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Short trip to the Bay area

Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco during the descent to SFO

On Thursday and Friday I was in San Francisco for some meetings and to give a speech. I flew over early on Thursday morning, and because there were hardly any clouds between Vancouver and San Francisco I had a great view of the whole West coast. The approach to SFO was interesting as well, because the pilot took the touristic route and we had a nice view of the whole city from the sky.

San Francisco during the descent to SFO

While landing at SFO I noticed that another plane was flying right next to us at the exact same altitude. I guess it probably happens regularly at airports with parallel landing strips, but I don’t think I have ever seen it before so I took a few pictures. We literally landed at the same moment.

Another plane was landing next to us at San Francisco airport

Another plane was landing next to us at San Francisco airport

The trip itself was quite good, but actually a bit too short. I am trying to travel a lot less (which is working well so far), so I only spent one night in the US and was back in Canada on Friday evening. I think it was also my first time in San Francisco without a jet lag, it feels very different when you arrive somewhere after 2 hours instead of after a 12 hour flight.

Westin Hotel Palo Alto

The Westin in Palo Alto, decent but too expensive for what they offer (rooms are quite old)

My talk during a dinner organized by Silicon Valley Bank and the Asia Society went well, I focused on why foreign companies so often fail in China. I did not write out the speech or prepare any slides (I just used some key words on a piece of paper), so I can’t post it on my blog, but I may write a post about this in the near future.

One of the points I talked about is the difference in business ethics between Chinese companies and foreign companies. In my opinion this is an important reason why it’s hard to compete in China for non-Chinese businesses. Because the Chinese consul in San Francisco was also in the audience plus several high level Chinese business men, I was not sure whether I should bring it up, but I decided to talk about it anyway. Nobody blinked and there were no questions about it, so I guess I was overcautious.

Visited Lending Club headquarters in San Francisco

I among others visited Lending Club headquarters in San Francisco, a great company!

After just a few weeks in Canada I realize that it’s a very different place than Silicon Valley. Vancouver feels much more laid back and you can even see it in the driving style: in Vancouver everybody lets you in if you need to change lanes, but in Palo Alto that’s not the case. Small things that say a lot about the difference in culture! I still like San Francisco a lot though and I am glad it’s so much closer to home now.

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  1. I think your post would be more interesting if you would go a bit deeper into business failure in China and business ethics and how they relate to each other. According to me and to some extent my own experience many Chinese companies / people have a ruthless mentality, think in terms of short term profit, have a poor concept of long term value, they are not transparent and they are usually rather self centered. That’s why collaboration in terms of achieving mutual benefits is so difficult for foreigners in China. In understand this is a generalization and of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but I am not too optimistic about it. I have conducted quite a lot of research on China and that did not give me more trust in China as a whole.