“Dear Scott, you are about to embark on the ride of your life, so, buckle up dude,” writes author Scott Kronick in the opening line of a letter his younger self. “…When you have the chance to move to China in 1995, jump at this. It will be an inflection point in your life you will not forget.” Kronick, CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations, Asia Pacific, the leading public relations consultancy in Asia, has lived in China for nearly two decades, during which he’s experienced tremendous social, economic and personal change. The Lighter Side of China, while diminutive in weight, is more than an autobiography or travelogue, it’s Kronick’s professionally refined “CliffsNotes” on how to survive 20 years as a foreigner in modern China. They key to it all, to happiness in business and at home, Kronick explains, is to continuously “seek to understand.”
Organized into 25 short essays, Kronick’s book uses humor and an ever-positive ...view middle of the document...
” To this day, Kronick’s colleagues fondly tease about when he would sneak away from work to use a nearby hotel’s western-style powder room.
If toilet humor isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Kronick’s other essays address an array of topics including language, business etiquette, luck, magic and tradition. Perhaps the gem of Kronick’s treasury is his insight and advice on intercultural marriage. Originally from the Midwest, U.S, Kronick has worked with some of the largest multinational companies in China, managing hundreds of staff in a demanding profession. But his greatest lessons, he admits, have come from his longstanding relationship with Wei Li-Chin, his Chinese wife. In a chapter called Marital Advice for Mixed Marriages, Kronick lays out 10 tips for successfully navigating a mixed courtship. He suggests not arguing about cultural differences, about whose way is better, “There are so many gray areas in life, and most of these arguments don’t lead to any positive result.” He also advices couples to seriously discuss their plans for childrearing before they get married. Go into specifics about plans for feeding, sleeping and soothing the infant, he suggests. “Don’t joke about ghosts” and never argue over the dowry, finances or health-related issues. Kronick’s policy is to trust his wife, believing that she truly knows best (his wife is also a black belt in Judo).
Even though Kronick spoke only English and his wife only Chinese when they met, they resolved to continually try to understand each other. In the same way, Kronick is determined to never stop trying to understand China. As a way to end the letter to his pre-China self, Kronick adds “If I can give you one piece of advice, it is to be curious about everything around you …You won’t experience new things unless you extend yourself. The people you meet are going to be friends for life … Enjoy the difference. And, when you are feeling a bit frustrated, do what you do in conversations with your soon-to-be wife. Seek to understand. Yours, Scott.”