A new year: déjà-vu

For the past few days it’s almost felt as if I’m again making plans for a new year, and reflecting what I’ve done so far. And the last time I did that was only a few weeks ago at the end of 2013, preparing for my second year of entrepreneurship.

I guess the start of the year of the Horse is in a way for me a symbolic new start as well. Taking off straight at the start of 2014 for a few weeks here can also be interpreted as a bit of an escape: because properly being in the Netherlands also means finally having to get on with things and get all these ideas in my head going and financially executable. Leaving for Shanghai put off that moment for a bit. Or rather, it was a way to create more of those ideas, or strengthen the ones that are already in there without being in my regular surroundings.

So, while I’m at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport waiting for my flight home I’m taking some time to put a bit more structure to those plans. I started a few days ago with contacting some people to set up a few meetings this week. Because, I’m back in business straight away with a lunch meeting a few hours after I arrive back. Best way to get started it feels.

This month has been good. Hopefully, the posts on this blog have given you some idea of what I’ve been spending my time on (the non-work things are put into visuals on my Flickr stream). I’ve also had to choose more clearly about what I want to focus on as an entrepreneur and the direction I want to go forward in. It reminded me again how scary this can be: how do I know whether saying no to a big potential assignment really is a smart decision? For the moment I have to trust my instincts which are telling me that I made the right choice.

I had three goals for this month:

  • Improve my Chinese
    I still have a long way to go but I feel as if I’m getting a bit of a grip on this language. Though I wish people in the real world would have the patience to allow me to put together a normal sentence
  • Get to know more about local developments on sustainability and CSR (and related topics)
    It’s been great to finally attend some of the network events I follow online in real life, and to meet people with interesting stories to share. Every single meeting and event has given me some new insights in to various topics, which I hope have gotten across here a little. It’s hard to summarize every discussion, and so many things have come up in bits and pieces and only start to make sense when looked at together (a good example of this is a post on entrepreneurship coming up on this blog which combines so many separate things I’ve heard across these weeks).
  • Strengthen my local network on CSR and business in China
    For the most part, this has worked though it has been focused more on the CSR-networks. Some of the people I have met this month who work in this field, I had already been in touch with for a while so it was good to finally be able to talk face to face. And while here I got the opportunity to be involved in a CSR project which the Dutch Consulate General is launching on CSR in the supply chain where I’ve been conducting interviews with CSR managers at a range of Dutch companies based in this region, so this has been a great boost to this third goal.

I guess one other thing I wanted to get out of this month is to get to know this city and its surroundings better. Because being here for only a few days each time doesn’t do that. So I’m happy to have visited so many places, to be wandering across the city (did I mention already that Shanghai is very walkable) and to play tourist in Suzhou and Hangzhou (and a very little bit in Nanjing).

So. Ready to go home.

I’m excited about being back in the Netherlands and continue with all these topics that have come up here. I’m taking home a few project ideas and collaborations (though still very undeveloped, so I won’t spill about them in detail here). But of course: I already have several things to continue working on.

That means that the following week has meetings on CSR in Myanmar, improving supply chains and – of course – some New Year celebrations. And this month also sees another edition of Absolute Asia. The postponed event on CSR in China will also be getting some renewed attention again.

Also, if you want to know more about the topics or projects I’ve been talking about here, please get in touch. Of course, also get in touch if your organisation wants to do something with CSR in Asia. I’m always happy to meet for a coffee to talk through ideas and possibilities.

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