lijia2Zhang Lijia by Fantake via Flickr

At the global offices of the China Speakers Bureau we have been doing some bean counting again and have made our monthly top-10 of most-sought speakers. (Here you can find the April 2009 one.) Some fast upwards movements in positions, although more than half of the April-winners remained also on the list for May.
Highest newcomer is Zhang Lijia , the celebrity author whose autobiography ““Socialism Is Great!”: A Worker’s Memoir of the New China keeps on getting more translations and more book tours. She has moved up into the second position and since she will get more attention – including a chapter in our upcoming book “A Changing China” – we expect her to be here also in June.
Getting into mainstream media is still a solid way to generate interest, as Shaun Rein shows with his continued presences in leading US publications. But also Sam Flemming, who participated last week in our Global China Chat on social networks, brands and consumers, saw a spike of traffic to his profile because of that initiative. Producing a steady stream of appealing books, like Paul French who published a new book on foreign correspondents in China, is another way.
Another remarkable newcomer is Zhang Juwei, the director at the China Academy Of Social Sciences (CASS), who only joined our service recently. He illustrates a clear trend in the China Speakers Bureau, and at the same time a dilemma. Event organizers do prefer to have speakers with a background in Mainland China when they look for speakers on China. And while we have great speakers on almost any subject, the number of native Mainland Chinese at our service is limited. There are at least three reasons for that.
First, the pool of Chinese politicians is very limited, if not absent. George Bush – some of you might still remember him as the former US president – took with the help of the Washington Speakers Bureau within a month after his retirement the stage to earn some pocket money. We do expect China to follow this trend, but it is not yet there.
Also another pool of potential speakers, the retired business executives with international exposure is limited in China, mainly because they are not yet retired. China’s economic development is still that new, most of its well-known business leaders still work. That is also going to change, as more Chinese business leaders with international exposure will retire, but that might still take a while. Most retired business people in China tend to be Taiwanese or from Hong Kong and event organizers told me repeatedly, that is still not the real thing they want.
Then, most of our assignments are mostly outside China or for foreign organizations and companies in China. Crossing cultural borders in a setting as a speaker is tough. While people might be excellent speakers in

zjwpic3Zhang Juwei by Fantake via Flickr

 their own country, addressing people in other countries and cultures is still an art that is difficult to master.
After those deliberation, let’s turn to our May 2009 most-sought speakers list (with April in brackets).

  1. Shaun Rein (1)
  2. Zhang Lijia (-)
  3. Victor Shih  (3)
  4. Sam Flemming (5)
  5. Kaiser Kuo  (2)
  6. William Bao Bean  (-)
  7. Zhang Juwei (-)
  8. Arthur Kroeber  (4)
  9. Rupert Hoogewerf  (-)
  10. Paul French (10)
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