Andrea Martins, our sales representative in Brazil, lived in China for 25 years. She makes Mike and I look like amateurs when it comes to the crazy China stories.
She has my favorite term for dealing with China – “Sweet & Sour”, like the famous pork dish. During our regular calls, she will say such-and-such a potential client has had a “sour” China experience and wants our help to get to “sweet”. More food-borne analogies, I know, but this time it’s not my doing! And she sounds wonderful saying it in a Brazilian accent, so there.
Recently, a potential client decided to visit us in China without letting us know in advance. They dropped in to see us towards the end of their trip, thoroughly dispirited with their journey thus far – didn’t like the food, bad hotels, creepy new Chinese “friends” approaching them on the street, etc. They were desperate for someone to treat them right and handle their requirements in China with professionalism.
I have no idea why people assume that China is going to be easy. What, did you think you could learn Chinese on the plane ride over? There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of words printed daily on the challenges China poses, and yet we regularly see otherwise savvy clients naively blundering about as though nothing bad is going to happen. After the inevitable does happen, we are happy to help get things moving again, but it is so much simpler to do it right the first time.
And now, because Sweet & Sour Pork is one of the very few dishes that appears on “Chinese” restaurant menus in America in something close to its original form, here’s a link to a pretty good recipe. Enjoy!