Disney Dinosaur Meet Tiger Woods

I was thumbing through my pictures of product samples from China today and I came across this picture of me at a driving range in Changzhou, China (sorry for the fuzzy quality).  The driving range was a part of a nine-hole golf course next to what was a very nice hotel for Changzhou.  The hotel happened to be located directly next to a dinosaur-themed amusement park.  If you look above me in the background, you can see the large, star-trekkish, space tower jutting into the sky.  What the picture doesn’t convey, is the myriad of sing-along and theme tunes (which made me routinely think of Goofy when teeing off) that echoed out over the entire golf course. 

I’ve always felt this picture spoke volumes about something, perhaps many things, but I could never  put into words what it was.  For those that don’t play golf in the US, courses are usually meant to be quiet, serene places where respect is shown by silence when someone is going to swing.  Noise pollution is not something one seeks out on the golf course.  But in Changzhou, this doesn’t seem to be too important.  In fact, save a major airport, I can’t imagine two more incongruous things next to each other.  There was miles of vacant land around, but these two attractions were placed directly adjacent to each other.  Whatever the reason, be it poor urban planning, cultural differences, or just an attempt to draw as many customers as possible, it is just downright different.  Better?  Worse?  I don’t know.  As an American, it just isn’t something I am accustomed to. 

Many people talk about cultural differences, differences in business styles, communication styles, etc.  But it never seems to sink in as much until you spend a little time somewhere.  It subtly begins to sink in deeper when you start to interact with people on a daily basis and are trying to accomplish something.  And it smacks you in the face when you come across something like this–when you see something that makes not a shred of sense from your own perspective.  But it makes perfect sense to the people you are doing business with.  The magnitude of the difference in perspective between you and your new business partners can be just like a large, space-launch tower above your head playing Goofy tunes.  You might want to ignore it, but it’s going to be playing in the background throughout your experience.  Sooner or later, you’re going to have to pay attention.