How much to spend on marketing?

This is the sort of trick question that typically raises the dogma of “3 to 6 percent of revenue”. But all that does is make you approach your marketing backward, by starting your strategy with the budget. A strategy is a response to a challenge, so why start with the budget? Instead, plot a business […]

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The many cities above line 5

Lao Zhou sits on the courtesy seat of the subway with a bag of spinach and pork between his feet. For the past six decades, his life was lived around the creek and the buildings next to it. Sepia-tinted memories of a thousand bicycle rides alongside the water, girls, and French Phoenix trees — the […]

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The big wait

Imagine being the doctor of a professional football team. You studied at a medical school for years, and now you sit on the bench — match after match — while nothing happens. Of course, because professional football players rank among the world’s fittest people. You watch every game from the sidelines, but you’re bored out […]

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Ayis show the way

I keep reading about how our behavior and deeply rooted beliefs will be permanently changed by covid19. It’s worth pointing out that Shanghai is totally back to normal, except for some measures (schools closed, wearing facemasks, temperature checks). Kids & parents playing outside, people spending the money they saved in Feb/March on clothes and bubble […]

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How to seduce chicks with art

Cats miaow, dogs bark, and frogs croak. Other animals riffle their feathers (peacocks), glow (fireflies), or release scents (skunks). Or they write poetry and buy flowers and paint (humans). All to create responses from others, in order to survive or make life more pleasant. Well. Herring gulls are mostly auditory (cawing) and physical: they have […]

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9 things I learned about Mandarin and about myself

(Originally written for GoEast Mandarin.) I’m nearly finished with HSK3, starting from zero Mandarin skills just over a year ago. Here are 9 things I learned about language and myself. 1 — Learn to enjoy learning Don’t aim to learn faster and faster. Learn to enjoy learning, then everything else will follow. 2 — Keep […]

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You cannot buy customers (Why marketers should avoid discounting)

I can count on one hand the times I’ve cooked the last year, living in Shanghai. Thanks to coupons on food delivery APP’s, not only is it often cheaper to have food delivered than to eat it at a restaurant, it’s difficult to make dishes yourself in your own kitchen and compete on price with […]

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You own the right to your own feelings

Arne was the 17-year-old who we all looked up to, always seen in our street wearing white sport clothes, black shades, and headphones attached to his MP3 player. You know, the ones that go behind your head, instead of two loose cables. Arne was taller, faster, stronger — cooler than us. We were still mere […]

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Opposites

Virtue signaling is just as offensive as what it calls out, empathy is often narcissism in disguise, and nostalgia isn’t different than fear of future. Freedom means you can be hateful as well as happy, and positive thinking can be just as dangerous as negative thinking. Humility is no different than arrogance, for the man […]

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Challenges & solutions for having to abruptly teach online

Nearly two weeks ago, 1.4 million students in Shanghai started online classes, including the 30 that I teach branding at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts. We had three weeks in February to prepare, which was plenty, but my real learning (as a teacher) started when the classes did. Maybe this can help other teachers […]

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