Book Reviews

Camels, Sheikhs and Billionaires by Cynthia Dearin

I had the pleasure of meeting Cynthia Dearin of Dearin Associates recently given our mutual interest in culture. The former Australian  diplomat shares in “Camels, Sheikhs and Billionaires” her experiences living and working in the Middle East and North Africa.

Camels-Sheikhs-Billionaires-v2-300x300Whist there are some similarities in terms of cultural differences as there are between the West and East, like then nuances between the provinces in China, there are many differences across each country in the MENA region.

Continue reading Camels, Sheikhs and Billionaires by Cynthia Dearin

Trading Places – Tim Harcourt

Trading Places_Tim Harcourt

In Trading Places, Tim Harcourt—also known as the Airport Economist—takes you around the globe, talking to businesses, governments, union officials, NGOs, and others in the community to understand what makes each economy tick.

He provides key facts on each country from the capital city, to population size, GDP and exports. Relevant contacts listed include Austrade, the Australian High commission and local networks such as Austcham.

Sharing tips and interesting stories drawing on his experiences, an example includes Singapore where there were many students at his hometown Adelaide University. Today many of those are in positions of influence back in Singapore including cabinet misters and senior financiers showing the long term benefits of building relationships across jurisdictions.

Trading Places reveals where the opportunities are, identifies the risks, and provides insider tips on doing business in each destination.

Recommended Reading – Inside the Chinese Mind

I first met Geoff Baker and Helen Zhang in January 2013 at the Think Global forum day in Hong Kong as part of my first Asia delegation. Having been there for almost a week I’d wished someone had told me to read the book before the trip! I loved the stories they shared, especially the protracted meetings and entertainment that goes along with doing business in China. For those that don’t drink (or want to stay alert!) you can have a drinking delegate to keep up with the toasts – could be a popular job in Australia as well!

Check out this article from 2015 delegate and business friend Peter Black. The book Inside the Chinese Mind can be downloaded from Amazon.


I had the benefit on the Invest in Australia Mission of being introduced to Geoff Baker, originally an Australian lawyer and investment banker, who co-authored with his Chinese born wife, Helen Zhang (both pictured below with IIA mission leaders Caroline Hong and David Thomas) , a book titled “Inside the Chinese Mind: A Guide on How the Chinese Think”.

For anyone doing business, working with or sharing experiences with people originally from China, I highly recommend this book as an essential, well laid out and easy to read fast track guide to start to understand the many centuries of influences on the current culture which has shaped the Chinese people.
Some key concepts which are covered in the book, with the Chinese terms well described, include:
  • The Five Core Elements of Chinese Thinking
    1. Language that Shapes the Mind
    2. Yin and Yang
    3. Chinese Connectedness
    4. Midstream Living
    5. Face “mianzi” – More Important than Life Itself
  • The different types of Enterprises in China – State, Private and Foreign
  • The difference between leaders and decision makers
  • The work ethics of the different generations – with particular emphasis on some changes coming through with Generation Y
  • Communication and relationships in China – including “guanxi“, what “Yes” actually means and the various “Circles of Influence”
  • Both the Big Things and the Little Things that matter
  • How the Rule of Law works and how agreements and conflict are actually handled.
(Geoff Baker, Helen Zhang, Caroline Hong, David Thomas)

For more articles from Peter Black, Executive Coach and TEC Chair, on his experiences during the Invest in Australia Mission and Asia Financial Forum, check out his blog here.

Planning is underway for a Thnk Global delgation to Australia China Business Week 2015 in May to Guangzhou and Hong Kong – register your interest here.