August 23, 2007
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: All the Tea in China
Jeremy Haft does not believe that China is the evil empire. He believes instead that China represents a boom for business. All the Tea in China tells how Haft learned to do business in China and practical advice on how to tap into this growing market. Every page is ripe with anecdotes revealing how he believes Chinese business culture operates:
Thousands of years of Chinese jurisprudence, then, dealt solely with punishment of crimes, meted out by fiat. There is an old saying in China: 'Heaven is high, and the emperor is far away.' Meaning: 'Do whatever you can get away with.' Despite the best efforts of China's government to adapt to a system ruled by laws, this lawless attitude is still commonplace in China business practices today.
And from there he delves into the meat of doing business in China. Included in the book are chapters on: Getting Started, Reading the Market, Orienting Yourself, Buying from China, Selling to China and Competing with China.
Unlike some of my favorite books on this subject, such as The Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy, which tells an outstanding story but isn't a guide to business, this is a book loaded with practical take-to-the-bank advice. Not to say that All the Tea in China is without its levity and spirit, though; in fact, what really sets the book apart is the author's sense of humor. Stories of factories that disappear during the night, of factories he was told complied with all the requirements but, when he visited, had no roof, or of international standards and practices ("Do you use GAAP? Sure, I wear their khakis").
Books on China are a dime a dozen, nowadays, but Haft's All the Tea in China is one of the best of the bunch.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.