Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of New York. 15 hours ahead of L.A. and San Francisco. By the time we start our day back in the states it’s evening in Asia (and a bit later than that in Australia). They say the sun rises first in Asia. Many things happen first in Asia. The rampant usage of mobile was one of those things. People all over Asia can use their mobile phone while on the subways. Something that is sadly lacking in New York and I’d imagine in many other American cities.
Business is also done differently in Asia. I sat in the JW Marriott yesterday afternoon having tea looking out over the Kowloon Peninsula and Victoria Bay. It was about 5PM and there were several business meetings going on all around me and they were conducted in a number of different languages. There was French, German, Russian, of course Cantonese as well as a bunch of Brits and Aussies. I overheard snippets of several conversations and all of them seemed to be about making deals, investing in different projects and properties. Because HK is full of people from all over the globe, business meetings take place in many public locations – hotels, coffee shops (Starbucks and Pacific Coffee Company are particularly popular meeting locales). This happens to some degree in the United States but Americans are still more married to their offices and desktops.
But creative innovation is Asia is behind the curve. Traditions die hard here too and Asian history is so much longer than that of the United States that the ability to break with traditions can be very challenging to say the least. Attitudes also are difficult to change. Although people from many different cultures interact on a daily basis, there are outwardly visible prejudices and judgments made not only by the Cantonese but many of the people in Asia. The U.S. has prejudices that remain as well but in contrast to Asia they are not as deep rooted simply because the U.S. has not been around nearly as long.
The U.S. continues to have an advantage in bringing new ideas to market and overall how to manage business development. Hong Kong is an old city with lots of old money. Shanghai and Beijing represent the future in China. Do you wonder what will happen to Hong Kong in 37 years? I do.