholder interests.  (Yeah right!)  Gold = for the big cheeses.  Tin = for the rest of us.

greenmail (aka bon voyage bonus or goodbye kiss) – when a raider comes in and buys a big chunk of stock, the target company buying the stock back from the raider at an inflated price to get him to go away. (Don’t go away mad, just go away…we’ll even PAY you to go away!)  Not done much anymore because the tax laws have changed…

phantom (aka triangular) merger – this is BAD terminology, but it sounds cool.  Basically, it is a company merging with a shell company.

scorched earth policy – Basically, when a target company is potentially being acquired and SO doesn’t want to be that they trash the place.  There’s a story out there on a famous web company potentially being acquired by a ginormous software company awhile ago where they talked about this…

Revlon duties – Nope, it’s not applying makeup before you leave the house (which, is probably also a good rule…but not for the context of M&A)…this is instead that when a company is up for sale, the board of directors has to do their best to ensure that the absolute highest price for the company must be found and sold at in order to keep the best interests of the shareholders in mind.

proxy contest – basically when an acquiring company tries to bully its way onto the board of the target company by getting directors with their own interests onto the board.  This isn’t a cheap process, and with staggered and confidential boards, takes years to do.

White knight – when an icky person or company is trying to acquire a target company, the target co. might go hunt down someone to save them from the icky – a “white knight”.

There you have it – welcome to my world for the past week. It’s been full of poison, noodles, makeup, and rules….fun times!