Every time I see the 1969 classic The Graduate, I am cast into the timeless brilliance of one of the most significant films of all time. If you’ve seen the movie, how could you forget this iconic line, uttered in terror by Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock to Anne Bancroft’s most memorable character Mrs. Robinson?
Comic genius. (I know, most of you weren’t born yet. But it’s a classic!)
This is one of 100 iconic exchanges in the film. I want to talk about it, but another exchange keeps popping up in my head:
Although I don’t count myself among them yet, I have seen and heard first hand such talk about this “China Dream” being over and have watched friends an acquaintances slowly dislodging their businesses with plans to be out by the end of Q1 2016.
My natural response was to say “more work for those of us who stay”. But there is something both dynamic and systemic at work that is now allowing this to happen. Local firms are using guanxi and undecutting prices by 10-30%. I’ve also seen the relationships sublty. It’s not blatant among locals to trade professional favors, no matter what the level of work.
In 2005, I left Los Angeles to work in China on a film production called “The Wall” (you guessed it) for Warner Bros. and China Film Group. It seemed like a great idea at the time. The Hollywood film industry had been devastated by nearly a decade of labor and union strife. Production costs were skyrocketing and marketing budgets were matching them. Young, cheap production and marketing talent was flooding the market at little or no cost to studios and agencies.