5 Secrets Of People Management that Confucius Never Talked About

Ever taken a personality test? I have. Many, in fact. The most popular one when I was in school in the 1990s was called the Meyers-Briggs personality test. It is a series of questions which you self answer and then at the end a score is tallied which puts you in a series of personality buckets – introvert/extrovert, Sensing/Intuition etc. As I went through the test at school I realized that I wanted my answers to nudge towards the coolest personality type…extrovert and intuition. My hopes were dashed when it turned out I was in the opposite bucket of what I had hoped for. Although it served the purpose of defining some interesting attributes of personality types it never really became a practical way for me to understand or manage people’s strengths and weaknesses. When you meet a person for the first time, it is hard to ask them to take a personality test so I could get to know them better!

But this problem was actually solved thousands of years ago in China through an ancient practice called Face Reading. Written references to this practice go back 600 BC but the earliest roots can be traced back to 2600 BC. I was first introduced to this practice in 2013 when I stumbled upon a seminar in Shanghai being taught in the subject.  Even now in China this practice is not widely adopted or followed but my experience over the last years has put me in the camp of a firm believer that this is a great way to get a quick idea of how to manage people or understand the best way to communicate with them.

A blog post can do no justice to this topic but the core foundation of the practice is that the shape and features of the face determine personality types. Whaaat??…you might say.  The shape of the face is genetic and determined by genes its got nothing to do with personality! That was my first reaction, but as in anything living…the environment can have a huge influence on the physical form of something.  Communication between people has very little to do with the words or the actual voice but 70% of communication is through body language. Our brain has a massive 30% of it dedicated to visual processing and a large percentage dedicated to decoding facial features and expressions.  So why do we biologically have such an inclination to decode the face to such detail?  The face tells a lot about the emotional and thinking state of a person. The face is in fact a reflection of our internal state.

So when we have consistent emotions with certain personality types these characteristics will inevitably show up as consistent signs on the face. That is the foundation of Chinese Face Reading. One of the fastest ways to get a general idea of the personality of someone is to look at the shape of the face.  In Chinese Face Reading these are broken down into 5 major types:

  1. Metal: Sharp high cheekbones. Personality is professional and seeks perfection. The archetype is the Defender – who value justice, perfection and wholeness but are often the last to accept change.
  2. Earth: Round, squarish face. Nurturing type personality caring about other people. The archetype is the Muse – who want to see others reach their full potential but can often drift into passivity.
  3. Water: low round cheeks. Stubborn and likes options. The archetype would be the Pioneer—curious, innovative, brave and optimistic but does not stick around for long term value building.
  4. Wood: rectangular face and bushy eyebrows. Likes to take command. The archetype is the Captain —  who is confident and tireless to support a goal but can fall victim to issuing orders rather than inspiring.
  5. Fire: Oval egg shaped face. Passionate and likes to do many things. The archetype is the Magician – who is playful and delighting people around them but sometimes the mystery may look like fraud.

The above is a fairly generic description and there are many subtleties in Chinese Face Reading that give various types of insights. Now whether you believe in it or not, these are great tools to understand there are certain personality types and not everyone is the same nor is one better than another. Each has a unique strength and unique weaknesses that can be accepted for what they are. The power of this practice is that you just need to see someone’s face to get a gauge of their personality…no extensive conversation or tests needed. Confucius was born in 550BC just around the time that Face Reading was being written into texts and although he was not known for his teachings for Face Reading this one was a golden secret that he was wise not to teach so widely.

If you like this post, then please check out our other thoughts at www.impact10x.com/blog or email us at info@impact10x.com.

Google Copies the Chinese Government’s Management Style

In 2008, I had the pleasure of experiencing massive stomach pain one night in Shanghai. Not knowing how the Chinese medical system worked, I was taken to a local hospital in downtown Shanghai. To be honest I did not know what to expect…all that I knew was it was probably going to very different terms of the service and quality that I would receive compared to American hospitals. My low expectations were instantly dashed when I was ushered into an almost completely empty lobby. I was quickly attended to do by a doctor and with some rapid exchange of Chinese I was put on an IV drip and told that I had the stomach flu. It turns out this hospital was especially for foreigners but the level of service and apparent quality was impressive. Fast forward a couple of years and another visit to a hospital showed another side of the very unique nature of the Chinese healthcare system. This time the experience was less than comfortable with 100’s of people crammed into the lobby and different rooms. But this was more than offset by the mere 50 RMB ($8 USD) I had to pay to see the doctor and the efficiency of getting my tests and diagnosis in under 30 minutes.

Although far from being perfect the Chinese Healthcare system has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. In 2004 only 23% of the population had any form of reimbursable health care. In 2015 over 95% of the population is now covered. This rapid modernization is just one of many examples of the unique characteristics of the Chinese government which for the last 2000 years has taken many forms from empires to communism to socialism but with one common thread….top down control and management. The central government is obsessed with 5-year, 10-year and longer plans. These plans are meticulously laid out, furiously debated and skillfully executed. The healthcare system was just one of many on the list in the year 2000 and when these objectives are put in place, all forms of government from the top government officials down to the township mayors are measured and rewarded by their support of these objectives.

One of the classic objectives of the Chinese government over the last 30 years has been the industrialization and modernization of the country. Before 2010, you can see the result in the simple metric of industrial output where cities and district government officials are awarded and careers advanced based on GDP growth. In fact, in the city of Jiading they would award companies with different levels of prizes and prestige based on their contribution to the tax base and employment. Anybody that supported these objectives were looked on favorably.  Today though, industrial output is now longer a key driver from the central government. Priorities such as health care and the environment are now being driven from the top and being executed by local government.

Although it may seem odd that the government still has so much control and influence over the economy their management style is actually no different than Google. Google’s OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and many Fortune 100 company’s other popular styles such as MBO (Management by Objectives) are just flavors of focus that allows a lot of people to get behind some common goals.  Foreign companies that enter the Chinese market would do well to heed these governmental top-down goals because that could make a big difference in the access to resources and good-will that is generated by the Chinese consumer, businesses and government.

If you like this post, then please check out our other thoughts at www.impact10x.com/blog or email us at info@impact10x.com.

Your FACE is very important in China

Investments in the stock market can be a very complicated affair. Depending upon the level of rigor that is taken in looking at the business performance, understanding the management team, competitive understanding and customer value…it could be a long time to come to any conclusion to invest in any given company. Or maybe it is as simple as figuring out what your neighbor, colleague or friend is doing and just copy them.

Sitting down with an Ad Tech company based in Shanghai it was interesting to find out the profile of the Chinese investors that decided to invest in their company. It turns out most of the motivation for their Chinese investors was a reflection of their friends desire to invest. But not because of the rigorous analysis of the market opportunity that these friends had done or that they were good past investors, it was simply a reaction to the fact that these friends were of the same or lessor economic status as them. The attitude was “if that guy is investing, then we can definitely invest”.  Now this could be simplifying things but there is a very real historical and cultural importance of “face” or reputation in China.

Maintaining face and reputation is important in China and is an implicit tool that could be used to market and sell to the Chinese consumer. Here are a couple of clever examples of this:

  1. A microfinance company based in China that provides student loans and requires a family member to be a co-signer on the loan. The co-signer in this case does not necessarily have to own collateral but is mainly used as a form of social pressure to ensure payback of the loan. If the student does not payback the loan, the co-signer loses face or their own reputation.
  2. One of the more popular Restaurant Review Apps in China (similar to Yelp) is called DianPing. The people that reviews these restaurants number in the 10’s of millions. Unlike Yelp though, the reviewers are also rated by the App which motivates them to do even more reviews. An example of their rating system goes from 1 to 5. The more reviews you do the more your level goes up. A system of reputation and face for reviewers.
  3. Taobao.com which operates under the Alibaba brand has an even more complicated level system for reviewers of products that are sold on their site.  Taobao.com is the equivalent of Amazon.com in China. Their system has over 5 levels in each of the major categories going from heart, white diamond, gold diamond, white crown and then golden crown. That’s over 25 levels which are used as a sign of reputation and status for these reviewers!

Using these subtle “face” techniques can be an important part of any marketing and sales tool targeting China consumers and businesses.

If you like this post, then please check out our other thoughts at www.impact10x.com/blog or email us at info@impact10x.com.