DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Benighted view of corporate influence

Written by: on November 29, 2018

When I first arrived in China I walked into a department store. We were setting up our home and needed a few items. I had already had moments of culture shock learning some of the ways that we needed to shop. We were in the capital city and I expected stores to have everything. So walking into this store and wandering around I could not find what I was looking for. I walked up to the first worker I saw and asked if they had coffee pots. Granted my Chinese speaking ability was pretty rough but she smiled and said they didn’t have any. You see what I didn’t realize is that in a Chinese department store every aisle is set up for a different brand name. So when I asked the woman standing in the aisle with sheets and pillows if the store had coffee pots, she was answering that her aisle and the name brand she represented (sheets and pillows) did not have any coffee pots. You can see my frustration as I walked away and found coffee pots three aisles over. This was one of the first of many lessons that asking the right questions is important. Fast forward 13 years and we still see stores grouping items by name brand but the items are also in the same area of the store. Today I can find coffee pots of many brands all in the same area. My western mind thinks of this as progress but I do wonder how many Chinese are confused at why things have changed. I believe identity (brand names) in a market of items that are often the same is what separates quality from reproductions. In this country, a brand name usually equates with high standards and (sometimes) with items that will last. I thought of this story as I read a book this week about large companies, brands, and the influence they have on each of us.

Do you ever wish you could go back in time and buy stock in a company that becomes highly successful? Maybe we could even get to know the founder before they start their company and be on the ground level of a major corporation. Galloways 326 page rant against the four major companies he apparently wished he could have been apart of or has some investment in was a little hard for me to read. It was packed with some interesting stories and a few relevant points on how we need to be aware of corporations that are not only influencing our life habits but also are invading our homes, computers and thinking. None of this surprised me probably because we all live in countries that track our online search habits, have companies that put cameras within your TV to be able to broadcast video of what is happening in your home or that social media companies take and sell all the information that we willingly put on line. One good reads reviewer wrote that following, “Glad this book was a very short read, since it’s not worth much of anyone’s time…Galloway’s writing style is insufferable, and right off the bat in the introduction demonstrates himself to be an egomaniac misogynist who has a chip on his shoulder for everything wrong that has happened to him over the course of his career…”1. His use of profanity and the tone of the book just felt as though I was listening to a middle school complain about getting their feelings hurt. I loved this quote because it just made me laugh at the absurdity, “Drive a Porsche, even at fifty-five miles an hour, and you feel more attractive — and more likely to have a random sexual experience. Since men are wired to procreate aggressively, the caveman in us hungers for that Rolex, or Lamborghini — or Apple. And the caveman, thinking with his genitals, will sacrifice a lot for the chance to impress.” 2   I did feel this was more Galloway’s self confession than anything else.

As I was reading about Amazon and its strategy I kept thinking about a company here in China called Alibaba (maybe Galloway’s “fifth horseman”). Many have called it the amazon of China. Chief creative officer Chris Tung says, “It’s very different from the Amazon model, We don’t buy products from brands, we don’t buy and sell and take a margin….We service as a marketplace, a bridge between the seller and the buyer, through data-–$550 billion US worth of gross merchandise value a year. The largest commerce platform on Earth. It’s bigger than Walmart. Much bigger than Amazon.” Tung goes on to suggest that if we want to make analogies, he thinks of Alibaba as a combination of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, in one.3

Forbes Magazine says “Simply put, Alibaba’s business model is more profitable than that of Amazon, due to a key difference in the ways the two companies approach and monetize e-commerce. Amazon’s approach in the United States was essentially to move the “Walmart economy” online..Alibaba’s approach, by contrast, is to bring collective entrepreneurship online, a network business model that turns the vendors who list their products with its Taobao site to entrepreneurs… similar to eBay’s model”4

The world of business and the size and scope of corporations are beyond my way of thinking. I was reading this week that the owner of Alibaba was being criticized by the west at being a Communist party member. The article was trying to rally people against but also admitted the China watchers were not concerned. I smiled reading this knowing every major business owner in China is a party member. This is a matter of pride and honor for the country. The successful are raised up and promoted as the example for the whole country. Jack Ma, (cofounder of Alibaba and wealthiest man in China) is seen by his countryman as the prime example of what the great communist Chinese economy can produce. With our eyes open to the influence these companies can and do have upon our lives we can participate in the services they provide knowing that our spending habits and search history of also glorifying to the one that will endure them all.

 

1 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34427200-the-four. Accessed November 30, 2018

2 Galloway, Scott. The Four. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. p. 68

3http://www.sohu.com/a/153749482_653517. Accessed November 28, 2018

4 https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2018/05/06/why-alibaba-is-more-profitable-than-

amazon/#682d60fa1678 accessed November 28, 2018

 

About the Author

Greg

Greg has a wife and 3 children. He has lived and work in Asia for over 12 years. He is currently the Asia Director of Imanna Laboratories, which tests and inspects marine products seeking US Coast Guard certification. His company Is also involved in teaching and leadership development.

10 responses to “Benighted view of corporate influence”

  1. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Greg,
    Thanks for piquing my interest in Alibaba. I perused the site and holy cow does that get confusing. I would imagine it acts a lot like the stores you described in your post. BTW I was thinking the same thing about Galloway’s use of language, it was in his TED talk as well. I have always thought that people who resort to that kind of speech to be unable to formulate a better way to voice their frustration. It does seem juvenile.

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious that I missed, his self loathing for not getting what he wanted. Totally missed on first pass but going back to read it, it was right in front of me.

    Thanks
    Jason

    • Greg says:

      Jason. I know all of our blogs reflect what is going on in our lives. I hope doesn’t mean I have had an angry week dealing with middle school like folks….:-) . I just kept thinking of my high school teacher that used to say that excessive use of profanity is a sign of a lack of creativity. I do understand the concerns he is bringing up and the potential threat that this brings for our world. I wish it had been conveyed in a different way.

  2. mm M Webb says:

    Greg,
    Thanks for taking the author on. When I saw those areas, I just passed them by and did not read about his ego-narcissistic stories. What got my attention was how far the devil’s evil schemes to control the soul farms has progressed. While it may be big business for the 4 horsemen, it is a soul business for the #1 fallen angel with eternal implications.
    Thanks for sharing about Alibaba and their eBay style model with entrepreneurs. Very interesting.
    For me, I think we are living in exciting times as LGP leaders. Continue to grow and duplicate where you are planted.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • Greg says:

      Hey Mike. I probably should have ignored his creative expressions as well. It is amazing how the devil uses our own greed and pride to accomplish his destructive goals.

  3. Clearly Galloway is starting from a different world view than I am. That being, said, I don’t really care how much money the Four have, or even how much power that have in GENERAL. What I care about is how much power I am allowing them to have in my own life. Its clear that Galloway is angry and a bit bitter. I wonder, though, how I would do for a week or a month without the Four. I fast from my phone from time to time. I will again over the holidays. And when I do that, I discover where I have been giving too much mf myself to those distractions or pursuits instead of more important pursuits, namely relationships and people. I agree Galloway was on a rant. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel convicted.

  4. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Greg,

    Thanks for your insight into the company ‘Alibaba’. I think their business model is a better one for sharing wealth than that of Amazon. The fact that their founder is a member of the party only makes sense in that context and the perspective of communism/socialism probably influenced the structure that is evident in the company. I think we have much to learn from China if we are willing to get over our biases and genuinely seek to understand.

  5. Shawn Hart says:

    Greg, I have actually tried shopping Alibaba before, but they are much more of a “bulk” seller. Their prices are great if you are a business though, so it is easy to see how they could be a contender for the #5.

  6. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Greg, as always your blog is fascinating. I had to chuckle when you were sharing your shopping story…isn’t it fascinating how everyone interprets “organization” differently? I think this is a profound culture difference I noticed with both of our exchange students.

  7. Dave Watermulder says:

    Thanks, Greg–
    Great post as always. I thought one of the good insights from your shopping story was: “I believe identity (brand names) in a market of items that are often the same is what separates quality from reproductions.” It definitely sees like “The Four” have that whole thing going for them, which is a virtuous cycle for them, the more they are well known or respected for quality or success, the more success and quality they produce. Enjoyed your take on Alibaba, Jack Ma, etc. Nice.

  8. mm Trisha Welstad says:

    Greg, thanks for the insight on Alibaba. I was wondering about them as I was reading and thought of you. Also, the organization by brand makes more sense to some of my confusion in Hong Kong. There were a couple times when I was confused by store organization…not sure if I was encountering the same thing exactly but I was lost for sure.

    For all of Galloway’s rant, do you find the four to dominate much of China as well? How does Amazon fare there?

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