China, Like Family Businesses – Patient, Adaptive and Misunderstood

us-chinaThe tale has been told many times by advocates of family businesses; they are patient, forever optimistic, quick to adapt, and yet they are so often misunderstood. The best of family businesses are equally historic while mindful of an ever changing world. The worst of family businesses help to cloud the public perception that they are also insular, painfully slow to change and often lost in their own legacy.

China recently, and perhaps reluctantly, is now the world’s largest economy. And in many ways, on a national level, share many characteristics of a family business.  The patience of centuries, a national story that weaves its enduring legacy through its ancestors, a strong identity that provides for a nimble and adaptable culture, and still so often misunderstood. Janet Carmonsky, Senior Director at Burson-Marsteller, explains it this way in the book China’s Super Consumers, “China has enormously deep cultural roots, like the tap roots of trees that can survive in the most arid of climates. These roots both define the nation’s essential identity, as it has evolved over millennia, and allow for a very quick adaptation.”

What are the implications for next gen leaders of US family businesses looking to rush in to capitalize on this emerging yet mature market? Savio Chan, CEO of US China Partners, cautions those who seek to expand their global footprint here. “Your China Strategy has a six-month shelf life; after that, it stinks. For those who dare enter, have a history mind set and use culture as your guide. Non-stop innovation and change are a must.”

To help those business leaders develop their China Strategy, Savio has been instrumental in founding iLEAD, an international leadership and business action network for future leaders from legacy families and first generation wealth creators from the US and China. Working with Cornell University’s Johnson School of Business, China’s Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, Next Opportunity Group, and Chan’s U.S. – China Partners, iLEAD (Intergenerational Leadership Entrepreneurship Accelerated Development) iLEAD is the only comprehensive cross-cultural, experiential, immersive program for the next generation of global business leaders.

iLEAD is open to legacy family businesses that desire to expand their reach, and assess, encounter and master global opportunities. iLEAD launches on on June 7 in Philadelphia. The program will also take participants to New York City and Beijing. All participants completing both modules in good standing will receive a Professional Masters Certificate from Cornell University and CKGSB. Space is limited, so please  inquire with Dann Van Der Vliet, at or call (617) 255-4881 to learn more.

Photos from the “East Meets West” reception on January 28 in New York City. 

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