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News About Us

by Joe

Come visit Word4Asia in our new offices in the greater Phoenix area (Scottsdale, AZ)!

We've Moved - Come Out and See Us!

Word 4 Asia has just opened a new office in Phoenix, Arizona, and we’re happy to tell you about it! Now in our third decade as a business, we’ve chosen Phoenix because the city’s vibrant business community is the best fit to our company culture and business values.

 

We’d like to take a few minutes to discuss why we’ve chosen Phoenix, out of all the places we could have chosen, to open our new office.

Phoenix has become an important business market in the West.

First, compared with other major cities in the West, this rugged, western city has always been business minded. For example, Entrepreneur magazine ranked Arizona 8th in “10 Best States for Starting a Business” in an April 2013. Phoenix is becoming a nexus for several growing industries, including Autonomous Vehicles, Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Healthcare & Biomedical, Semiconductors, Software, Wearables. With leaders in growing industries choosing Phoenix as their home, it’s no wonder that this city is among the nation’s fastest-growing markets. An example of being business friendly, local companies benefit from refundable tax credits, reimbursable grants, and property tax reductions. In addition, the government here in Phoenix is small, pro-business and has the conservative values that match our own philosophy.

Big enough to support more businesses: Although the city is known for its desert climate, and heat, don’t mistake it for a sleepy desert town. In fact, it ranks #5 in terms of largest U.S. cities by population, it’s the only U.S. state capital with more than one million people living in it. The overall Phoenix metro, also including Scottsdale and Chandler, has nearly five million people living in its boundaries.

The Phoenix metro market (including Scottsdale and Chandler) is now home to over 5 million people!

Workforce: Successful companies need to recruit sharp, skilled employees and the University of Arizona is ranked #3 in the Western region for the number of successful graduates it produces every year. It’s the largest public university system in the nation.

 

Travel Access: We chose a city that would make it easy to travel and visit our colleagues and clients. Greater Phoenix is close to many major markets. By road, we’re within six hours of San Diego and Los Angeles, five hours of Las Vegas and under four hours to Mexico. Another critical issue was the ease of international travel. Phoenix has a great international airport, important as we await our first opportunity to return to China!

Sightseeing Opportunities: If you’re coming on business, whether it’s to see us, attend a conference, or work with other colleagues, you’ll have no shortage of interesting things to see once you get here. We’re best known for our spectacular desert vistas. Be sure to leave time in your schedule to visit one or more of these exciting tourist destinations:

  • Camelback Mountain
  • Arizona State Fair
  • Heritage Square Phoenix
  • Chinese Cultural Center
  • Canaan in the Desert
  • Gila River War Relocation Center
  • Hunt’s Tomb
  • Steele Indian School Park
  • Tovrea Castle

If pro sports are more  your ‘thing’, then Phoenix has plenty of options, depending on the season. We’ve got NHL, NBA, and MLB sports teams here (Coyotes, Diamondbacks, Suns respectively) and we’re known for our world class golf courses as well.

We hope you’ll come and visit us whenever you’re in town.  You’ll find us here, at our new address:

7702 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd., Suite 300 • Scottsdale, AZ 85258 

Aging

by Joe

Working after 70…only 4%!

This blog is the second part in a continuing series. If this peaks your curiousity, we suggest reading part one, which you can find here on this LinkedIn page, too.

Facts:

  • Life expectancy continues to increase. Starting at age 25, and assuming that one’s health continues more or less problem-free, and further assuming that one wishes to continue working, impactful work could continue until age 78.  Compared to the usual retirement age, the percentage of added “working years” is significant.
  • Medical care and health products are affordable and readily available for general aches and pains. Maladies which were a short time ago were a death sentence are now curable and easily corrected. Think “lasik” surgery.
  • Fewer jobs/careers involve challenging physical labor, compared with the world our parents lived in.
  • Post-pandemic job opportunities are everywhere and second career opportunities are abundant in this “work from home/anywhere” world.

Advantages /reasons for working longer:

  • You can easily postpone collecting Social Security until age 70. This means an increase of 30% income for the remainder of your/your spouses’ lifetime.
  • By working longer, one gains both physical and mental health benefits. There are many articles on this. Use Google!
  • Continue socialization continues to develop us mentally and spiritually. We don’t realize how much of our social interaction comes from work until we are removed from it.
  • Self-worth. Hopefully, you’ve made your living doing something you believe “makes a significant difference” to society, and possibly even to eternity. Some folks refer to this as self-actualization.
  • More money. Depending on your situation, this could mean caring for basic needs; however for most of my readers, these funds will be used for travel, entertaining, passing along to those you love (sharing) and even philanthropic generosity. If you’re fortunate enough to own a business, the income it generates can provide spectacular income for the people you care about and, If you’re reading this, I suspect you’ll find the last option to be the most attractive one. The happiness and joy that your generosity creates for the causes you believe in could be the most motivating reason to continue working. For me, nothing adds purpose and meaning like philanthropy does. I find difficult to replicate in other ways.

Working keeps our world larger, longer.

  • Work can be an adrenaline rush- it’s fun! If you’re like me, work gives you a reason to wake up in the morning.
  • If you’ve chosen wisely, you sincerely enjoy, like, and possibly even love the people you work with. Staying engaged in work means you get to stay connected with people in your industry/work space/career. In the best cases, our professional relationships inevitably lead to authentic friendships, stimulating conversations and life-long relationships. These special people will likely be the among the few who attend our funerals and who continue to demonstrate care and love for our family once we’ve have passed.

So then, with all of these advantages, why have 96% of all people over age 70 stopped working?  

My research has revealed a few reasons.  For instance:

  • Illness or some incapacitating issue(s).
  • They were fired or corporate policy dictated an end to the position (such as partners in a few firms)
  • They took a break and found it difficult to re-enter their profession at a level equal to where they left off.
  • They are looking, but have set their salary goals so high that they cannot find anything. It’s possible that by over-valuing themselves, these people have left good money on the table.
  • Previously, they were in a small business that went bankrupt or shut down for any of a multitude of reasons.
  • They had a financial wind-fall (gift, estate, lottery, home equity loan, etc.) and now that the financial need has diminished, they’re finding it challenging to get motivated again.
  • Alcohol or drug dependency.
  • For some people, work never was the motivating, invigorating experience I described above. Since they hated their job, they’d rather live on less than work again.
  • They’ve been burned out by the stresses or physical demands of the job.
  • Technology changes have made their skill sets obsolete and they’re no longer needed in the work place. Think about phone booth repairmen or computer card programmers for instance.
  • Automation has phased out market demand for their type of work and other types of work tey do know well have become too competitive to find a job.
  • Staying home to care for parents or children.
  • Some folks are just plain lazy and its easier and more lucrative to live off government handouts/”entitlements” and people’s charity than to work.
  • Retirement is something that these people have saved and planned for over their lifetimes. Now is the time they’ve waited for.  They don’t want to trade away these precious years to volunteer, travel, watch the sunrise and enjoy time with loved ones for a paycheck.  For them,  retirement is the life they’ve been waiting for, and they wish they’d done it sooner. These people remind us that no one has said on their death bed “I should have spent more hours in the office.” They also remind us “you’ll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul” (a not so subtle reminder that all our ‘stuff’ cannot help us when we die).
  • Some people have so many hobbies and other responsibilities that they simply do not have time to consider working again – nor do they have any desire to do so. The most common statement is “I don’t know how I found time to work.”

NOTE: My research reveals the first four bullet points in the above list probably account for upwards of 65% of those who quit work. Most under 50 will claim they have no plans to retire or that retirement will come at an age much older than 65 or 70.

 

This claim is likely driven by looking at their savings and the heavy projected cost of living a long time. Total your savings and figure you can extract 4% for the rest of your life. Add that to your social security and/ or other income streams. This is what we can count on having to last us until our final days.  After doing the math, the most common solution is “I hope I can work a long time.” 

This is not a good financial strategy neither is it the reason that I’m addressing the topic. I’m actually more interested in those of you who really do NOT need to work for financial reasons!

So, which category do you fall in?  Are you intrigued by the possibility of joining this 4% minority group of successful and happy +70 careerists? What intentional steps should you take before you hit that birthday?

It is rare enough it probably will not just happen. As an advocate and one who has chosen work with great intentionality, who feels blessed, content and looks forward to the decade ahead, I am an unabashed “evangelist” for the cause!

Frankly, I can say that, if you join the four-percenters, you do not necessarily need to give up much.  You just might enjoy a healthier, more fulfilling life than if you retire. Also, you do not need to have regrets on your death bed. Work is not a dirty four-letter word. Is work for everyone? Of course not. Could it be a pleasant reality for say six or seven percent of us?  I think so. Perhaps you are one of us. Where in thunder did we get the magic age of 65 anyway? The answer: the government handed it to us decades ago when the average citizen died around that age. No joke. Google it.

Now it’s your turn!

Are you approaching an age where retirement has at least occurred to you as a realizable option?  If so, are you thinking of taking that step, and if not, why not?  

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to think about this issue, and if something interesting occurs to you, how about sharing it with the rest of us?  Leave a comment on this page…. who knows, you might inspire someone else to also give the issue a closer look!  If you’d rather keep your thoughts a little more private, perhaps email me at gene@word4asia.com

All the best,

Gene

Chinese Culture

by Joe

Bring in the Year of the Tiger!

year of the tiger

Our friends in China, working on a different calendar than we do in the West, are all looking forward to the start of a new year.  Out with the old, ring in the new!  In every country, we gather with friends and loved ones to celebrate the passing of one year and to toast the start of another one.  If you’ve ever wondered how the Chinese celebrate New Year, this blog is for you!

China’s culture and history are ancient and the roots of their traditional celebrations are anchored in ancient myths and legends.  The most widely known Chinese story involved a beast and an old man. In Chinese, the beast’s name, Nian (pronounced nyen), sounds like the Chinese word for ‘year’.  It is a monstrous thing that sprang from the murk of the  last evening of the last lunar month (New Year’s eve), creating chaos and devouring cattle and people. Villagers began staying at home on that evening, hiding and vigilantly protecting their homes from Nian until one New Year’s eve, a spunky old man refused to run from the beast.  Instead, he prepared for the beast’s arrival by covering his home in red sheets of paper and hanging many red lanterns around it.  When the beast appeared, the old man laughingly emerged from his home, dressed head to toe in red, and lighting firecrackers at the beast’s feet to scare it away!  The beast, Nian, fled in terror and returned to the murk.  This began the Chinese New Year traditions of red colors and fireworks.

Today, many centuries later, the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival as it is sometimes called, is a 15-day festival. It can be generally divided into three periods, the days preceding the festival, the festival days and the days after the Spring Festival Day. There are different customs related to each period:

Preceding Days

House Keeping and Shopping

Just as Westerners ‘ring out the old’, the Chinese prepare for the new year by cleaning out all the dust from the house, the grounds and the walls.  In Chinese, the word ‘dust’ sounds like the word for ‘old’, so this is a very symbolic way of clearing out the old and making way for the new.

Ringing in the new is accomplished by shopping for new clothes and other new things to replace the old.

Spring Festival Couplets

Couplets are typically pasted on doorways as a part of the festival’s celebration. This is a custom that goes back about 1,100 years to the Song Dynasty.  Originally, they were written on peach wood, but are now printed on red paper and are posted outside the door of the home.  A few common rules for Chinese couplets:

  1. The number of characters used in each line must be identical.
  2. The part of speech must be the same. For example, if the first word in the first line is a noun, then so must be the first word of the second line. Noun for noun, verb for verb, adjective for adjective.
  3. The meaning should be relevant. If the first line is about good luck, so should the second line.
  4. The sounds must be coordinated.

An example:

Best wishes year after year; fly higher step by step

帆风顺年年好,万事如意步步高

Auspicious words or pictures are cut on red paper and pasted on windows to express good wishes for the future during the happy event.

Traditions

The character “Fu”, meaning good fortune or happiness, is used to express people’s good wishes and yearning for the future, so people usually paste it gates or some furniture in the house during the Chinese New Year. Pasting the “Fu” upside down, meaning the arrival of happiness or good fortune, is a widely accepted and popular custom among Chinese people. Other auspicious characters and patterns are added to express good wishes.

In the ancient time, this character and the couplets were written by hand, but now, people can buy printed ones in shopping malls or supermarkets. Some shops even present these printed works to customers who buy something in their shops.

Greeting Cards

The Cards are prepared before the festival. In the past, some people sent cards to their friends, parents, teachers and other relatives during the happy event especially when they were not going to be with them on Spring Festival’s Eve. Words of blessing are written on the cards similar to Christmas cards. Now, with the advance of technology, the form of cards has changed, the custom of sending cards continues.

Chinese Knots

Chinese knots are prepared to decorate houses during the festival. They were first used to string jade pendants on clothes and curtains as decorations.  Now these knots are used as gifts containing the blessing for other people or decorations.

JIE CAI CENG: Welcoming the Gods of Wealth and Prosperity

On the 5th day of New Year’s, it is believed that the gods of prosperity come down from the heavens. Businesses will often participate in setting off firecrackers as they believe it will bring them prosperity and good fortune for their business.

YUAN XIAO JIE: Festival of Lanterns

The 15th day of the New Year, The Festival of Lanterns, marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. All types of red lanterns are lit throughout the streets and poems and riddles are written for entertainment.   Some of these wheeled lanterns are created in the shape of the new year’s animal (eg Year of the Pig).  2016 is the Year of the Monkey.  Each animal represents a particular location in the Chinese zodiac.  The year of one’s birth sign is believed to be the most unlucky in the 12-year cycle. For instance, “Monkeys” (who take Chinese astrology seriously) are particularly careful about their health, love lives, career, and investments in Monkey years.

TRADITIONAL FOODS

The Chinese New Year’s Eve meal is the most important dinner of the year. Typically, families gather at a designated relative’s house for dinner, but these days, many families often celebrate New Year’s Eve dinner at a restaurant.   Traditional foods served on New Year’s Eve include:

  • Eight Treasures Rice (contains glutinous rice, walnuts, different colored dry fruit, raisins, sweet red bean paste, jujube dates, and almonds).
  • “Tang Yuan” – black sesame rice ball soup; or a Won Ton soup.
  • Chicken, duck, fish and pork dishes.
  • “Song Gao”, literally translates to “loose cake”- which is made of rice which has been coursely ground and then formed into a small, sweet round cake.
  • “Jiu Niang Tang” – sweet wine-rice soup which contains small glutinous rice balls

 

A word to our Chinese friends here in the U.S.A., Word4Asia wishes you an especially cheerful new year holiday, and a productive,  successful, and happy “year of the Tiger”! 

Beijing Targets Change in the 996 Work Week

by Joe

Chinese Labor Practices Part 2

Did you miss the first part of our blog about changes to the Chinese 996 work week?  

Read part one before you read the conclusion. 

Even with the PRC putting more pressure on Chinese businesses to comply with the official 44-hour work week, there are many employees in China who believe that businesses will continue to find ways around the labor laws.   In a recent Tech Crunch article, one Chinese worker was quoted saying, “ByteDance (a Chinese MNC in the internet tech space, parent company of TikTok, with a presence in over 150 markets, 60,000 employees and 15 R&D centers worldwide) is cutting back official hours and pay, but if nothing else changes, it doesn’t really matter.  People still want to keep their jobs and get promoted, so of course they will work as much as they can … or move to a company that will pay them more to do it.”

While there are still some serious misgivings about whether change and relief really are on the way, senior managers in many Chinese companies are paying close attention to the recent government mandates.  Corporate audits are on the way, and it’s expected that the result will be more employees hired into companies who have been operating a 996 schedule, and a reduction in the number of hours each employee is required to work.  Whether corporate titans like Jack Ma agree or not, Beijing is now signaling that it will no longer cast a blind eye in favor of business over labor. 

China High Resolution Demographic Concept

 

In part, Beijing is responding to the results of the most recent ten-year census.  China’s demographics are changing.  The population growth rate has dipped to its lowest point in many decades, and its society is aging.  To remain competitive in the world market, China’s younger workers must remain engaged.  Growing worker discontent is a potential landmine that could derail China economically, and the stability of the Chinese government relies on domestic peace.  Despite China’s status as a communist nation, Karl Marx and Vladimir are never referenced or discussed – keeping the workers happy is the best alternative to any consideration of things such as collectivization, and history has recorded what happened in Russia when the workers had decided they’d ‘had enough’ of feudalism.

To be fair, demanding work schedules are common practice in the United State, too.  Among salaried managers, it’s not uncommon to work anywhere between a 45 – 60 hour week, despite that fact that our own labor laws set maximum week at 40 hours.  Like the Chinese, this is a  generally understood truth, and not something one would find in any employee handbook.  Managers have similar reasons for making sacrifices as the Chinese do, and our work week has developed in a similar creeping way, and like the Chinese, American workers make the sacrifices because we know that if we don’t others will, and we do it because we now have a global marketplace, and our companies face tough competition.  Also like the Chinese, our younger workers are questioning the fairness of these requirements, and also like the Chinese, our younger workers are beginning to vote (at least about employment options) with their feet.

At the end of the day, it is a question of values, and ethics, and the kind of lives people want to live. 

A word from you sponsor: While my above article is intended to be accurate, factual, and fair I do feel it is important to close with a personal editorial comment. Call me “old school” if you choose but I take my hat off to anyone who is willing to WORK HARD.  One of the differences I observed in my early visits to the country side of China in contrast with MOST of the other countries in Asia was that people WORK. 

As we drive on gravel and dirt road you don’t find people sitting or lounging. They WORK. I have seen many people busy sweeping dirt. Not sure why but they are WORKING. 

I think this embedded work ethic is something to commend in the DNA of Chinese culture. Are there exceptions. Of course but the exceptions only prove the rule.So, please do not misconstrue anything said in this article as critical. Finding appropriate work expectations is an age-old challenge for every country

Word4Asia has been helping our US-based clients achieve their goals in China for over twenty years.  We’re able to do this because we have a keen understanding of the ever-changing social and legal landscape of our host nation, and because we only accept opportunities where we are convinced we can add value.  We are always interested to speak with new clients, as well as old acquaintances and friends who may be considering new opportunities and tactics in China.  We hope you’ll reach out to Dr. Gene Wood (gene@word4asia.com) for a friendly word of advice and opening conversation. 

 

 

Sources:
The future of China’s work culture

China steps in to regulate brutal ‘996’ work culture

What is China’s 996 work culture that is polarising its Silicon Valleys?

‘996’ Is China’s Version of Hustle Culture. Tech Workers Are Sick of It.

 

 

We’ve Moved!

Word 4 Asia has just opened a new office in Phoenix, Arizona, and we’re happy to tell you about it! Now in our third decade as a business….

 

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Working After 70… Only 4%!

Facts: Life expectancy continues to increase. Starting at age 25, and assuming that one’s health continues more or less problem-free…

 

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Bring in the Year of the Tiger!

Our friends in China, working on a different calendar than we do in the West, are all looking forward to the start of a new….

 

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