Monday, May 19, 2014

Simon Lichtenberg's tips to live and work in China

Simon Lichtenberg created an international group from scratch in the expanding, though often complex, Chinese market. CEO of successful furniture producer Trayton, Simon Lichtenberg has overcome numerous challenges, including lengthy court cases against counterfeiters and unreliable suppliers, to set up and thrive in China.
What is it like to live in China? How easy is it to fit in? Can a foreigner ever really feel at home?
Here are just a couple lessons we can learn from Simon Lichtenberg about the art of living in China.

Learn the language, get to know the locals and accept that the culture is different
Realising the potential business and personal opportunities to be made in China, Simon Lichtenberg decided that it was important to learn Mandarin in order to be better integrated into society – without this, he would always remain an outsider. He therefore spent the year of 1987 learning Chinese at Fudan University in Shanghai.  He has since become a respected member of the community and, in 2006, he was awarded the prestigious Magnolia Silver Award for his contribution to helping develop the city of Shanghai.  
In total, Simon Lichtenberg speaks 7 languages and has lived in 8 countries – he has thorough understanding of and an ability to adapt to different cultures. After more than 19 years living in China, he is now an expert and has carried out numerous studies about the country, its development and its economy.
Relish challenges and don’t accept the status quo
To live in China you need to be open-minded and ready take on new challenges. Living in a different country is always tough and China is no exception. However, you don’t have to accept everything and you can change things. For example, many accept that counterfeit products and copying are something that foreign firms must accept as a necessary evil. Yet, Simon has shown that this is not the case. He has successfully taken on the copycats trying to imitate his furniture using Chinese intellectual property laws to protect BoConcept designs – many companies were using the BoConcept logo in their showrooms or telling customers that they were buying genuine Bo Concept designs.
This is a lengthy, and ongoing, process, but things are changing and the Chinese realise the importance of international investment. Closed for many years to tourism and foreign companies, China is now opening its doors to the world. In bustling and multicultural cities like Shanghai traditional values are mixing with new ideas and foreign concepts – the very fact that Simon Lichtenberg can sell Danish furniture in China would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago! 

China is a rapidly changing country which offers ambitious entrepreneurs and globetrotters endless opportunities for business and personal fulfilment. Be persistent, accept challenges and adapt to the local culture. As shown by the example of Simon Lichtenberg, learning the language and understanding the culture helps to fit into society and play a fulfilling role.   

More information about Simon Lichtenberg:
Personal website
Personal website China
Google +