美国式挣钱,美国式生活?

午饭后,和谷主两个人,坐在国贸楼下的星巴克里喝咖啡。我和谷主不是那种“不在星巴克,就在去星巴克路上”的小资。喝咖啡的原因是:我们实在太困了。
 
两杯咖啡竟然加在一起要49块,比美国还要贵。我喝的那杯咖啡,在美国的价钱是1.99美元,在这里变成了23块人民币,贵了将近有1/3。
 
但我今天说的不是星巴克的定价策略,如果你能看到国贸一座星巴克的火爆场面,估计你会觉得星巴克的价钱不是定高了,反而是定低了。
 
午饭之后,喝一杯咖啡,对我而言已经是非常自然的事情了。我喝咖啡的原因很简单,保持清醒。我对午饭啃一个汉堡或者三明治也很自然,原因也很简单,美国的午餐大多就是吃这个,能添饱肚子,又节省时间。我们也许会佩服美国人在麦当劳和肯德基这种快餐上的商业头脑和想象力,但是你去了美国之后就会发现,如果我们想定义真正意义上的美国食品,也许我说得是错的,我觉得美国食品的主力就是我们中国人所说的快餐:汉堡,三明治,署条,炸鸡等等。稍作夸张一点的讲,美国的饮食文化大概就是快餐文化。麦当劳是一种商业模式的成功,而不是产品的成功。你走进任何一家美国饭店,那里大概都会提供汉堡,署条,苏打饮料。恕我直言,若论汉堡和署条的味道,麦当劳真的只能算末流的。
 
饶了半天,我要说什么呢?国贸的星巴克咖啡的生意很好,当然和这里工作的人群收入比较高有关,但更和这里的工作节奏相关。咖啡是一种可以迅速让你在困倦状态下能够打起一点精神的东西,在午饭后那最难熬的几个小时里,一杯咖啡可以帮你解决很多问题。所以,我相信,除了小资,收入和摆谱等等的心理需要之外,在国贸里工作的人对于咖啡有种真实的需求。
 
在这里工作的是什么人?金融机构,跨国公司,律师事务所,会计事务所,航空公司,国际机构,总而言之,这里的人群应该是中国最国际化(美国化)的人群之一,他们就是我所谓的美国式挣钱的人们-收入高,专业好,工作时间长。美国式的工作方式,引发了他们美国式的生活方式,这在很大程度上,几乎是一种自然而然的过程,和小资无关,和崇洋媚外无关,和别的一切都无关。
 
这引发了我一个更深的问题:美国式工作和美国式生活是不是代表着先进生产力的发展方向?或者说美国人的生活哲学(快餐)和工作哲学(效率+职业)是不是美国所以这么强大的原因之一。而如果我们想要强大,我们也必然要美国化,即便我们不是故意要美国化?也就是说美国化和富裕是一个同意的名词,就像这些在国贸工作的人们不知不觉的开始用美国的方式开始生活一样,即便他们中的很多也许根本不想那样。
 
我们再换个方式问问题:我们能用中国本土的方式成功吗?有没有不同于美国式的现代化模式?
还是那天晚上同车的法国女孩的问题:中国本土的建筑艺术现在发展的如何?我说中国的建筑不太实用啊,在北京这个寸土寸金的地方,摩天大楼比起四合院,显然是更加经济的选择。讲起摩天大楼,人们最先想到的就是芝加哥和曼哈顿。所以我的问题就是:有不需要摩天大楼的现代化吗?
 
如果答案是“没有”,那么是不是说现代化和西化(美国化)就是一个过程?如果答案是“有”,那么请问那种现代化究竟是什么样子的? 
 
那杯咖啡我喝得很香,但是我在问自己,为什么自己在美国生活了三年就那么习惯咖啡,而在中国生活了二十多年却没有学会喝茶,是咖啡就比茶好喝还是咖啡比茶有用还是我自己出了问题?
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4 Responses to 美国式挣钱,美国式生活?

  1. Mengji说道:

    想问个问题:你的blog是什么时候写的?美国人的工作方式是否是让你中午喝咖啡,晚上就可以写点blog了呢?

  2. JC说道:

    合肥果然出人才啊
    到处都是老乡 这里也能看到 关注中 哈哈

  3. Yao Amber说道:

    我来加拿大一年了,午餐倒是习惯了随便吃点水果和点心,但还是不喜欢喝咖啡,要提神的话我喝茶就可以了。但每天下午我都比较饿,不知是不是中午吃的太少了。

  4. S说道:

    While 麦当劳和肯德基 are very well known American food chains, they do not represent 美国食品的主力.  The majority of sales for grease burger chains like McDonald’s and KFC are from a small base of heavy users while there are a large number of occasional diners.  The food is not viewed as nutritious or part of a healthy diet.  Its chief attributes are quick service and low price, and there’s a positive correlation between the small base of heavy users and low income.  The movie Super Size Me (2004) is representative of the majority of American’s view of the food. 
     
    Regarding your last question, "为什么自己在美国生活了三年就那么习惯咖啡,而在中国生活了二十多年却没有学会喝茶."  If Starbucks didn’t exist, would you like coffee as much as you do?  Coffee and tea are both commodities.  The question is not which is better but rather how Starbucks has done a fabulous job in brand management and marketing.  Starbucks revolutionized the industry and changed the way people drink coffee.  Twenty years ago no one would have spent four dollars on a cup of coffee.  The product is still available for 50 cents a cup in many places.  China lacks skilled managers as well as the brand management concept.  US companies spend time, energy and money on building and preserving brands.  I recommend the book "Pour Your Heart Into It" by Starbucks\’ founder and CEO Howard Schultz, which describes how he built the company.  It\’s amazing.  They spent enormous time and conducted extensive research on simple decisions like selling Starbucks in supermarkets or marketing Starbucks ice cream.  They sacrificed revenue from additional sales channels for several years while they solidified their premium coffee brand image. 
     
    There are a number of reasons Chinese companies fail to build sustainable brands.  Many managers are not long-term oriented and lack discipline and focus.  They diversify into unrelated businesses with poor returns and even poorer prospects.  You wrote, "过去的落后与发达是有和没有的区别,现在的落后和发达是有多少,有多好的区别," and "越是细节的地方越见功夫,越是细节的地方越耗费时间".  They are also good points for this topic.  The more a company diversifies, the bigger the conglomerate, and the more "haves" (有) a company has, but less focused it becomes.  This is not the way to build a strong brand.  I had high hopes for Haier 海尔, but was disappointed after I saw a rather poorly made Haier branded computer in a mall.  Building a brand involves consistent customer satisfaction and quality products.  They should stay focused on major appliances (where they have a comparative advantage and can produce world class products that are competitive in overseas markets) rather than enter into the highly competitive, low margin computer manufacturing business.  There are very few successful conglomerates in developed markets.  GE, one of the few, has a policy of only competing in markets where they are number one or two (which makes sense in that it provides advantages of scale in production and research and in many industries profitability follows a power law function). 
     
    Another phenomenon in China that is not conducive to build brand equity is the herd mentality of managers irrespective of returns on capital.  Haier sees other companies making computers.  Rather than invest in their core business, they make computers (earning low returns and destroying their brand equity in the process).  Few companies in China enjoy sustainable first mover advantages.  (新东方 is possibly an exception).  It’s hard to compete when your competitors are irrational.  Is Chinese culture more herd prone or are there other explanations?  Even academically, the smartest students all wanted to study the sciences ten years ago.  Now the rage appears to be finance and economics. 
     
    I mentioned marketing, which most people associate with TV or print ads.  But Starbucks has never advertised.  Not many great brands achieve greatness without traditional forms of advertisement. 
     
    It took China twenty years to dominate the low-cost manufacturing, an un-imaginary goal twenty years ago.  I hope that in near future, when I’m thirsty and tired, I’ll think of a Chinese brand tea.

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