How Does Ethnic Culture act as Obstacles to Entrepreneur, and thus, holding you back: why obey can be bad for you
Many cultures, esp. Eastern cultures, have problem producing rich people, due to the "cultural baggage" one carries.
Did your parents taught you this? Go to school, get good grades, don't make waves, get a good job (engineer or lawyer or banker), find a good wife, have a good life, obey your parents and elders, etc. etc.
This is a cultural baggage that may be preventing you from getting rich. They are negative memes that you must unlearn.
Culture, Relations, and Business
You may notice that there's nothing in the "traditional goals" about "being a boss". It's "go to work for someone else". Conform. There is nothing about "start a business", "be your own boss", and so on. It's always "maintain the status quo", "change is bad", and so on. That is a cultural baggage, and this is more of a problem in Eastern cultures than Western cultures.
Eastern Cultures have a long history, and thus, also have what I would call "cultural inertia". It takes a VERY long time for an Eastern culture to change course, unless there's some sort of a dramatic upheaval, such as famine, revolution, and so on. That, and Eastern Cultures are often VERY proud of themselves, and as a result, disdain change.
Westerners very often have problem doing business in China because they don't understand that Chinese considers it a faux pas (or, "bad manners") if one does not offer some sort of a gift at a first meeting esp. if you are the visitor. Modern Chinese are much less offended and gets by with a handshake, but old school Chinese expect some sort of a gift, such as a bottle of brandy/cognac (VSOP is preferred) or nice carton of foreign cigarettes (now out of style). The Chinese Communists now made it an ART of soliciting graft, but they call it "mutual understandings". And they are getting very creative about it... Buy vacations or downpayments or scholarships for their wife and children, not themselves, and you better take care of their staff as well.
This is NOT limited to business dealings. My grandma, when visiting someone else's house, would insist on buying SOMETHING as gift, even if it's just some fresh fruit (not even a basket, just some fruits in a bag) or some snacks. But then, she's old school.
Such thing is simply not done in the West. Business is business. Unless of course, you're talking "business lunch", or POLITICS and campaign contributions, but that's off-topic. Deals may be done over lunch, but that's pretty much the limit of the extra-business dealings. And conversely, they limit Asian dealings in the West, as none of the Asian traditions apply over there.
That's cultural baggage.
Respect and Filial Duty
Another cultural baggage: respect for your superiors / elders, and inability to speak up in opposition of something. In an Eastern Culture, we are taught to respect our elders and our superiors. In fact, in Chinese, there is no such word as "Mister". We actually use "xien-seng", which literally means "born before", or "elder". And elders are to be obeyed, even if the orders seem to be illogical.
This applies to one's superior at work as well. Add this to the Eastern cultural "conformity" (don't make waves, don't stand out), and you have inability to speak up in opposition of something. If the company is heading toward disaster, few if any people will have the courage to speak up. No one wants to be first, no one want to be the bearer of bad news or even RAISE the spector of disaster.
(For those who want to know, the English word "Mister" actually came from Magister, or Master, i.e. "superior")
And if you can't even speak up as an employee, how can you ever move to self-employed or business-owner?
Sure, some employees will get disgruntled, then leave to start their own small business or self-employment, but they will take most of their baggage with them. When client wants X, you simply say "sure", instead of asking "Are you sure? I think Y is better, and this is why..."
And if you can't tell the truth in public, you can't manage a team or be a true business owner.
Another problem with Eastern Culture is "face saving", esp. Chinese. A lot of people are forever unable to make ANY major decisions as they are afraid fo committing major social blunders. if you quit, you may be insulting the boss or whoever hired you initially. If you don't quit you stay at this miserable job with no future. If you go with vendor A instead of vendor B you risk insulting vendor B who may then stab you in the back one day (long memories and all that).
In the West, none of this is a concern. Business is business. If you choose to quit, I will ask you to stay, maybe offer you a raise, or find out WHY you want to quit, but I won't take it personally. Same with selling. If you don't buy my product, I will use the opportunity to figure out what I didn't do to get the sale, not put you on my ENEMY list. In other words, Easterners often tend to take things a bit too personally, as affront to their ego/status. It's almost as if to make up for our lack of stature.
What's worse, you can insult people even without realizing it, not by doing something, but by NOT doing something!
I know a lady, one of the nicest you'll find, helps seniors every day nagivate the maze of government benefits and medical world, do translations, appointments, transportations, and more. She also enjoys going to concerts and helps resell a lot of the Asian concert tickets. Just the other day, she was bemoaning the fact that she had bought DOZENS of tickets from the local authroized ticket agent, but that agent never even offered her a single complimentary ticket. That agent lady must be severely lacking in manners.
My first reaction is... Gee, why don't you just ASK HER for a comp ticket? Then I realized the answer. She's too proud to ask. Again, "face saving". Asking for something is begging. It must be "offered freely". So yes, she's still stewing over it, and she never DID get that free ticket (that I know of).
And this face saving and taking things too personally extends into every part of our lives.
If you have the son of the owner as an employee in your department, and he's a slacker, do you call him out, and risk pissing off his daddy, who may then fire your ass, or do you just grit your teeth and order someone else to pick up the slack, thus pissing THAT guy off instead? Or maybe you don't want to give him a break, but your superior, hope for some brownie points, suggests you to give the kid a break? What do you do then?
After a while your spirit is crushed and you stay in your corporate drone life forever.
Unlearn the Negative Memes
You need to UNLEARN these negative memes. They will only hurt you in the business world. It takes a major core programming update and/or a severe change of scenery for one to dump the cultural baggage and learn some new tricks. But it must be done.
The first thing you need to realize is that "face" is merely a psychological condition. if you look at it objectively, you'll realize how silly "face saving" really is. Face saving is about PRIDE, which is emotion. If you do business with emotion, you won't get very far. A business cannot work with emotional ups and downs and sideways.
Most ethnic businesses don't grow much, because the owner is too proud to ask for a loan from the bank, or find investors, except relatives and CLOSE friends. They'd rather stay small, or beg relatives for capital, when they could have found angel investors, private investors, venture capitalists, or just go to a bank and apply for a business loan. Frankly, most would get turned down for a loan because they never bothered to ask how to get a loan (that is, with a financial statement). To them, going to banker for loan is like begging for money. It's bad for their ego.
These are negative memes, that prevent you from "being all you can be". And the first part to "curing" them is to recognize that they are there, and they are holding you back.
There are plenty of other cultural baggage you may be carrying. You should consciously examine every decision an hour before bed time, and see if you can identify some of them: did you do them because it really was the best decision? Or did you just do it because it was the way it was always done?
Don't dwell upon the mistakes. Write them down in a journal somewhere and go over it in the morning, and vow to change at least one item per day. Review each week and see if you have made any positive changes.
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