#11 Philip Beck – Executive, angel investor on ‘failing fast’
Philip is married and has one 28 year-old-daughter back home in Australia. He’s worked for 37 years–26 in marketing and advertising and 5 years in recruiting all in the corporate sector. The past 6 years, he has worked as an angel investor in Chinese start ups, focusing mainly on consumer technology. He has a passion for flying helicopters and his dream is to fly the entire length of the Great Wall of China by helicopter.
Too many foreigners make the mistake of just talking about ‘China’. Yes, it’s one country, but it’s not really. It’s like Europe…
How he got to China
It all started with his first trip to China at the ripe age of 8. He was fascinated by his visit. His first professional touch was in the mid-90s with WPP, an advertising group, for whom he helped put together a market entry strategy. Later, with what’s now Hudson he opened three JVs in China and was constantly traveling from Hong Kong into the Mainland, all the while still very much enchanted with the nation. In 2005, he finally realized his dream of living in China proper with a publicist group’s media operations stationed in Shanghai.
The early bird gets the worm! Philip is up by 5 AM and does the majority of work from 5 AM – 8 AM. His day is filled with meetings with portfolio companies from 9 AM to dinner. He can catch up with friends and family after that and then is typically back to work. His is a 7-day-a-week job.
What made this particular assignment appealing
His wife encouraged him to invest all of their life savings in start ups so he can build wealth for themselves instead of for companies. He is really focused now on digging into his start-up teams and investing in them so they can be the best they can be.
In a business meeting in Sichuan, the client switched over to a local language and the deal went south, quickly. He smartened up and always took a local guy with him and learned quickly that each place in China is very, very different culturally and you need to be prepared.
He had the hardest meeting of his life with the president of Shenzhen TV who was a stony faced man with a big bone to pick with Philip. Tune into hear how Philip remedied the problem and fixed up their relationship.
How’s your Mandarin?
His respect for a local man spawned an interest in learning Chinese so Philip could speak to him without an interpreter. That was years ago and he still goes to Beijing University every Saturday for continued study. Some great advice came from one of his early teachers, “Just get over the fact that you’re a CEO. Just embarrass yourself and learn to speak the language because that’s the only way it’s going to happen. I know you don’t like it, but just get over it.” Philip has taken that to heart.
Connect with Philip
Email Philip at firstname.lastname@example.org