Saturday, October 6, 2012

I interviewed Nate: "So what are you going to be doing in Beijing?"

Ladies & Gentlemen,
As I shared earlier, I will provide updates on our new season of life through this blog. In case you missed the former post, we're moving to Beijing! This post shares some of the detail about Nate's work in Beijing. I proposed the questions and the answers are all his!
1) What is the name of your company? Rapid River Picture Company 

2) What will you be doing? We are a full service production and post production company working with both Chinese producers and global branding agencies to produce top quality commercial and entertainment content. 

3) Will your current company Grateful Inconvenience, Inc. still exist? Absolutely! Gi Inc is going strong and thriving in the capable hands of a full team of producers and art directors. My plan is to bring many of the client and production relationships from gi inc. into play here in China. While RRP Company is a completely new venture on paper, I very much look at it as a continuation of the gi inc. vision that inspired us to start the original company. Our desire has always been to develop a global network of talented individuals and companies from all walks of life and be a part of positively influencing culture around the world
4) Will the new company be solely in the Asian industry? Or involve those back here in the states? Or other countries? We are basing this company in Beijing, China and the initial phase of development will focus on the China/Asia market. Ultimately my goal is to create a template that in some version can be replicated all over the globe. 

5) Are you building a team there or bringing individuals from the states? Or do you even know yet?  Our in-house team will be a mixture of both Chinese and Westerners. A huge part of what will determine our success here in China is our ability to understand the mindset and needs of our Chinese clients. The vast majority of companies in our field fail in China because of a consistent failure to adapt to the Chinese way of thinking. It is incredibly important to take the time to invest in cultivating relationships for the sake of relationships and for that to be a foundation for profitable work opportunities. Always the relationship comes first! 

6) Thus far, what has been one of the biggest challenges in building the business there in Beijing?  A huge part of the culture in China is what we call 'face'. Everything is determined by how it will make an individual appear to their peers, friends and family. This culture of face applies in every area of society from business to law making to paying your bill at a restaurant to opening a bank account. What is far more important to the Chinese mind than any contract or license or legal document is your willingness to engage in relationship with them and what benefit their being in relationship with you is going to provide them. Signing a contract here is only binding as long as the terms of the contract remain agreeable to the other party. It's all about relationship! 
          The Chinese mindset is always to tell you a version of what they think you want to hear while always leaving room for their answer to change without having to directly tell you yes or no lest they risk embarrassing you or themselves. Our lawyer put it best when she said "'Maybe' is a good word! Then you can always change your mind!"
          In the states we walk into a meeting with the understood agenda of getting definitive yes or no answers on a determined list of matters; we expect those answers to pretty much stay the same. In China, we enter a meeting with the same list of questions and after a good period of socializing we present our list of questions through a translator who sort of speaks English. We think they understand what we are asking, but just to make sure, we go over it eight more times. Once we've determined that there's at least 90% understanding, we are told that there are quite a few different answers to that question depending on what the law is that week and who picks up the phone at the government office or any answer they think will best fit what we are asking. It could change at any moment! Doing business in China is like pealing an onion. There are many many layers and the process of getting from one layer to the next is almost guaranteed to make you cry.

7) What has been the most exciting thus far? Being here! Seeing a dream and vision that was birthed years and years ago in a time and place completely disconnected from here. Now, it is actually unfolding. Meeting new and extraordinary people. The incredible challenge of creating something new that doesn't exist here right now.

8) How did you know God was leading you to Beijing to do this in this season? What events in the past were an impetus?  
          There have been two times in my life when I have directly put out a 'fleece' and asked the Lord to make it miraculously obvious what the answer was. Working in China is one of those. 
          Several years ago, before starting gi inc., I was living in Papua New Guinea. My mom sent me a book called The Heavenly Man written by a Chinese pastor who had experienced incredible suffering and opposition as a result of his faith. I've had a life long fascination with China, but for some reason that book struck a cord within my heart. I read this book along the same time that the Lord was stirring a vision in my heart for creating a global network that bridged ministries, businesses and entertainment companies around the world. This vision ultimately became the foundation upon which we started gi inc. After finishing The Heavenly Man, I literally got down on my knees and said "Lord, if China and I have anything to do with each other in the future than I want to meet and pray with Brother Yun ( the Heavenly Man)." This seemed like an absurd request, where if it somehow came to pass, than I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that China and I were inexorably bound together.
          A few month after praying this prayer, I found myself in southern Australia for a couple of weeks before heading back to the States after two years of living in Papua New Guinea. Shortly before my last night in Australia, I was speaking at a youth group. An announcement was made that a Chinese pastor who had recently escaped from China was going to be telling his story at a local church and any one who wanted to come was invited to hear him speak. I almost fell on the floor when I found out that this pastor was Brother Yun from The Heavenly Man! I ended up getting to hear him speak. Afterwards, I was able to meet and pray with him! Needless to say, that kind of sealed it for me. 

9) What is your dream for this? 
           My dream is to experience God doing something extraordinary here in China and to be a part of that. We have an opportunity to develop a company unlike anything that exists here both in how we operate internally and in how we do business externally. I believe that it is a waste of time dreaming about doing things that we can accomplish in our own strength! Our prayer since founding gi inc almost 7 years ago was that God would give us 'insane favor' within the industry and that we would be positioned to be a 'voice to the voices' that are influencing culture around the globe. I fully expect God to do miracles here! 
          The first time I came to China, several years ago now, I had a conversation that profoundly impacted me. I was standing on a street corner with a young man who was my translator for the music tour that I was producing there. His father was a very high up member in the Communist party so the natural progression for him would be that he would eventually end up in a position of influence. I asked him, 'What's your opinion of God?" He was holding his smart phone and after thinking for a moment he held it up in front of my face and said, "Nate, for my generation of Chinese, this is god." That simple statement blew my mind. I've never forgotten it. Nearly a billion people in China are accessing content every day on computers, phones and television. If I have opportunity to in any way positively influence those responsible for creating and distributing that content, then that is a charge that I take very seriously.

          It's impossible for me to talk about China and the sense of calling that is attached to it for me without stating also that it is very hard. Knowing that you are called to something or that the Lord is clearly opening a door does not automatically make something easy. On the contrary, along with this being a very exciting time, it has also been an extremely difficult time. I think those times when the Lord chooses to make something very clear to us are sometimes meant more than anything to give us something to cling to in all the times of uncertainty, frustration and fear that will always be a part of life as we participate in what God is doing around the world. Shelly and I have been apart for much of the last four months and it's been a big strain on us as a couple. I have a very hard time balancing my attention to work with my responsibility as a husband. I'm still trying to figure that out. I could not be doing any of this without Shelly's participation and support.
Stay tuned for future posts on any of the following topics: What will I be doing in Beijing? Do we have space for visitors? (Yes!) Do you know Mandarin? And more significant and insignificant meanderings of my soul.


Kelly S. said...

Thank you for sharing Shelly! Im praying for you and Nate.

connorcolesmom said...

I just got the goosebumps reading that post! What a divine appointment and I am so excited for both of you!
We will be praying for you :) said...

loved this. thanks for sharing. and thx nate for saying "it's hard" and "extremely difficult" at times. excited to be praying for yall and what God is doing in your lives and through yall. LOVE!

Ivan Griffin said...

Thanks so much, Shelly. Great idea and so aptly answered by Nate. See you all at Christmas.

Fran said...

I am beyond thrilled for y'all! I absolutely CANNOT wait to see God move so beautifully in y'alls life through this!! I know you will lean in so close to Him and this sister of yours is happy to pray for you and Nate.


Holly said...

I love how God meets us and sets us up for success (in His terms) at EVERY SINGLE TURN. Love you and Nate so much! Holly

Angie said...

Wow, Shelly! I was just clicking around on old posts and somehow I came here. Best of luck and many prayers going your way. You are such an inspiration and a loving wife. Love and Miss you!

Angie xoxo

Tina Marie said...

We love you guys and are praying God guides you on every step of your journey :)