5 Simple Ways to Win at Life in 2019

As we plan for 2019, I suggest we need a reframe, not a revamp. Here are 5 simple but powerful pieces of wisdom to guide us, as captured in some of my most-engaged LinkedIn posts from the past year.

#1: CULTIVATE CONNECTIONS

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Last year, Gallup published a report with a seemingly troubling finding: In 2017 the prevalence of negative emotions reached a record high worldwide. “Collectively,” the research found, “the world is more stressed, more sad and in more pain today than we have ever seen before.”

One actionable recommendation from psychologists to counteract the swirling negativity: Build social connections. This is the number one way to boost emotional resiliency. That’s right. The simple act of making time to build and maintain relationships is among the most important things we can do to maintain a positive outlook amidst the stress of daily life.

In my new city, I notice that it is easy to retreat to the familiarity of my home or hotel, my social media networks or digitally-mediated conversations with U.S.-based family and friends. However, I am always rewarded when I make an effort to build real-time connections with new neighbors or colleagues, even across cultural or language barriers. New connections help me learn new things, gain fresh perspective, and ultimately feel more deeply rooted within my new community.

My first simple path to success for the new year: Set aside time each week to engage others in meaningful moments of connection. Real-time connection. Really worth it connection.

2: BE A LIFELONG LEARNER

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2018 brought the retirement of Indra Nooyi, a leader I am proud to call a mentor and a friend. In her goodbye letter to colleagues and employees, she offered several pearls of wisdom, including encouraging us to have a vision, bring people along with us (speaking of connections), and be mindful of a greater purpose.

Pointedly, she reminded us that the world is changing rapidly around us, and that we must become lifelong learners to keep up.

Nowhere is this truer than in China, where tech and digital innovation are driving change at warp speed. In my year here, I have had to embrace the dual role of leader and student, and it has reminded me that those two things are not opposites but always two sides of the same coin. I am grateful that it has never been easier to gain knowledge and perspective outside of formal education thanks to the vast network of resources like blogs, TED talks, books, podcasts, and other online resources.

Indra’s sage advice and a path for success in 2019: “Make ongoing education a priority.”

3: BE PASSIONATE

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Upon arrival in Shanghai one of my first tasks was to articulate a strategic vision for PepsiCo’s Greater China Region. This gave me the occasion to think very intentionally about what really matters within an organization, and the process crystalized for me the importance of passion in the workplace.

In the months that followed, I spent a lot of time talking to my teams about the significance of doing what you love and loving what you do.

I truly believe that Steve Jobs got it right when he called loving what you do the “only way to do great work.”

A third approach for winning in the year ahead: let us make time to mindfully consider where our passions lie. If we call upon them, success will follow.

#4: PRACTICE EMPATHY

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During my first year in Shanghai I’ve been confronted with so many different ways of doing, well, almost everything. Critical to my success here has been the ability to practice empathy by challenging my often Western-centric perspective and turning the tables to understand why things are done a certain way in China. For example, how Chinese consumer’s view the role of food in their long term health , their perceptions of color in communication etc.

It turns out the practice of empathy is not only a survival skill for expat CEOs, but a critical skill for the workplace of the future.

In 2018, MIT researchers reviewed the results of a global study of 1,000+ companies using or testing machine learning or AI. They found that the robot-enabled workplace of the future will require a new set of job roles including trainers, explainer­s and sustainers who will form a critical link between organizations and their AI. The most important skill for all of these uniquely human roles? You guessed it, a deep-rooted empathy, which will be a key predictor of success in the coming age of automation.

Practicing intentional empathy will open up a fourth path to success in the year ahead. Let us together strive always to understand unfamiliar and even uncomfortable points of view.

#5: EMBRACE NEW EXPERIENCES

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This past year I attended two global gatherings that hadn’t been on my radar before moving East: The WEF’s annual Meeting of New Champions in Tianjin and the Boao Forum for Asia on the beautiful Chinese island of Hainan.

Both of these events expanded my horizons. New locales, new networks, new ways of thinking, even new ways of framing and approaching global challenges.

I came away from each feeling energized, with a renewed sense of the scale of our world and my role within it. Ultimately, each of these trips reminded me that stepping out of my comfort zone is not easy, but that embracing new opportunities and experiences is always rewarding.

A final path to success in the year ahead? Let’s nourish our innate curiosity and make time to discover new things. We’ll feel more connected, more alive, and be more prepared to thrive in the workplace of the future.

5 SIMPLE STEPS FOR A FRUITFUL YEAR AHEAD

Build connections, be a lifelong learner, be passionate, practice empathy, embrace new experiences.

This feels like a 2019 roadmap that is equal parts simple and powerful, and it is one that I will embrace in the year ahead.

However you choose to navigate what’s next, best wishes for a happy, healthy, and productive 2019.

Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Happy New Year!)

Asia Rising: 5 Eastern Trends Shaping the World

East to West and Back Again: A Shift in the World’s Economic Center of Gravity

The striking map below shows how the world’s economic “center of gravity” has shifted since AD 1. A “dizzying acceleration” (as described by The Guardian) took place from 2000 – 2010 when the center lunged back to Asia, reversing almost 2,000 years of steady movement west.

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This eastward momentum illustrates the forthcoming “Asian Century” frequently discussed in books, the press and cultural conversations. While opinions about the particulars vary, experts agree that Asia will be the key region for global trade in next several decades.

Rapid urbanization and rising incomes mean increased purchasing power for Asian consumers. Further, there are more of these consumers than ever. The Brookings Institute estimates that 88% of the next 1 billion people to enter the global middle class will live in Asia, with 350 million to come from China alone. This large population with growing purchasing power will drive a significant portion of the world’s future economic growth.

Asia May Provide a Peek at the Future For Us All

A year into my move from North America to Asia, it is clear Asia’s economic growth will create two flows of goods and ideas. Undoubtedly, western products will pour IN (as they already are) to satisfy the needs and wants of a growing middle class. Alibaba, for example, recently said the company expects to import $200 billion in goods from 120 countries over the next 5 years.

Asian goods and ideas will also flow OUT, influencing the world in new and interesting ways. Over the past year, my frequent travels between LGA and PVG have given me a vantage point to see the ways Chinese culture in particular is shaping the West.

As aptly noted by PSFK, China provides the unique opportunity to peek into the “near-term future” of global business. Keep an eye on these five spheres of influence to see how they develop in 2019 and beyond…

1. New Approaches to Feeding the Planet

China’s middle class is increasingly health-conscious and interested in safer, more nutritious, more sustainable fare. Their growing purchasing power is fueling a search for new solutions. The country’s first food accelerator, Bits x Bites is exploring innovative ideas like authentic tasting lab-grown meat, alternative protein sources and “smart” versions of foods like white rice with lower, healthier glycemic indexes.

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As part of the quest for health, ancient eastern medicinal foods, like Kombucha, are finding their way into mainstream cooking in China and abroad. Start-up Papp’s tea, for example, touts a “Tea Lab” with researchers devoted to designing functional tea blends to improve a wide range of health conditions.

China’s large and savvy group of online food shoppers provides a critical mass for models that have struggled to scale in the West. Meal-Kit Delivery Startup 321 Cooking delivers fresh, pre-packaged ready to cook ingredients to eager shoppers in China’s metro areas. And, digital innovations like facial recognition checkout, scan-and-go through WeChat, and free 1-hour delivery are de rigeur in the country’s grocery stores.

Few doubt that the future of growing, buying and preparing food will be tech-enabled. Asia, and China in particular, are at the forefront of this movement.

2. New Definitions of “Luxury”

In the West, luxury is most often defined by the physical retail experience. Think: elaborate stores, exquisite packaging, and a high level of personal customer service. In China, companies are being challenged to create luxury experiences for mobile-first shoppers who often prefer a digital environment, and this is driving novel solutions.

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A few great examples include:

Gamified retail experiences like Dior’s online treasure hunt where players redeem points to purchase and unlock access to exclusive collections, Chanel’s beauty arcade pop-up created specifically to appeal in gamehall-crazy Hong Kong, and JD’s white glove delivery service, which sends smartly-dressed butlers in suits to deliver high-ticket items, immediately imparting status on their recipients.

Worldwide, the very definition of “luxury” is changing, and China is pushing that envelope.

3. Fusion of Physical and Digital Retail

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Luxury isn’t the only area of disruption. China’s, young and mobile-first shoppers are inspiring innovation in mainstream retail as well.

Companies of all sizes are experimenting with corner stores transformed by digital apps and AI-personalization, self-service “box store” concepts, shoppable livestreams on social media, and robot-run restaurants – just to name a few.

The world over, the boundaries of physical and online are morphing to create a seamless, always-on retail experience. True, some of these innovations can be found in the West, but I agree with Forbes that China offers an unrivaled speed of innovation, scale, and variety of new retail formats.

4. A New Center For Tech Innovation

Chinese companies are no longer content with making components or cheap copies, and many are emerging as innovators in their own right. (See: my blog on the rise Shenzhen maker culture).

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Asian tech companies, in particular, have made bold moves to claim a presence on the world’s stage. For the first time ever, the global Cannes Festival had an entire day devoted to China tech, where tech giants attended en masse to share an array of cutting-edge case studies.

And, Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi, One Plus, and Huawei have recently introduced new products with splashy launches and flagship stores in global cities including London and NYC.

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Increasingly, Chinese tech offerings are not iterative but bring wholly new innovations like 5G, sophisticated AI systems, and design inspired by collaboration with Western influences like Porsche.

Chinese cities are bustling with new ideas and tech-driven innovation, and I expect the pace will only increase in the year ahead.

5. New Ideas for the Global Culturescape

China will be the world’s most visited country by 2030, with the largest number of inbound and outbound travelers. As Chinese consumers circle the globe and receive international visitors, new ideas abound. A few great examples include language, celebrations, and shopping culture.

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The “Chinglish” language is challenging conventions of common speech, creating new phrases and expressions. For example, the term “add Oil” the translation of a popular Chinese expression of encouragement, incitement or support was recently added to Webster’s Dictionary.

Eastern holidays like Chinese New Year are increasingly celebrated across the West, creating new cultural traditions, not to mention new consumption moments. This year, it was interesting to see U.S. companies launching their own Single’s Day sales with a uniquely American emphasis on self-care, and I look for the momentum around new shopping moments to continue.

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Asia Adding to the Bricolage of Global Commerce

When I think of the new flows of ideas emanating from Asia – China in particular, I think of the word bricolage. This term was coined by social scientist Claude Lévi-Strauss to describe something new that is constructed from a diverse range of available things.

In that spirit of innovation, I am excited to think about what will be inspired by new infusions from Asian culture in the year ahead.

GUEST POST: OBSERVATIONS FROM CANNES 2018 BY AMY CHEN

Bonjour!

I’m Amy Chen, and I’m the CMO of PepsiCo’s Snacks business in China. A few weeks ago, I spent an incredible few days at the Cannes Lions “International Festival of Creativity”. (https://www.canneslions.com/). The annual event – now in its 65th year – brings together thousands of marketers, agencies, and creative communicators from around the world to “learn, network, and celebrate.”

The festival features hundreds of panels and presentations, as well as tailored programs like the CMO Accelerator that I attended, all geared towards discussing and defining the future of creativity. https://www.fastcompany.com/40584295/what-cannes-lions-2018-will-tell-us-about-the-attention-industry

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Here are a few of the biggest themes from the week:

1.     Social responsibility, purpose, and morality come to the fore. In the era of #MeToo, it’s no surprise that there was much grappling with gender inequality and the (lack of) diversity in the creative world. http://www.alistdaily.com/entertainment/cannes-lions-activism/. “Creativity needs diversity” became a rallying cry for a more diverse future, as well as an acknowledgement of the critical role that diversity plays in driving creative breakthroughs in the first place. There was a broader undercurrent as well this year about the responsibility of advertisers and businesses to create the world that we want to live in. It’s a good challenge for all of us to think about! “Goodvertising” became a term of art, and the “Change for Good” Hackathon ran throughout the week. The United Nations mobilized creative support for the Sustainable Development Goals and unveiled a new “Lion’s Share” program to protect wildlife. Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivors shared the power of conviction in driving meaningful change. And Unilever’s Paul Polman, who was awarded the “Lion Heart” award, gave a clear and impassioned call to action: “poverty is not a sustainable business strategy for anyone”, he said, and “it is becoming increasingly clear that sustainable, purpose-led growth is the best way to meet the long-term needs of consumers and society.”

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2.    From science vs. art to science and art – the ongoing (over-hyped) debate about data, technology, and creativity. I knew this would be a big topic when I saw the huge billboard at the entrance to the festival: “Remember when creatives didn’t ‘do’ data?” Once you turned the corner, you encountered a cheeky response: “Shift happens.” Speakers drummed up drama by debating whether data and technology would be the “downfall” or “savior” of creativity; one session even teased that it would “pit real-life audience members against the algorithms that run their lives”. By the end, I think most concluded that data and creativity is not an either/or, but rather a challenge of how to most effectively integrate the two. https://www.alistdaily.com/technology/cannes-lions-2018-how-technology-is-disrupting-the-creative-process/. A number of companies shared how they’ve approached this question, with inspiring case studies of how artificial intelligence is accelerating creative productivity, data is revealing deeper consumer insights, and technology is charting new creative frontiers in health and even beauty.

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