China Business Book Promotion Tour
In 1979 I did a 9-city promotion tour in the U.S. for a book I had written on doing business in China.
Book promotion tours are a grueling and exhausting form. of business travel.
Book tours typically include many cities within a very short time frame, and many interviews each day with a variety of different types of media.
Because you are being interviewed on the same topic many times each day, day after day, you tire of repeating the same message over and over.
However, one interview question really stood apart from all the others during that 1979 trip. It was the only one that momentarily stumped me for an appropriate answer.
It was a morning TV talk show in Pittsburgh, and I was a featured guest that day. The show was broadcast live.
I felt well prepared and was thus relaxed when the TV talk show host, an American woman with dyed blond hair in the style. and shape of a large beehive, came over to say hello and talk briefly before the show began.
Then the program began. I was introduced, and she talked a bit about my new book, saying we’d get back to that in a minute. She then talked with some enthusiasm about her interest in and experience with things Chinese, mentioning that she had dated a Chinese guy for quite some time, learned to appreciate the culture and food through him, etc.
She then turned to me, said, “So you’re with us today all the way from China, ” and then asked her first question :
“Where do Chinese people live, anyway?”
I was momentarily dumbstruck by the profound dumbness of this question.
Potential sarcastic answers raced through my mind :
1. Chinese people live on the moon
2. Chinese people live in the treetops
3. Chinese people live in China
4. None of the above
5. If I told you that, I’d have to kill you
There I was, on live TV, facing one of those questions which challenge you to answer without making the questioner look like a complete idiot.
So I rose to the occasion and guessed that what she might be wondering about was what types of housing are common on the Chinese mainland.
I don’t remember any of the other questions she asked that day.
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