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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

It’s Not All Bad

Thursday, January 9th, 2014
New York City

New York City (Photo credit: Johannes Valkama)

 

My wife and I have recently returned from a short trip to New York, part business, part pleasure, and part catching up with some family. We stayed at a midtown hotel, which has been one of my regular choices on visits to New York over the past 30 years, and which has recently been refurbished. We enjoyed our stay, which was particularly enhanced by Anna Marie. She is a receptionist, who greeted us on our arrival. Extremely courteous, pleasant, accommodating and helpful, offering to make our stay as comfortable as possible and handed me a card in case we needed help at any time. I suppose this is not unusual for any good hotel. But what added to this particular experience, was bumping into Anna Marie, as my wife and I were shopping.  I have to confess, that I didn’t recognize her when she approached us in a shoe store. After all she was bundled up against the biting wind outside, and had a wooly hat on. She introduced herself with a pleasant smile, and asked if we were enjoying our shopping in New York.

We then got into a conversation, and I learned a lot about Anna Marie, who was with another employee of the hotel. Anna Marie told me that she had been in her existing job for 8 years, but this was after an eight-year hiatus, during which period she had 4 children. Prior to that she had worked for the hotel for a previous 8 years. Her friend had also been with the hotel for a similarly long period. Anna Marie, whose youthful appearance belied her telling me, more info

that her elder son was in the Marines and serving in Afghanistan. I saw the strain on her face when she said that, but she quickly followed up by telling me that she hoped he would be home in April. She had another son who was in college, and 2 younger daughters who “were driving her crazy.” She told me her husband was in construction, and they had moved 8 times during their marriage, taking advantage of his ability to fix up properties that they purchased, and increasing the size and value of each of their homes. It had been hard work, and during this most recent deep recession, her husband, unable to get work in construction, had gone to work as a hotel doorman. But things were improving, she told me with a laugh, before we finally parted company.

What did I learn from this experience? Well, during these tough economic times, there are still many American middle-class families, who have come through, because of hard work and strong family values. They are loyal hard-working employees who, despite the fact that the deck has been stacked against them over the past decade or so, continue to fight for a better life for themselves and their families.

I also realized that in this age of fraud, greed, and corruption, there are still those employers, who look after their employees, and create a culture of teamwork and success in their organization, where their first consideration is the customer.

New York is a tough city.  But as they say, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

  

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

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Hurun Report (《胡润百富》)

Saturday, July 13th, 2013
Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun in Chinese, at interview with author

Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun in Chinese, at interview with Jian 

I’ve heard about the Hurun Report and the China Rich List before, but never read the magazine or the list. Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun in Chinese, founder and Chairman of the Hurun Report, visited Chicago last week. I had the honor of listening to his talk and conducting a one-on-one interview with him.

The fast accumulation of wealth by leading Chinese entrepreneurs has become an astonishing phenomenon. Hurun started the report in 1999, tracking the top 1,000 wealthiest Chinese, with top ones worthy of more than US$10 billions.

According to Hurun, there are 263 billionaires (US$) in China on record. He estimated that the real number is about 750, because many Chinese don’t want to showcase their wealth.

“With every billionaire known publicly, there are two hidden,” said Hurun.

He pointed out that all these billionaires now have one thing in common: “They are all going global,” he said.

These top net worth individuals accumulated their wealth largely from manufacturing, real estate, investment, natural resources, retail, entertainment, etc., according to Hurun.

Hurun said the image of these super rich had gone through a dramatic change in China, from totally negative, related to corruption, to a recognition of their ability.

“You can get lucky only so many times,” Hurun said. “You get to have the ability to develop and manage your business.”

These super rich are going global now via acquisitions and investment.

“It’s a personal insurance policy and a vehicle to provide better education for their children abroad,” said Hurun.

Rupert Hoogewerf talking to Kellogg's alumni at the Northwestern University

Rupert Hoogewerf talking to Kellogg’s alumni at the Northwestern University

Hurun will release its China Rich List in August. For 2012, the top capped at over US$12 billion, and cut off at 1,000 is US$288 million. Hurun said a survey indicated that 14% of the top wealthy individuals are in the process of applying for immigration, and 46% are seriously considering immigration. But the common practice is they get their children and/or spouses immigrant status, while they remain in China.

He said 80% of them intend to send their children abroad to study.

China’s newly rich are having a major impact on the consumption of luxury goods in the world. It has passed Russia (No. 2) and Japan (No. 3) to become the No. 1 luxury good consumption country.

Hurun is here in the U.S. visiting business leaders and municipal officials in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, developing relationship with them so as to provide better services to the Chinese entrepreneurs on his list.

“Hurun Report is acknowledged authority on China’s top entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals,” said Elizabeth Harrington, who has taken the role of Hurun’s U.S. publisher at large. “We’d like to work with Hurun to attract these Chinese to Chicago.”

“Hurun is not a traditional publisher,” said Bill Liu, who works with Harrington on Hurun’s business relations in the U.S. “They have developed personal relationship with their clients. We want to conduct research on these Chinese as they come here.”

Chicago has taken many initiatives to attract Chinese business and investors, vowing to make it the “most China-friendly city in the U.S.”

Several Chinese companies have set up operations in the greater Chicago area, including Goldwind, Wanxiang, and Huawei Technologies.

Hurun, or rather Hoogewerf, met with Mayor Emanuel and Former Mayor Daley during his stay in Chicago.

China has begun to change the flow of investment from not just coming in but also going out. Many countries and cities want to attract part of that wealth to boost their economy. It’s a phenomenon unimaginable one or two decades ago.

Of course, not all the pictures are rosy. China is facing increasing challenges in many areas, including severe environmental degradation, corruption, the huge gap between the rich and the poor, food safety, health care, and welfare, to name a few.

Despite the challenges, China has emerged from what Orville Schell called “a basket” to a world economic power, and along the way, has produced an incredible number of “self-made” billionaires within an astonishing short period of time.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary movie by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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The Crux of the Problem

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

 

 

I was recently in New York City on a business trip, and met the son of a friend of my colleague for a drink after work.  John works for a firm, which I shall call XYZ Capital, trading stocks. John is a very responsible young man, the only child of two hard-working immigrants who live in New Jersey. I learned that his father, an engineer, was a frugal man who has spent his life working as a technical representative for an electrical engineering company that sold equipment across United States. John, who apparently earns a substantial income from his trading activities, is generous to his parents, particularly his mother who he spoils, buying her vacations and theatre trips to New York.

John has an engineering degree and of course his father was keen to see him following his footsteps and pursue a career in engineering. To use his own words, his father continually asks him, “When will you get a real job?” He laughed sheepishly as he told us this. I questioned him further about his daily activities and whether he finds his job rewarding, not just financially, but as a long-term career.  His response, of course, was that the money was very enticing and upon further questioning I found out that, in addition to his basic income, he receives a distribution of profits at the end of the year. This bonus for some reason is treated as capital gains and therefore has a much lower rate of tax. I don’t know how they manage to transform income into capital, but this is as major loophole in the tax code, exploited by much of the financial services industry and of course is the major reason why Governor Romney, the Republican candidate for President, paid only 14% tax on multi-million dollar income for decades.

John said that for the time being he was very happy in his job. Apparently his company is not one that is trading all night around the world, but focuses on US stocks, and so he has more or less a 9-to-5 job and the money is very very good.  Who can blame him, but the crux of the problem, is how the United States is going to compete in the world in the future and get out of our current economic quagmire, when our best and brightest are enticed to gamble on stocks, trade in derivatives, or manufacture complicated schemes on securitized mortgage loans.  Those young men and women with engineering degrees, business degrees, and science degrees, should be the foundation of building new industries and new businesses in the United States.  

However the George Bush Tax Cuts and other concessions he gave to Wall Street, the banking industry, and financial services generally, have made it far too lucrative to expect these young people to choose a much harder path to success. That has to change but then we come up against the next problem, —  how do we get Congress to have the political will to make the changes necessary and create not only a fair society, but a society where we are building industries and businesses of substance and not just gambling with pieces of paper.  This should be food for thought over the next few weeks as we choose our President.  It will also be crucial to tackle these issues in 2013 if this nation is going to continue to recover from the great recession, put people back to work, and build a fair society where the top 1% are not the only people to benefit.

 

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

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September 6th

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Four years ago on September 6, I was on a plane rushing from Chicago to Beijing, via a transfer in Toronto, the only route I could get a seat within hours of learning the news that my father had passed away.  I was very shocked despite having seen him in Changchun, capital of Jilin Province where he lived less than two weeks before ago when I visited him and my mother and knew he was very weak.  The impact of losing him hit me so hard that I couldn’t stop the tears and couldn’t breathe without feeling the physical pain in my chest.

Four years later on the same day I was on a plane again, this time from Chicago to New York City. I was on my way to attend the premiere of Mulberry Child, the feature-length documentary based my book, at the Quad Cinema. It was a coincidence that the week-long screenings in NYC would start in early September. Personally I dedicated the occasion as a tribute to my father.

Four years have gone since his passing, but he is alive in my heart and his influence on me still goes on just as if he were still with me. I have and will always remember him as a man of integrity, a dedicated public servant, and a loving father. His passion toward life, his optimism facing all kinds of adversity, and his strength, both mentally and physically, will stay with me and inspire me forever. I cherish the memory when, as a child, I used his arm as a swing; and in his 80s, I still couldn’t beat him in arm wrestling. And I’m grateful to this day that his firm no against my joining the army before finishing high school changed the path of my life.

My father passed away on September 6, 2008 after battling with lung cancer for three years. He remained a fighter to the last day of his life. Upon learning the news of his diagnosis in 2005, he was silent for a week and then decided his way of living the last phase of his life: no operation, no chemo therapy, and no hospitalization. He wanted to control the quality of his remaining days without drugs, and he wanted to live with dignity, and with his mind as clear as he had always been. And he did, enduring a lot of pain without any complaint.

He expressed two last wishes during that time: live to see the Beijing Olympic Games and the Shanghai Expo. He was able to fulfill the first.

Many readers of Mulberry Child expressed admiration for him. I was touched and pleased. He would have liked hearing those comments. I took comfort in the fact that I was able to present a hardcover copy of my book to him in August 2008 when I visited him, and in September when I went back to attend his funeral, I saw my book on a prominent position on his desk. Longing to have the book accompanying him, I placed that copy under his pillow when he was wheeled away for cremation.

He would be pleased to know that the film Mulberry Child had been produced, well received at film festivals, with three awards under its name so far, and resonated with many viewers at theatres. I’m looking forward to the premiere in NYC, a place I had once lived for five years and my father had visited before.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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Lost in Central Park

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

I went to NYC earlier this week, meeting with the team at Quad Cinema to arrange for the details of the weeklong screening of Mulberry Child in September (9/7-13). I took advantage of the opportunity by getting up early the following morning to jog in Central Park.

I’ve always loved Central Park ever since I worked in the city in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In the middle of the dynamic city where people rarely show any patience, the Central Park presents a different world. Cyclists take over the roads in the morning when motor traffic is kept at bay; joggers and walkers occupy the cycling paths; and dogs gather and run without lease on the lawns. Always a lovely sight.

A dog walker in Central Park

I got into the park from the east side and joined the stream of people on the trail. I jogged at a leisurely pace and admired those who passed me left and right, some with beautiful strides, and others not so admirable, but commending solute for their spirit and effort. Before long, I had no idea where I was. I planned for an hour and believed eventually I would end up returning to the east side. 45 minutes later when I emerged from the midst of trees and saw a major street not far away, I ran over to check my position. I was surprised to find myself at 7th Ave. and 100th St, totally the opposite direction I had intended to be. Not even the morning sun could give me enough clue where I should turn. I asked a woman adjusting her music player which path I should take to get back to the east side. I picked up speed, knowing if I should lose track of my direction again, I would be late for my 8 a.m. meeting.

It was a perfect day, mid 70s and very low humidity. Every direction I turned to, I took in the large trees, ponds, playgrounds, huge rocks, and various trials with a deep sense of appreciation. Dog walkers chatted while so many large or small dogs ran free. There was no hassle or haste of NYC in here.

It took me another 45 minutes to find my way to my friend’s place and I ended up 10 minutes late for my morning meeting. I mumbled a few words of apologies, but I knew I’d do it again when I’m back in the city for the screenings in Sept.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for details.

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An Eventful Day

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Mayor Emanuel at the Asian American Expo, photo courtesy of King Mui

The Asian American Business Expo (Expo), an annual event that promotes entrepreneurship, leadership and job creation in Chicago, took place at the Illinois International Institute (IIT) from 9:30 a.m. to 3: 30 p.m. last Saturday. Many vendors set up exhibition tables there, and many people, with a wide range of Asian and Western ethnic backgrounds, nearly 700, attended the event. Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) joined partnership with several other Asian organizations to organize the event. Shelly Ng, President of OCA Chicago chapter, chaired the Expo.

Shufen Zhao presenting at the Expo, photo courtesy of King Mui

I attended it to show support and do some networking. I was happy to run into a few friends. I was impressed by the scale of the Expo. Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a personal appearance early in the afternoon and addressed the audience.

I couldn’t stay that long to listen to the Mayor, however, because I had a previous commitment of giving a talk at the Chinese-American Museum of Chinatown at 2 p.m. When I left, I noticed people lining up at the entrance to wait for the Mayor. From the postings of the photos by George Mui, immediate past President of OCA in Chicago, I was able to see not only the Mayor, but many others that I didn’t have a chance to meet in person.

With staff, board members and friends at the Chinese American Museum after my talk

I rushed over to the Chinatown Museum and talked to a very engaged group of people. My talk was focused on the journey Lisa and I took as immigrants and our generational gap, to say the least, during her growing up years in the U.S. I was touched by the audience’s resonation with my story, regardless of their background. A few good questions were raised regarding my relationship with Lisa. I wish she were there addressing her perspective directly—my world traveler daughter, of course, was out of town. This time she was in New York City.

Among the staff/board members of the Museum were Soo Lon Moy, President of the Museum, Kim Tee, immediate past President, Anita Liu, and a few others. They were full of hospitality and support.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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End of the Rainbow

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

I had the good fortune to see the Broadway show End of the Rainbow last week when I was in New York. Ellis Goodman, my film executive producer, is a producer for the show, so I had the privilege of getting not only a best seat but also an opportunity to meet the stars on backstage afterward. I was thrilled.

With Tracie Beneett

End of the Rainbow is a story on Judy Garland‘s last performance in London shortly before her death. She was struggling with drugs, debts, and personal relationships. Tracie Bennett, a British actress, sang eight of Garland’s songs and gave a superb performance. Sitting close to the stage, I was able to observe her every move, including her facial impression. I was mesmerized by her dynamic performance and found it hard to imagine how she could do this seven times a week, including a matinee and an evening show on Saturdays! She has been nominated for Tony Award for her role in this show. Well deserved.

With Michael Cumpsty

Michael Cumpsty, who performed Anthony, Garland’s kind, gay pianist, brought the character vividly to life. He looked just as lovely in his casual golf-shirt. He stopped by to Tracie’s room on his way out after the show, carrying a big bag across his shoulder. I took the chance to take a photo with him.

The other key character in the play is Mickey Deans, Garland’s fiancé played by Tom Pelphrey, a very handsome young man. When he came over to Tracie’s room, I told him he did such a good job on stage that he was a person the audience would “love to hate but couldn’t.” He laughed.

With Tom Pelphrey

I had never rubbed shoulders with Broadway stars, chatting with them as if we had known one another. I also took a picture with Tom and Tracie. I was grateful they didn’t say no since they had changed to their casual clothing and were no longer having the glamorous appearance as they had been earlier on stage.

Watching the wonderful show and meeting the stars in person were the highlight of my trip last week!

If you have a chance to go to NYC, don’t miss seeing End of the Rainbow. You’ll love it. It’s at Belasco Theatre at 111 West 44th Street.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bissett.

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Stranded in New York City

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

by Jian Ping

Christmas Lights in NYC

I went to New York City (NYC) over the Christmas weekend with my husband Francis and daughter Lisa. I lived in NYC for five years in the late 80s and early ‘90s and have always cherished a special feeling for the Big Apple. Ever since I moved to Chicago in 1994, I have visited NYC two or three times a year.  

This time, we made our plans for a short excursion to NYC in early December, flying over on Friday, Christmas Eve, and returning on Sunday, right after Christmas. As time drew close, we heard the forecast of a snowstorm, but took off as scheduled nevertheless.

Snow Started to Fall on Broadway

Manhattan always generates a kind of unique buzz and vibration, one that always make me feel excited the moment I enter the city. The pace of people moving in streams, the noise of speeding cars, and the voices of different languages heard on the streets—nowhere else is as dynamic as NYC. For me, I also loved the sweet smell of roasted peanuts, chestnuts and almonds, permeating the air from street vendors’ wheeled carts.  

We set out to walk along Broadway right after checking into our hotel in midtown. The sky was blue and the sun casted a nice golden glow on the buildings. The Broadway theatres all went dark on Christmas Eve, so we had a casual meal at “Korea Town” on 33rd St, followed by a couple of rounds of bowling games at a midtown bowling alley, and finished the day by watching How Do You Know, a newly released film at the AMC Theater on 42nd St. The following day, the sun disappeared, but the day was pleasant. I jogged along Fifth Avenue early in the morning and checked out Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree and ice skating ring and made a small loop in Central Park. We watched Brief Encounter, a Broadway play, in the afternoon and had a wonderful dinner at a French Bistro on

Korean BBQ

Spring St. in the evening. On Sunday morning, the clouds were low when I went out jogging. By the time we walked out of our hotel shortly after 10 am, flurries of snow began to dance in mid air, seemingly non threatening. With each passing hour, however, the snowfall intensified and the wind picked up speed. We enjoyed a wonderful Broadway Musical: Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown, behind closed doors. At the time, I didn’t anticipate I would soon reach that point of near breakdown, albeit for totally different reasons. Several inches of snow covered the ground when we came out of the theatre. Before we finished our dinner that evening, we received United Airlines first notice of our flight cancellation. Lisa called United and after 40 minutes, rebooked our flight on Monday morning, which, before the end of the day, was cancelled again. Back at our hotel room, Lisa used two cell phones to call United, trying hard to reach a representative. 30 minutes later, she managed to book us on a 3 P.M. flight, also on Monday. The city was buried in snow the next morning when I went to an off-site gym to work out. Since moving around the city was difficult, we went to watch another movie, King’s Speech, during the day. However, soon after the movie started, I checked my vibrating BlackBerry. Sure enough, just as I feared, another notice came from United for our flight cancellation. When I finally got hold of a United representative over the phone two hours later, I was told we couldn’t get booked on any confirmed flight until Thursday, December 30th! No begging or plea or breakdown would get us anywhere. Since I had meetings lined up both for Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago, we decided to take an Amtrak train to Washington D.C. and fly back to Chicago from there. Lisa decided to work out of her company’s New York office and stay with her friend until Thursday, so we took her and her friend Yeye to dinner at an Italian Restaurant before heading to the Penn Station.

Buried in Snow

Postings of delayed trains covered the board and the crowd in the train station made me feel as if I were in China. Our 8:05 P.M. train to Washington D.C. arrived after 10:30 P.M. and on our way to Washington D. C., it continued to get further delayed. By the time we arrived at the Capital, it was 3 o’clock in the morning. The line for taxi appeared to be half a mile long and there were not enough taxi available at the wee hour. I watched in disbelief as cab drivers picked customers, leaving behind those who were not going longer distance. We had to team up with two other passengers—also travelers stranded in NYC, and like us, took the detour to go to Chicago—to convince a driver to take us to the Reagan Airport. Eventually, after on the road for nearly 10 hours, we boarded the first flight to Chicago at 6 A.M.

Crowds at Penn Station

What was most unbelievable for the trip was not only the intensity of the blizzard, but also the inefficiency of the city government in dealing with it. 48 hours after the storm hit, I didn’t see a single snow removing vehicle on the streets in Manhattan. I’m not talking about side streets, but major avenues and squares such as Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Times Square! Everywhere I turned to, I saw cars spin or stuck on ice and snow, and pedestrians transverse over slush of icy water and compacted snow. Despite the warning, the city didn’t seem to have made any preparation. Two days after the storm, flights out of the three nearby airports continued to be cancelled. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he took responsibility of the city’s slow response and committed to remove snow from every street by Thursday. What was he doing earlier? I wondered.  

The experience made me appreciate the efficiency of snow removal in Chicago so much more!

by Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. visit www.mulberrychild.com, www.moraquest.com.

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