Two years ago, at about this time of the year, I was sitting in the basement of an expensive hotel in a city in central china. This basement was the VIP area of the hotel, and opposite me sat my boss, talking animatedly to the man beside him. Around the circular table sat a number of men in simple shirts, eating from the array of dishes on the table. My boss turned to me and barked – Max! Take some meat!
I took a chunk from the meat bowl on the spinning center of the table, ate it and he asked – how was it? Great, I said. It was actually good meat, a bit rubbery with an unusual flavour I had never tasted before. My boss laughed and said: That’s dog meat you’re eating.
I swallowed hard but smiled and said: “It’s delicious”. I had no choice but to say that – the rest of the people sitting around the table were business men that we were about to go into a partnership with. It was my first time at a business dinner this important, and I did not want to spit out the meat.
I raised my glass of Baijiu and cheersd with the guy sitting beside me. He waited a few minutes and did the same back to me. By the time we entered the karaoke room, everyone was very drunk but doing their best to stay as normal as possible. We sat with the karaoke girls till the other businessmen had left, and then we proceeded to sing “my heart will go on” and other 90s pop songs till 3 in the night.
After the singing was over, we took a taxi to a little restaurant that was usually open 24 hours. We were four people, but the other two had stopped talking – one was looking into space and the other had his head on the table and was drooling.
Mr. Chua, my boss, is also a friend and I consider him my mentor. There was one thing he was incredibly skilled at – and that was getting people to do what he wanted, and to believe what he said. When I first arrived in china he had told me – roll with me, and by the time you leave you will be a different person. He was right. Hanging with a confident man who walks everywhere without fear and as if he owns the places rubs off on you – you start to do the same, and people react to confidence and do what you want.
We sat there in that diner and he said one of the many things from him that I adopted. It’s a lesson that some people will understand, and some won’t ever. I’m paraphrasing here:
“Many people think they want to be rich. But most people don’t really want to be rich. They want something else. Before you go into a business partnership with other people, or before you start a business, discover what it is you really want and what it is they really want.
For these men we sat with, I spent over 10.000 yuan on the program this evening. I took us to an expensive hotel, I paid the tips for all the girls, I ordered really expensive food. But when we spoke to these men, they never mentioned how much money they had. They never tried to impress me, in spite of me doing all this.
That’s why we’re going to do business with these men. They want to make money, and I like people who want to make money.
You see, there are three types of people who want to make money:
1. Those who want to be looked up to
These are the people who talk about having expensive cars, living in a big house, or having a hot model girlfriend. I will never do business with these type of people, because they don’t really want money.
They are insecure and unsure of themselves and they think that having money is going to change this. The problem is that these people, once they get into a position of power, they will lose their hunger for money. Once they are being looked up to, they will lose their interest in the money and they will fail you.
You can see these people in that they want people to recognize them, they want people to ask their advice, they want people to pay attention to them. Fame and popularity will always be first for these people, and money will take a secondary role.
2. Those who want to be comfortable
These people are even more dangerous because there are so many of them. They are poor, they are broke, and all they want is not to be broke. They say that they want to be rich, but once they start making $6000 a month and they can buy all the toys they want, and can have a kid comfortably, they are going to get incredibly lazy.
These people are employees masquerading as entreprenuers. They don’t want to be rich, they just don’t want to be poor.
You can recognize these people in that they dream of getting rich and then retiring to some beach to drink cocktails and doing nothing. They work so that they don’t have to work, but that doesn’t work.
3. Those who want to have more money
These are the people who see making money as a game, and can’t ever stop. All they want to do is make more and more money, and the toys and the fame are completely incidental to this. Do business with these people, partner with them, because when there is an opportunity, they will go along with it. They will not drop out of the game because they have got enough, and they will not drop out once they make a certain amount.
These are the people who don’t care about their dress or about what car they drive or that people know their name. And these are the people that you do business partnerships with.”