Episode 59

Aldo Spaanjaars & Sandrine Zerbib: Learning from Chinese entrepreneurs

Available on these channels and more

​What can we learn from Chinese entrepreneurs?

China is home to some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and companies. Yet, much of the management thinking and practices we use comes from Western companies.

This episode fills this gap by delving into what it takes for companies to thrive in this dynamic, unpredictable and hyper-competitive market. Aldo and Sandrine share their collective experience of 60 years of working and living in China, outlining tactics strategic leaders can master, whether operating in China or elsewhere.

They discuss the importance of adaptability, customer focus, data and having a hunger to succeed. They also reveal the mistakes companies make that lead to failure, especially Western companies looking to enter the Chinese market.

You’ll hear about:

  • Why was the book called Dragon Tactics?
  • Company success stories in the Chinese market
  • Sources of systemic failure in Chinese markets
  • The biggest business myths
  • The emperor decides, but agility rules
  • Transformational vs incremental innovation
  • Is there results-driven ruthlessness in China?
  • Who should we learn from in China?
  • The biggest disagreement when writing Dragon Tactics
  • How to go from OK to great in China
  • The biggest gift of working in China

The best bits of these conversations are captured in my newsletter Strategic Leader.

More about Aldo and Sandrine

Sandrine is the president of Baozun Brand Management and the president of Baozun Europe. Previously, she was President of Adidas Greater China and the CEO of Chinese Group Dongxiang and created her own e-commerce operation, which was acquired by Baozun.

Aldo manages his own China advisory firm, Dragon Strategies. Until the end of 2022, Aldo was Executive Vice-President, Outdoor, at Anta Sports, China’s leading domestic sportswear company. Over his 25-year career in China, Aldo also held senior leadership roles at Fosun Fashion Group, Lacoste, Adidas Greater China and J Walter Thompson.

“In the West, a thinker is highly revered. In China, an observer is highly revered.”

Aldo Spaanjaars

VIEW RUNNING ORDER

03.48 Why was the book called Dragon Tactics?
05.43 Company success stories in the Chinese market.
07.25 Sources of systemic failure in Chinese markets.
08.22 The biggest business myths.
10.29 The emperor decides but agility rules.
13.07 Transformational vs incremental innovation.
18.03 Is there results-driven ruthlessness in China?
21.00 Who should we learn from in China?
28.04 The biggest disagreement when writing Dragon Tactics.
28.59 How to go from OK to great in China.
32.39 The biggest gift of working in China.
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