The Halfpat Life: Jim

Friday, March 30, 2007 1:03
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One of Shanghai’s many entrepreneurs Jim came to China to start a company, and has during his time also recently completed his MBA at the Shanghai Based China Eurporean Internatinoal Business School program.

The company he helped cofound, Talk da Talk, was the vision of him and his friends from his Taiwan days.

It was because of the work opportunities that I came out here and because I was also out here before from my Taiwan days. Decided after 2 years in US that Asia was where I wanted to be

To help folks get ready he recommends Italki.com, Practical Chinese Reader, ChinesePod.

Language Background:
On a scale from 1 to 10, what level is your Mandarin? 9
How often do you use Mandarin in general? Hourly
How often do you use Chinese language skills at work? 75% +

He studied the lanugage prior to his arrival, but wished he had studied more.

Living in Shanghai:

Top 5 things about living in Shanghai
1) Opportunities (if you work)
2) Cost of living
3) Convenience
4) Travel (SE Asia a hop,skip away)
5) Ayi

Bottom 5 things about living in Shanghai
1) Pollution
2) Distance from family and friends
3) Stress & Anxiety
4) Crowds and Congestion
5) Unsanitary conditions in public places

Living in an apartment, Jim is paying for his own Ayi.

The average day in China is:

Wake up, drink my fresh squeezed juice and prepared breakfast that Ayi made night before, go to work. At work do everything from Biz dev, tech, shareholders meeting, activities. In afternoon, work out for an hour at gym across street. Get call from friend who wants to do dinner so meet up with him and meet 2-3 new people. Head home, watch 24 (season 4) episode with girlfriend, do some more work on computer. Hit the sack.

Career path:

Through his experiences with Talk da Talk, Jim is not concerned about the future prospects should he return home

Did you have a business plan on the shelves?

We had a general idea (sell English through Media, Internet, School) but the business plan kept evolving. We wrote an initial business plan which is nothing like what we have now though

Have you ever carried 2 cards? yes.

In his current role, and through her time here, he is picking up skills in management, technology, cross-cultural communications, and how to start-up a company

Hindsight being 20/20 … Jim says he do it again but more efficiently and without making all the startup mistakes knowing what I do now.

His advice for those looking to follow his footsteps ”

Raise enough money the first time around. Find good local partners who are incentivized as you are. Prepare for bumps on the road but never waver.

What keeps him in China?

I started my own company so am here for the long haul to make it #1 in the marketspace.

Anything else to add?

For many Half-Pats that stick around and become old China hands, I think one “requirement” is that they have to go back to their mother country.

If you first come to China for 1-2 years – you ultimately always have to go back home. Once home, you can reassess how you feel about living in China and it is really only then when you decide – yes, I want to go back and make a life and career out of China or stay home in your mother country.

For those that come back to China, they tend to be the ones who stick it out and make a life out of living in China

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