On my second trip to Beijing this year, I come away again with admiration and awe at brand China. In fact, in a speech I gave at a conference, I commented on the rise of brand China and the ascendency of brand Obama. The two are intertwined in my mind and both passed extraordinary milestones with flying colors (the Olympics and the presidential election, respectively). Both changed perceptions and enhanced reputations of multitudes of people. And each is still at the beginning of their superpower status. As a reputation watcher, I can envision the many steps and stumbles ahead as their reputations build, deepen and get damaged over the years. Reputation damage is inevitable as leaders rise to power. However, failure is what leads to success.
One morning before a meeting I went to the Temple of Heaven, a large park where older people gather early in the day to meet and greet. All I could think of was the movie Cocoon where a group of elderly people were rejuvenated by aliens. There were hundreds of older people in small groups singing, dancing, exercising, playing cards, flying kites, fencing, singing, and on and on. What surprised me was how much fun everyone was having and could only wish that New Yorkers like myself would take the time to work at getting to this higher state of being. No one was in a rush to anywhere. No one cut me off because they had a more important place to go. No one looked each other up and down to judge their trappings. After seeing so many young people in Beijing on the streets, in meetings and in restaurants and shops, I had a deeper appreciation for brand China’s respect for elders. These elders were happy fellows and I look forward to visiting once again when I return to get a fix. It was a sight to behold.