The World of Chinese - - Editor's Letter - BY LIU JUE (刘珏)

If you’re in the job mar­ket to­day, you might have no­ticed that ev­ery em­ployer is look­ing for lead­er­ship skills. You also might find that your po­ten­tial su­pe­ri­ors in­sist on com­par­ing the board­room to a bat­tle­field, but quot­ing Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in busi­ness school is so passé. To stand out and bring real rev­o­lu­tion­ary zeal to your work­place, it’s not a bad idea to turn to China’s other mas­ter mil­i­tary tac­ti­cian and the­o­reti­cian, Chair­man Mao.

With your pen at at­ten­tion and your rolodex cocked and loaded, start by ad­dress­ing the troops with your wise, thought­ful pearls of wis­dom, such as:

Never go un­pre­pared into a bat­tle. B& d2 w% zh^nb-i zh~ zh3ng. 不打无准备之仗。

As mil­i­tary ad­vice, that’s pretty stan­dard. This rule was out­lined as one of the 10 mil­i­tary prin­ci­ples in a re­port en­ti­tled “The Cur­rent Sit­u­a­tion and Our Tasks” that Mao made in 1947 at a Party meet­ing amid the war against the Na­tion­al­ists. That year was the war’s turn­ing point for the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, and they went on the of­fen­sive. Sun Tzu also said some­thing sim­i­lar: “preparation is the foun­da­tion of vic­tory.”

How­ever, preparation isn’t ev­ery­thing. Any­one who makes a plan based on pure as­sump­tions or sim­ple ex­pe­ri­ence is bound to fail. Mao em­pha­sized this les­son to Com­mu­nist Party cadres in the 1930s af­ter con­duct­ing ex­ten­sive re­search on the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in a Jiangxi vil­lage.

To have not done re­search is to have no right to speak. M9iy6u di3och1 ji& m9iy6u f`y1n­qu1n. 没有调查,就没有发言权。

One thing ev­ery leader needs is con­fi­dence, and as a leader in the work­place, you’ll need that in spades, what with the hate­ful bosses, schem­ing col­leagues, and cor­po­rate takeover cul­ture. As­sure your staff of your wis­dom with:

Tac­ti­cally, take your ri­val se­ri­ously; strate­gi­cally, take them lightly. Zh3nsh& shang zh7ngsh# du#sh6u, zh3nl+- shang mi2osh# du#sh6u. 战术上重视对手,战略上藐视对手。

Seem­ingly con­tra­dic­tory, it means that you have go into the con­flict with ev­ery con­fi­dence that you’ll beat your ri­val, but you are still very cau­tious when it comes to the spe­cific mea­sures, care­ful to ap­proach one prob­lem at a time to make sure that step en­sures vic­tory. This sen­ti­ment ap­pears fre­quently in Mao’s mil­i­tary writ­ings, ex­press­ing some­thing found in one of his more fa­mous metaphors: the pa­per tiger (纸老虎 zh@l2oh^). Mao used this con­cept to ex­plain im­pe­ri­al­ists’ and re­ac­tionar­ies’ lack of real power, and you could say the same of ri­val com­pa­nies to boost con­fi­dence.

All op­po­nents in a com­pe­ti­tion are pa­per tigers. Y!qi- j#ngzh8ng du#sh6u d4u sh# zh@l2oh^. 一切竞争对手都是纸老虎。

But what is con­fi­dence if you can’t in­spire? No team of work­ers ever starts out at the top. There is no end of or­di­nary plat­i­tudes you could choose from, but for a truly rev­o­lu­tion-ready phrase to rally your work­force, the Chair­man has got you cov­ered:

A sin­gle spark can start a prairie fire. X~ngx~ng zh~ hu6, k0y@ li1oyu1n. 星星之火,可以燎原。

No rev­o­lu­tion comes with­out ob­sta­cles, and you need to make sure that your team doesn’t lose hope. Mao’s in­spi­ra­tional words about the fate of China back in 1945 may come in handy.

The prospects are bright; the road twists and turns. Qi1nt% sh# gu`ngm!ng de, d3ol& sh# q$zh9 de. 前途是光明的,道路是曲折的。

Of course, you can also play the “col­lec­tive power” card to mo­ti­vate your team from time to time; men­tion­ing a com­mon goal is a pretty good move, re­mind­ing them why they are with you. So, try this fol­low­ing heart-stir­ring procla­ma­tion found in Mao’s 1944 es­say, “To Serve the Peo­ple.”

From the five lakes and four seas, we've come to join forces for a com­mon goal. W6­men d4u sh# l1iz# w^h% s#h2i, w-ile y! g- g7ngt5ng de m&bi`o, z6u d3o y#q@ l1i le. 我们都是来自五湖四海,为了一个共同的目标,走到一起来了。

But to re­ally in­spire your team, you may have to set an ex­am­ple your­self. As the Chair­man also said, “The


power of the model is in­fi­nite.” (榜样的力量是无穷的。B2ngy3ng de l#li3ng sh# w%qi5ng de.)

When it comes to spe­cific busi­ness strate­gies, Mao still had a great deal to of­fer, such as his still-rel­e­vant in­sights into the so­cio-eco­nomic struc­ture of China. For in­stance, if your goal is to make your brand a house­hold name across the na­tion, fol­low the rev­o­lu­tion­ary steps of the Chair­man and his strat­egy of “base ar­eas,” or 根据地 ( g8nj&d#).

We first want to es­tab­lish base ar­eas in small-to-medium cities. W6­men sh6uxi`n y3o z3i zh4ngx­i2o ch9ngsh# ji3nl# p@np1i de g8nj&d#. 我们首先要在中小城市建立品牌的根据地。

For the next step, we have to look at Mao’s gen­eral pol­icy of rev­o­lu­tion: from the coun­try­side to the city, or “en­cir­cling the city from the ru­ral ar­eas” (农村包围城市 n5ngc$n b`ow9i ch9ngsh#). To­day, you can ap­ply this to many dif­fer­ent busi­ness mod­els, in­clud­ing e-com­merce.

“En­cir­cling the city from the ru­ral ar­eas” is our mar­ket­ing strat­egy. “N5ngc$n b`ow9i ch9ngsh# ” sh# w6­men de sh#ch2ng zh3nl+-. “农村包围城市”是我们的市场战略。

Of course, busi­ness is of­ten ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive, so you have to be pa­tient. Be pre­pared for a pro­tracted war, or 持久战 ( ch!ji^zh3n), as the Chair­man did in 1938 re­gard­ing the Anti-ja­panese War.

The com­pe­ti­tion is try­ing to fight a pro­tracted war with us. J#ngzh8ng du#sh6u d2­su3n g8n w6­men d2 ch!ji^zh3n. 竞争对手打算跟我们打持久战。

In a time of war, the Chair­man may or­der the army to have “obe­di­ence to or­ders in all ac­tions.” But an au­thor­i­tar­ian lead­er­ship style might ul­ti­mately hurt pro­duc­tiv­ity and cre­ativ­ity in other sit­u­a­tions. Learn to del­e­gate, like the Chair­man.

I can rest easy with you at the helm. N@ b3nsh#, w6 f3ngx~n. 你办事,我放心。

Those were sup­pos­edly the words Mao spoke to his hand-picked suc­ces­sor, Hua Guofeng, be­fore his death. If all goes well, you and your team will suc­ceed in your busi­ness en­deav­ors, but ever the vig­i­lant gen­eral, you have to re­mind your team of the larger goals, much like Mao did af­ter the Party had won the civil war in 1949.

Fin­ish­ing this project is only the first step in the long march. W1nch9ng le zh-ge xi3ngm& zh@sh# w3nl@ ch1ngzh8ng de d# y~ b&. 完成这个项目只是万里长征的第一步。

But there’s no harm in a lit­tle op­ti­mism when things go well. Be sure to bol­ster morale:.

Our en­ter­prise will march from vic­tory to vic­tory! W6­men de sh#y- ji`ng c5ng sh-ngl# z6u xi3ng sh-ngl#! 我们的事业将从胜利走向胜利!

If by any chance your project fails on ac­count of un­con­trol­lable fac­tors, it’s OK to let go. Like Mao, you can ex­press your dis­ap­point­ment with folk slang.

If the Heav­ens want to make it rain, if a mother wants to re­marry—let it be! Ti`n y3o xi3y^, ni1ng y3o ji3r9n, su! t` q& ba! 天要下雨,娘要嫁人,随他去吧!

Of course, the ac­tual work­place re­quires tact and not ev­ery­thing the Chair­man did is a good idea in the of­fice. Let’s say it was 70 per­cent right and 30 per­cent wrong.


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