回到非洲(四) / Back to Africa (Part Four)

回到非洲(四)

在前三篇博客中我曾写道,离开2010年开普敦全球论坛时,我带走了满脑子的印象、记得密密麻麻的笔记本,还有鼓鼓一口袋名片。

在生活中,无论是做生意还是其他什么,能让人记忆犹新的总是别人亲口讲述的故事,而不是演示的那些表格和图形。一直以来,我们对Powerpoint之类的演示文稿已经变得过于依赖。它们虽然很实用,色彩丰富,但吸引的主要是头脑而非心灵,所以影响也大多流于表面,很快就会被人遗忘。

从这次论坛上,我带回一个由图图大主教在闭幕式上亲口讲述的能够影响心灵的故事。在这次演讲中,图图还宣布自己将于几周后正式退休,并表示将借鉴纳尔逊•曼德拉的退休生活准则:“别给我打电话;我会给你们打的。”

在论坛闭幕式上,这位大主教讲到多年前一次搭乘飞机的经历。登机后,他非常惊讶地发现,坐在驾驶舱里的两名飞行员都是像他一样的黑人。这种情况在当年非常罕见,连他也是头一回遇到。作为第一反应,他自然要为非洲同胞在教育程度和职业发展上取得的进步而感到自豪。

然而,飞机起飞后不久就遇到了胃痉挛似的气流颠簸。焦虑之下,他的自豪感不禁转化为恐惧,开始怀疑两位黑人飞行员是否有能力完成任务,带领全体乘客转危为安。

通过这个故事,图图阐述了两个观点:

第一,殖民时期的培养和教育让他和其他非洲同胞对自身的能力和才干产生了怀疑,他在飞机上的反应就是例证,这简直就是奇耻大辱。第二,要密切注意如今非洲的年轻一代;因为他们没有承受过这样的压力,对自己也充满了自豪与自信。

在我们的想象中,商务会议中的“联络”通常包括利用茶歇、拥挤匆忙的午餐或是招待酒会结识新人。而“联络”完毕的证明就是收获了满满一口袋名片,还有就是几天后收到一大堆兜售保险、房子和投资的邮件。这固然很好,但坦白来讲,由于目标不明或者不相匹配,所以大多都是在浪费时间和精力。

而这次开普敦全球论坛则为代表们安排了一系列出席南非大人物家宴的活动,为与会代表结识宴会主人及其他类似宾客营造出更为轻松和热情的环境,提高了联络的水平和价值。

我应邀出席了南非媒体巨头Naspers集团全球业务首席执行官安东尼奥•卢克斯举办的晚宴。在他家的餐厅,总共不到20位客人围坐在木制的长餐桌旁,餐厅装修考究,地上铺着华丽的实木地板,壁炉里红彤彤的炉火暖意融融(这里冬天的天气还是有点儿冷)。

来宾大都是和我一样的媒体人,其中包括新媒体的领军人物、健康学投资人埃瑟•戴森(Esther Dyson),美国国家广播环球公司(NBC Universal)女性及生活时尚娱乐网总裁劳伦•扎拉兹尼克,《财富》杂志中国分社社长比尔•鲍威尔,成都市委宣传部部长何华章等。

卢克斯先生对中国并不陌生,他曾上百次来华访问,还在曼谷生活过5年。他和Naspers集团高瞻远瞩,早在10年前就买下了中国腾讯公司的控股权,当时腾讯到底是昙花一现还是胜券在握还远未可知。他是一位慷概周到、见多识广的主人。

八成算是新社交时代的标准动作,几位客人在晚宴后的闲谈中拿出了iPad电脑,演示自己的观点。

令人愉快的晚宴和谈话结束以后,我们准备离开。有人对卢克斯先生家的两层豪宅大加赞美。卢克斯丝毫没有炫耀地向客人表示了感谢,但澄清道:这里并不是他的家,只是她夫人的“厨艺厅”(也就是专门款待客人的地方)。

本文将是我关于难忘的非洲处女行的最后一篇博客。在结尾处,尤其是作为我这样的足球(或仍被美国人称为英式足球)的伪球迷,我想推荐一位2010年世界杯真正的全球明星,他虽然没有获得决赛资格,甚至连足球都不知道该怎么玩,但却给从天津到的黎波里的球迷都留下了难以磨灭的记忆。

我推荐的就是:章鱼保罗。章鱼保罗万岁!

Back to Africa (Part Four)

As I wrote in my previous three posts, I came away from the 2010 Global Forum in Cape Town with a head full of impressions, a notebook full of facts, and a pocket full of business cards.

As usual in life, whether business or otherwise, it is the stories people tell which we remember, rather than the charts and graphs in their presentations. We’ve become far too dependent on Powerpoint-type presentations, which are convenient and colorful but appeal mainly to the head rather than the heart. As a result, they are mostly superficial in impact, and quickly forgotten.

One very impactful story which I brought back from the Forum was told in the closing session by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who coincidentally announced his retirement from official duties a few weeks later. He announced that his guiding principle in retirement would be borrowed from fellow retiree Nelson Mandela: “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.”

In the final session of the Forum, the Archbishop told of boarding an aircraft in Africa many years ago, and noticing to his great surprise that the two pilots in the cockpit of the plane were black like him. At the time this was very rare, and for him, a first. His initial reaction was naturally one of pride at the progress of his fellow Africans, in education and career advancement.

The plane took off, and shortly afterwards, encountered some stomach-wrenching turbulence. In a moment of anxiety, his pride turned to fear as he wondered whether the two African pilots were up to the task of safely getting them through the storm.

As he tells the story, he makes two points.

First, what a terrible shame that his upbringing and education during the colonial era lead him and his fellow Africans to doubt in their own capabilities and talents, as evidenced by his reaction on that airplane. And second, watch out for the younger generation of Africans today; because they do not suffer from such a burden, and are full of pride and confidence in themselves.

When we think of “networking” in the context of a business conference, it usually consists mainly of meeting new contacts during the coffee break between sessions, around a crowded luncheon table over a hurried meal, or at a cocktail reception. The evidence that “networking” has taken place is a pocket full of name cards, and an incoming mail box a few days later with sales offers for insurance, property, investments, etc. All well and good, but frankly a lot of it is wasted time and effort because it is not targeted or well matched.

One program organized during the Global Forum in Cape Town was a series of dinners for delegates in the homes of prominent South Africans. This provided a relaxed and welcoming environment in which to get to know hosts and other guests alike, and constituted networking at a very high and valuable level.

I was invited to a dinner hosted by Mr. Antonie Roux, CEO, Global Operations, of South African media giant Naspers Group. Guests numbering less than 20 were seated at a long wooden dining table in his well-appointed dining room with beautiful wood floors and a hearty fire in the fire place (the winter weather was a bit chilly).

Most of the guests were media people like myself, and included leading new media and health sciences investor Esther Dyson, President of NBC Universal’s Women & Lifestyle. Network Lauren Zalaznick, FORTUNE’s China Bureau Chief Bill Powell, Chengdu’s Minister of Information Mr. He Huazhang, and others.

Mr. Roux is no stranger to China, having been there hundreds of times and having lived in Bangkok for 5 years. He and Naspers are far-sighted indeed, having bought a significant shareholding in China’s Tencent nearly 10 years ago, when the company’s meteoric success was far from a sure thing. He is a gracious, thoughtful, and very well-informed host.

Typical perhaps of the new era of social networking, several guests pulled out iPads during the conversation after dinner to illustrate a point.

As we were departing after a most enjoyable meal and conversation, someone complimented Mr. Roux on his lovely two-story home. Without a hint of arrogance he thanked the guest but clarified that we were not in their home, but his wife’s “cook house” (ie a place specifically for entertaining guests).

This will be my last post in the series on my first, unforgettable trip to Africa. In closing, especially as someone who is not a regular fan of football (or soccer as we still refer to it in the U.S.), I would like to nominate one truly global star of the 2010 World Cup Finals, a star who was not eligible for the finals and is not even able to play football, but made a lasting impression on fans from Tianjin to Tripoli.

My nomination would be: Paul the Octopus. Long Live Paul the Octopus!


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