Daily Archives: July 14, 2017

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12 - Building culture at Airbnb in Asia and leading with authenticity - Alan Chang

“I would have been a better manager, better leader & better friend had I known the difference between compassion and empathy.”

Alan was born and spent most of his life in the US between Hong Kong & North Carolina. He sold his first company in 2009 and then relocated to Hong Kong to further explore Asia.
In 2010 he went all-in on digital businesses after he saw Groupon explode in Chicago and helped a friend’s company that was able to partner up with Groupon in Hong Kong.

As he continued to network in tech in Hong Kong, he was introduced to the Airbnb founders in 2011 at an event and quickly bonded over some of their shared values. So Alan decided to postpone his next entrepreneurial venture and instead join up with Airbnb and eventually become the Regional Manager of Northeast Asia.

For the past year, Alan has relocated back to Silicon Valley and is now heading up Special Projects for Airbnb. One of his key projects was helping the design, strategy & expansion strategy for newly-launched Experience platform.

Alan is a no-BS, very authentic guy who is well connected to his personal values and carries that authenticity and connection into his daily life at Airbnb.

In this episode:

+ How he tricked his mom into loving Airbnb
+ How he got into Airbnb so early on
+ The importance of core values driving your career
+ How he personally reflects and maintains his set of priorities
+ How he developed the confidence to be authentic
+ Idolizing Michael Jordan’s story but not idolizing people
+ Why you should hire people you’re ‘scared of’
+ How to build a culture, especially in a remote office in Asia
+ How to get global teams to build trust & empathy across cultures
+ Using Discovery Insights across all of Airbnb
+ His favorite interview question
+ Talking some his favorite potential hires out of starting the job because their goals didn’t align well to the role
+ How he could BS his way into a Michelin starred restaurant
+ Battling his “resting confused face”
+ The difference between Empathy and Compassion
+ Why Compassion is more important for business leaders than Empathy

Insights Discovery:

Alan on Linkedin:

Alan’s book recommendations for startups & culture:
1) Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

2) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

3) Start With Why by Simon Sinek – I first discovered it on Ted

4) The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

5) The Lean Startup by Eric Reis


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11 - Managing large corporate teams in China at Apple & IHG with Starbucks China CMO Emily Chang

“In China, everything is possible but nothing is easy.”

Emily Chang talks with us shortly after she joined Starbucks as CMO in China. Before that, she was managing a large team and overseeing more than 270 hotels in the hospitality industry at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®).

Before that she was the Head of Retail Marketing, Asia for Apple where she worked ‘in startup mode’ to be the face of Apple brand in Greater China. She shares some of her favorite stories about how they handled the size and stresses of new store launches there.

Emily is a very down to earth executive who has managed to be extremely successful in the world of marketing without ever feeling that she was a marketing person. We touch also on some of the cultural differences she sees when working in the US & China.

Her background was originally in Biomedical Engineering but found herself excelling at Procter & Gamble (P&G) working across every aspect of consumer package goods in the US & China.

In this episode we discuss:
– Blogging on LinkedIn vs writing a book
– Her motivation for writing & sharing
– How ‘congruence’ is essential in a career
– Strategies for balancing a marriage and career, across multiple geographies
– How to manage culture changes at a large corporation
– The ‘end’ of marketing & rise of customer experience
– Differences between CPG, retail & hospitality
– Need for ‘play’ in corporate settings
– How balancing a personality paradox like confidence & humility can appear as powerful
– How her family uses their spare room to help people in need
– What it’s like growing up as an immigrant in the US
– What makes a good mentor
– The differences in work culture & style between the US & China

Emily on Linkedin:

Congruency: critical to job satisfaction.

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie

Baobei Foundation


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10 - WeChat marketing expert Matthew Brennan discusses latest trends in China

“WeChat is like the operating system for your life in China”

Matthew Brennan has been in China for 13 years, working in many different cities and eventually finding his way to research and becoming a WeChat expert.

Matt cofounded China Channel, which organizes China’s largest WeChat marketing conference series for international companies. They also produce a massive amount of content in the form of blog posts about WeChat & China tech.

Matthew spends his time working as a consultant, trainer, writer and public speaker. He’s also in the process of writing a book called ‘Building your Business through WeChat’ and his opinions regarding WeChat and the China digital ecosystem have been featured in global media:
– The Economist
– The Financial Times
– Forbes and more.

In this episode:
– how to operate official account as foreign company
– the challenges of writing a book
– some of the ad products coming from Tencent
– how Tencent is driving search & AI forward for WeChat
– the decline & transition of the newsfeed, pushing people out of WeChat
– the challenges of social networks when they become a hybrid of colleagues & life mixing together
– how Tencent thinks about getting people out of WeChat & to talk more
– how people can make a job just selling in WeChat groups, like buying luxury bags in Paris & selling through WeChat groups
– live streaming & other unique China business models
– the state of micropayments in China

Matthew on WeChat

Amazon FBA in Guangzhou – sourcing from China selling on Amazon



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