The name Red Circle Network (RCN) originated around a Yum Cha table.
Some of our key DNA comes from the fellowship that occurs around a delicious meal. We move around the table, enjoy the experience of being together, and we learn from each other's perspective in a relaxed setting.
So how did the name RED CIRCLE NETWORK come from a Yum Cha dinner? Let's go through it in the order most people encounter us: in reverse.
The NETWORK is the first thing people discover about RCN. All the services you need, under one roof. In that first meal, the networks represented around the table was significant. Each person brought experiences, resources and interests literally to the table. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a network of business support service providers to make a brand successful in China.
The CIRCLE represents infinity, lack of hierarchy, and protection. Everyone had their own value to contribute, nobody was considered better than each other. A circle also represents boundaries. The circle protects those who are inside it. Those who step inside come under the protection of the family. In the same way, at that first dinner, we were in a private room in the restaurant. This was not just any table. It was our table.
The RED colour represents China, of course, and also represents the passion and commitment of those around the table. Red also stands for blood, because all who commit to cross-cultural commerce become like blood relatives. China is not for the faint hearted. Commitment will be its own reward.
Why a Round Table?
This Yum Cha meal followed the Chinese tradition of a large round table (seating about 15 of us) with a 餐桌转盘 or Lazy Susan in the middle.
The Lazy Susan enables each diner to get what they need. A self-service mechanism originally invented in China in the 13th century, but nobody really knows who Susan was!
But Round Tables are not new to Western minds. In the legend of King Arthur, King Arthur's men met around a Round Table so that everyone around the table was seen as trustworthy and equal. So it is when you take a seat at the table. You are one of the family, gathered to celebrate, and collaborate.
It Starts with Relationship
To Westerners, all the dining seems like a waste of time. We're in a hurry to get to the deal, and then celebrate over a meal afterwards.
But in China, things operate in reverse. We slow down, in order to speed up.
The Great Reversal
First, our very names are reversed.
Individual name first. Family name last.
Me first, my desires, my personality, my priorities. Then, family.
Family name first. Individual name last.
Family (and company, and country) first. Me last. I serve a purpose, as part of a whole.
Couldn't be more different, right?
Chinese dinner conversation may often seem trivial and off-topic. But every conversation thread weaves a web of relationship capital.
"Mr Smith, do you like seafood?"
"Yes, Mr Zhang, I do!"
"Do you like to go fishing?"
"Yes, I love fishing. I take my sons fishing every chance I get."
"Where do you go?"
"We have some favourite spots in New Zealand's Northland region."
What's happened here? A vital exchange of data.
FAMILY: Mr Smith has sons, and he likes to spend time with them. Therefore, as the relationship develops, Mr Zhang can think about ways to benefit Mr Smith's family.
DIET: Mr Smith likes fresh seafood, which opens up an array of specialist restaurants for future entertainment.
NETWORKS: Mr Smith has access to "favourite spots", which may indicate landholdings, networks or other resources that may come in useful for future collaboration.
In every business relationship there are "gives" and "gets". The seemingly meaningless conversation over dinner paves the way for a comprehensive, mutually beneficial relationship. Notice how most of the focus is on the "gives" ... because givers ultimately gain.
This is called 关系 (guanxi) and is translated into English as "relationship", however the connotations go deeper than the Western culture permits.
West vs East - McDonalds vs Yum Cha
Generally speaking, Western culture is like McDonalds. Every component is individually packaged for individual consumption. Each item stands alone, on the menu and on the serving tray.
Chinese and Asian culture is more like Yum Cha - a collection of individual dishes on a shared table. What's important is the shared experience. The totality. It wouldn't make sense to buy just one dish, or even just have one diner. Yum Cha is a team sport, and the more the merrier.
China Business, therefore, is also a team effort.
Family Businesses Do Better, Together
From the East we see a pattern that looks a lot like Family Businesses around the world. There's plenty of evidence that family-owned businesses do better, for a number of reasons.
Creating more jobs
Entering more overseas markets
(Source: EY Growth Barometer)
Longevity (More than 30% of all family-owned businesses make the transition into the second generation)
Long-term focus. "Family businesses leaders focus on the next generation, not the next quarter."
(Source: Family Business Center)
"It's just business, not personal"
Meanwhile in the West, we've been sold the idea of individualistic ambition, and the idea that "business is not personal".
This may lead to healthy short term results, but long term we are looking at a crazy society. A study found that 1 in 5 CEOs showed traits of a psychopath. But why? Do psychopaths become CEOs, or does our business culture train people how to dissociate from society and become sociopaths?
It's time for a change in the way we do business. It's time to gather around the table, and face each other around a table of friendship and relationship, leading to mutual value. Come have a seat, join the Red Circle Network. We are looking forward to hearing your stories, and discovering what value looks like to you.