Expert cultural interpreter with more than two decades of experience with China, including more than 10 years living and working in China. Work has spanned the worlds of education, for-profit business, and non-profit organizations.
Currently, director of the Center for Intercultural Leadership and chief of operations at International House, UC Berkeley. Formerly, American co-director of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China, and inaugural director of Stanford’s Overseas Studies Program, based at Peking University.
Deep connection to China from childhood, growing up hearing stories from his grandparents about “the Shanghai years” – the nearly two decades they called Shanghai home. Stateless Jews from the USSR (grandfather) and Iraq (grandmother), in the 1930s they settled in Shanghai, one of the few havens for Jews at the time. Jason’s father bore witness to both the Japanese occupation and the Communist revolution, before emigrating to San Francisco in 1950.
Grounded in Chinese culture through education, language mastery, in-country experience, and scholarly research. Fluent in Mandarin, known for uncannily native-like pronunciation.
At Gap International, a consulting firm based near Philadelphia, led a team of linguists charged with investigating and innovating methods of using language to improve business performance.
These days, when so many companies are eager to do business in China, it's important to carefully think through every aspect of your globalization strategy.
It goes beyond just understanding exactly why it makes sense for your company to expand into a country with a population of well over a billion, and requires preparing for the intercultural challenges that must be met to be successful.
Developing an ongoing strategy for intercultural consulting, training and coaching is crucial and should be integrated into every aspect of a company's globalization plan. Investment in training that enhances mutual respect and understanding will only help your bottom line.
It's important to understand the cultural mindsets that underpin behaviors and habits in China that are often baffling to foreigners.
For example, branding and marketing are relatively new concepts in China, and it's often difficult to get the Chinese to invest in those. Why? Because for decades, most Chinese experienced scarcity, and their mindset is not tuned in to the notion of investing money in something that's relatively abstract for its long-term benefits.
And, as much as Westerners find the Chinese notions of intellectual property frustrating, it's important to understand that in China, the developing of ideas is often regarded as a collective activity in which you build upon and honor what has come before. As with branding and marketing, the Chinese are still warming to the idea of incentives that is built into Western ideas of intellectual property.
But with ongoing intercultural consulting, training and coaching, employees who work in China or collaborate closely with Chinese nationals will be equipped to understand and deal with cultural challenges such as these as they come up. With coaching that is both "culture-general" (the general awareness of the ways in which cultures differ, such as hierarchy, communication styles, etc.) and "culture-specific" (the content that is focused on a particular country, in this case China), there will be positive impact on the bottom line, and employees will be more productive, less frustrated, and have higher morale.